Miles Teller at Top Gun: Maverick premiere
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Miles Teller’s Intense Top Gun: Maverick Diet Evaluated by a Dietitian

Those who watched the Oscar-nominated Top Gun: Maverick are more than familiar with the spectacular scenes starring Miles Teller, from his suave flight scenarios to the shirtless beach scene that left theater audiences swooning. As dubious as spectators were about the success of a sequel set 36 years after the original, no one can deny that the new Top Gun movie is as engaging and dramatic as the first, and Miles Teller has a lot to do with it. Here's what the actor has to say about the diet he followed to prepare for this iconic action movie.

Teller's Role in Top Gun: Maverick

In Top Gun: Maverick, Teller plays Bradley Bradshaw, the son of Captain Maverick's deceased best friend. In the movie, Maverick returns to the Navy instructor program, where he trains a squad of young aviators, including his late best friend's son. The seemingly-impossible mission is to bomb a foreign country's uranium enrichment plant, which is in a canyon and defended by missiles. 

The movie is full of drama and upsets, from narrow escapes to shoot-outs with the enemy. Miles Teller and Tom Cruises' father-son dynamic is a heartwarming counter to the intense fighting scenes, and Teller's viral bare chest beach scene is a welcome distraction to the drama. As Teller explains, getting to the right weight and body percentage for each scene was no easy task.

Miles Teller Explains his Top Gun: Maverick Diet

To get in shape for his role, Miles Teller had to follow an intense regimen involving his diet and workout. He had a nutritionist telling him what to eat and a trainer leading his workouts, so as he says about getting in shape, "Really it's just about showing up, you have all these people dedicating their time to helping you succeed."

Teller's weight is typically about 185 lbs, but for part of the movie, he was instructed to get up to 210 lbs and 9% body fat. This was the hardest part for him. He says, "You're just eating so much, that's what I really didn't enjoy."

Miles Teller's Weight-Gain Diet Was Balanced and Healthy

While gaining weight, Teller was on a strict diet full of protein. In a typical day of filming, he ate 6 eggs for breakfast, a workout shake, two lunches of chicken breast, a full potato and broccoli, a snack, and a dinner of 20 oz of fish or steak. 

When we asked an expert's opinion on this diet, we heard only approval for how balanced Teller's weight-gain diet was. Registered Dietitian DJ Mazzoni of Illuminate Labs says, "Miles' approach of increasing lean protein consumption and healthy, whole foods carbs is an ideal approach for building muscle. Many athletes end up eating some junk food while bulking up, because it can be hard to reach high daily calorie counts with clean food only, but it appears that Miles was able to bulk up in the healthiest way possible, by eating complete meals full of nutritious whole foods."

Teller's Strategy for Losing Weight Was Mostly Dehydration

After gaining the weight he needed to for certain scenes of the movie, Teller then had to lose it all in preparation for his now-viral shirtless beach scene. After getting to 210 lbs, he got back down to 183 lbs and 7% body fat.

To achieve the beautiful, rock hard abs that took the internet by storm, Teller used a few "tricks of the trade." He explains, you're "trying to cut water out of your system and you just try to dehydrate as much as possible...then when you're on set and you've deprived your body of sugar and sodium and everything, you drink a can of coke and your body gets all that sugar and everything tightens up, so you get this vascular look that looks good on screen." He says, "Everything Hugh Jackman was doing in Wolverine — you try and figure out what that was." 

Although Teller achieved his weight gain in a healthy, balanced way, his strategy for losing weight was less than stellar in terms of health. Registered Dietitian DJ Mazzoni explains, "While it's common in Hollywood and in some combat sports, I don't believe that dehydrating yourself is a safe or healthy way to lose weight and reduce body fat percentage. Remaining dehydrated for long periods of time, especially while actively working out, puts a strain on the kidneys and other organs."

Mazzoni is also disapproving about the choice of a Coke on the day of filming. He says, "There is no medical evidence and it is unscientific to suggest that a can of Coke tightens everything up. Coke is not a healthy option and water would be better, especially for someone already dehydrated." 

Although Teller's dietary restrictions sound grueling to the rest of us, when asked about the difficulties of following such an intense regimen, he expressed that he's motivated by the knowledge that he did everything he could to perform well.

Teller says, "I like anything that requires a certain amount of discipline because then you look back on it and you know you did everything possible to do it." He goes on to say that if you don't try your hardest, "then when you see the finished product you know there are things you could've done better and I don't like that feeling."

Despite Tellers' sense of satisfaction and incredible success in his diet and the movie, Registered Dietitian Mazzoni doesn't recommend his method of losing weight. He explains, "I would recommend that regular people avoid the strategy used by this actor, because dehydrating yourself is even more of a health risk for average people who aren't in elite physical condition."

As intense as Miles Teller's diet for Top Gun: Maverick was, all we know is that spectators weren't mad about seeing his perfectly sculpted abs as he runs across the beach.

Editor's Note: This article was originally published in June of 2022. It was updated on March 12, 2023. 

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