In my last article, I talked about the basketball pre-game/practice nutrition and what’s the right way to manage it. Today, we’re turning to a post-game diet and nutrition that maybe is a bit less critical, but still matters a lot.
Without proper nutrition, there’s no adequate recovery.
And nutrition isn’t complicated. You just need to follow the principles, eat mostly healthy foods and avoid the foods that might hurt your stomach.
Why is the recovery so important?
The recovery is essential because the body needs to reproduce all the muscle cells it lost. It means that the body needs rest and feeding. By rest I mean sleep, and by feeding, I mean quality nutrition.
With a lousy diet or sleep, you will never be fully ready for the next day, the next practice, or the next tournament (if you continue eating shit).
Younger players sometimes train so hard but again come unprepared to a game because of the bad foods they eat. The problem is that they’re not even aware of it. There is no one to tell them.
And because of a (bad) diet, the recovery from weekly training suffers.
Just have in mind that the body is not a machine that will work forever. You need to watch it, take care of it and play basketball without worries of overtraining or recovery issues.
Research shows that consuming only carbohydrates without proteins won’t do enough for proper recovery. But if you consume too much protein, it will interfere with hydrating and replenishing glycogen. While the 4:1 ratio is best for endurance athletes, the carbs-protein ratio 3:1 seems to be ideal for basketball players.
What are the principles of post-game nutrition?
There are four principles of eating after a basketball game, and none of them includes avoiding any food.
In fact, this is the only meal where you should let loose with the foods you like without worries. Why? Well, because after the game or practice is when the body’s most sensitive to nutrients and instantly absorbs everything we eat.
It doesn’t mean you should eat junk food after every practice, but to relax a bit if you’re already keeping other meals healthy. Ok, on to principles.
- This meal should contain the most calories of all meals in a day – Don’t eat like a mouse here. In this case, less is not more.
- Carbohydrates are essential – go wild with starchy carbs: bread, pasta, potato, rice, and similar foods.
- Include at least one source of protein – Chicken, lean beef, hamburger, any meat, fish, eggs, cheese.
- Don’t avoid any food – If there’s a family dinner, eat the whole table. If the coach is taking the team to KFC, don’t be shy with the order. Enjoy life.
As you can see, you do most of these things already.
Some other principles worth mentioning are the ones related to alcohol. One or two beers it’s okay, but anything more than that will impact your recovery and readiness for the next day challenges.
This especially matters when the team is on the road, and their sleeping habits are confused. And we know that some basketball players love to go out and have fun. Just don’t overdo it, that’s all! Moderation is the key.
Want to learn everything that there is about diet and nutrition for basketball players? I think I got it all covered here.
Foods to eat after a basketball game
Don’t wait too long to eat after a game/practice. While I can’t say the recovery depends on it, fasting does put the stress on your body, and we would like to avoid that.
If you have a scheduled dinner a few hours after activity, don’t wait until then, put something in your mouth.
Let’s start with the foods that don’t bring much to the table regarding the recovery process.
We all know that, in general, some foods have less nutritional value than the others. These foods include stuff like candy, sweets, chocolate, chips, pizza, hamburger, or even beer.
But not all of these foods should be avoided when talking about post-game nutrition.
The idea is to eat any food you like but to make sure that food has enough nutritional value to be useful. Here are some great post-game meal examples that can only help you speed up the recovery:
- Cooked chicken, broccoli, pasta
- Whole-grain cereals, low-fat milk, bananas (or some other fruit)
- Whole-wheat toast, almond butter, whey protein shake
- Low-fat milk, a bowl of granola, fruit
- Boiled eggs, potato, green salad
Recovery drinks available on Amazon will definitely do the job but they’re often too expensive, at least for everyday use.
Recovery foods seem to have a better quality to price ratio though, but it surely isn’t something we can’t live without because the same effect can be reached with real food.
Best supplements to take after a game
I might surprise you here. No need for supplementation after a basketball game if you’re having a fine, balanced meal. Only if you think you haven’t had enough proteins, drink a whey protein shake.
The reason why supplements are useless here is that they don’t do anything right away.
And because they won’t speed up the recovery process, you can get the same (and even better) effect with real food. If you’re low on vegetables in a meal after a game/practice, there’s no need for trying to compensate the micronutrients you didn’t get from food.
You’ve probably figured out until now that the emphasis is on a full-time healthy diet.
Regarding supplements that would be good for post-training recovery, we can only single out Whey protein and BCAA’s – branched-chain amino acids that build proteins.
I use the good old Gold Standard Whey Protein because it mixes and tastes great. Sometimes it’s just difficult to enter enough protein (and sometimes you just forget it).
For more information about useful supplements for basketball players, here’s the complete report with best supplements for every position.
If you’re looking for what foods to include in a meal after a game, it means you already work hard and care about your progress. But don’t worry too much about this meal.
Eat what worked for you in the past and leave this advice to those who are just starting a basketball journey.
For those who are still looking for their perfect meal, please try some of the examples I added in this article, you won’t be disappointed. Thanks for reading, and I hope this article was helpful!
For more on eating for better performance, here’s our The Ultimate Basketball Diet & Nutrition Guide.