Playing a mythical Marvel god has its perks, but it turns out there’s also a downside to rocking a chiseled physique. “I felt very stiff and sort of uncomfortable,” Chris Hemsworth confessed about playing the titular character in the 2011 film Thor. To make a good first impression, he adds, “I was probably a little bigger the first time around.” For the 2013 sequel, Thor: The Dark World, the 35-year-old actor cut out the red meat he previously used to beef up. “I’ve actually played around with less animal proteins and tried to inject a bit of vegan cooking into the program,” he admitted.

“I certainly felt better having a bit more of a balance.” Even the star’s personal trainer, Luke Zocchi, revealed he didn’t know what to expect with the change of menu. “He tried it out and we were actually surprised,” Luke said. “We’re all in this mentality of ‘gotta eat animal protein,’ but you can get a lot of protein from beans.” While filming, Chris ate every couple hours, often six meals a day. His favorite meal was vegan bean burgers — which, Luke pointed out, had one unforeseen side effect: The God of Thunder got “a little gassy” during workouts.

Chris also made sure to remember another diet essential: proper hydration. Water is vital for regulating bodily temperature, flushing out waste, preventing constipation and easing every single human bodily function. “I drank a ton of water,” the Aussie star recalled. “I’d definitely recommend that to people who are cutting weight. It fills you up.”

For his roles over the years, Chris has gone from 215 pounds to 185 and back up again — sometimes within months. But, according to the 6-foot-3 actor, “there’s no short, secret recipe for it. “You just have to put in the hours, put in the work. There are certainly times at the end of the day, or early in the morning, when it’s the last thing I feel like doing. But I remind myself how I feel after.” He was, however, grateful that Luke kept switching up the routines to keep him “from getting bored.”

Variety works wonders where diet is concerned too, allowing your body a chance to process what you’re giving it and letting you know through specific cravings what you need more — and less — of. And even when Chris isn’t hammering away in the gym or building abs for a role, his go-to activities help keep him in shape. “I’ll do a lot of boxing or Muay Thai workouts,” he said. “I surf a ton, and I do a lot of yoga, too.” What’s his divine advice for us mere mortals? “Don’t wait around for someone else to come push you. Push yourself.”