Akash Vaghela’s Reverse Diet

Akash Vaghela’s Reverse Diet

When I competed in my third bodybuilding show at the end of July, I had three goals to accomplish:

1/ Get cheese grater glutes

2/ Come in leaner and heavier than last time

3/ Maintain my social life throughout

All three were achieved. So what’s next?

Another important goal I had in mind prior to starting the diet was to make sure I transitioned out of the diet in an effective manner, and didn’t repeat my mistakes from last time.

What did I do in 2014? I booked an all inclusive holiday a week after my show, and proceeded to binge my way back to my starting condition and worse over the course of the next few weeks.

This was a bad place mentally to be in and took me a while to break the cycle.

That’s why this time I’m determined to follow my own advice, set a good example to my clients and transition in an effective manner.

Essentially all the advice that we’ve given in part 1, 2 & 3 of our ‘post-diet’ series is what I’ll be executing.

My initial goal is to be no more than 5-6lbs above stage weight 4 weeks after the contest. This may sound pretty tough, but I think it’ll put me in a great spot to transition into a solid off-season after.

Week 1-2 – 13th August

The day after my show I woke up 2lbs up, which was most likely some extra water weight from the dinner I had the night before.

I didn’t go crazy after the show this time. No ‘post-show stash’ or anything like that. I just went out for a meal with some of my close friends, and had a steak & chips, a glass of red and some dark chocolate.

I came home, and went to bed. After my last show I was up till 2am bingeing on anything and everything I could find in my house.

Being in control this time felt good!

The next two days I had two photoshoots, so I needed to hold peak condition. For these shoots, food ended up being around 225P/55F/450C on both days.

After the shoots, I had a call with my coach Derek Natcher to discuss what I need to work on to improve my physique and take it to the next level.

We talked about a lengthy off-season, and set a goal to add 6lbs of stage weight over the next 3 years. This sounds like nothing, but this is natural bodybuilding, and it’s a slow burner!

In terms of body parts, we both agreed my legs, while much improved since last time, can always be better. And that paying particular attention to blasting my adductors would help create an overall fuller look to my physique.

Here’s the initial plan we set out.

Diet: 

Protein: 220g
Fat: 60g
Carb: 300g
+ 1 free meal a week

Having spent ten days walking the carbs up slowly to peak for show day, this also served as a ‘mini-reverse’ diet, and placed me in a good spot with food intake right off the bat.

Here’s how the diet looks:

M1: 2 whole eggs, 70ml egg whites, 50g smoked salmon, 70g oats
M2: 133g chicken, 70g rice, 1 tsp olive oil, veggies
M3: 30g whey, 70g oats, 10g peanut butter
M4: 133g chicken breast, 70g rice, 1 tsp olive oil, veggies
M5: 30g whey, 70g oats, 10g peanut butter
M6: 133g chicken breast, 70g rice, 1 tsp olive oil, veggies

If training: add 1 scoop AD Aminotaur

Initially I put 100g Coco Pops in post workout (meal 3), but I wasn’t getting much satiety out of it, so  I went back to whey/oats/peanut butter. Until carbs and calories get higher, I’ll probably stick to this set up.

Cardio:

I started cardio again the day after the show with 30 minutes a day of fasted power walking.

From Thursday, I picked up my steps again after a week break, and the first target was 15K a day. After going for 20K for the best part of 6 weeks, this was a nice mental break.

The aim with this is to slowly taper it so we’re at around 8-10K a day.

Supplements:

Back to my usual basics now of the following:

  • Whey Protein
  • Creatine Monohydrate
  • EAAs during training
  • Fish Oil
  • Vitamin D3

After taking 1-1.2 grams of caffeine for 6 weeks straight in the final stretch of prep, I went cold turkey completely after the final shoot.

What I realised doing this was how well caffeine was masking my hunger all this time. Hunger’s definitely been more noticeable since dropping it, and energy levels have taken a hit.

But my body needs a break from it and needs to ‘normalise’ so I’m sensitive again. After 4-6 weeks, I’ll maybe have a cup of coffee or tea a day, but with no extra caffeine in the form of tablets or pre-workouts as I was doing previously.

I’ve never been a fan of stimulants outside of aggressive fat loss phases. Their ability to mask fatigue means you lose the biofeedback your body is providing you on a day-to-day basis. And because of this, you never learn your body’s response and ability to recover to a specific diet or training protocol.

Training:

The main change in training is reverting to a 5-day training split. While my preferred option is 4 days a week when growing, I’m going to transition back slowly from the 6 days a week I was doing, and spend 6-8 weeks on a 5 day split.

Here’s how it’ll be laid out:

Monday: Lower
Tuesday: Upper
Wednesday: Rest
Thursday: Lower
Friday: Push
Saturday: Pull
Sunday: Rest

To break it down further…

Lower:

  1. RDL 3×4-6
  2. Hack Squat 3×6-8
  3. Walking Lunges 3×8-10
  4. Wide Stance Paused Leg Press 3×8-10
  5. Adductor Machine 3×10-15
  6. Calves (alternate between leg press calf + seated calf) w/ Banded Tibialis Raises 3×8-10 / 20-25

Upper:

  1. Paused Dip 4×4-6
  2. Wide Pull Up 4×4-6
  3. Seated DB Shoulder Press 3×6-8
  4. Machine Row 3×6-8
  5. DB Floor Press 3×8-12 (adding these back in after wrist/hand injury – putting at the end of workout so load is less)
  6. Seated DB Hammer Curl 3×8-12

Lower:

  1. Decline Lying DB Leg Curl 3×8-12
  2. Bulgarian Split Squat 3×8-12
  3. Wide Stance Leg Press 3×12-15
  4. DB Paused RDL 3×8-12
  5. Adductor Machine 3×10-15
  6. Calves (alternate between leg press calf + seated calf) w/ Banded Tibialis Raises 3×8-10 / 20-25

Push:

  1. Standing Military Press 3×6-8
  2. Dip 3×6-8
  3. DB Floor Press 3×8-12 (adding these back in after wrist/hand injury – putting at the end of workout so load is less)
  4. Cable Fly 2×12-15
  5. PJR Pullover 2×12-15
  6. Shoulder 6 Ways 2×10-12

Pull:

  1. Bent Row 3×6-8
  2. Multi Grip Chin Ups 40 total reps
  3. Machine Shrugs 3×8-12
  4. Incline DB Curls 2×10-12
  5. Face Pulls 2×12-15
  6. Incline Back Extensions 2×12-15
  7. Calves (alternate between leg press calf + seated calf) w/ Banded Tibialis Raises 3×8-10 / 20-25

As you can see, nothing complicated, and sticking to the exercises which I generally feel work best with my body.

I’ve also set myself some program rules to follow for these next 4-6 weeks:

  • Only the last set should be taken to failure
  • No intra-set pauses. If I need to stop mid-set, it should only be to adjust grip or stance. If it’s to rest-pause a set to get more reps, the set is over.
  • Track rest periods – 120 seconds on compounds, 90 seconds on isolations. I don’t usually do this, but thought I’d add them back in to 1/ track honest progress 2/ limit weight necessary

The rules I’ve set are mainly to allow recovery to take place efficiently, not beat myself up too much, and lower the loads necessary to create a training effect.

After a brutal 6 weeks of 6 days a week training with a low volume, high intensity approach, this is a welcome change.

In the next phase, I’ll be shifting back to this approach, albeit with 4 training days a week, so this serves as a good ‘priming phase’.

Condition:

After two weeks on the following set up, bodyweight is only 0.6kg/1.5lbs up, so I’m right on track. Condition is still very sharp. A little softer than two weeks ago on show day, but much fuller, which is perfect for where we want to be right now.

 

I’m excited to see how the next few months pan out, so be sure to keep checking in on the blog to see the progress!

Week 3-4 – 27th August

4 weeks post show and my first goal has been well accomplished. I’m only about 2-2.5lbs up from stage weight and holding onto some nice condition and vascularity all round.

Diet: 

In the last two weeks we’ve made two changes.
The first was a small bump, where we increased protein by 5g and carbs by 20g to make total intake 225P/ 60F/ 320C. This didn’t really touch the sides and after 5 days on it I was dropping weight again and back to my stage weight!

So we made a bump again to the following macros:

Protein: 225g

Fat: 75g (+15g)

Carb: 350g (+30g)

+ 1 free meal a week

I also decided to change my diet up a little, and drop to 5 meals a day instead of 6, now rotating between the following two meal plans:

OPTION 1

M1: 3 whole eggs, 100ml egg whites, 50g smoked salmon, 100g oats
M2: 133g chicken, 90g rice, 1 tsp olive oil
M3: 40g whey, 90g oats, 25g peanut butter
M4: 133g chicken breast, 90g rice, 1 tsp olive oil
M5: 133g chicken breast, 1 whole egg, 85g rice, 1 tsp olive oil, 5g butter

OPTION 2

M1: 2 Salmon Fillets, 10g Butter, 100g oats
M2: 133g chicken, 90g rice, 1 tsp olive oil
M3: 40g whey, 90g oats, 25g peanut butter
M4: 133g chicken breast, 90g rice, 1 tsp olive oil
M5: 150g Lean Lamb, 85g rice, 1 tsp olive oil

If training: add 1 scoop AD Aminotaur, 1 scoop AD Raging Full

The noticeable changes are:

– Addition of intra workout carbs. I put these in so instead of rushing my post workout meal as I tend to normally do, I can go home, get ready, and eat in my own time. This has helped digestion too.

– Only one whey ‘meal’ a day.

– Introduction of new foods. I like eating the same thing day in, day out when in prep, but I’ve started to reintroduce more variety in the last few weeks with butter, lamb and salmon. The fact I’m now eating above 60g fat for the first time in 6 months is a reason why I can do this now!

Cardio:

I’m still doing my fast paced morning walks everyday, but now for 25 minutes (- 5 mins).

Daily steps have come down too, tapering from 15K to 14K for 4-5 days, and then down to 12K when we made the second increase in food.

Supplements:

I’ve continued to maintain my caffeine ‘fast’ and unlike the first two weeks off, my energy and mood levels are much more stable now.

The only change in supplements has been switching to Dymatize ISO-100 whey protein, which tastes unreal – this with peanut butter and oats is literally melted snickers!

Training:

Intensity is coming up each week. For these first four weeks post show I haven’t been training to failure, using no real psych and have more been focused on getting good pumps, working technique etc.

From now though, I plan to ramp it up for the next 4-6 weeks while still following the program rules outlined above.

Condition:

Four weeks post show, bodyweight is only 1kg/2.2lbs up, so I’m right on track. Condition is still sharp, and I’m in a good spot to continue adding food and reducing cardio over the next 2-4 weeks.

Week 5-6 – 10th September

6 weeks post show now and I’m now ~5lbs up from stage weight, which I don’t think is too bad going.

While I’ve felt softer this past week, I’m starting to sweat again, I’m not always cold, my sex drive is coming back to normal, and my mood is 10x better (especially since getting back into the 73s).

My performance in the gym is also taking off, and I’ve got a lot more energy in my day to day life too.

I’ve been in close to / at contest condition for so long that being a little softer this past week has been a transition I’ve had to make mentally more than anything.

I’ve realised I don’t need to be at that level of body fat, and staying there has only impacted my mood for the worse. It’s only now that I feel better that I forgot what ‘normal’ was.

Diet:

We made one change in the past two weeks to the following macros:

Protein: 220g (-5g)

Fat: 80g (+5g)

Carb: 380g (+30g)

+ 1 free meal a week

Here’s how I’ve set it up:

OPTION 1
 
M1: 3 whole eggs, 50g smoked salmon, 90g Sourdough, 50g Oats
M2: 133g chicken, 100g rice, 1 tsp olive oil
TRAINING: 1 scoop aminotaur
M3: 30g whey, 120g oats, 20g peanut butter
M4: 133g chicken breast, 100g rice, 1 tsp olive oil
M5: 133g chicken breast, 1 whole egg, 100g rice, 1 tsp olive oil, 15g butter

OPTION 2

M1: 2 Salmon Fillets, 10g butter, 90g sourdough, 50g oats
M2: 130g chicken, 100g rice, 1 tsp olive oil
TRAINING: 1 scoop aminotaur
M3: 30g whey, 120g oats, 20g peanut butter
M4: 130g chicken breast, 100g rice, 1 tsp olive oil
M5: 160g Lean Lamb, 100g rice, 1 tsp olive oil, 15g butter

The noticeable changes are:

– Removal of intra workout carbs. I put these back in two weeks, but decided to take them out. I ran out, and thought I’d rather just eat my carbs for now. Until I can’t stomach any more whole food, I probably won’t buy anymore.

– Addition of sourdough bread for breakfast – this is just amazing. Forgot how good eggs on toast was!

One thing I experimented with this past week was having only 4 meals a day. I tried it for two days and hated it. The meals were so big and digestion just slowed down to a halt. 5 seems to be the sweet spot for me.

Up till now I haven’t really had any splurges on food. But this past Saturday I ended up polishing over 150g Swiss dark chocolate in one sitting. This was hands down some of the best dark chocolate I’ve ever tried. No bloat after – it felt like my body needed it. And it’s been since then that my mood/energy/strength has taken a big jump.

Cardio:

I’m still doing my fast paced 25 minute morning walks every day. I doubt it’s giving me much of a cardio benefit now (given how adapted I am to it), but I do it more for the mental benefits first thing in the morning.

Daily step target is now at 10K, but I’m averaging 10-12 from general activity, so this is probably where I’ll hold it.

I also started hot yoga twice this past week. This was way tougher than I thought it’d be, so it can only be a good thing to continue this. I’m going to aim to go at least 1-2x a week going forwards.

Supplements:

All I’m using now is literally 30g whey, 5g creatine and 2K IU Vitamin D3 a day. When I train I add a scoop of aminotaur.

Training:

Performance in the gym has sky rocketed this past week. I’m not near my all time strongest by any means yet, but intensity and strength is way up from the past 4-5 weeks.

As long as I can stay healthy and smart, I expect to be at my strongest ever by the end of the year. I’m really excited by this – and I’ll probably look at setting some lift goals very soon.

Condition:

Six weeks post show, bodyweight is only 2.4kg/5.2lbs up. While condition isn’t as sharp as two weeks ago, I’m still in good shape:

Let’s see what the next 6 weeks bring!

Week 7-8 – 24th September

8 weeks post show now and I’m now ~8-9lbs up from stage weight, which is a slightly bigger bump than expected but about right in the grand scheme of things.

I’ve lost some of separation and sharpness all over, but I’ve now mentally ‘let go’ of being shredded and feel ready for a really productive off season of making improvements.

Diet:

We made two changes in the past two weeks, both coming from carbs. For the first week, we bumped carbs to 395g, and in the second, pushed it up to 415g.

Protein: 220g

Fat: 80g

Carb: 415g (+35g)

+ 1 free meal a week

Here’s how I’ve set it up:

OPTION 1
 
M1: 3 whole eggs, 50g smoked salmon, 105g Sourdough, 50g Oats
M2: 133g chicken, 110g rice, 1 tsp olive oil
TRAINING: 1 scoop aminotaur
M3: 30g whey, 120g oats, 15g peanut butter, 20g 85% dark chocolate
M4: 133g chicken breast, 110g rice, 1 tsp olive oil
M5: 133g chicken breast, 1 whole egg, 110g rice, 1 tsp olive oil, 5g butter

OPTION 2

M1: 2 Salmon Fillets, 10g butter, 105g sourdough, 50g oats
M2: 130g chicken, 110g rice, 1 tsp olive oil
TRAINING: 1 scoop aminotaur
M3: 30g whey, 120g oats, 15g peanut butter, 20g 85% dark chocolate
M4: 130g chicken breast, 110g rice, 1 tsp olive oil
M5: 160g Lean Lamb, 110g rice, 1 tsp olive oil, 5g butter

No real changes in my overall diet structure these past two weeks. The only change in food source has been adding dark chocolate in on a daily basis with my oats.

This meal set up is working really well. My digestion feel great, energy is good and hunger is now under control.

Cardio:

While I’m still heading outside for a brisk walk every morning for 15-20 minutes, I wouldn’t count this as cardio anymore.

It’s part of my morning routine, and the pace I’m going at isn’t enough to give any fat loss benefits – it’s nowhere near what I was pushing during prep!

My daily steps are around 8-10K, averaging more towards the 10K mark from general activity.

I have continued hot yoga, and have tried to go twice a week since starting 3 weeks ago. Too early to say what the physical benefits have been, but mentally it always feel great after.

One thing I have added in on Saturdays is a 10-15 minute HIIT session at the end of my pull session. This isn’t for any fat loss benefits. It’s just something I thought that would be a good idea for cardiovascular health and general fitness. I’ve been doing it on the Airdyne bike using a protocol of 10 seconds fast, 50 seconds slow.

Supplements:

Same as before – 30g whey, 2K IU D3, 5g creatine and when I train, 1 scoop of aminotaur.

Training:

If I thought my performance in the gym was good in the previous two weeks, the last two have been even better! I’ve still been training on 5 days a week on the same routine outlined at the start of this article.

Next week I plan to run a deload while I’m away and then possibly move to a 4 days a week training split on my return.

I’ll outline the new split / program when it’s solidified, but it’ll be more of the same, albeit with more intensity and a touch less volume.

Condition:

Eight weeks post show, bodyweight is 4kg/8.8lbs up. With two week long trips in October coming up, my aim is to at least maintain in the 75-76kg region.

To continue reading about the transition and progress into the off season, check the next stage of this blog here.

Related Articles:

Post-Contest Rebound: Why Does It Happen And What You Should Do Instead

Break The Post Contest Binge Cycle

Goal Setting After Your Diet Has Finished: How To Make A Successful Transition After Your Diet Has Finished

Akash’s 2017 Bodybuilding Prep Diary

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