LeBron James took the diet spotlight several years ago for his dramatic weight loss, choosing the Paleo plan. His success in shedding pounds resulted in new attention for low-carb diets. But now LeBron is dishing up the details of a new diet. Has the NBA star changed his Paleo low carb diet in order to score?
James is regarded as the key for the Cleveland Cavaliers, who lost the first two games to the Golden State Warriors in the 2017 NBA Finals, but they are not yet out. That’s because Cleveland still has LeBron, pointed out Stack.
Although James stunned with his stats, including 29 points, 14 assists, 11 rebounds, 3 steals and a block, he may have to go even further for the Cavaliers to make a true comeback. LeBron is known for getting stronger during the playoffs, with his emphasis on a nutritional diet credited for that strength.
In a new interview, the NBA star talked about why his diet is so important to his success on the court and how his food plan plays a key role in recovery. The emphasis is on giving up sugar, said James.
“The thing that I started cutting down is the sugars.”
In tackling the playoffs, staying aware of how sugar affects recovery is essential, according to LeBron.
“During the regular season it’s OK to have a little bit,” he noted. “But…whoever can recover the fastest from game to game is going to put themselves in position to be successful.”
Consequently, James “cut out” sugar, while ramping up the carbohydrates. It’s all about energy, explained the NBA star.
“Because you’re losing so many calories, burning so many calories, burning all your energy throughout those games…I kinda go heavy on the carbs because it gives you energy,” he added.
LeBron has developed a team to support his diet goals, which he says have “worked” for his own personal needs.
“When you understand your body and you have your chef and people around that understand it as well, it definitely helps out.”
Roberta Anding, RD and a team dietitian for the Houston Astros, explained why carbohydrates are so critical during a game; from reaction times to completing plays.
“Carbs are the fuel of exercising muscle,” summed up the nutrition expert. “Human bodies don’t necessarily stop when they run out of carbs, but they do slow down.”
And while sugar qualifies as a carbohydrate, James clarified that he had fine-tuned his diet during the playoffs to boost his intake of carbohydrates that have no added sugars. As for the science behind his claim that sugar can slow down recovery, one study showed that diets high in refined sugars could increase inflammation, while another study indicated that a high-sugar diet “slows the brain by hampering memory and learning,” according to Stack.
So, how does LeBron’s diet in 2017 compare with his highly publicized diet of 2014? His noticeable weight loss three years ago was credited to a Paleo-style diet that was low in carbohydrates. So while James is cutting down on refined sugar now just as he did then, his Paleo plan caused him to “shun carbs with more gusto than Atkins diet fans of the early 2000s,” according to Today.
The Paleo diet features foods thought to parallel early diets, consisting of meat, fish, shellfish, poultry, eggs, vegetables, and fruits. And while it also emphasizes no sugar, the low-carb Paleo plan cuts out grains, dairy, and legumes (beans or peas).
Since going on that low-carb Paleo diet, however, LeBron has added some carbohydrates back into his food plan while still putting the emphasis on cutting out sugar. He told Business Insider that he avoids certain foods before a game while choosing protein as one of his key choices.
“Before competition for me would be like a chicken breast and maybe a little pasta. The carbs help because you’re going out and playing a lot of minutes.”
While the NBA star might turn to a protein shake and fruit prior to a game, he steers clear of foods such as French fries and pizza before playing.
“A far as pies or pizza and sandwiches and french fries — I can’t,” he said. “I’ll wait for that after the game. I can’t do that before the game.”
When it comes to his new workout schedule, LeBron works out five days every week in the off-season and every day when basketball resumes. He takes classes in addition to gym workouts.
“Sometimes I’ll go to an actual class. I’ve been to, like, VersaClimber classes, or spinning classes.”
While James bases his choice of classes, even doing Pilates at times, on how he’s feeling, it’s very different when the season rolls around.
“During the season, we’re playing basketball every single day, and we’re working on our bodies every day. So I don’t get the opportunity to do the classes as much because we’re doing a lot of traveling,” he admitted.
During the season, LeBron views his workout regime as “pretty consistent.” He sticks to “seven days a week during the season because we play games on the weekend.”
[Featured Image by Mark Duncan/AP Images]