Zac Efron has gone from skinny teen in High School Musical to shredded and muscular in a string of recent movies. Like many people you may be wondering “How’d that happen?”
Of course, Zac works hard in the gym. He is building a reputation as a hard and heavy trainer. But to build a physique like his, you have also got to bring it in the kitchen. In fact what you eat is always more important than how you train.
This is especially true in Zac’s case. If you look at those of High School Musical pictures, you can see that he is a classic ectomorph body type. He’s got a small bone structure, is skinny and has long muscle bellies. That men that he was going to have to fight for every ounce of muscle. And he was going to have to be very smart about how he approached his nutritional plan.
Bulking and Cutting for Dirty Grandpa
When getting in shape for his 2016 role alongside Hollywood legend Robert De Niro in Dirty Grandpa, Zac was looking beyond the immediate. He knew that, after filming wrapped on this comedy road trip flick he’d be straight back into his training and dieting to prepare for shooting to begin on his next movie, 2017’s Baywatch.
For Baywatch, Zac was determined to get as big and as cut as possible. So, Dirty Grandpa was a stepping stone on the way to that goal. In order to achieve the look he was after Zac decided to go the bulking and cutting diet route. Here’s why:
- You cannot build muscle and lose fat at the same time – the body requires specific food types and has differing caloric goals during each phase.
- Caloric requirements are more easily defined – during a bulking phase you need to increase your caloric intake beyond your maintenance level. When cutting you need to drop it below that level.
- It helps you to retain hard earned muscle.
Zac, therefore, divided his nutritional plan into two phases: cutting and bulking.
He knew that while putting on muscle he’d gain a little fat. Then while, stripping off the fat, he would also lose a bit of muscle. But the overall result, Zac knew, would compensate for all of that.
Zac followed a one-to-one ratio between bulking and cutting. He spent the first two months of his prep bulking and the following 8 weeks cutting.
Phase One: Bulking
During the bulking phase, Zac was training hard and heavy in the gym. In order to convert all of that effort into muscle mass, he ate more than his daily maintenance level requirement. Zac’s maintenance level at this time was about 2800 calories. That’s how many calories he needed to perform his daily activities, including his workouts. His bulking caloric intake was between 3400-4000 calories pr day. This provided an extra 600-1200 calories for building muscle.
Those extra nutrients would only be useful as an anabolic muscle booster if they were the right kind. Zac ensured they were by following a high protein and high carb diet. Hitting the gym hard, like he was, required a lot of energy. he needed from clean, complex carbs. His workouts were daily tearing his muscle fiber apart. The only way to rebuild them was with lean protein.
Here are some examples of the foods that Zach was eating during the bulking phase of his diet:
- Egg whites
- Ground turkey
- Brown rice
- Black beans
- Sweet Potatoes
- Flaxseed oil
- Olive oil
- Natural peanut butter
Zac played around with different combinations of those foods to keep himself from getting too bored with any specific food. However, as he discovered, eating to bulk up is not easy. It requires commitment and determination.
One thing that really helped Zach to meet his high caloric requirement was the use of protein powder drinks. he would typically have two protein drinks per day, consisting of whey protein, branch chain amino acids and creatine. This would add 60 grams of protein and several hundred calories to his day.
Zach also used a daily supplement to help him to get ripped. It also provided the energy and pump for him to bring it in the gym.
Related: Zac Efron Muscle Supplements
Phase Two: Cutting
After two months of bulking, Zac was looking the biggest he had ever looked. Yet, although he had the size he wanted, he wasn’t anywhere as lean as he needed to be. It was time to switch to the cutting phase of his diet.
During the cutting phase, Zac dropped his calories to below his daily maintenance level. Now he was eating just 2,300 calories per day. This was when Zac had to get really strict on himself. He ate the exact same type of foods, with the exception that he started restricting carbs.
Zac kept his protein intake high. He had worked so hard to gain the muscle in the gym over the past two months, that he didn’t want to sacrifice it during the cutting phase.
The Western diet is geared towards carbohydrates. To ensure that his low carb diet would be successful, Zac used carb cycling. Monday through Friday he restricted himself to just 20 grams of carbohydrate per day. Then on the weekend, he’d re-carb by eating whatever he wanted, within reason. This allowed Zac to get the cravings out of the way, so that when Monday rolled around, he was dialed back into the low carb mentality.
Zach stuck with the low carb cutting phase of his diet right up until the first day of shooting for Dirty Grandpa. Duringt hat 8 weeks, the fat was literally melting from his frame to reveal the lean muscle that he had worked so hard to achieve. This allowed him to walk onto set with a physique that was big AND lean.
After filming wrapped on Dirty Grandpa there was no time to rest for Zac. He was straight back into training mode as he set his sights on the role of Matt Brody in the new Baywatch movie. As we’ll see when that movie releases, he managed to take his physique to a whole new level.