I’ve got a pretty crazy story for you today about exercise, athletes, and food cravings gone wild!
Have you heard of basketball player Dwight Howard, who plays for the Los Angeles Lakers?
Let’s roll the clock back to 2014 when he was having trouble coming back after a back injury.
On the outside, he looked lean, strong, and basically invincible.
But he had a BIG secret that everyone on his support crew was helping him keep: he was a major sugar freak who craved it all of the time.
Eventually, the team’s nutritionist figured out something was going terribly wrong and she confronted him, and Howard told her the truth …
… he was eating a LOT of candy – the equivalent of about 24 candy bars a day, or about 500 grams of sugar!!!
(For comparison’s sake, the American Heart Association recommends men eat no more than 9 tsp (36 grams) of sugar a day, and women, 6 tsp (25 grams) daily.)
That’s about 2,000 calories a day just in sugar – not to mention all the unhealthy fats and other not-good-for-you ingredients in all that candy. Some estimates put the daily calorie total at more than 5,000.
But here’s the thing. It wasn’t just that he was eating too much candy. He also had tingling in his arms and legs, and he was having trouble catching passes.
The suspected reason: A nerve problem called dysesthesia, which can happen with people who have diabetes!
And yet on the outside, he still looked like a healthy, strong pro basketball player.
After the intervention, Howard worked with the team’s nutritionist to replace all that sugar with healthier choices that would fuel his workouts and help keep him satisfied.
It wasn’t long until the tingling started to go away and his health markers (i.e., blood sugar levels) improved.
Now obviously Howard’s workouts were long, intense, pro-level workouts, but it just shows:
1) How vigorous workouts can ramp up your cravings and
2) How important it is to plan ahead to fuel your workouts, especially if they are long or intense!
Takeaway: pay attention to how you feel AFTER your workouts and observe how different kinds of workouts (strength training, cardio, high-intensity, etc.) impact your cravings and how they make you feel later in the day.
Knowing your body is the KEY to success.
Plan ahead and fuel yourself with a light, healthy meal or snack before and afterwards, to help keep those cravings at bay!