Hugh Jackman has played the superhero Wolverine for the past 15 years, and while he enjoys the role, he admits training to achieve his rippling Wolverine body gets harder all the time.
"It’s harder at 45 than it was at 30," Jackman told Men's Health. "Even now, I’m noticing the weight starting to go down. You have to work hard. It sucks."
While losing weight is difficult for most people, the 6-foot-2 Hugh, who's naturally lanky, said maintaining muscle mass and weight gain is an uphill battle. Jackman famously followed a low-carb, high-protein, 6,000-calorie-a-day diet to get his chiseled Wolverine body with each film, and said eating all the time is exhausting.
But the Australian heartthrob isn't complaining because he feels privileged to play such an incredible character. Jackman said he tries to look better and get fitter with each successive Wolverine movie, and accepts that it takes a lot of effort to achieve that.
"It wasn't until I came to a truce inside myself about the fact that my job rarely will be comfortable that I started to enjoy it more," Hugh said. "You want to get somewhere you're not physically? It's going to be uncomfortable. The end result is good, but it's uncomfortable to change.”
Jackman, who goes nude in X-Men: Days Of Future Past, asked the director for three full months to prepare for the scene, which included rigorous daily weight-lifting sessions and lots of high-protein fare.
"There's a naked shot in this one," he said. "Not front naked — it's PG-13 — but full-body. So I made it very clear that I wanted to know the date I'd be shooting that stuff.”
Jackman Is a Fan of Intermittent Fasting
In addition to weight-training and lots of eating, Hugh also credited intermittent fasting for his chiseled Wolverine body, saying IF sculpted his physique, gave him more energy and improved his sleep. "I feel a lot better on that regime," he said. "My energy is better and I sleep better."
Hugh's 16/8 intermittent fast regimen involves doing all his eating for the day during an eight-hour window and then not eating at all (except for water) for 16 hours. Jackman typically consumes all his calories between 10 am and 6 pm. It's an eating plan he follows even when he's not training for a role.
Jackman said IF also gave him more energy and improved his sleep. Hugh was inspired to follow intermittent fasting after reading The 8-Hour Diet by David Zinczenko, the former editor-in-chief of Men's Health.
Intermittent fasting has been touted for its ability to produce rapid weight loss and burn belly fat more quickly than conventional dieting. It has also been called a powerful anti-aging diet because it reduces the oxidative and metabolic stresses that damage cells. The weight loss and health benefits of IF were detailed extensively in the bestselling books, The Fast Diet and The Every Other Day Diet.
Jackman said intermittent fasting was helpful when he had to quickly lose 15 pounds and then regain 30 pounds while shooting "Les Misérables" in 2012. Hugh, who admits he hates to work out, is happy to hit the gym because he knows his time playing Wolverine is limited.
Hugh said challenging himself with every project has enabled him to enjoy tremendous personal growth. "Our tendency in life is to narrow everything: Worldview, friendships, choices, feelings we have, reactions to things become smaller and narrower," he said. "We lose our range.
"But you push yourself, challenge yourself, you go to places emotionally you don’t always want do that. It keeps you fresh and young."