Basketball nutrition – when, what and how much

10. July 2018

Basketball is a game of repeated sprints with a series of jumps, change of direction and high force contacts. The high physical demands of the game require appropriate fuelling to ensure you perform at your best. Although positional differences have different demands, defensive and offensive plays often result similar physical outcomes, allowing a nutrition strategy to created

Energy Needs- Background

Glucose is taken in from carbohydrate through the diet and stored as glycogen in the muscles and liver. Carbohydrate is the main source of energy for high intensity activity involving repeated sprints. The higher the intensity, the greater amounts of glycogen can be used. Having full energy stores will only last for around 60 minutes throughout a basketball warm up and match, meaning that you must take on extra carbohydrate during a match in order to maintain these stores. Failure to do so will affect your physical performance, including your ability to sprint and change direction

Hydration Needs- Background

It is not uncommon for elite basketballers to lose up to 2.5 litres of fluid during a game. Research suggests that even a 2% loss in body weight from fluid loss can lead to impaired physical and mental performance. This highlights the need to start play in a hydrated state and aim to maintain this throughout the game during stopages.


In the days leading up to competition (24-36 hours), you will benefit from following a ‘carbohydrate loading’ regimen. This can be achieved by you consuming 8-10-g of carbohydrates per kilo of your body weight with meals evenly spread across the day (every 2-3 hours). Ideally, high glycaemic (high GI) carbohydrates should be the most dominant source eaten with every meal as these are rapidly digested and absorbed by your body. This would allow you to maximise your energy stores in preparation for game day:

Training Considerations

Pre Training: Starting training in a hydrated state is crucial, especially when training indoor with high sweat rates. Take on 500 – 1000ml of fluid in the hours before training, preferably containing electrolytes like that is SiS GO Hydro. This will help you use and retain the fluid more effectively.

During Training: Make sure you take on at least 500ml of fluid per hour to maintain hydration levels. Electrolytes and energy stores also need replacing. An SiS GO Electrolyte can help you hit both energy and hydration goals when sipped throughput a training session.

Game Day

Professional players perform during 4 quarters of 12 minutes long (plus stoppage time). Gaps between quarters relatively short, with gaps between halves lasting several minutes. This allows time for a player to fuel and hydrate effectively. However, optimal performance begins pre-game.

Pre match:

Hydration: Fluid Intake should start the night before the game, aiming for 500ml of fluid before you go to sleep. In the build 1000ml of SiS GO Hydro is ideal to be sipped in the 3 hours prior to the game, allowing you to begin in a hydrated state.

Energy: Generally, you will arrive at the game 60-90 minutes before the start. Aim to take on an additional 500ml of SiS GO Electrolyte within 60 minutes of the start and an SiS GO Energy + Caffeine gel or SiS GO Isotonic Energy Gel around 15-20 minutes before you start the game.

Follow these ‘in play’ fuelling guidlines to ensure you keep hydrated and maintain energy stores throughout.

Post Game/ Training

Although nutrition cannot prevent the pain of knocks of bruises, it can help you adapt to the demands of the game and prepare early for your next training session. Follow these 3 key recovery and rebuild tips:

  • Refuel: Your metabolism stays lifted for around 30 minutes post-exercise, so it is important to replace carbohydrates and provide protein and electrolytes within this time. SiS REGO Rapid Recovery provides the body with 23g of carbohydrate, 20g of protein and 1000mg of salt, which is what the body needs to adapt and recover after a tough match.
  • Hydrate: Aim to replenish 150% of the fluid lost during the game or training session. Work this out by weighing yourself before and after
  • Always plan ahead: If you’re heading to a game straight from work, ensure that you have your fluid, SiS GO gels and REGO Rapid Recovery shake ready in your kit bag.
  • Get enough sleep: Sleep is one of the most important aspects of recovery. During sleep is when most of your growth and rebuild of tissues is done, including lean muscle tissue. Many athletes find it hard to sleep after a game due to muscle soreness. Protein can help increase sleep quality and feed a steady stream of amino acids, which is ideal to prevent muscle breakdown.

Advice provided by Ted Munson – SiS Performance Nutritionist