As a child, Evan Centopani was a big lad, weighing in at more than 120 pounds in the first grade. He was naturally large, but he also grew up in the 1980s, when everyone was following the good ol' USDA food pyramid. That now-discredited approach to food choice encouraged people to eat 6-11 servings of carbohydrates every day while strenuously avoiding fats.
"Even as a young kid, I knew I had to lose weight," Centopani says. "But my family was following the food pyramid, so I ate a ton of carbs. I mean, no fat: I totally avoided it. If my breakfast cereal had a million grams of sugar, it was OK, as long as it didn't have fat. Eating this way did work for weight loss. It just didn't do much for my body composition. And I know I lost a lot of muscle."
On the other hand, Centopani says, he was lucky growing up "when the WWF was very popular, muscle was cool, and everybody was jacked." Always a big guy, he absorbed these influences and started to build an image in his mind of what his outsized body could become.
Centopani wasn't interested in sports, so he started running, and over the course of a year dropped about 70 pounds. He was thin and he was in shape, but he still didn't look the way he envisioned himself. That's when his dad told him that if he wanted to get more muscular, he had to do cardio less, weight train more, and most of all, start eating fats and protein. And once he did that, he exploded—in a good way.
"I probably made the most progress when I was in college," he says. "I was very, very diligent about eating and training. I was willing to forgo the whole six-pack thing. I just wanted to be big."
Big Man Off Campus
Out of college and training at the local gym, Centopani met another very big man, and the two started training together. Eventually, his friend convinced him to do a show.
"We were 10 weeks away, but not knowing what it would take to get ready, I said, 'Sure, I'll do it.' In 10 weeks, I went from about 260 to 225 and was shredded to the bone. I suffered. I suffered hard for that show."
And it paid off. Centopani won in the heavyweight class, placed first in the heavies, and won the overall. And he never looked back. Today, Evan Centopani is an IFBB pro, a successful businessman, and one of the most creative minds in contemporary bodybuilding.
In a way, he isn't surprised by his success. He thinks there's something in his DNA that makes him a builder; a creator, willing to go through just about anything to see his dreams become real.
"I talk to so many people now who ask me how I find the motivation to train the way I do. But to be honest, I've never thought much about keeping myself motivated. Bodybuilding is something I want to do. And once I get something in my head, that's the end of it."