What Do the Stars of "Game of Thrones" Eat!
Sadly, the eighth and final episode of the award-winning HBO “Game of Thrones” series is upon us with over 17 million people tuning-in around the world. However, if you include data from piracy monitoring firm MUSO, the true figure indicates 54 million in the first 24 hours (illegal downloads), plus 17 million through HBO Foxtel.
But how do these actors prepare for their grueling roles, whilst maintaining both physical and mental wellness? There is a lot of pressure on these actors to look a certain way, especially in nude scenes when you know a large part of the world is watching and you’ll be heavily critiqued afterwards.
Not surprising, this has meant keeping a strict diet and workout regime to pull off their fierce looks and stamina.
Lena Headey (Cersei Lannister): Lena has an incredible physique at 45 years of age and advocates eating natural, healthy food and steers clear of anything artificially flavoured or “man-made.” Her diet is similar to Vikings, Spartans, Hunter Gatherers, Samurais and Monks. She also applies the 80/20 rule when it comes to food to keep a healthy balance and enjoys a vino and McDonalds on cheat days. She also openly talks about her battle with anxiety and depression and how she overcame the “’beast.”
She tweeted: “Globally we see constant destruction of human lives. Which no matter your belief, has an effect. If we scale it back to family and community, it's been lost to greed and aspiration, no wonder we have anxiety, no wonder we overthink ..we're slammed with b******t…”
When the actress was asked for advice on coping with depression and anxiety, she said it was best to “face the beasts” head on.
She wrote: “Anxiety is a beast. You have to talk to beasts. Release them back into the wild. Easier said than done I know but still. Good to practice.
“Anxiety. Depression. It's real and it's chemical. It's also spiritual. We're slammed with bullshit; tricked into thinking you're not enough – well here's the truth. You are enough. In fact you're who you're meant to be which is beautiful.
"Don't be afraid to let someone really see you. Magic happens when you are vulnerable and truthful and human.”
Emily Clarke (Daenerys Targaryen): The English actress highly depends on her nutrition and daily exercise program to see her through the long hours on set. Clarke follows the “clean and lean” diet created by her Australian personal trainer, James Duigan. This diet advocates eating foods in their natural state void of toxins, no processed foods, sugars and only filtered water. This program is more of a holistic lifestyle rather than a diet, and for it to be effective ongoing – it needs to become a part of your daily life and who you are.
The diet recommends three organic elements for each meal: protein (like chicken, lamb, salmon, or prawns), fat (avocado, nuts, seeds, olive/coconut oil), and a mix of veggies (spinach, peppers, broccoli, sweet potatoes).
Peter Dinklage (Tyrion Lannister): Peter was a vegetarian for 15 years before going full vegan in 2014. To this day he still uses his platform to advocate for better treatment of animals and is a celebrity ambassador for Farm Sanctuary, the largest animal sanctuary in the world. He has also partnered with PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) and starred in a youtube video called “Face Your Food” revealing the ugly side of factory farms.
Nathalie Emmanuel (Missandei): English actor who plays Missandei, trusted advisor to Daenerys Targaryen, has also been vegan since 2012. Nathalie is an advocate of whole foods and plant-based diets – “I try to stay away from processed foods,” she told Self in August 2017 – but is also a big fan of dairy-free chocolate. “Good vegan chocolate has become a thing with me. The more you silence your cravings, the bigger they become, so I prefer to have a little bit and get on with my day,” she said. She also has an appreciation for yoga and boxing.
Nathalie told Women’s Health Mag she likes to snack on “quinoa, greens, veggies and beans,” and enjoys natural protein shakes including “bananas, almond milk, coconut water, spinach, matcha powder, vegan protein powder.”
Nikolaj told Men's Health Mag, “You read about how much protein certain people eat and hear people talk about it in the gym. But it’s not until you experience the results that you really understand. I’ve always exercised hard and thought I ate healthily, so I assumed muscle would come. But if you want to bulk up, trust me, you do really need to eat a sh*tload of protein.”
He typically has five eggs for breakfast with loads of green vegetables and salmon, a protein shake for a snack, a lunch containing two skinless chicken breasts with more veggies, and then another protein shake, followed by a dinner of some carbs and more protein.
He added, “It’s the constant eating which I find exhausting.”
When it comes to his diet, though, he admits that he has seen the value of being extreme – an awful lot of protein, all day, every day.
Maisie Williams (Arya Stark): Masie joined Nathalie Emmanuel in advocating for an end to cosmetic animal testing with Cruelty Free International and The Body Shop. She has also spoken out against SeaWorld’s treatment of its captive animals. In response to a tweet that read “How can we tell if our animals are happy? The same way you know if your dog is happy” Williams wrote, “@SeaWorld yes, because dorsal fins look sooooo happy and healthy. #dontbecaptivatedbycaptivity.”
Even young hero’s need a good diet and Maisie shared one of her recipes on Instagram: “The recipe calls for one banana, four dates, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon almond butter, 1 cup of almond milk and some ice. Mostly this is about the taste: It's a great combo, with the dates adding natural sweetness, and the banana and almond butter giving it some satisfying thickness. Personally, I'd add a lot more almond butter, unless this is something you're having more as a beverage than a meal. Her following posts do seem to indicate she was going for the former.
Blend that shit, then drink ur smoothie and try to convince yourself that drinking healthy drinks [will] counter out the fact that u ate a FAT bowl of pad thai noodles for dinner..."
Luckily Maisie still has age on her side to combat not-so-good food.
Here is Maisie’s intense 7-day workout.
Kit Harrington (Jon Snow): Men’s Health have captured Kit’s “Train Like a Bastard” in great detail. “In Thrones, Harington’s body is almost constantly swathed in layers of coats and furs. That they weigh in at almost 10kg is not the point. It’s that underneath the mythical weighted vest stands his naturally slighter physique. “I’m not a 6ft 3in guy who can bulk up and just look like an absolute unit, a tank. My body type has a tinybit of stockiness to it but it’s really quite wiry, so for Pompeii that was the sort of look I had to go for – ‘prison fit’, like Robert De Niro in Cape Fear.
For his roles, Harington has to look as though he could overpower enemy hordes. Building muscle fast means a lot of reps with the fork; for five weeks it was 5000kcal a day. “I was eating all the time: loads of good carbs, like brown rice and sweet potatoes. And lots of chicken.” Go heavy on flavouring to avoid getting bored. Harington’s trainer Dalton Wong recommends Herbamare – a mix of salt and about 15 herbs and it'll quickly pay its way.”
Gwendoline Christie (Brienne of Tarth): Christie is 6’ 3” and taller than most men on the set of Game of Thrones. But even considering her natural aptitude for the role, Christie had to put in a lot of work to make the look perfect and get her body into the shape of a committed, lifelong warrior.
She cut out alcohol and completely changed her diet. Christie’s coach Dalton Wong told Looper, “Booze can be a lot of fun, and in the messed-up land of Westeros, it's probably extremely helpful when it comes to getting through the day. But it's also a luxury the best knights must abstain from. Christie, in taking up the mantle of one of the world's strongest, took the idea of abstinence to heart.
There's no getting around it — alcohol is a killer for diets. Not only are you not getting anything beneficial out of it nutrient-wise, alcohol calories disrupt fat metabolism, inhibit muscle growth, and lock you into a two-steps-forward, one-step-back weight loss routine, at best. Giving up alcohol for the sake of her training was a concession Christie was more than willing to make. "I don't think I've ever wanted anything as much," she said of her motivated mindset at the time.
Wong also broke down an entire training session with Christie, “We came in at 8 a.m. First thing we do, we start off with water, espresso and a green tea or a ginger tea. That’s our little trio that we have every session. I like having caffeine before a workout because it gets us mentally aware.”
The Meal Plan
Power Breakfast: “An easy breakfast that gives you energy and fills you up with good essential fatty acids and fiber.”
1 cup organic full-fat Greek yogurt
1/4 cup of mixed berries
6-8 crushed nuts
¼ teaspoon of milled seeds
Dash of cinnamon
Performance Lunch: “An ideal lunch that has a rainbow of veggies and will not feel heavy in the stomach.”
1 portion of protein
Salad, grilled veggies or stir fry
Small amount of fat (e.g., salad dressing, olive oil, avocado)
Recovery Dinner: “The perfect dinner to aid in recovery and promote a restful night’s sleep.”
1 portion of protein
Steam, grilled or veggie stir fry
Small portion of complex carbs (side of your fist) like rice or potatoes
Very small amount of fat