People are living longer than ever before, therefore, it is not surprising that professional athletes are enjoying longer careers. It has much to do with healthier eating, proper nutrition, exercise, and medical breakthroughs.
But there are some athletes navigating in uncharted waters, playing into their late 30’s and early to mid-40s. And there are more and more athletes traversing this territory, with one example being NHL player, Zdeno Chara.
The soon-to-be 44-year-old Slovakian has had a storied career after being selected in the second round of the 1996 NHL draft and boasts one of the hardest slapshots ever recorded at a sizzling 108.8 miles per hour. The nine-time All-Star is a virtual lock for the NHL Hall-of-Fame when he eventually hangs up his skates but until then, he remains one of the most feared players in the game today due to his enormous 6’9” frame and bone-crushing power.
Chara played the majority of his career with the Boston Bruins and served as team captain during his 14-year stint in the Bay State. When the 2020 season ended, Chara was wooed to Washington DC to become a member of the Capitals.
Although the man they call “Big Z” is no longer the All-Star caliber player he once was, he is still a force to be reckoned with and is averaging nearly 20 minutes per game as a middle-aged man playing in one of the world’s most violent sports. One constant throughout his career is his ability to avoid injury. He routinely plays over 90 percent of the schedule each season and is called upon to be an enforcer when the situation dictates.
And although Chara is in the twilight of his illustrious career, he is making a run for another Stanley Cup with his new team. You can keep track of his performances and stay updated with free NHL picks throughout the year as this season could be his swan song.
How Does Z Do It?
For a man who weighs roughly 250 pounds and has a five-percent body mass index, chances are he’s eating right. Chara begins every day with a large glass of water and his carbs are consumed in the morning. After that, protein had been his primary nutritional source with salmon, chicken, vegetables, and chickpeas being staples of his diet.
“Everything I put in my body has a purpose,” Chara has stated on more than one occasion.
Frequent snacking the right way is also part of his dietary regimen, “You never want to feel so hungry that you’ll put anything in your mouth,” Chara stated.
However, upon turning 40, Chara decided to switch primarily, although not necessarily exclusively, to a plant-based diet. He believes the switch has allowed him to recover more quickly from fatigue and injury while making him feel better throughout the day.
“Over the course of time,” Chara explained, “you start reading more and gathering more information — more books, more stuff you can search on different websites. You watch documentaries. Then it slowly starts making sense that this is not just strictly for people to lose weight.”
I know for a fact I’m playing with a lot more energy and I’m recovering faster.”
Avocados have become a central source of his nutrition and he believes healthier choices can start at any age.
“I have learned that it is never too early to make a change, and it is never too late. We have a great power – the freedom of choice. We are what we eat…I hope you will have a great week with great choices. Every day counts.”
“I’m not a man of trends or diets of such, but to me, it became quite clear that food is the path to health and represents a challenge to conventional medicine. No one will argue against eating more vegetables and fruits. A bad diet can affect our world and our lives and put us in a situation we don’t need to be in.”
Obviously, a professional hockey player needs to do more than eat healthy and Chara is renowned for his intense training regimen whether it be on-season or off. Squats, sit-ups, cardio, and upper body training are all part of his daily physical fitness regimen. Clean living, healthy eating, and exercise, it’s what Zdeno Chara does and we could all take a lesson.