For NBA players to stay at the top of their game, they have to train for hours and make sure they're eating the correct foods. I have one of the worst diets in the world, so there's not much room for me to judge, but because of how bad my diet is, I know a diet is bad when I see it.
These diets may seem somewhat out of the ordinary for the average American, or probably even normal. Still, for an NBA player, that on average, runs TWO MILES per game - and this is in addition to having to rebound, defend, dribble, etc. - these are pretty bad diets. Here are some of the worst NBA player diets!
Dwight Howard: The Worst of the Worst
One of the WORST NBA player diets belongs to Dwight Howard. Howard was OBSESSED with sweets. When Howard went to the Los Angeles Lakers in 2012, the nutritionist for the Lakers, Dr. Cate Shanahan, described Howard as a "bona fide sugar addict." Apparently, the amount of candy and soda he was eating was equivalent to 24 HERSHEY BARS.
Wherever Howard went, he always carried candy and sugary drinks with him. Every crevice in Howard's house had candy: under his bed, in a drawer, in his backpack that he brought to practice, etc.
Candy wasn't the only thing that Howard was addicted to. Before every game, Howard ate two McDonald's' double cheeseburgers, one large fry, one small fry, a strawberry chocolate milkshake, and a large coke.
His addiction to junk food was so bad that it was getting in the way of his back surgery rehabilitation. In addition, Howard started to feel tinglings in his legs and fingers due to his addiction to junk food. This was a symptom seen in individuals with prediabetes.
Thankfully, since then, Howard's been back on a healthier diet. His meals at McDonald's were replaced with chicken and fish, and the pounds of candy and sugary drinks were replaced with kale and beet juice (which, to be honest, sounds like crap).
Derrick Rose's Sweet Tooth
As a rookie for the University of Memphis, Derrick Rose's addiction to candy was so bad that he almost missed out on the N2008 NCAA Championship. His former teammate, Chris Douglas-Roberts, stated that Rose ate Gummy Bears and Starbursts for breakfast. For dinner, Rose would eat Twizzlers and Honey Buns!
Due to how much candy Rose ate, his stomach started to bother him. It was so painful that Rose had to skip the media sessions. Thankfully, Rose still played against the Kansas Jayhawks, but he didn't play as well as he usually did. He had:
18 Points, 6 Rebounds, 8 Assists, 2 Steals
7/17 FG, 1/6 3P, 3/4 FT
Unfortunatley, the Memphis Tigers would lose to the Jayhawks in the Finals. If Rose had not eaten as much candy, would the Tigers have won that game?
As a kid, Rose's mom would even hide his candy so that Rose wouldn't eat it all. Rose even acknowledged that he would sometimes go through TWO POUNDS of candy.
Unlike most people who experience a sugar-high after eating a crap-ton of sweets, Rose immediately fell asleep.
Caron Butler and Nikola Jokic: Soda Lovers
Caron Butler had a relatively healthy diet compared to everyone else here, but he was ADDICTED to Mountain Dew. Butler drank one-two liters of Mountain Dew every day. When he was on the Los Angeles Lakers, Kobe Bryant had complimented Butler for his game but had noticed that Butler would run out of energy quickly.
Not wanting Kobe to know about his Mountain Dew addiction, Butler would go to extreme lengths to hide from Kobe when drinking Mountain Dew. Once Kobe had found out, Butler stopped drinking Mountain Dew for five-six months! However, once Butler went to the Washington Wizards, he relapsed.
With the Washington Wizards, Butler would drink Mountain Dew during the third and fourth quarter of games. Although soda is definitely not the best drink for sports, especially when you drink a shit-ton of it, Butler played his best basketball with the Wizards. He was a 2x All-Star and averaged:
19.0 Points, 6.6 Rebounds, 3.5 Assists, 1.8 Steals, and 0.3 Blocks
45.3 FG%, 31.5 3P%, 87.2 FT%
Since 2009, it seems like Butler is no longer addicted to Mountain Dew.
Fun Fact: Butler's diet also consisted of straws... no. He did not eat straws, but he always chewed them before games to relieve stress.
Nikola Jokic was in the same boat as Caron Butler, but Jokic's addiction started and ended before entering the NBA.
When Jokic played basketball in Serbia, he would drink three liters of Coke after each practice session. On average, a person should drink 3.7 liters of water per day, so Jokic 81% of Jokic's recommended water intake was replaced with COKE.
However, once he got drafted by the Denver Nuggets, he immeadietly stopped drinking Coke. Having quit Coke before joining the NBA definitely benefitted Jokic as this season (2020-2021), Jokic was named MVP! He's also the ONLY second-rounder ever to win MVP.
From being a Coke Addict to becoming the MVP of the best basketball league in the world. Look at Jokic man, so inspirational.
Enes Kanter: Biggest Turnaround
In an interview with the Salt Lake Tribune, Enes Kanter shared his HUGE meal plan:
"First my breakfast: I was eating like six eggs, omelet with six eggs; seven or eight pancakes, with sugar, whipped cream, everything; then a breakfast burrito. That was just my breakfast. Then I came to practice and my lunch was just like pasta, chicken alfredo, or whatever, and then a burger and an appetizer. Dessert? No. Dessert was at dinnertime. Dinnertime I ate another burger, a big meal again, and a dessert."
After his time with the Utah Jazz (2011-2014), Kanter's diet consisted primarily of seafood and salad. However, there was an instance where he posted a video on Instagram of him eating SEVEN CHEESEBURGERS. The next day, during practice with the Knicks, Kanter had to leave because of an illness, most likely due to those seven cheeseburgers.
Nowadays, Kanter's is on a plant-based diet! Kanter's sudden change in meal plan wasn't primarily due to him wanting to be more healthy, but because of how "heart-shattering" it was when he learned about factory farming.
Kanter went from having one of the worst NBA player diets to one of the best NBA player diets. However, you could argue that just eating veggies might be unhealthy, especially for an NBA player, but I don't know anything about nutrition, so whatever.
LeBron James: "Worst F*cking Diet Ever."
According to Tristan Thompson, LeBron James has the "worst f*cking diet ever." This is a bold claim, especially when it's about one of, if not the best, basketball player in basketball history.
Thompson told the Athletic that for breakfast, LeBron eats five French toasts. Each French toast is doused with maple syrup and covered with strawberries and bananas. In addition to those FIVE French toasts, he also eats a four-egg omelet. To add the cherry on top, LeBron apparently eats dessert with EVERY meal.
When Thompson tried to imitate LeBron's diet, he just gained a lot of weight.
To be honest, even if this is REALLY LeBron's diet, relative to other players listed here, this isn't the WORST diet. Also, considering the fact that LeBron literally spends $1.5 MILLION on his body each year and, at 36, still played 33.6 minutes per game, I think LeBron could afford to eat like shit.
Joel Embiid: "The Least Mature Eater"
When he was still a college player for the University of Kansas, Bill Self, the head coach, called Joel Embiid the "least mature eater." Apparently, Embiid would hoard plates of brownies and take them back to his home, which would be all he ate.
His shitty eating habits would stay with him when he entered the NBA. In 2015, the Sixers' training staff would stock Embiid's refrigerator with healthy food because they were concerned with what he was eating. Every week, the Sixers' staff would have to throw the food away because Embiid never at it.
It turns out, Embiid was ordering room service, specifically junk food and a PITCHER of Shirley Temple (can't blame him, they do taste good). After games, Embiid was typically seen eating chicken fingers and hot dogs.
Embiid's diet has gotten better, but he still has one of the worst NBA player diets to this day. Until 2018, Embiid had never eaten a vegetable before and still drank a lot of Shirley Temple.
Also, if you're a fan of the Philadelphia 76ers, you would know about their Chic-Fil-A tradition where the rookies have to buy Chic-Fil-A for the 76ers. Apparently, Embiid orders "four spicy chicken sandwiches, four orders of fries, and four cookies and cream milkshakes."
Charles Barkley: Don't Draft Me 76ers!
The infamous "Barkley Diet." When he found out that the Philadelphia 76ers were going to draft him, Barkley immeadietly went on a food binge so that the 76ers would not draft him. Barkley ate so much that he gained TWENTY POUNDS in 48 HOURS!
Barkley went to Dennys and ate two Grand Slam breakfasts which consisted of two pancakes, two eggs, two bacon strips, two sausage links, hash browns, toast, coffee, and juice. Barkley would eat two HUGE BBQ sandwiches right after breakfast, and for dinner, he went to a steakhouse and ate two steaks, a big plate of french fries, and an ENTIRE cake. The next morning, Barkley would go to Dennys and ate ANOTHER two Grand Slam breakfasts.
However, even though Barkley gained TWENTY pounds, the 76ers would still draft Barkley, and he would play for the 76ers for the next eight years.
If you look at the above video, you can tell that Barkley is upset, lol.