The other day, I came across an article about Chris Pratt’s weight loss, which claims to reveal “the secrets” that Pratt used to get in shape for his role in Guardians of the Galaxy.
Every time a celebrity puts on a bit of muscle or loses some fat, there’s always a lot of buzz about how they did it, as if it’s the first and only time in the history of the universe that it’s ever happened.
It was the same story with Chris Evans and Captain America.
Ryan Reynolds and Blade 3.
Brad Pitt in Fight Club and Troy.
Dwayne Johnson in Hercules.
Hugh Jackman in X-Men.
The list goes on.
In fact, every time a famous actor gets in shape for a film role, numerous posts claiming to reveal exactly how they did it are sure to follow.
The idea is that if you follow the same workout and diet plan, it won’t be too long before you have the body of a superhero.
But will you?
In truth, probably not.
Chris Pratt’s Weight Loss Story: How Much of It Is Accurate?
For one, you have no way of knowing if the celebrity workout on the screen in front of you bears even the slightest resemblance to the actual training program used by said celebrity.
In other words, are the articles claiming to reveal the training routine and diet behind Chris Pratt’s weight loss accurate? Unless you happen to be Chris Pratt, there’s no way to know how much of it is true and how much of it is BS.
Back in 2007, the so-called “300 workout” did the rounds as the workout allegedly used by the cast of the film 300 to get in shape.
The big problem with the 300 workout was that it wasn’t really a workout at all.
As Mark Twight, the guy who was responsible for the training the cast and crew of 300, explains:
“The second misconception surrounds the idea of the Spartan workout, aka ‘300’, how frequently it was done or who actually finished it. 300 is a one-time test, an invitation-only challenge undertaken by those deemed ready for it. By the end of our four-month project 17 people had done the workout. This constitutes about 50% of the cast and stunt crew.”
In other words, this was a one-time test.
A rite of passage.
It was not, as one popular site put it, the workout used by Gerrard Butler and other cast members to “achieve movie muscles that pop.”
Chris Pratt’s Workout Won’t Give You Chris Pratt’s Body
What’s more, following Chris Pratt’s workout is no guarantee that you’re going to end up with Chris Pratt’s body.
Even if two people followed an identical exercise program, doing the same exercises, sets and reps, they won’t end up looking the same.
No matter how much work you put in, your genetics have a big influence on how fast the results come, as well as the way you look at the end of it all.
Even if you followed Chris Pratt’s diet plan and workout to the letter, doing the same exercises and eating the same meals, that’s no guarantee you’ll see the same results.
When asked about his workout routine, Pratt says that he put in “three or four hours a day of just consistent, ass-kicking hard work.”
And that’s not uncommon.
In the video below, for example, celebrity trainer Jason Walsh explains how Bradley Cooper was training twice a day for his role as Chris Kyle in American Sniper.
Cooper would show up in the gym at 6am and train for 60-90 minutes. Four days a week, he’d also come back in the afternoon for a second workout.
Very few people have the time, energy or motivation to spend 3-4 hours in the gym every day.
Without the incentive of a multi-million dollar pay check, most actors wouldn’t either.
So even if you did have access to Chris Pratt’s workout routine, chances are you’re not going to stick to it for very long. Not unless you’d just signed a contract guaranteeing you a big chunk of money at the end of it all.
Chris Pratt’s Transformation: How Did He Do It?
Chris Pratt’s weight loss story is impressive not just because of the amount of weight he lost, but because he ended up looking muscular as well.
He didn’t just lose weight, but appeared to gain a substantial chunk of muscle at the same time.
How was Pratt able to achieve the holy grail of body recomposition and lose fat while simultaneously gaining muscle?
For someone in Pratt’s position, with a large amount of fat to lose, building a decent amount of muscle while simultaneously losing fat isn’t uncommon.
In one study, a group of overweight and unfit men trained with weights three times a week for 14 weeks . They also did half an hour of cardio in the same workout.
After 14 weeks, the men had lost a little over 16 pounds of fat. But they also gained nearly 10 pounds of lean body mass – a reasonable proxy for muscle mass – at the same time.
Body fat is a reservoir of chemical energy, which your body can use to fuel muscle growth. That is, if you’re overweight, stored fat can be used to supply the energy required to make your muscles bigger.
For his role as a US Navy SEAL in Zero Dark Thirty, Pratt gained a decent amount of muscle mass. However, I’m going to assume that he ended up losing much of that muscle once filming came to an end.
But when he resumed training for his role in Guardians of the Galaxy, Pratt would have had an easier time re-building the muscle he’d lost than he did gaining it in the first place.
That’s down to a phenomenon known as muscle memory.
“When you start training, your muscle cells get bigger and develop more nuclei,” explains Sweat Science author Alex Hutchinson.
“When you stop training your muscle cells get smaller again, but the extra nuclei persist long after training stops. Then, when you start training again, the nuclei are still there, ready to support re-expansion of the muscles.”
In other words, when muscle is gained, lost and then gained back again, it will grow faster during the rebuilding phase than it did when you were first starting out.
Was Chris Pratt’s Weight Loss Aided by Drugs?
Pratt reportedly lost 60 pounds in six months, which averages out at 10 pounds per month.
Fat tends to come off a lot more quickly when you have a lot of it to lose, but will gradually slow down over time as you get leaner. So he would have lost more fat in the first month of his diet than he would have done in month six.
Given how overweight Pratt was when he started out, losing 60 pounds in six months isn’t some kind of “smoking gun” that provides undeniable evidence drugs were involved.
However, the fact that he lost weight and ended up looking reasonably muscular has left some people pointing their fingers at Pratt and claiming that he took drugs.
I don’t know if Chris Pratt’s transformation was “assisted” in any way. However, drug use is not unusual in the entertainment industry. Some of the actors you see on screen are carrying around a level of muscle mass that is unlikely to have been built without some kind of pharmaceutical assistance.
When large amounts of money are changing hands, chances are that drugs won’t be too far behind.
“From guys I’ve spoken with that are in the know about this, most of these guys run a cycle, train multiple times a day, have two or three guys helping them with their training and nutrition,” explains bodybuilding coach Paul Carter.
“And they have millions of dollars in the bank to live comfortably off of in order to do nothing but train, eat, and ‘supplement’ everyday in order to get ready for a role. Do you have that kind of time and money? Because if not, the shitty routine you are reading in that magazine where he trained ‘four days a week, doing 50 push ups and some swiss ball ab work’ isn’t going to do a goddamn thing for you.”
Chris Pratt’s Diet Plan
Pratt also had some interesting things to say on the subject of diet.
“You have to eat protein,” he said. You can’t have hash browns, or burgers, or anything fried. You can’t have carbs.”
Truth is, you can eat hash browns and still lose fat.
You can eat burgers and fried foods, and still lose fat.
You can even eat carbs and still lose fat.
Pratt was right about the protein though. From a dietary point of view, gaining (or even just retaining) muscle while you lose fat requires two things – a calorie deficit and adequate amounts of protein.
In one study, researchers took two groups of young men and put them on a diet for a total of four weeks .
Both groups trained hard six days a week, lifting weights and doing HIIT (high-intensity interval training), SIT (sprint interval training), bodyweight circuit training and so on.
One group ate a protein-rich diet, which provided around one gram of protein per pound of bodyweight per day. Group two received just half that amount.
At the end of the study, both groups ended up losing fat. But it was the high-protein group who saw the best results, shedding 11 pounds of fat, compared to 8 pounds in the low-protein group.
In addition, the high-protein group gained muscle, ending the study with almost three pounds of additional lean body mass. While the low-protein group didn’t lose any muscle, they didn’t gain any either.
How Did Chris Pratt Lose Weight?
Chris Pratt lost weight in exactly the same way that everyone loses weight.
1. His overall diet and exercise program put him in a calorie deficit.
2. He made sure to eat enough protein, which is important when it comes to building (or even just retaining) muscle while you drop fat.
3. He did some form of resistance training on a regular basis.
And while he was doing plenty of other stuff as well, such as CrossFit, HIIT, jogging and so on, those are the three “golden rules” of body recomposition that were responsible for most of his results.
You might find Chris Pratt’s weight loss story motivational, which in turn gives you the kick in the gluteus maximus required to step up your attempts to get in shape.
But there’s not a great deal to be learned by looking at how Pratt lost the weight. Celebrity transformations can leave you with unrealistic expectations about the speed at which it’s possible to change your body, as well as a skewed idea about the best way to go about doing so.
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ABOUT THE AUTHORChristian Finn is the nation’s leading authority on science-based, joint-friendly ways to build muscle. A former "trainer to the trainers," he holds a masters degree in exercise science, and has been featured in or contributed to major media on two continents, including the BBC and Sunday Times in the U.K. and Men’s Health and Men’s Fitness in the U.S.