This year I had the honor of having six video shoots and eight photo shoots. My family and I had many other reasons to be thankful, including the birth of my second amazing daughter and a brand new job. Prepping for those videos and photo shoots was hard work, but add in a newborn, a toddler, selling our home, moving, and a new job, and it brings the challenge to a whole new level. While I can write an entire book on this subject, I am going to try to keep this as concise and straightforward as possible. Fundamentally, dropping body fat while maintaining muscle mass comes down to three basic categories that I adjust to fine-tune my conditioning — diet, training, and supplementation. Focusing on and manipulating these three categories is what it takes to have a photo-ready physique. Read on to see my general approach for preparing!
Diet, in my opinion, is by far the most critical component to cutting body fat. Yet it is also likely going to be the most challenging — both mentally and physically. Everyone’s approach to dieting is different and contingent upon their unique set of circumstances. I gradually reduce my daily caloric intake, with carbohydrates being the primary macronutrient I decrease. However, I also try to keep carbohydrates as high as possible! Sounds crazy, right? Here’s how I do it. When I begin my diet for a video or photo shoot, my carbohydrate intake is relatively high (this varies for everyone). I start by removing carbohydrates from one of my several meals throughout the day. I typically eat between five and eight meals in a day. Removing carbohydrates like this will lead to a gradual reduction in body fat. Once my body adapts to the new caloric intake and I reach a plateau, I repeat that same process and remove carbohydrates from another meal. This cycle continues to facilitate a steady reduction in body fat. For this reason, it is optimal to have high carbohydrate intake when you begin so you can continually and gradually remove carbohydrates from the diet. The more time you have to reduce body fat — or prepare for a video or photo shoot — the more slowly you can decrease your calories and carbohydrates, thus preserving more muscle mass in the process.
In addition to reducing my daily caloric intake from carbohydrates, I remove some fat from my diet if I am not dropping body fat quickly enough as the deadline approaches. My goal is to always keep my calories and macronutrients (carbohydrates, fats, and protein) as high as possible for as long as possible. My protein intake remains high throughout the entire dieting process. Lastly, as my carbohydrate intake becomes lower, I begin to incorporate high-carb days where I reduce my protein intake and increase my carbohydrate intake. On these days my protein intake is reduced to 1 gram per pound of body weight, my fat intake is as low as possible, and my carbohydrates spike up to 4 grams of carbohydrates per pound of bodyweight. For example, if you weigh 180 pounds, you’d consume 180 grams of protein, as little fat as possible, and 720 grams of carbohydrates.
The last diet strategy I implement comes down to timing my carbohydrate intake. I aim to eat the majority of my carbohydrates before and after my workouts — especially when the shoot is near, and I am consuming VERY little carbohydrates.
Water manipulation is something else I do leading up to shoot day. About two weeks before shoot day, I increase my water intake to 1.5–2 gallons per day. Two days before the shoot, I have a gallon. A day before the shoot, I have 0.5 gallons before midday and then approximately 6 ounces with each meal after. The day of the shoot, I have small sips of water but keep it to a minimum. This approach allows me to appear as if I'm leaner than I am. But ALWAYS listen to your body, and make sure you keep yourself healthy and hydrated. ALWAYS prioritize health!
Training is the least complicated factor in this photoshoot-ready equation. I generally change up my exercise routine — whether I am getting ready for a photo shoot or not — so my body is always challenged in different ways. Therefore, I keep my training on a similar regimen and only incorporate a few changes as the shoot day approaches. The biggest change to my workouts is adding more cardiovascular exercise. I use the downtime between sets to do some form of higher intensity cardio. For example, after completing a set of weight training, I’ll do jumping jacks or burpees instead of sitting down or standing and resting. This enables me to burn more calories and acts as a form of high-intensity interval training (HIIT), which leads to greater fat loss. I also incorporate an additional cardio training session later in the day to help drop any remaining body fat. As a last resort, and only when my body fat is VERY low, I may add in an early morning, fasted cardiovascular training session. This fasted morning cardio is low intensity and typically done by walking on a treadmill for about 20–30 minutes at a slight incline.
While supplementation is not the most important factor when preparing for a video and/or photo shoot, I think it may be the most misunderstood aspect and far too often improperly used. And, it’s still very important!
Just like food, what we put in our bodies matters. That’s one of the biggest issues with using supplements. People fall for the marketing gimmicks and don’t fully read, understand, or comprehend the supplement label and what they are consuming. They fail to dig deeper and investigate the supplements they use. I understand this. You trust that the companies supplying you products are being honest and providing the highest quality product possible — but that’s not always the case, unfortunately!
So before I begin to discuss my approach to supplementation, I feel a moral obligation to point this out. Step one is finding a company you can trust. One that uses clinically dosed ingredients and is entirely transparent with their labeling — a company that goes above and beyond industry standards and actually values creating effective, safe products. Obviously, my choice for this is NutraBio!
So how do I utilize supplements to prepare for a video and/or photo shoot? Below is the list of supplements from NutraBio I use when preparing.
Protein Powder (Whey Protein Isolate, Classic Whey, and/or Muscle Matrix)
Consumed throughout the day, but routinely consumed pre and post workout
Pre workout (PRE)
Consumed approximately 30 minutes before my workout
Intra workout (IntraBlast)
Consumed during my workout
Post workout (Reload)
Consumed after my workout
One serving split with meals throughout the day
One serving split between morning and evening meals
Carbohydrate supplement (SuperCarb)
Consumed pre and post workout; as shoot approaches, only post workout
Consumed with meals throughout the day
Consumed with meals throughout the day
Fat burner (NutraBio ThermoFuel)
Consumed before meals twice per day
Vitamin C with Rose Hips
As shoot approaches, taken with each meal of the day
From the above list, the fat burner and vitamin C are the only two I do not take routinely. I know it seems like a lot of supplements, but to maximize results, this list provides the essential nutrients to maintain or build muscle while attempting to add mass or reduce body fat.
As the shoot nears, I increase the amount of CLA and fish oils I consume as I reduce carbohydrates to help me feel more satiated, reduce inflammation, and bolster the fat burning process.
Once I am on track with my diet and training and the shoot is about three weeks away, I incorporate ThermoFuel. The ingredients in this product help stimulate my metabolism, provide additional energy, blunt the feeling of hunger, and help with removing some of the last remaining, stubborn body fat. ThermoFuel is not a magic pill. It will not remove tons of body fat and make you shredded. Pills don’t do that — hard work, discipline, and constancy do! Smart, proper training programs and a strategically crafted diet are essential, although a fat burner like ThermoFuel can, and certainly will, help if everything is done properly.
The last week before the shoot, I also begin supplementing with vitamin C. I do this to take advantage of the diuretic properties of vitamin C. It helps flush out excess water my body may be storing and helps create an illusion of less body fat.
So there you have it — my simple, three-tier approach for preparing for a video and/or photo shoot, contest, or special event. Try incorporating these tips to develop the shoot-ready, shredded physique you’ve been striving for!