If you're a celebrity in the entertainment industry or sports world and have lost weight, taking selfies has become the trendiest way to strut your slimming success. And LeBron James, who recently went on a low carb diet, did just that, posting his weight loss win on Instagram, reported Yahoo Sports on August 5.
His photos quickly went viral, with admirers of his sleek physique warring with fans who expressed concern that the NBA's Most Valuable Player had shredded too much fat. As to precisely how James shed the weight? A man who makes his profession by observing the athlete quickly tweeted his analysis.
"LeBron James decided to cut carbs this summer & dropped significant weight as tweeted photo shows," tweeted Brian Windhorst of ESPN on August 4. The reference to "cutting carbs" kept the specifics of the diet generic, which meant that it could have been a Paleo diet, a high fat ketogenic plan or even the Atkins approach.
What is known: Since the end of the NBA Finals, James has lost more than 10 pounds. His weight loss results from a low carb diet, according to the Bleacher Report on August 4.
James himself posted only that he is dieting. "Between this diet and @djstephfloss had me like this earlier today," he wrote on Instagram recently.
Why, then, are there so many articles proclaiming that a Paleo diet deserves credit for the NBA star's weight loss? One hint can be found in how James spent his time away from the basketball court. He participated in a pre-training camp weight loss challenge with ex-Heat teammates such as Dwyane Wade and Ray Allen.
Allen has been vocal about his own choice of a Paleo diet. "I think guys are becoming more aware," said Allen in a recent interview with CBS News. "When you start eating the salads and the proteins and fruits – in Whole Foods, I kill the fruit and vegetables section – you just feel so much fresher and cleaner."
Before Allen turned to the Paleo diet, he was in constant pain, which he now links to an excess of sugar and carbohydrates. "My mentality was that I'm burning so much, I need the sugar and I need carbs," Allen explained. "But toward the end of the year, I remember being on anti-inflammatories and my body always felt like I was hopped up on drugs just to decrease the inflammation."
However, he chose a modified Paleo diet rather than the traditional approach. Rather than focus on weight loss, as James appears to be doing, Allen focused on health and added extra carbohydrates in the form of potatoes and rice.
"That's absolutely what needs to be done," said Robb Wolf, a biochemist and author of "The Paleo Solution: The Original Human Diet." He feels that all athletes who operate at what he describes as a "high level" require extra carbs "to be able to function optimally – potatoes, some sweet potatoes, some white rice."
For those who would argue that more energy expended means more protein is needed to avoid loss of muscle, Dr. William Lagakos confirms that Wolf is correct in his analysis. "Exercise lowers, not raises, protein 'requirements,' because exercise is a potent anabolic stimulus; it helps preserve nitrogen at any level of dietary protein," said Lagakos in an August 4 posting.
But the total amount of protein needed depends on a variety of factors, notes Lagakos. Among them, in addition to the level of exercise: Age, goals (weight loss versus weight gain) and total number of calories consumed.