How Actor Ethan Suplee Dieted Like a Bodybuilder to Get Abs

Refined goals, maintenance periods, and proper programming took Suplee to the next level.

For most of his career, actor Ethan Suplee (Remember the TitansAmerican History X, Motherless Brooklyn) was extremely overweight. Well, things have changed. Not Suplee’s acting — he’s still top-notch — but now, he’s sporting 250-pounds of ripped muscle. On Jan. 11, 2021, Suplee showed off an absolutely shredded physique over Instagram, which was photographed by Men’s Health. All-in-all, Suplee has lost 300 pounds. More importantly, he’s developed a healthier relationship with food.

Check out what Suplee looks like now below in a recent post from his Instagram page:


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A post shared by Ethan Suplee (@ethansuplee)

[Related: How To Count Macros For Weight Loss, Muscle Gain, And Maintenance]

At one point, Suplee maxed out at 530 pounds. Food for Suplee was akin to an addiction to drugs or alcohol — it was not something he had a healthy relationship with. After an infuriating experience involving a conversation on a flight to the set of Cold Mountain with fellow actor Jim Caviezel, Suplee knew he needed to improve his health — and that’s what he did.

He found a diet that changed his relationship with food for the better, began a strength training program, and dropped over 300 pounds in the process. Suplee’s initial transformation attracted attention in January of 2020. Now it seems that he’s taken his physique to the next level. Nowadays, Suplee is actually 30 pounds heavier than his all-time low of 220, but sports more muscle and an impressive set of abs. 

Suplee credits his success to two people: Chief Content Officer of Renaissance Periodization Mike Israetel for “[opening] his eyes to maintenance periods” and IFBB Pro League Bodybuilder Jared Feather for his programming.

The Diet Breakthrough

Suplee struggled to find success with some of the more popular diets such as paleo, keto, South Beach, and Atkins, to name a few. He instead found success once he changed his relationship with food — viewing it as fuel rather than comfort — and started a strength training routine. In his caption, Suplee wrote that his goal for 2020 was to obtain visible abs — meaning a body fat percentage low enough to do so (sub-10 percent in Suplee’s case).

According to Feather’s comments on Instagram about programming for Suplee, losing weight wasn’t the issue for the actor. It was keeping it off. The trick that worked for him was maintenance periods, which is when one eats the number of calories required to maintain a certain weight after losing a cut. Maintenance periods allow the body to adapt to the caloric needs of that weight. This is also known as a settling point. Think of them as checkpoints over the course of a larger weight loss goal. Once the body is settled at a new weight, one can begin to either build or lose. 

Suplee’s settling point before the photo shoot was at 270 pounds – a 10% drop in weight from when he started training with Feather at the beginning of 2020. Suplee initially learned about maintenance periods from Israetel’s Ted Talk titled “The Scientific Landscape of Healthy Eating.” Check out the full Ted Talk below:

[Related: What You Need To Know About How To Build Muscle]

Periodization Process

Here is the plan that Feather used to get Suplee into photo shoot-ready shape, according to his Instagram. 

  1. 12- to 15-week cut of 30 pounds — from a starting body weight of 300 pounds down to 270 pounds (loss of 10%).
  2. 12-15 weeks maintaining 270 pounds (settling point).
  3. “Dieted down another 10% body weight over the course of 15 more weeks.” Suplee went from 270 pounds to 246 pounds.
  4. Suplee is “now around the mid 250s after his first mass and maintenance period.”


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[Related: Intermittent Fasting For Bodybuilders — Should You Do It?]

Goals for 2021

Feather notes that Suplee is “one of the most consistent people [he’s] ever worked with.” Suplee’s goal for 2021 is furthering his transformation to obtain “visible obliques.” Based on what he’s been able to do so far with his training, diet, and the corresponding results achieved, the odds are that goal will be met. Or, as Suplee puts it — “It’s going to be a wonderfully tough year.”

Featured image:@menshealthmag on Instagram/Photo by Jonny Marlow