what to eat for basketball, pre-game meal, post-game meal, basketball

How to Eat Before a Basketball Game: What You Should Eat and What You Should Avoid

When it comes to basketball, the high-intensity sport requires a lot of energy. There is a lot of running and jumping and there may be a few things you can do by way of diet to help you perform at optimum levels. What you eat before the game will decide how well you perform, after all, it isn’t easy jumping and running when you feel all bloated and sick. In fact, eating the wrong food can make you feel too stuffed and heavy and unable to move swiftly. 

Similar to eating the wrong types of food, not eating anything before a game or inadequate food consumption before a game can make you feel lightheaded and weak, once again impacting your performance. 

Hence when it comes to making sure that you are able to perform at your optimum levels, it is important to ensure that you consume the right types of food in the right portions to help you gain a strategic advantage over your opponents. When done right, pre-game meals can boost your energy levels and help you significantly improve your game. 

We’ll take a deeper look into pre-game meal planning and highlight the types of food that you should avoid pre-game in order to gain the most from your meals. We’ll also take into consideration the portions and the timing of the meals, all necessary component to fine-tuning your game for an added advantage. 

Before anything else, what is the ideal time to eat? How many hours before a game should you have your pre-game meal?

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How Many Hours Before a Basketball Game Should You Eat?

 

It is advised that you eat at least 1/2 to 3 hours before a game or practice session. However, if you are eating a protein-rich meal, it is advised to eat 5 to 7 hours before the game. This gives your body ample time to break down and digest your meal and absorb all the nutrients into your bloodstream. Awarding enough time for the meal to be digested and absorbed will mean that there is readily available energy to burn, which will boost your performance.   

When it comes to pre-game meals, you have to consider the timing of the meals before a game. At the end of the day, when you eat and what you eat will decide on how you feel during a big game. Whether it is a big game or a regular practice session, you should make a habit of eating at a time that is proven and tested to provide the most optimum results. 

What happens if you eat too close to the game is, your stomach will be full, which inevitably will make you sluggish. This is because your body will be using energy to digest the food, which leaves less energy at hand to spend on your game. Your body will be competing for energy sources. The constant moving will hamper the proper digestion of food. This will mean that you take longer to digest your food, which will somewhat hamper your performance. Think about it, do you really want to be digesting food while you run, dribble and jump?

This being the case, you don’t want to find yourself hungry either. Hunger can be a killer to performance, which is why a pre-game meal is highly recommended. If you do find yourself feeling hungry during practice, it would be good to carry some dried fruit, some nuts or even an energy bar to eat amidst your practice session or game. These small snacks do not work to take too much effort to digest, which is why they help in boosting energy as opposed to depleting it during a game. 

However, before we dig deeper into the types of meals and portions you should be having, remember that as a rule of thumb, you should eat at least 1/2 to 3 hours before a game or practice session. Watch the protein, for it takes longer to digest. Award yourself 5 to 7 hours of digesting time when eating a meal rich in protein. 

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What is the Best Pre-Game Meal?

Fresh fruits and vegetables and a good source of carbohydrates such as bread, rice and pasta are all great components of a rich pre-game meal. The carbohydrates will load your body with ample energy to burn during the game. While the fruits and vegetables will help you with maintaining good digestion and hydration which are too very important factors in game performance. 

The carbohydrates provide you with the most amount of energy that is readily available to burn. Normally when you eat carbohydrates, it is digested and absorbed into your body as glucose, which is stored in your body for when you require energy. Eating carbohydrates close to game time enables you to digest the food and absorb the glucose and have them readily available for consumption. Eating carbohydrates before a game provides your body with a reliable and steady source of energy, which will not only boost your performance but will also help in post-game recovery. You are less likely to exhaust out during the game and should be able to maintain a good amount of energy throughout game time.

Portions are too very important in ensuring that you are not overstuffed for the game. At the end of the day, you don’t want to feel like a stuffed turkey on the court. As a rule of thumb, you should ensure to eat a good portion and not eat more than a regular portion before the game in hopes that it will help you; it will not. Sure, after the game you can go nuts and eat as much as you would like, however before a game, as a rule of thumb, stick to a normal portion.

A good portion of rice would mean about 3 cups of cooked basmati rice or about 12 oz of cooked pasta for carbohydrates. When you consider a regular portion of protein, you could take into consideration an 8 oz lean steak as a guiding point.

With the portions dictated, let’s have a look at our favourite pre-game meal. Obvious to state, we use the staple pasta as the base carbohydrate. As mentioned prior, carbohydrates are very important in ensuring that your body has a good energy source pre-game. Hence, the staple pasta is our primary component of the best pre-game meal. We don’t recommend that you eat the pasta on its own, rather mix it with a good, non-spicy tomato and garlic sauce. You can add some sliced tomatoes to the dish; any fruit and vegetable that you add will help you boost your digestion. Finally, some cooked spinach. Spinach is a superfood with loads of benefits, hence adding that to your pre-game meal will definitely bring with it loads of benefits. If you have trouble stomaching spinach, remember how Popeye ate spinach before a fight.

With the base of the meal provided, you should work to add some light protein into the mix. Some light white meat such as turkey or chicken is a good source of protein that is easier to digest. Hence use that as the staple source of protein. Follow this up with a bowl of fresh fruits and nuts, which will provide your body with loads of antioxidants and healthy nutrients which is sure to keep you healthy. 

The most important component of this meal has to be the pasta, which is such a reliable source of energy, that it will undoubtedly come as a secret weapon to help boost your performance. 

As mentioned prior, you do have to take into consideration the portions of the meal consumed. Hence as a guide, use the below measures to understand what a good pre-game portion is, and plan your meals accordingly. 

Body Weight: 150 – 200 lbs

  • 10 oz cooked pasta
  • 1.5 oz of cooked spinach
  • 3 oz roasted turkey or chicken
  • 1 small bowl of fruits and nuts
 
Body Weight: 200 – 250 lbs
  • 14 oz cooked pasta
  • 2 oz cooked spinach
  • 4 oz roasted turkey or chicken
  • 1 small bowl of fruits and nuts
 
 
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What to Eat For More Energy Before a Game?

 
The best thing to eat to boost energy levels before a game is carbohydrates such as pasta and bread, coupled with fresh fruits and vegetables. The carbohydrates will provide your body with a readily available source of energy, which will enable you to perform better, maintaining good energy levels during the game. 
 
 
When you consider stamina and diet, the best way to increase your stamina is by relying on a carbohydrate-rich meal plan. This will enable your body to build your stamina and energy levels, thereby ensuring that you are able to perform at your optimum levels. Whole-grain bread, cereal, potatoes and crackers are reliable sources of carbohydrates, that will provide you with a good amount of energy during the game. 
 
 
Protein isn’t a great source of energy per se, however is a good tool to help your recovery. It is important for muscle recovery, which is why a portion of protein is recommended within the pre-game meal. 
 
 
However, when it comes to the best source of energy, carbohydrates are your best bet. This coupled with fresh fruits and vegetables are easily digestible and will provide your body with an ample amount of readily available energy to burn during the game. 

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Food to Avoid Before Big Game

 

Proteins, fats and processed sugars are the types of food that should be avoided before a game. Processed sugars work to produce insulin spikes in your body with a quick supply of glucose which when depleted will leave you feeling more exhausted and drained. Proteins and fats are difficult to digest and take a long time to properly digest in your body. 

Hence greasy fast food such as burgers and fries, fat-rich food such as bacon and other foods that are high in protein and fats should be avoided to prevent sluggishness during the game.  

When you are considering pre-game meals, you want to try to stick to that recommended timeframe of 1/2 to 3 hours before a game. With proteins and fats taking about 5 to 7 hours to digest, it isn’t recommended for the simple reason that proteins and fats usually work to help with muscle recovery, which only comes into the equation after the game. 

This may bring about the next question that may come across to mind. What about pre-game protein shakes?

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Protein Shakes Before a Game

 

Protein including the protein found in protein shakes is intended to help with muscle recovery. Hence protein shakes are considered a better post-game meal strategy as opposed to a pre-game meal strategy. In fact, having protein shakes before a game could do more harm than good. Relying on natural sources of protein is certainly better recommended. 

Unfortunately, there are artificial sweeteners that are found in protein shakes, which can be detrimental to the performance. Though intended to provide the athlete with a boost of energy, protein shakes when had too close to the game can make you feel too full from the fluid, and bring about sluggishness. 

That being the case, there are many athletes who prefer taking protein shakes before workouts and games. When you consider working out or lifting weights, the protein would help in muscle recovery which is an immediate requirement in lifting weights. You are constantly tearing muscles requiring protein to repair them. On the contrary, during a game, there is muscle fatigue involved, however, simply drinking the protein shake wouldn’t help you resolve muscle fatigue immediately. Hence it is better to rely on natural sources of protein from your pre-game meal as recommended and not rely on protein shakes to provide your body with everything that you need to boost performance. 

Protein is not a readily available energy source such as glucose which is found in carbohydrates. Hence for certain, you would have more to gain from eating a high carbohydrate meal before a game as opposed to drinking a protein shake which is high in protein. Sure it may help with muscle recovery, however, doesn’t really provide you with more readily available energy to burn to help boost performance. 

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How to Eat Before a Basketball Game 

 

Undoubtedly, you would require a reliable source of carbohydrates and combine it with a staple portion of protein, fruits and vegetables. You would want to avoid having a protein and fat-rich mean, including greasy fast food. Processed sugars are another thing that you should avoid. 

All in all, what you eat decides on how you perform. You don’t want to eat the wrong type of food and find yourself needing to use the restroom in between the game. At the same time, you want to pick the food source that is sure to provide you with the means to boost your performance, something that will give you an added advantage over your opponents. 

The recommended meal as within this article is sure to help you boost performance. We worked to provide you with an informative piece of content, which after having read word to word would provide you with the necessary insight into understanding what types of food works best to boost performance. 

We hope you now know how to eat before a basketball game, including when and what to eat. We hope that you found this article useful and that we have answered the questions that you may have in mind with regards to pre-game meal planning. So long as you follow the guidance and direction on the types of food and the portions to be consumed as mentioned within this article, you are sure to notice some good results. 

Happy Dribbling!

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