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Chris Paul promotes healthier habits for young athletes — starting with sports drinks

Chris Paul promotes healthier habits for young athletes — starting with sports drinks
At one point, NBA star Chris Paul chose drinks based on their marketing campaigns. Now he's more careful. (Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

Up until Chris Paul moved to Los Angeles in 2011 to join the Clippers , the NBA star didn’t consider himself particularly health-conscious; his beverage of choice tended to be sugary, chemical-filled sports drinks that he picked off the shelves because of how they were marketed.

“I didn’t know any better,” Paul said. “As much as I trained and wanted to recover, I wasn’t thinking about natural sweeteners. As I got older, I started to realize just how much sugar is in a lot of those drinks.”

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Sports drinks, says Paul, are a mainstay of both professional and amateur athletes, used to hydrate and revive during and after workouts. But many are either loaded with sugar or contain potentially harmful artificial sugars to bring their calorie content down.

The 33-year-old player, who joined the Houston Rockets last year, was briefly back in Los Angeles in July to host the Kids’ Choice Sports Awards. Right after, we chatted with Paul — wearing purple track pants and a long-sleeved white jersey — at the turf-covered rooftop of the Equinox gym in West Hollywood about the launch of a new line of sports drinks with no artificial sweeteners, only two grams of sugar per serving.that

Wtrmlnslce is a new watermelon-based electrolyte drink made by Wtrmln Wtr, a company in which Paul has invested (along with Beyonce, and others). The nine-time all-star says it is part of a mission to get people, especially the young, to think more carefully about everything they consume.

His suggestions:

Look beyond the hype

A lot of the time, people take what they’ve been given, or whatever has been marketed the best. Some of these drinks are always in people’s’faces. Sometimes it’s more expensive to do things healthy. But I just keep trying to drive the message.

Find what works for you

Right after I moved to Los Angeles, I started to get more in tune with my body and to try and live a healthier life. I began to do a test that tested my blood against 300 different ingredients to tell me what made me sleepy or tired. For me, it was about wanting to excel in my profession. I have to take the test every eight or nine months because the results change. The first one told me I couldn’t have salmon or gluten. I almost lost my mind. In the latest one, as much as I love corn, I found out it’s not necessarily good for me. It causes a lot of inflammation in my body. But what happens is you start to realize how much different your body can feel and to remind yourself that food and drink are supposed to serve as a source of energy.

Rev that metabolism

I try to have a shake, usually with blueberries and bananas, within 30 minutes of waking up. It gets the metabolism going. A lot of mornings, before I work out and train, I’ll also have oatmeal. Lunch is a big salad with chicken. And the night before a game, I like something with rice or pasta.

Mix it up

There’s no off-season when it comes to training. I’m into yoga, Pilates. I like to bike ride. I work out five to six days a week, a couple of hours a day. As I’ve gotten older, I need to do that just to stay in shape. And when I cheat — it’s French fries. That’s my weakness.

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Be prepared

The best advice I can give to someone who is trying to live healthier is to have a plan and do meal prep. When you’re trying to eat right, it’s hard unless you plan out your day. Most of us, we get busy, and then we’re driving and hungry and stop at the closest fast food place. And people forget that they may need to eat more frequently, every three or four hours, to boost their metabolism. So carry snacks. I always have with me plantains, nuts and Larabars.

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