The Contest Guru By Chad Nicholls
Water: Your Body’s Inner Fuel
Now that spring is here and everyone is trying to squeeze back into their summer attire, bundles of panicked readers want to know how to get ready for summer and impress the bikini babes— fast! And with the NPC spring and summer contest schedule in full swing, it’s time to divulge more tips and pointers on contest prep. So for the next couple of months, I’ll be addressing more diet and supplementation issues.
Since you are the ‘King’ when it comes to drying out people for a show, I thought you might know a thing or two about dehydration. I’m not getting ready for a show; I just work out as a hobby. At a recent doctor’s visit, I was told that I was dehydrated and told to drink more water. I can drink things like juice and pop all day long, but when it comes to plain old water, forget it! Ever since I was a kid, I’ve hated the taste. On a good day, I’ll be lucky to take in 12-16 ounces. I know you work with many athletes and I can’t believe they all love water, so what can I do to get my ‘water’ consumption up without making me gag? I’ve read that you like your athletes to drink at least 1 gallon daily and upward of 2 gallons. If this is the case, I’m in serious trouble!
I get this question a lot, but it’s mostly from athletes just needing a ‘flavor’ option because of how bland their diets are. It’s great to hear this question from someone who doesn’t compete and needs to drink more water for health purposes. Don’t feel bad— personally, I don’t like the taste of water either, and haven’t liked it ever since I was a kid. There are many people in the same boat. As an athlete, no matter which sport you participate in, the key to hydration for performance purposes is to keep solid levels of fluid in your system at all times to prevent dehydration. What most people don’t realize is that water plays many different roles when it comes to keeping your body healthy and your system in good working order.
First, I’d like to get you into the mindset that drinking water is an absolute necessity to maintaining good health. The body is comprised of over 50 percent water. When you think of ‘hydration’ in these terms, you can begin to see the importance of optimal hydration. Once I explain the importance of daily water intake as well as maintaining proper hydration of your body, we’ll discuss putting some ‘zip’ into your water routine.
Drinking an optimal amount of water and keeping the body hydrated, inside and out, ensures proper function of your body’s organs and inner workings. Here are some problems that can occur from insufficient hydration. On a daily basis, your body excretes fluids— but you can be robbed of fluids by these simple body functions:
• Gastrointestinal function
• Kidney function
• Perspiration (sweating)— the primary body function that can cause fluid loss and/or dehydration.
Water balance in the body is controlled by your brain, and your kidneys dictate frequency of urination, based on your body’s personal hydration levels. When the brain senses a decrease in body hydration, it sends a message to the kidneys that will slow and eventually stop urination— if water consumption is halted. This is what leads to dehydration in your system and if not corrected, can lead to the following physical problems:
• Sudden weight loss
• Brittle hair/nails
• Dry mouth— trouble swallowing
• Skin dryness and wrinkling
• Increased heart rate
• Stoppage of sweating and an unhealthy increase in body temperature that may result in overheating and fever.
• Decrease in production of or complete stoppage of urination. This can lead to an increase of toxic waste in your body and bloodstream that can lead to infection and can harm not only organ function, but the organs themselves.
The above are just a few negative effects that can be caused by dehydration.
So, how much water is enough? Most guidelines tell us for the average person, daily intake should be anywhere from 8 to 12, 8-ounce glasses of water. You can get more scientific, and determine exactly how much water your body cycles on a daily basis. Are you active outside of your home and job, and so on and so forth? You can work with your physician and go over your hydration tests with him to figure out the best fluid routine for you. Just remember— even with water— you can have too much of a good thing. Drink the proper amount for you, but don’t go overboard.
While my theories regarding diet and nutrition are based on complete manipulation to avoid stagnation in the diet and weight loss cycle, when it comes to water, my theories are the exact opposite. When drinking water, you should try to drink the same amount every day. So if you work up to 64 ounces, drink that amount every day, If you work up to a gallon, stick with it. This will not only keep you hydrated on a consistent basis, but it will also help keep your body ‘in check’— this will prevent toxins from building up in your system and will help keep your organs and inner workings in top condition.
So remember, once you find the water intake level that is right for you— consistency is key.
Now, let’s add some pep to your water. I struggled for years with drinking water because of the taste; now I drink it all the time. I like to add a variety of different flavors to my water. I will fill a large water bottle with water and then top it off with either sugar-free flavored syrup, a few tablespoons of lemonade, Crystal Light, or Kool-Aid, occasionally tea and sometimes I spike my water with Splenda. Just a little bit will add enough flavor to make it palatable. And keep your water cold— it’s much easier to drink cold water than ‘room temperature’ water.
I hope this information has broadened your horizons on the importance of daily water consumption and has given you a few ideas of how to make it a little more tolerable.
I have a question about fats in the diet. I know you aren’t very big on the ketogenic diet. After seeing what this diet did to me (burned up all my muscle) and after seeing what it’s done to several pros, neither am I! I’ve read that you like to incorporate a few ‘good fats’ into your athletes’ diets. I’m curious what type of fats you add and for how long?
This has been a pretty controversial subject lately. I am not a supporter of the ketogenic method. I call my theory ‘Multi-phase Manipulation.’ Yes, at certain times I include small amounts of ‘essential’ fats into the diet in cycles, for short periods of time. My approach to fats is twofold:
First, I add small amounts of ‘good fats’ for very short periods of time. This may range anywhere from a couple of days to no longer than a week. I like to utilize a bit of ‘higher’ fats, as I have found it helps athletes a bit with ‘energy’ issues when my athletes are on diet cycles that contain lower carbs. Note: I never put an athlete on ZERO carbs and I never utilize high amounts of fats, as I do not believe they are a good source of energy or substitution for carbs.
Second, I utilize the fats when I either need to slow down the weight-loss process or when I feel a ‘sticking point’ may be coming on— adding fats, then taking them out of the diet— which can help prevent the athlete from hitting a plateau in weight loss.
In terms of what type of fats I like to employ, it’s not like I have bodybuilders eating bacon, burgers, pizza, etc. The fats I use are all ‘good fats.’ I only use fat sources from foods that contain monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats and Omega-3 fatty acids. I steer clear of foods containing saturated or ‘bad fats’ during the diet phase— unless a cheat meal/cheat day is required. Some of my favorite ‘good fats’ are:
• Olive oil
• Peanut butter
• Fatty, coldwater fish
There are many more sources of ‘good fats,’ but these are basic sources that adapt well to most dietary programs. Additionally, I don’t use large amounts of these ‘good fats’ at any given time. It is more like one or two tablespoons of olive oil with vinegar to create a dressing for a bowl of salad greens at one meal; one-quarter cup of nuts at another meal; sometimes peanut butter in a morning or evening whey isolate drink; or a fatty, coldwater fish at yet another meal. Again, these are only utilized for short periods of time— anywhere from a couple of days to no longer than one week. It could be anywhere from a couple of weeks to a month or so to when they are reintroduced back into the diet program.
Though I am not a proponent of the ketogenic method, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t work for some people. I know athletes who have received positive results from it. Finding the perfect program sometimes means going through a lot of trial and error to see what works for you.
I take it that you are enjoying my focus on diet, nutrition and contest-prep questions— as my mailbox has been overflowing with questions on these subjects! Keep them coming! Thank you again for your support. I’ll be back next month to answer more questions.