Presenting Hoop Fit, a new series focused on health and fitness news and hacks that shape the game, brought to you by SPALDING.
This week, we bring you some of basketball’s biggest names to completely transform their bodies, and provide some tips on how you can do the same.
The impact a player has on the court can hinge on so many factors, including natural ability, work ethic, coaching and on-court fit. But sometimes it’s ultimately a player’s diet which makes or breaks them.
Just ask Dwight Howard. The eight-time All-Star maintained a truly horrendous diet until relatively recently, and for a long time, he got away with it.
Equipped with a chronic sweet tooth, Howard was especially obsessed with skittles, chocolate bars, honey buns and cream pies.
“[I ate] every candy you could think of,” Howard told Graham Bensinger late last year. “It was like a gas station at my house.”
His problems weren’t just with sugar either.
Howard claims one year he ate McDonald’s before every game, with his go-to order being two double cheeseburgers, a large fries, a small fries, a strawberry-chocolate milkshake and a large coke.
Howard’s junk food addiction even caused him to feel tingling his legs and fingers. After removing boxes of junk food from his house, Howard stayed off the sugar and sure enough, the tingling faded.
He also embarked on a 30-day program and swapped out McDonald’s in favour of lean chicken and fish, and replaced sugary drinks with kale juice and beet juice, making himself the second-most famous Dwight with a taste for beets.
Howard rapidly lost 28 pounds and hit the Lakers practice court in the best shape of his life and feeling better than ever.
It wasn’t long before Howard had officially rejuvenated his once ailing career as an integral piece of the Lakers’ championship puzzle.
Interestingly, fellow Lakers big man JaVale McGee also underwent a complete diet change in recent years, going vegan ahead of the 2016-17 season.
That was the same year that, like Howard, he was able to transform himself from an injured mess/laughing stock into a legitimate player on a championship level team.
DeAndre Jordan adopted a vegan diet two years ago and last season grabbed the second most rebounds per 36 minutes of his career despite being on the wrong side of 30.
Damian Lillard isn’t a full-blown vegan but has claimed his plant-heavy diet has been major contributor to his success and his ability to limit injuries after a particularly frustrating run of bad health.
Then there was Steve Nash, who was ahead of the curve in NBA circles with his Paleo-esque diet, as he continued to excel late in his career and make All-Star teams until he was 37.
Even LeBron James – the modern poster child for athletic longevity – limits the amount of red meat in his diet. Now compare those guys with some players at the other end of the dietary spectrum.
The eternally injured Joel Embiid famously inhales junk food and is a certified milkshake fiend.
Charles Barkley developed a chronic pizza addiction as a youngster and clearly didn’t have the kind of longevity that he would’ve enjoyed if he had curbed his terrible eating habits.
Andrew Bogut openly mocks veganism while tweeting photos of his red meat dinners, and yet he has been injury-prone and sluggish for most of his career and managed to play more than 27 NBA games in a season just once after his 30th birthday.
Boris Diaw’s teammates would tell stories about his propensity to eat anything and everything and in 2014 the Spurs even offered him a $500,000 bonus if he didn’t gain any weight during the season, but the loveable Frenchman could never get things properly under control and he was out of the league at 34.
So, as absurd as this would have sounded even quite recently, perhaps today’s NBA players should try to be a little more like Dwight Howard.
HOW YOU CAN BEGIN YOUR OWN BODY TRANSFORMATION
While establishing a clean diet is a huge part of getting healthy, putting in the work is of course massively important.
As well as replacing those fatty and sugary foods in your house with things that will take your health in the other direction – you need to also look at setting up your home with the gear you need to succeed.
Transforming your home into an environment which is set up for you to go to the next level is a must. And it isn’t as difficult to do as you might think.
Here are some essentials to help you create the ultimate home fitness setup for hoopers: