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Old 10-29-2008, 10:39 AM
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Carbohydrate, sodium and water manipulation

You are getting close to the contest and this article deals with the practical aspects of carbohydrate-sodium-water manipulation, commonly called carb-loading. The trend these days is to do carb-loading. I must warn for this though, since my experience is that is fails in about 70% of the cases and about 20% get the same result as they would if they just continued their normal diet and about 10% get truly spectacular condition (really full, hard and dry). So you can get spectacular but the odds are that end up smooth or flat. Since it is so popular and most bodybuilders want to use this technique, I have found a way that really improves the odds and make you full and hard. Follow the steps below. The day of the contest is day zero and the time before is assigned as minus -2 week to ⤦amp;#8220;2 days: Increase sodium. Salt on every food and use soy sauce (regular, not low-sodium version). This will keep the aldosterone levels low which is a good thing. Then, when the sodium restriction starts at ⤦amp;#8220;2 days (want to do as late as possible) aldosteron starts to increase but when doing sodium restriction late, aldosteron will not have been able to increase a lot (as compared when doing sodium restriction for a prolonged period of time). Thus, setting up a good condition for excreting water later on and from the right compartments. During this phase and until ⤦amp;#8220;1 day, dring plenty of water. Keep drinking water throughout the day. It is important to do this properly all the way until ⤦amp;#8220;1 day even though you might be tempted to decrease the days before the show. You must be strong here and trust the program. Carbohydrate loading will only work when sodium and water intakes are adequate. Glucose is co-transported with sodium into the muscle cells and with this transport follows water (into the cell and not extracellular).

Carb-depletion phase starts ⤦amp;#8220;7 days and during ⤦amp;#8220;7 day and ⤦amp;#8220;6 day carbs are reduced by 50%. ⤦amp;#8220;5 day to ⤦amp;#8220;3 day are reduced to 100-150 g a day depending on body size. Focus on complex carbs with intake mostly early in the day. During this phase, increase protein intake from the regular 2 g/kg bodyweight (about 1 g/pound bodyweight) to 2.5 g/kg bodyweight (about 1.25 g/pound bodyweight). If this means too severe calorie restriction (especially thinking of large bodybuilders), increase fat intake. Good ways of doing this is to include peanuts/peanut butter before bedtime, eat more fatty protein sources like salmon and red meat. The training during this phase should energy-demanding and high volume. This can be done in several ways. Some claim that high-volume high-rep training is ⤽the way to go⤿. This will empty glycogen levels so in that sense it works well. The problem is that when heavy weights are not lifted, there is usually a loss of muscle density. So, I recommend heavy training, although mentally tough because being carb depleted makes you loose strength. I recommend moderate to high volume. Combine this with hard aerobic activity (stairmaster, stationary bike...).

-2 days to the day of the contest, reduce sodium intake by dropping all the additional salting on foods. PS! I found out the hard way that in the US, there are chicken breasts that are injected with sodium solution. Avoid these and buy normal chicken breast.

-1 day and the day of the show. On these days, get up very early (around 5 am) to start eating so you have good time to carb up and so you do not have to eat too many carbs late. About 8 g of carbs / kg bodyweight (about 4 g / Ibs bw) is good. Smaller bodybuilders might have to decrease to 6 (3), while larger may increase to 10 (5). The carbs should not be fiber rich and aim for starchy carbs. Potatoes, rice (regular) and pasta (regular) are good. Even some bread is OK. Eat small amounts all day long (and sometimes all night long also). Have the protein intake reduced for the correct caloric intake. That is, it is no problem decreasing protein if needed during this phase, no muscle mass will be lost because of it. If you are late and have not filled out just prior to the contest, do not hesitate to eat fast carbs like for example white bread with jam, juice, coca-cola etc.

-1 day reduce the water intake to 1-1.5 liters with last intake of water around 6-8 pm. The day of the contest, no intake of water up to 1 liter of water depending on how you look and feel (do not risk your health). I think it is a good idea to drink some water between pre-judging and finals and drink it right after pre-judging.

-1 day and the day of the contest, many people advocate almost no training to be able to carb up properly. I do not agree on this and recommend very light pumping. The object is to just get some pump in the muscles and keep them filled up. The rest of the time, you should be resting. No aerobic activity during this phase.

Good luck and have some fun on stage!

The next time: How to get it right the last days not using carb loading. A more moderate and safe approach...

About the writer:
Carl-Marcus Lokrantz, MD and nutritionist, helps bodybuilders with training, nutrition and managing. His company LOKRANTZ CONSULTING offers the complete support for the serious athlete. He also writes articles for Musclemag International and works as reporter for Exhale Magazine.
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