Carmelo Anthony's Eating Plan | STACK

Chad Zimmerman
- Chad Zimmerman is the co-founder of STACK as well as its President. He earned a degree in Chemical Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University where he...

Carmelo Anthony's Eating Plan

August 1, 2006 | Featured in the Summer 2006 Issue

Must See Basketball Videos

Reverse Pivot & Shoot Drill

Dwight Howard Benches 365 Pounds

Ballhandling Sit-Ups

No one was surprised when three of the six forward slots on the 2005-2006 All-NBA teams went to LeBron James, Dirk Nowitzki and Tim Duncan. Elton Brand and Shawn Marion—both of whom had phenomenal seasons— were awarded spots four and five, finally earning the respect they deserve. The sixth spot was up in the air, with Vince Carter, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett among the contenders. But these guys didn’t get it.

The sixth forward spot went to a player who, although deserving, was often questioned after a lackluster sophomore season; a player who, if he wanted to rejoin the ranks of the NBA elite, was forced to make adjustments before his third year in the league; a player who renewed his dedication to training and his commitment to a fat-burning, performance-maximizing diet to accomplish this goal—a player known as Melo.

Carmelo Anthony versus LeBron James. It's the perfect rivalry: two young stars with limitless potential and huge expectations who entered the league together. Before either of them set foot on NBA hardwood, debate raged over who was the better, smarter draft choice and who would have a more immediate impact on his team's game. In their rookie NBA seasons, both prolific scorers lived up to the hype, with LeBron edging out Melo for the Rookie of the Year title. Even now, three years later, the same discussion begins any time the Denver Nuggets and Cleveland Cavs match up. Who's better? Who's done more for his team? Who will be first to win a championship? And on and on.

There's only one problem with this perfect storybook rivalry-it's not real. Far from being bitter rivals, Melo and LeBron are great friends. The two star players, who learned to like and respect each other when they met in high school, have remained close ever since.

In reality, Melo has no rivals except himself. And in his constant drive to reach his full potential, Melo's biggest challenge is to remain between 228 and 230 pounds. At 6'8", he can easily bulk up to 240. However, working closely with Steve Hess, the Nuggets' strength and conditioning coach, has given Melo the upper hand in the weight battle. The two continually tweak Melo's diet and workout program to produce the optimal physique, with a 6.8 body fat percentage.

Heading into the 2005-2006 season, Hess and Melo finally perfected eating and exercise regimens that kept Melo's weight down and performance up. The plan helped lead Melo to a career-high 26.5 ppg and a position on the All-NBA Third Team.

"Making All-NBA was a goal I had going into this season," Melo says. "I put in a lot of hard work with Steve all summer. Everything he put together-running on court, training, an eating plan and being more focused on eating right-all helped out this season. We just kept on going after it, and it paid off."

Although he modestly directs attention to Melo's natural gifts, Hess plays a major role in his star's success. "I've said this from the first time I met him," he says; "Melo has the it trait. He has that certain superstar characteristic that makes him one of the most unbelievable athletes I've ever seen. But people don't understand how incredibly smart he is, too. He listens and uses all the info you give him, then he makes his own decisions. Because of this, from his first year to now, his whole body has changed beyond belief."

Heading into next season, Melo has two simple goals. He wants his team to make it out of the first round and to take his whole game two steps forward. And he knows what he needs to do to make them happen: "I've got to keep working hard, eat right and keep my body right."

Here, Hess talks about how he taught Melo to eat a healthier, fat-burning diet. Melo put the info to work, lost the fat and made the All-NBA Team.

How will you put this information to work and earn a spot on your All-Everything team?

Guidelines

According to Hess, diets that calculate the percentage of calories from carbs, protein and fat aren't realistic. Instead, he advises using personal preferences as the guideline for an effective eating plan.

"I'm less inclined to use exact calories and percentages," Hess explains. "This is the real world, so if I put things exactly the way I'd like, Melo won't eat it. I'm more inclined to emphasize the kind of carb, instead of specific percentages. That applies to protein and fat, too. So I try to coordinate my ideal plan as closely as possible with the things he likes."

Important Foods

A well balanced diet is the key to Melo's reduced fat program. "You'll see, on all of Melo's daily menus, he's got fruits, vegetables, fats, proteins and carbs," Hess says.

Fruits and vegetables are terrific, because they are nutrient-dense; they provide a lot of vitamins and minerals but not a lot of calories. Melo gets his complex carbs, another priority in Hess' plan, from foods like yams and sweet potatoes, instead of processed flours.

Hess also keeps Melo's diet on track by monitoring how foods are prepared. "I modify his fat intake largely by how his food is cooked," Hess says. "That means no fried chicken and things like that."

Use Food You'll Eat

Avoid replacing all the foods you like but can't eat with food you can eat but don't like. "If you use all the foods you don't like," Hess says, "you'll just end up going to a fast food place."

The key is to make meals as nutritious and tasty as possible, which sometimes requires Hess to deceive Melo. "In some cases, we have to disguise the foods so Melo won't really know what he's eating," Hess says. "A perfect example is how Melo won't eat egg whites. So when we make an omelet, we use three or four egg whites, but we mix in two whole eggs, some low fat cheese, tomatoes and things like that. If I told him he was eating a straight egg-white omelet, he'd tell me I'm nuts."

Almonds and Fats

A nutritious, convenient snack is almonds. Hess implements them in Melo's diet and recommends them to all athletes. "Almonds are lower in fat than other nuts. They don't have as much salt either, because you can buy them in the non-processed form."

Almonds contain healthy fats, which are necessary for your body to function properly. According to Hess, too many athletes mistakenly think that you don't need fat to burn fat, but you do. "You don't want saturated fats, but you do want some fats to burn body fat and to be healthy," he says.

Stupid is Spelled A-T-K-I-N-S

Although some dieters use no-carb plans to lose weight, Hess would never advise one for Melo-or any athlete. "People don't realize how badly they're screwing up their systems by not eating carbohydrates," he says. "When you start eating carbs again after not eating them, your insulin levels are affected. The result, in the worst scenario, may be diabetes."

Beyond such negative health effects, no-carb diets make no sense for athletes. "If you're in sports, you absolutely cannot use a no-carb diet," Hess says. "It's just a bad, bad thing for any athlete, especially a basketball player."

Physiologically speaking, carbohydrates are the primary fuel for your muscles to perform at their best. When the body is deprived of carbs, it looks for fuel elsewhere-namely your muscles. "If you go on a straight protein diet, you get to a catabolic state," Hess says. "That means your body starts eating up your muscle to get energy. When that happens, you may drop 20 pounds, but your ratio of body fat doesn’t change because you lost fat and muscle. Basically, you’ve just created a smaller, less powerful athlete with the same body fat.”

If loss of muscle mass, no reduction in body fat and the possibility of diabetes aren’t enough to steer you away from a no carb diet, Hess still has one more reason. No-carb diets make it harder for your body to stay hydrated, which increases your chance of injury. “When you’re less hydrated,” he explains, “you cramp up. Cramping up precedes tearing a muscle. So, with no carbohydrates, you’re more likely to tear a muscle.”

Timing and Number

To lose weight, you have to burn more calories than you take in. With this in mind, some people think the best way to lose weight is to eat fewer meals. However, the opposite actually holds true in Hess’ eating recommendations. “Ideally, I’d like Melo to eat five meals a day,” he says. “This way, he can eat smaller portions every three hours, which causes him to metabolize food faster and makes his workouts easier, because his body is always properly fueled.”

So that eating five meals doesn’t consume your day, Hess recommends a daily eating plan consisting of the standard three meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) with a snack between them. In the first part of the day, make sure to eat plenty of complex carbs (e.g. oatmeal) with protein, and as the day progresses, eat more vegetables, which are high in fiber and low in sugar, with a good protein source.

Time of workout sessions is another factor to consider. Melo eats carbs and proteins two hours before a workout to fuel his body, and again 45 minutes after a workout to refuel and repair before the next day’s session. He can get the nutrients—especially the complex carbs—through food or shakes.

The Cheat Meal

Many people fail at dieting because they use plans that are too restrictive. Ultimately, they feel like their diets control their lives, so they quit. To prevent Melo from falling into this trap, Hess allows Melo to eat whatever he wants, one meal a week. “If you give yourself one cheat meal, where you can absolutely eat whatever you want, you don’t feel like you’re being limited,” Hess says. “The cheat meal prevents Melo from feeling like he’s missing out on any of the food he loves.”

To make sure Melo doesn’t overindulge with the cheat meal, Hess makes it the last meal of the week on Sunday. This ensures that Melo eats well all week and specifically on that day, so he won’t be too hungry, overeat and negatively affect his weight loss goal.

Meal Schedule

Hess designs and modifies eating plans according to each player's specific goals. Check out the eating plan Hess created for Melo to help him decrease his body fat.

Monday

TIME
FOOD
QUANTITY
10:00 a.m. - Non-fat turkey bacon
- Fried eggs
- Bagel
- Spreadable fruit
- 5 strips
- 2
- 1
- 1 tbsp.
1:00 p.m. (post workout) - Non fat yogurt
- Apple
- 1 cup
- 1
4:30 p.m. - Canned tuna
- Whole wheat bread
- Condiments as desired
- 4 oz. can
- 2 slices
6:30 p.m. - Almonds - 10
9:30 p.m. - Salmon
- Vegetable of choice
- 10-12 oz.
- 2 cups

Tuesday and Saturday

TIME
FOOD
QUANTITY
10:00 a.m. - Egg whites
- Whole eggs
- Grapefruit
- Low fat cheese
- 3
- 2
- 1
- 2 tbsp.
1:00 p.m. (post workout) - Protein shake - 1 pack
4:30 p.m. - Canned tuna or chicken or turkey
- Rye or pumpernickel bread (only)
(Rice on Saturday)
- Condiments as desired
- Vegetables of choice
- 4 oz.

- 2 slices

 

- 1 cup

6:30 p.m. - Almonds
- Apple
- 10
- Green
9:30 p.m. - Fish 4 times per week
- Turkey or chicken 2 times per week
- Steak (lean) 1 time per week
- Vegetable of choice
- 6 oz.
- 5 oz.

- 4 oz

- 2 cups

Wednesday and Sunday

TIME
FOOD
QUANTITY
10:00 a.m. - Protein shake - 1 pack
1:00 p.m. (post workout) - Protein shake - 1 pack
4:30 p.m. - Canned tuna or chicken or turkey
- Rye or pumpernickel bread
- Condiments as desired
- Vegetables of choice
- 4 oz. can or 5 oz.

- 1 slice

- 1 cup

6:30 p.m. - Almonds
- Apple
- 15
- Green
9:30 p.m. - Fish 4 times per week
- Turkey or chicken 2 times per week
- Steak (lean)1 time per week
- Vegetable of choice

Cheat Meal on Sunday

- 8 oz.
- 6-8 oz.

- 6 oz.

- 2 cups

Thursday and Friday

TIME
FOOD
QUANTITY
10:00 a.m. - Oatmeal or Cream of Wheat®
(Egg whites on Fridays)
- Apple sauce or
- Yogurt (non fat, sugar free)
- 1 cup

- 1/2 cup
- 8 oz.

1:00 p.m.
(post workout)
- Protein shake - 1 pack
4:30 p.m. - Canned tuna or chicken or turkey
- Sweet potato or yam
- Veggies
- 4 oz can or 6 oz.

- 5 oz.
- 2 cups

6:30 p.m. - Almonds
- Apple
- Salad
- 15
- Green
- 2 cups (1 tsp. oil)
9:30 p.m. - Fish 4 times per week
- Turkey or chicken 2 times per week
- Steak (lean) 1 time per week
- Vegetable of choice
- 10 oz.
- 8 oz.

- 6 oz.

- 2 cups

 

 

 

 

Chad Zimmerman
- Chad Zimmerman is the co-founder of STACK as well as its President. He earned a degree in Chemical Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University where he...