What if there was a way you could look significantly leaner in only a few days and really ‘peak’ for your Xmas party, St Stephens Night or New Years Eve? You wouldn’t have to crash diet or restrict calories to an unhealthily low level but you would have to manipulate carbohydrates, water and supplements for a few days.
Have you ever wondered how that fitness model or competitor looks so lean on the day of a show or shoot, although a week before they, whilst looking amazing, they didn’t look like that! A lot of it comes down to what they did on their ‘peak week’ or week before their event, shoot or party.
This question came up in my Top 50 Online Group and alongside the great feedback from last weeks podcast episode (How To Peak For Your Xmas Party), I’m going to expand on it now.
Disclaimer: i mentioned this four or five times in the podcast episode, this is NOT a long term fix and a ‘peak week’ will work assuming you already have a good training program and nutritional strategy in place- on the contrary, following this type of protocol long term will not only negatively affect your health but will do the reverse to your physique and start to actually slow down your metabolism.
If you have been training for the last few months (or at least last 4-6 weeks) and already have a good program and plan in place, then a ‘peak week’ can work great for you.
5 Days To Look Your Very Best
There are several alternative systems that work incredibly well (from carb loading and keeping water levels stable to reducing and loading sodium) but the strategies that i have found have worked best for me, was the easiest to stick to when you live a normal life (i used this formula whilst prepping for photoshoots and working as a primary school teacher in London) and has worked great for clients are listed below
1) Drop Your Carbs
Metabolism comes into play here and Im assuming that you want to look great in a dress, suit or going out clothes and not to get up on stage- so carb depleting (lowering your carbs) is more important in this scenario than say carb loading (massive increase in carbs to ‘fill out).
What has worked great for me is a ‘5 day peak’ – so assuming the event is on Saturday, I will lower my carbs to around 50g per day from Monday to Friday. I keep fats pretty moderate this week whilst keeping veg and protein high.
My entire week would look like this.
7am: 75g porridge, two scoops of protein
10am: 200g Chicken and broccoli
1pm: 150g Salmon and spinach
4pm: 50g Almonds and 200g turkey
7pm: 200g cod and mixed green veg
10pm: 50g almonds and 1 scoop of protein
I would eat the exact same food all week. The low carb combined with your training pulls all the glycogen from beneath the muscle. This alongside pulling out water can actually make you drop 2 or 3kg in a week from carb depletion (its largely what fighters do to make weigh in for fights) but DO NOT use this long term- the weight you have lost is primarily muscle glycogen and water, not just body fat.
Personally, I use my Xmas party dinner and dessert as my ‘refeed’ and then go back to my normal plan the following day.
Side note: asparagus is an incredible natural diuretic (it can flush water out of your body) so I tend to priorities this green veg on peak week.
2) Water Manipulation
As nearly every single fitness professional has their opinion on water loads, this topic always kicks up bit of a fuss. To hedge my point, I’ll say that most of those strategies work – but I have a personal preference that works for me and has worked for my clients (although each one is slightly different, the same idea can be applied), so I’ll share that strategy below.
Skeletal muscle is 70% water so once you ‘load’ (increase water)’ and ‘de-load’ (lower intake) for a few days, you can pull a lot of that out of the muscle and make yourself look incredibly leaner. My water protocol works off your normal water intake. For example if you drink 4 litres a day, I increase this by 50% for 4 days and then reduce it by 50% for one day and then only sip on the day of the event (this is optional).
Your body is an incredibly adaptable organism, the reasons a water load works so well is down to your body ‘adapting’ to an increase in water and then continuing to urinate at the increased amount even when you reduce intake. This allows you to excrete the water from underneath the muscle, making you look leaner and harder. My week would look something like this.
Monday: 6 liters
Tuesday: 6 liters
Wednesday: 6 liters
Thursday: 6 liters
Friday: 2 liters
Sat: sip on 1 litre through the day
Note: DO NOT do cut your water if you plan on drinking alcohol the night of the event, I would consume your normal intake of water on the event day, otherwise you are asking for a serious hangover the next day.
There are some supplements that can massively support you on this last week; I personally find caffeine great when carbs are low (and although it can elevate cortisol which can hinder water excretion; I’ve never found it had any direct effect). I also like using two water reduction supplements (one is really a tea though).
Vitamin C: I tend to opt for a non preservative/flavouring filled Vitamin C – i normally use the Genetic Vitamin C or the powdered one from the Evergreen store and add 1g to every meal during the day. Vitamin C is an incredible diuretic and is something I have used for years whilst prepping for shoots and competing and it works tremendously well.
How to use it: 1g five or six times per day from Monday until event day (and on event day)
Dandelion Tea: Dandelion tea in particular is incredible at getting excess water out of the body (i have some of my online girls use this during their ‘time of the month’ to reduce water retention) but it works great for ‘peak week’ too. I normally aim for 5 or 6 cups a tea (which i include as my water intake). You used to be able to get it in any health store but i know a lot only do them as drops now or in supplement form (i.e. Ripped Freak Diuretic or Xpel) and you can get this in any Vitamin Shop but I always lean towards the tea if you can get your hands on it.
All these tips are to be used at your own discretion, there are loads of different ways to manipulate this final week and look incredible for you event or party but hopefully this works great for you too.