Ed Sheeran has confessed he felt insecure about his weight and image when he hit the big time and compared himself to One Direction and Justin Bieber.

Speaking to fellow musician George Ezra for his new podcast series, the Galway Girl singer admitted that he felt pressure to slim down in the early days of his career.

"I was like, ‘They’re so photogenic and they’ve got six packs… and I should look like that,'" Sheeran said of his chart rivals. 

"But should I actually care if I'm fat or not? No-one's bought my records based on me looking a certain way."

"I had zero insecurities before I became a singer - and I was born with ginger hair," the Grammy-winning star joked.

"I didn't care. I'd have a beer belly, ginger hair, wouldn't wash and wear scraggly clothes.

"But as soon as you become in the public eye and people start picking holes in you, you start thinking things are bad for you. Like, 'Am I fat?'"

George Ezra
Ed Sheeran spoke candidly to George Ezra for his new podcast series

Sheeran also told Ezra that when he first met the Budapest singer in 2014 he was "doing no carbohydrates and just drinking vodka and slim tonic".

However Sheeran has replaced crash diets with a more sensible routine which allows him to eat "what he wants once he exercises every day".

"It doesn't have to be a lot," he told the BBC last year. "Just a little bit, and keep your metabolism up, and then you can eat what you want."

Click here to listen to the interview in full