“While training for Wolverine we were on six meals a day, minimum – sometimes seven,” says Mike Ryan, the personal trainer responsible for getting Aussie actor Hugh Jackman into shape to play Woverine in the X-Men movie series.
Here you’ll find an example of a typical day’s food for the hard-training action star, but Ryan is keen to stress that it is only a template that can be adapted to any tastes. “There’s no point in me saying, ‘You must eat this or that’. Everyone has their own likes and dislikes, and as long as you stick to the basic rules you can customise this plan to suit your own needs.”
So what are those rules? “Always get your protein from natural, unprocessed sources where possible. Eat six small meals a day rather than three large ones. Drink mainly water. Avoid all processed foods, and that includes anything that says ‘99% fat-free’ or similar.”
RECOMMENDED: High-Protein Foods
The need for good-quality protein either side of a hard workout is also a priority. “If you can’t get it from natural sources,” Ryan says, “use a supplement. We were using protein powder regularly. I made sure Hugh got plenty of amino acids before training and immediately after, and then he would have a slow-acting protein at night, such as cottage cheese.”
So whether you train in the afternoon or evening, adapt the following meal plan to suit your training times.
5am: Oats and berries one hour before training
Make your own: Soak 75g rolled oats in apple juice. Mix in 2tsp pumpkin seeds, 2tsp sunflower seeds and a handful of berries. Oats provide slow-digesting carbs that give you long-lasting energy, while the seeds are full of iron, which will improve the blood flow to working muscles.
6am/7am: Protein supplements before and after weights
Try this: Reflex BCAAs. Branched-chain amino acids (BCAA) are the building blocks of protein. These go straight to the muscle and start a process called supercompensation, which repairs the muscles and allows them to grow bigger and stronger.
7.30am: Recovery shake and bar after cardio training
Try this: Maximuscle Creatamax Extreme and Viper Extreme bar. While the creatine helps repair used muscle tissue, the simple carbs from the Extreme bar will deliver nutrients to your blood and muscles for faster and stronger recovery.
7.45am: Post-training protein smoothie
Make your own: Blend a scoop of MyProtein Impact whey powder (our suggestion), half a banana, 300ml semi-skimmed milk, a pinch of cinnamon and 15g ground cashew nuts. Whey protein powder is a quick and easy way to gain fuel for muscle replenishment and growth. Protein will also increase muscle mass, burn body fat and help boost testosterone.
RECOMMENDED: Smoothie Recipes
10am: Turkey stir-fry with spinach, broccoli, mushrooms and cauliflower for a morning protein boost
Turkey is a lean source of protein and is also rich in muscle-building amino acids. The vitamin K in the spinach will help strengthen your bones, while cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower are rich in nutrients that reduce your oestrogen, a hormone that lowers testosterone. Serve with 40g (uncooked weight) brown rice.
1pm: 200g rosemary chicken with sugar snap peas and asparagus for lunch
Chicken is rich in amino acids to encourage muscle growth and repair, as well as zinc, which raises your levels of muscle-building testosterone. Serve with 40g (uncooked weight) brown rice – this provides B vitamins, which helps convert carbohydrates into energy.
4pm: Walnut trail mix for mid-afternoon energy
Make your own: Preheat oven to 180°C/gas 4. Place 150g walnuts on a baking tray and bake in the centre of oven for around ten minutes until fragrant and toasted. Allow to cool, then mix with 75g unsalted sunflower seeds, 75g chopped apricots, 50g pumpkin seeds and 50g goji berries. Walnuts are rich in essential fatty acids, which increase energy levels and regulate blood sugar levels.
6pm: Tuna steak for dinner
Serve with unlimited amounts of vegetables including broccoli and cauliflower. Tuna is a lean source of protein full of natural creatine and omega 3 fatty acids, which help your body preserve protein and reduce muscle inflammation.
10pm: Protein smoothie before bed
Make your own: Blend a carton of EAS Myoplex Carb Sense (our suggestion) with 2tsp natural yogurt, a drizzle of honey and 15g almonds. A protein fix gives your muscles the building blocks to repair and grow while you sleep. The yogurt and almonds contain sleep-inducing tryptophan and magnesium, which will help your muscles relax and wind down.
RECOMMENDED: Sam Warburton Bulking Diet