• Alicia Vikander focused on building muscle, then losing fat to get in shape for “Tomb Raider.”
  • She ate around 1,900 calories a day in her fat loss phase, trainer Magnus Lygdbäck said.
  • Vikander mostly followed the keto diet, but only while traveling and unable to cook her own food.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

For Alicia Vikander, playing Lara Croft in “Tomb Raider” meant getting into peak physical condition.

In preparation for the role in the 2018 movie, Vikander gained over 12 lbs (5.4 kg) of muscle and also lost fat, according to her trainer and nutrition coach Magnus Lygdbäck.

As well as working out hard in the gym, Vikander’s food intake was broken into three different cycles, Lygdbäck explained in a recent YouTube video.

He told Insider that in the fat loss phase, Vikander followed the

keto diet
for seven weeks, but ate a balanced diet otherwise.

Vikander built muscle first, then lost fat

Lygdbäck and Vikander focused first on building muscle, then reducing her food intake to lose fat and reveal the muscle underneath. 

The Hollywood trainer uses three cycles with the majority of his actor clients preparing for movie roles: “build-up,” “cutting,” and then “maintenance” while filming actually takes place.

“It’s pretty normal to start your cut about 8-12 weeks before a deadline depending on where you are physically,” Lygdbäck said, adding that eight weeks was enough for Vikander.

While generally more of a fan of counting macros if anything, Lygdbäck set Vikander’s calories for her cutting phase at around 1,900 a day, ensuring she was in a calorie deficit and would thus lose weight. Not dropping her calories too low ensured Vikander held on to her muscle and also had enough fuel for her training and mental health.

A post shared by Magnus Lygdback (@magnuslygdback)

This number was tailored to Vikander’s body and her lifestyle though — Lygdbäck told Insider she was working out hard and also moving around all day on the job. 

Lygdbäck previously explained to Insider that he encourages what’s known as the 17/20 principle, meaning 17 meals out of every 20 should be “on point,” and three can be whatever you want.

The keto diet was convenient because Vikander was traveling

Lygdbäck was nervous about Vikander’s weight loss period because she was going to South America to film, and he couldn’t go with her.

For this reason, he put Vikander on the high-fat, very low-carb keto diet, but only for the seven weeks of the cutting cycle that she was traveling.

“I don’t favor the keto diet over any other diets,” Lygdbäck told Insider. “I chose it because it’s much more simple and easier to control when you’re on the go.”

Magnus Lygdbäck 3

Magnus Lygdbäck is a Hollywood trainer and nutritionist.

Magnus Lygdbäck

The keto diet was chosen as a simple way to help Vikander hit her macros, which were as follows daily:

  • 100g protein
  • 150g fat
  • 40g max carbs

Vikander’s main fat sources were avocado, olive oil, MCT oil, nuts, and seeds; her protein sources were mainly eggs, fish, and shellfish; and her minimal carbs came from low-carb vegetables like broccoli, zucchini, cauliflower, and brussels sprouts. 

“Diets are something you should do for a short period of time, it’s not how you should live your life,” Lygdbäck said.

It’s also worth pointing out that nutrition is incredibly personal and it’s not advisable to mimic someone else’s diet, macros, or calories without consulting a health professional.

Vikander’s keto day on a plate

An average day of keto eating in Vikander’s fat loss phase might consist of the following:

  • Breakfast: two poached eggs and half an avocado
  • Morning snack: protein shake with MCT oil
  • Lunch: sea bass with roasted nuts and a salad with an olive-based dressing
  • Afternoon snack: octopus salad
  • Dinner: grilled swordfish, vegetables, and avocado salad

“When on a high-protein, high-fat, low-carb diet, you don’t depend on eating five meals per day,” Lygdbäck said. “Fat and protein doesn’t affect your blood sugar as much as carbs will.”

But as Vikander was used to eating five daily meals on the build-up cycle and she would be doing so in her maintenance cycle while filming, they decided to stick to that structure in her cutting cycle too.

A post shared by Magnus Lygdback (@magnuslygdback)

“If you want to try the keto diet yourself, you might have to adjust your macros a little bit depending on your age, your metabolism, and your activity level,” Lygdbäck said, adding that people should look into how to make it work for them before taking it on.

It’s also worth noting that many nutrition and fitness experts do not recommend the keto diet, especially if you work out a lot, and it was recently named one of the worst diets in the world. 

Lygdbäck’s philosophy is that different eating styles work for different people, but one thing that’s crucial is keeping protein intake high.

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