T Nation

Competiton Dieting

Does anyone here have knowledge of the final contest week, meaning carb depleting and loading? I have a ton of questions, but don’t want to waste my time typing them out, if no one knows the answer(s).

go ahead … ill try and help

Ok, thanks! First, for the really fun part, carb depleting. Should the carbs that I eat on these days be from strictly sources, as in oatmeal and brown rice? Or should they be from like natural peanut butter, or other things that have a good amount of fat in them? Would eating these fats help me from feeling crappy?

That kinda depends on what your carb level is at right now. With competitors I have worked with, the carbs get lower the closer the show is anyways, so at about 8 or 9 days out I will go very low carb (50gm), moderate protein (0.8g/lb) and high fat to total about 10% below maintenance calories. This will be done until some time Tuesday afternoon (noon) where some kind of fructose/glucose carbs will be ingested. Two hours later is a 2 hour full body depeletion workout and then at 4pm the carb up commences. If however, your carbs are significantly higher than 50gms prior to depleting then, Id deplete on vegetables and some oatmeal. Youll have a better carb up if you can get the carbs even lower like I mentioned. If you need further help with the carb up let me know.

Erik, thanks for volunteering your advice here. I’ve also been wondering about carb depletion/loading, so I’m gonna be lurking here, if you don’t mind. Just one point of clarification thus far: you’re aiming for a contest that takes place on a Saturday, right?

yeah Char-Dawg … Saturday morning would be the goal.

Rik…I’m going to be keeping my eye out too, and I’ll throw in a question here or there, if you don’t mind:-) What about sodium? I’ve never really watched my intake, so to speak, but have always controlled it. I’ve been pretty dayum lean for a while, but think some sodium tweaking could bring forth the ultimate in peaking.

Regarding sodium intake for a show, i prefer not to decrease it. Sodium is a cofactor in the carb up and if your sodium levels are restricted you will not get a fantastic carb up. high sodium does not cause water retention. it is the CHANGE in sodium and the accompanying hormonal responses (anti0diuretic hormone and aldosterone, etc) that cause water retention. so if one goes from low to high levels of sodium they will most assuredly hold water. not restricting sodium will increase blood volume and performance as well. however, on the friday before the show i will drop the sodium to under 600mg and raise potassium levels. due to the charges of a water molecule and a sodium molecule, when sodium leaves the body, water will hitch a ride and leave as well. this is done with a gradual decrease in water intake

Erik, have you heard of taking Glycerol a day or 2 before competition and during the day of to saturate muscles with fluid so that they are bigger, and you are more ripped and vascular?

Dan - yes I have, I have tried it with varied success. I suggest you experiment with it before the last week to get the timing right and see if it in fact does help you. id rather use niacin and hot stuff for vascularity. one thing to remember is that veins dont win shows, cuts do.


Thanks for answering me!

I have been eating about 42g of carbs a day, so I am gonna deplete going to 21g to 10g to 5g of so.

The last time I dieted down to peak, I used sodium loading, and then depleting, but now you have me nervous about it. I have increased my sodium the past few days, and was planning on really upping it while depleting, then cutting it back.

What effect does Niacin have? I got some Hot Stuff, but I don’t seem to see any effect from it, do you have to put a lot on? I see more veins in my forearms after I step out of the shower.

For loading, I am going by the advice of multiplying my normal dieting carbs by 1.75, so that would give me about 75g of carbs I think. I am not sure if this is enough to fill me up, but I would much rather be a little flat, then too bloated!

Princess, what do you weigh? Niacin is a B-Vitamin that causes vasodilation. It will make you vascular, but also red, especially if you arent dark enough. Some get itchy later on with niacin as well. Regarding Hot Stuff, you get no effect whatsoever? Does your skin burn a bit and go red? If you are at 42 g of carbs, I highly doubt you have to go any lower to deplete enough to upregulate everything. And there is certainly no difference between 20, 10 and 5 grams at that point either. For carbing up do you mean 75g per meal? or for the day? if you mean for the day … that will have no effect on your muscle fullness whatsoever. Let me know your stats and Ill tell you the quantity I’d go with. For sodium, like I said it is elevating sodium that causes water retention. You should have had it up the whole way through (makes dieting and training while dieting easier) How long do you have seeing as how you have just recently increased your sodium? Ideally it would be high through the depletion and carbup and then reduced the day before with a corresponding increase in potassium. I tend to carb load for a 2 1/2 day perdiod (sometimes only 2) or more technically about 56 hrs max and then the last day I carb deplete again and fat load instead.

Erik, what type of varying success did you have with glycerol? What are the bad side effects of taking it? How much glycerol should I take, and when should I start? With regard to Potasium, can you get Potasium pills, not sure that I have seen any Potasium supplements, and how much Potasium should I take and when should I start? Thanks for all your help. Oh, one more thing, I usually take Taraxatone as a diaretic a few days before, but does it make sense to take such a diaretic to get rid of the excess water under the skin while also taking glycerol to force the water into the muscles. Wondering if I take a diaretic, that will deplete my water levels to a point where the glycerol won’t have any water to draw from and force into the muscles to pump them up? Thanks again for all your help and comments.


Thanks for the advice. I am now carb depleting, having dropped my carbs. The program I am following is outlined by Chris Aceto, and I used it in the past, with success, but I am always looking to improve.

I am 5’4, 26 yrs old, and at 111 lbs. I am quite lean. I meant 75g of carbs total, for the day. Please tell me what kind of carbs to eat, to load up, like what food specifically. I used Chris Aceto’s advice last time, multiplying my normal carbs by 1.75, and I think I was a little flat.

What about dandelion root, and water? When should I cut the water, and use the dandelion root?

Yes, Hot Stuff just makes me a little red, and burny. I am very bronze right now, with my tan. Do I need to put on more Hot Stuff? I think I’ll stay away from the Niacin.

Thanks for the help, I really appreciate it!

Dan, it was just that sometimes it worked a bit to increase vaccularity and other times it did not. like i said, id rather use niacin and/or hotstuff but thats just me. also if you get a good enough carb up and dont cut water too early you should be pretty vascular as well. if you do choose to do it, practice it so you can see what your specific timing should be in terms of when you notice an effect. I dont think youll notice any negative side effects. its simply a component of a triglyceride and not seen as foreign by your body. id play with 50ml mixed in around 250 or so ml (may need more) 2-6 hrs before needed. i know its a wide margin but you have to test it out. in terms of potassium supplementation, the dandelion root in the Taraxatone should provide you with plenty to go with the decrease in sodium. You should be fine using Taraxatone and glycerol together, just dont cut water to low too early or youll draw from the muscles and just appear flat.

Princess - aceto isnt necessarily a really low carb kinda guy so when he suggests 1.75g/c relative to your normal intake it can be quite a bit. 75 grams to carb up is a joke. you will get no effect from that. that is like a cup and a half or rice. (no offense) here is basically how i would do this – 2 hr depletion and beginning carbing for 24hrs (ie 4pm tuesday to 4pm wed) 10g/kg LBM of carbs, comprising 70% of your daily total, with fat (EFAs) and protein each making up 15% to make up the remainder. not knowing how lean you are ill use a LBM of 100lbs as an example - 1st 24 hrs - 455g carbs,98g protein and 43g fat. this would be accompanied by sodium intake (ie pickles) and lots of water (depends on what you are taking in leading into it) probably done in 8-10 meals moving from liquid meals (malto/dextrose) to high GI solid carbs (rice cakes, potatoes, rice). 2nd 24hrs is 4pm wed to 4pm thurs and the carb intake is cut in half to 5g/kg LBM (228g in this example) comprising 60% of the totals now with protein and fat each making up the remaing 20% each (76P, 34F). Sodium is still up and water would be cut down in half from the first 24hr period. after 48hrs its a judgement call. either go for another 6 hrs or start to fat load. it takes usually a full 3 days of carb loading to really fill out. your idea of 75 grams (unless you have like no muscle at all( … well lets just say you could fully deplete on what thought you should carb load on. oh yeah, on the 2nd 24hr period move to oatmeal and yams. if you move into the 3rd day broccoli and maybe small amounts of yams. on friday deplete again (natural diuretic effect when you remove the carbs) but keep about 30-50g of carbs from broccoli to keep blood volume up and ensure you dont draw from the muscle. this is the fat loading day. hope this helps.

When should I start using Dandelion root, Erik?


Ive been lingering around this thread so thought Id jump in as Ive competed a bit myself and trained a number of BB. First, Erik’s advice is pretty darned solid. I differ with him on a few points though. First, Ive never liked niacin and hot stuff. Although they are vasodilators, they vasodilate indescriminantly. Why do you get red skin when on them? It’s because they dilate capillaries and the subcutaneous vascular beds. This is bad because it can end up making your skin appear swollen and bloated rather than sharp and tight with big chord-like veins. I used to try these things but over the years have dropped them from my arsenal. As far as glycerol, Ive never seen any success with that. In fact, we’ve done research in the lab showing quite clearly (via multi-frequency BIA measures) that both intra AND extra cellular fluid increases with glycerol supplementation. Urine volume decreases dramatically when on it and you just hold water pretty badly. That’s the last thing you want when trying to be ripped and dry. A day or two after you stop glycerol you pee like mad (big diuresis). So one thing Im thinking of playing around with in the lab is a glycerol load during the last week and then a depletion 2-3 days prior to cause diuresis and drying out. I’m with Erik on the sodium thing. Dont try anything too dramatic there. Just some small manipulation makes a nice difference. Get too extreme and ruin the conditioning. Finally, about carbs, at 42g there is no need for a carb depletion. You’re pretty depleted already! However for a carb up, you need at least 7-8g carbs/kg which can taper down as the show approaches. As long as you dont drink too much water, you wont smooth over. Finally, here is a cool trick to know if you are carbing up well and progressing toward good vascularity. Take your blood pressure each day during the final week (a few times per day during the carb up). My BP would be as low as 70/40 during a carb depletion (IM TOTALLY SERIOUS!). Then during carb up, Id try to bring it back to a reasonable range. As it rose, so did my vascularity and fullness. Hope these suggestions help. Hey Erik, are you a competitor or just a knowledgable trainer?

Erik, you speak of fat loading after a carb load. Can you explain why this is beneficial, what percent of your daily intake should be from fats, how many cals you should be taking in, and what type of fats one should be consuming? Thank you.(I posted this for you in another thread but don’t know if you saw it).