A Nutritional Guide for Basketball Players


Optimum performance on the basketball court requires sound nutritional habits, as being adequately fueled directly affects your stamina and focus.

You can get your daily requirement of nutrients and calories through everyday food. It is rare to need the use of supplements, with the exception being weight-gain shakes for those of you who have trouble consuming adequate calories to provide for muscle gain. You should most certainly steer clear of performance-enhancing supplements, such as creatine and ephedrine, because of the possible side effects.

Do not underestimate the role nutrition plays in acquiring maximum physical development. What you eat on a daily basis helps to determine body fat levels, as well as how much energy you will have for intense workouts and practices. Whether you are trying to gain muscle, reduce body fat, or maintain your current stature, it is very important to follow these basic dietary recommendations:

  • A balanced diet consists of approximately 60 percent carbohydrates, 20 percent fat and 20 percent protein.
  • Eat a variety of healthy foods (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, etc.).
  • Limit the intake of fat, sugar, and sodium.
  • Drink plenty of water. Many nutritionists recommend a minimum of 64 ounces of water per day.
  • Eat 5-7 small meals throughout the day. The size of the meal depends on the actual goal (weight loss vs. weight gain), as well as level of activity (two-a-days versus regular practice, tournaments versus regular games, etc.).

Weight Gain the Healthy Way

Most basketball players are tall and slender, and are looking to add muscular bodyweight. In order to gain weight, you must consume more calories than you expend on a daily basis. This means if you are looking to put on weight, you must eat, eat, and eat! Now for the select few looking to lose weight (i.e. reduce body fat), they must do the opposite -- consume fewer calories than they expend. This is done by controlling their portion sizes.

Below is just a very basic and general sample menu one can follow to get an idea of how much food he or she needs to consume on a daily basis to gain weight. A reasonable goal is to try and gain one pound per week for an 8-10 week stretch:

Example Menu No. 1

  • Breakfast: Orange juice, four pancakes w/syrup, and four scrambled eggs.
  • Snack: one cup of low fat yogurt, granola bar, and a banana.
  • Lunch: two deli sandwiches on whole wheat bread, an apple, and a glass of milk.
  • Snack: two peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and a glass of milk.
  • Dinner: Steak, potatoes, steamed vegetables, and a roll.
  • Snack: two sticks of string cheese and crackers

Example Menu No. 2

  • Breakfast: Granola with dried fruit and milk.
  • Snack: two cups of instant oatmeal.
  • Lunch: four slices of cheese pizza and a salad.
  • Snack: Trail mix: peanuts, raisins, and dried fruit.
  • Dinner: Pasta with meat sauce, garlic bread, a vegetable, and milk.
  • Snack: Weight Gain Super Shake (see below)

Weight Gain Super Shake

  • 1 cup of frozen strawberries
  • 1 cup of orange juice
  • 1 large banana
  • 1 cup of low fat strawberry yogurt
  • 3 scoops of protein powder

Alan Stein is the owner of Stronger Team and the Head Strength and Conditioning coach for the nationally renowned, Nike Elite DeMatha Catholic High School boys basketball program. He spent 7 years serving a similar position with the Montrose Christian basketball program. Alan brings a wealth of valuable experience to his training arsenal after years of extensive work with elite high school, college, and NBA players.

His passion, enthusiasm, and innovative training techniques make him one of the nation's leading experts on productive training for basketball players. Alan is a performance consultant for Nike Basketball as well as the head conditioning coach for the annual McDonald's All American game, the Jordan Brand All American Classic, and the Nike Summer Skills Academies. Alan is a camp coach at the prestigious NBA Players Association's Top 100 Camp as well as the Chris Paul CP3 Elite Backcourt Camp. Alan has filmed over a dozen DVDs on improving performance and is a sought after lecturer at basketball camps and clinics across the world. He has been featured in Winning Hoops, Time Out, Dime,,, American Basketball Quarterly, Stack, Men's Health, HOOP, and FIBA Assist Magazine.

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