James Harden’s Diet Is Probably More Down to Earth Than You Think

James Harden and Russell Westbrook function as co-leaders of the Rockets. But it’s Harden whose numbers duel with reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo for the crown this season. Harden bolsters his case with his dedication to the game, recently expressing his displeasure with the concept of “load management.”

It makes sense to assume NBA players, especially the best ones, must keep a close eye on what they eat. After all, they’re competing on the court 82 times a year — and that doesn’t include playoffs. However, Houston’s MVP recently made headlines for a slightly less rigorous diet.

What James Harden eats in a day

In general, Harden’s diet is fairly standard for an elite athlete. However, he explained his meals to USA Today in 2016, and fans noticed the detail he went into on his cheat food. “Ice cream sundae with warm chocolate chip cookies on top” is a much more high-effort choice than you’d expect from the typical NBA player.

In another description of his diet via Sportswallah, Harden elaborated, saying he didn’t particularly like chips or candy but loved “cookies, ice cream, brownies, and hot fudge sundaes.”

It’s clear that Harden pays enough attention to his calories and macronutrients to maintain his body, especially now that he’s a GQ Cover Star. But “The Beard” is human, and he’s not afraid to admit he likes food that tastes good.

Harden’s diet transformation

Elsewhere in the NBA, players bet their futures on the right diet. Dwight Howard partially attributed his Lakers resurgence this year to intermittent fasting, which helped him drop 40 pounds. Vince Carter continually puts in the work to make the 2020s his fourth decade in the NBA — the first player to do so — by sticking to a low-carb, protein-heavy diet.

In the 2017 offseason, Harden turned heads with a new look, adding 15 pounds of muscle and cutting fat from his massive frame. In the two years since then, Harden has managed to stay in great shape while still enjoying his sweets. It’s clear he’s willing to put in the work to enjoy the food he loves.

Staying in shape is paramount, but Harden wisely observed that cutting out all food for the perfect body is a fool’s errand. Steve Nash and Steph Curry have both won the MVP award twice, and no one’s accused either of them of being massively ripped.

The future of ‘The Beard’

James Harden of the Houston Rockets reacts against the Minnesota Timberwolves
James Harden of the Houston Rockets | Tim Warner/Getty Images

At age 30, Harden is still crushing it. As of December 27, 2019, Harden leads the NBA in points (by nearly 250), free throws, and most importantly for the Rockets, Win Shares and Value over Replacement Player. Although NBA stars tend to decline through their early thirties, Harden is doing everything he can to box out Father Time.

The Houston Rockets are likely playoff-bound. A little luck might get them past the LA teams and into the NBA Finals. Whether Harden finally gets his hands on the championship trophy, he’s an inspiration to everyone with dreams of playing ball while still enjoying a treat now and again.

Anyone doubting Harden’s commitment to the dessert lifestyle might want to pick up a pair of the new Harden 4s from Adidas — available in Pink Lemonade, Candy Paint, and Cookies n’ Cream.

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