Making it to the championship in a weekend tournament can be a grind. To play your best in every game, you need to pack basketball foods that rehydrate and refuel. Nutrition doesn’t have to be complicated, but it does take some planning. Keep reading to find out my Top 7 Basketball Foods for Tournaments.
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FAILING TO PREPARE
One of my favorite quotes is, “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.” If you don’t have a bag packed with basketball foods, you’ll find yourself failing in the nutrition department.
If you only have a two-hour break between games, you”’ need to eat as soon as possible. Leaving the gym, driving to a restaurant and ordering off a menu takes precious time that could be used to digest your food.
You also can’t rely on vending machines or concession stands. Both of these are filled with sugary drinks and candy that won’t help you attain your goals.
The answer to being optimally fueled for multiple games in a day is packing a variety of healthy basketball foods.
MAKE IT SIMPLE
I’ve done hundreds of nutrition consults with Division 1 and professional athletes and found their nutrition plans aren’t complicated. Their success doesn’t come from expensive supplements or exotic foods. They simply eat well-rounded meals on a consistent basis.
The list below is going to seem really simple and obvious, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy.
The challenge with optimal basketball nutrition isn’t knowing what to eat, it’s having the forethought and self-discipline to pack healthy snacks.
Here’s a list of my Top 7 Basketball Foods to fuel your performance during tournament time.
1. WATER BOTTLE
Staying hydrated might be the most important goal of any basketball nutrition program. Our muscles are roughly 80% water and don’t function at their best when dehydrated.
Research has shown that if you lose 2% of your bodyweight in fluids, it slows down your reaction time. Since basketball is a game of quickness, you can’t afford to react slowly on the court.
While playing hoops, drink three to four sips of water every 15 minutes. If you wait until you’re thirsty to start drinking, you’re too late.
I also recommend drinking a glass of water first thing in the morning. Your body can lose up to two pounds of fluid just by breathing at night, so keep a water bottle by your bed and start the rehydration process early.
2. CHOCOLATE MILK
Chocolate milk has the perfect combination of carbohydrates and protein to replenish muscle glycogen and rebuild muscle.
I suggest drinking eight ounces of chocolate milk within 15 minutes of the final buzzer. The sooner you start drinking, the faster you start the recovery process.
If you only have an hour between games, I’d stick with just liquid nutrition. You can’t afford to feel bloated or bogged down by eating too much food.
3. PB&J SANDWICH
If you have two or three hours between games, you’ll want to eat solid foods. Sandwiches are a quick, convenient and healthy way to build back energy stores.
Peanut butter & jelly sandwiches are my personal favorite, but turkey and chicken sandwiches work great, too.
Whatever kind of sandwich you choose, make sure to use high-quality bread. Dave’s Killer Bread tastes great and has a variety of flavor options.
Apples, oranges and grapes are a great source of carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. They also provide the extra benefit of keeping you hydrated.
If you have more than one hour between games, you’ll want to eat a protein or fat source with your fruit. Adding peanut butter to a banana or eating string cheese with your apple provides long-lasting energy.
5. TRAIL MIX
It’s fairly easy to find snacks that contain carbohydrates, but good sources of fat and protein are more difficult to come by. That’s why trail mix is such a great snack.
The longer your break is between games, the more fat you should include in your meal. Peanuts, cashews and almonds contain healthy fats that provide fuel for hours.
I’d suggest creating your own trail mix so it’s not filled with candy. There’s nothing wrong with eating M&M’s every once in awhile, but I’d rather get my carbohydrates from dried fruit.
6. COCONUT WATER
Coconut water is a healthy alternative to Gatorade. It contains carbohydrates and electrolytes without added food coloring and artificial sweeteners.
I personally love the taste of coconut water, but I’ve found that some players don’t care for it. With all of my food recommendations, don’t eat them if you don’t like the taste.
I’m a believer that basketball nutrition plans can’t be built on food you don’t like to eat. It’s a good idea to sample new foods, but you’ll eventually fail if you consistently have to eat things you don’t like.
7. NUTRITION BARS
I love nutrition bars for their convenience. They can easily be thrown in your car, locker and backpack to ensure you always have access to quality fuel.
You won’t find a healthier bar than the LARA Bar. They’re made exclusively with whole foods and only contain three or four ingredients.
Check out the ingredient list for the Cherry Pie LARA Bar: Dates, almonds and unsweetened cherries… that’s it! Only three ingredients!
The other bar that I regularly eat is the Rx Bar. In addition to containing whole foods, they also use egg whites as a quality protein source.
Here’s a quick video that reviews my Top 7 Basketball Foods for Tournaments:
JUST DO IT
Now that you know the best basketball foods to pack during a tournament, the only thing left is to Just Do It!
Optimal nutrition isn’t complicated, but it’s also not easy. The challenging part is having the discipline to think ahead and pack snacks before leaving for the gym.
Do you want to learn more about how to fuel your body for basketball…
Check out the 3 Levels of Basketball Nutrition.
What are your favorite basketball foods? I’d love for you to share your comments so I can add them to my shopping list.