3x3 dunk champ Henry shares his recipe for success
LONDON (United Kingdom) - Joel Henry's astonishing athleticism allows him to soar higher than British Airways but the world renowned pro dunker credits turning to a plant-based diet for helping fuel his aerial feats.
The London-born dunker is well known on the FIBA 3x3 World Tour having lit up numerous events over the years, most notably when he claimed the dunking title at the 2019 Nanjing Masters. Henry aka 'The Royal Guard' has a slew of nasty slams in his bag with several variations of the scorpion dunk proving hugely influential.
The 28 -year-old religiously works at his craft through a grueling fitness regime and a deep imagination. But it goes far beyond that for this 6ft 1in (1.85m) health buff who said becoming vegan six years ago and opting for a plant-based diet has helped him physically and mentally.
"Having a plant-based diet has helped me tremendously in my everyday life and being fitter, stronger and for the most part sustainable," he said.
"My mind-body connection is on another level ever since. It doesn't take long for me to reap the gains and benefits of my workouts than it would for others."
Veganism has grown in popularity worldwide with restaurants and cafes dedicated to these specific dietary requirements. And athletes, who seek any avenue to ensure their bodies are in peak condition, have caught on with NBA great Chris Paul and USA soccer star Alex Morgan just some who have turned to plant-based diets.
"I'm loving the fact that more and more athlete are tapping into the truths of nutrition," Henry said. "I honestly believe it's already trending and will continue to grow with time."
Veganism, however, has its share of critics especially from some meat-lovers unwilling to even contemplate a change in their diets. Henry, too, has not been immune from probing.
"The most common question I get asked is - How do I get my protein? I'm like 'from the same place all our toughest animals get it…PLANTS'," he said.
"People can be very skeptical and critical about living a plant-based diet. I don't really like to fall into conversations where I feel like I'm having to convince someone how my diet works perfectly and that anyone could do it.
"I always like to share the effects it's had in my life and promote the fact that I've never felt sluggish or mucus filled since I've adopted such a cleansing diet," he added.
It's been a difficult time for everyone during the Covid-19 pandemic with the UK particularly hard hit and its initial lockdown leaving Henry unable to train and work on perfecting his dunks.
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"I have never felt so worthless and have never been so out of shape in my whole entire life," Henry said of the first lockdown about 12 months ago.
"Having zero access to any form of training facilities was threatening to my mind and I thought it was the end of my life's dream.
"Realizing I was so dependent on external things really gave me a kick up the behind to start investing in my own equipment and figuring out different skills and techniques to keep the engine turning for my body."
Having felt the depths of despair, it makes his involvement in Sporting Minds UK - a charity providing mental health support for young athletes - even more important.
"I'm currently involved with them to help raise money for their great cause… something I wish was more accessible to me as a teen athlete," he said.
Whenever he next appears on the 3x3 circuit, Henry has promised to unleash never before seen dunks set to make fans go wild.
And, for those interested, the recipe for his success will be unveiled next month when Henry shares his favorite plant-based dishes on his YouTube page.