It's competition time and I'm feeling good. The final build to any contest can be the most grueling phase due to the psychological stress imposed by adhering to a strict nutritional regimen. It's perhaps the part of competing that takes the most fine tuning and the part that you can only perfect with experience - it's worth mentioning that this is what I have discovered works best for me, please use this information as inspiration perhaps and reasoning behind how I prepare, it is NOT a guide or a routine that I can guarantee will work for you in the same way. Play around with it and listen to your body, pay attention to the changes and don't be scared to find your own way.
The aim of my final prep is not to gain muscle but to lose fat, and as much of that as I can! As such, all my dietary choices are made to detox my system and flush out any toxins that might be being stored in my body as fat or liver. I achieve this by having a high intake of vitamins, limiting variance in my diet and by kicking my antioxidants through the roof.
Although fat loss is my big goal pre-comp I equally do not want to lose any of my hard earned muscle mass. To prevent this from happening I double my protein intake and eat the leanest, most high-protein yielding foods. Due to the pressure this puts on my kidneys I increase my water intake so that my GFR (glomerular filtration rate) increases and continues to dilute and flush my body.
I've never been a counter of calories and although the actual total of calories I consume probably doesn't change too much there is certainly a shift in where they're coming from. I strip all sugars from my diet, all oily foods and there really isn't any sodium to speak of - this obviously accounts for a drop in calories, which is offset by my doubling of protein intake taking me from 200g a day up to 400g per day. I'd recommend this particular aspect by using the 2 grams per pound of body weight rule. I mainly get my protein from chicken and protein shakes but in the final two weeks I stop on chicken and either eat cod or tilapia - at this stage I also stop shakes and purely eat fresh foods for my calories. In terms of carbohydrates all grains go out the window and my only two sources are boiled broccoli and mashed sweet potato. It has to be said this leaves me with a very bland diet but it's simply what it takes to control your build up to competition and guarantee a fat stripping process takes place.
Portions and Frequency
To speed up my metabolism approaching an event I begin eating more meals - approximately 8-10 meals a day all of which are small to moderate in size. This is to ensure my body doesn't leach energy from the glycogen stored in my muscles and takes it from the steady trickle of food I put into my body - I spend a long time working hard to build my muscle mass up and it's all too easy to lose size and jeopardise aesthetics at the final hurdle.
I significantly increase my fluid intake for a few reasons which all add up to give me a shredded, dried up look. Primarily I use it as a diluting aid because in my build up to competition I need to rid my body of toxins - I take a lot of supplements to help remove these toxins and by increasing water consumption I give these toxins faster transport to my kidneys and thus excretion from my system. The second reason I increase water consumption is to support my organs - by doubling the amount of protein I consume I place a lot of stress on my kidneys especially, so by supporting my system with rich mineral water (above 300mg of dry residue) I ensure my glomerular filtration rate is high and any acidic effects of protein are minimized.
I increase my intake from 1.5 litres to 5-7 litres a day.
Possibly the section you're all most interested to read about! In the month before my competition I start bringing in all the supplements I'm about to mention, but in the final week I also quit pre-workout drinks, post-workout drinks and night protein sups. The reason for this is simple, whether I like it or not in that final week I need to do things as cleanly as possible, no short cuts, no quick and easy. Shakes save me on a day to day basis but even the best companies in the world are not going to find a way of reducing preservatives and sugars - not something I can have in my body in the final week. Please note I do continue all the other minerals and extract sups in the final week.
- Vitamin C, I add this to water, about 10 grammes in a 5 litre bottle.
- Vitamin E, taken orally - a powerful antioxidant
- BCAAs - my candy in the build up! These help prevent muscle breakdown and again keep a steady trickle of amino acids coming into my system to put my body off being tempted into burning muscle.
- Glutamime - recovery aid
- Casein - night time supplement taken before bed to keep my body supported trough the night.
- Dandelion – improves liver efficiency and contributes to my detox period.
- UvaUrsi – this is a herbal remedy to help the kidneys out during my final build – as I already mentioned in increase in fluid uptake and protein consumption means my kidneys are working overtime so this herb helps keep my kidneys healthy.
- Ganoderma- I have this extract in coffee, every morning followed by a 15-20 minute ab workout to increase blood flow to my abs. Ganoderma is a “superherb” of sorts from traditional Chinese Medicine and is particularly good at facilitiatingdetox.
- EHP Labs Buzz pre workout - psychologically it can be tough to keep it going when you have such a strict diet, Buzz helps get me fired up and focused on the days workout.
- EHP labs Oxy Shred - the only thermogenic aid I use, please consider the consumption of thermogenic aids carefully, it takes a very solid diet rich in antioxidants and a healthy CV system to process these safely. I am very lucky to have a treat team of physiologists and nutritionists around me so I know I work well on this product. Consult a nutritionist or your local nutrition/supplement shop before taking.
Carb Deplete, carb load
In the final week the last thing I do is manipulate my carbohydrate stores. If I am competing on the Saturday I'll usually begin carb depleting on the Monday and keep on that diet for 3 days. I'll then take a careful look at my body composition and decide whether or not 3 days carb loading will be too much or not, sometimes I carry on depleting for an extra day as it is easy to spill over and get your carb load wrong. Then it is time to go! Months of hard work, clean eating and being supported by my team has to lead to something and this is it.