A college athlete's body is a finely-tuned engine that needs the right fuel to make it go. It's up to sports nutritionists to give those bodies the right foods for peak performance, but everyone can learn something from their advice.
WHAT YOU AND THE TEAM should BE EATING
What March Madness champs are eating
March Madness is one of the greatest spectacles in sports. It's like the excitement of professional football's championship game, but repeated over three weekends. Sixty-eight teams enter, but only one survives. Of course, building a championship team is no simple task. It requires hard work, practice and good nutrition.
Have you ever wondered what college basketball players eat? Here are some thoughts on good eating from some of college basketball's best nutritionists and nutrition resources with ideas on how you can take what they recommend for the players and use it for your own healthy eating.
When basketball players eat
According to Jen Ketterly , MS, RD, a college basketball player's body needs to be fully fueled and ready to go at game time and the best way to do that is through the pregame meal. Most pregame meals are larger than a normal meal and are served about three hours before game time. Ketterly also discusses the importance of postgame meals, which consist largely of carbohydrates that allow players to refuel their bodies and recover more quickly.
What basketball players eat
Unsurprisingly, a basketball player's diet looks a lot like the diet of someone trying to lose weight. Both diet plans emphasize clean carbs from whole grains, vegetables, and fruit and protein from low-fat sources like chicken and lean beef. What is different is the amount and proportion of those dietary staples. Someone trying to lose weight will be asked to eat lots of lean protein and carbs from vegetable sources, while Ketterly asks basketball players to eat meals consisting of nearly two-thirds carbs. Players are also encouraged to drink 100 percent fruit juice and sports drinks to increase their hydration and carbohydrates.
A focus on hydration
It's important for everyone to stay hydrated, but for basketball players, good hydration is essential. Drinking water is good for keeping the body operating properly, and it prevents cramps, which can sideline players or make them go to the locker room for an IV. To this end, sports nutritionists and sites like Livestrong encourage players to prehydrate hours before a game with sports drinks, which again add fluids and carbs, and drink during the game to maintain optimal hydration. Those looking to lose weight are also advised to stay hydrated, but in their case, water should be used as it contains fewer calories.
What we can learn
First of all, good nutrition is good nutrition. The best athletes in the world play their sport on a simple meal of lean protein and clean carbs and nonathletes should live their lives on meals of the same. It's also good to note we should avoid overdoing carbs for the same reasons college basketball players should take them. They need to the burn the energy. Most of us do not, so if we overindulge in carbohydrates, it might lead to issues with weight loss.