This post would normally be geared towards physique and bodybuilding athletes. But, since I’m probably not reaching many of those with these posts at this point in my career…I’m going to hope it can be applied to someone who is hitting the beach sometime soon, and is feeling like our ancestors have doomed their body into packing on some body insulation for the winter months.
Let’s be honest with ourselves: If there was a way to look your absolute best while on your Christmas vacation getaway on the beaches of sunny Florida, we would all want to know the secret. Right? Well, what if there was a way?
Bodybuilders, fitness athletes, and weight classed athletes are masterful manipulators of fluid balance in the body. In the case of physique athletes, water manipulation enhances the appearance of muscularity. By reducing extracellular fluids, less water rests between skeletal muscles and the skin; the muscles appear more prominent and the body appears leaner.
Although not all of us are considered “athletes,” this doesn’t mean we can’t follow the general guidelines to get the leanest and most aesthetically pleasing look out of our bodies. Be sure to note that this is NOT a permanent look you are shooting for here. You are simply going for what bodybuilders are going for leading up to a competition. They have to impress the judges, you just want to impress…well, everyone, I guess.
The prep starts 8 days out (so, maybe some of you are 8 days away from being on a beach? I do understand this post should have been done earlier, and I apologize.).
Day 1 and Day 2:
1. Double your water intake. If you’re drinking 32oz a day on the regular, drink 64oz today. This process of increased water intake leads to an increase in urinary fluid losses.
Continue this until Day 3.
Days 3, 4, 5, AND 6:
1. Double your water intake AGAIN. Now, you’ll drink 4 times your normal intake. If you started at 32oz, you’ll now drink 128oz.
2. Decrease your carbohydrate intake. For most people, this means eating around 50-100 grams of carbohydrate per day. By doing this, you’ll begin to lose muscle glycogen as well as 3-4 grams of water per gram of glycogen lost.
3. Increase sodium intake by actively salting your meals and/or even adding small amounts of salt to your drinking water. By doing this, you’ll trigger your system to start actively excreting lots of both salt and water.
Continue this until Day 7.
1. Drop your water intake fourfold. For example, if you’re now taking in 128oz per day, drop back to 32oz. Since the body has grown accustomed to excreting large amounts of fluid, and adjustments take a few days to catch up, this sudden drop means a negative water balance. In essence, you’ll be temporarily dehydrating the body by forcing it to lose more water than it takes in.
2. Increase your carbohydrate (CHO) intake. For most, this means eating two to four times what they have been eating for the last few days. So, if you’ve been eating 50-100 grams of CHO per day, increase your intake to 200-400 grams. By doing this, your body will supercompensate muscle glycogen stores, filling out the muscles with stored glycogen as well as drawing some water into the intracellular spaces. This means that you’ll look more muscular and leaner at the same time.
3. Finally, decrease sodium intake by avoiding all sodium. Cut all extra salt out of your diet and avoid foods higher in sodium. The body has become accustomed to excreting large amounts of sodium. It will temporarily continue this. The sodium leaving the body, will draw additional water from the body.
Day 8: AKA 24 hours until “contest”
1. Drop your water intake again by 50%. For example, if you’re now drinking 32oz per day, drop down to 16oz per day. This second drop will ensure that additional water is lost from the body as excretion rates should still be high.
2. Maintain your increased CHO intake, further filling up muscle glycogen and drawing any remaining extracellular fluid into your intracellular spaces.
3. Keep your sodium low.
4. Continue this for 24 hours or so.
Please Remember: This prep is meant for physique athletes, and immediately after final judging, these athletes will load up with any and all kinds of food, and will hydrate their body. DO NOT continue this final stage for any longer than 24 hours. You will dehydrate your body too extensively and will begin to feel week and possibly nauseous. So, please don’t be naive and think you can continue the final stage and continue to look and feel better and better. That’s not how this works. Enjoy that day or two looking your best on the beach.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!
Move to the beat of your own drum.