How to Maintain Weight Gain Like Actors


The entertainment industry just hosted the Golden Globe Awards. I like movies & consider film an art form. I recently saw 2 movies that required the lead actor to either gain or lose a considerable amount of weight for the role. Christian Bale gained 43 pounds for “American Hustle.”

“I ate lots of doughnuts, a whole lot of cheeseburgers & whatever I could obtain my hands on,” said Bale in an interview for People magazine. “I factually ate everything that came to me. I was about 185 & went up to 228.”

Matthew McConaughey lost 47 pounds for his role in “Dallas Buyers Club.”

“I ate my fish, my vegetables & I had my wine, just much little portions,” McConaughey said on the Jay Leno show. He estimated that his weight low diet was in the 1,700 to 1,800 calories a day range & took about six months to reach his ghoul goal weight.

Interestingly, the hosts of the Globes mentioned McConaughey’s loss, but not Bale’s enhance. I leave it to you to speculate why that was.

These are not the first actors to make grave alterations to their bodies for movies.

Robert De Niro gained 60 pounds to play “Raging Bull” Jake LaMotta. Michael Fassbinder dropped 35 pound for “Hunger.” Matt Damon lost 50 pounds for “Courage beneath Fire,” and Christian Bale lost 60 pounds for “The Machinist.”

There are many extra examples of this questionable behavior, including many women.

I call it questionable because, for example, Tom Hanks feels that his diabetes was partly due to his gaining weight for movie roles, & it is rumored that Bale herniated a vertebral disk in his back because of his physical changes in “American Hustle.”

In our brick-and-mortar world, it seems a good number people dread & avoid, if they can, being on the yo-yo diet ride that Hollywood appears to celebrate.

Basically, I do not think it is very smart or healthy to make these intentional weight changes for movie roles. Not astonishingly, one thing that the actors learn from the experience is that it’s a lot easier to gain weight for the role than to take it off afterwards!

There are several metabolic changes that occur with drastic alterations of our weight. These changes in a giant part are mediated by two hormones, leptin & ghrelin. Leptin is a long-term mediator of energy balance. It suppresses food intake to persuade weight loss. Ghrelin, on the other hand, is a faster-acting hormone that plays a role in meal initiation by stimulating hunger. These induced hormonal changes able to be very persistent & difficult to reverse to a normal healthy state.

The theory is that these biological changes explain why most obese dieters quickly gained back much of the weight that they had lost. What tends to happen is that we want fewer calories for maintenance, and our craving for food becomes extra intense. After a prolonged period of obesity, our body might permanently alter the way weight is regulated by both aggressively stimulating appetite & signaling the body to protect existing fat stores.

A couple of years ago a personal trainer decided to gain 70 pounds & then lose it to see what he could learn from the experience about gaining & losing weight, and better understand the psychology of his overweight patient. After this experiment, he lost all the weight in six months that he had gained by doing the math with diet & exercise.

His conclusions were :

  • Do not take an all-or-nothing mentality toward diet or exercise.
  • Prepare your meals in advance to avoid temptation.
  • do not overeat fat-free or low-fat foods.
  • Understand that weight loss is as much a psychological battle as it is physical.
  • Do not be obsess on the numbers on the level. Focus on being healthy.
  • Bale, meanwhile, has struggled to take off the weight since filming ended, telling People magazine “I’m motionless working it off.”


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