Basketball Nutrition 101 – For Basketball Coaches
Stacy Goldberg, MPH,RN, CEO and Nutrition Consultant – Savorfull.com
Nutrition can be overwhelming as an athlete or coach.
Even for professionals often times, there’s an abundance of information out there it continues to evolve in terms of research and studies- and it just keeps compounding on itself. So while nutrition is ever complex, I think that there are so many great steps that coaches can take to help improve their players health.
For example, I often get youth coaches who will come up to me and say something like,“I’d love to help give my players more solid nutritional advice, I just don’t know where to begin. How do I start? My players aren’t ready to swap quinoi for rice, I can barely get them to think about anything other than junk food. I can’t tell you how many players on my team love Doritos and they have no idea what they’re consuming for protein and this and that. Where do I begin in terms of trying to make positive changes?”
Realistically, as a coach, you aren’t going to be able to go in and overhaul an entire diet on the entire team nonetheless even one player. The first thing that a coach could tell them to help make positive changes would be to be able to learn the difference between carbs, proteins, and fats.
Be able to understand what the difference is and learning which proteins they can eat to help repair damaged muscle tissue, and to stimulate new development of new tissue, and things like that.
Being able to learn how to eat foods that are going to be good for them, learning to take in carbs which are going to be muscle fuel before, during and after their long workout session.
Teaching them what are the healthy carbs and learning the difference between eating just a traditional piece of white bread versus a 100% whole wheat bread or even learning what are healthy protein options and what are healthy fat options.
The second piece of that is that the really difficult challenge is sugar. If a coach can talk sugar with their athletes that’s going to be critical because even the healthiest of athletes can’t have unlimited amount of sugar. There’s a lot of information out there about what are healthy sugars and what are unhealthy sugars and trying to teach your athletes where you can go to get healthier choices for sugars. That’s a really big deal.
Working with athletes on nutrient timing is really important and being able to provide them information as far as what they should be eating:
- 3-4 hours before a workout
- 30 minutes to an hour before a workout
- During a workout
- After a workout
There is a lot of content and information around that and then being able to help to learn what those are going to be. If you can work with them to learn a little bit about that then that’s going to be critical, what should you be eating two hours after a workout and then two hours after that and 30 minutes after.
Those things are really critical and we can always help provide more information on that if they need it.
You may be asking yourself, “That’s great Stacy, but I’m not sure what the best choices are for my athletes…Carbs? Fats? Proteins?”
When it comes to a healthy carb source I like quinoa much better than I like brown rice. If someone can have quinoa incorporated into their diet, it’s a great choice. It’s not expensive, it’s easy to make, it has a complete amino acid profile. So, it’s really great for recovery and that’s a great choice to be able to use with athletes for sure. So, that’s a great option and then I like getting starchy carbs out. Instead I recommend coaches have their athletes get a lot of fruits and vegetables in their diet.
If you can have an athlete incorporate more vegetables and fruits as their source of healthy carbs that’s great and if they can eliminate a lot of the fruit juice because fruit juice is not good for them. They’re probably drinking too much juice and a lot of them are drinking too much Gatorade too, so they’re getting a lot of extra sugar!
Getting a little bit more serious about it, I love sprouted grains. If people can start experimenting with things like sprouted grains, those are awesome. Beans, lentils those are all really good healthy carbs sources.
When it comes to protein, if they can have healthier protein sources like beans, nuts, seeds, chicken, or turkey; but if they can try to get a variety of different protein options that would really be ideal.
If they don’t have restrictions; if they’re not vegan, if they’re not vegetarian, then they can try to experiment with different types of proteins and that would be the best thing that they could do. Getting protein from eggs, chicken, turkey, lean beef, fish, sea food – all of those different sources. If they’re vegan or vegetarian it also requires a more serious look into their diet and helping to be able to give them the resources if they need plant protein or if they need pea protein, or if they’re looking to nuts and seeds as their source of protein.
Being able to adapt and especially when it comes to supplements and bars. If you’re working with an athlete that need assistance and they need a bar or they need a shake or they need something that’s going to have protein in it but you’re not really sure exactly which protein, that’s important to know. Being able to balance the different types of protein and then making sure they’re getting enough protein. That’s the key and that varies by athlete.
Healthy fats – I’m a huge fan of fats and actually many athletes are not getting enough of the healthy fats.
These are things like: olive oil, coconut oil, avocado, healthy fats that are found in fish such as salmon, tuna, nuts and seeds. Being able to eat a variety of different types of nuts and nut butters. Peanut butter is out there, but there’s also other nut butters (almond butter, cashew butter, sunflower seed butter). Making sure that someone’s getting enough of those healthy fats is really, really important.
Like I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a big fan of creating a one-size-fits-all template or nutrition plan. I think, in particular for coaches, the most valuable thing you can do is educate your athletes and give them options to help encourage them to make better food choices by looking at some of the examples above.
For more information on Stacy, make sure to check her out online: