The Final Touch in Pre-Contest Preparation
Subject: Contest finishing touches?
Thomas Incledon, MS, RD, LD, LN, CSCS, NSCA-CPT
Question: I have a question about getting ready for a contest. All I've been able to find is stuff about shaving and posing and all that. If someone wants to look cut and pumped on like a Wednesday, what should he do to prepare for that? I've heard to stop training the week before to fully heal and deplete all carbs for a few days and then carb load the day before. I've also been reading about diuretics and other supplements and can't find any that don't sound "bad" for you. I appreciate any help you can give me.
Answers: Here are some possible strategies:
- Carb deplete/ carb load - you don't have to go to zero carbs like many of the muscle heads do, that is just an example of an extremist approach. If you cut back carb intake by 50% for 3-4 days while training (replace carbs with protein and fat calories, I would say for most fat is a better option). then double carb intake for three days before a show/photo shoot/whatever. ideally you would do this way ahead of time so that you know exactly how many days/hours it takes to look "good". Alpha lipoic acid (300 mg with each carb load meal) and vanadyl sulfate (30-45 mg with each meal) are two over the counter agents that can be used to increase glycogen stores. Creatine and cinnamon also increase glycogen stores. It is unknown if all these agents act synergistically (so you would augment glycogen stores by combining them) or repetitively (so taking 2 or more will not be any better than just taking 1).
-Sodium loading - most people screw this up because they listen to guys in the gym that use diuretics who then think they understand renal physiology. Adjustments in plasma osmolality and sodium loads in the body occur at different rates running from minutes to days. Again this is something you experiment with before your big day, because if you miss your timing you will look quite bloated and smooth. Simply double your sodium intake about 10-15 days before the big day. Water intake should still be quite high (1.5-2.0 gallons per day). About five days before the show, reduce sodium intake to 2 grams per day or less (this is from all sources). Water intake is still high. Three days before the show cut water intake down to about 1-2 quarts per day. At this time you will also have reduced protein and fat calories so that you can start carbing up Lower protein intake to about .8 grams per kilogram of BW making sure that you eat high quality protein sources. About 1000 mg of potassium per day is usually taken when you cut down on the sodium. I have to say that the extreme look that is valued in competition can not be achieved without excessive dehydration. This is rather unhealthy. It is also very important to lower protein intake when you are this dehydrates. Several animal studies have made it clear that dehydration and high protein are an invitation to renal problems later on.
- Glycerol ingestion to increase vascularity - start at 1-2 tablespoons and increase the dosage (this is done on different day not the same day) to see at what dosage an increase takes place. You also have to figure out how long before maximum vascularity is achieved around 30-45 minutes is about right. This is important for timing before going on stage. It should also be noted that glycerol ingestion when dehydrated can also create renal complications.
-Red wine - 1-2 glasses 30-60 minutes before hand to increase vascularity.
There are numerous naturally occurring diuretics. The drugs that are prescribed by doctors are based off of these natural agents. In a diuretic tested event, most natural agents will cause you to test positive. Caffeine and alcohol are the obvious exceptions. Good luck Andy. I hope you can see the potential complications in order to achieve a winning look. It's not that you will have problems, it's that you don't know until it happens. Unfortunately then it may be too late. make sure to take photos at each phase of your diet planning. I would have clients take photos daily (the last two weeks before the show) along with various skin folds, circumferences, etc. So that we have objective measurements along the way. This is important later on if you want to make changes and need to know what to change.
Thomas Incledon, MS, RD, LD, LN, CSCS, NSCA-CPT Director of Sports Nutrition Human Performance Specialists, Inc.
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