LOS ANGELES – Last season Dustin Brown had little energy.
After a workout would end, he would come home to his wife and four children and just lay on the couch.
He couldn’t play with his kids, couldn’t throw them around his pool. He felt more tired than a man in his late 20s or early 30s should.
Was it the wear and tear on his battering ram of a body? Did his game start to deteriorate at a time when he shouldn’t have seen such a major drop off that saw him go from 54 points in 2011-12 to half that number in 2014-15?
Most athletes hit a crossroads at some point in their career where they have to change something to stay productive. For the Los Angeles Kings captain – it was the type of food he was putting in his body.
He heard about Manhattan Beach-based nutritionist Lisa Rado from Kings chiropractor Chad Moreau and decided to talk to her about how to shift his diet.
“I was at a point where I would have sought her on my own,” Brown said. “I was committed to the program. I’ve reaped the benefits of that and once you see how it works it’s very easy to stay with it.”
Rado got into the nutrition game as sort of a second career. She used to do marketing and PR, but later in life decided nutrition was her calling. She attained the title of Integrative Health Coach from Duke’s Integrative Medicine program.
Her first sports client was Garry Gilliam Jr. of the Seattle Seahawks, who reduced his body fat by 7.1 percent and lost 23.4 pounds of body fat.
“He said, ‘I thought felt good when I got here, now I know what good feels like,’” Rado said.
Her belief is that in order to get an athlete’s body working properly a liver detox is vital.
“Always almost 99 percent of the time I start people on my liver detox program because that really is the foundation of someone’s health,” Rado said. “It’s really the gateway to someone’s health. We all have toxic overload that we’re unaware of.”
Even though a pro athlete may seem like the paradigm of perfect health, because of daily exercise and a regimented lifestyle, this isn’t always the case.
“Everyone thinks athletes are healthier. Maybe but they also produce more metabolic waste than most individuals, which is all the stuff when your muscles break down or rebuild,” Rado said. “And if your liver is congested, it's just recirculating back into your system, causing you fatigue and adrenal stress and not allowing you to recover and perform at your peak. When we clear that stuff all tat stuff works at optimal levels.”
After undergoing blood work with Rado, Brown found out about sensitivities he didn’t know existed within his body. Like dairy for example.
“I always loved dairy and then I got rid of dairy and I started feeling better,” Brown said. “I never would have thought that and never would have known that. Things like that give you an edge.”
Said Rado about the blood work, “He needed some support in different areas and within seven weeks, we turned a lot of really dangerous markers into optimal, from high risk to optimal,” Rado said.
One of those markers, according to her website, for Brown listed “cardiovascular disease risk.”
“It’s not just him. It’s a lot of our athletes,” Rado said. “They work out so much they feel like they think they can eat whatever they want because people usually eat healthy for right reasons. But they don’t look at what’s going on inside and they’re not really seeing the big picture of how they truly feel until they feel better.”
During the summer, Brown would drink specialty prepared shakes for him. He also had food delivered to his home from Fitness Kitchen LA to prevent the cooking process. Since he has four kids, there was little time for him to cook every night. Also, Fitness Kitchen had the right types of foods he needed to maximize his performance.
“They do as much customizable or as little customizable edits that we want,” Rado said.
Along with dairy, Brown had to get rid of what he called “processed foods” such as cereal.
“I get to have a steak or salmon or some type of fish or chicken every single night with … it probably wouldn’t work as well if I didn’t like vegetables,” Brown said.
Brown said he always believed in nutrition, but just wasn’t educated properly about how he should better control what he puts in his body. Now he knows.
“Like we have strength coaches, we have hockey coaches and for me it was one area of my life where I didn’t really know a whole lot about it,” he said.
The biggest issue came when he went home to Ithaca, New York at one point during the summer. Brown said he would have to get all his food from the local grocery store and cook it right away, because with four kids he wouldn’t have time to make meals every night.
“It was a little more challenging in a smaller town because they don’t have meal delivery and they don’t have the resources a big city like LA does,” Brown said.
The results have been visibly transformational for Brown. Rado’s website shows before and after shots of Brown’s body and the before shots look somewhat doughy. The after images are lean and tone.
According to Rado, Brown lost 17.6 pounds of body fat over the summer – a total of 7.7 percent.
“He just looks healthier and he’s happier, he’s in a better mood,” Rado said.
Kings coach Darryl Sutter applauded Brown for trying to take it upon himself to improve his game in a sort of ‘outside the box’ way.
“He’s a proud guy, and he wanted to do the necessary things, we asked him to be around the ice more during the summer as part of his training and he did that,” Sutter said. “He took it upon himself to get a nutritionist, and that just tells you that he’s trying to get better as a player and be a good role model for some of the other guys.”
If Brown rediscovers his playing success will more players start calling up Rado or looking for their own nutritionist?
There’s a responsibility on the player – just as much as it’s important for the nutritionist to find the right type of program. Some have their own nutritionist, but not all.
“We’ve had nutritionists come in and speak,” Brown said. “It’s … you have to find guys who are willing to listen.”
Currently Brown and Rado have mapped out a plan for him this season. And he’s committed – if anything so he can keep up with his dad duties at home along with on-ice progression.
“There’s a lot that goes into it, just like my travel days,” Brown said. “She has a little pack she gives me. I’m on my own for food, but now I understand what I need to eat. All the other stuff is very convenient and I’m committed to it, so it makes a big difference.”
(S/t LA Kings Insider for the initial story on Brown)
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