Layne Norton Peak Week: Nutrition

Learn what to eat and what not to eat -- especially where carbohydrates are concerned -- during this critical week. Of course, protein and fat are covered too.

By the time you've reached your final week of contest preparation, dieting has taken over from training as the ultimate key to success (or failure).

You're counting carb and fat grams as meticulously as an auditor scours the books a sketchy start-up company, and misstep can be hard to undo or overcome.

This video tells you how to avoid those mistakes in the first place.

Learn To Dial In Your Nutrition

Watch The Video - 03:41

Avoiding Dietary Disaster

When it comes to peak week nutrition, it's all about carbohydrates. They're the star of the show to come, with protein and fats playing supporting roles.

Here's what to do:

1 / Do only very moderate carb loading

If your body is accustomed to 100 g of carbs per day, and then you load 800 g for three days, disaster awaits. That's why I recommend never consuming more than three times your normal contest-prep carb load during peak week.

Front Loading Carbs

2 / The absolute amount of carbs to load, and how long to load them, is a matter of trial and error

I usually front-load carbs earlier in the week because I'm still training hard and my body can tolerate them. I taper them down as the show draws nearer.

3 / This also gives you more leeway to adjust depending upon your body's response

Spill over and you can still reduce your carbs before the show and recapture tightness. Closer to the show, such adjustments are no longer an option.


4 / Protein and fats should be held more or less steady during peak weak

Any adjustments should be minor: I tend to start off with lower protein earlier in the week, when carbs are higher, and slowly bring that back up to normal levels over the course of the week.

5 / On show day a moderate carb load should fill you out

Starting 6 to 8 hours from prejudging, consume 30 to 80 g of carbs every 2 to 3 hours.

A 220-pound ectomorph will want to err toward the high side of that range, whereas a 150-pound endomorph will want to err on the lower side.

6 / Eat low-fiber, low-bulk sources of carbohydrates

Consume small amounts of protein (10 to 20 g) and fat (5 to 10 g) with each meal. To allow enough time, ectomorphs may want to begin loading on Friday, a day before the show.

Bread and Cheese

7 / The right meal consumed 2 hours before prejudging can help you fill out

The protein/carb/fat/sodium mix varies by person, but 20 to 30 g protein, 40 to 100 g carbs, and 15 to 30 g fat with 800 to 2,000mg of sodium works well for me.

I've had good luck eating a sub.

8 / What you choose to eat to hit these targets depend on your metabolism and food sensitivities

If you're lactose intolerant, allergic to gluten, or both, consuming a large amount of bread and cheese on a sub isn't for you.

Remember, nothing substitutes for trial and error, so the earlier you can test-drive some of these techniques, the better.

Layne Norton's Peak Week 7-Day Nutrition Plan

Here's a sample of a peak week approach that has worked well for me for past shows. See the above video to learn how to adjust your own nutrition plan.

Thursday/Friday (8 & 9 Days Out)

Protein: 275 g (normal)

Carbs: 140 g (maybe slightly lower than normal)

Fats: 45 g (normal)

Sodium: 5000 mg (pretty high, but the amount I normally consume in a day)

Fluid: 1 1/2 gallon

Training: normal

Cardio: normal


Protein: 255 g

Carbs: 180-200 g

Fats: 45 g

Sodium: 5,000 mg

Fluid: 1 1/2 gallon

Training: off

Cardio: final high-intensity interval sessions


Protein: 235 g

Carbs: 380 g

Fats: 50 g

Sodium: 5,000 mg

Fluid: 1 1/2 gallon

Training: Last heavy leg day (no sets to failure, 80% or so of normal weights)

Cardio: 50 minutes at moderate intensity


Protein: 245 g

Carbs: 320 g

Fats: 50 g

Sodium: 5,000 mg

Fluid: 1 1/2 gallon

Training: Last heavy back-and-chest day (no sets to failure, 80% or so of normal weights)

Cardio: 40 minutes at moderate intensity


Protein: 255 g

Carbs: 260 g

Fats: 45 g

Sodium: 5,000 mg

Fluid: 1 1/2 gallon

Training: Last heavy shoulders-and-arms day (no sets to failure, 80% or so of normal weights)

Cardio: 30 minutes at moderate intensity


Protein: 265 g

Carbs: 200 g

Fats: 45 g

Sodium: 5,000 mg

Fluid: 11/2 gallon

Training: 40 minutes of light circuit training (pick one exercise for each body part, and rotate through it nonstop; use 60% of normal weights)

Cardio: 20 minutes at moderate intensity


Protein: 275 g

Carbs: 250 g

Fats: 45 g

Sodium: 5,000 mg

Fluid: 1 1/2 gallon

Training: 20 to 25 minutes of light circuit training

Cardio: 10 to 20 minutes of low-intensity cardio, such as walking

Layne Norton Competition Stack


Meal 1: (8 Hours Before Prejudging)

3 oz Sirloin Steak (lightly seasoned)

8 oz Sweet Potato

8 oz Water

Meal 2: (6 Hours Before Prejudging)

3 oz Sirloin Steak (lightly seasoned)

8 oz Sweet Potato

8 oz Water

Meal 3: (4 Hours Before Prejudging)

3 oz Protein Bar (with glycerol, containing 20-30 g protein, 30-40 g carbs, and 10-15 g fat)

1 small Banana

8 oz Water

Meal 4: (2 Hours Before Prejudging)

9-inch sub with Turkey, Cheese, and Honey Mustard (about 30 g protein, 85 g carbs, 20 g fat, and 1,500 mg sodium)

10 oz Water

Meal 5: (Half Hour Before Stage)

2 Rice Cakes

1 tbsp Peanut Butter and Jelly

Five Minutes Before Going Onstage:

1 small Candy Bar (quick-acting sugar and fat)

In between those first four meals, I also drink 12 oz of water. After Meal No. 4, I sip water as needed to quench my thirst.

I also pump up for 10 minutes after Meal Nos. 1, 4, and right before hitting the stage to help deliver glucose to muscle cells.

Truth Vs Myth

Protein Shake

MYTH /// I must cut out protein shakes during the final week because they'll make me retain water

TRUTH: If your body tolerated the shakes during your diet, why would the final week be any different?

Unless you're allergic to some of the fractions in these shakes (such as the beta-lactalbumins in whey), there's no reason not to continue drinking them.

MYTH /// I must cut out creatine out because it will make me retain water

TRUTH: Creatine actually shifts the water balance where you want it by putting more water inside the cell. It will help you maintain your fullness.

Now that being said, many people try to load creatine in the final week to amplify this effect. Don't do it!

If your body isn't accustomed to taking creatine and you start loading it, your digestive system may not be able to dispose of all the creatine in the bloodstream, drawing water into the GI tract and causing you to bloat.

Rule of thumb: Continue taking creatine as you've been taking it during contest prep, but if you haven't been using, don't start in the final week!


Finally, I've included miscellaneous dietary tips for peak week:

  1. Limit vegetable and fiber intake during the last 16 to 20 hours before the show to prevent excess gut fill and possible bloating from fermentation of the fiber.
  2. Take a non-drowsy antihistamine the morning of the show. You're more prone to allergies and sickness in your final week because depletion suppresses immune function.

Allergies and illness can cause the body to increase levels of histamine, a compound that can trigger water retention in addition to many other cold symptoms (i.e., stuffy head, stuffy nose, etc).

Taking an anti-histamine can help prevent this action should illness or allergy occur.

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