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24th Dec 2018

Five reasons why The Mountain’s diet can help you gain size and strength

Game of Thrones actor Hafthor 'The Mountain' Björnsson is one of the strongest people on the planet. Scientists from the University of Stirling have outlined five things you can learn from his diet

Alex Roberts

Game of Thrones actor Hafthor Björnsson is one of the strongest people on the planet

Bjornsson (also known as The Mountain) often puts away 12,000 calories each day to help fuel his world record-attempting lifts.

You wouldn’t normally think such a high-calorie diet would be advisable, but if you’re trying to gain muscle and strength there are certainly lessons to be learned from the Icelander.

Scientists from the University of Stirling have outlined five ways in which The Mountain’s diet can help you fulfil your strength and size ambitions.

1. Milk your gains dry

Supplements serve their purpose, but whole foods should always take preference. While certain supps may help you hit a more advanced goal, simpler food and drink are still super-effective.

Dr. Lee Hamilton said: “BCAAs may be useful in offsetting the soreness associated with muscle damage, which Björnsson may need when he’s taking on 400kg deadlifts — or crushing the heads of his enemies as The Mountain.

“But for anyone new to lifting weights, these supplements may help reduce the severity of muscle soreness that occurs in the first few gym sessions, but the effect is small. Research suggests a more cost effective alternative may be a large glass of milk.”

2. Protein is the priority

The Mountain’s diet can definitely be characterised as high-protein. Even if you don’t harbour goals of winning the World’s Strongest Man competition, a protein-rich diet is still essential.

Dr. Oliver Witard said: “A man of The Mountain’s size should consume in the region of 70g of protein per meal. Björnsson consumes anywhere from a 50g midnight snack to 150g in the beef in his main meal.

“In normal young, healthy adults, 0.4 grams of protein per kilo of bodyweight per meal is sufficient to stimulate the muscle growth response — the equivalent of a 6oz steak per meal.”

3. Regular protein feeds

If gaining muscle mass is a goal of yours, evenly distributing protein across the day will help stimulate muscle protein synthesis. Björnsson eats a high-protein meal every two or three hours.

“For an average man, this would look like 30g of protein, a large chicken breast, every three to four hours,” said Dr. Witard.

“For The Mountain, it would scale up to six or seven 70g doses of protein every three hours, making for a total recommended intake of 420g of protein per day. About half of his current intake.

“Björnsson has a mountainous diet to match his body, however, we would ‘tentatively’ suggest (we’re not arguing!) reducing his protein intake and redistributing it evenly over the day. At the same time he could moderately increase his carbohydrate intake to suit his training needs on a day-to-day basis.”

4. Night-time nourishment

It may not be wise to eat a huge meal before bed as this could interrupt your sleep, but protein snacking prior to hitting the hay could help you build size.

Dr. Hamilton says: “Protein consumed close to bed or between asleep is successfully digested and absorbed and the subsequent amino acids incorporated into muscle, so this is a viable strategy to increase the supply of amino acids to our muscles.

“That will be of great help to The Mountain who consumes over 10,000 calories a day to achieve his required intake.

“However, most mere mortals should be able to consume their recommended total daily calorie intake, about 2,500 calories a day, without losing a good night’s sleep.”

A large glass of milk with one or two boiled eggs packs a high-protein punch that won’t impact your sleep.

5. Opt for heart-healthy fats

About 35% of The Mountain’s calories come from fats. This may appear lofty, but he ensures the bulk of these fats are from the healthiest sources: polyunsaturated fats.

Examples include:

  • Almonds
  • Oily fish
  • Avocados

Dr Witard said: “These types of fats are essential to a healthy, balanced diet no matter who you are.”

Dr. Hamilton and Dr. Witard were writing in The Conversation

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