Zachary Levi Pugh was born in Louisiana but his family moved around and lived in several states before settling in California. Levi began acting on stage in regional productions at age 6. His first tv appearance was in Big Shot: Confessions of a Campus Bookie, and in 2007 he landed the starring role in Chuck. He has won awards for his acting including a Teen Choice and a SAG. In 2008, Levi was named in Entertainment Weekly’s Top 30 People Under 30 and in 2011, he ranked in BuddyTV’s Sexiest Men. Levi went from nerd to superhero with the lead in Shazam! He still performs in live theatre and he has also done some singing, including a duet with Katharine McPhee. Levi is an ambassador for Active Minds, a mental health charity. He has over a million followers on social media. Levi is 6 feet 3 inches tall and weighs about 215 lbs.
Zachary Levi’s Diet
Levi weighed about 200 lbs. when he was tapped for Shazam, and he packed on 15 lbs. of muscle for the role. The road to superherodom can be a tough one. You get to eat a lot, but it’s pretty bland stuff: lean meat and veggies 5 times a day. He ate eggs, but had to stop because he had a reaction to them. He gave up all processed food, refined sugar, and alcohol. He admits it was a difficult adjustment, but that he feels so good and strong, it was worth it. He also supplements with things like protein and fish oil.
- Low Carb 10% 10%
- Medium Protein 30% 30%
- High Fat 55% 55%
To prepare for his role as Shazam, Levi had to eat a lot a food, about 3,700 calories a day. Stars like Ben Affleck and Henry Cavill have reported eating even more to get into superhero shape.
Even When You’re Not in the Mood
Levi had to eat even when he wasn’t hungry. He didn’t like that too much, but he did like the results.
Lean & Clean
While Levi had to eat a lot, it wasn’t the fun stuff. Chicken breasts and broccoli were standard fare, even for breakfast. But he says that he’s willing to do what it takes when humanity is at stake.
Levi ate very strictly for 5 months while preparing for Shazam. He even gave up cocoa puffs. Another top pick for a treat meal is a thin-crust NY pepperoni and pineapple pizza.
Levi liked his results so well, he started his own plant-based supplement company called Flow.
What to Eat
What to Avoid
Levi on his Health Due to Shazam!
‘I’m in the best shape of my life.’
Levi on Gaining Muscle
‘I immediately put on about 24 lbs. and then we carved that down in about half.’
Levi on Sacrifices
‘If I have to, I will eat every last chicken AND broccoli to ensure the survival of the human race.’
Levi’s Take on the Importance of Diet
‘You have to feed your muscles. You have to give your body the building material necessary to grow larger.’
Levi on Processed Foods
‘The biggest favor you can do for yourself is avoid all processed foods. Savory or sweet, doesn’t matter. It’s all breaking down in your body as sugar, and that is stored as fat.’
Levi on Whole Foods
‘There’s a lot of tasty CLEAN food out there. Get into it.’
Levi on Pepperoni & Pineapple Pizza
‘It’s everything I want in my mouth!’
Zachary Levi’s Fitness Routine
The gym became Levi’s second home as he prepped for the role of the world’s mightiest supergeek. He trained for 5 months prior to filming.
Levi experienced the joy of ‘newbie gains,’ that awesome initial period where he saw rapid improvements in his musculature in a short amount of time.
Levi trained with Grant Roberts, Dirk Myers and Don Saladino (who trained Ryan Reynolds for Deadpool 2). Levi also regularly hit the gym with Eric Blackmon, not a celebrity trainer but a photographer. Research shows that teaming up can improve your results at the gym.
When Levi was accused of wearing a padded suit for Shazam, he pushed back with pics of his (real) biceps and tweets about #FakeMuscles and #FakeChicken&Broccoli. He later gave a more measured response saying all superhero suits are padded.
To get into his role as Shazam, Levi lifted for an hour, 5-6 days a week. Sometimes his trainer would have him do double sessions and then he would get more days off.
Levi is a fan of the deadlift because he says it works your entire body and strengthens the mind-body connection.
After hitting it heavy and bulking up, Levi switched over to a functional routine where his routine varied between heavy and lighter weights, some cardio, and using German training volume to increase muscle density and strength.
Full Body Improvements
Going into training for Shazam, Levi had flat feet and 2 torn shoulder labrums. He said the physical therapy department at the gym helped him improve his posture, which cut down on injuries.
A Zachary Levi Routine
Go hard for 1+ hours.
Day 1: Full body power
Day 2: Shoulders & arms
Day 3: Mobility & steady-state cardio (recovery day)
Day 4: Lower body
Day 5: Chest & back
Day 6: Miscellaneous
Levi on his Shazam! Gym Routine
‘I’m working out 5, 6 days a week.’
Levi on Varying His Routine
‘Sometimes we’ll do two-a-days, and then more off days. But typically we’ll do an hour and fifteen session every day.’
Levi on his Gym-centric Life
‘I’ve been in the gym 5 days a week for the last 5 months, and eaten pretty darn healthy/strictly, but not so crazy that I’m not still enjoying life. The system works.’
Levi on his Fitness Thanks to Shazam!:
‘I’m…stronger and happier and healthier than I’ve ever been.’
Levi’s tip on Getting Ripped
‘It’s a marathon not a sprint.’
Zachary Levi’s Supplements
Zachary Levi’s Lifestyle
Mental Health Advocate
Levi has struggled with anxiety and depression, and says improving his physical health has had a serious positive impact on his mental health, and he wants to bring that to people’s attention.
Levi created a forum called The Nerd Machine to facilitate all things nerdy. After wearing one of his Nerd t-shirt to an awards ceremony, fans crashed the site with their zeal to buy the ironic tees.
Be One With the Suit
Levi says wearing the Shazam suit was one of the least enjoyable parts of the job because it was so tight. It was even less fun when he needed to use the b-room.
Levi is an ambassador for Operation Smile, a charity that repairs cleft palates of afflicted children around the world. He has raised more than $800K so far.
On Being ‘The Heavy’
Levi said he was thrilled to be mistaken as co-star Meagan Good’s bodyguard, thanks to his new physique.
Levi on Fame
‘You could become the biggest, most famous, richest person in the world, but if you have not grown during any of that…then all if it’s meaningless.’
Levi on Nerdiness
‘I think a nerd is someone who’s passionate about something. I’m a self-proclaimed nerd.’
Levi on Himself
‘I was not part of the cool kids’ table, ever.’
Levi on Getting Healthy in Every Way
‘That level of health that I’ve gotten to — mental health, emotional health, spiritual health, physical health — I am so jazzed about that and I want to keep talking about that, particularly mental health.’
Levi on Self-Acceptance
‘I just feel like we’re in a place, particularly nowadays, where people need to be encouraged and informed on what self-love is, and to go and genuinely embrace themselves and love themselves.’