Former 23st Castleford Tigers player lost nine stone after ditching 10,000 calorie diet he was copying from bodybuilders on Instagram
A former Castleford Tigers player lost nine stone after he ditched the 10,000 calorie a day diet he was copying from bodybuilders on Instagram.
Brandon Pickup, 22,
And while it means he could lift an impressive 53st it also saw him pile on pounds of fat and his waistline ballooned until he said he could barely look at himself in the mirror.
He changed his ways when his dad, Jason, 48, suffered a stroke and sepsis, and was left fighting for his life.
Now 18 months on, Brandon from Wakefield, West Yorkshire, is a buff 14st with huge muscles and aspirations to compete at World’s Strongest Man.
Personal trainer Brandon said: "When I set out all I knew was I wanted to be as strong as I possibly could and I didn’t care about the effects that had on my body.
“I had a passion to get strong and was inspired by Eddie Hall and the bodybuilders I followed online.
“I took on board what they did and caved in to the pressures to eat loads of food.
“I had an obsession to get strong and wanted to go all out.
“My mentality was to eat as much as I physically could, regardless of how fat it made me.
“I was willing to do anything to be the strongest and I started eating at least 8,000 calories a day.
“It made me feel awful but I was getting really strong."
Brandon used to weight 14st a was a ‘fit and active’ teenager and professional rugby player with Castleford Tigers when he was 17.
But he fell out of love with the game and turned his attention to weightlifting, and started piling on the pounds in 2016.
He read about World's Strongest Man Eddie Hall, and how the 31st champion ate 12,500 calories a day.
While doing a six-day-a-week weightlifting routine, Brandon went from eating a regular diet to gorging between 8,000 and 10,000 calories a day.
In an average day he would eat eight rashers of bacon, four slices of toast, four eggs and an ice cream protein powder smoothie for breakfast.
He would then snack on beef jerky, cakes and muffins before a lunch of FOUR burgers and a pint of milk.
A typical tea time would see Brandon eat out at steakhouses or burger bars, or scoff a large portion of takeaway fish and chips.
He said: “I used to eat so much that it made me feel sick and I was sleepy all of the time.
“But in terms of strength, I saw massive improvements.
“I went from lifting 220kg to 340kg in 18 months. This did make me feel happy but not for very long.
“I was pleased that I was able to lift a lot but it didn’t really fulfil me.”
But a near-death experience for his dad, Jason, 48, made Brandon to realise his diet was putting his health at risk.
He weighed 23st 7lbs, had piled on nine stone in just over a year, and would get out of breath just walking up the stairs.
“I realised I needed to start living a healthier life and that I was putting pressure on my heart”, he said.
“I wondered if I’d end up in that position.”
Brandon began to gradually slim down his meals and his waistline, adding cardio to his workout routine, and eating 4,000 calories a day.
Brandon now eats “little and often” - six 400 calorie meals a day, such as eggs and oats for breakfast, beef and rice with vegetables and chicken, potatoes and greens.
By this summer, Brandon had lost all the weight he put on and now weighs 14st 6lbs - and sports an impressive physique.
Brandon said: “I now wake up and look at myself in the mirror with a smile on my face.
“I can now see the results of everything I have worked towards since I was young.
“This is what I have always wanted and I am so proud of myself.
“I hate how I used to look but no one used to say anything, although I could see the look on people’s faces.
“I have a much more positive outlook on life now.”
DIET BEFORE: 8,000 calories a day
Breakfast - eight slices of bacon, four slices of toast, four eggs and an ice cream, protein powder and peanut butter smoothie.
Lunch - Four beef burgers with bread and cheese and a full pint of full fat milk.
Dinner - Typically restaurant meals like large fish and chips, steak and chips with a cheesecake for dessert.
Snacks - Cakes, chocolate and muffins.
DIET AFTER: 4,000 calories a day.
Breakfast - Protein powder shake consisting of egg whites, oats, peanut butter and blueberries.
Mid-morning - Chicken, potatoes and vegetables.
Lunch - Lean beef, white rice and peppers.
Dinner - white fish, rice and broccoli.
Snacks - almond nuts, dark chocolates, berries and fruit.