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Even NBA stars need to eat their vegetables

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Rip Hamilton needs to eat more vegetablesBack in March, the Detroit Free Press featured an article about Rip Hamilton's personal chef, Shawn Loving, and all of the meals that Loving prepares. Well, Henry Abbott from True Hoop forwarded that article to Joel Fuhrman, a nutrition doctor who has his own blog called Disease Proof. Dr. Fuhrman was not impressed:

Clearly Richard Hamilton and his chef are not nutritionists. His diet is designed to meet Richard’s taste preferences, not to maximize health and performance. Let's take a look at what this fit basketball player eats, we’ll do a complete dietary analysis of his meals and see if his diet comes up healthful or not.

I had my staff dietician analyze these menus with a computer software program to document the poor nutritional quality of Hamilton’s diet. For any person to expect to remain in excellent health as they age, the vast majority (meaning 75- 90 percent) of calories must come from unrefined natural plant foods, not white flour, sugar, oil and animal products. Because Richard’s diet is profoundly deficient in vegetables, beans, fresh fruits and raw nuts and seeds (high nutrient plant foods), we can use his diet as an example of a disease-promoting diet-style.

From there, Dr. Fuhrman detailed what exactly was wrong with Rip's diet, citing too much sodium and cholesterol and not enough fiber and antioxidants. What's his conclusion?

Even though Richard Hamilton is only 29 years old, slim and wiry, and in great cardiovascular condition does not mean that his body will hold up to this level of activity as he ages. His diet may supply him with adequate macronutrients (fat, carbohydrate and protein) to sustain a high level of physical activity, but because the micronutrient levels are so low, he places himself at risk for a shortened career with injury and premature aging of his joints and connective tissues. As a result of this diet I would not risk a long term contract on Richard. His diet will likely prevent him from continuing this high level of athleticism that he displays past the age of 36.

Obviously we can't put too much weight on Dr. Fuhrman's analysis considering he's never actually met Rip and is simply going off an article that may or may not be completely representative of Rip's actual diet, but he still makes some interesting points. (For what it's worth, Rip's current contract goes through the 2009-10 season, at which point Rip will be 33 years old.) But I found his final point to be very interesting:

We know that Dwyane Wade had a viral infection that almost cost the Heat their place in the finals and may have had something to do with his mediocre performance in the first two games against the Mavericks. Maybe these young athletes will wake up and realize that nutritional excellence can dramatically increase their resistance to infection, especially when they are on the road so much, exposed to so many people and under stress. It could make the difference between a victory or a loss in the NBA finals and it can prolong their playing years, not to mention their life. Pass all that cake, bread, pasta and cream to the other team Richard, it might get you a few more years of good play and be worth millions to you.

I'm curious if the Pistons, or any other NBA team, has a professional nutritionist on their staff. Given all of the money and resources devoted to strength and conditioning, it seems like they would since it's all about maintaining an athlete's body, but it's not something that I remember anyone actually talking about before.

NBA Star Menu Predicts Future Health Problems [Disease Proof]

Previously on DBB:
Plate don't lie!