LeBron James looks scary skinny after losing a dramatic amount of weight on the low carb, high-fat ketogenic diet.
James showed off his stunning weight loss in an Instagram photo Aug. 4. In the photo, LeBron's face looks noticeably gaunt and his body is significantly slimmer.
LeBron is trying to lose weight before he starts the new NBA season with the Cleveland Cavaliers, according to ESPN.
The 6-foot-8 James, who weighed 250 pounds last season, is not overweight, but sources said his weight loss may be a preventive measure to protect his aging knees. James, 29, will turn 30 in December.
LeBron has not commented on exactly how much weight he has lost or what type of diet he's following, except that it is very low-carb. The jaw-dropping transformation has fueled rumors James may be following the low-carb Paleo or ketogenic diets, both of which are known for producing rapid weight loss.
Inspired By Ray Allen's Paleo Diet Turnaround
Meanwhile, sources said LeBron slimmed down because he felt self-conscious about his weight and wanted to ensure his NBA career would last, since he will turn 30 in December.
James was also inspired by the dramatic health transformation his former Miami Heat teammate, Ray Allen, experienced after adopting a low-carb, sugar-free Paleo diet.
This isn't the first time LeBron has modified his fitness routine to enhance his basketball performance. In 2012, James added cycling to his cardio-conditioning workout regimen. He began cycling back to his Florida home following his Miami Heat games. The 30- to 45-minute bike commute become a regular part of his routine.
LeBron, who already got lots of cardio exercise during his NBA matches, said the additional aerobic conditioning he got from cycling dramatically improved his stamina.
LeBron isn't the only NBA star who has adopted a low-carb diet to enhance his performance. LeBron's former Miami Heat teammate, Ray Allen, 39, switched to a sugar-free low carb Paleo diet in 2013, and promptly lost 10 pounds.
While weight loss was not a goal for the naturally lanky Allen, he said the Paleo diet dramatically improved his post-workout recovery. Ray's teammate, Dwayne Wade, also recently adopted the Paleo diet.
Low-Carb Paleo and Ketogenic Diets Gain Favor
While carb-loading is common among athletes, low carb diets such as the Paleo and ketogenic plans are quickly gaining favor among athletes, including cyclists, triathletes, runners and other endurance competitors. Nutrition experts say the low-carb Paleo and ketogenic diets' emphasis on healthy fats helps the body shift from burning carbs for fuel to burning fat.
Fitness expert Ben Greenfield trained for the 2013 Ironman Triathlon World Championships in Kona, Hawaii by following a high-fat, low-carb ketogenic diet and completed the epic endurance race in an impressive 9:59:26.
Similarly, Dr. Jay Lehr, a 78-year-old triathlete, has followed a low carb, high-fat ketogenic-style diet his entire life and credits it for his excellent health. Jay has thrived on a diet of red meat, saturated fat, dairy, eggs, butter, and lard and has never felt better.
“I’ve never been inside a regular doctor’s office,” he said. “I have lived my entire life on high fat — dairy, eggs, butter and lard." Lehr recently completed his 13th Ironman triathlon.