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Kobe Bryant leads Paleo pack; LeBron James scores with low carb weight loss

Kobe Bryant leads Paleo pack.
Kobe Bryant leads Paleo pack.
Photo by ChinaFotoPress/Getty Images

When it comes to diets for athletes, Paleo plans and low carb weight loss approaches are scoring. Kobe Bryant is an expert on caveman cuisine, while LeBron James credits a ketogenic low carb diet for his weight loss, reported the Wall Street Journal on August 18.

James began the round of NBA attention to cutting carbohydrates by changing his diet and losing an estimated 10 to 12 pounds. Other basketball legends leaping to lose weight with a low carb diet are Carmelo Athony and Dwight Howard. Steve Nash has been vocal about eliminating starchy carbs such as rice and pasta.

The Paleo diet earned attention when Miami Heat guard Ray Allen announced he was a Paleo diet devotee. He served as a role model for Dwyane Wade, who went on a sugar-free high protein diet that even included the dreaded broccoli.

But the role model for cutting carbohydrates while boosting fat and protein is Kobe Bryant. He transformed his body and his career by losing 20 pounds, reported Yahoo Sports on August 18.

As Kobe grew older, he became more determined to stay healthy. He even advised Pau Gasol.

"I told him I thought the thing that really helped me out, I dropped some weight. I told him he should probably measure it himself, see if that's something he needs to do himself. As we get older, our metabolism slows, we quietly become a little heavy," said Kobe.

Gary Vitti wanted a winning formula for the Los Angeles Lakers, and he turned to Dr. Cate Shanahan, author and caveman cuisine expert. It was she who guided the team to their new Paleo diet approach.

What's so special about the Paleo diet? It focuses on unprocessed, real food that's high in quality. And that appeals to professional athletes with careers that depend on how well their body functions, reported USA Today on August 18.

The low carb high fat Paleo diet and ketogenic diet both have demonstrated that athletes can win at weight loss and performance without carb-loading. They are designed to teach the body to use fat for fuel while reducing inflammation.

Olympic triathlon coach Joe Friel, who co-authored a Paleo diet book with expert Dr. Loren Cordain, applies the Paleo low carb diet to his coaching of endurance athletes. "Paleo offers better long-term recovery due to greater micronutrient content [than a standard high-starch, high-sugar diet], allowing the athlete to train with a greater stress load," he said.

Paleo diet expert Sarah Ballantyne, author of "The Paleo Approach: Reverse Autoimmune Disease and Heal Your Body," revealed the weight loss benefits of caveman low carb diets in an exclusive interview on August 20. She disagrees with those who say that because it excludes certain food groups, it's not healthy.

The Paleo diet "is a nutrient-dense diet (providing balanced and complete nutrition) that is anti-inflammatory, supports gut health, and naturally regulates important hormones (like insulin, leptin and ghrelin). Most people naturally consume fewer calories (while it’s not as simple as calories-in-calories-out, energy intake does matter) while also providing their bodies with far more valuable nutrition," said Sarah.

As for her own take on the traditional Paleo diet, Sarah eats two to three meals daily. "All my meals are generally made of up some kind of meat or fish and vegetables," she added.

For breakfast, Sarah usually enjoys "homemade sausage patties, eggs, sautéed liver or kidney, or leftover meat with raw veggies (usually leafy) and sauerkraut. Lunch typically includes fish or shellfish (most often canned due to convenience), more raw veggies (typically carrots, celery, cucumber, and leafy greens) and sometimes a small serving of fruit."

Sarah uses high quality sources of animal protein in all her meals. "Dinner typically includes meat or fish with two to three vegetable sides (always one starchy vegetable like sweet potato or taro, and typically one steamed non-starchy vegetable like broccoli and some kind of salad) and sometimes a small serving of fruit."