I think it goes without saying, but being born and raised in Northern Virginia and playing basketball pretty much my whole life, I grew up a fan of Grant Hill.
I watched him play at South Lakes High School, then star at Duke (remember his dunk in the NCAA National Championship Game against Kansas?), and then on to the pros.
Despite the fact Hill is just days away from turning 40, he has seen a late-career resurgence, and, based on what he’s told me, has no intent on slowing down thanks, in large part, to his Paleo diet.
Here is an excerpt from our interview, available in the latest issue of Paleo Lifestyle Magazine (both for the iPad and on Amazon), where Grant talks about his diet and fitness, his career, and how long he thinks he can keep this up:
Brian: According to your website you said “If it was around a million years ago, I’ll eat it.” How is it that you got into the Paleo diet?
Grant: It has been a lot of trial and error. I never really read about Paleo and tried to adopt it. I think I kind of discovered it on my own, maybe a little bit modified. I think sought of, through the years, I really started to get into my diet and I see the translation or the correlation, if you will, when I was in my last couple of years in Detroit and it really from there it has just been trying to figure out how this sort of thing works.
I think in the last four or five years, just kind of getting to that point where you would be disciplined about treatments, a lot of fruits and vegetables, a lot of animal protein, lean animal protein, and staying away from sugar. As an athlete, I craved meat, I craved fish. I think am getting to the point where I eliminate the sugars and food that acts like sugars which are a lot of bread, a lot of stuff like that.
For me, when I discovered that as an athlete, especially when you are getting older, it’s about recovery. Sugar in your body creates inflammation and that’s what you don’t want, that’s what you are trying to eliminate as you recover and so eliminating sugar, eliminating sugar drinks, foods that act like sugar, and obviously foods that are high on sugar, like sweet, candies, dessert.
I just noticed that my body was great and I’m able to play, still play at a high level, be able to bounce back and play again the next day. I know I’m a great believer in it and certainly as I’ve read about and sought out that lifestyle, it makes more and more sense.
Brian: Seeing as you are about to turn 40 and you have to consistently match up with guys who are close to half you age, do you feel like nutrition is one of the biggest things keeping you on top of your game?
Grant: Yeah, I think it’s important, but I think the attitude is the most important thing. I look at my age as I’ve got the advantage; you can’t teach experience. I’m still able to compete, I’m still athletic, I still have my athleticism. So I think the most important thing is your attitude, your mind set, like the old question “how old will you be if you don’t know how old you were?”
Regarding nutrition, I don’t go to bed starving, I eat a lot of food but I eat right and so I don’t believe in restricting calories and all of that. I eat a lot of food as long as they are the right things. If I eat something bad, I feel it, you know!
So I think nutrition is next to your attitude and mind set to be successful in sports.
Brian: How long do you think that you can maintain this, how long do you want to keep playing?
Grant: I think I’ll wear out mentally before I will physically. I know that sounds crazy because I’ve had a lot of injuries, but I feel now at 40 that I’m in better shape than when I was 32 or 33, and I know a lot of that has to do with eating.
I think my recovery is better, I feel like my ability to run, I move around the court, I may not jump as high as I did when I was in my 20s, but I feel great. Conventional wisdom says we are not supposed to, but when you are addicted to eating the right thing, keeping the right weight you going to last longer than conventional wisdom.
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