NBA Star Chris Paul Reveals His “Cheat Code” to Better Performance
NBA All-Star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Chris Paul went plant-based in 2019 to improve his health. He realized then that his diet – which consisted mostly of processed snacks and fried chicken – wasn't sustainable for either his health or his NBA career. The pro athlete sat down in his Los Angeles home to share his journey and the benefits of going plant-based, and how avoiding meat and dairy impacts his performance.
Paul also shared how excited he is about a new partnership with Gopuff. The grocery delivery service is aimed at making healthy vegan snacks accessible to all. Paul is partnering with Gopuff to help expand the brand's "Better for You" category and make plant-based snacks more widely available.
Today, Paul is also launching Good Eat'n, his co-created celebrity brand with a plant-based food line, to be available for delivery from Gopuff. Flavors include Hot Hot Puffs, Cinnamon Sugar Mini Donut Puffs, Nacho Cheeze Tortilla Chips, Big Dill, Ranch Tortilla Chips, Cookies N Creme Popcorn, Carolina Style BBQ Popcorn, and Classic BBQ Porkless Rinds.
Paul, now 37 years old, told The Beet he doesn't feel sore and has more energy thanks to his vegan diet. He described the perks of plant-based as so "dramatic" and "crazy" that even when he travels from Phoenix to Los Angeles after playing 12 pick-up games with his team he doesn't feel any aches, pains, inflammation, or soreness, and described his plant-based diet as a "cheat code."
In fact, Paul credits his plant-based diet for his successes: "I still don't believe I would be playing at the level I'm playing at if I didn't go plant-based," joking that sometimes he wishes he never gave his secret away to the kids he coaches at basketball camp.
In our chat with Paul, he shared advice for athletes who are curious about eating plant-based and the steps they can take to reach their goals, as well as how he introduced vegan foods to his two children, and the one snack he can't live without, which will surprise you.
What would you say to a young athlete who’s scared of going plant-based?
Chris Paul: It's funny my assistant coach when I played in college texted me last week and said there's a young girl on his team who's interested in going plant-based so I texted him back a Zoom link and jumped on the call with him and the girl because I completely understand how hard it can be.
I'm not blind to the fact I'm in the NBA and have a chef and all these things but most of the time I'm traveling, I'm on the road. Therefore, I have to plan ahead. When you go plant-based, it's a commitment, you have to plan your meals. Like last night I lifted at 6 pm so I made a shake for the morning before I went to bed, a plant-based diet it's not always just grab and go.
"When I first started this, it was for athletic purposes then when I started to dive into the information it became about health and reducing inflammation, then I wanted my family to be healthier. I would tell an athlete that you don't have to go cold turkey like I did but at least try to start introducing healthier options for yourself, I guarantee it'll make a difference in your life because it changed mine.
How does a plant-based diet impact your athletic performance?
Chris Paul: This is an issue I have because I do a basketball camp in the summer and different players come and I tell them how I steal the ball and all this stuff, I almost wish I didn't tell anyone about going plant-based. It's been that dramatic for me at this age.
Yesterday morning I flew to Phoenix worked out, lifted weights, played 12 games of pick-up, and flew home and did a workout this morning, and I don't have any soreness. I don't even have to put ice on my knee after games. Plant-based literally changed my gut and the way I feel. I have more energy too, it's literally been a cheat code. I still don't believe I would be playing at the level I'm playing at if I didn't go plant-based.
What's your favorite post-game snack?
Chris Paul: I love cookies. Man, I love cookies. That's probably my favorite right now – just cookies. It's been so funny on this plant-based journey because there are so many things people don't realize that are already vegan or can be vegan with one simple switch of ingredients. I have a 10-year-old daughter and when we have plant-based cookies in the house she takes a bite and when I tell her they're vegan she looks at me like there are some foreign ingredients in them. The education aspect of it is very key.
Most vegan snacks aren't always healthy. Were you intentional about the ingredients for Gopuff snacks?
Chris Paul: We were intentional about making these snacks, it's part of my lifestyle. For me, I’m constantly doing blood work and checking my levels. Too much of anything isn’t good for you. I always try to make sure I’m balanced. This is supposed to be an option for everyone who wants to try something different. What I've learned on my journey is that you have to meet people where they are.
If you had to choose a team to retire with based on the city's food, which would it be?
Chris Paul: The team that would be easiest to do it for would be the Clippers, LA has so many vegan options.
As a father of two, what was it like to introduce vegan food to your children?
Chris Paul: My kids are not fully plant-based. My daughter's 10th birthday party was recent and there's a kid in her class who's plant-based my daughter related the kid to me and said, "I know what she can eat because my dad eats like that." My kids will grow up seeing the choices dad makes and when they're able to make that decision they will.
How did you get started with Gopuff?
Chris Paul: I’ve been plant-based for three years and it’s been life-changing for me. I first did a partnership with Gopuff called "Put Me On," putting diverse entrepreneurs and giving them a bunch of training and putting them all together so they could help grow and build their own brands and business. There's a section on the app called Better For You and everything really grew from there.
What are your favorite products?
Chris Paul: I’m 37 years old by the way, so I’ve been plant-based for three years, I’m still learning about plant-based food and health. I’ve never liked cheese, vegan or regular. The nachos are my favorite, they're nostalgic. What's been so exciting is that my team now, when we go on the road, there's always meals out and there's always a sign that says "vegan food" and in my opinion, it should be a sign that just says "food."
There are people out there that won't even touch vegan food, I don't get it. Every time Devin Booker, who's on my team, sees me eating my vegan food he says, "Oh, you're eating that grass." We flew back from Phoenix the other day and he was killing the cookies and cream bag so it's so nice to see that.
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