Post-contest physique changes show the power of proper nutrition.
Larry Wheels may have looked leaner than ever in the leadup to the 2023 Amateur Olympia, but it didn’t take long for him to move the needle in the opposite direction after falling short of securing his IFBB Pro League card.
Coming off an impressive performance at the 2023 NPC Ultimate Warriors in which he won his Classic Physique debut, the uber-popular powerlifter-turned-bodybuilder still had to trim a few inches off his sizable frame. Unfortunately for Wheels, his peak week efforts to go from 240 to 232 pounds didn’t result in a first-place finish in Orlando, FL, as Ejike Enwereuzor Jr. captured the Amateur Olympia Classic Physique championship on Nov. 2, 2023.
Less than a week later, however, Wheels’ body appeared vastly different than it did when he stood on stage at the Orange County Convention Center. On Nov. 5, 2023, a noticeably larger version of the versatile strength athlete shared a video on his YouTube video detailing how he gained 53 pounds in five days after competing in the Amateur Olympia. Not only did Wheels discuss his use of diuretics, but he also delivered a complete breakdown of the cheat meals he consumed that contributed to such a substantial jump.
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Having last stepped on stage at around 265 pounds, Wheels went on a serious cut to get contest-ready for the Classic Physique category. Besides severely reducing his calories and essentially eliminating carbohydrates from his diet for several weeks, his weight-loss process also involved the use of diuretics, which bodybuilders often use during peak week to reduce muscle water retention, increase urine output, and excrete sodium to present a more aesthetic physique. (1)
“This was my first time getting fully depleted for a show,” Wheels explained. “I did use diuretics to make weight and to have that dry, hard look on stage.”
Despite falling short of his goal of earning his IFBB Pro League card, the record-setting powerlifter-turned-bodybuilder certainly proved how powerful combining diuretics with a calorie-restrictive diet can be for quickly transforming your physique. Yet after tipping the scales at 231.4 pounds during weigh-ins on Oct. 30, 2023, and competing in the Amateur Olympia at 238 pounds two days later, Wheels surprised himself by ballooning up to 284 pounds by Nov. 4, 2023.
“I don’t think I’ve consumed enough fluid and solid food to add up to 40 pounds,” he said. “I don’t understand where all the weight came from.”
[Related: Walking for Weight Loss: A Guide to Drop the Pounds]
While Wheels’ massive weight gain may seem shocking, it shouldn’t be based on both his diuretic use and his post-contest diet. After utilizing diuretics twice within three days to make weight for both shows, it would only be natural for his body to begin retaining fluids instead of shedding them. Plus, when you stop taking diuretics and start binge eating like Wheels did, you’re bound to see the number on the scale go up as you replenish your muscle glycogen stores.
In a classic example of the effects of a post-contest cheat meal spree, here’s what the social media star ate that left him 53 pounds heavier.
Larry Wheels’ Full Cheat Meal Lineup
After abstaining from any type of comfort food for quite some time, Wheels went all-in over two days with nine calorie-dense cheat meals:
- Cheat Meal One: Two bacon double cheeseburgers and one large fry (Five Guys)
- Cheat Meal Two: 16-pounce ribeye steak and sweet potato mash (Ruth’s Chris Steak House)
- Cheat Meal Three: One bag of Pop-Tarts
- Cheat Meal Four: Two cups of noodles
- Cheat Meal Five: Cinnamon roll pancakes, hash browns, and sunny-side-up eggs
- Cheat Meal Six: Cinnamon roll bagel with cream cheese, orange juice, and a bowl of cereal
- Cheat Meal Seven: Bacon double cheeseburger with French fries and lemon cookies
- Cheat Meal Eight: Fried chicken sandwich, six bone-in wings, three chicken tenders, and French fries — plus chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream for dessert (Buffalo Wild Wings)
- Cheat Meal Nine: 14-inch margherita pizza, garlic knots, and a salad
Ultimately, Wheels estimated that he consumed about 20,000 calories within the first 24 hours after stepping on the Amateur Olympia stage. But after taking a no-holds-barred approach to eating and seeing the number on the scale shoot up by more than 50 pounds in such a short amount of time, he sounded ready to get back to a more disciplined lifestyle.
“It’s time to screw my head back on straight and eat clean,” he said.
Featured Image: Larry Wheels / YouTube
- Escalante, G., Stevenson, S.W., Barakat, C. et al. Peak week recommendations for bodybuilders: an evidence-based approach. BMC Sports Sci Med Rehabil 13, 68 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13102-021-00296-y