How to Eat Healthy Before Playing Basketball

The right foods and drinks can help you become a better athlete. Here are a few tips, directly from NBA superstars Peja Stojakovic and Vlade Divac, on how kid athletes can use nutrition to their advantage, just like the pros.

Covering the Bases

All kids need to eat a variety of healthy foods, and athletes are no different. Everybody needs foods that include:

  • Protein (found in meat, eggs, and dairy foods)
  • Carbohydrates (grains like wheat bread)
  • Vitamins (as found in fruits and vegetables, for instance) and minerals like calcium (found in dairy products)

Note: Kids need some fat, too, but that's not usually difficult to get. It's found in meats, cheeses, nuts, oils, and butter so you don't usually have to look too far to find them.

Consuming Calories at a Clip

So what makes athletes different when it comes to eating? The main thing is that athletes may need more food. Why? They burn more calories by practicing and playing so much.

School-age kids (ages 6 to 12) generally need between 1,600 and 2,500 calories a day. An athlete who is more active than a typical active kid might need to eat more. Calorie needs go up during puberty, so take that into consideration too when deciding on how many calories to consume.

Calcium and Iron

Calcium and iron are two important nutrients for kids - especially athletes. Calcium builds strong bones, which are less likely to break under the stress and strain of heavy activity. You'll find calcium in dairy products, like milk, yogurt, and cheese. Other good sources include dark, green leafy vegetables and calcium-fortified products, like orange juice.

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