LeBron James, renowned as the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, might just have earned himself a new moniker: The Vegan Smoothie King. Off the court, James maintains optimal health through a disciplined exercise and nutrition plan. One major part of James’ regimen is his specially curated vegan smoothie recipes.
The Los Angeles Lakers superstar, known for his incredible athleticism and longevity in the sport, credits his rigorous training and strict diet for his sustained high performance. His diet, rich in lean proteins, fruits, and vegetables, is complemented by his signature protein shakes—a blend that’s become almost as famous as his fadeaway jumper.
Fans looking to emulate the King’s health habits need to look no further than his go-to vegan protein shake, a mix that balances taste with the nutritional firepower needed to fuel a high-octane athlete.
James’ smoothie recipe is a concoction of plant-based protein powder blended with a frozen banana, a generous tablespoon of peanut butter, vanilla almond milk, and a handful of ice.
While James’ diet is not fully plant-based, the athlete loves a peanut butter-topped bagel for breakfast, snacks on fruit such as bananas, apples, and berries; and is a big fan of fresh veggies such as squash, zucchini, banana peppers, and asparagus, according to research by Total Shape.
LeBron James is the vegan smoothie king
James will be 39 years old next month and is the oldest player in the NBA. How does he continue to play at such a high level? The secret could be in his vegan smoothie.
The plant protein in James’ smoothie is made by Ladder, a sports nutrition company that he founded last year together with fellow athlete Arnold Schwarzenegger. Ladder is not fully vegan as some of its products contain animal ingredients such as whey.
However, the company does offer several vegan protein products, including the chocolate plant protein James turns to for his smoothies. Designed to support muscle repair and recovery, the plant protein powder has minimal ingredients such as pea protein and tart cherry and is fortified with 21 vegan amino acids.
Last year, Ladder launched into 690 Vitamin Shoppe and Super Supplements locations, as well as online, marking a significant milestone for the company, which had previously offered its products solely through e-commerce.
Ladder’s development traces back to James’ quest for premium supplements, a journey that began after a pivotal moment of adversity during the 2014 NBA Finals. Along with his long-time trainer, Mike Mancias, and with insights from Schwarzenegger, James set out to create a line of clean performance products that now, through their retail availability, can support the wellness goals of individuals at all levels of fitness.
“We created Ladder to address a need for clean, safe, effective products that we could trust, and that would help maximize our peak performance,” James said in a statement last year. “To see how it’s grown into a community of athletes of every level, all striving to reach their goals, is pretty special.”
“I’m excited that this partnership with The Vitamin Shoppe will make Ladder even more accessible as we continue to innovate the product and expand the Ladder community,” James said.
James, who is also an investor in Blaze Pizza, loves to incorporate “cheat meals” into his routine with pizza being one of his favorite foods. And while giant chains such as Domino’s and Pizza Hut lag behind in plant-based options, Blaze has offered vegan pizza since 2019.
The vegan option here—a perfect cheat meal for James’ fans—is made with red sauce, vegan cheese, spicy vegan chorizo, mushrooms, red onions, green bell peppers, basil, and a drizzle of olive oil.
Arnold Schwarzenegger loves plants, too
While James’ overall diet is not plant-based he is among a growing number of athletes turning to plant-protein to support his health. In fact, his Ladder co-founder is also a big fan of plants.
At 76, Arnold Schwarzenegger, the former bodybuilder, actor, and ex-governor of California, remains a staunch supporter of plant-based nutrition, often incorporating vegetables, legumes, and plant-based burgers into his diet. This dietary choice is a significant element in maintaining his health and fitness.
The Game Changers
Earlier this year on his podcast Arnold’s Pump Club, Schwarzenegger shared insights into his eating habits, noting that although he still consumes eggs, salmon, and chicken, he increasingly favors veggie burgers, lentils, and beans.
A regular part of his diet also includes pea protein powder from Ladder. “In the morning after my workout, I usually have oatmeal with Greek yogurt or granola,” Schwarzenegger said on the podcast.
“For lunch, I always have a salad, sometimes with a plant-based burger or maybe salmon or chicken,” he said. “Other times, it’s with a scramble or omelet. For dinner, I always have soup. I like to eat light for my last meal.”
Despite occasionally eating meat, Schwarzenegger reports a significant reduction in meat intake, eating about 80 percent less than he did before. He attributes his improved health metrics, including remarkably low cholesterol levels, to this dietary shift.
Schwarzenegger’s advocacy for plant-based diets extends beyond personal practice. He has been vocal about challenging the entrenched belief that meat consumption is crucial for health and masculinity. In the 2019 documentary The Game Changers, he criticized marketing strategies that associate meat consumption with manliness, calling them merely promotional tactics without basis in reality.
And James is also involved in The Game Changers. The NBA star will help bring the sequel of the documentary to life—with the release date to be determined—through his production platform SpringHill Company.