11 Days of Hell – Diet Preparation for a Swimsuit / Fitness Photoshoot

I’ve just finished a body building diet that I found online to prepare for a swimsuit / fitness photoshoot. Now, I agree that this might have been overkill for the shoot but part of the challenge was to prove to myself that I could follow a diet like that and see it through. I’m just waiting to see photos from the shoot to validate whether it was a good decision or not.

I learned about this diet from a personal trainer in my networking group as he recently completed a fitness photoshoot as well for his gym, Fit Studio in Danville. In essence, you start out high sodium, then add a high water diet, then cut the sodium and increase/continue the high water diet while cutting carbs before cutting water and eating high carb to build out your muscles while shrinking your skin to your muscles.

I found these two links to be of great help, I ended up relying heavily on the first article and supplementing details from the second. I created my own excel sheet of daily requirements for water, carbs, sodium and protein and tallied my water throughout the day.

Now that the shoot is over, I’m still trying to decide if it was worth it.

After 10 day bodybuilding diet
My abs at the end of 10 days – after eating a full meal and drinking a half gallon of water (so no longer at optimal)


It was a great learning process… I’ve always tried to eat very healthy and for the most part had plenty of energy. At the countdown to about Day 3 I was cranky and grumpy with everyone and by Day 1 and Day 0, I had no energy for anything. I couldn’t keep my eyes open and my workout on Day 0 was useless. (I learned afterwards that I probably shouldn’t have worked out as I was using up my newly rebuilt glycogen stores.

If I ever do it again, I need to eat more! I had no appetite while on the low sodium days (no bacon!) and couldn’t think of food to eat/be motivated to eat. Then once I was carb loading, I still didn’t have the stomach to eat as much as I needed too. I focused on sweet potato, potato and pixie stix but they didn’t seem to be much help (or I was just constantly crashing from the carb overload…)

Drinking 1.5 – 2 gallons a day felt like torture, but drinking only 20oz in a day was definitely a worse torture. Overall, this is not a fun diet and definitely not a healthy one but now that I know I can do it, I would know what to do to improve it for next time >< If there is a next time… I lost water weight but I also lost some muscle mass too due to my lack of eating. Now I need to go back and regain my leg strength.

Overall, this seems like an effective diet but only under the correct supervision (making meals ahead of time when you still have an appetite or someone else making your meals would be great!)

Paleo Diet Rules Explained – Why Not to Eat Grain, Beans and Dairy

The Paleolithic diet follows the assumption that cavemen from the Paleolithic era ate a certain time of food and that our bodies have not had enough time to evolve to the grain based diet of the last 10,000 years. These foods are part of a diet that leads to optimum health. Foods not a part of the Paleo diet are at minimum nutritionally poor or at worst considered to be harmful to the gut, pro-inflammatory or disruptive to hormone levels.

I like to follow this, but I need to see the science behind it and not just follow it because the cave men did it. Here is a summary of my understanding of the different reasons to not eat certain foods on the Paleo diet, by taking summaries of other blog articles. In the end, it comes down to what is your reason for eating a certain way and just being aware of the effects it may have on your body.

One of the fundamental principles of paleolithic nutrition is to protect the lining of the gut by eliminating foods that damage it.”



This is one of the core components of the Paleo diet as this is the removal of modern grains such as wheat, corn, rice, oats, rye, barley, etc.
Glycemic Index


Beans & Legumes

In very small quantity they are ok (nuts included) but beans and legumes are usually eaten as a staple and that is when they interfere with digestion.
Phytic Acid (nuts, beans and legumes)
Phytic acid binds to nutrients in the food, preventing you from absorbing them. It doesn’t steal any nutrients that are already in your body, but it does make that bowl of lentils a lot less nutrient-dense
Potentially toxic lectins are highest in grains, legumes, and dairy. Lectins damage the intestinal wall, contributing to leaky gut, with all its associated digestive and autoimmune problems.
High Carb
Anyone trying a lower-carbohydrate version of Paleo should also beware beans should only be considered a protein source when compared to breads and vegetables. These are fine as a ‘safe starch’ but they will quickly deliver more carbohydrates than your body needs.

In conclusion, the main problem with most beans and legumes might be negative, rather than positive: when eaten as a staple food, they simply crowd out more nutritious foods like animal products. Combined with the phytic acid and lack of fats in the legumes themselves, this can lead to a perfect storm of nutritional deficiency. Think of it as an occasional indulgence rather than a dietary staple.

Source: http://paleodietlifestyle.com/beans-and-legumes/


  • Phytic acid inhibits full nutrient absorption
  • Lectin can damage the intestinal walls and is associated with digestive and autoimmune problems
  • They are a high carb food source


Phytic acid & Lectins


a mold that grows on peanuts but has contaminated most of the supply source and they are not safe to eat. They are an unavoidable contaminant by the FDA. Research on Aflotoxins: http://ehtrust.org/fact-sheets-facts-about-aflatoxin/

Source: http://paleodietlifestyle.com/beans-and-legumes/


Phytic Acd & Lectins


This mimics estrogen in the body, but only tricks the body into thinking there is estrogen and does not actually provide any of the health benefits that come from estrogen.

In men, this hormonal imbalance can cause the development of typically “feminine” traits like breasts and fat deposits on the hips; in women, it can impair fertility and lead to all kinds of menstrual and other reproductive problems. Most alarmingly, phytoestrogens have been linked to breast cancer and disruption of normal thyroid function.

Trypsin Inhibators

These interfere with protein digestion.

Asian cultures rely more on fermented soy, which makes soy more digestable and less harmful

Source: http://paleodietlifestyle.com/beans-and-legumes/


In the Paleolithic era, milk was not really consumed beyond infancy. This does not automatically make it bad, but why are we eating milk from another animal that is intended for it’s own offspring. (I used to be a fervent milk drinker and consumer of dairy until I developed extreme lactose intolerance.)

In addition to lactose, there is also casein sensitivity that can make it hard to digest as well.

Insulin Loaded

Dairy is a nutrient loaded form of nourishment that is intended for infants as they develop, it is full of nutrients, fatty acids, proteins and carbs; it is insulin loading because it is intended to help promote growth. Someone who does not have autoimmune, acne or insulin sensitivity issues could use dairy as part of a weight gain program.

Growth Hormones

Dairy is also growth promoting and can create undesirable effects like acne or possibly even support the growth of cancer cells. The Insulin-like Growth Factor (IGF-1) has possibly been linked to breast, colorectal and prostate cancers. Many of the hormone levels in milk have not been studied.

Lactose & Casein

Lactose intolerance is becoming more common as our bodies are only made to produce lactase (the protein that digests lactose) the first few years of our lives. Some people can handle sheep or goat’s milk or A2 milk rather than A1 milk.

Protease Inhibitors

Similar to legumes, dairy also contains protease, which have been associated with health issues such as leaky gut.

If you are going to drink milk, find high quality milk rather than grocery store milk which comes from cows that are fed a diet of corn and soy, which will produce milk higher in omega-6 fatty acids and lower in omega-3. These cows are also fed growth hormones and antibiotics.

“If you decide to consume dairy, I would aim for organic, pasture-raised, grass-fed, full fat and fermented (yogurt, kefir, cheese). If you want to go even further, try to find raw dairy direct from the farmer, which will retain all the original properties of the milk. Heck, since we’re there, look for goat or sheep’s milk. It can’t get much better than this (raw, pasture-raised, grass-fed, full fat goat’s yogurt)!”


“Opinions vary dramatically from consumption of no dairy whatsoever, to only consuming dairy fat (such as ghee, butter and heavy cream), to only consuming raw grass-fed dairy, to only consuming fermented dairy or aged cheeses, to including any dairy on a regular basis.”

  • Milk is not as nutrient-dense as meat, fruits and vegetables.
  • Milk causes large spikes in blood insulin levels, which can lead to weight gain.
  • Lactose and casein in dairy are the cause of many digestive problems.