Anytime you diet, it's a fact that strict dieting depletes you. Muscle cells shrink. You lose muscle glycogen. Your energy stores are empty. And when it is all said and done (especially when you are preparing to step on stage for a competition), you don't look big, strong, energetic, and healthy cuz you have torchered your body day in and day out for the last 9 to 12 weeks.
The way to avoid this is to stop dieting a week before the contest and give your body a chance to rest, recuperate, and replenish itself. According to Arnold, he would finish dieting a full week (and sometimes more) before the show, and then gradually increase his food intake, which gave his muscles and glycogen stores plenty of time to recover from the depleting effect of the diet. He believes that it is possible to get this effect in less time, BUT not in a day or two.
THOUGHTS OF DEPLETION AND CARBING UP
He believes that by going on a zero-carb diet for a day or two before the carbing up process does not produce beneficial results and can be very detrimental. The process of carbing-up involves increasing your carb intake just prior to a contest in order to supply more glycogen to the muscles and make them bigger. And it involves eating more fat as well. Understand that all the time you have spent dieting, your body is hardly going to start making body fat immediately when it starts getting a more normal amount of food. This is such an important issue because this process is necessary because the size of your muscles is very much affected by the amount of glycogen (stored carbs) and water they contain.
***IT TAKES AT LEAST THREE DAYS FOR GLYCOGEN-STARVED MUSCLES TO SUFFICIENTLY REPLENISH THEMSELVES, BUT TAKING SLIGHTLY LONGER MAKES THE PROCESS OCCUR MORE EASILY.
**Since the body can absorb only a certain amount at any one time, you need to ingest your carbs in a number of small meals. Since your show falls on a Saturday, you must be sure you body has an adequate supply of carbs starting no later than Wednesday. If you wait until the last minute, you will simply overload your body with carbs that it can't metabolize. **THIS WILL SEND YOUR BLOOD SUGAR RATE SKYROCKETING, WHICH WILL CAUSE YOUR BODY TO RETAIN A LOT OF WATER -AND YET YOUR MUSCLES WILL BE FLAT.
In order to lose water competitors have chosen the solution of diuretics...which could have a number of difficulties. Muscles are more than 75 percent water, so if you lose to much water it simply causes your muscles to shrink. Another problem is that diuretics flush out electrolytes from the body-THE MINERALS WHICH ARE ESSENTIAL FOR OPTIMUM CONTRACTION OF THE MUSCLES.
**Arnold suggests to look at what the body does with water. The more you drink, the more your body flushes out the excess in your urine. This process also eliminates excess minerals like sodium from your body. He believes that if you restrict your water intake the body immediately begins to retain as much fluid as possible to guard against dehydration.
**His approach is to continue to drink water right up to the night before a contest, rather than beginning to restrict fluids days before. IN THE EVENING (DAY BEFORE YOUR SHOW) CUT YOUR WATER INTAKE IN HALF-NOT RESTRICTING IT TOTALLY. YOUR BODY WILL CONTINUE TO FLUSH WATER OUT AT ABOUT THE SAME RATE FOR SEVERAL HOURS, AND BY TAKING LESS IN YOU WILL ENSURE THAT NO EXCESS FLUID IS HELD SUBCUTANEOUSLY. HE ALSO BELIEVES TO CONTINUE TO DRINK WATER AT A MODERATE LEVEL TO PREVENT DEHYDRATION ON THE MORNING OF THE CONTEST.
**HUGE POINT..THERE IS MORE WATER IN YOUR BODY THAN ANY OTHER ELEMENT. MUSCLE IS MOSTLY WATER. FAT, ON THE OTHER HAND, CONTAINS VERY LITTLE WATER. WHEN YOUR BODY TURN CARBS INTO STORED GLYCOGEN, THE GLYCOGEN BINDS WITH WATER-ALMOST THREE TIMES AS MUCH WATER AS GLYCOGEN, WHICH REPRESENTS QUITE A BIT OF MASS. AND GETTING RID OF WATER THE WRONG WAY WILL CAUSE YOUR MUSCLES TO SHRINK.
IMPORTANT STUFF ABOUT SODIUM
It is a fact that excess sodium can lead to increased water retention (which is why individuals with blood pressure problems have to watch their sodium intake). He believes that this doesn't happen if you are fully hydrated and the body is flushing excess sodium out of your system along with excess water. He also believes that distilled water is bad for you, and the result is that they end up weak, more depleted necessary, with chemical imbalances in the body along with painful, debilitaing cramps. Try to avoid foods with excessive amounts of sodium and drink enough water to avoid dehydration.
SUMMING UP WATER RETENTION
1) Avoid foods that contain excess amounts of sodium.
2) Limit your fluid intake only starting the night before a contest. Don't have to cut out fluids entirely.
3) Keep your blood sugar levels steady. Don't let yourself get to hungry, and don't stuff yourself right before the show.
4) Let your body sweat normally through exercise.
5) Don't develop an over reliance on the steam room or sauna to lose water. This could deplete the body. Remember, sweat is not just water, but you sweat away lots of minerals.
6) Include as many outdoor workouts in your training as you can, to let the sun help bake any excess water out of your system. Drink lots of fluids to replace what you have sweated.
THE NIGHT BEFORE
Stick to your plan. Cut back your water as recommended. Keep eating small meals, and do some posing.
**IMPORTANT POINT...DO NOT STRESS, IT WILL CAUSE THE BODY TO HOLD SUBCUTANEOUS FLUID.
THE MORNING OF THE SHOW
Continue to do what you have already been doing. Eat. Not huge meals, but several ones (depending on whether prejudging is the morning or the afternoon). Drink water BUT take in only about half of your "normal" amount. Don't put salt on your food. Try not to avoid foods that have normal sodium.
I hope this helps you. You are so ready and I look forward to seeing how you will shape in these last weeks. You are doing so good...stay focused and push!
Schwarzenegger, A. Encyclopedia. Pgs. 767-772.