LeBron James said his dramatic summer weight loss was due to a low carb, ketogenic-style Paleo diet that eliminated sugar, dairy and almost all carbs. James, who has since regained some weight, said he followed his strict diet for 67 days as a test of his “mental fortitude” and willpower.
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“I had no sugar, no dairy, no carbs,” LeBron told Sports Illustrated. “All I ate was meat, fish, veggies and fruit. That’s it. For 67 straight days.” James said his diet consisted entirely of meat, fish, vegetables and low-sugar fruit.
James posted two of his meals on his Instagram account over the summer. One of his lunches was an arugula salad with chicken, strawberries, mangoes and cashews topped with an olive oil/lemon vinaigrette dressing. Another low carb meal was a lobster salad with mango chutney.
LeBron said he “lost a ton of weight” but didn’t confirm exactly how much. He has since has put on a few pounds and looks fuller but is still very lean. ESPN reporter Brian Windhorst, who enjoys unprecedented access to James, had estimated LeBron’s weight loss at 10 to 12 pounds, but it’s may be closer to 20 pounds based on before and after photos.
The 6-foot-8 LeBron, whose weight was listed at 250 pounds last season, actually weighed closer to 270, said Windhorst. James confirmed he now truly weighs about 250 pounds.
Was Inspired By Ray Allen’s Paleo Diet Conversion
On a radio interview, Windhorst said LeBron was inspired by the dramatic transformation of his former Miami Heat teammate Ray Allen, who got super-fit after switching to the low carb Paleo diet in the summer of 2013.
Allen, 39, came back from the summer break in significantly better shape than he was the previous year after adopting a low-carb, sugar-free Paleo diet. The lanky 6-foot-5 Ray said he promptly lost 10 pounds after going Paleo.
While weight loss was not Allen’s goal when he embarked on the Paleo diet, he said the diet gave him better stamina and dramatically improved his post-workout recovery. Ray’s health turnaround also motivated his Miami Heat teammate Dwayne Wade to adopt the Paleo diet.
Dr. Jeff Volek, a dietitian and professor at Ohio State University, told Sports Illustrated he believed James’ weight loss was due to a ketogenic-inspired eating plan. Volek said more athletes are now favoring low carb, high-fat diets such as the ketogenic and Paleo plans to lose weight fast and change their body fat composition.
By drastically reducing carbs, these diets promote weight loss by forcing the body to burn fat for fuel, according to obesity expert Dr. Eric Westman, co-author of Keto Clarity.
While conventional wisdom long preached that athletes follow high-carb, low-fat diets, Volek said the tide may be turning as athletes are realizing that low carb, high-fat diets such as the Paleo and ketogenic diets can enhance stamina, boost performance and aid post-workout recovery.
“There are benefits related to recovery and even cognition and mental clarity [for athletes],” said Volek. “The brain is very efficient at using ketones as a stable fuel source.”
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