Eat Like Tarzan: Benefits and Risks of an Extremely High-Calorie Diet

Eat Like Tarzan

Can you handle eating 7,000 calories a day? The latest actor to play Tarzan, Alexander Skarsgard, can and did during the lead-up to the film. The Insider reports that the actor underwent an intense fitness program to prepare for the role, which not only included a high-calorie diet but also training twice-a-day.

To become Tarzan, Skarsgard had to look the part of someone who swings from tree to tree and wrestles wild animals with his bare hands. To be fair, the Swedish actor’s high-calorie diet isn’t particularly new. It is fairly common among highly active individuals like elite athletes.

For instance, former Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps consumed around 8,000 to 10,000 calories while in training, while strongman Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson typically eats 10,000 calories a day to maintain his 395lb frame.

That said, high-calorie diets are not for everyone. Here are some of the negative and positive effects of eating more than the recommended number of calories on one’s body.

Weight gain

Whether adding a few pounds is a positive or negative thing depends on the person’s current weight. For people who have low BMI or are underweight, eating more calories than usual can actually help them get to a healthier weight.

However, dietitians probably won’t recommend eating as much as 7,000 calories in a day, as it can prove to be too much of a shock to your system. An additional 500-1,000 healthy calories can sometimes be enough to achieve this goal when combined with exercise.

Weight gain is also beneficial for hard gainers, which Skarsgard naturally is. For the uninitiated, hard gainers are people who do a lot of heavy weight lifting, yet find it difficult to bulk up. When that’s the case, going on a high-calorie diet can be effective, as shown by the actor’s success.

Thought Co. explains that hard gainers can increase muscle mass by eating “as much as 24 calories per pound of total body weight.” Your total caloric intake must be divided as follows: 50% carbohydrates, 25% proteins, and 25% healthy fats. By doing this, Skarsgard was able to add 25lbs of muscle to his 6’4” stature at the end of the program.

Increased energy

The main reason that athletes eat thousands of calories in excess is that they also burn thousands of calories while they workout. Having a higher metabolism requires a higher intake of food to fuel their physical activity while also maintaining their current frame.

For endurance athletes like marathoners and triathletes, sports dietitian Nanna Meyer recommends consuming anywhere between 3,000 and 8,000 calories a day. For team sports, 3,000-4,500 calories should suffice, while individual athletes can excel with a 2,000-6,000 calorie diet.

But there’s also a downside to eating too much in the form of fatigue. This is caused by the inefficient regulation of insulin as the body tries to process the sugar from all the food. This is what makes getting off the couch after a heavy meal challenging, more so trying to burn it off in the gym. As previously stated here on Plan Cult Dedication, a good diet should not make you feel like you are about to “burst.”

It should be enough to satisfy your daily needs according to your lifestyle. To address this issue, what Skarsgard’s nutritionist did is to eliminate gluten, sugar, and dairy from the actor’s diet, as these can make you feel heavy. Instead, the actor ate a lot of protein-rich food, such as eggs, spinach, fish, and brown rice.

Remember that sugar may be a quick source of energy, but protein is better for regulating blood sugar levels. It also burns more steadily, which is ultimately more important for sustaining energy.

Digestive issues

Unsurprisingly, dietitian Christen Cupples Cooper emphasized that eating too much can cause several digestive issues. You may feel bloating heartburn, diarrhoea, or constipation, which is why he only recommends an additional 250 calories a day for a regular person.

Risk of disease

There are, of course, more serious illnesses to worry about besides feeling gassy. Eating too many calories that you don’t burn off will just be stored as fat, contributing to the major health issue that is obesity in America.

There are several chronic and acute diseases associated with being overweight too, such as type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, and certain types of cancer.

The bottom line

Eat Like Tarzan Benefits and Risks of an Extremely High-Calorie Diet
(Image credit: Tarzan Facebook)

“His straight and perfect figure, muscled as the best of the ancient Roman gladiators must have been muscled, and yet with the soft and sinuous curves of a Greek god, told at a glance the wondrous combination of enormous strength with suppleness and speed.”

Those were the author of the words Edgar Rice Burroughs used to describe the jungle hero from his most famous novel, Tarzan of the Apes. It’s no accident that the stories about Tarzan, from cartoon to live action, are muscular and lithe — he’s ripped by design.

You can see it on the 1999 animated film, where the character was chiseled from head to toe. There’s also Tarzan slot game on Expatbets that has an animated version of the character who also looks really buff.

This just goes to show how the character’s physique is one of his key defining characteristics, a necessary side effect of having grown up in the wild. Compared to these other media adaptations, Skarsgard’s version perfectly encapsulates what was being asked of the character, with the help of the diet and fitness regimen described above.

All in all, it’s important to remember that eating like Tarzan is not suitable for everyone, as it comes with more risks than benefits. When it comes to diet and fitness, it’s always better to develop healthy habits gradually than go to extremes to achieve quick solutions.

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