Christian Bale uses extreme diets to gain and lose weight for movie roles. Can I use his “tuna fish and apple” diet to lose weight?
The “Christian Bale Diet” is the most extreme program I’ve never done
Hollywood invests a lot in appearances. Actors go to extremes to modify their bodies and minds for a role. They learn new skills like playing the piano, firing a weapon, or speaking another language.
For today’s action movies many actors are required to bulk up in muscle to bodybuilder competitor status. Others need to gain weight. And others just need to lose weight.
There is an industry in the film-making world built around helping performers lose weight fast, yet safely. These consultants create restrictive diet plans and calorie-burning exercise regimens. “Normal” people seek to lose weight after years of struggle. These weightloss specialists help actors shave off pounds over a matter of months.
One of the most controversial, but undeniably effective, regimen has been the diet Christian Bale used to drop weight for the movie “The Machinist”. In a few months Bale, who was nowhere near overweight to begin with, eliminated over 40 pounds of body weight to reach a condition of near starvation. In fact, he was so thin and drawn, the film’s director ordered him to add 10 pounds back on.
This is extreme but not unique. Chris Hemsworth and Cillian Murphy went through similar rapid weight loss programs for the movie “Heart of the Sea”, as did Tom Hanks for “Castaway”.
The techniques were similar but in all the articles I’ve read, a couple of factors stood out as especially consistant: they all cut sugar and carbs practically 100% and susbsisted on canned tuna and a small bit of fruit. So many articles focused on Christian Bale’s weight loss using this eating routine that they coined the name the “Christian Bale Diet”.
It is the toughest diet I’ve never tried… until now.
My version of the “Christian Bale Diet”
It is now the start of Week 5 of my Jack Gets Fit eating plan. It is time to shift gears and get away from the cabbage salad and onto something new.
For the next two weeks, I’m going to maintain my 24-hour fasting cycle. I will be eating only one meal a day. I will still try to drink at least 96 ounces of water every day. This seems to be about my limit right now. My coffee (black with no sugar), tea, and my turmeric tea are the only beverages I can have.
My one meal a day is going to be 5 ounces of canned tuna, 1/2 of a Hass avocado, and 1/2 cup of tomato. I can add a teaspoon of lemon juice, grapeseed oil, herbs, and salt for flavoring.
I carefully chose canned tuna that was labeled as environmentally responsible and line-caught. I’m experimenting with a mix of brands and a couple of varieties of tuna. I have a raw tuna steak that I can eat, too. Sort of a reward that I will save for my last day of the 2-week diet phase.
Maybe twice a week I will include a little canned sardines or mackeral with the tuna for freshness.
I chose to include a Hass avocado because it is nutritionally dense, carb and sugar-free, and high in monounsaturated fat. The fat is not just heart-healthy, it helps with appetite suppression. Also, the body does not deal with dietary fat the same way it does with carbs and sugar. It is harder to store and more easily burned.
Keeping the process simple to make it doable
Just like the bone broth-kimchi diet and the cabbage salad diet, this one is very easy to prepare. Basically, I just open a can of tuna and put it on the plate. I cut half of an avocado and 1 Roma tomato, season, and I’m done. No elaborate preparations to sap my willpower and motivation.
This meal does not have a lot of fiber, however. I don’t know what affect this will have on my daily weigh-ins. If I don’t see stuff moving as I think it should, I may include some cabbage (about 1/2 cup) for ruffage. Exercise and water consumption should help with that, too.
How low does the “Christian Bale Diet” go?
As best as I can calculate, this dish will be about 220 – 280 calories. It will be a higher proportion of protein and monounsaturated fat, but very low in carbohydrates and sugar. Obviously, that is well below the recommended caloric intake for someone my size and should thrust me into a caloric deficit within a couple of days.
That is the same calorie range as my cabbage salad and bone broth-kimchi program. That is a long time to be on a low-calorie diet and quite honestly, I feel that I should be dropping more weight. But factors such as my age and my lack of exercise this first month are probably slowing down the fat burning process.
I feel I am in a near constant state of fatigue. I chalked it up to diet change and carb flu for the first few weeks. If it doesn’t improve I’m going to have to re-examine my methods. Low calorie and restrictive dieting are okay if I’m seeing results. But if I’m going through this and I’m still fat, what’s the point? I’m not losing weight to earn a million dollar paycheck. I just want to live longer and healthier.
Where I am today
On Sunday I exceeded my milestone goal and weighed in at 241.6 pounds. That brings my total weight loss for June to 13.2 pounds.
For the last two weeks, I ate almost exclusively raw and vegan. For the last month, really, my diet has been made up of high fiber plant food. A 13.2-pound weight loss is less than I expected.
In trying to figure out where the lack of progress is, I’m considering at least 5 things:
- I am not exercising enough to compel my body to begin burning its stored fat. It is slowing my metabolism down and going into fasting-mode, waiting out the calorie deficit.
- My age naturally makes it more difficult to lose the dangerous visceral fat layering my abdomen.
- I’m still eating too much in volume. I may be eating low calorie, but all that bulk in a slow-moving system may be showing up as bodyweight when, in fact, it is waste-weight.
- I’m retaining too much water. 96 oz of water equals 6 pounds. If for some reason I’m regularly retaining just half of that, my daily weigh-ins could swing 3-4 pounds from day to day.
- I’m fat forever, it is too late to change, I’m going to die like this and be buried in a piano box.
Okay, the last one is not really something I’m considering. It is just my reactive mind. On the plus side, there is only on consideration that I can’t do anything about, and that is my age.
With each weight loss milestone I reach, I still feel like I am about 7 pounds behind where I should be. Maybe I should just take my losses with gratitude and keep doing what I am doing.
Or maybe I should wreck the whole thing. See how my body likes being on a diet of raisins and paper napkins.
Let’s see what happens after two weeks of eating just tuna and avocado.
Have I meantioned that I don’t even like canned tuna?