Brie Larson gained 15 lbs. of muscle for her role in Room. Her nutritionist, Dr. Philip Goglia, had to come up with a way to support her strength training and keep up her energy during long days on the set.
Here’s what they did to keep her moving (and on to an Oscar win!)
Eat a Little Fat and a Little Simple Sugar for Breakfast
In the morning before going to training, Larson ate 1 tsp. of almond butter with 1 tsp. of all-fruit jam or preserves, Goglia tells PEOPLE.
“The most recent science has shown that a little bit of fat and a little bit of simple sugar will actually increase intensity rate while you train early in the morning … and allow you to still continue to train and burn fat,” Goglia says. “That really does start your engine for you.”
Following training, Larson, 26, either drank a protein shake consisting of 1 scoop Fitness Concepts whey, 1 portion of fruit and one tbsp. of almond butter, water and ice, or two whole eggs with one portion of fruit and one vegetable.
While eating healthy meals is important, Goglia says the order in which you eat them in is even more important.
“The management of your macro-nutrients are critical so that you start your day when you wake up,” Goglia explains. “Have your breakfast meal, and it should charge your metabolism – it should promote a metabolic light switch where you start processing your fats, proteins and carbohydrates, providing you with an energy source that allows you to move around and do things and be cognitive, so that you don’t have low blood sugar mid-morning where you start craving a pastry.”
Have a Snack Between Breakfast and Lunch, and Another Between Lunch and Dinner
To bridge herself until lunch and maintain her energy level, Larson would have a piece of fruit for her snack before eating a lunch consisting of a 4 oz. chicken breast with vegetables.
“The purpose of a bridge meal is to get to lunch so that you don’t overeat lunch,” he says.
Larson would then have two different snacks spread out before dinner.
The goal is to start removing sugars later in the day, so if you have a late-afternoon snack, try almonds with a vegetable, Goglia says. “You’re using fat metabolism and that will be your bridge meal to get to dinner so that dinner is an appetite environment that will not allow you to crave carbs because you’ve already eaten … you’re kind of full. You’re not in low blood sugar.”
Fatty Fish for Dinner Promotes Better Sleep
Goglia suggests 6 to 8 oz. of fatty fish as your dinner protein to help you sleep better, alongside non-starchy vegetables and salad for digestion.
“The purpose of the fish and their omegas is to promote the reduction of inflammation and a deep REM sleep,” he says. “The chicken is kind of a benign, moderately low-fat meat … If you’re going to have it, lunch is the time to have your poultry.”
Before bed, Larson was allowed one portion of fruit, such as a cup of berries.
“The purpose of a fruit dessert, like a little cup of berries or a fruit snack after dinner is to actually spike your insulin so you sleep deeply in a hypoglycemic state,” Goglia explains. “Then your body releases more growth hormone and you burn more fat.”
But just as important as macro-nutrients is water intake.
Larson drank three to four liters daily, says Goglia. “I think water ought to be a prescriptive thing – it’s just that important,” he says.
He advises drinking a glass of water first thing in the morning to initiate digestion and continue drinking throughout the day to promote metabolism and regulate temperature.
The general rule of thumb for water is that fish must swim in it – no sparkling or flavored waters – and you should drink half an oz. of water for every one pound of body weight.