History’s newest historical drama, Knightfall, follows the legendary Knights of the Templar from their battles in the Holy Land to their grisly downfall in the early 14th century. Actor Tom Cullen stars as Landry, a warrior monk who unexpectedly becomes the leader of the Templar brotherhood and embarks on a quest to rediscover the Holy Grail.
A big part of of Cullen’s physical transformation took place in the gym: a three-month work program to bulk up his entire body, and a two-week boot camp of CrossFit training, sword fighting, and horse riding.
But every super-ripped dude knows that monster muscles (and enough endurance to last through grueling, 14-hour shoot days) are not only made in the gym, but also the kitchen—even if that means eating the same exact thing every single day.
So while his action-packed training routine may have been epic, his nutrition plan to get as “big and strong” as possible was anything but.
“It was very boring,” Cullen says. “I was eating four or five times a day, as much protein and vegetables as I possibly could.” This meant eating every two or three hours, devouring tons of really lean meat (like cuts of poultry, beef, and pork), and always cutting out carbs after lunch.
The overall focus for Cullen, along with the rest of the Templar actors, was to “have a good, athletic way of eating,” according to Cédric Proust, the series’ stunt coordinator. Avoiding sugar and soda was also essential, although both Cullen and Proust both admitted it became difficult, especially when filming in the cold, rain, and mud.
Here’s an example of what Cullen ate for an entire day while training to become the bulked-up leader of the Knights of the Templar in Knightfall.
To kick off his morning, Cullen usually ate three eggs, approximately 1/5 cup of oatmeal (here are a few nonboring ways to add some flavor to your steel-cut oats), and a 1/2 cup of fruit.
About two hours later, he’d guzzle a protein shake and snack on a handful of nuts, which help improve energy balance, boost metabolism, and reduce inflammation.
Whether he’s in-between training sessions or in-between takes, Cullen took a quick lunch break around 1 p.m. and shoveled down 8oz of protein and about half a cup of slow-release carbs (like whole grains, nonstarchy vegetables, and sweet potatoes). Often called “complex carbs,” slow-release carbs are absorbed more slowly, keeping your blood sugar steady and preventing hunger pangs for longer. After this meal, Cullen said goodbye to carbs for the rest of the day.
Roughly three hours later, Cullen grabbed a quick protein shake and a handful of nuts again to keep his energy levels high between lunch and dinner.
For dinner, Cullen kept it simple and opted for another 8oz of protein and two “fistfuls” of vegetables, but no carbohydrates. Just before bed, he’d down another protein shake and call it a night.