Five Basketball Nutrition Habits of Champions

Basketball Nutrition

March is Nation Nutrition month and with that in mind, I thought it necessary to provide my Elite Basketball Training family with some valuable information on the Basketball Nutrition Habits of Champions.  As a long time advocate and practitioner of healthy, clean eating and someone who is currently working towards his nutrition certification, I can personally vouch for the positive results that proper nutrition has on your overall health and your performance on the basketball court.  Food is fuel for your body and just like a car, your body needs premium fuel.  Put low grade gas in your high end car and your driving experience will suffer.  Make poor food choices and or don’t eat and your game play will suffer as a result.  With that in mind, here the Five Nutrition Habits of Champions that will help you to stay energized during exercise, enhance recovery between workouts, and maintain a healthy body composition. 

 Basketball Nutrition Habits of Champions

1) Hydrate

2) Refuel

3) Eat at Regular Intervals

4) Choose a Varied and Balanced Diet

5) Meet Your Energy Needs


Daily Basketball Nutrition Checklist

Complete this checklist daily to ensure you are achieving

optimal nutrition

_______ I ate breakfast

_______ I ate 3 balanced meals

_______ I ate 2-3 nutritious snacks

_______ I ate 2-3 pieces of fruit

_______ I ate 3-5 servings of vegetables

_______ I ate 3-4 servings of low-fat dairy products

_______ I ate a lean source of protein in each meal

_______ I ate a source of carbohydrates in meals and snacks

_______ I selected foods moderate or low in fat

_______ I drank water regularly throughout the day

_______ I drank Rehydrate during intense conditioning

_______ I refueled within 60 minutes following workouts

_______ I took a multivitamin


5 Nutrition Habits of Champions In Greater Detail

1) HYDRATE (Advocare Rehydrate)


  • Raises your body temperature
  • Makes you work harder at lower exercise intensities
  • Causes headache, dizziness, and fatigue
  • Leads to muscle cramping

Stay Hydrated

  • Drink at least 1 cup of water every hour

TIP: Carry a water bottle around with you for a reminder

  • Drink 1-2 cups of Rehydrate about 15 minutes before exercise
  • Drink 1-2 cups of fluid every half hour during exercise

TIP: Select Rehydrate over water if you are a salty sweater or exercising for longer than an


  • Drink 3 cups of Rehydrate after exercise

TIP : Add 2 more cups of water or Rehydrate for each pound lost during exercise

Monitor Hydration

Urine color – Clear to pale yellow color and frequent need to urinate signals adequate

hydration. Infrequent, dark urine reflects your body begging you to drink.

Weight loss – Weighing yourself before and after practice allows you to estimate fluids lost in

sweat. Replace each pound with 2 cups of fluid.




1) To replace carbohydrates used for energy and build stores for the next workout

2) To provide protein for aid in muscle repair and to prevent muscle breakdown

3) To take the first step in recovery for your next workout


The critical time to refuel is within the first 30 minutes after exercise, when your body is

able to maximize absorption of carbohydrates and protein.


Water : at least 3 cups of fluid plus an additional 2 cups for each pound of weight loss

Carbohydrates : 50-100 grams

Protein : 15-25 grams

Recommended Food Combinations

  • Post Workout Recovery and Rehydrate
  • 2 cups of low-fat chocolate milk and a banana
  • Peanut butter and jelly sandwich and 2 cups of Rehydrate
  • Bagel and part-skim mozzarella string cheese
  • 8 oz. of low-fat yogurt mixed with 1/2 cup granola cereal
  • 2 cups of cereal with skim or 1% milk




1) To maintain blood sugar levels for constant energy throughout the day

2) To minimize overwhelming hunger that leads to overeating late at night

3) To encourage protein synthesis instead of fat storage


Aim for 3-4 balanced meals daily

  • Begin your day with a meal, even if it is not a traditional breakfast
  • Regardless of your work or class schedule, make sure to include a lunch

– This may require packing food ahead of time

  • Prepare or purchase a dinner that is about the same size as breakfast and lunch
  • For weight gain, eating a fourth meal will help you to consume more calories
  • Starving all day and binging at night will sabotage both weight loss and weight gain efforts

– Aim for 2-4 snacks daily

  • Including a small snack in between meals will control your hunger
  • Adding large snacks will help increase calories needed for weight gain
  • Eating a high-carbohydrate snack pre-workout will provide quick energy
  • Refueling after exercise is an essential snack for all athletes



Follow these three steps to ensure you reach nutrient recommendations.

Step 1: Eat antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables


1) Aim for 2-3 pieces of fruit per day

2) Aim for 3-5 servings of vegetables per day

– 1 serving is 1 cup raw or 1/2 cup cooked veggies


  • fresh fruit, frozen fruit, canned fruit in water or juice, 100% fruit juice, dried fruit
  • fresh vegetables, frozen vegetables, canned vegetables, 100% vegetable juice

Step 2: Eat energy-supplying carbohydrates


1) At least half of your calories should come from carbohydrates

2) Include a source of carbohydrates in every meal and snack


  • whole grain bread, cereal, pasta, rice, oats
  • starchy vegetables such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, winter squash, corn
  • limit empty calories such as soda, sweet tea, candy, and sugary desserts

Step 3: Eat muscle-building, lean protein sources


1) Up to 1/4 of your calories may come from protein

2) Include a source of lean protein in every meal


  • chicken breast, sirloin steak, lean ground beef, fish, egg whites, beans
  • low-fat dairy products such as skim milk, low-fat yogurt, and 2% cheese



Match your food intake to your body composition goals.

  • Increase total calories to gain lean muscle mass
  • Decrease total calories to shed excess body fat
  • Maintain total calories to avoid weight gain or loss


Sample Meal Plans Focused on Basketball Nutrition

Six sample meal plans have been provided at varying energy levels to guide your food choices.

If no beverage is listed with food items, select water, crystal light, or unsweetened iced tea.

If you fail to reach all of your vitamin and mineral requirements on a daily

basis, it is also recommended that you take a general multivitamin.



Breakfast: 2 cups of Cheerios with 1 cup of skim milk

1 medium banana

Morning Snack: 12 baby carrots

Lunch: 3 slices of turkey breast on 2 slices of whole wheat bread with lettuce, tomato, 1slice of Swiss cheese

and 1 Tbsp of mayonnaise

1 medium apple

Afternoon Snack: Peanut butter granola bar

Dinner: Salad containing 1 cup spinach, 3 oz. grilled chicken breast, 1/2 cup chickpeas, 1/2 cup canned

mandarin oranges, mushroom, and onion topped with 1/2 oz. dried walnuts and 1 Tbsp red wine vinaigrette

1 cup skim milk

Evening Snack: 6 oz. low-fat yogurt

During Practice: Approximately 3 cups of Rehydrate



Breakfast: 2 packets instant oatmeal mixed with 1/2 cup skim milk and 1 cup strawberries

Morning Snack: 1/4 cup of dry roasted almonds

Lunch: Tuna salad sandwich on 2 slices rye bread made with 3 oz. tuna, 2 tsp mayonnaise, celery, lettuce, and

topped with tomato slices

1 medium pear

16 wheat thin crackers dipped in 1 Tbsp hummus

Afternoon Snack: 1/4 cup of granola cereal mixed in 6 oz. low-fat yogurt

Dinner: 3 oz. grilled or roasted chicken breast

1 large baked sweet potato topped with 2 tsp brown sugar and 1 Tbsp margarine

1 whole wheat dinner roll

2 cups salad with mixed greens, cucumber, tomato, sunflower seeds, and 1 Tbsp red wine vinaigrette dressing

Evening Snack: 3 cups of reduced-fat popcorn

2 pieces part-skim mozzarella string cheese

During Practice: Approximately 4 cups of Rehydrate



Breakfast: 4 frozen multigrain waffles topped with 1/2 cup of blueberries, 1 Tbsp of margarine, and 2 Tbsp of

maple syrup

Morning Snack: 1 medium banana covered with 2 Tbsp natural peanut butter

Lunch: 6” steak sub on wheat bread with 3 oz. grilled sirloin, 1 slice part-skim mozzarella cheese, onion, and

green pepper

1 cup skim milk

Afternoon Snack: 8 triscuit crackers dipped in 3 Tbsp of hummus

Dinner: 1-1/2 cups whole wheat pasta with marinara sauce containing grilled chicken breast, tomatoes, and


1 whole wheat dinner roll with 1 tsp margarine spread

1 cup skim milk

Evening Snack: 1 Oats ‘N Honey granola bar

During Practice: Approximately 4 cups of Rehydrate



Breakfast: Egg sandwich with 1 scrambled egg and 1 slice of 2% cheddar cheese on a whole wheat English


1 cup of 1% milk

1 grapefruit with 1 Tbsp sugar

Morning Snack: 1 cup of grapes

6 oz. of low-fat yogurt with 1/4 cup granola cereal

Lunch: Chicken Caesar pita with 1/2 grilled chicken breast, romaine lettuce, tomato, cucumber,

2 Tbsp Caesar salad dressing, and 1 Tbsp Parmesan cheese

1 medium orange

1/2 cup goldfish crackers

Afternoon Snack: 1 cup applesauce

1/4 cup dry roasted almonds

Dinner: Stir-fry with 5 oz. sirloin steak, 1 cup brown rice, and sauteed green pepper, onion, sugar snap peas,

and broccoli

Evening Snack: 1 large baked tortilla dipped in 1 cup thick-and-chunky salsa

1 cup of 1% milk

During Practice: Approximately 5 cups of Rehydrate



Breakfast: 1 cup of granola cereal mixed with 1 cup of strawberries and 1 cup of 2% milk

1 cup of 100% orange juice

Morning Snack: Peanut butter and jelly sandwich on 2 slices of whole wheat bread

Lunch: 1 baked chicken breast with 2 cups of rice

1/2 cup of peas and 1/2 cup of corn

1 cup of 2% milk

Afternoon Snack: 12 baby carrots dipped in low-fat ranch dressing

1 small bowl of pretzels

Dinner: 3 beef soft tacos topped with shredded cheese, tomatoes, onion, lettuce, and thick and chunky salsa

Evening Snack: 1 medium apple dipped in 6 oz. of low-fat yogurt

During Practice: Approximately 6 cups of Rehydrate



Breakfast: 3 large scrambled eggs

2 slices whole wheat toast topped with 2 tsp margarine and 2 Tbsp jelly

1 cup of 100% apple juice

Morning Snack: 1 medium orange

1 whole wheat bagel topped with 2 Tbsp of natural peanut butter

Lunch: 1 chicken breast with 1 cup of macaroni and cheese

1 cup mixed vegetables

1 cup of 100% grape juice

Afternoon Snack: 1 muscle milk

1 medium apple

Dinner: 6 oz. sirloin steak

2 cups black beans and rice

2 cups mixed salad greens and vegetables with Italian dressing

1 cup of 100% orange juice

Evening Snack: 2 cups of 2% chocolate milk

1/2 cup dry roasted almonds

During Practice: Approximately 6 cups of Rehydrate

When planning your own meals for home or eating out, think about dividing

your plate into thirds: cover 1/3 with fruits or vegetables, 1/3 with highfiber

starches, and 1/3 with lean protein.


The Perfect Plate:

fruits & veggies


lean protein


We hope we have shared a solid resource her for your basketball nutrition needs and hope you will add your comments and questions below.  We have included some links to our Advocare store page to introduce you to the products we use and that are NCAA approved for rehydration and some other needs.  We do get paid an affiliate commission on some of those products should you choose to purchase one.

Do you know a basketball player with ambitious goals?   Introduce them to this important piece of the basketball development puzzle by sharing this article with them or on social media.  To download a pdf version of the basketball nutrition checklist go to: Basketball Nutrition Checklist Download.

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