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Learn What and When You Need To Eat Before Basketball Games To Optimize Performance

If you want to perform at your best you need to take your pre-game basketball nutrition seriously.

Any well designed basketball nutrition plan will incorporate an effective, science based pre-game meal protocol. 

Consuming the correct pre-game nutrition will ensure that you have enough fuel to power your games and training.

Lets take a look at the best pre-game nutrition tips for basketball players.


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What Do NBA Players Eat Before Games

Every player has different preferences when it comes to pre-game meals and beverages.

Some players like carb heavy meals while other take a low carb approach to basketball nutrition.

If you have read our huge investigation into the Lebron James Diet Plan you would have learned that "The King's" pre game go-to meal is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

The G.O.A.T Michael Jordan is reported to have preferred to eat a huge steak and some baked potatoes a few hours before game time.

Some vegan basketball players such as Kyrie Irving and Chris Paul prefer "plant-based" meals pre-game.

Carbohydrates, fats and proteins all play a vital role in fueling a basketball players high intensity efforts.

All 3 of these macronutrients should be carefully dispersed throughout a players game day diet protocol.


It is important to ensure that you meet you specific caloric and macronutient requirements.

You can calculate you food intake requirements by using our Calorie Counter For Basketball Players.

The closer you get to game time the less food you will eat. 

The aim is too eat all of your high fat and high fiber foods early in the day to allow time for digestion.

Some rapidly digesting carbs and protein closer to game time may be of benefit to some players.

Game Day Dietary Guidelines For Basketball Players

Here are a few basic guidelines that you should adhere to on game day:

4-5 Hours Before Game Time

Around 4-5 hours before tip off is the perfect time to consume your largest pre-game meal. By eating hours before game-time, you’re able to ensure that your fat and fiber heavy foods have time to digest.

This meal should contain high carbs and moderate fat and protein.

Add a little extra salt with this meal plus drink a glass or two of water.

Here are a couple of example meals that you can eat 4-5 hours prior to a game:

  1. Oats (Carbs)+ Peanut Butter(Fats) + Yogurt (Protein)
  2. 4 Egg Omelete (Fats and Protein) + Fruit Salad (Carbs)

1.5-3 Hours Before Game Time

​Having another nutrient dense meal a couple of hours prior to tip off will ensure that your energy stores are topped up to max capacity.

The goal of this meal is to top up muscle and liver glycogen levels with adequate carbs and stimulate protein synthesis, recovery and performance with a protein hit.

The closer you get to game time, the less fat you want to eat. ​Fat takes a long time to digest and can cause many digestive issues if eaten too close to high intensity exercise.

Once again, add a couple of glasses of water and some salt to this meal.

This is also when you can add in your favorite performance enhancing basketball supplements.

Here are a couple of example meals that you can eat around 1.5-3 hours prior to a game:

  1. Chicken Sandwich (Carbs and Protein)
  2. Protein Shake With Banana and Berries (Carbs and Protein)

1 Hour Before Game Time

One hour before tip-off is a great time to get some more liquid, protein and carbs into your body.

Checkout our free "Game Day Dominance Course" to see how to make the ultimate pre-game drink concoction from 5 ingredients proven to improve performance.

Adding in a little extra sodium during this time can help promote hydration.

Avoid consuming any fats during this time.

This can be a great time to consume some caffeine.

Many athletes prefer not to eat anything this close to game time and have their last meal 1.5-3hrs prior to tip-off.


The Perfect Pre-Game Meal Formula For Basketball Players

Basketball nutrition is not a one-size-fits all approach.

There is no perfect pre-game meal formula that will suit each and every basketball player. 

Every athlete has a different genetic make-up, needs and goals.

Some athletes react poorly to high carbohydrate foods while other have no issue at all. 

Some atheltes may experience extreme stomach discomfort when eating fats around game time while others thrive (such as Lebron who eats apple and almond butter at half time). Check out Lebron's Diet.

Browse our collection of basketball diet and nutrition guides to learn more about how to eat right for on-court dominance.

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