LeBron James' body has gone through some serious changes over his 15 years (and counting) in the NBA.
During the twilight of his first stint in Cleveland and through much of his time in Miami, the 6-foot-8 James was built like a tank. It's widely believed his playing weight peaked at nearly 280 pounds during this period, which was a good 40 pounds heavier than the frame King James sported during his rookie season. But when he returned to Cleveland in 2014, LeBron shed a ton of weight and noticeably slimmed down. Now with the Los Angeles Lakers, James is listed at 250 pounds.
As his body morphed over the years, so did his diet. LeBron's admitted he largely subsisted on fast food during his first few seasons in the NBA. We know he entirely avoided carbs and added sugars during the summer of 2014. But what's a typical day of eating look like for LeBron now?
On a recent appearance on The Tim Ferriss Show podcast alongside his longtime trainer, Mike Mancias, LeBron discussed his approach to nutrition. That included outlining everything he consumed on a recent game day:
- Breakfast: egg white omelet with smoked salmon, gluten-free pancakes with berries
- Lunch: whole wheat pasta, salmon and vegetables
- Pre-game: peanut butter and jelly sandwich
- Halftime: sliced apples with almond butter
- Post-game: protein shake (plant-based protein powder, almond milk, fruit)
- Dinner: chicken parmesan with a rocket salad and a "beautiful glass" of cabernet
LeBron's stat line on this day? 44 points, 10 rebounds, 9 assists and 3 blocks in a decisive victory over the Portland Trailblazers. So it's safe to assume he felt pretty darn good running on this fuel.
"It's all about less is more as far as nutrition goes. We keep it simple. We try to stay organic the entire year. Like LeBron mentioned, no artificial ingredients. And hydration. One thing we talked about yesterday—it was game day—and every time I saw LeBron, I had a bottle of water in his face and making sure he was drinking," Mancias said.
While LeBron does let himself stray from his "clean" diet every now and then, he mostly tries to limit those instances to the offseason. "What we haven't had in a long time— is artificial drinks, artificial sugars, and fried foods. We kinda stay away from the fried foods, at least during the season...I have artificial drinks from time to time in the offseason. But during the season, I pretty much don't have any fried foods, and I don't have anything that's artificial. We want to keep it as—natural sugars and foods as much as possible. Just try to be clean as possible throughout the season when I'm burning so much and trying to get the recovery back," James said.
It's interesting to note that LeBron is also a member of the pre-game peanut butter and jelly crew, a habit he shares with athletes like Rob Gronkowski, Steph Curry and Sidney Crosby. While the complex carbs he receives from options like whole wheat pasta provide sustained energy, the simple sugars in a PB&J can provide that perfect additional boost before tip-off. Same goes for the apple slices at half time.
As LeBron continues to bulldoze over the pre-conceived notions of what a player his age can be, his diet is designed to combat inflammation. Inflammation is the natural enemy of recovery, and according to a 2005 study on the topic, "diets that promote inflammation are high in refined starches, sugar, saturated and trans-fats, and low in omega-3 fatty acids, natural antioxidants and fiber from fruits, vegetables, and whole grains."
Salmon is stuffed with omega-3 fatty acids, and LeBron clearly priorities fruits and vegetables throughout the day. Even that cabernet may help LeBron's longevity, as a glass or two per day has well-researched heart benefits for adults.
Photo Credit: Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images
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