Pre Contest Diet Changes 4 Weeks Out: The Final PUSH!


Monday, September 5th, 2005. Just two weeks ago (at six weeks out), I cut my calories down to 2900 from 3200. Now its time for the FINAL PUSH and yet another calorie and carb cut.

I’ve now dropped to about 2700 calories and 150 grams of carbs a day on the low days. In other words, I get to “suffer” for the next four weeks, LOL! When you consider how intensely I train and how much cardio I do, 150 grams a day might as well be zero. 150 grams a day is very low carbs for me. I’m also bumping up my cardio to double sessions every day for at least the next two weeks, and possibly the next three weeks.

Yeah, it sucks… but in my quest for that “walking anatomy chart” look, ya gotta do what ya gotta do. If I had more time, I would keep on with the slow and steady one pound per week fat loss that I’ve been able to achieve with 3200 calories and 200-220 grams of carbs a day (with one cardio session a day). It’s not that this stopped working, it’s simply that I ran out of time and have to pick up the pace.

I could have lost weight at a rate of 2 lbs (or even 3 lbs) per week right from the start, but the slower you lose the fat (and weight), the more lean body mass you can retain. Large and or fast weight loss always equals lean body mass loss.

Fat loss is not easy, but it’s very, very predictable. There’s no mystery, it just takes a calorie deficit. Increase the deficit without going to the degree that you slow your metabolism, and you increase the fat loss. I expect at these new calorie and carb levels, based on past experience, that I will harden up immediately, the skin on my lower abs will tighten up (last place to come in), the vascularity will really start to show and I will start losing two pounds per week and maintain that for the next three weeks. I weighed in at 189 today, so 6 lbs in the next 3 weeks would put me at 183 lbs a week before the show. Then I will undoubtedly drop a lot of water weight on top of that.

In the past, I’ve been pretty much shredded and dialed in at around 180 lbs by one week out (then I’ve cut water to make weight). The goal is to have ALL the fat off at least 7-8 days before the show. You should not be thinking about losing body fat the last week. The final week should only be about getting the water out and carbing up those last few days.

In nearly all of my previous competitions, I weighed somewhere between 170-176 lbs the day of the show, which made me a middleweight (I was actually a lightweight in my first two shows many moons ago… but don’t tell anyone I was ever that small!) I don’t have to make a weight class for the upcoming natural USA championships October 1st (it’s height classes). In most organizations, including the NPC, the middleweight cut off is 176 ½ lbs.

This year it looks possible that I may hit the stage heavier than I’ve ever been before while still being totally dialed in. We’ll see how it goes… sometimes its hard to say in advance what you’ll weigh on show day because it’s so easy to lose a lot of water weight in those final weeks since the low carbs tends to dry you out. If this were a contest with weight classes, I would have to make middleweight regardless, because I’m not big enough yet to be a light heavy, but if I end up onstage at 180 to 182 and in condition, then the height classes will turn out to be a real advantage to me, since I’ll be carrying 4-6 lbs more day of show muscle than ever before.

Anyway, back to my diet…

My menu is exactly as it was at 6 weeks out, but I’ve cut out some calories here and there including some fat and the starchy carbs in meal three. For the next 3 ½ weeks, until I start carbing up Wednesday before the show, its only starchy carbs in the first two meals; a little bit of oatmeal, and / or yam.

Fortunately, I am still carbing up every fourth day… Thank Gawd for that, because as it is, I’m already having thoughts of Pizza, Baked Ziti, and Domino’s Cheesy Bread pop into my mind with strangely increasing frequency.

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Comments on Pre Contest Diet Changes 4 Weeks Out: The Final PUSH! Leave a Comment

September 14, 2005

Jessica Britt @ 6:30 pm #

Wow, you are DEDICATED! I’m already dedicated but not that dedicated, yet. Thanks for all the information. Everytime I read something from you I learn more. I already know a pretty good amount and I just keep learning mostly from you. Some other fitness experts that e-mail me provide true honest information but I’m thinking yep, I already know that. Tom Venuto taught me. I love learning about all this because honestly nutrition is not a confusing subject to me. It soaks in and I get it. All this, bodybuilding, figure, nutrition anything that goes with this is what I live for, it’s my passion and dream. It’s me. Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle is the most I’ve ever learned in just one sitting from reading one book. I have a lot more to learn and I continue learning from the best. One day, soon enough, I will be one of the few people that know and teach it right. Keep up your awesome work and progress. With your competition coming closer, I know you’ll win. You have it in you and I can’t wait to hear about your newest victory to add to all your other wins, accomplishments, and victories. Thanks for everything, Tom. 🙂

September 15, 2005

Anu @ 7:17 pm #

Hi Tom,
I have had your Burn The Fat ebook for more than a year. It is, bottom line, “WONDERFUL” and a GREAT service to all of us trying to improve our fitness and nutrition. Thanks for being so honest with the information you provide.
I have spent the last year better understanding HOW my body responds to my training & nutrition. I am a woman and I was about 170 lbs with about 26% body fat. With an online trainer I was able to lose 20lbs, develop muscle, and tighten up a bit. I can’t tell you my final Body fat % b/c I “used the mirror” as a guide. (Yet I plan to get an accu-measure and monitor this in the future).
Nevertheless, it was when I read your book that I felt like I had “Real Direction”. My trainer was great – taking me from knowing “nada” to eating cleaner,etc. Yet your book was like reading a science experiment, where the overall explanation comes from an intelligent and measurable framework.
My challenge now is keeping the Mental stamina and organization to do what is necessary. I too have learned that my body responds more to extra cardio than carbohydrate adjusting. My addtnl short evening sessions have been remarkable.
I just need to keep it up & DO WHATEVER IT TAKES.
3 Questions for you?
1. I noticed that when you cycle your calories: Each time you tightened up your ratio. You decreased the Low Days even further (3400 to 3200), yet your Threshold for High Days stays the same, for example 3800 cals.
a) How did you determine this HIGH?
b) What would be the difference/ overall effect if you reduced your LOW by only by 100 cal (3300), yet then reduce your HIGH to about 3700 for example?
2. You also mentioned that you get in at least 1 carb meal b/f weights. How important is this for the average person who what to lose weight & body fat and gain a moderate amount of lean body mass? I understand the importance of the post work out meal. Yet I have been weight training on an empty stomach and lifting heavy (in reference to my OWN conditioning). Can you elaborate on this?
3. Do you personally use a heart rate monitor?
Please Please respond. Thank you so much for your time!

September 17, 2005

Tom Venuto @ 7:09 am #

I selected my high day calorie level at 3800 because that represents a caloric surplus of about 10% above my maintenance level. Although it’s possible to gain small amounts of muscle while losing body fat using a calorie cycled approach that fluctuates between conservative deficit and a surplus, I’m doing this more to prevent my metabolism and hormones from down-cycling as a result of the dieting. I’m also doing this to replenish glycogen. Continuing to train hard on low carbs is more difficult when you dont use carb refeeds.
My low calorie days WERE about 3200 for a long time (see previous blogs – look under nutrition category). At this level I was in a very small and conservative calorie deficit which was resulting in about one pound per week of body weight loss. If I had another 6 weeks, I would have continued with this approach, but I had run out of time, so I had to pull back the calories to accelerate the fat loss and weight loss to two pounds per week. With this larger deficit, the high calorie days become all the more important.
I don’t recommend lifting on an empty stomach, only cardio on an empty stomach. For those people who train weights and cardio first thing in the morning in the same session, I’d recommend at the very least a protein shake, protein meal (ie, egg whites, etc), or a light meal of protein and carbs. Reason: weight training on empty stomach may compromise your training capacity somewhat, as well as becoming even more potentially catabolic than cardio on empty stomach alone. I like to frame my weight training sessions with carbs – before and after. Some people call it “bracketing” technique. others call it “targeted dieting” (as in the old “targeted ketogenic diet” or TKD, although my low carb diets are not ketogenic, only moderately low in carbs).
I’ve experimented with a heart rate monitor and find it helpful, but like body fat testing, I dont find that its an absolute requirement because after 17 years of competing (26 competitions), I am so tuned into my body, I know when I’m getting leaner, and I know when my heart rate is at the right place simply via perceived exertion.
One thing I did notice about using the heart rate monitor, is that I was DEAD ON with my perceived exertion estimates. I also found that there was a direct correlation between my intensity, my heart rate, my calories burned and my fat loss. Higher heart rate = more calories burned = more fat loss.
I got my HR monitor from my buddy Rich Dafter of Rich is an expert on heart rate monitors and heart rate training, so I’d recommend you contact him if you want to learn more.

October 6, 2005

Yaki @ 3:59 am #

Hey Tom 🙂
Thank you for all the great information ,i admirer your great work and personality.
I have a very important question ,i hope you can help me.
if someone loses weight (Body Fat Weight), this person will still need to cut some calories after a few months if the Weight stops to come off? ,after losing about 18 pounds. is it possible that People that have less weight still needs much less calories even though they have some nice LBM weight.
it is really frustrating how our metabolic rate works sometimes and all those adaptions that occur in weight loss.
Thanks alot and have a great day. 🙂

October 7, 2005

Tom Venuto @ 1:45 pm #

After 18 lbs of weight loss, you may need another calorie reduction to continue losing body fat. At a lighter body weight, your energy expenditure is slightly lower. In addition, your metabolism may be beginning to adapt to a reduced calorie intake. That is why it is important to use s cyclical approach with your calorie and or carbohydrate intake. If you reduce calories again, I would recommend doing it in conjunction with a calorie and or carb “re-feed” day so that you do not drop your calories further and further decrease metabolism. Its a catch 22: on one hand you may need a lower calorie intake to continue losing fat, but on the other, you don’t want to slow down your metabolism. If you have been dieting for more than 12-16 weeks, you may even want to consider 7-14 days on maintenance level calories before going back at it.

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