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Speed, power and agility along with technical skill and stamina are necessary to excel in this exciting sport as an NBA player! The right nutrition plan can make all the difference!

Research has shown that an NBA player makes up to 1,000 movement changes during a game, occurring every two seconds on average. These demands on endurance and agility require the body to produce large amounts of energy.

Most players reach out to me for three main reasons:

  1. They are having energy issues
  2. Cramping
  3. Maintaining goal weight during the season and offseason

Let’s look at carbohydrate intake since this is what your muscles use for energy. Getting adequate carbs is especially important for high intensity sprinting and jumping, but also for playing in general. You’re burning up lots of energy!

The body is able to store carbohydrate from the food you eat in the form of muscle glycogen. It’s not only important to eat the right foods before a game, but it’s what you do on a daily basis that will lead to your best performance on the court.

Nutrition intake should include:

  • 60% carbohydrate
  • 15-20% protein
  • And should be low in fat.

Of course, carbohydrate requirements should be individualized since each athlete is unique. The amount of carbohydrate is based on body weight and energy expenditure. Most basketball players require 7-10grams of carbohydrate per kilogram per day.

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Foods that contain carbohydrate are your grains, cereals, starchy vegetables, fruits and fruit juices.

Tips to keep in mind:

  • Eat on a schedule. Don’t skip meals.
  • It’s important to plan out your day to make sure that you stay well-fueled. Find a schedule that works for you.
  • Include breakfast or a snack before early workouts. Keep in mind that breakfast is breaking a fast, so you don’t want to work out on an empty stomach.
  • Eat something containing carbs every 3-4 hours.
  • Hydration is Key!

The body is 60-70% water.  Sodium, water, and carbohydrates are the nutrients needed on the court.  Sports drinks are best utilized for high-intensity workouts lasting an hour or more.  It’s not what you drink with dinner or after workouts.  With a specific osmotic load, it is specifically designed to be absorbed efficiently during exertion. These solutions are a 6-7% carbohydrate solution that absorbs faster than other drinks and even faster than water.  The goal is to prevent dehydration, electrolyte losses, and glycogen depletion and can be very effective when used correctly.

We often forget that when we sweat, we are losing more than water.  Hyponatremia or low sodium in the blood, can be a very serious and even life-threatening condition.  Losing salt and water (along with other electrolytes) and only replacing with water can actually dilute the sodium concentration of the blood and cause hyponatremia.  That said, there are also sports drinks that provide electrolytes without the sugar and they also have their place.  It really depends on the exercise intensity and conditions and the specific needs of the athlete.

-Don’t forget to hydrate with all your meals.  Drink at least 12 oz of water or sports drink.  If you’re prone to muscle cramps, try to include salty foods and/or add salt to your food.

-During breaks make sure that you hydrate.  A sports drink is the best choice.  You can also consider sports gels or chews if tolerated.

-Make hydration a daily priority

The addition of carbohydrate increases time to exhaustion-improving performance time and intensity.  By replacing muscle glycogen stores with the right food and timing, you can increase your energy and endurance and recover much faster!

Of course, every athlete is different and plans must be individualized for optimal performance.

Don’t let nutrition be your weak link.

Let Barbara customize your fueling plan and take you to the next level!

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