It’s one thing to play Superman on screen, but it’s another thing entirely to walk around looking like a Kryptonian in your everyday life. And the first thing you’re likely to notice when staring at Henry Cavill on Zoom are his shoulders—not even his Clark Kent jawline can distract from the small mountain range erupting from his humerus and clavicle. None of this is exactly news, given the multiple high-profile roles in which Cavill has transformed his body for—The DC universe, The Witcher, extremely buff Sherlock in Enola Holmes—but you truly cannot prepare for how mesmerizing those deltoids are.
Which is why Cavill’s latest role, as an ambassador for the supplement company MuscleTech is perhaps the most natural line on his resume. GQ caught up with the 38-year-old actor to find out how supplements influence his diet, his thoughts on pre-workout, and just how many meals a day you need to eat if you ever want shoulders like his.
GQ: Supplements are such a huge part of the fitness world, but I think something that can often be misunderstood, especially when you’re first starting out. What was your journey with using supplements like?
Henry Cavill: It’s an interesting thing, because I’ve been very fortunate over my career to have pros guiding me. As useful as that has been when it comes to physical results and how the body looks when I’m taking my shirt off on camera or whatever the case may be, it does certainly hinder my growth in knowledge. And so over the past couple of years, I’ve been trying to quiz my trainer, Dave Rienzi, more and more about the why of everything. Why is that going in? Why this rather than that? Aren’t they both carbohydrates? Why this protein versus that protein? What does it mean when you do this before or afterwards? And so my journey is still very much in process.
Once you started asking those questions, was there anything that you were surprised to learn?
So I have a protein shake before bed, and there would be times where I’d go, you know what, I want to lose a few more pounds, so I’m just going to cut the pre-bed shake out and not tell my trainer Dave. And it’ll be fine, because I’ll be losing a few pounds and then I’ll get back to showing progress photos and people will be like, “Oh wow, look at the progress you made!” But if I took three weeks off, when I would send Dave a progress photo, he would go, “Okay, cool. So are you still taking the pre-bed shake?” And I go, “No, because I wanted to lose a few pounds.”
That’s when I started asking these questions because he then informed me that the problem with that logic is that, yes, you do have fewer calories going into your body, but you also go into a catabolic state with how hard you’re training and how hard you’re working. So actually what you’re doing is you’re losing muscularity while you sleep. So your body won’t be looking as good. And almost immediately when I went back to the pre-bed shake, I was like, “Yeah, the body looks better already.” And for me, that was a massive learning point and a real shock. I thought, I need to start asking more questions and stop thinking that I can pull a fast one and pull the wool over his eyes.
I love that Dave instantly knew, too. Like, “Hey, are you skipping that?” But I think that’s the preconceived notion, right? Don’t eat before bed.
Absolutely. The protein shakes before bed, they are a real lifesaver for me. Especially with the amount of work, with the amount of output I have. It’s important to make sure that all the right stuff is getting in at the right time so you don’t lose anything and you’re not wasting any time at the gym.
So you’ve got the protein shake right before bed, but what does a typical day of eating look like?