Regardless of how smart your precontest dieting is, it's unavoidable that strict dieting takes is toll on you. However cut and ripped you look, your muscle cells do shrink a bit, you lose muscle glycogen, and you might find your energy stores a little empty. The last thing you want is to look small, tired, and unhealthy at the completion of your precontest diet. So what can you do to give your body the rest, recuperation, and refueling it needs a week before contest day? Simple...stop dieting that week prior. Arnold found by experimentation that if he prepared for the contest as if it was exactly one week earlier than it really was, his body was even in more incredibly ripped shape when the actual day did roll around. He finished his precontest diet a full-week in advance. Most physiques look better days after the diet because the additional nutrients and raw materials put back into the body work to repair and build it.
Carb-Depletion refers to emptying reserves of carbohydrates by avoiding or limiting their consumption. The underlying reason for carbing-up is to increase your bodies affinity for carbohydrates during the carbing-up phase. The typical method of contest prep carb depletion used in the final week involves going on a zero carb diet a couple days before starting the carbing-up phase. As carbohydrates are the body's primary energy source, once depleted the body must resort to fat-burning to provide energy. Fat is actually a much more efficient source of energy than carbohydrates anyway. You're precontest diet should've already left you very low on fat as it is. Because it takes a little time for the carb-depletion to take effect, bodybuilders should not wait until the last minute or it will be a case of "too little, too late." There must be adequate time available to carb-up before the big day. Nevertheless, if your diet was strict enough (and usually it was), you will already be fairly carb-depleted at the one-week until contest point. This being the case, carb-depletion would be pointless and unnecessary. You should, however, continue to gradually increase your food intake during the start of the week prior to competition. This will give your body and muscles time to regain glycogen stores and recuperate from your depleting diet. Then, carb-up no later than three days before the competition. For example, if your competition is Saturday, start carbing-up on Wednesday at the latest.
What is Carbing-up? Carbing-up is the process of saturating your muscles with glycogen by increasing your carbohydrate and fat intake drastically as well before the contest to make them fuller. Carbing-up works so well because you go from a depleted state to a saturated state so quickly. Don't worry, your body won't have time to make fat stores out of what you give it. Instead, your muscles will get larger, you will have more energy, and the volume of water within the cells will increase (what you want), while the water volume between the muscle and skin (what you don't want) will decrease making you look more shredded.
The best way to carb load is with many small meals rich in complex carbs like yams, whole wheat bread, brown rice, pasta, yogurt, fruit and lots of veggies. Throw in a few healthy fats for good measure. You want essential fatty acids (EFAs) like salmon, avacados, canola oil, sesame oil, or safflower oil, not saturated fats like margarine, butter, or shortening. At any rate, the body takes a certain amount of time to assimilate and absorb the carbs you're loading, so try to eat smaller meals six or more times throughout the final three days rather than two to three large, overloaded meals. If the meals you eat are too large, it could cause your blood-sugar to rise because you won't be able to metabolize it all. This may result in water-retention and flat muscles...so load up on those carbs, but keep your portions small, numerous, and consistent, and you will look shredded and hugely muscular!
Much more info coming soon including a carb, protein, and vegetable table AND sample final week precontest diets! Check back!
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