If you spent any time in a bar with college football paraphernalia on the walls in the early 2000s, you surely heard Zac Brown Band’s “Chicken Fried.” (You know: “Cold beer on a Friday night/A pair of jeans that fit just right.”) But back then, the frontman’s jeans were not fitting just right. They were, in fact, starting to get a little snug: Tour life meant a steady stream of pizza and beer and late nights.
But over the years Zac Brown has tweaked his lifestyle in favor of living and eating clean, and making time to exercise everyday, no matter where in the world he is. This week, his three-time Grammy-award winning band is back with a new album, The Comeback. He says it’s by far the best he’s ever made, and that he’s also perhaps at his personal best in regard to his health and wellbeing too. GQ caught up with Brown to learn about how he’s changed his approach to food and fitness over his nearly two decades of tour bus life.
GQ: What time does your day usually start?
Zac Brown: I get my kids every other week, so when I’m with them, I wake up early and get them fed and off to school. The weeks I don’t have them are a more normal schedule, you’re working a second shift going on the road and staying up a little bit later. I’ve got a gym set up here at home. I try to exercise. I’ve got a cold plunge. I try to get in the infrared sauna. I do a lot of self-care these days to try to feel as good as I can possibly feel. I live in the country and I’m able to just go outside and be outdoors a good bit.
For breakfast, I make these bowls and puree up some frozen bananas and blueberries, maybe mango. I’ll blend that up with some oatmeal and then I’ll mix in chia seeds, hemp seeds, maybe some honey cacao nibs, bee pollen, spirulina, and some protein, things like that.
Diet is such an important part of feeling good, and as busy as I am, food is fuel. I’ve changed my diet and realized the effect that it has on your body and the amount of inflammation that you carry around. With the demands of singing for as long as I do, and as loud as I do, I have to eat really clean when I’m on the road. I don’t eat gluten. I don’t eat dairy. And not because I’m allergic—just because it helps. Tour wise, I’ve just been eating basically paleo.
And what about lunch and dinner?
Lunch is usually a bar. It’s kind of an afterthought when I’m at the service of the band or at the service of my kids. It’s some kind of protein and rice when I’m on the road. Some kind of lean protein, some plant matter. At dinner I’m also trying to eat clean. I do love Thai food. I love Indian. If I can cook for people, I’ll go all out and make some crazy stuff. But if I’m just feeding myself and getting through my day, I eat a lot of protein bars and shakes and stuff like that.