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Maintaining a proper Diet is essential to the "performance" of any athlete including a basketball player.


Diet is a critical component of an athlete's overall training regimen. In order for the body to function normally it is necessary that it be furnished with food of the proper kind and amount.

Food functions in the body by supplying energy and heat, by building and repairing tissues, and by stimulating and making possible the various processes and activities of the body.

Energy and heat are furnished by the carbohydrates and fats. Protein is used to build up new tissues and repair old ones. Practically all foods contain some protein, but it is found primarily in lean meats, eggs, milk and cheese, nuts, peas, beans and lentils. Water, certain mineral salts and vitamins, or "protective substances," are also necessary to keep the body functioning properly.

Things that should be excluded from the player's diet are fried foods, highly seasoned dishes, and pastries.

A player should always try to maintain a balanced diet without over eating. The body gets along best if it has so much food and no more. When carbohydrates and fats are taken in quantities greater than we need, the excess amount is stored in the body as fat. The excess protein is not stored but is thrown off as waste.

This means extra work for the excretory organs. The end products of the carbohydrates and fats are very simple and easily eliminated, but with protein they are very complex and are gotten rid of with difficulty. Their elimination sometimes causes injury to the kidneys and other organs.

Carbohydrates when eaten in excess causes fermentation, indigestion, and constipation. Fruits, besides being splendid food, are also good for this condition. Every one should drink plenty of water. Many athletes do not drink enough, especially between meals. A glass or two during meals will aid in digestion. The athlete needs from five to ten glasses a day.

The athlete's meals, as well as his sleep and exercise, should be regular. The habit of eating between meals is bad. It causes overeating and often leads to impaired digestion. Some players have a desire to eat something before going to bed. If the food is simple and not excessive in amount, it will probably do no harm providing there is a need for the same, but it should not become a habit.

A man sleeps and rests better if the stomach is empty when he goes to bed. Plenty of time should be taken to eat. Meals are enjoyed more when eaten slowly. Moreover, when the food is not chewed and masticated thoroughly one is apt to eat more, digestion is not so complete, and there is a failure to get the greatest possible benefit from the food.

The meal immediately preceding or following a hard workout should always be light. It is never good to eat a big meal when one is very tired. Excessive perspiration impedes the secretion of the gastric juice, and the fatigue products resulting from the exercise have a depressing effect upon the mind and cause impaired digestion. The nutrition is affected by mental and moral states or by any kind of nervous irritation.

A contented mind and joyous nature go with a good digestion, while remorse, discontent, and so on are apt to be associated with poor digestion. Many players are affected by nervousness just before a game and suffer from impaired digestion as a result. To prevent this condition an effort should be made to keep them as optimistic as possible and their minds on something other than the game. The coaching should be done some time before the day of the game.

Dinner should be light. Most ill health and disease are caused by toxic substances which are formed either within the body or are taken in the form of drugs. It is necessary, therefore, in order that man be able to enjoy good health, that there be a regular and orderly elimination of the waste products from the body, and also the prevention as far as possible of the entrance of any toxic substances from the outside in the body.

The work of removing the poisonous material from the body is done by the lungs, kidneys, skin, and intestines. The kidneys are exceedingly important organs of elimination, and their proper functioning is dependent upon a good supply of water. Much of the waste material of the body is thrown off by the intestines. This removal should be prompt and regular.

Any delay in the action of the bowels is accompanied by the formation of toxic substances which are absorbed into the body, causing headache and other symptoms of ill health. Sometimes the results of this condition are very serious. The most efficient treatment of constipation consists of removing and adjusting the causative factors. Of very great importance is the matter of establishing a regular habit of having the bowels move at a certain time every day.

A common cause of constipation is a lack of the proper kind and amount of physical exercise, resulting in bad posture, a lowered muscular tone, and a poor general resistance. Perhaps, the most important measure in preventing constipation is the proper regulation of one's diet. In most cases the condition can be avoided by eating foods that have some special laxative qualities.

Some of the laxative foods are oranges, apples, prunes, peaches, figs, celery, string-beans, asparagus, spinach, rhubarb, onions, green peas, corn, baked potatoes (with skins), lettuce, tomatoes, honey, molasses, rolled oats, other whole cereals, and bread made from whole wheat or graham flour. Oils and fats are also laxative.

The following are constipating: rice, dried beans, cornstarch, custard puddings, boiled milk, salted and dried meats, cheese, tea, coffee, and bread made from fine flour. Water aids greatly in stimulating and promoting the action of the intestines. It works best if taken when the stomach is empty. This is especially true in the morning before breakfast.

Most cases of constipation will clear up if sufficient attention is given to the diet, exercise, and habit.

The importance of maintaining a proper diet cannot be over emphasized to the athlete. Ignoring this fact would eventually cause harm to the athlete.


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