Nutrition, Recovery, and Conditioning
NBA players have access to an entire team of nutritionists, trainers, and chefs for their dietary needs, but most seem to go for the personal chef route. This way, each player can have their individual needs better met with a constant guide in the kitchen preparing their meals for their season.
Not only do most players seem to choose personal chefs as their method to peak performance, but also reducing inflammation leads to certain choices these NBA All-Stars made. Veganism, fish consumption, rejection of fast food, and even favoring homemade meals over all can be cited as reasons for these All-Stars’ dietary preferences and to reduce inflammation. Reducing inflammation in an elite, professional level of athletics can be a key for longevity in the league.
Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James jokes with fans during the NBA All-Star game in Cleveland, Sunday, Feb. 20, 2022. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
The Keys to Success
LeBron James says that drinking red wine has been the foundation of his healthy practice. He says that is promotes heart health. There may be some truth in this as Margarita Rohr, a cardiologist at NYU Langone Health states that red wine has antioxidant properties that make blood less likely to form clots. She supplements that statement with the fact that if an individual is also not exercising regularly or following a healthy eating pattern, the negative effects of alcohol consumption will inevitably offset the benefits for heart health.
Kevin Durant eats fish before every game, or so his personal chef, Ryan Lopez, has said. Lopez further explains that Durant likes to eat fish in the hopes of reducing inflammation in Durant’s body.
In another choice aimed at reducing inflammation in the body, Giannis Antetokounmpo drinks a celery juice smoothie with fruit and protein. Some experts believe that celery juice can aid in the reduction of information.
Often elite athletes from different sports will consult with one another regarding skills, practice routines, and even nutrition. Steph Curry did just that when he consulted with Tom Brady who mentioned that possibly going mostly vegan would help. Since that conversation, Curry has followed this tip on his own where he eats eggs and meat for breakfast, but his lunches and dinners are entirely plant-based proteins.
Sometimes nutrition is not the only aspect that can jumpstart an athlete’s skill. Joel Embiid showcased this when his trainer, Chris Babcock, reported that after every shot in shooting practice, Embiid would run full-court sprints in order to simulate shifts of live games.
Another All-Star that highlights physical conditioning, Jayson Tatum, has focused on performing dumbbell squats to pack on muscle. Squats are the kings of lower body exercises as they develop the quads and glutes, but they lack the upper body development. However, the dumbbell squat variation allows Tatum to simultaneously develop the lower and upper body while mitigating the risk to his joints and back that back-squats may indicate.
Something we all could learn from Nikola Jokic is giving up soda. Jokic says that he used to drink three liters of Coca-Cola a day in the Adriatic Basketball Association. When he started playing with the Denver Nuggets, the plane ride over was the last can of soda he had, Jokic said.
Like, Jayson Tatum, Trae Young also wanted to pack on some muscle for the season to be able to better compete with the NBA bodies. To do this, Young drank up to five protein shakes a day in order to go up from 164 pounds to 178 pounds before the NBA Draft. These protein shakes allowed Young to enter a caloric surplus which is needed for the body to put on weight.
Navy SEALS and other military Vets discuss how important it is to wake up early and get the day going with exercise. DeMar DeRozan follows this mantra when he did powerlifting at 5:30 a.m. in his prime to help him build lean muscle.
The offseason is just as important to performance in season, and Andrew Wiggins understands this thoroughly. Wiggins says that in the offseason and any other time he is off the court/away from the training room, he walks his dogs, works out in his home weight room, goes bowling, plays ping-pong, and goes jogging/running.
Momma knows best and her cooking knows even better. Ja Morant follows this sage advice when he reported that the only thought he has about his nutrition is whatever he sees, he eats it. He elaborated further that, at 22, his parents feed him with spaghetti, chicken wings, and ribs. A good balance to be sure.
Luka Doncic conducted more conditioning in the offseason because he was overweight and needed to get back to his listed playing weight, which was 30 pounds less than he was at the Dallas Mavericks start of training camp.
Devin Booker chose the personal chef route as many others to focus on more fish and vegetable heavy meals. He says he had to quit going to Raising Canes and having fried chicken multiple times a day.
Chris Paul credits his late-career surge to his switch to veganism. Unlike Steph Curry, Paul is full-on vegan, no eggs, no dairy, no meat, all plant.
LaMelo Ball’s trainer, Mike Fox, reveals the emphasis on single-leg squats has helped Ball achieve peak condition. The single-leg squat aided Ball in developing the lower body, core, and posterior chain so that Ball could jump higher and be more vertically competitive