Glee Star Kevin McHale built an incredible body in 12 weeks at Ultimate Performance Los Angeles.
Kevin, who played wheelchair-bound Artie Abrams in Emmy-winning comedy Glee, is almost unrecognisable from his on-screen alias after losing 7lbs of fat and adding 5lbs of lean muscle.
But his astonishing transformation wouldn’t have been possible without mastering his diet and nutrition at U.P.
Before his transformation, Kevin’s health was at rock bottom – he was plagued by gut and digestive issues that doctors couldn’t diagnose, and his diet consisted of junk food and takeaway meals.
He was left with a ‘skinny fat’ body and was stuck in a cycle of feeling bad and eating junk.
Starting a body transformation was the big lifestyle change Kevin had been looking for.
Not only did he build the best body of his life, but he also learned the fundamentals of nutrition, mastered meal prep and discovered the foods that worked for his body.
After 12 weeks, Kevin has overcome his gut issues and got back to feeling fit, healthy and energized, as well as building up knowledge for life on how to stay in shape.
Here Kevin explains what changed with his diet, how it helped his health conditions, and the key lessons he learned that helped him achieve his new body.
What motivated you to start your transformation?
Simply put, I had become “skinny fat.” I had been working through an intestinal and digestive issue that was eluding diagnosis and that really took a toll on me.
I was constantly in pain. I had tried so many different elimination diets – nothing was working.
It got to the point where I was already feeling miserable because the intestinal issues and plus the self-added guilt of not getting myself to the gym or eating as healthily as possible, it was a recipe for disaster.
I had known enough was enough for a while, but luckily my friend Scott Mills texted me out of the blue about U.P. coming to LA and I jumped at the chance to work with them.
Kevin talks about overcoming his long-term gut issues and gaining back control of his diet and health.
What was your diet like before you came?
I ate out almost every single meal, I was never going grocery shopping or making my own food.
I felt bad and I did all these weird elimination diets to figure out what was going on with my stomach which is stressful and taxing.
Either I wouldn’t have energy, or it would make me feel even worse. So, that made me not want to go to the gym to workout.
In the back of my mind, I knew I should be going to work out because my body was getting worse.
I could see my body changing and I had lost all the muscle I had ever gained.
The shape of my body was completely different and it was odd. Looking in the mirror was like looking at someone else.
I think that, and the impending doom of turning 30, made me think ‘okay, I have to stop this!’
Did your stomach issue make things worse?
It’s hard, especially when you have a bunch of doctors who can’t work out what’s wrong with your stomach. So it’s really discouraging. What’s the point of going to work out if I’m just going to feel bad?
It was a lot of stress and a lot of anxiety and it doesn’t help with anything. You get less sleep, therefore your diet is going to be worse. And my diet was already worse to start with.
What changed when you came to U.P.?
I don’t think there’s been one gigantic thing that’s changed since I came to U.P. It has honestly been a big change in a lot of ways.
Obviously, the easiest one to see is that I have a much better body. The best body I’ve had ever!
I had to wait 30 years, but I did it in the end!
I came here with digestion problems, but that’s been sorted out. I think a big part of that was due to diet.
When you’re eating the right things, you can see what affects you.
Have you had to cut out all carbs or ‘starve yourself’ on your diet?
The first couple of weeks were the hardest because I was someone who was not eating healthily and my body was in shock. I wasn’t hungry and I couldn’t eat the amount of food I was supposed to eat.
Then once you train, your body needs it.
Then once I got used to it and I trained, I would get hungry and then the training would amp up and the diet would change.
It wasn’t just one diet the whole time. I loved it because it felt like this science experiment where I could see how all the food I ate would affect my body.
I could see how it would affect me mentally. It really shifted things in terms of how I look at food.
Kevin talks about the life-changing effects changing his diet and training had on his health, fitness, and physique.
What was your diet and meal plan like?
I was most excited and most scared for the diet. I was hoping I could do it, but I don’t have the best eating habits in the world (burritos and cookies).
I was intimidated by the prospect of having to completely relearn everything I knew about food, and learn to make elaborate meals, etc. Needless to say, it was a lot of worrying for nothing.
My daily diet goals were set by Eddie and broken down into macros for carbohydrates, fat and protein. All of that sounds like it could be intimidating, but it’s really not because you just use an app and it does all the work for you!
I became obsessed with logging my food. After I’d log my food in the app, I’d also put into a spreadsheet where Eddie could track it and I’d also be rating my energy, sleep, digestion, etc.
each day as well.
Knowing if I had a proper night’s sleep would directly correlate with how I was training and eating, obviously, but when you track it for three months you can see trends and patterns – I loved it.
All that being said, my diet was: vegetables and a lean protein. That was pretty much it. That simple. Meal-prepping on Sundays for the week was a revelation – I never needed to worry about if I had something at home to eat that was healthy.
As training moved along we introduced rice post-workout, and then towards the end I moved to an all-fish diet.
All of these changes were slow and manageable and Eddie would talk through all of it whether in the gym or through text. He had to put up with me.
What were the biggest challenges you faced outside of the gym and how did you face them?
I would say the biggest challenges are always going to be the food choices. I’m someone who eats out a lot, who travels a lot, and it’s going to be hard to make your own food or meal prep.
It’s something you have to carve out a little extra time to do.
Once you learn to do it, you realise it’s not a big deal and it’s not hard to do.
What have you enjoyed most about transformation process?
It has just been the knowledge that I didn’t even realise I was picking up.
When people would ask me about it, what I was doing and how I was eating, I would think ‘oh! I do know what I’m talking about!’
That feels crazy. Because I didn’t know anything at the beginning of the process.
When my friends were talking about how many calories they were eating, I’m like ‘well, how’s that actually breaking down into macronutrients?’
I feel like a walking infomercial for U.P. all the time.
You guys subconsciously empower everyone who comes in through the door because we’re learning how to do these things.
You know you’re going to be able to carry this on if you stop coming here after 12 weeks.