While many people think about coaches, trainers and managers as the keys to an athlete’s success on and off the field, other unsung heroes help prepare them for the grind of a professional career in sports. Personal chefs, like Glen Lyman, help athletes achieve peak performance through what they eat and drink.
If Lyman didn’t do what he does, LeBron James may not be the bastion of longevity he is now.
LeBron James and his personal chef
According to a Sports Illustrated profile on Lyman, James was eating fruit loops out of a mixing bowl before the chef got his hands on the NBA player’s kitchen. Now, James drinks raw juices and consumes leafy greens.
Lyman has become one of the most well-respected chefs in the world of pro sports. Aside from James, the chef has worked with swimmer Ryan Lochte, racer Jeff Gordon, football player Steve Smith, and many other athletes.
In an interview with Charlotte Magazine, Lyman explained that he got in touch with James when the 19-year-old was fresh in the NBA and didn’t understand the basics of a healthy pregame meal. The first meal he cooked James was chicken and shrimp pasta. The young superstar loved it and left Lyman tickets to his game.
A partnership was born, and Lyman spent the next five years cooking for James. This time with the young athlete helped shape the physical beast that he is today.
Glen Lyman’s method
Lyman has developed a program that promotes healthy eating. Since he’s become so popular with athletes, he gets to be picky about who he works with. “I like to keep the best of the best, and I don’t answer every call from every player,” Lyman told Sports Illustrated. “They have to want to eat healthy, and we have to get along. We have to have a program that works for both of us.”
Once he secures a client, however, he works with them to ensure that they are not only eating healthy but enjoying what they eat, too. Lyman avoids red meat and processed foods. He opts for turkey, chicken, and organic produce.
Lyman has three staples in his program: lean proteins, leafy greens, and complex carbs. James is still lauded as one of the fittest players in the NBA, and it seems like his life after Lyman has maintained the sensibilities he learned during their time together.
Lyman cooks for celebrities
Cooking for high-profile athletes is a major step in the right direction for any personal chef, but it also gives them access few pro cooks will ever experience. This was the case with James. Lyman traveled with the NBA star as he trained for the Olympics. He even got to go hang out with James at social gatherings.
One particularly memorable story involved James having a spur-of-the-moment dinner with several Hollywood stars following the 2007 NBA Finals. James asked Lyman to cater a dinner for over 20 people at the drop of the hat. Next thing the chef knew, he was serving Jimmy Kimmel and other famous faces.
Lyman has spoken candidly about James. While the two have parted ways, it’s clear there is mutual respect between them. How much longer James plays in the NBA is up in the air, but he has Chef Lyman to thank, in part, for helping him learn how to fuel his body.