Basketball is a high-intensity sport that requires a combination of power, speed, strength and agility. As a college student playing sports and also actively maintaining grades to continue to play, sleep is prioritized over eating and the food provided on the college campus or by coaches aren’t always sufficient in the nutrients that are needed to refuel their body. The energy requirements of college basketball players can be considerable. In a recent study by Silva et al, energy expenditure in elite high-school-aged female and male basketball players during the season was measured to be over 3,500 and 4,600 kcals/day, respectively.1 There are reports that state that many athletes do not achieve nutritional practices/habits to optimize their sports performance. The factors identified to be responsible for this include poor nutritional knowledge, dietary extremism, poor practical skills in choosing or preparing meals, and reduced access to food due to a busy life style of students; most of whom combine their studies with search/purchase and preparation of their daily food requirements.
Vitamin D is a steroid hormone found in the diet and synthesized in the skin in the presence of ultraviolet radiation. Vitamin D is believed to play a role in influencing fracture risk and athletic performance. Insufficiency of vitamin D affects an estimated three-quarter of the United States population. Dark skin pigmentation is a known risk factor for vitamin D insufficiency. The increased melanin found in the skin of darkly pigmented individuals may increase the amount of time to synthesize vitamin D up to 10-fold.2 Vitamin D has been linked to improved vertical jump height, exercise capacity and sprint times among athletes. Vitamin D deficiency is prevalent among basketball players because the sport is played indoors and there isn’t much of a chance to get any sunlight, since practice is indoors and all games. It is found that it is even harder for darkly pigmented individuals to synthesize vitamin D even with regular exposure to sunlight.
Dehydration (>2%) has been found to consistently impair aerobic performance; however, mild to moderate dehydration (up to 2—5%) does not appear to affect athletes’ muscular strength, jumping, short- term sprinting, or anaerobic performance.3 Because most basketball games are at night, athletes sleep schedules are pushed back and since they are tired and worn down they don’t prioritize food over their sleep, although it is important. A basketball player’s body goes through a substantial amount of wear and tear and nutrition is an essential part of a speedy and full recovery.
1. Fueling the Basketball Athlete: The Practitioner’s Approach. Gatorade Sports Science Institute. https://www.gssiweb.org/sports-science-exchange/article/sse-168-fueling-the-basketball-athlete-the-practitioners-approach. Accessed August 19, 2018.
2. Grieshober JA, Mehran N, Photopolous C, Fishman M, Lombardo SJ, Kharrazi FD. Vitamin D Insufficiency Among Professional Basketball Players: A Relationship to Fracture Risk and Athletic Performance. Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine. 2018;6(5):2325967118774329. doi:10.1177/2325967118774329.
3. Hydration Science and Strategies for Basketball. Gatorade Sports Science Institute. http://www.gssiweb.org/sports-science-exchange/article/sse-165-hydration-science-and-strategies-for-basketball. Accessed August 6, 2018.