This 7 day “photoshoot ready” nutrition and workout protocol is mainly for the people who are already have a lean physique.
The water and carbohydrate load and depletion manipulation protocols discussed in this post will help the body further “lean out” by ridding itself of stored water under the skin.
Don’t forget, all bodies are different.
Just because this photoshoot prep protocol works for most people, it doesn’t guarantee it will work best for you.
It’s up to you to test each variable, find out what works best for you, and manipulate when needed.
This post will discuss one of the most popular versions of carb depletion and loading within a 7 day window before the shoot.
So lets get into it.
If you’re wondering if these next 7 days will be more about nutrition or your workouts, the answer is clear.
Abs are made in the kitchen.
This 7 day photoshoot prep protocol is mainly focused on nutrition manipulation.
So lets dig deep into it so you have a plan of action to rock your photoshoot or event.
First, lets create a 7 day schedule by working back 7 days from the day you want to look your best.
For this example, lets say your photoshoot is set for Sunday.
Based on this, we need to start the nutrition process 7 days out, starting on Monday, to give yourself enough time to carb deplete and load.
Day 7: Monday
Day 6: Tuesday
Day 5: Wednesday
Day 4: Thursday
Day 3: Friday
Day 2: Saturday
Day 1: Sunday (photoshoot day)
The first three days, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, will be considered the carbohydrate depletion phase.
Muscle glycogen is simply the sugar stored in the muscle cells from carbohydrates.
There are two ways to deplete your muscle glycogen:
If you follow a lower carbohydrate diet like I do, the carb depletion phase won’t be too drastic.
However, if you’re used to eating a lot of carbohydrates, these first 3 days may be a struggle for you.
Think short-term pain for a long-term gain.
Remember, these pictures and memories will be around forever, so it’ll be worth it.
The first step is to figure out what your baseline quantity of carbohydrates is on a typical day.
Day 7 carbohydrate consumption: 50% of your baseline
For example, if you typically eat 200 grams of carbohydrates a day, on day 7 you will consume 50% of that, i.e. 200 grams / 2 = 100 grams of carbohydrates.
Day 6 carbohydrate consumption: 50% of the amount consumed on day 7
For example, since you consumed 100 grams of carbohydrates on day 7, on day 6 you will consume 50% of that, i.e. 100 grams / 2 = 50 grams of carbohydrates.
Day 5 carbohydrate consumption: 50% of the amount consumed on day 6
For example, since you consumed 50 grams of carbohydrates on day 6, on day 5 you will consume 50% of that, i.e. 50 grams / 2 = 25 grams of carbohydrates.
Since you should be eating clean, whole foods during this carbohydrate depletion phase, sodium shouldn’t be an issue.
Just try to avoid foods with high amounts of sodium added to it (i.e. processed foods).
During this carbohydrate depletion phase, your workouts will also change.
It’s recommended to perform full body workouts in a style referred to as glycolitic draining training.
Glycolytic draining workouts include:
Some people recommend cutting cardio out 10 days before your shoot as it can make your muscles stringy and not full.
I personally find cardio helps me lean out even further, so test and find what works for you.
During the carbohydrate depletion protocol, you’re going to be drinking a lot of water!
Water Consumption Calculation:
Here’s how to figure out how much water you should be drinking during this phase:
Water goal = 1.5 ounces of water x per pound of bodyweight
For example, I’m 175 pounds so that would equal:
175 pounds x 1.5 ounces of water = 262.5 ounces (7.75 liters) of water per day for days 7, 6, and 5.
That may seem like a lot, but it’ll play a major role in tightening up your body during this 7 day period.
Consuming a lot of water will help flush out even more stored water from under the skin.
You should also carry a water bottle around with you to ensure you’re drinking your water evenly throughout the day.
Although you’ll probably be going to the bathroom all the time, it’ll be worth it once you see those amazing photos.
All right, we’re now hitting day 4, 3, 2, and day 1 (photoshoot day).
Day 4 is considered the carbohydrate loading day!
It’s time to fill up the depleted muscle cells by eating a higher carbohydrate intake.
You should be smiling right now 🙂
Since your muscle cells have been depleted of glycogen over the last 3 days, they should be like sponges now.
This means your muscle cells will soak up all the sugar to make your muscles look round, big, and full.
Therefore, it’s time for your carb re-feed to re-fill your muscle cells with glycogen.
The first step is to figure out what your baseline quantity of carbohydrates is on a typical day.
Day 4 carbohydrate consumption: 2.5-3 times your baseline
If you typically eat 200 grams of carbohydrates a day, on day 4 you will consume 2.5-3 times that, i.e. 200 grams x 2.5 – 3 = 500-600 grams of carbohydrates.
The goal of the first meal on day 4 is to get an instant rush of sugar into the cells.
You’ll accomplish this by having your carbohydrate consumption come from a mixture of 50% high glycemic carbohydrates and 50% low glycemic carbohydrates.
After this meal, you’ll cut most of the high glycemic carbohydrates out and focus the majority of your carbohydrate consumption on lower glycemic, complex carbohydrates, like sweet potatoes.
Day 3 carbohydrate consumption: 50% of the amount consumed on day 4
For example, you consumed 500 grams of carbohydrates on day 4, so on day 3 you will consume 50% of that, i.e. 500 grams / 2 = 250 grams of carbohydrates.
Focus on consuming mainly lower glycemic carbohydrates.
Also consider eating a lot of asparagus over the next 2 days, as asparagus is a natural diuretic which can help further dry you out (i.e. reduce water retention).
Day 2 carbohydrate consumption: 50% of the amount consumed on day 3
If you consumed 250 grams of carbohydrates on day 3, so on day 2 you will consume 50% of that, i.e. 250 grams / 2 = 125 grams of carbohydrates.
As you get closer to photoshoot day, we’re decreasing the carbohydrate intake to reduce the risk of the spill over effect.
The spill over effect occurs when the muscle glycogen cells are full, thus the sugar from the carbohydrates get stored in the fat cells.
Not what you want before your photoshoot.
You can also enjoy one glass of red wine the night before the shoot as it may help with muscle vascularity.
Day 1 carbohydrate consumption: 50% of the amount consumed on day 2
This obviously depends on what time of day your photoshoot is.
Hopefully your photoshoot is scheduled in the morning so you can load up with a good cheat meal afterwards.
When it comes to sodium, once again stick to whole foods to avoid foods with high amounts of added sodium.
On day 4 and 3, you will not workout (you could do a glycolitic draining workout on day 4 if you think you need it).
For day 3 and 2, you could relax in the sauna for a short period of time, twice a day, to help sweat out more water.
On day 2, you can do a quick, very light program of 1 set, of 12 to 15 reps, for each body part.
However, use very light weights (up to 70% lighter than your usual weight).
The reason for skipping workouts is because the goal is to replenish, and fill out the muscle cells with glycogen, not deplete them further.
In fact, depending on how you feel, you could also skip the day 4 glycolitic workout.
During the carbohydrate loading protocol, you’re going to do the opposite with water.
In the carbohydrate depletion phase, you drank a lot of water and ate less carbs.
During this phase we’ll be progressively cutting back on water while carbohydrate consumption is higher since carbohydrates stores water in the body.
The goal for the next few days and to deplete the body of any extra water under your skin.
Day 4 water consumption goal: 50% of the amount consumed on day 7
On day 7 I drank 7.75 liters of water (lets round it up to 8 liters for simplicity), so on day 4 you will drink 50% of that, i.e. 8 liters / 2 = 4 liters of water.
Day 3 water consumption goal: 50% of the amount consumed on day 4
For example, on day 4 I drank 4 liters of water, so on day 3 you will drink 50% of that, i.e. 4 liters / 2 = 2 liters of water.
Day 2 water consumption goal: 50% of the amount consumed on day 3
On day 3 I drank 2 liters of water, so on day 2 you will drink 50% of that, i.e. 2 liters / 2 = 1 liter of water.
Make sure you spread out this limited amount of water throughout the day.
Day 1 water consumption goal: just sipping water
You want to look like an anatomy chart at this point, meaning your skin is thin and your muscles are ripped and shredded, with no water under your skin.
Remember, don’t forget to enjoy the moment, cause you made it!
On day 3 and 2, to help with glycogen absorption and sodium excretion, you could try supplementing with these minerals and antioxidants with each of your meals during the loading phase:
Also be sure to take Omega-3s throughout the day.
There you have it.
I hope this clarifies one way to carb deplete and carb load during the 7 day peak week before your event.
Once again, there are many different ways to do this, and everyone’s body reacts differently.
These 7 days will be a little bit of a shock to your body, but realize in the end, it’s short-term, and the photos and memories will last a lifetime.
Give this plan a try and see if you can get photoshoot ready in 7 days!
Let me know in the comments what your experiences have been and your tips to get ready for a photoshoot or an event.
Brad Gouthro is the founder of Live Lean TV, a media company focused on helping men and women “Live Lean” 365 days a year. Brad’s programs and content have helped millions of people all over the world learn how to get in shape, and more importantly, sustain it for life.