This weekend, Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston will hit the big screen in a big way, starring as a Ben Affleck’s CIA boss in the much anticipated spy thriller Argo.
And while you might not necessarily see the actor as the poster boy for health and fitness (he is, after all, best known as the emotionally messy chem-teacher-turned-meth-dealer Walter White), he’s definitely in tune with his body —and what he puts inside.
“Bryan enjoys healthy food, so that’s never a battle,” says his nutrition coach, Jackie Keller, who helped him prep for Argo. “In this case, he didn’t really have a lot of weight to lose—there was no low body-fat percentage goal, no definition goal. He just wanted to be in good shape.”
So for Cranston—who Keller says came to her as a meal skipper who would “eat whatever was put in front of him”—that meant coming up with a plan of frequent, well-balanced, portion-controlled meals.
“We needed to keep him evenly fueled, to prevent those peaks and valleys in his energy levels and ability to focus,” says Keller. “At the most, you want three hours in between meals—tops. It can be hard when you’re filming, but it’s doable”
Cranston’s Meal Plan
Keller, who has also worked with fit stars Channing Tatum and Uma Thurman, is the founding director of NutriFit meal delivery service, and she designed a daily plan for Cranston that incorporated foods he loved—like Mexican-inspired dishes—and looked a little something like this:
Breakfast: Stuffed French Toast with Berry Topping
Morning Snack: Melon Smoothie
Lunch: Burrito w/ Mushroom & Bell Pepper Medley
Afternoon Snack: Vanilla Yogurt & Seasonal Melon
Soup or Salad: Hearty Root Vegetable Soup
Dinner: Tequila Lime Chicken w/ Baby Carrots
Dessert: Peaches n' Cream
But you need not have the budget for a nutrition coach, let alone a meal delivery service, to benefit from a little planning. Keller says it’s possible to balance your diet yourself.
DIY Your Diet
Keller’s three easy tips for creating your very own meal plan—and the shopping list to go with it.
- Make a 7x7 grid. Take an 8 ½ x 11 inch sheet of paper and draw lines to create a grid that covers a 7 day period and gives you 7 slots per day, as Cranston’s plan does. You’ll want to eat every 2 ½ to 3 hours, so depending on the hours you clock awake, your soup or salad could be an appetizer eaten with your dinner or an early evening snack.
- List your favorite foods. Often we eat the same healthy foods (hello, grilled chicken!) over and over again. So to break out of that rut, think about your favorite foods and make lists: 10 breakfasts, 10 lunches, 10 fruits, 10 snacks, etc. (Don’t worry about healthy right now, just think about what you like.) Then go back and ask: Is there a healthy option? Often there is, says Keller. “You like hot dogs? Guess what: There’s a great, natural, preservative free, lean turkey dog out there for you.”
- Fill in each slot. Start popping those foods from your lists into your meal plan, then use it to come up with a shopping list for the week. “You’ll never freeze up at the grocer story again,’ says Keller. “This approach doesn’t just keep you prepared, but it helps you balance your diet. You can look at it all at once to make sure you’re getting the max variety of foods—and the full range of nutrients that come with that variety.”