Getting Ripped With Chris Daughtry

A shredded physique is the last thing you'd expect from a rock star and former 'American Idol.' Chris Daughtry talks about his road to ripped.


If you’re a typical kid growing up in a working-class North Carolina town who listens to Alice in Chains and reads comic books after school, odds are good you’ll pick up a guitar and a barbell at some point. The odds you’ll make it big with either are much longer, however. Unless your name is Chris Daughtry, who’s now the biggest thing to come out of Roanoke Rapids.

“Growing up, I always had really bad bouts of asthma and was kind of frail and sick all the time,” the rocker says. “I was a stick.”

It was comic books and Muscle & Fitness that made all the diference to him. In high school he started lifting hard to look like his favorite superheroes. He began taking a mass gainer, reading tips from Ronnie Coleman and Flex Wheeler in Muscle & Fitness, and he put on about 10 pounds of muscle in a year. Although music turned out to be his calling, he reflects that he might have made a decent bodybuilder. Or actor. Or artist. “I could never really nail down what I wanted to do,” he says, “but then I found music.”

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Not right away; not until after struggling for years at desk jobs. Daughtry was barely making ends meet when he started a family. And lifting and dieting weren’t a priority to him at the time, as he packed on pounds of fat. “You get into that kind of cycle and then you realize: Wow, this stuff actually catches up with you,” he says.

Even after his powerhouse voice revealed itself on American Idol and he was on the tip of every music exec’s tongue, Daughtry still couldn’t rein it in. “I hit the road,” he says, “and it all went back downhill. You start drinking a ton of beer, eating pizza and whatever else is in front of you, and you kind of just do that everyday cycle. And after a while you’re just so unmotivated to do anything.”

When he saw pictures of himself online, he decided that guy just wasn’t him.

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“I have to change my eating habits,” he realized. “I have to change the way I look at food. I have to change my lifestyle and not make it a ‘diet.’ And so I started trying to dial it in and then, this last year, I got really serious about it.”

Daughtry now sticks to lean meats—chicken, steak—and the occasional fish, though he’s not a huge fan. He eats as much spinach and asparagus as possible, along with sweet potatoes. Two or three hours before a show, he’ll have some meat, but nothing big. The feast comes after the show, when all the adrenaline’s spent—it’s the hardest time to dial in the diet.