Topping off your power stores with a pre-game meal will ensure you have energy to compete late into the fourth quarter. While there’s not a magic meal that works for everyone, I’m going to provide a Pre-Game Meal Formula to help you jump higher, cut quicker and finish stronger when it really counts.
Michael Jordan ate a 23 ounce steak and baked potato before stepping on the court to win six championships. Lebron James preferred salmon and grilled pineapple to fuel his 4 MVP performances. The NBA’s all-time leader is steals and assists, John Stockton said that he felt great when he ate eggs on toast.
While each of these meals are very different, the common thread is a quality carbohydrate and protein selection, with some dietary fat.
Proteins like steak, salmon and eggs support muscle growth and repair.
Carbohydrates like potatoes, pineapple and toast replenish muscle glycogen, which allows you to repeatedly sprint, shuffle and jump.
The healthy fats in the salmon, steak and egg yolks slow down the release and absorption of carbohydrates, which will give you energy in the second half.
As you can see, the category of food is more important than the actual food type.
Instead of focusing on eating specific foods, start thinking of your Pre-Game Meal in terms of categories. This will give you the freedom to eat a variety of foods that fit your preferences and environment.
Here are the four categories I use with my players and a short list of foods to get you started:
Bananas, berries, broccoli, lettuce, peppers, spinach, etc.
Quality breads and pastas, potatoes, quinoa, sweet potatoes, rice, etc.
Eggs, chicken, turkey, fish, beef, beans, yogurt, etc.
Avocados, olive oil, cashews, peanut butter, almonds, butter, etc.
What category you choose from depends on when you eat. The further away from game time, the more food you can eat and the more dietary fat can be included in your meal. The closer to tip off, the less food and fat you should eat.
This is the optimal time to start your Pre-Game Meal. By eating four hours before tip-off, you’re able to top off energy reserves and allow your body to digest the majority of food you eat.
The only recommendations I give to players is to pick one food from each of the four categories. Feel free to add your favorite food if it’s not on the list. Here’s the Pre-Game Meal Formula when eating four hours before tip-off:
4-Hour Pre-Game Meal Formula = Carb1 + Carb2 + Protein + Fat + H2O