Five things we can learn from LeBron James’ low-carb diet

TORONTO – LeBron James said he feels good after a 67-day diet filled with whole foods, no carbs, no sugar, no dairy and no refined sugar.

There were, however, nightmares.

“I had the cookie monster chasing me a few times in my dreams,” James said in an interview with CNN.

So what did he do to lose the weight? Based on what he’s said in several interviews, he essentially followed a paleo diet.

“I had no sugar, no dairy, I had no carbs. All I ate was meat, fish, veggies and fruit. That’s it. For 67 straight days,” he told Sports Illustrated magazine.

Now, the two-time NBA champion, says he weighs in around 250 pounds (lighter than he’s ever been) and is a bit faster on the court.

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The term paleo is short for paleolithic – the era in which the modern human evolved – and seeks to mimic the sort of things people would have eaten then – so no processed foods, no fast food and certainly no ice cream.

“You could hunt for fish and meat, you could gather vegetables and fruits and nuts but you didn’t have access to dairy, refined sugar or cereal grains,” Global News medical contributor Dr. Samir Gupta said.

But the paleo diet isn’t a fad diet – there’s been plenty of research conducted showing numerous benefits of this diet and other low-carb diets, including slightly more weight loss than low fat diets.

“It can result in weight loss but also improvements in physiologic factors like blood pressure and insulin sensitivity,” Gupta said.

What we can learn from LeBron’s diet

1. More “Explosiveness”

LeBron James said he’s lost about 15 to 20 pounds during his 67 days of dieting and that’s “bad news for the competition.”

“To us that’s a reminder that weight loss can often be self-fulfilling,” Gupta said. “The more you lose,  the lighter you are, the more efficient you become at exercise, and the more weight you can lose.”

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2. Is he protecting his knees? 

Lebron has had troubles with his knees and there is suspicion his weight loss could be an attempt to protect his knees.

This should remind people that hips or knees can suffer under heavy loads.

“Weight bearing joints like the hips and the knees in particular are susceptible to the effects of that weight and wear, and in fact if you lose weight, you can protect your knees against osteoarthritis,” said Dr. Gupta.

3. Not all carbs are bad on a low-carb diet

While low-carb diets like the paleo diet tend to avoid grains, some carb-sources like fruits and vegetables (which James admitted to eating) can be eaten because they’re full of low-glycemic carbs – which cause a slow rise in blood sugar, instead of high-glycemic carbs like refined sugar, which can spike a person’s blood sugar.

4. There are good kinds of fats

A paleo diet will rely on eating slightly more fatty foods than a person otherwise might – but people should stick to the “good fats” including unsaturated fats from nuts and Omega 3 fatty acids found in fish.

An added benefit, Gupta said, is that by avoiding processed foods, people on low-carb diets also will not eat harmful trans fats.

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5. But won’t those fats increase my cholesterol? No.

“In fact, with the low carb diet, you not only lose a little bit more weight, you have an improvement in your cholesterol profile and you actually have lower triglycerides, compared to a low-fat diet.”

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