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Contest Diet

By Tom Venuto

Contest Prep: The Final Week Guideline

I've competed 20 times since 1989. Up until 1996 I had only take one overall. I was getting second place over and over again because I kept coming in just a bit too smooth and watery. Well, you know what they say; second place is nothing but the first loser, so through sheer disgust, I set out to find a way to correct this water retention problem. Through a process of trial and error, I finally came up with a protocol for the week prior to a show. It worked like magic every single time! I won two overall drug tested shows in 1996, and I took 2nd place out of 11 in my weight class (middles) in an open NPC show. (I'm lifetime natural)

You will need to play with the variables such as the quantity of water and the grams of carbohydrates based on your body weight and previous diet to find what works best for you. Of course, looking great on contest day assumes that you've completely stripped your body of fat during the months leading up to the final week. Nothing you do the final week will make a difference if you are still fat!

I'm sure there are many good types of herbal diuretics, but there are two that I've used successfully: "Diurtab" by Naturade (a subsidiary of Twinlab) and "Herbal Diuretic" by Naturade. Coincidentally, both brands have Uva Ursi as the primary ingredient and both also contain Shave Grass, Goldenrod, Parsley, Juniper berries, Watermelon seed, Cornsilk and Cubeb berries. I came up with the amount (12 tabs) strictly through experimentation, but I got the idea from the instructions on the "Diurtab" bottle: The bottle said the maximum dose was 12 a day, so I took 12 and it worked for me!

I find that you should look sharper every day from Wednesday through Saturday. There is a dramatic and noticeable shift in the body's water balance by Thursday. You should wake up Thursday morning looking very sharp. There is another dramatic shift when you wake up Saturday morning; you should look full, vascular and even sharper. There is a very delicate balance here: Too much water or any high sodium food will blow the whole thing.

This formula has never failed to work for myself or for any of my nutrition-coaching clients. I always lose 6-10 pounds with this plan (once I lost 14 lbs. between Sunday and the following Saturday). It's almost a drug-like effect. I've never had a problem with cramps. A word of warning: This protocol is designed for serious bodybuilders to achieve a temporary peak in cosmetic appearance for the day of a competition. If you have any metabolic disorders or health problems I wouldn't recommend this. Check with your physician if you're in doubt - but if you do, your doctor will probably have a fit: this can't be good for you and you'll feel like crap the whole week, but damn will you be SHREDDED!

The Protocol:

  • Sunday (six days out)
    Carb deplete (70-100 grams). Drink 2-3 gallons of H20. You should be running to the bathroom constantly and your urine should be clear if you are fully hydrated (sorry, minor inconvenience). Normal pre-contest diet foods.
  • Monday (five days out)
    Carb deplete (70-100 grams). Drink 2-3 gallons of H20. Normal Pre-contest diet foods.
  • Tuesday (four days out)
    Carb deplete (70-100 grams). Drink 2-3 gallons of H20. Eat normal pre-contest diet foods.
  • Wendesday (three days out)
    Begin carbing up after training in the a.m. (350 grams). Very low sodium (drop the eggs, eat chicken and turkey only). White potatoes are a great carb up food. Drop H20 to 3/4 gallon, drink with meals. Last day of working out (a.m.). Take 400 mgs. of Potassium, 100 mg four times a day with meals.
  • Thursday (two days out)
    Continue carbing up (300 grams, more if you look flat). Keep very low sodium, Drop water further to 1/2 gallon. Take 400 mgs potassium, 100 mg four times a day with meals.
  • Friday (one day out)
    Continue carbing up (250-300 grams) bur back off carbs a little bit mid to late afternoon if you look completely full. If you look flat, then continue to eat carbs through Friday afternoon and evening). Drop water further to 1/4 gallon. Take 400 milligrams potassium, 100 mgs four times a day with meals. Start taking herbal diuretics; two tablets with each meal (12 total). Also take extra Vitamin C, 500 mgs every meal, and B-6, 250 mgs in the morning and 250 mgs in the evening. (Both are mild diuretics) Take 2 multi minerals, 1 morning, 1 evening. Continue with high protein intake, maybe even increase protein intake (mild diuretic effect). Drink one small cup coffee or even a glass of wine (diuretics) in evening.
  • Satuday (Contest Day)
    Drink very little water: sips only (but don't cut out water completely). Take in as close to zero sodium as humanly possible. For breakfast have a normal pre contest meal like oatmeal and egg whites. Then, "trickle in" carbs, maybe 50 grams every 1 1/2 hrs (potato- rice) all morning up to prejudging. If you get up at 6:00 a.m. and you get onstage at 1:00 pm, that's another 250 grams of complex carbs prior to pre-judge. Simple carbohydrates are ok prior to going onstage but I wouldn't recommend anything crazy. Personally, I do a couple of Rice cakes with jelly.

Good luck!


Reader's Comments:

Please leave your comments or suggestions below!
 I know this is an old thread but does this protocol work with female BB as well regarding the amount on the carb load. Thanks
2011-09-26Frank Burton
 I followed this diet and it worked great I just won the open over all at the NPC body be one Classic!!!!Thanks for the help!
 Congratulations Frank!
2011-09-19John Booth
 Hi Rick, I am going to follow your contest prep for a show I am doing in 6 weeks. I am 50yrs old and was an NPC compeditor in the early 90's mid life crisis hit last fall after my 49th birthday. I have been training for the past yr and have had great results I am 5' 7" and my current wt is 175. At 182 my BF was 10% I have lost a total of 70lbs and my skin is very loose. If I continue to carb deplete ( two days a week mon. and Tue. ) will this tighten up the skin? I figure I will be about 165 the day of the show. Any tricks for the extra skin? or am I on the right path?
2010-11-12Jeff N.
 Hey, i have a competition coming up next week ,and ive heard a lot of talk about how dangerous potassium loading is.... is 400 extra mg per day like you recommend fully safe?
 Hey Rick
when you talk about carbing up on wednesday, and you say white potatoes, what other carbs do you recommend for wednesday thru friday?
 Hey guys, how's it going? I'm just updating you on my competitions this year. I won the Bantam Weight in Anderson Indiana and won it again at the Midwestern States in Fort Wayne this year. I about dropped over when they called me as first place in FW. One of the judges said after the show was over - "Well, are you happy?" All I could do is yell - "I WON!!". I beat guys half my age. I turn 60 next month and plan on entering the Northern Kentucky in February 2011. Wish me luck. At least I'll be one of the youngest in my class insteat of the oldest. I'm entering the Grand Master's over 60 class.
Keep up the good work on your site.
 Boy, I can't believe it's taken me so long to bet back to this website and catching you up on my competitions. I think I last posted abything in 2008. I competed in 2009 and am competing this year (2010) I have a total of 23 trophies and swords needing dusting in my home. I'm 9 days out from the GNC Classic in Anderson, IN. I hope to do well in the Maasters - Over 50, but this will be my last year to actually be in my 50's. I turn 60 in November. There aren't a lot of competitions with Grand Masters classes >60 years old, but I hope to find some of those and also I intend to continue competing in the Over 50 - after all - I sure as heck am "over 50". I've become a raging animal when it comes to my eating and training. I HAVE to eat right and train at least 4 times a week. Usually 5 or 6 times/week. I'm really hooked on this sport. I work out alone at a local gym and like it. Workout partners are great, but I can work out amy time I like because I don't have to depend on someone else to be there to spot me or coax me to get that last 2 reps - I do that on my own. Bodybuilding is a solitary sport and there isn't a tram on the stage to support me - I HAVE to do it on my own. I sort of like that concept. Anyway, it's been good catching you up on my bodybuilding. I appreciate your website.
 Awesome Rick! Thanks for the update
2008-11-01AMAN SAINI
 gym diet morning to evening
 It's been a while since I updated anyone at this site. I did well in the Indianapolis Championship June 7, 2008). I came in third twice in both the over 50 and bantam weight classes. I actually beat a 20 something year old kid and felt like a million dollars. The competitors were all good and I felt great to finally actually beat some of them. I hope that doesn't sound like a cocky thing to say, but I had worked hard and it showed. I got some really nice complements from previous judges and some of the people there. It was a great experience. I'm off season now and trying to pack on some extra muscle for nest year's competitions.
Thanks for your website and for the supportive comments you have given me in the past. I'll be updating you as next season gets underway
 Great to hear it finally pay off, Rick! Keep us posted.
 Hey guys,
The Indianapolis Championship is over and I took two third place trophies home. In the Masters Over 50 - I competed against two guys who routinely beat me, and by George, they did it again. They were just thicker than me. I had to diet down to Bantam weight for that class, so I was just too small to compete against their thickness. The guy I did beat was close to my size. I was more defined. In the Bantam, the old man beat a 20 year old - now that felt good. I'm almost three times his age and came in third to two very well build young guys. I had a great time and felt like I'm on the right track with my competing and training. I got some really positive feedback from a few of the judges and most importantly, other competitors. I'm taking the rest of the year off from competing and going to try to put on more size and thickness for nest year's shows. I'll be back for the Southern Indiiana in Evansville, IN. Well, it's time to eat - so I'd better go for now.
Rick DeCamp - "The 57 year old kid."
 I'm following the one week out plan starting tomorrow - but I'm not sure what "regular diet foods" means. Chicken - brown rice, oatmeal, etc?

That stuff is a no brainer for me - but also wanted to see if you have suggestions on calories, etc?
 Thought I'd catch you all up. I entered the Cincinnati on 4/12/08 and won the Master's Over 50 Class and came in second in the bantam weight Open Class. The placings sound great except I was the only over 50 competitor and one of two in the bantam weight class. Oh well, I decided to stay on the diet and only moderately increase my calories for a short time and enter the Indianapolis Championship on June 7, 2008. I am entered in the Master's Over 50 and Bantam Open again. One of these days I'm gonna really win one of these and actually BEAT someone. A buddy of mine may enter and will no doubt kick my 142# butt (he's 196# & 6ft/2in tall) I'm 5ft/6in and 142#. Oh well - I'm doing this to be the best I can be - not worry about first place trophies. Wish me luck - I'll need it. On a positive note - the judges have all complimented me on the gains I've made since last year. That means a lot to me and makes me want to try and get bigger and bigger. Hope time isn't against me on that note. I'll drop a line as soon as the results of the Indianapolis show are in.
Thanks for your site,
Rick (Old Bantam Boy) DeCamp
 Great work, Rick... you've got the right attitude. Despite a lack of competitors, it gives you time to get some practice in peaking for the competition and working on your gains. Keep at it & good luck with the June event.
Well, the Southern Indiana has come and gone. I finished second in the Masters Over 50 and third in the Bantam Weight Class. I weighed in at exactly 143#. Not too bad for a 57 year old bodybuilder. I am still dieting for the Cincinnati Championship on April 12th. After that I'm taking a break from the diet and enjoying life a little. I won't go crazy and eat sweets and crap, just be a little less strict. I plan on entering the Indianapolis Championship on June 7th, so I'll have to be a little careful with my eating. Thanks for the advise and the great website you have.
Keep on Pumping!!!
 Congratulations, Rick! Thanks for sharing your results.
2008-03-31Mike P.
 I purchased the Herbal Diuretics which you recommended. You took 12 of those a day? I just want to make sure, I need to get rid of the unwanted H2O.
 hey should i follow this 1 week out of my competition ? with no changes added....

i am 6 foot 180 pounds
bf 11%
16 years of age
entering a show in may
 hey should i follow this 1 week out of my competition ? with no changes added....

i am 6 foot 180 punds
bf 11%
16 years of age
entering a show in may
 Well guys - I'm 8 weeks out from the Southern Indiana Championship. I hope to beat my second place finish from last year. I also plan on entering the open Bantam weight class. I've got a new workout partner and we beat each other up in the gym. I've put on size and my legs are starting to catch up with my upper body. I hope to go in at 142#. Should be shredded at that weight. Wish me luck - I'll keep you posted on the results.
 Great to hear it. Best of luck and be sure to post how it turned out for you.
I read your note on Oct.9 and have a few suggestions to make for you. Stay off sugar and fats as completely as possible. Increase the water you drink to a gallon or 1 1/2 gallons per day. Keep on with the chicken, turkey, brown rice and egg whites. Cut out the egg whites two days before your show. You will loose a lot of water the last two days when you cut your water down. Supplement with potassium as the protocol shows you - just stay strict with the protocol and you'll do great. I'm off season now and training for next year's shows and put on 30 pounds . Good luck man!
 I am training for my first show and have been seeing great results from my diet. I have had a gentleman helping me with my diet, but apparently he has fallen off the face of the earth. I am now 4 weeks out from show, the show is November 3, and it is october 9. I am natural. But i have been training like a bodybuilder for years just never competed, until now. With that said i want to do it right. I am trying to find out the best way to deplete the last couple of weeks. Should i continue with my egg whites and chicken, brown rice and oatmeal up until the show. Do i really need to lay off the sugar completely. When is a good time to shave my body and apply my Dream tan products. Lastly will i loose more weight dehydrating my body that last week??

 Well, the Central Indiana Bodybuilding Competition has come and gone. I did awful. I came in last in the Over 50 and Last in the Bantam weight class. I have never been so upset with myself. I thougt I was cut and ripped (weighing 137#) and had a good chance of doing well. I'm taking the rest of the year off to eat good and train like a trojan to be ready for next year. I have to say I have really enjoyed my first year of bodybuilding competitions and look forward to years more of it. Thanks for the advise and support you have shown me. You have a great site and I've learned a lot. Keep on pumping!!!
 Thanks for sharing your experiences with others. It's important to keep motivated even despite a tough comp. Taking the year away from competition should help you develop faster than if you were focused on the next near-term competition. Make the most of your "off-season"!
 im a 22 year old out of okc and wanting to compete, im a personal trainer for all american fitness centers, so i've been good up until now the only thing on my body that doesnt look show ready is my torso area. this area is not hard at all to work but man making it rip is the hardest thing to do. do you think its my diet or my workout, im slowly but surely losing faith my trainer and myself any advice.
 Just a note to let you know how I did in the Indianapolis Champopnship on June 2, 2007. I came in leaner than I thought and entered the Bantam weight Open Class. I was the only Bantam so I got a first place. I was sooooo lean that I did crappy in the over 50 and came in third out of three. The other guys were just bigger and although I was cut - I couldn't compete with their size. I was disappionted, but know I have a lot of work to do for next year. Thanks for your help and advise. I'll keep you posted on my next competitions.
Rick - Indiana
 Great job in trying to get it together for the comp -- it really takes a few events to get the timing and targets right. I had a similar first experience too, in that I should have targeted a heavier category for my height instead of aggressively dieting down to make the lighter category (where shorter competitors will have an advantage for size). Keep at it!
2007-05-29KH - Florida
 This precontest will work wether you are natural or on the sauce, I trained a pro-bodybuilder for several years and used a very similar routine prior to her competitions, You will need to vary some of the carbs and potassium intake based on bodyweight and your metabolism or bodytype. Also if you are natural and it is your first or second contest I would do this 3 weeks out to see how your body reacts to carb depleting and carb loading. Also those that are natural should not gain more than 20 - 25 lbs from contest weight including water weight and should take an additional few weeks in pre-contest phase so you can reduce the muscle loss during dieting.
 Great advice, KH!
Well, I didn't place at the Northern Kentucky, but had a GREAT time. I entered the Southern Indiana Bodybuilding Championship in Evansville, Indiana the following week and came in second. WOW!!! I am dieting and training for the Indianapolis Championship on June 2, 2007 now. I will enter the Masters Over 50 and the Open Class - lightweight. Wish me luck.
 Great job Rick! Apparently many competitors end up peaking sometime after a competition, so this could have been part of it. Keep it up and post back with your experiences and anything you've learnt!
 Hi Tom, its really great post here :) thnx very much. But i wanna ask you one question. If i am not natural can i do the same last week diet for my contest ? :)
2007-02-21jeff charles
 im considering competing for my first time on April 29 this yr. right now im 238-240lbs and about 10% bodyfat,i really want to do the show but dont want to compete under 225. my metabolism is very fast im thinking of starting my diet about 5-6 weeks not sure as to what i should do in terms of the diet and the best sup from about 6 weeks out. help.......
 I am going to try your pre contest diet and supplement regime. I am entering my first bodybuilding contest at age 56. I'm proud of the muscle I've gained and hope to do well in the Northern Kentucky NPC in March. If all goes well or even if I bomb, this is the lifestyle for me and bodybuilding is going to be a huge part of my life from here on.
 Let us know how it goes!
 Tom -

Just wanted to give you props. EXCELLENT advice!!!!! Clean, solid, scientific, real bodybuilding information.

ANY bodybuilder Amateur/Pro will benefit from following this advice.

God Bless.
2006-04-15t klith
 I'm 5 weeks out from my first show Mr. Iowa, Im 183 lbs and about 4 % bodyfat right now its my first show. Im going to try your final week preperation guide . To me it sounds good and very logical for a peak in appearance. I'll let you know how things go. Any advice diet or anythings else for a first timer. Thanks
 Best of luck and have a great time up there!! Let us know how it goes and any learning experiences you take from it.
 If I'm only 110 lbs, how do i change around the amount of carbs to suit my weight? or do these apply to everyone?
 Since the amount of cutting is going to be dependent upon your caloric deficit (what you expend minus what you eat), and the expenditure is related to your basal metabolic rate (which depends on your lean bodyweight), I think you might consider cutting back on the carb amounts (maybe closer to two-thirds or a half).
2006-02-27Dick S.T.
 Thanks Tom! i've followed the contest preparation- the final week guideline... its effective! I've just won a local bodybuilding contest. Im a natural Bodybuilder from the Philippines. Thanks again for providing useful information bout bodybuilding....more power.
 Great to hear this -- congratulations!


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