During the Rodeo Road Trip, Kawhi Leonard managed to sneak some time in to speak to GQ’s Mick Rouse about his nutritional diet.
Most guys will tell you that they would love to trade their day jobs to become a professional athlete, until they realize the strict diet that most athletes follow throughout the season.
The common misconception is that athletes can get away with eating unhealthy food because they are constantly exercising and burning a majority of those calories.
However, that’s not the case. Athletes understand that to be successful in this league, for an extended period of time, maintaining a nutritious diet is key.
You definitely have to be focused in on it, but it’s difficult trying to eat something that’s good for you on the road. We usually have a nutritionist who will let us know what we should eat and what we shouldn’t eat from the hotel menus. She looks all of that over for us throughout the whole year.
While most people know that every NBA team, and most professional teams, have a nutritionist on hand to help players with their diet.
What most people don’t know is how involved they are in the daily process, looking at hotel menus and letting the players know what can and cannot be eaten.
Rouse asked Leonard what his go-to meal was when he’s on the road, and Leonard said:
I just try to stay away from beef and pork. I’ll try to get something like grilled chicken or fish. Something like that with some vegetables.
Pork definitely makes sense, as it’s probably the greasiest meat out of the four.
However, one would assume that ordering specific types of “lean beef” would be appropriate from time-to-time, unless your Leonard. When in doubt, order grilled chicken or fish with a side order of veggies, and you’re set.
Leonard was asked if he goes to places like Subway or Chipotle on the road, to which Leonard said:
I try to go to hole-in-the-wall sandwich places if I do need something quick. Someplace fresh and healthy, like a juice bar. There aren’t really any household names that I go to.
Yes, Leonard rather go to a “hole-in-the-wall” place than go to an establishment.
If that isn’t a San Antonio Spur comment, i’m not sure what it is.
All joking aside, fast-food establishment rely on processed foods, so Leonard’s comment makes a lot of sense from a nutritional standpoint.
Rouse mentioned a fantastic spot in San Antonio that serves pancakes, to which Leonard replied:
Nah. I rarely eat breakfast because of our schedule, actually. If I do, though, I’ll try to do an egg-white omelet with some bell peppers and mushrooms. Maybe a side of a bunch of different fruits.
This is another surprising comment.
Breakfast is widely considered the most important meal of the day, and Leonard rarely has one because of his strenuous schedule.
Are you sure you rather trade your day job to be an athlete under Gregg Poppovich?
Leonard alluded to the transition from college to the pros, and how different the nutritional aspect really is:
Being in college, you don’t have the money to even get organic foods or eat only organic vegetables, organic drinks. You really just go with what you have in front of you. And the college I was at, we were a mid-major, so we didn’t really have all the perks and stuff like that other teams might have. We ended up eating a lot of fast food.
Speaking from the experience of once being a college student, fast-food, or cheap food, is a major part of your diet. When you’re income is minimal at best, you have to be economical, and Whole Foods doesn’t fall under that category.
Leonard takes it a step further, since he was playing at a mid-major, not a powerhouse Division I basketball program. Obviously, he wasn’t really taken care of in terms of his diet.
Another common question is whether NBA players like to eat before games, and Leonard had this to say:
I definitely don’t like to eat a lot before I play. I don’t like to play on a full stomach. Sometimes, if I’m feeling hungry before a game, I’ll eat one of those protein bars, but that’s it.
When you take defense as seriously as Leonard, getting bloated before the game is probably a bad idea. Instead, Leonard keeps it light, having a protein bar if he’s really hungry.
Leonard’s most impressive comment came on the final question of the interview, when Leonard was asked what advice he’d give younger guys coming in the league:
Also, watch the type of water you’re drinking. Not all water is great for you. I drink a lot of water during the day, but I stay away from certain waters because their pH levels are low. Stick to alkaline waters with a higher pH. Trust me.
Wow. Even those who take care themselves with a balanced diet don’t monitor the pH levels in their water.
Leonard may be soft spoken, but when it comes to his diet, the man plays no games.
You can catch the full interview here.