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To Play the Game of Thrones, Eat Like the Mountain

Whether you side with House Lannister or House Stark, no one should play the perilous game of thrones (or sit down to watch an episode of the adrenaline-inducing TV show) without first eating a very hearty meal. Just how hearty you ask? To clue us in, Dr. Lee Hamilton and Dr. Oliver Witard, health and exercise scientists from the University of Stirling, analyzed the real-life, 12,000 calorie per day diet of the actor, Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson, who plays "The Mountain"—the mightiest character in Game of Thrones.

Writing in The Conversation, a news source from the academic and research community, the researchers examined how this daily meal plan, which includes 14 eggs, more than two pounds of beef, and a wealth of greens and supplements, supports the actor in this role—and how it can be tailored to improve the physique of mere mortals. Because, as Dr. Hamilton states, “While few of us will ever need to consume a diet like this, there are aspects of it that can be translated to support the performance of ordinary people.”

  • Protein, protein, protein. Protein is a big part of Björnsson’s diet, and according to Dr. Witard, “A man [or woman] of The Mountain’s size should consume in the region of 70 g of protein per meal... In normal young, healthy adults, 0.4 g/kg of protein per meal is sufficient to stimulate the muscle growth response—the equivalent of a 6 oz steak per meal.”
  • Distribute protein evenly. Eating protein throughout the day at regular intervals offers muscle growth benefits, and research suggests it can help us hold onto our muscles as we age. As for Björnsson, he eats protein every two to three hours. Dr. Witard explains that for an average person, “this would look like 30 g of protein, a large chicken breast, every three to four hours...”
  • No midnight snacks necessary. Björnsson takes protein supplements or raw eggs during the night, but is there any benefit to this? Dr. Hamilton advised: “Protein consumed close to bed or between sleep 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.”
  • Eat fat that benefits your heart. A survey of Björnsson’s fat intake reveals it’s close to around 4,000 calories—approximately 35% of his total intake. However, it contains a high content of “heart-healthy” polyunsaturated fats from sources such as almonds, oily fish, and avocados. And as Dr. Witard says, “These types of fats are essential to a healthy, balanced diet no matter who you are.”

Source (reprinted with edits): University of Stirling

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