It’s NBA Finals time. If you’ve ever wondered how basketball legends train, there’s no doubt that a nutritious diet enhances performance. You may never be a professional athlete, but here’s how you can eat like one.
Did you know? During the off-season last year, LeBron James reportedly cut out added sugars, dairy and carbs for 67 days to test his mental stamina. He stuck to meat, fish, vegetables and fruit. As an unwitting result, James said he lost weight.
What you can learn from James:
Many dietitians agree that eliminating entire food groups is not necessary to maintain a healthy diet, nor is it sustainable. Still, you can take a page from King James’ playbook for healthier eating, which resembles the Paleo diet.
- Reduce your consumption of added sugars.
Limit added sugars to 50 percent of your discretionary calories. For most women, that’s roughly 100 calories or 6 teaspoons of sugar a day. For men, that’s 150 calories or about 9 teaspoons of sugar. (For perspective: a tall, mocha Frappuccino with whipped cream from Starbucks has 290 calories and more than 10 teaspoons of sugar.)
- Fill up on nutrient-dense, fiber-rich vegetables and fruits.
Fiber can help lower your risk of heart disease and improve your bowel health. It’s hard to consume too much fiber, especially if you’re trying to lose weight. As fiber slows the body’s absorption of nutrients, it keeps you feeling full longer. In turn, you are less likely to crave food as often.
- Eat lean proteins.
Choose chicken breast without skin or cuts of meat labeled at least 90 percent lean. Remember that beans, eggs and nuts are also good protein sources. Most adults need 5 to 6 ounces of protein a day. (If you’re extremely active, talk with your doctor about adjusting your meal plan.)
Ayesha Curry, wife of the reigning NBA MVP, Stephen Curry, says she serves her family dishes like quinoa salad with grilled chicken and pasta topped with veggies.
What you can learn from Curry:
- Cook with superfoods like quinoa.
It’s a low-calorie, low-fat, high-protein whole grain that happens to be gluten-free. Also, swap refined grains for whole grains as often as possible. This means picking brown rice instead of white rice, whole wheat bread instead of white bread, and oatmeal instead of enriched cereal.
- Eat the rainbow.
Adding different colored produce to your meal helps you consume a range of vitamins and minerals. Ayesha’s recipe calls for Brussel sprouts (high in vitamin K, beta carotene and folate), persimmon (high in vitamin C) and cranberries (high in fiber and manganese). The homemade pasta sauce is packed with high-fiber eggplant and potassium- and iron-rich spinach.