IFBB Pro John Jewett discusses eating into the show

Eating Into the Show

I sit here two weeks out from the 2021 Indy Pro, looking back over this past prep and having no regrets. I have executed a plan exactly as I intended. The Indy Pro is very meaningful to me because this will be my first show as a pro where I’ve run the whole prep coaching myself. It’s given me a new level of confidence as a competitor and coach. Gaining confidence and knowledge in all areas of prep has been a progression over the years. Early on in competing, doubt can creep in when you consider self-coaching. Questions can weigh on your mind. Will I know when to drop calories, what should I do with peak week, or is my timeline on track? I don’t have these questions anymore. It’s taken me years to get here but I made it. I am ready and proud of the work I have to display.

Setting the Timeline Was Crucial

At two weeks out my body weight is down to 207.0 lb, which is roughly where I estimated I needed to be. This will total out to be a 12-week prep as my starting weight was 223 lb with around 10-11% body fat. Basic math kept me on track: I had 7% body fat to lose, roughly 16 lb, landing me exactly at a skinned-out 207 lb. Timing—estimating body fat and giving yourself the right timeline—is the key to getting skinned. I am now ready 2 weeks out and will begin my ideal peaking process of “eating into the show.” In my opinion, rapid carbohydrate loads, water tapers, and sodium loads are all extreme measures and usually last-ditch efforts to peak someone that is not in shape. To set the stage for “eating into the show,” you have to get skinned-out lean. You will look like you could walk on stage at any moment; you don’t need to manipulate all the variables that might ruin your look. We will simply drop fatigue by tapering cardio and raising food, then walk out on stage full, hard, and hydrated.

Diet Layout

Since I no longer need to drop body fat, I am just raising calories to maintenance which for me was around a 15% calorie increase from 1899 kcal (178c/281p/6f) to 2222 kcal (263c/281p/10f). I focused all of the increase on carbohydrates to aid digestion, fuel performance and recovery, improve sleep, and keep muscle fullness. I keep fats at trace levels as digestion is much better this way and I don’t have to limit fiber intake. Increasing food will drop fatigue and cause water to shed. This is where you can obtain an even harder look going into the show.

Current Diet Set Up:

Total fluid: 2 gallons of water per day

Total salt intake: 7.2g (2.9g sodium) only counting direct salt added to meals

Meal 1

  • 200g egg whites
  • 35g Animal Frosted Cinnamon Bun Whey
  • 55g oats
  • 65g pumpkin
  • 100g spinach
  • ½ English muffin
  • 1 scoop Animal Pak

Meal 2 (pre-workout, 90 minutes pre)

  • 30g Animal Brownie Batter Whey
  • 3oz chicken breast cooked wt
  • 45g oats
  • 140g white jasmine rice, cooked wt


  • 2 scoops Animal Pump Pro Blue Ice
  • 1 scoop Animal Fury Lemonade


  • 1 scoop Animal Juiced Amino Peach Mango

Meal 3 (post workout, 20 minutes post)

  • 6oz chicken breast, cooked wt
  • 140g white jasmine rice, cooked wt
  • 100g spinach/green bean mix

Meal 4

  • 6oz chicken breast, cooked wt
  • 110g white jasmine rice, cooked wt
  • 300g mixed salad (lettuce, bell pepper, red onion, mushroom, tomato)

Meal 5

  • 70g Animal Whey Strawberry
  • 40g oats
  • 65g pumpkin
  • 100g spinach/green bean mix
  • 1 pak Animal PM

Cardio Layout:

Step Goal: 12,000 steps per day

Cardio has not been taxing this prep. I increased my step count only over the course of prep, and any direct cardio work I would do was on the treadmill at 12% incline and 2.7 mph. I tracked steps with a FitBit. Start of prep was at 6000 steps and I have progressed this up to 12,000 steps total. This is such an easy form of cardio that moving into my peaking process I won’t drop back on the step count. I’ll only reduce the deficit through increasing food. Steps are easy to add in on prep. I wake up and take a 15-minute walk in the morning, then stay fasted, have some coffee, and do some emails. Then I will do 25 minutes on the treadmill before meal 1. This already gets me to 4000 steps for the day. I can then just stay active the rest of the day taking brief walks before and after meals, walking around at the gym and parking far away from stores that I visit. Remember, the point of cardio on prep is to just expend energy via the easiest means possible so that it does not interfere with your weight training performance. Keeping training performance high is what is going to keep the muscle on when you diet.

Training Layout:

  • Push
  • Pull
  • Delts/arms/calves/abs
  • Legs
  • Off

My training split only changed once over the course of prep. Again, upholding performance is key during prep. I noticed that my sessions were getting rather lengthy when I was running only push, pull, off, legs, off. So I moved all of my isolation work (delts, arms, calves, abs) to an off day. This kept my sessions short and I was no longer fading out by the end of training. This is all about fatigue management. Throughout prep you are trying to adjust training to uphold performance (the load and reps you hit) and train within your recovery capacity. At 6 weeks out I did drop some lifts from 3 sets down to 2 sets in order to uphold training effort, load, and reps. But now with “eating into the show,” recovery has kicked back up. I am not going to add the removed sets back in, but I will just allow my load and reps to progress up organically. In other words, I’ll still allow progression to take place but I won’t go to failure and try for reps I have no way in hell of hitting. “Eating into the show” will increase that full look, and you might potentially regain any tissue that you lost in the dieting process. This will be driven by the adaptive stimulus you created by progressing overload.

“Eating Into the Show”


  • Drop fatigue by training volume reductions
  • Increase in food
  • Improving energy availability
  • Improved digestion, sleep, hormone profile
  • More predictive glycogen fullness than rapid loads
  • Regaining lost muscle tissue
  • You essentially are peaked before peak week

How To Do It:

  • Move calorie to maintenance by increasing carbs 20-40g and fats 0-10g (10% kcal increase to start)
  • Reduce cardio by 5-10 minutes per session or steps by 1000-2000
  • Food sources stay the same
  • Water and sodium stay the same, which should be at a high level all prep
  • Assess your weight and pictures daily to make sure you are at maintenance and not gaining weight and getting softer

When To Do It:

Must be fat-free lean 1-4 weeks out from show.

I know peak week has been sold as a magical week full of manipulation that is going to transform you into stage-lean condition. The unsexy truth is that nothing is going to have you stage-ready unless you are stage lean in the first place. You need to set the right timeline for your prep, give extra weeks, be ready in advance, then “eat into the show” without last minute manipulations. Be confident in nailing a peak that is not a roll of the dice and don’t try to race fat off at the end. If needed, push your show back a few weeks and come in with the best look you intended so you can be proud to walk on stage. I know I will.

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