Professional athletes don’t get to the top by accident. It takes superhuman levels of time, dedication, and focus—and that includes paying attention to what they put in their bellies. In this series, USA TV NEWS takes a look at what athletes in different sports eat on a daily basis to perform at their best. Here’s a look at the steadfast daily diet of San Antonio Spurs star Kawhi Leonard, who swears by high-alkaline waters.
Kawhi Leonard is typically a man of few words, which actually makes him the perfect star to lead a post–Tim Duncan Spurs team. (And now he’s even getting some MVP contention.) Also fitting: His diet mirrors that same no-nonsense attitude. Grill up some chicken, toss in some vegetables, and you’re good to go! Don’t make it any harder than it needs to be. Kawhi’s only real concern: making sure he doesn’t have to rush off to the bathroom during a TV timeout.
USA TV NEWS: I’m catching you right in the midst of an eight-game road trip. How hard is it to keep a consistent diet when you’re away from home and in a different city every night?
Kawhi Leonard: 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.
That’s an incredible resource to have. So what is your usual go-to meal when you land in a new city?
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.
I know that there are some athletes who travel a lot who rely on places like Chipotle or Subway when they’re on the road. Is there somewhere like that you’ll go if you need a quick meal?
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.
More local establishments?
You always get a better feel for whatever city you’re in when you go that route.
Yeah, for sure. You could go to Subway anywhere, even in your own hometown.
When you are in San Antonio and you have more options around you, do you have a routine that you’re into? Or are you a guy who will eat whatever you feel like eating on any given day?
I pretty much keep it free when it comes to that. I don’t eat the same meal or at the same time every single day. You get tired of that real quick. I just try to make sure whatever I’m eating is fresh and clean and good for my body. That’s about it.
A few years back, I actually had some of the most insanely delicious pancakes of my life in San Antonio. Those probably don’t fall into the category of “fresh and clean and good for my body,” though.
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.
Playing for the Spurs, you’re typically making pretty deep runs into the playoffs. You tend to have a longer season than some other teams in the league. Does that force you to make any changes to your diet the deeper into the season it gets?
It depends. As the season goes on into the playoffs, sometimes you do lose a little bit more weight. I usually just try to see where my weight is at and either add more vegetables or proteins to my meals to get my weight where I want it to be.