Going on a low-carb diet isn’t an entirely foreign concept these days, especially with the ketogenic diet being as popular as ever. But sometimes, there’s more to reducing your carbohydrate intake than it seems. Recently, Dwayne Johnson, AKA The Rock, posted about his “carb depletion” plan while filming the new The Fast and the Furious spin-off, Hobbs & Shaw.
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Last meal of the night and carb depleting (shirt comes off in this movie 🧀🤦🏽♂️) for our final massive battle sequences coming up next week for HOBBS & SHAW — my FAST & FURIOUS spin-off film. Wanted to bring the HOBBS character in razor sharp condition and shape for this one. The exact science of this diet and training is tough on the ol’ system to maintain for four months of filming, but film lasts forever and we get one shot to try and make something iconic for the fans. Then I’ll race everyone to the waffle truck. #lastmeal #11pm #carbdeplete #hobbsandshaw #fuckingscience
“Last meal of the night and carb depleting (shirt comes off in this movie 🧀🤦🏽♂️)”, he says.
By now, we’re all familiar with how The Rock trains and eats – he lifts hard and eats harder. His cheat meals will often put yours to shame, with stacks of pancakes and rolls of sushi dominating his Instagram feed. But when it’s time to get shredded, he’ll do whatever it takes to get his conditioning dialled in, and that includes depleting carbs.
What is carb depletion?
So, what is carb depletion exactly, and what happens when you do it?
When you eat carbs, your muscles store it as glycogen. These stores not only give you energy, it fills your muscles up as it draws water into them.
“Glycogen stored in muscle holds water; it literally pulls water into the muscle, filling it up much like a water balloon. The more glycogen you store in your muscles, the more water is pulled in and the bigger your muscles blow up,” says Jim Stoppani, Ph.D, fitness and nutrition expert.
By cutting carbs and depleting glycogen stores, you’ll put your body in a fat-burning state. However, depletion is only one part of the equation. When you remove something, you have to put it back eventually.
“So why do you want to deplete glycogen? It’s actually in an effort to store more glycogen when you carb load later in the week. Research has discovered that When you deplete muscle glycogen levels and then carb load, your muscles are able to store significantly more glycogen than normal,” Dr. Stoppani adds.
Why do people deplete carbs?
The people who go through carb depletion are usually bodybuilders right before a bodybuilding competition. Competitive bodybuilders will undergo an extreme cut in an attempt to look as dry and lean as possible on stage.
In the final days leading up to the competition, they will first deplete their glycogen stores, then load up on carbs again to reveal as much definition as possible. And that’s the same strategy that The Rock is adopting to look as ripped as he can on the big screen.
“A good deal of that water will come from under the skin,” Dr. Stoppani says. “So by carb loading in these last few days, you’re not only helping your body to look bigger and fuller but also helping your body get that ultra-shredded look.
If this diet strategy sounds tough, it’s because it is, and The Rock knows it.
“The exact science of this diet and training is tough on the ol’ system to maintain for four months of filming, but film lasts forever and we get one shot to try and make something iconic for the fans,” the 46 year-old says.
In any case, we can be sure of one thing: Dwayne Johnson will be back to his regular diet once he’s done filming those crucial scenes.
“Then I’ll race everyone to the waffle truck.”
By Gilbert Wong, Men’s Health Content Producer