Charles Barkleyfamously had 100 pizzas in his first 20 days in college. When you are a young athlete, diet doesn't seem that important - whatever fuel you put in, the machine works. What separates players in the modern NBA is how quickly they understand even though there aren't immediate effects, a healthy diet matters. Here's how two guys who marked the 2021 Playoffs changed their routine.
Protein shakes all day
Trae Young may seem skinny, but he had to work hard to get where he is; currently at 180 pounds. He has a light frame, and putting on additional weight with the help of a professional chef was not easy. He revealed he had to cut down on bingeing pizza and chicken fingers. The Atlanta Hawks star replaced them with protein shakes - he dropped five of them every day pre-draft.
“I would wake up and eat something very light before beginning my first workout—a banana or an orange. I would have my first shake. After the workout, I would have my second shake and then go eat breakfast. I would then head back home and get some rest before my lift at 2:00 P.M. Lunch was, like, Chipotle and another shake. Then I would lift or get in some skill work, and come back and eat and have another shake. Dinner was after my last workout of the day. I would have a final shake before I went to bed.”
Trae Young, GQ
Trae would have his first shake before workout, have his second with breakfast, have his third with lunch around 2 pm, have his fourth after his workout in the afternoon, and down his last shake for the day before sleeping - insane.
Young has been accused of hunting for free throws in every game. He added another dimension to his game where he almost baits the defender to commit a foul when he is in the act of shooting. Those are easy points, but they come with a price. Critics are not aware that before the point guard added this to his offensive arsenal, Young had to have a body he could be confident in. A body that could withstand contact from bigger, heftier guys and still finish off for an “And-1” situation. If he had not hired a chef to work on putting additional muscle, the 6’1” guard would get easily bumped off by defenders in the league.
The Lubbock, Texas native added that eating baked chicken, steak, baked potatoes, macaroni and cheese is now part of his usual diet. A self-professed fan of Raising Cane’s, Young claimed he loved the Box Combo so much he used to devour it twice a day.
All the good stuff for DBook
The Phoenix Suns are back in the NBA Finals and Devin Booker’s inspired play is a huge factor. His performances have been compared to Kobe Bryant - both have an incredible will, an array of moves, and clutch shooting to win games. Unknown to fans, Booker has prepared for this moment by changing his diet to a healthier one.
Another fan of Raising Cane’s, the Phoenix All-Star has replaced chicken fingers with a lot of fish, vegetables, and carbohydrates. Like Young, Devin hired a professional chef to prepare food for him and make it interesting from time to time.
“I was noticing my eating habits weren't up to par. It's hard having the lifestyle that you have with practice, the games to figure out, what you are going to eat. I would be quick to order Raising Canes on Postmates at any hour of the day. It is very good, but I had to get away from that. I still enjoy that, but if I went back and ate that I wouldn't even feel right.”
Devin Booker, ABC
Now both Young and Booker are reaping the benefits of healthier diets. Booker's teammate Chris Paul switched to a plant-based diet during the offseason just a few years ago and said it gave his career new life. It's never too early or too late to start. The young ones coming in know it better than anyone, and we shouldn't be surprised to see 15 year-long careers as the new normal in the NBA. Trae vs. Book in the 2033 NBA Finals? Why not.
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