Mr. Olympia 2014 Mens Physique Competitor Arya Saffaie Talks About the Best Diet for Competitive Fitness

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Curtis Fisher:  We’re here now with the 2014 Mr. Olympia contestant Arya Saffaie.  He is about a week out from the show.  How are you feeling?

Arya Saffaie:  I’m feeling good.  As ready as I could be.  Six more days and I’ll be on the big stage.

Curtis Fisher:  So I wanted to ask some questions about your diet.  Some of the viewers out there may be interested in what you did for your prep.  How much protein do you eat on a daily basis?

Arya Saffaie:  Well, for me, my body weight is pretty light.  I still go anywhere from 250 to 275 grams per day.  On average, closer to 250 grams per day.

Curtis Fisher:  Can you elaborate just a little on the types of protein you feel are most important when you’re trying to gain lean muscle?

Arya Saffaie:  Definitely I have a lot of egg whites.  That’s one important aspect.  The main proteins I have is basically egg whites, turkey, chicken, and occasionally I’ll throw in a steak as well. And that’s aside from my protein powder, I use ISO 100.  That’s a good protein.  It breaks down very fast in the system, that’s important.

I’d say my main source of protein is from egg whites.

Curtis Fisher:  Sounds good.  So what type of diet are you doing during the off season and also how does that change when you’re getting ready for the show?

Arya Saffaie: Well, obviously I’m going to up the calories in the off season.  You want to try to take advantage of that time period to try to put some more size on.  I don’t like to do what a lot of people say is a bulking stage, where people kind of eat whatever they like and just add on a lot of unnecessary fat.

I like to do the same exact thing during the in season but just more of the same type of foods, which is a clean bulk.  I’ll up my fats, I’ll up my carbs.  protein just by a little bit.  But not too much of a different variety of foods, unless I’m having like a cheat meal which is more acceptable during the off season time.

But as far as the general diet, it’s very similar to the same as when I’m on season but just more of those same foods.  Particularly in the carbs and fats section.

Curtis Fisher:  So what would you suggest for anyone looking to get shredded as far as  how many carbs they would take in on a daily basis?

Arya Saffaie: Well everybody’s body is different so the first thing is  finding out how your body responds to different foods.  Personally, I know that a lot of people feel that carbs is the enemy and in a lot of sense is. In some cases it could be something that hinders weight loss.

However, if you get your metabolism going the right way, you’re doing the proper exercises in the gym where you’re really breaking the muscle down, carbs can really be your friend.  So for me, throughout my prep, I don’t really have many low carb days.  Maybe some are higher, none are really that low.

I keep it around 180 – 200 grams for my body weight.  That’s still a pretty decent amount.  I don’t really drop as low as a lot of people do.  It’s just the main thing, when it comes to carbs, from my experience, is the type of carbs you’re taking in.  Oatmeals, yams, brown rice.  Those are my staples.

Those are things I really stick with in my diet all the time.  And as long as  you’re getting the clean foods in, it’s not really going to hinder your weight loss in regard to carbs.

Curtis Fisher: Good stuff.  So what type of supplementation do you suggest for any of the aspiring physique competitor or anyone in general just looking to get in shape?

Arya Saffaie:  The staples that I go to obviously protein.  BCAA’s are extremely important as well.  The recovery aspect – making sure you’re really taking care of those muscles.  Glutamine, creatine, and L-carnitine.  those are some important ones for me.

L-carnitine I take on an empty stomach before I do any kind of cardio to kind of help the fat loss process there.   BCAA, glutamine those are definitely helping in the aspect of recovery.  When you put your muscles through that much stress, it’s really going to hinder you – your body going to want to crave these things.  when you feed it that, that helps the recovery aspect.

Creatine is something that helps you put on more muscle.  It’s one of the most proven supplements that really can give you muscle building benefits.  And the more muscle you have, not only obviously do I look better, but you’re going to be able to get your metabolism a little bit higher because it burns more fat as you go – burn more calories off.

And obviously protein, the main staple that everyone knows about.  That’s a must to make sure that you’re rebuilding the muscle you’re breaking down at the gym.

Curtis Fisher:  Good information there.   So how long do you feel the average guy or gal needs to diet in order to get that toned six-pack their looking for?

Arya Saffaie:  Definitely depends on where you start.  I mean, if you’re 30 to 40 pounds over weight it’s going to take you a lot longer. But for a guy that’s in average shape, with a little extra body fat, not really see a six-pack but a thin layer of fat over it, I’d say a good 12 weeks is a good enough time as long as you’re doing everything right.

Twelve weeks for an average guy to go from having a smooth layer of fat over his stomach or doesn’t have much development to show versus having an actual six-pack.  I’ve seen some amazing results in 12 weeks.  If you line everything up and do it right, that should be a decent enough amount of time really start seeing definition.

IFBB PRO Arya Saffaie

Curtis Fisher:  How many meals do you eat in a day when you’re getting ready – especially for this Mr. Olympia.

Arya Saffaie: Six to seven.  That includes a post workout shake as well in there.  About six actual meals with a post workout shake.  That would total to be seven.  So I’m always consistently feeding every two to three hours.

I believe it helps my body metabolise quicker.  It makes it so your body knows it’s constantly getting food.  Doesn’t really want to hold on to any kind of extra food and store it because it knows, based upon your easting pattern, it’s going to get food every few hours.

So it helps my body to know that I’m going to get food in a couple hours so let’s burn this off as energy versus some people that go big gaps between eating – 5, 6, 7 hours.  it makes your body want to hold onto the food a little longer unsure of when it gets its next meal. I have to be very predictable and constantly feed  myself every two to three hours of the day.  it ends up being six to seven meals.

Curtis Fisher:  Could you give an example of what your meal consists of on a typical day?

Arya Saffaie:  For me honestly, a lot of people I know want to get creative with a variety.  I have a decent variety but to be honest when I’m doing the strictest part of my prep, the food is pretty much always the same.  I have egg whites, I have oatmeal, I have brown rice.  Chicken, ground turkey, yams, peanut butter which is the favorite part of my day.

Peanut butter, spinach, green beans, broccoli.  honestly, that’s about 80 to 90 percent of food I eat.  Just over and over and over again.  Switching up for certain meals but those are pretty much the seven – eight foods I eat constantly throughout my prep for the last eight weeks.  Just the repetitive mode of those foods.

Curtis Fisher:    Wow.  So one of the big questions is – people are always trying to get ready for shows – how do you dry out for a show?

Arya Saffaie:  That’s something that I’ve had so much trial and error with.

Curtis Fisher:  For the people that don’t know – the people that don’t compete.  Drying out – what it means.

Arya Saffaie:  So drying out is basically trying to get rid of the water.  To really get that crisp look in your body.  Now when I say get rid of the water, do I mean stop drinking water?    No, because you still want to make sure you’re muscles are filled and muscles are 70 percent made of water.

So if you get all the water out to a full dehydration mode, maybe you’ll look dry as far as in other areas, but you’re also not going to have any kind of pop in your muscles and you’re trying to get a pump before you get on stage.

It’s not going to really pop out for you because it needs that water to really give you that pop.  So the goal when you’re drying is to get rid of all the water that’s underneath the skin, but leave as much as possible in the muscle.

So when you start doing your little pump workouts before you go in stage you’re able to get that dry look and look crisp and not have any kind of water weight under your skin.  But also have enough to fill you out in your chest and your muscle areas where you want to look good.

So for me, I like to do a small water load about seven to ten days before my show.  I’ll start drinking an extra amount of water.  what that does, it tries to get my body to release more water.  Your body gets in the mode that it really wants to get rid of water.  I’m doing that for about seven – eight days.

Shows are usually on Saturdays.  So about Wednesday I go from about two and a half gallons – I’ll cut it down to about two gallons, 1.75 gallons.  Thursday, now I’m going down to 1.25 to one gallon.  Friday, I’m having three-fourths of a gallon.  Still drinking a good amount of water the day before the show.

A lot of people don’t do that.  They start drinking a lot before that but I like to keep my muscles hydrated.  The thing is, even though I’m drinking three-fourths of a gallon the day before a show, my body’s so used to getting so many gallons of water in, it’s still getting rid of more than it normally would because it’s on the mode of when I was drinking three gallons – getting rid of water.

So although I’m having three-fourths of a gallon a lot more than some people think you should be drinking to be drying out the day before a show, it’s enough to give my body the water it needs to fill out.  But I’m still in the process of releasing water from the upload I did several days before that.

Then the day of a show, I’ll have with my first two meals, about eight ounces with my meals because the carbohydrates – you want to get them to flood inside your muscles.

It needs water to do that so if you don’t drink water the day of your show, and you try and eat those carbs and try to carb up to get that pump everyone talks about, it;s not going to have any delivery pattern for it because there’s no water to deliver the carbs to your muscle.

You can eat all the carbs you want, you’re not going to get filled out.  If you drink at least eight ounces of water with those carbs the first couple of meals, it’s going to help deliver – drive into your muscles where you want them to be, same time.

It’s not going to be any more underneath the skin so when you hit the stage, you’re going to have that dry look, but still be full enough.  That’s the key – to be dry and full.  That’s what I usually do and so far it’s worked really well for me.