If you’ve ever tried to lose weight, bulk up, or change your body in any way, you know diet is seriously important—like maybe even as important as exercise. Well, for American Horror Story: Hotel star Matt Bomer, diet is “80% of how he maintains his body.” That’s what he told us during a recent interview for his cover story in our January/February issue.
And the actor knows a thing—or 1000—about eating right. In fact, he’s studied the subject for more than 10 years. “When I was 27, I felt old. I didn’t feel right,” he said during the interview. “I didn’t feel healthy. I just wasn’t taking care of my body, and I had a body that wanted me to take care of it.” So, he educated himself, pouring over books, talking to nutritionists and even going on a fasting retreat. “In the end, someone is depending on me to show up on their set looking a specific way,” he said, “whether that’s 40 pounds over-weight or 40 pounds underweight [which he did for his role in The Normal Heart, by consuming only the bare minimum of calories needed for survival], or looking like a stripper.”
But regardless of the inevitable extreme diet tweaks he makes to fit certain roles, there are some food rules of thumb he follows that are completely realistic for the average guy, too. Take note and pick up a copy of our January/February issue (on newsstands Jan 4) to read the full cover story (read a preview here). You can check out our exclusive behind-the-scenes video from his cover shoot, here.
1. Learn the philosophy of food combining, which is basically “all about the enzymes your body uses to break down food and the transit time from when you eat to when you’re done with it,” per Bomer. Essentially, he combines a protein and a vegetable or a vegetable and a starch and he eats fruit on it’s own either 30 minutes before a meal or an hour and a half afterwards. “If you mix a protein and a starch, it’s going to significantly increase the time it takes for your body to break it down, which can be a good thing in some situations.”
2. Eat protein from whole food sources like chicken or sardines (rather than whey shakes, unless you're trying to get big).
3. Eat a hand-size portion of said protein before a workout and another within an hour after finishing.
4. Modify protein depending on your goals. “The biggest adaptation [I make] is the amount of protein. If I’m playing a slender character, I eat significantly less protein than I would on a film like Magic Mike.”
5. Fight cravings with tea or sugar-free cough drops.
6. Meditate. Bomer practices Transcendental Meditation which can actually help manage food cravings and fight obesity. (Check out our Athlete's Guide to Mindful Meditation.)