Shaquille O’Neal would eat sandwiches for breakfast, lunch, and dinner until an Instagram realization inspired him to become healthier.
In a new interview with Men’s Journal, the four-time NBA champion said his diet eventually “was starting to look old and [he] didn’t want to.”
“So I said to myself, I want to take my shirt off on Instagram one last time,” O’Neal began. “I saw this 70-year-old guy on there, and he had muscles everywhere. So I just decided to switch it up.”
O’Neal said he completely cut out bread, late-night lemon Oreos, and Entenmann’s cakes.
For the past six months, O’Neal has been eating “fruit, protein shakes, salads, fish, chicken and asparagus or other vegetables” in “very small portions.”
Not only has the lifestyle change led to O’Neal shedding 25 to 30 pounds, but he also has a six-pack, something he hasn’t “seen in 20 to 30 years.”
“I haven’t had one of those since I was on the 2006 Miami Heat,” he quipped.
O’Neal also told Men’s Health he lost his motivation for fitness after experiencing a number of personal losses last year, including his sister, Ayesha Harrison-Jex, and good friend and former Lakers teammate, Kobe Bryant.
“My sister passed away before Kobe. And then Kobe passed away and then I had 28 other people pass away.  was a really bad year and I didn’t want to do anything. So, when you don’t want to do anything, but you need to stay out of trouble, there’s two things you can do: eat and Netflix,” he said.
When O’Neal shifted focus to fitness, he said he “just started to eat better” and began to “make better decisions.”
“My problem is, I’ve always been a sandwich guy. Sandwich for lunch, sandwich for dinner, sandwich for snack. And when all of that was going on last year, I couldn’t sleep. So, I’d wake up at three in the morning and make a sandwich, five in the morning and make a sandwich,” he explained.
In addition to tweaking his diet habits, the 15-time All-Star also adopted a strict gym routine.
“I do 20 minutes of cardio, I’ll do some chest, bis, tris, sit-ups, back and then I’m gone. Thirty to 45 minutes a day, plus cardio — so about an hour a day. I still got the bad hips and the achy joints, so I can’t be jumping and running around,” O’Neal said. “Next thing I’ll try is jogging.”
O’Neal also took a shot at his “Inside the NBA” co-host when discussing his fitness philosophy.
“An hour a day will keep the Charles Barkley belly away,” he said.