The energy requirements for a basketball player are a mix of those for an endurance athlete and a bodybuilder: One the one hand, the basketball player needs long-term energy to fuel him as he plays for over a half hour straight; on the other hand the player needs the muscle strength to engage his opponent in quick snatches of the ball and to produce powerful dashes and shots. To complicate things further, a basketball player must know when to eat what. That is, different times call for different kinds of food.
Practice and Rest Days
For days on which there are no big events, implement a standard and well-balanced meal plan. The goal is to prepare your body for energy storage and muscle growth as well as to provide it with the necessary nutrients for daily life. The three pillars of a well-balanced meal plan are nutrient-rich foods, such as healthy fats, including nuts and vegetable oils; carbohydrates, preferably complex carbohydrates such as whole-wheat products, brown rice, and oats; and lean protein, such as low-fat cheese, lean beef, and turkey. For every pound of body weight, eat approximately four grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of protein and 1/2 gram of healthy fats.
Prior to Games
Proper energy preparation for a competition comes from your daily meal habits and the meal you eat immediately before a game. To maximize your energy levels prior to a game, schedule a meal that is small compared to your average meal and is mainly carbohydrates. Such a meal will allow you to top off your glycogen levels, which store the energy that will be depleted as you play. Example pre-competition meals include low-fat cheese and crackers, granola bars, and protein shakes with oats. Shoot for 400 calories for your pregame meal. One essential part of a pregame meal that is commonly overlooked is fluid intake, which should be higher than average. Drink at least half a liter of liquid before a game to hydrate yourself and to prepare your body for in-game rehydration.
After Games and Practices
Post-game, the most important thing to do is rehydrate. Try to rehydrate as soon as you can. Drink at least 4 cups of water or sport drinks after finishing a game. Eating after a game is crucial to refueling the lost glycogen; it also helps build muscle. Try to eat within 30 minutes of finishing a game or practice. The window for refueling is open for approximately two hours, but you will gain the most benefit by eating sooner. This meal should be primarily simple carbohydrates and protein. The simple carbohydrates, such as white bread and white rice, refuel your glycogen storehouses sooner than complex carbohydrates. Protein leads to muscle growth. Protein and carbohydrates post-workout work in-sync
Foods to Avoid
Fats should be eaten in low quantities. This is especially true for unhealthy fats, such as that found in candy and heavy creams. These fats are not only unhealthy but difficult to digest. Eating unhealthy fats before a game can slow you down. Healthy fats include avocados and nuts and can be added to a basketball player's daily meal plan to add to his energy reserves; when your body runs out of carbohydrates during aerobic activity, it will begin to use fat as an energy source. A basketball player should not rely on fat for energy; carbs are much more useful for stop-and-go sports. To protect yourself against dehydration, avoid alcohol before a game or practice. Opt for water, juice, and sports drinks instead.