Posted 1 year ago

Using natural diuretics pre shoot/show

In the final few days, as you prepare for your show/shoot, your coach might recommend you take natural diuretics, so you might be wondering what they do. Before we get into it though, I should probably say that if you are not lean enough, these will not change how your physique looks. However, if you are, they can create a slight change that can be advantageous for your show/shoot.

Another thing to note here is that this article is about natural diuretics. I’m pointing this out because a few months ago, there was a big outburst in the bodybuilding social media world with regards to competitors dying due to crazy diuretic protocols. However, that was in relation to non-natural diuretics, such as thiazide diuretics, loop diuretics, or potassium sparing diuretics. As such, please be aware that this article is going to discuss NATURAL diuretics, such as herbs and vitamins, and should not be confused with their non-natural counterparts.

What are natural diuretics

These can be all-in-one supplements or separate vitamins, herbs, and minerals that will promote water loss from the body. They will ultimately upregulate mechanisms in the body that expel water with the sole purpose of making the physique look “drier” after usage. The aim is to remove the fine layer of fluid that sits underneath the skin which gives the appearance of a drier look the next day. These natural diuretics will often be used the day before your shoot/show.

The most common diuretics you’ll see being used are those such as H20 remove by Anabolic designs or MHP Xpel. You may also see Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, or dandelion root used alongside these products or separately. What you will tend to find is that you will need to urinate more frequently as the diuretics do their job in your body and water is passed out.

What about water though?

You might be thinking, “great, is that it?”. Well, not quite. To maximise the effects of these natural diuretics, it is important to know how much fluid you are consuming in the lead up to the day of usage. Knowing this can allow you to manipulate your intake to add to the drier look you are aiming for. For example, let’s assume you consume 7 litres of water daily during your diet. Your body is simply used to getting 7 litres of water a day, and thus passing the resulting amount of urine to deal with that intake.

As such, the day before your show/shoot when you are putting in the diuretics, you might then manipulate this and reduce your intake to 3.5-4 litres; bear in mind that your body is used to getting 7L in, and as such, its mechanism of taking that water on board and passing it out through the body as urine will remain the same. By doing so, you’re putting your body in a position in which you’ve limited your fluid intake – which will help you look drier in and of itself – but also, you’ve added in natural diuretics to support the process. In essence, what this means is that you’ll wake up the next day dehydrated and looking drier, relative to what you usually look like first thing in the morning.

At this point, you might be wondering: “why on earth would I want to be dehydrated?”. Well, of course, in an ideal world we would want to create the “dry” look without needing to dehydrate ourselves, but this isn’t quite possible. When it comes to judges’ criteria for any bodybuilding athlete standing on stage, they tend to stipulate that they want the athlete looking dry when present their physique on show day. That’s simply because this allows you to see muscles and vascularity more, and overall, presents a tighter package. With the removal of that film of fluid, the skin is tighter around muscles, allowing you to see more separations/cuts. This can lead to a better placing on stage but also a pretty “crazy” look that many people may want for their photoshoot. I must reiterate here that for diuretics and water manipulation to work you must be extremely lean in the first place; if you aren’t, they will have little effect on how you look because you’ll still have body fat covering the muscle.

Re-read that last sentence once, twice, or even three times over. It’s imperative that you ensure that you attain the level of conditioning required FIRST; then these will have an effect. If you’re still holding body fat in places the day before your show/shoot, no amount of natural diuretics and water manipulation are going to change that.

Once you wake up on show/shoot day, you won’t need to take any more – you’ll simply need to limit your fluid intake. I would ALWAYS have water on show/shoot day, especially around the time of meals. Remember that we do need a certain amount of fluid in the body to remain full (i.e., for muscle bellies to pop), and if you removed water completely you would potentially be at risk of going flat and looking shit.

Water loading/Electrolyte manipulation

Like with anything in the fitness industry, there are so many ways of doing things. Some coaches might prescribe a slightly different protocol than I do but will but achieve a similar level of dryness. This might involve increasing your water intake in the days leading up to the show/shoot then cutting it in half the day before. Others might ask you to get your total daily intake in on the day but drink all your fluids by a certain time and have none thereafter.

Both examples will stimulate fluid expulsion from the body through urine and achieve a drier look the next day. Therefore, the diuretic protocol one follows is simply down to whatever system that coach works with, which is typically based on what they’ve done before. There is no right or wrong here, there is only “effective” or “ineffective”. I’ve personally tried all three approaches and still favour the one I discussed in the earlier section of this article, mainly because I have a weak bladder and am at the toilet enough as it is. You might also find that you can’t leave your work desk every 10 minutes to nip to the toilet if you’re drinking 12L of water daily during peak week. Either way, whatever works for you, stick with it.

If you wanted to (and some people do), you could go further down the rabbit hole and manipulate your sodium/potassium intake to further enhance/support drying out. However, if you are going to do so you must (or your coach) have the required knowledge to do this safely and effectively. Specifically, the manipulation of sodium and potassium requires knowing your current daily intake of these minerals, both from the food you eat and salt you put on meals. Then, when the time comes, you can cut them out completely, or reduce them at set points across the day. However, if you don’t know where your current intake is at, and you begin to manipulate these variables the look can simply get worse. I’ve found it’s not often needed, but it can be advantageous is helping one’s physique get drier and more vascular as you reintroduce salt the next day (show/shoot day).

Are there any side effects?

This is probably the most common question asked by clients and my answer is always the same. If you are sticking with natural diuretics, the first and most obvious side effect is that you’ll need to urinate more frequently, which can be frustrating; however, needs must. You will have a dry mouth throughout the day which will carry over to the next (show/shoot day), and you’ll probably experience constant thirst; these are two things you probably aren’t used to, but that you will need to simply accept for the goal.

Bearing in mind you’ve restricted water and gotten rid of that subcutaneous fluid (water under the skin) for a day or so, once you’ve finished your shoot/show and you go back to your regular intake, your body will want to hold onto some of that fluid for a day or two. It won’t be much, but it will be noticeable, and your physique might look watery/softer the day after your show/shoot. This of course will be magnified if you have foods that are higher in carbs, which most people will do after months of dieting. Remember that this is perfectly normal and that once your body re-stabilises, you’ll feel like yourself again.

Lastly, I’ve found that you might experience some cramping in the days after you use natural diuretics, especially if you are training. These shouldn’t be severe, but they will most certainly be noticeable. I’ve personally found that these don’t last any more than one day and if you are training a couple days after their ingestion, then you shouldn’t notice any side effects such as cramping.

In summary, natural diuretics can be used pre-show/shoot alongside water manipulation to create a drier look the next day. These supplements and vitamins work by upregulating mechanisms in the body that remove the film of fluid which sits underneath the skin and promote fluid expulsion passed as urine. You could manipulate electrolytes alongside these, but it’s often not needed. From experience, there is minimal side effects bar that of slight cramping the next day if you’re training.

Vaughan Wilson Bsc Hons