What is the ideal diet for a collegiate basketball player?
An athlete of this magnitude has a few things to consider: calories, social pressures, availability of food, and road trips. Because their diet is directly related to their success, there is a lot of stress on what will be fueling them during games.
Basketball players exercise anywhere from two to four hours every day. This is aside from the fact that some college-level athletes are still in the adolescent stage of development, and therefore need more calories simply because they’re still maturing.
On average, a 20-year-old, 6’3”, 200-pound male basketball player will need over 3,600 calories per day. That is well over twice what I need as a small, relatively sedentary woman.
At home, the best way to get to those 3,600 calories is by eating six to seven medium sized meals spaced evenly throughout the day. Depending on what the athlete wants to do (gain muscle, lose fat or gain speed), they can alter their ratios of protein, carbs and fats in each meal.
For student athletes who are always on the go, they have a few reasonable options:
1) Cook when they have the time, and make enough for leftovers to eat throughout the week. A good example of this would be whole grain spaghetti with meat sauce. It is easy to heat up after making a large batch, and you can pair it with a quickly tossed salad.
2) Change up the breakfast options. Eat eggs and toast one morning, and the next morning try oatmeal or cold cereal, each with a fresh fruit smoothie.
3) Make sandwiches. I’m not talking the Wonder Bread, processed cheese and meat with four tablespoons of mayo kind of sandwiches. Try a really nutty or seedy bread like Dave’s Killer Bread (my personal favorite) to get maximum protein and omega-3’s. Pair it with fresh-cut deli meat, cheese and mustard. Also, let PB&J’s make a comeback; local jellies and jams are not much more expensive than Smucker’s and are processed less. Peanut butter, almond butter or cashew butter all have great protein with healthy fats.
Keeping up with the a healthy diet is hard when you’re on road trips though; not many options are available where students travel, and it’s not as if the university has the deep pockets to throw down at all-natural eateries.
There are a lot of cheap chain restaurants that list their nutrition facts online in an easy to read manner. Qdoba even lets you design your burrito at home to see what kind of calories, fat, and sodium you’re taking in when you’re chowing down. The numbers will astound you.
Do your restaurant homework before you leave on a trip, and you could avoid increasing your body fat percentage, feeling lethargic or losing your game day mojo.