T Nation

Carbs and Contest Water Manipulation


Hi CT,

I read yours and Shugart's "Shredded in 6 Days - Your Guide to Level 4 Leanness." It's a great article and I'll be following it for the most part in preparation for a contest I'm doing. My question is about the amount of carbs recommended.

Regarding carbs, the guide simply says "eat five or six meals, each containing 50-75g of carbs." It also says if looking flat on the day of the shoot to have a simple sugar meal. Based on these guidelines it seems pretty simple, but I just want to know this one detail:

Simply put have you thought about a formula for the approx. # of grams of carbs a person will need based on their lean mass/weight/or muscle weight?

I know there are variables like insulin sensitivity and carbs of different types will affect the body differently, etc, so there cannot be a perfect formula, but lets say I weigh 180 lbs @ 7-8%, that would be ~166 lbs of lean mass - from this figure I'm not sure how to approximately determine the amount of muscle mass, but lets say for simplicity it's 60% or ~100 lbs (that may be way off).

But anyway, do you have a guideline on how much carbs those 100 lbs can "soak up" in 24 hrs (2 grams per lb? 2.5? 3? 3.25?), or am I thinking about this the wrong way? Obviously I have to go with how my body responds visually and base my actions off of this, I just was wondering if this is something that can be approximated. Thanks for your time.


As a rule of thumb you can store 3 to 3.5g of glucose per pound of lean body mass under normal circumstances.

Under carb-loading circumstances this number increases up to 4 to 5g per pound of LBM. Carb-loading circumstances mean being deprived of carbs for 4-6 days to empty glycogen stores. Roughly 78% is stored in the muscles, 18% in the liver, and 4% in the bloodstream.

You do need to fill the liver before optimally loading the muscles and the carbs in the bloostream will make you vascular.

So if someone has a lean body mass of 166lbs the optimal amount of carbs would be around 700g.

One could be simple about this and simply consume that 700g of carbs throughout the loading period.

If one wants to be really anal about it, it could look something like this:

125g of fructose (fruits) at the very beginning of the carb-up period to fill liver glycogen right away.

545g of starchy carbs (potatoes and sweet potatoes being ideal as they are less allergenic than rice, oatmeal, pasta, bread, etc. and will cause less water retention), 500 of those are consumed over the main loading day, roughly 80g for 6 meals.

45g of starchy carbs and 30g of simple sugar are consumed the breakfast of the show or photo shoot (I like pancakes with maple syrup).

Keep 30-50g worth of simple sugar handy for backstage if you are flat and are having problems carbing up.


Great. Thanks for the information!


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Very cool to realize just how many carbs you can actually make use of in such a circumstance. Last show I was so concerned with coming in tight, and at a certain weight, that I went with the lower suggestion of everything. A suggestion of 50-75g of carbs was, for me, "50g". The choice of more carbs or protein and fat before bed automatically became "protein and fat".

Luckily, my conditioning turned out as well as it did, but the reason I chime in here, is to note that between the prejudging and the actual evening show, I was snacking on rice cakes and nutella throughout the day, and I looked so much fuller by the end of the show (for the last division I was in). I had just assumed that it was all the pumping and flexing going on, but now I wonder how much fuller I could have been overall.



Stu, it's a combination of the pumping/flexing and the carbs.

Muscle contraction shuttles nutrients to the muscles. And physical activity increase's the muscle sensitivity to insulin.

Have the same amount of carbs without the hard posing and you might have held more water. Take them while contracting hard (e.g. munching on carbs while you are pumping up or just before) or 30 minutes after you are done contracting (after prejudging) and you will sotr them in the muscle... just don't drink too much!


What particular foods do you feel lead to this distended gut. A lot of skinny guys have a hard time putting on weight for the simple fact that they feel their gut is outgrowing the muscles when eating big. What particular foods do you feel should be on a big eating aspiring body builders "No No" list?


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FWIW, I notice a huge effect in terms of vascularity from 1-2 FINiBARs. I've been on a targeted keto diet for about 11 weeks. I only have carbs (1-2 FINiBARs) preworkout once-twice daily (I've been cycling the carbs too... actually there are days when i have no carbs, <30gr, as well).

Anyway, the point is that when i eat the FINiBAR(s), I definitely notice a huge increase in vascularity even before I do any working out or pumping. When I take them 30-45 min preworkout, the veins in my forearms are dramatically bigger, and the effect seems to be very similar with one or two FINiBARs (~40 vs ~80 grams carbs).


I agree 100% with BBB.

In fact I have experimented this myself. I'm fairly lean year round... I can always see my abs. Last time my wife an I were on vacation we got into an argument about looks and in a fist of anger she said: ''Yeah, you are muscular but with a shirt you only look fat because your stomach stick out farther than your chest''... or words to that effect :slight_smile:

I thought that it was from my olympic lifting background and having thick abs and obliques (which is somewhat true).

Three weeks ago I went on an elimination diet, cleansed my digestive tract and cut out all gluten sources and other potential allergens and my stomach loolks to be 3-4'' smaller.


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A cleansing kit (supplements) not an enema (I wanted to try every solution before resorting to that!) by New Roots. I also ate only fruits, veggies and protein powder for 10 days... lots of glutamine too and Superfood.

I use Epsom salts on a regular basis, so they simply stayed in. I also hit the sauna twice per week.


This discussion is really interesting!

Did either of you reintroduce gluten/dairy containing foods either gradually or immediately after the purge? If so has the distention returned? Or is it a more gradual process?

I drastically cut starchy carbs (save the occasional bowl of oats) just after christmas, the majority of carb calories outside of the workout window now come from fruits and have seen a marked improvement in water retention and gut distention, as well as an improvement in any inflammation and soreness as well as recovery.

it would be interesting to see if a full elimination such as the guidelines here improves this further!


@BBB & CT:

Gluten - I've cut all gluten from my diet besides the amount in finibars for the past 11 weeks and I feel great and look great too. After my cut I will return to a bulking diet, but vow to seriously limit my gluten intake as compared to the avg person. Certainly in the ~7 days before my photos I will eat no gluten whatsoever.

CT - Thanks for the tip on detox too! I'm gonna pick up some detox herbs similar to the new roots stuff.


Could have posted my supplement board thread here.

I picked up a store brand diuretic, Diurex. Would I follow the suggestion as was laid out for Taraxatone and take 3 servings when cutting water intake? Or is Taraxatone the kind I should go with?

ingredients are 50mg Pamabrom


^ I used Diurex before with success. It definitely makes you pee a lot. I'd like to hear someone else's thoughts on any downsides to using that kind of diuretic as opposed to taraxatone. I picked up taraxatone today actually although of course I have yet to use it. I might get some diurex with pamabrom as well just for back up, as I would guess that it's a little more powerful.


Which (animal) protein sources cause the least amount of water retention?
Chicken/turkey breast?
White (fresh) fish?
Pea protein?

PS: Enema? ...Damn...


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