7 Ways Ethan Suplee Lost 250 Pounds and Got Ripped
Known for his work in American History X, Blow, Remember the Titans, John Q, The Wolf of Wall Street, several of Kevin Smith's films—as well as Boy Meets World and My Name Is Earl—Ethan Suplee has always had a booming career. The award-nominated actor achieved great success professionally, but personally was fighting a private battle–addiction. The 47-year-old has dealt with heroin, alcohol, and food issues, and was told by doctors he was going to die.
"There have been countless mornings that I've woken up, as though startled by a terrifying nightmare, with the need for change," he told Celebwell. "The idea that change was needed came frequently but was also frequently forgotten. There would be some effort put into actually changing, but for a long time, I was easily moved off of that path." He adds, "Eventually, I was able to hold onto it long enough to make some progress, and when I'd lose grasp of it, I wouldn't slide all the way back to the starting line or further."
After going to rehab several times, Suplee was able to overcome his drug addiction and get sober, but knew he also had more work to do. "With regard to my weight, the change occurred in 2002," he explains. "I had gone through much the same thing with sobriety and finally got a decent grasp on that in 2001, and with sober eyes, I was then able to confront the next hurdle, my weight." He adds, "I began dieting, of my own volition in 2002. I got down to 280 pounds, then went back up to 400+. Then I got down to 220 and went back up to 400." For the last 20 years, the father of four has fought to change his complicated relationship with food, losing over 200 pounds and totally transforming physically.
In an exclusive interview with Celebwell, Suplee reveals what led to his weight loss and how he helps others with the same struggles on his podcast American Glutton. "I am very interested in having conversations about both people's problems and solutions in regards to health, fitness, and weight and get to do that each week." Read on.
He Stopped Eating in Secret
Suplee's unhealthy relationship with food started when he was just 5-years-old. His grandparents began limiting his food because they were "shocked" by his weight and he learned that if he wanted a second helping at dinner, he had to do it quickly without them seeing him. This led to a fear of people seeing him eat and would binge meals in private. "I didn't like people to see me eating, so I ate very quickly," he shares. "I also found that some euphoria accompanied binge eating, I thoroughly enjoyed that. So I no longer eat in secret and no longer overeat, this is a difficult thing to learn because for so many years I trampled over my body's satiety cues." He continues, "I'm not totally sure I'm entirely aware of them even today. I can tell when I'm hungry, but not really when I've eaten enough. I had to learn what a proper meal was for my body, and stick generally to that, not eat it so quickly that anyone I'm eating with still has food on their plates, which leaves me wanting to fill mine again because sitting and watching people eat while not eating also makes me uncomfortable."
He Changed His Mindset About Eating
"I used to think of a diet as though it held all the secrets to the universe, that I could achieve some zen state of happiness and normalcy through dieting," he tells us. "Having set so many arbitrary numerical goals, achieved them, and felt no mental or spiritual relief from the very same madness I'd felt at my heaviest, I've learned to set my expectations a bit lower for what weight loss can provide."
Instead of trying to stick to various diets, Suplee now adopts a healthy lifestyle. "Also, dieting won't keep the weight off, so if I want both those things, knowing that's absolutely all I'll get out of it, my entire life needs restructuring. Dieting is a tool to reduce body fat, and nothing more."
He Did Keto But Stopped
Suplee tried Keto for a while, but stopped because "it didn't seem right." He shares, "In 2017 my wife Brandy, who had never encouraged me to diet was upset because I had to have what would've been an outpatient procedure (ruptured distal biceps tendon repair, caused by a fight scene in a show I was filming at the time called Chance), in a hospital. They told her that I had to have it done in a hospital because of my weight." For health concerns, Suplee's wife wanted him to make changes. "She said she didn't care what I weighed, but she wanted me under the number that separated outpatient and hospitalization… so I started doing keto again, and despite sticking to it exactly, I wasn't losing weight (although I had lost weight on keto in the past), so I started doing the keto "hunger" diet – Keto, but just never felt full. I started losing weight… but it didn't seem right."
He Started Eating Carbs Again and Began Losing Weight
After not having success on Keto, Suplee switched up his diet. "I decided to look into what all the macronutrients were doing to my body exactly," he says. "Allowing myself to eat carbohydrates again after a long period of believing they were poisonous, was pretty scary, but as long as I stayed in a mild caloric deficit, I steadily lost weight. I have maintained (aside from getting very lean once for a photo shoot and once for a movie) my weight for the past 5 years."
He Doesn't Eat Processed Foods
Suplee has now learned what works for him and shares what he typically eats. "My diet is protein-focused, with the remainder of my daily food allotment in carbohydrates and fats that I consume at my own discretion," he explains. "I try not to eat too many processed foods, mostly because I find I don't get much bang for my buck with them, I can easily overeat them and I am often hungrier faster after eating them. I try to take in more omega 3's than omega 6 with my ancillary fats, these would be the fats I eat above and beyond whatever fats are commingled naturally with the protein I'm eating."
He Works Out Six Days a Week
As you can see from his Instagram posts, Suplee hits the gym hard but gives himself a day off each week. "On Sundays, I generally don't go to the gym, so I will usually up my fats and reduce my carbohydrates," he says. "When I work out first thing in the morning, the meal that follows the gym usually has the majority of my day's carbohydrates in it." He adds, "I try and get to the gym 6 days a week, all my exercise will be on a 5-6 week progressive overload schedule, week one being the easiest, week 5 or 6 is really tough, heavier, more reps, more sets, even my cardio will increase, week one will usually be 30 minutes a day, week 6 will be nearly an hour."
How Losing Weight Changed His Life, But Didn't Solve All His Problems
Suplee has worked hard to completely transform his body and conquer many issues, but losing weight didn't solve all of life's problems. "My knees hurt less, I'm more active, have better energy, and the problem of my weight, which I viewed the entirety of my life through, has waned quite a bit," he says. "I'd expected all the other difficulties of life to disappear because I looked at them as though they were all caused by my weight. This wasn't the case, and now I am able to actively tackle them with intention, instead of just thinking the one issue of losing weight would solve the rest." He concludes, "Though losing weight doesn't solve everything, I did find it a good starting point, so I am at least able to tackle life with a healthy body, rather than being slowed by focusing on needless health issues that were resolved simply by losing weight."