As we have discussed in previous posts, there are many important factors that go into performing well during basketball tryouts. One thing we haven’t discussed is how nutrition and diet relate to performance. These are areas which are often overlooked by young athletes.
Athletic diets are different than “normal diets” as an athlete typically requires more calories and carbohydrates than normal individuals. This is due to the fact that more energy is burned and more cell and muscle recovery is needed. Be aware of your body and notice how you feel after eating certain meals.
I highly recommend acquiring a scale and weighing yourself on a weekly basis. One of the ways I have maintained a consistent weight throughout the years is by keeping a log of my weight. I typically weigh myself on a Friday. Friday is typically a good day to weigh yourself because it gives an accurate portrayal of how you have done for the week with your diet. If you slip up during the week with your diet and exercise, those numbers staring back at you on Friday morning will let you know. It also gives you a good gauge for the weekend as individuals tend to splurge a bit more on the weekends, and might not consume the same foods you eat Monday through Friday.
You have probably heard this a million times from adults, but eating more fruits and vegetables really does help. Fruits and vegetables contain many anti-oxidants to keep your body healthy. A healthier body means a more efficient body, which means you will see more results from your training in endurance and muscle building.
When possible, eating more small meals throughout the day will help with your metabolism and with maintaining consistent energy without crashing. Try and consume small, light meals before and after workouts.
Also, try to limit your intake of foods that are fried and greasy and foods which contain a lot of sugar such as:
· Potato chips/ fries
· Breakfast cereals
· Meats that contain a fried batter
Don’t forget to drink water! Water is the key to life and it is what our bodies contain the most of. You can survive much longer without food than you can water, always keep that in mind with your diet. Athletes who suffer from a lot of headaches are often not properly staying hydrated. I recommend purchasing a reusable water bottle and always have it with you to drink throughout the day. Dehydration can also lead to injuries and fatigue.
Below is an all-star list of foods that athletes should be experimenting with while training:
· Sweet Potatoes (this is a super food which has been said to contain the most vitamins of any food out there) I recommend trying them mashed
· Whole wheat pasta
· Any type of green vegetable
· Lean chicken breast
· Cottage cheese
· Hard-boiled eggs
· Peanut butter sandwiches on whole wheat bread
I’m also a big fan of smoothies. They are a great before or after workout meal and are not too heavy where you feel bloated during competition.
Try experimenting with some of these ideas and see how your body performs. Also, keep in mind what type of athlete you want to become. Are you looking to become stronger or faster? I recommend that guards remain as lean as possible to retain speed and quickness. If you are a forward or a center, you might want to consider increasing your weight to bang underneath the boards.
Good luck with your diets and feel free to share some of your favorite recipes.
Contributing writer Jasen Sousa for Premier Hoops is the author of a number of poetry and fiction books for young people. Jasen has an M.F.A. in Creative Writing and is a life-long participant and fan of the game of basketball.