Basketball Fever: Nutrition for student-athletes

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The regular season of the National Basketball Association officially begins this week, and basketball fans around the globe are all ready to cheer and jeer. The pre-season has given us a preview on what to expect in the games and, no doubt, built an anticipatory excitement for the return of our favorite players.

During the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, we covered health and nutrition topics pertaining to Olympic athletes, as well as dietary dos and don’ts for amateurs and the casually active persons. Though many of the information on our blog may apply to basketball players in general, would like to narrow the focus down on health and nutrition applicable to basketball student-athletes.

Basketball is an intense sport. It combines physical prowess – speed, agility and endurance – and mental stamina – presence of mind and, of course, technical IQ. Add academics and other extra-curricular activities to the mix, and you’ve got a rigorous and demanding number of months from the beginning to the end of the school basketball season. Nutrition should be of high priority during this period to avoid energy depletion.

Ideally, student-athletes should consume pregame meals consisting of a balanced plate: carbohydrates, lean and low-fat protein, and low-fat dairy. They should be eaten about three to four hours before tipoff. Unfortunately, many matches are held immediately after classes on weekdays and/or first thing in the morning on weekends, making the ideal game-day fueling challenging.

Carbs and lean proteins

Student-athletes should consume carbohydrates such as rice, potatoes, breads and pastas. Starchy fruits and vegetables like carrots, corn and peas are also good. Needless to say, student-athletes must balance their plates with lean protein such as chicken breast, salmon, turkey and tuna.


Whether you’re a professional or an amateur, hydrating before and during games is imperative. Include water in your pregame meals, and take advantage of substitutions and timeouts to rehydrate. If possible, stick only to water and avoid .


If you’re prone to muscle cramps, eat some salty foods. Add soups or condiments like ketchup and soy sauce in your pregame meals, or have some pretzels and with you at the ready.


Use the All My Food Facts app to find the best foods for your game-day fueling. Get it on , and !