What to Eat Before a Basketball Game?

what to eat before basketball gameEvery sport is different, so the diet must be accessed individually. It’s the same with the game of basketball.

Today we’ll talk about the principles you need to apply in a pre-game meal to gain energy and play like a pro.

After you learn the basics, you’ll want to check our article on the best pre-game meals for basketball players. Find out what foods do NBA players eat before a game for energy to fuel their body and use it to improve.

No matter how you eat on a daily bases, there are days when you just need to watch out, cut those fries, and put the McDonald’s addiction on a side for a while.

Basics First

The food we enter divides six groups of nutrients: carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals, and water. The lack of any substance will prevent a basketball player from using the maximum of his body.

During a practice or a game, a basketball player burns between 600 – 1000 Calories per hour. The research has shown that aerobic and anaerobic energy systems play an equal role in covering energy demands of basketball.

While the activity of anaerobic energy system is emphasized over certain periods of the game, the aerobic actually keeps you going.

This way, the body consumes significant amounts of energy-rich substrates. The main role in this belongs to carbohydrates and fats, stored in the muscles or delivered by blood flow to the muscle.

What to Eat On a Game Day

The moments every basketball player is waiting for. The opportunities for an individual and a team to demonstrate skills and knowledge. Because of this, it’s essential that nothing breaks their form.

All factors are equally important; sleep, activity intensity, and a pre-game meal, and need to be kept under control. Taking food and liquids represents the human biotic need to compensate for spent energy and lost fluid during daily activities.

If you’re a basketball player, you should know your diet plan in advance. It’s critical that we don’t eat something we are not accustomed to.

There is no experimenting on this day.

It’s good to make a list of foods that come into consideration, to ensure their purchase in advance, and always have a backup variant if unpredictable things come to fruition.

Diet planning is based on knowing the game’s playing time. Most games are on in the afternoon or evening. Only children games are often held before noon.

If the game’s:

  • In the afternoon (4-5 PM), it is advised that the players eat light breakfast in the morning and have the main meal around noon.
  • In the evening, it is recommended that the players have a breakfast a bit later, then a light lunch around noon and another meal around (3-4 PM).
  • Before noon, then the main meal before the game is early breakfast.

Don’t play or practice on an empty stomach, because through the breakfast we fill our nutritive supplies and compensating what we spent during the night.

what to eat before a basketball game

What to Eat Just Before the Game

It is advised that the basketball players eat a meal rich in complex carbohydrates (~ 1.5 grams of carbs per 1 lb of body weight), 3-4 hours before the game.

Watch with fats and proteins here, as they digest slower. If possible, pick carbs with a lower glycemic index (sweet potatoes, leafy greens, oatmeal).

During and after this meal you should also drink 1/3 to 1/2 liters of water.

You should consume fluids constantly. If your urine color is natural bright, then you’re doing fine. Not drinking enough and consuming a “heavy” meal or meal near the start of a game may lead to stomach problems during the game and reduce your ability to play as best as you can.

It’s suggested that the basketball players drink about 1/2 liters of water or sports drink before the game (1.5 to 2 hours before) and 50 grams of carbohydrates ~ 1 hour before the game. Bananas, apples or carbohydrate tile are all good options here.

When talking about the food replacement for carbs, which is an awesome option for those who train hard, this one from Now Sports works for me. This way I’m able to dose the carbs better, and it has no flavor, so I mix it with all kinds of fruit or coffee.

Regarding pre-workouts, the only one that was working for me was Cellucor C4. It was especially visible that it’s helping when I was lacking energy. I noticed feeling more energized, and more capable to make it through the day without naps.

What to Eat and Drink During the Game

Pre-game basketball meals are important, but it is also necessary to take care of the diet during the game.

Recommendations say 1/5 – 1/3 liters of water, every 15 minutes.

If possible, the players should consume specially formulated beverages containing lesser amounts of electrolytes and some types of carbohydrates, which are rapidly absorbed and fed into the blood, not slowing down the absorption of the fluid. This way, basketball players enter enough fluid, but also enter 60 to 100g of carbohydrates.

One of the most popular drinks of that kind is Gatorade. After 20 years of keeping electrolytes in check, you still see it on the bench in every basketball game. That means something. If you want to make sure your muscles and nerves work properly and also looking to save money, I saw they offer Gatorade in powder form on Amazon. You should give it a try.

That brings me to another drink basketball players often consume, some even more than Gatorade. And that’s coffee. Current NBA coach, and former Orlando Magic point guard, Darrell Armstrong, has once said that he doesn’t go below 5 cups of coffee on a game day.

But that’s not crazy at all, no matter what you think. The coffee and the caffeine in it will help with naturally speeding up your blood flow and you might feel more energized at the beginning of the game.

If it makes you feel sick, don’t drink it, I use these natural Caffeine Pills for Focus, Alertness & Energy. For instance, I love coffee but drinking it before the game is out of the question for me. My stomach just can’t handle it.


Hope you learned what to eat before a basketball game. Everyone knows that the burger diets are a joke if you want a lasting career. Only rare genetic freaks can get away with eating junk and drinking alcohol and not suffer the consequences.

You maybe heard of Rod Strickland, a former NBA guard, who enjoyed consuming hot dogs before and during the games. Or Charles Barkley, who ate pizza for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

what to eat before basketball game

Strange diets may have worked for them, but for most of you – poor nutrition is suffocating your game.

The best basketball pre-game meal will allow the player to maximize his abilities.

It will prevent the occurrence of unwanted effects such as reduced endurance (due to lack of carbohydrates), decreased concentration and reduced basketball skills. It can also prevent injury.

Every basketball player is in charge of his body. Your body, your decision.

Listen to your body but hold on to principles.

Always, not only on a game day.