THE DIET: End of July ’03
With a starting point of 327 pounds, there were two key objectives. First, I now have to restructure his entire diet from what we were used to. With the added muscle mass, we not only had to think of how to hold on to the size— but compensate for the extra muscle revving his metabolism even more. If I kept his diet anywhere close to what we did previously, his body, being a creature of habit, would fall right back into its old groove and all the added weight and size would be lost—he would just burn everything up too quickly and we would only end up with a 5–10 pound increase on the stage. We weren’t looking for that—we were looking for 25 pounds heavier on stage. With this in mind, I completely revamped the diet process, just as I did with the off-season program.
With the goal of creating the perfect muscle monster, I knew we had to think out of the box, and I had to come up with a plan that would be considered off the wall and totally not the norm for bodybuilding preparation. Instead of thinking “bodybuilding diet,” I structured this program specifically to keep every ounce of Ronnie’s muscle. Ronnie was simply an athlete in a totally different league, and the “norm” definitely would not apply to this situation. This contest diet was different from any other bodybuilding diet I have ever structured because of the crazy amount of muscle he possessed and because of how his body reacted to dieting.
I began at a certain amount of protein and a certain amount of carbohydrates. For the diet, I began fluctuating his proteins. during the off-season, I had kept his protein amounts very consistent—never veering from the 500-grams range, but now during the diet, I varied his protein from 450–550 grams daily.
The creativity of the diet came into play with the fluctuation of carb amounts. Over a seven-day period, I constantly changed up his carbohydrate amounts, but instead of taking his carbohydrates down, I started them low and took the amounts up. I started the week with 150 grams of carbs and throughout the week, I gradually began increasing his carbs. I wanted to see his weight drop quickly at the beginning of the week, and as his weight came down I continued to increase the carbs each day until his weight would stop dropping and even out.
For example, say on Saturday, Ronnie may have been at 550 grams of protein and his daily carb intake had increased throughout the week from 150 grams to 900 grams of carbs. Normal bodybuilding thinking would be to drop the carbs back down, but I went in the opposite direction. On Sunday, I added 1,000 grams more of carbs, taking them to 1,900 grams for that day to give him a mini carb load. On Monday, I dropped him back down to 150 grams of carbs. His body would then drop down in weight again (losing about two to four pounds), and I would start this process all over again.
This type of carb protocol was off the beaten path from conventional bodybuilding dieting—but I didn’t just say, “Hey, let’s try something crazy!” I planned and calculated each and every day of his program—the key being to monitor his progress on a daily basis so I was able to increase his carbs exactly as needed to constantly slow his weight loss until it finally came to a stop at exactly seven days. My plan was to hammer the diet hard at the very beginning of the week for quick weight loss, then slow the weight loss each day a bit more until it stopped by constantly upping the carbs. The amount of carbs Ronnie fluctuated from the beginning to the end of each week was different as I based it upon how much weight loss we experienced at the beginning of the week. Sometimes, as in the example above, it would take a gradual increase during the week from 150 grams to 900 grams of carbs to stop the weight loss. Other times it may have increased only from 150 grams to 500 grams of carbs to stop the weight loss. I found that the leaner Ronnie became throughout the diet, the more carbs I needed to add in throughout the week in order to stop the weight loss.
The method to my madness with this constant fluctuation was to turn Ronnie’s body into the perfect fatburning machine. The constant pyramiding of carbs, the quick-load day, and then drastically dropping his carb amounts back down allowed Ronnie to burn fat while maintaining the size and muscle obtained during the off-season. Again, this is a plan I devised strictly for Ronnie and the special needs of his advanced physique —and not something I practice on a day-today basis with my clients.
The end result after carb-loading Ronnie and pulling all the water was 287 pounds after two meals the day of the 2003 Mr. Olympia prejudging. I remember looking at him and thinking,”Not only is this show over already, but the initial reaction of the judges and audience could only be that of sheer awe!” That year, in a sea of davids, Ronnie looked like Goliath. However, this story ended with Goliath as the victor!