It was the summer before my senior year in high school, and I was working my ass off. Great players are made in the summer, and no one embodied that more than I did. Unfortunately, like many of you, I had no idea how to eat for optimum performance. I was 6’5” and only 165 pounds and couldn’t put on weight… at all! I drank protein shakes, ate double and triple servings at every meal, and even ate ice cream and potatoes late at night, all in the hopes of gaining weight. The problem, which I’d discover later, was that I wasn’t absorbing all of the nutrients (or lack of) because of the food I was eating. My body was taking in a lot of calories but they weren’t high quality calories, so I saw no lean muscle mass gain. What I saw was more visits to the toilet, with little to no reward.


If you’ve ever asked… What should I eat? How do I put on muscle? Can I really get more explosive by changing my diet? Does the food I eat really matter? You definitely want to read this article and apply what you learn. Let’s dive into these frequently asked questions and give you all of the advantages possible.

What should I eat? This is a simple one, but not so easy to implement. You’ll have to discipline yourself and stay focused on what you want. Always eat according to your goals. It’s okay to eat fried food, and lots of sugar, if you don’t care about your health, your performance, or your body. So if you’ve made it this far into the article, I’m sure you care about all of those things. Let’s be sure to only put into our bodies what is going to fuel us to be better. You’re going to want to eat balanced meals. Lean protein, complex carbohydrates, and vegetables are all included in a balanced meal. Depending on your weight and goals, the amount of food will vary, but you want to be thinking quality. 100 calories is 100 calories but the nutrients inside could be extremely different. Think 100 calories of cotton candy and 100 calories of broccoli… They are both the same calorie count, but are polar opposites when it comes to nutrient value. Choose valuable options that have what your body needs to perform at the highest level. 6oz of chicken, 1 cup of brown rice, and 6 ounces of broccoli, would be a great meal for lunch or dinner for any athlete.

How do I put on muscle? The word you want to remember is Protein. Protein is the building blocks of muscle, so if you eat the right amounts of protein, then you’ll surely put on muscle. For younger players who are still growing and have a high metabolism, you’ll want to eat more overall calories in general. You still want to focus on getting enough protein. Size follows strength. If you want to put on muscle, then you’ll need to get into the weight room and lift.

We teach 80% nutrition and 20% exercise, so be sure to keep the main thing the main thing. Get your nutrition right first, then everything else will fall into place.

In order to put on muscle and not just overall weight, be sure to eat every 2-3 hours. Many people who don’t know what they are talking about will tell you to just eat a bunch of food, and you’ll gain weight. This is bad advice for so many different reasons. The goal isn’t to just put on weight. We want to put on the right kind of weight (which is muscle) and reduce body fat. We accomplish this by nutrient timing and eating high quality food every 2-3 hours. For most players, eating 6 times per day will be best approach and each meal or snack needs to have protein.  

Can I really get more explosive by changing my diet? Yes. When you’re body is being fueled properly, everything improves. Being an explosive basketball player requires a few parts genetics, incredible lower body and core strength, agility and power, and optimum recovery times. The variable that proper nutrition and diet address is the strength increase and increased recovery times. I’m not going to get into a whole science lesson here, but I promise you that if you take your nutrition seriously, you will see results. When you have more energy, are more focused, and fueled properly, you can then go that much harder during your workouts. Can you see how this will help? If you can work harder for longer and recover faster, you can improve dramatically, day in and day out.

Does the food I eat really matter? By now, I’m sure you can see the correlation between proper nutrition and basketball performance. Your food intake absolutely matters. If you owned a Lamborghini and you never got the oil changed, never repaired the brakes, ran it on really bad gas, then what do you think would happen? It would fall apart, right? Of course it would. Yet so many players work so hard and put in hours of work daily and never think to fuel their body properly. The food you eat is a direct reflection of your standards and your commitment to maximizing your potential. The higher your standards, the better the results you’ll achieve. Be committed to a world class nutrition routine, and I promise you will notice a difference.

Unfortunately, unless you are playing in the NBA, or your parent’s are registered dieticians, you won’t learn about the benefits of a great diet until it’s too late. We encourage players to take their eating habits seriously, and to eat like the champions that you are. Show me a player’s habits, and I will show you their future. Develop the routines and habits necessary to dominate this game and give yourself every advantage to succeed.

Stay Relentless. Play The Optimum Way.

Article by Brandon Cochran

Co-Founder Optimum Basketball

P.S. For more information about nutrition coaching and supplementation, shoot an Email to [email protected]


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