Have you ever gone to a bodybuilding show and seen bodybuilders eat a snickers bar or chew on a rice cake with peanut butter right before stage?
While seemingly counter-productive to those less versed in the science of manipulating the body’s response to carbs, this strategy is actually a highly effective way to make sure the body is as tight and pumped as possible before the athlete steps on stage.
When the muscles have been depleted of glycogen for a longer period of time and then receives a quick dose of fast sugars, they retain the water that would otherwise remain subcutaneously; in other words, just below the skin. This means that instead of looking deflated and flabby, you’ll present a full muscular look onstage which tightens the skin and gives you a lean and vascular appearance.
Hence, an intake of sugar right before the stage can mean the difference for bodybuilders between placing top 5 and getting the last callout.
The key though is to not overdo it.
Otherwise, you risk what we like to call a “spillover”, meaning you retain too much water, which then “spills over” from your muscles and makes you look bloated on stage.
On the day of the competition, after a so-called peak week of carb, water, and sodium manipulation and depletion, your muscles will be very much like dried-out sponges. As with a sponge, just enough water will cause the sponge to expand in size, but too much will cause it to drip excess water all over the place.
The process is a lot more complicated than simply having a snickers bar before stage, as it takes a lot of preparation as well as trial and error to predict exactly how your body will react the day of the event. You don’t want to engage in a guessing game which, in the worst case scenario, throws all your hard work down the drain!
An experienced coach will guide you through the whole process with all it pertains and make sure you look your best when the time finally comes for you to SHINE!