Nutrition and Regimen

Sly's well developed abdominal muscles“I led a very unhealthy regimen while working to develop my body for the later Rocky movies. I was working out on an empty stomach, and my body began to cannibalize itself. It was my plan to reduce myself that way, then add on muscle ounce by ounce. I went down to 155 pounds – and I’m five-feet-ten. I was all skin and bone. I was also drinking great quantities of coffee to stimulate myself, to give me energy.”

Stallone says he now follows a much healthier diet and exercise routine.

“I get up in the morning about 7:30, and first I drink a glass of liquid amino acids. Around 7:45 a.m. I have breakfast – easily digested foods. For example, two eggs, four figs, and toasted pumpernickel bread. I relax for 1 hour and 15 minutes to give my food time to digest. I’m in the gym for my morning workout around 9 a.m.

I do 10 minutes of warming up – stretching my arms, legs, back and neck. Then I start to work on my arms, lifting weights for 45 minutes to build and tone the biceps and triceps. Next I’ll work on my shoulders for 25 minutes. After that, I do 25-30 minutes of work on my abdomen, such as sit- ups. Next, I stand with my feet about shoulder-width apart, hold a broom stick behind me, under my elbows, and do 500 shoulder twists – turning as far as I can to the right and then the left.

I have lunch around 12:30. For a typical lunch I might have a salad, broiled skinless chicken, broiled squash and some figs or berries. I devote my afternoons to taking care of business. For dinner I might have something like broiled fish, another salad, steamed spinach and a couple of slices of dark high-fibre toasted bread. Besides chicken and fish, I occasionally eat veal. But any meat I eat is simply prepared and very lean. I haven’t had a pastrami sandwich in 15 years.

I usually steer away from red meat – but I do try to eat it once a week so my body will stay adjusted to it. That way, if I ever do it – for example, if I happened to stop at McDonald’s – I wouldn’t go into convulsions. At one time I was so pure with the food regimen that if I ate even a hot dog, I’d end up with painful cramps and convulsions. Usually I work out three days and take the fourth day off. If I have a busy business week and can only work out twice that week, I cut my food intake in half. I run my body like a car. If I have a long way to go, I fill up with ‘fuel’ – good high energy foods. If I’m not doing much I keep it on half empty. And I give my body enough ‘maintenance’ in the form of physical workouts to keep it running perfectly. When I’m in shape, I feel terrific.”

A magazine article about Sly's trainingStallone says he steps up his workouts when he’s preparing for a new film.

“If I know that I’m getting ready to do another Rambo, I have to live up to the last film. That makes it a little bit harder to get in shape. I have a machine like an escalator with the steps coming down, and I pile 40 to 50 pounds of weight on my back and start climbing those endless steps.”

Stallone is well known for his muscular physique, hard work and determination. Even Arnold Schwarzenegger once said Sylvester has awesome willpower.

“Sly is the most disciplined man that you’ll ever meet in any walk of life,” says his personal bodyguard Gary Compton. “He doesn’t eat real late, he doesn’t snack, and he doesn’t eat much. Pasta? Yes, but not too often, and only when it’s made with a special flour. Fish and brown rice are staples. He even eats fish for breakfast. He drinks little alcohol, but occasionally enjoys champagne. Quick energy? Would you believe oatmeal cookies? Of course, without processed sugar of preservatives.”

“And not many eggs either,” Compton adds. That is to say, nothing like the scene in which Rocky cracks a half dozen raw eggs one-handed and gulps them down. As for supplements, Gary says that his boss takes a package of about six tablets before each meal. If he needs more he’ll just take double.

Though he’s had a lot of problems – including serious injuries – in his rise to the top, Stallone accepts them without bitterness or complaint.

“Sometimes I look back in anger, but then again I look back with kind of bittersweet smile and think: Maybe if the cards hadn’t fallen the way they have, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”

Sly answered nutrition questions on a live chat about Get Carter in 2000:

rumsky19: As a nutritionist, I am wondering what you eat to stay so hot and in shape?

Sly's Rambo physiqueSly: I’m actually going to start, I think in the near future, a health line to try to revamp this whole vitamin nightmare, because going into a vitamin store is like a descent into a pill hell. Forget it. What I do is I take two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, which has 19 of the essential minerals. I also take two pure oregano tablets a day. And please, do not try the oregano you have in the kitchen, because that is called Mexican sage, which is like kitty litter. I maintain a high protein diet. If it floats, flies, crawls or runs, I eat it. High protein. That’s all.

RicePuddin: Hey there Sly, you are so buff and beautiful, how about giving the little guy a hand and putting out a workout tape with your tips and tricks on it? I’d buy it and I bet a lot of other folks would too!

Sly: Well, funny you should bring that up. We are working on something that is mega. I’m putting a system together with the right nutrients because I’ve found that it’s all about nutrition. It’s not just about pumping the weight. It’s also about at what time [you eat] — and without the right fuel you are literally wasting your time. Most people work out 50% more than they have to and get less results. This is going to be kind of exciting for me. It’s something I plan on getting into in a very big way in the next year. It’s easier and people [that have tried it] are a lot more fit than they ever thought possible. It’s something that I’ve used in order to maintain health and muscle tone during all of my roles. For example, to have to gain and then lose 40 lbs. for Cop Land and not have any residual fallout from it, like stretched out skin, is incredible. For Get Carter I had to go up to 196 lbs. of muscle and then for my next film, Driven, I had to go down to 172 lbs. — and still not have saggy skin or health problems.