So you’ve got a photo shoot or event coming up for which you want to look super lean… and you only have a few days to get there. What’s the secret to dropping 10lb in 4 days? And more importantly, how do you do it without crash dieting, starving yourself, fainting, causing serious metabolic issues or giving yourself other long term health problems? This is a trick I was actually taught when I had to make weight for boxing matches and when I noticed how lean I was looking, I realised it would also come in very useful when getting ready for the catwalk or a photo shoot.
Let me start by saying this: the best way to get in shape will never change – with a balanced, lean and nutritious diet and a variety of types of regular exercise. And unfortunately the best results take time. If you need some guidance with this, check out my just released Body By Avril Mathie online fitness program at www.bodybam.com and I will show you the fastest way to get in shape for good. Though it’s going to take a lot longer than 4 days haha.
But if you are already in pretty good shape, and just want to make that muscle definition “pop”, there is a concept that you can try known as “water loading” that is commonly used by professional fighters and other athletes trying to “make weight” for competition. The idea of it is to temporarily dehydrate the body so that water weight is lost specifically timed for the event. As a result, the athlete will also look very “dried out” and “cut”. It is not safe practice to maintain this state of dehydration for more than a day or two, or on a regular basis. But if done properly, it is a very effective and relatively safe way to get lean, fast.
IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: If your fitness and nutrition is not of high quality, do not bother with this. Not only will it have little effect on you, but your body may not be able to handle it.
So what do you do? The exact method will slightly vary per individual for obvious reasons, and may require a little experimentation to get right for you. But the general idea is to first drink a LOT of water (think 8-9L a day) for 2 days to trick your body into releasing water and making you go to the toilet a lot. Then for the next 2-3 days after that drop your water intake to 1 to 1.5L a day until your event. In these last 2-3 days you can help the process along a little by doing a few sweat sessions – sauna, running, walking wearing warm clothes, etc – though any exercise should be at a low intensity. The first phase is very important because of a hormone called vasopressin. Vasopressin’s role is to recognise even the slightest of dehydration and cause your body to go into water conservation mode, so simply reducing your water intake will not get you over the line; it may even make you more bloated!!
Throughout this entire time, your diet wants to be very basic – eg. Plain chicken/fish, veggies and fruit (no sauces or additives). You can flavour your food with things like garlic and fresh herbs, but no salty sauces or packet seasonings. You should avoid any foods that contain even moderate levels of salt (red or deli meats, anything off the supermarket aisles, cheeses, breads, coconut water, gatorade etc) and also try to keep your starchy carb intake minimal (and go for veggie sources such as sweet potato rather than rice or bread), as both salt and carbohydrates contribute to water retention. Eating a little extra healthy fat (eg. avocado, nuts, olive oil etc) than normal will help stabilise your energy and hunger levels from lack of carbs.
Just a note that you may not want to have anything else important on over these last few days, as even though you shouldn’t feel hungry, with reduced carbohydrates and hydration your brain function and concentration levels may feel a little low. This method is also NOT recommended if your “event” involves drinking alcohol (eg. a wedding), or it may be the fastest way you end up in hospital.
During this whole process, regularly monitor your progress being careful not to go beyond your “goal”. If you reach it earlier than expected, raise your water intake to maintain until the event.
Post event re-hydration and eating is very important and should be slowly increased back to normal. Going for a big feast once your event is over will only make you sick and/or lethargic. Save Max Brenner’s for later haha, trust me ;). Sipping coconut water, Gatorade and liquid carbohydrate drinks are good options at this time to replenish your electrolytes and energy, and because they are liquid they will hit your system faster than food will. Initially you should avoid foods high in fat and fibre, as these will slow down your digestion and absorption of nutrients (though long term, these foods are great for maintaining low body fat!)
I usually only use this water loading method for fitness shoots where I am actually required to be quite muscular looking (and for fights obviously). With a balanced healthy lifestyle as detailed in my BodyBAM program, I generally walk around pretty lean and “photo shoot ready” all year round and if I were to dehydrate I can sometimes actually look too muscular for some jobs, fashion in particular. As I mentioned earlier if you need help with long term permanent weight or fat loss, or even just body re-shaping and posture, my BodyBAM program has all the answers!
Just to show you the difference… Dehydrated (top 2 pics) vs Normal (bottom 2 pics)
Good luck with your competition, photo shoot or event! I hope this helps!! Xx