Watch The Assist | How Dwyane Wade’s Chef Created His NBA Diet | GQ Video
In 2005 that was really that turning point for us.
I explained to Dwayne it’s gonna come a time
you’re gonna see that your body
is not gonna respond the way that you want it to
because of the deficiency of vegetables
that you’re not willing to consume.
When Dwayne got hurt he came to me
and he said, Chef, I think I may want to try a salad,
My name is Richard Ingraham.
I am the CEO of ChefRLI and I have been
the personal chef for Dwayne Wade
and Gabrielle Union for the past 17 years.
I would describe Dwayne’s tastes
as he loves comfort food.
The things that Dwayne was eating when I first started,
he would eat Little Debbie’s snack cakes,
the oatmeal cream pies.
One of his favorite dishes was fettuccine alfredo
with fried chicken on top.
He could eat whatever he want basically
because he was losing about five pounds
or so during each game and he would just run
up and down the court so he would burn that stuff off.
My main thing with him was if you want to eat
some of this stuff let me know and I’ll make it myself.
So instead of eating the processed oatmeal cream pies,
I would make the oatmeal cookies myself,
I would make the cream myself.
Alfredo sauce never out of the jar.
I found that a lot of NBA players
including Dwayne their mentality at the time was
listen I was eating fried chicken,
hot dogs, brownies, cakes, I grew up
on all of this stuff.
This is the diet that got me these contracts
and got me to where I am.
They weren’t really understanding
that because of their great genes
and the fact that they were young, youthful
that that was what was really carrying them.
There’s so much more required from your body
in being an athlete a lot of brain,
a lot of sweat, just the stamina that it takes
in order to perform at such a high level
the body loses so many nutrients
throughout that process and it’s up to the personal chef
to put all of those nutrients back inside the body.
When I first started working with Dwayne
he absolutely hated vegetables.
Anything green, no parts of it whatsoever, nothing.
The ball club would give him powders
and vitamins and things like that
that would replace the natural vitamins
that you would get from raw vegetables.
Supplements are great if you’re on the road
or if you just can’t sit down to eat certain things.
You can say you know what I know I need
a little bit of vitamin A or vitamin D
or vitamin C, but it’s nothing like
getting vitamin C from a fresh orange.
I had to kind explain to Dwayne
that listen as you get older unfortunately
there will be times that you get injured
and because you don’t have the necessary vitamins
that come from raw vegetables your body’s not going to heal
as quickly as you would want it to.
Not only does it effect your body,
but it effects your psyche as well.
It takes a whole lot longer for you
to get your head back into the game
because you’re so worried about your body.
Whereas if you’re taking care of your body
as they say, if you stay ready
you never have to get ready.
Whatever you put inside your body
that’s the fuel that’s all that you have.
So you have to make sure that you put
the best products inside of your body
so that you can get the best output on the court.
2005 that was really that turning point for us.
When Dwayne got hurt the next thing you know
Dwayne came to me and he said,
Chef, I think I may want to try a salad, here or there.
Instead of me saying you know I told you so,
I was excited about it.
In order for me to keep him performing
I had to go and look on the computer,
I had to read, I had to ask other chefs
who worked for other athletes who I really admired
what was it that they were doing?
What should I do to cut down on inflammation?
What should I do to help with migraines?
With the migraines we basically
tried to keep his body hydrated.
We drank a lot more water.
We took every type of other drink out of his diet.
We took all sugars out of his diet.
We added in some nice teas with turmeric
and some ginger and kept his stress level
as low as possible.
That’s where I came in just to provide
a very holistic environment for him
so that his migraines wouldn’t kick in.
I started learning all of this information
and I started implementing them slowly into his diet
and one thing that I would always do is
communicate with Dwayne what it was I was doing.
I wanted to have him included
and Dwayne being the leader that he was
he would take some of that information
into the locker room and tell some of the other players
exactly what he was doing because he wanted everybody
to kind of be on the same page,
not just mentally but as far as their bodies
were concerned as well.
When I first started with Dwayne
I wanted to get all of the information
and I wanted to do it all myself.
But then I had to understand that
there are different people that help to make one team
and the purpose of that team was to make sure
that the athlete performs at the highest level.
At some point I had to come to grips with myself
and say listen, you have to take the ego
out of the equation and understand
that it’s not about you.
What you do is just one portion
of what it takes for Dwayne to be
the best he can possibly be.
So instead of it just being me out on the island,
now I was actually getting on the phone
and calling people like Tim Rover,
David Alexander, the team trainers
to make sure that I was doing exactly what I needed
that my particular part fit into the puzzle just right
and if I needed to make certain adjustments
I was able to do that.
I remember one game it was the fourth quarter
Dwayne was running down the court,
he’s been playing pretty well the whole night
and the next thing you know he goes out
because he has cramps in his legs.
So I’m wondering you know what is it?
That was the first thing that I always thought about.
There were times where David Alexander,
one of his trainer’s would give me a call
and say, Listen Chef, we need D to be
as strong as possible.
So what we want to do now is to
up his protein intake because we want to put on
just a little bit more muscle so that
he can withstand not only the bumps that he takes
when driving to the whole, but also
if you ever watch Dwayne’s game
he’s on the ground maybe 80% of the time
because he’s falling down from taking
these fade away jump shots and maybe getting bumped
on the way down so he needs to be able to have that muscle
so that when he hits the ground he’s strong enough
to be able to withstand all the rigorous bumps
and bruises that he would get.
So now what I would do was go out
and get more lean fish, you know maybe sea bass.
We would do some nice shrimp.
I would do maybe a little grouper, some snapper.
Then on the meat side maybe a pork tenderloin,
All of these things were very, very flavorful meat parts,
but they were very lean as well.
Later on in Dwayne’s career he suffered
a couple of different injuries; a should injury,
then of course his knee.
I would go in and I would talk to the trainers.
I would talk to certain nutritionists
and find out what foods should I take out of his diet?
And a lot of my pasta dishes that we would do
for pre-game I would take out dairy;
cheeses, heavy creams, butter.
Implement more legumes, more beans,
so that it would help him with his inflammation problem.
I definitely feel that you can always continue to learn.
I look and I watch and I study
every single thing about what people do,
what people cook and just because your a chef
that doesn’t mean that you can’t learn something
You know from my mother.
I watch my wife cook certain things
and I may ask, listen how did you get that to do that?
Even when I go out to eat I continuously
try to learn different methods.
People they want the shine, but they don’t want the grind
and every single day is a grind.
And that grind means to continue to educate yourself.
We’ve never monitored calories.
Through my communication I knew how he was feeling,
so I would make necessary adjustments there.
Probably look at his body.
I would look at his obliques.
Look at him as a whole to see if I need
to taper off on this,
maybe check his portion sizes with this.
And then he would come to me sometimes
and give me suggestions on you know
maybe we need to try to do a cleanse.
Or we would do special smoothies
with kale, cucumber, lemon, things to kind of
flush his system out, speed his metabolism up
so he can start burning a little bit faster.
My philosophy is to continuously
throughout the season, throughout the off season
kinda keep the same regiment to eat clean,
to eat flavorful and then periodically
we would have a day where we may have short ribs
or we may have a hamburger with fries.
But once again, whatever it was
that we were indulging in we made sure
that it was made from the freshest products.
During the off season I kinda looked at it
like a workout, whereas you’re working out
throughout the season and then you take time off
and you don’t workout.
The hardest thing is to start again.
That’s the hardest thing to ever do.
Your muscles are sore, so you may take a day off
to get your muscles back and you have to go
through such a process to start that all over again.
So we really didn’t over indulge.
We didn’t over indulge in our sweets.
We didn’t over indulge in rice or pastas.
Once the season started then we started to implement
a little bit more carbs into his diet
because now he’s training, especially during the pre-season
he needed that energy boost.
But we didn’t just add any type of carbs in.
We wanted to make sure that we implemented
carbohydrates that would sustain his energy level.
In the morning a breakfast sandwich
or we may do some oatmeal which is a great carbohydrate
that sustains that energy level throughout the day.
And then for lunch we may do a nice orzo pasta
with some turkey and spinach meatballs
or something like that.
He may have a nice peanut butter
and jelly sandwich with some green grapes
that I would send him off with.
And then for dinner he would come home
we may have a veal chop with some farro
and broccoli stir fry.
When he, Chris Bosh and LeBron James
got together during the time of the big three.
Those were some very, very long seasons.
They played a whole season.
They played through the play-offs.
Then the championship series.
His body got really, really beat up
very, very tired, very exhausting.
So I had to make sure that each
and every meal meant something.
I think Dwayne has changed in a way
of just be a little bit more open,
probably trying different things
and I think the reason for that is because of trust.
That comes with time.
For the past 17 years I’ve become part of the family.
When he’s away I’ve taken on the role
of being the protector of his family.
I stay a little bit later at night
to make sure everybody’s safe.
They have food there in case they want
to come down and snack.
They don’t have to order food out.
It alleviates the pressure from him wondering
if his family is safe while he’s on the road.
The only thing that he has to concentrate on
is his job which is making sure
that ball goes into that hoop.
Dwayne as you know he switched teams a couple of times.
We got the call that we needed
to go to Chicago, so my wife and my children
and I we packed everything up and we moved off to Chicago.
And then we went from Chicago to Cleveland
and then the next thing you know
we were boom, right back in Miami once again.
And then here we are now in L.A.
It was all about finding the grocery stores
and some farms in order to make sure
that we kept the quality of service,
the quality of food the same because that’s the reason
that you know I was asked to come along.
D wanted to keep the same way of life
that he had in Miami.
When the talk of retirement came
you didn’t really want it to happen.
You know you love being a part of
what he was doing out there on the court.
You loved to see him dunk that ball
or to make this amazing play.
As the Lord would have it
and as Dwayne’s needs would have it
he wanted to continue to keep me on
because he wanted to still be as fit as he wanted to be.
Our diet isn’t as strenuous as it was
when he was playing, but I still try to keep it
as clean as possible.
He still needs the energy to be a winner
on camera, in these interviews
and doing the things that he’s doing.
We still have that same philosophy of
if you stay ready you don’t have to get ready.