Linsanity. I am all over it. Jeremy Lin–Harvard graduate, undrafted player, turned New York Knicks phenomenon. Like I just learned that he’s a point guard. And, no, I haven’t seen him play yet–but that’s due to us not having much accessible TV in my home and something about a broadcasting contract between MSG Sports and the local cable company. So then, what do I know? I know he grew up playing basketball at his local YMCA; his other favorite sport was soccer; he does yoga; he has a charitable foundation; and, most importantly–what he eats per day to meet his protein requirements. Oh, and that he has a weakness for In-N-Out Burgers.
This 6-foot-3 and 205-lb rookie player has come charging onto the scene fueled with 205 grams of protein per day–as recommended by his personal trainer. Regular humans need about .4 to .7 grams of protein per pound depending on a variety of factors which include activity, age, state of health and a degree of imprecision in calculating optimal protein requirements. However, superlative athletes can extend their intake higher, and Lin’s 1.0 gram of protein per pound is probably both generous and acceptable. Sports that involve a lot of impact and pounding necessitate a large degree of repair nutrients which protein delivers–and with the compacted NBA season this year resulting in less rest between games, it seems like the players are taking quite a beating.
This means that to start him on his way each day, Lin aims for 50 grams of protein at breakfast. To reach this amount, he eats five eggs along with a serving of another protein like ham or turkey. The rest of his daily diet includes lean proteins from chicken, fish and milk-based protein powder, lots and lots of vegetables which he derives often from big salads, and a modicum of starchy carbohydrates. I was surprised at the lack of more carbs but I think they were just not clearly described in the plan that I saw.
I did not really intend to write about what Mr. Lin is chowing down–despite my being very interested in athletes’ diets. I enjoy hearing about those who credit their success or long, injury-free careers to their attention to nutrition–and will gladly delve into any Sports Illustrated Magazine that makes me privy to some piece of information about a sports celebrity’s care and feeding of their body. And, with professional sports’ fierce competition, more athletes are turning to such measures to improve their edge. I am also a champion of such stars who use their celebrity to promote healthy behaviors and give back to their communities such as Celtic’s Paul Pierce’s Truth on Health Fund.
I would love to be a sports nutritionist for a professional organization. I did once serve in that role for a college women’s basketball team. When I joined them for a team-building day–which included games and a high ropes course–my life felt a bit endangered. These tall amazon women felt entitled to some payback for my moderating their carefree college eating experiences. They were only Division 3. Maybe, if they were more assured of a high paying basketball contract they would have better appreciated my input and might have caught me in that game where you stand in the middle of a circle, lean back with your eyes closed and trust that the others will gently receive and carry your weight.
I digress. Anyway, since I am not a highly paid sports nutritionist, my attentions go to the more pedestrian aspects of how the mere mortals are eating. The little tidbit that really led me into this Linsanity was a NY Times article this week about Jeremy’s grandmother, 85-year old Lin Chu A Muen. Though she lives in Taiwan, when Jeremy was a baby and young child, she came here and cared for him in the California home where he was raised. Apparently, one of the budding basketball star’s favorite dishes that she prepared for him was fried rice with egg and dried turnip. For me, right there was the story.
I extrapolated from this one sentence mention a whole message about childhood feeding–and grandmothers. I thought I would just use it to advance my personal theory that the whole ruckus about feeding kids is overblown and that kids will just eat good healthy food if that is what is presented to them–without a myriad of choice and being catered to and if served with love–just as Lin Chu did for little Jeremy–dried turnip and all.
This seemed like a good way to present my adopt a grandmother feeding initiative. I have long observed that there are many from the older generations who really know how to cook–but no longer have anyone to cook for. Connecting these grandmothers (and grandfathers) with households that lack such important know-how would be a brilliant solution to the current childhood culinary and nutritional crisis.
My thesis was advanced when quick research revealed that Lin’s family doesn’t cook much and so he eats out for most of his meals. I assume that this describes the situation when living at home with his parents–after Grandma returned to Taiwan. It seems like once Lin Chu left, this family of ninth-generation descendants of immigrants from the Fujian province in southeast China, like many other American families, became clueless in the kitchen and In-N-Out Burger replaced the dried turnip dish.
One could probably argue that little Jeremy might not have grown so tall without the addition of such burgers to his diet and that a continued dietary of dried root vegetables, starch and a touch of egg protein could have deprived the New York Knicks of the divine lintervention he seems to be providing. His current protein intake far exceeds that of his ancestors. However, that raises other philosophical, ecological and nutritional issues.
I suppose he is living on his own now somewhere in the vicinity of New York City. Though he can probably afford it, his new-found fame probably makes it difficult for him to frequent the local burger joint, and besides, I don’t think we have In-N-Out Burgers here in New York. Jeremy might just have to take his eating back into the home and to find a grandmother who can prepare for him the sustenance he requires. Unfortunately, it looks like it’s too late for him to draft his own grandma for the program. Apparently, Lin Chu is too busy hanging out in sports bars in Taipei watching her grandson play basketball.
Knicks fans and Michelle Obama, what do you think?
Sunday’s stats: Knicks 104–Mavericks 97 Jeremy Lin: 28 points; 14 assists (7 turnovers–and that doesn’t mean apple)
In health, Elyn