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7 Ways Shaquille O'Neal Lost More Than 40 Pounds

Shaquille O'Neal is showing off his weight loss and jacked physique.
FACT CHECKED BY Jeremy Horowitz

Shaquille O'Neal is showing off his stunning transformation. In a recent Instagram video, the 51-year-old flexes his impressive muscles and reveals the hard work he's been putting in at the gym. Sporting a gray tank top and blue shorts, the NBA legend slowly enters a workout area amid ominous music. He then dramatically rips off his shirt and showcases his jacked body.

Over the last few months, the basketball icon has made health a priority, completely overhauling his diet and focusing on getting back into shape and his results are jaw-dropping. Read on to learn how O'Neal shed the weight and what nutrition experts think of his diet and fitness regime. 

He Cut Out Fast Food, Fried Foods, and Ultra Processed Snacks


To kickstart his new fitness goals, O'Neal revamped his diet and cut out a lot of unhealthy foods he ate daily. Throughout his time in the league, the star revealed he ate a lot of fast food, fried food, and processed snacks. He didn't think his diet affected his performance so he didn't think much about what he ate. It was only after he retired he noticed a change and is now regretful. "If I had paid attention, I probably could've been like Udonis Haslem and played 20 seasons, but I did it my way," he told PEOPLE regarding his food choices. "And my way was a good way, but I didn't really take it seriously until I looked in the mirror six, seven years after I retired. I looked terrible. I had no definition and basically, I was fat. I was really fat."

What the Expert Says: Sports performance dietitian Destini Moody, RD, CSSD, LD, tells us, "By eating whole, natural foods, one can drastically reduce the number of unhealthy additives and fillers and unhealthy compounds found in fried, fast, and processed foods, such as trans fats and refined sugars. The nutritional quality of your diet is improved when you eat whole foods and cut out ultra-processed foods."

She adds, "Slimming down requires avoiding ultra-processed foods. They are designed to taste good but not to make you feel full, so you can eat a lot without feeling satisfied. Due to this, these types of food can cause you to overeat and gain unwanted weight."

RELATED: 11 Healthy Fast-Food Orders, According to Dietitians

He Eats Salads

green salad

O'Neal is now very mindful of what he consumes and eats four to five nutritious meals a day, which always includes a salad, he told PEOPLE. 

What the Expert Says: According to Moody, "Eating salad, especially with high-quality animal protein, is a great way to get fiber in your diet. The fiber comes from fruits and vegetables; including these in your meal can help you feel fuller for longer." She continues, "Since fiber breaks down slowly in the stomach, this means that you can go for a longer time without needing a meal or snack. In turn, you won't feel the need for unnecessary snacks by eating salads. Furthermore, salads add a lot of volume to your stomach without adding a lot of calories, making meals more satisfying without blowing your calorie deficit out of the water."

He Eats Eggs Every Day

different egg yolk colors orange yellow

Another healthy choice O'Neal includes in his newly overhauled diet is eggs. For his second meal of the day, he has "little egg wraps." 

What the Expert Says: "Eggs are the highest quality protein you can get. When other foods like fish and beans are measured for their protein quality, eggs are the standard they are measured against," Moody says. "High-quality protein keeps food intake under control and promotes a fast metabolism by controlling hunger and maintaining muscle mass, respectively."

RELATED: 6 Ways Tim McGraw Lost 40 Pounds

He Includes Plenty of Protein Like Chicken and Steak in His Diet

steak and eggs

For the last two meals of the day, O'Neal has chicken or steak, which is loaded with essential nutrients and much-needed protein. 

What the Expert Says: "The same deal with eggs, chicken, and steak has all the essential amino acids you need to maintain and gain muscle mass and keep body processes running efficiently and healthily," Moody explains. "Chicken and lean cuts of steak are also lower in fat than other protein sources, like pork, so they have fewer calories, which is excellent for weight loss, and they have less saturated fat. When it comes to saturated fat, you should avoid it whenever possible as it is unsuitable for your heart."

He Does Cardio Three Times a Week

medicine doctor wearing face mask and blue scrubs standing corporate in health care work concept

While diet is key to staying fit, being active also makes a difference and O'Neal said he does cardio at least three days a week. 

What the Expert Says: "Cardio effectively promotes weight loss, especially HIIT or high-intensity interval training," Moody states. "This form of cardio involves alternating between short bursts of intense activity followed by a brief rest. It's a format very similar to basketball, so I'm sure Shaq has no problem with this fat-burning form of exercise."

RELATED: Try This Cardio Workout for Faster Weight Loss, Trainer Says

He Weight Trains


In addition to cardio, O'Neal also weight trains and told PEOPLE, "I have more energy. I feel really good. I get to do stuff that I haven't done."

What the Expert Says: According to Moody, "The combination of cardio and resistance training is ideal for losing weight. Just resistance training and cardio are good, but combining the two gives you the best of both worlds." She adds,  "Weight training not only builds muscle which can increase your metabolism at rest, but it also allows you to burn more calories after exercise than cardio does."

RELATED: 5 Best Strength Training Secrets for Faster Weight Loss

He's Dedicated and Consistent

To achieve results in any health or fitness journey, commitment and dedication are vital. "I still get to eat as long as I eat healthy," he said. "And you gotta cut out the little stuff. No more Cheetos, no more cupcakes, no more stuff like that. So the more and quicker you can discipline yourself, the better and quicker you'll see the results."

What the Expert Says: Moody emphasizes, "The biggest mistake people make when losing a significant amount of weight is not practicing patience. The first few weeks are the hardest as a reduction in calories causes uncomfortable amounts of hunger, and having to commit to a consistent exercise regimen suddenly can be challenging to implement into your daily routine if it is not something you're used to."

She continues, "Since we tend to crave instant gratification, dedication starts to fade when people go through these growing pains and don't see results right away. The body also doesn't like inconsistency in your diet." She adds, "Weight loss happens when the body adapts to a calorie deficit by burning fat for energy. If you aren't consistent with your calorie deficit (otherwise known as your diet), you never give the body a chance to make this adaptation. No fat burning? No weight loss. Dedication and consistency are essential to see the kind of progress Shaq has made."

Heather Newgen
Heather Newgen has two decades of experience reporting and writing about health, fitness, entertainment and travel. Heather currently freelances for several publications. Read more about Heather