© The Washington Post / Getty Images

A team nutritionist reveals how candy was affecting the former Lakers center's performance.

Joey Skladany
Updated May 24, 2017

It's hard to believe that the world's finest athletes would eat anything that sabotages their perfectly sculpted, six-pack-clad figures. Sure, an occasional indulgence is necessary to re-feed the body after exhausting so many calories, but NBA all-star Dwight Howard's idea of a cheat meal or snack turned into a debilitating cheat lifestyle. 

In ESPN's latest exposé on the popularity of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (apparently they're on the menu in locker rooms across the country), Los Angeles Lakers nutritionist Dr. Cate Shanahan reveals that the 6'11" center was consuming the sugar equivalent to 24 candy bars a day when he played for the team. That's nearly 500 grams of sugar. 

© Maddie Meyer / Getty Images

Despite struggling performance on the court and an inability to heal from a previous back injury, Howard denied his addiction until Shanahan called to intervene. It was then that he revealed tingling limbs, which Shanahan immediately attributed to the nerve dysfunction dysesthesia (typically found in patients with pre-diabetes). Conversations with Howard's personal chef, bodyguard and assistant would later confirm that he had been binging on sweets nearly every single day of his life for the past decade. 

"You name it, he ate it," Shanahan told the magazine.

Video:  Try This Healthy, Cheap Late-Night Snack

Skittles, Starbursts, Rolos, Snickers, Mars bars, Twizzlers, Almond Joys, and Kit Kats were just some of his vices, but Reese's Pieces claimed the title of all-time favorite (because obviously).  According to ESPN, after boxes of the treats were removed from his home and Howard ultimately defeated his sugar dependency, his stats improved with 1.8 more rebounds, 2.1 more points and 2.5 more minutes per game.  Better health and better performance proved to be the sweeter deal. 

Needless to say, it's probably not the wisest decision for Howard to open up a candy store in retirement. Though now that he plays for the Atlanta Hawks, maybe he can go savory with a barbeque joint.