Friday 23 March 2018

Shape Up: Jodie Marsh's harsh tactics don't suit all

Jodie Marsh
Jodie Marsh
Jodie flexes her muscles on stage
LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 11: Jodie Marsh sighted departing BBC Radio One on October 11, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Ben Pruchnie/FilmMagic)

Damien Maher

Former glamour model Jodie Marsh is back in the news. She recently competed in her first bodybuilding show and credits her new physique with ending her two-year man drought.

The sub-culture of female physique competitions has suddenly come into the mainstream and many women in particular are horrified with Jodie's new look.

Jodie has actually slimmed down from a size 12 to a tiny size six, and from nine-and-a-half stone to eight stone. She has reduced her body fat from 25pc to 10pc and says she is still in disbelief that she has managed to alter her figure so radically in "just eight weeks".

She had a lot of motivation of course -- a television crew followed her journey, and a programme will be shown on the DMX channel in January.

There are two classes in female bodybuilding competitions: fitness and physique. The fitness category is more like a bikini competition, while the physique is more bodybuilding. This is the one that Jodie trained for.

In both, competitors are looking to become lean and to possess whole body symmetry between different muscle groups. It's just that the bodybuilders take it a notch further because they are trying to achieve exceptionally low levels of body fat -- around four per cent.

Most women, though, want to be lean and athletic but while still respecting the feminine curve.

On closer inspection, it's clear that Jodie's transformation has taken a lot longer than eight weeks. She is not a novice trainer in the gym so she will have developed intra-muscular co-ordination between the muscles she is training, therefore her brain is able to recruit more of these fibres to generate more strength to lift heavier weights.


The more weight we can lift means that we will burn more energy and hence get leaner quicker. The brain can focus specifically on the muscle it plans on using without wasting energy on other muscles.

According to the 'This Morning' show, on which she appeared, Jodie is a vegetarian. This means that her diet will be very low in the building blocks of the body, called amino acids, found in protein.

Protein is necessary in phase one and phase two detoxification of the liver, rebuilding the immune system, repairing muscle, providing satiety from sweet cravings and also the thermogenic effect of protein means you burn energy by just digesting it.

As regards her diet, she revealed she ate 15 egg whites and seven protein shakes a day and and cut carbohydrates out of her diet entirely. This is not the best way to get lean.

She then went on to conflict this on Twitter by talking about her 'carbohydrate loading', which is when you load up with carbs in order for them to be stored as glycogen in the muscles.

If you eliminate carbohydrates from your diet, you will eventually slow down your metabolism and lose your fat-burning lean muscle tissue.

If Jodie continues on her current regime she will find it harder to stay lean. Consistently eating egg whites and whey protein will increase food intolerances, leading to holes in the stomach lining.

To consume so much protein in liquid form is not a good idea either. A study in the 'British Medical Journal' earlier this year showed that drinking your protein, as opposed to eating it, led to participants in the study consuming 33pc more calories for lunch than those that ate whole foods.

Preparation for a bodybuilding competition is stressful and training loads and frequency can lead to sleep difficulties.

Jodie said her daily training plan was to do "three hours of cardio, two hours of weights and one hour of abs a day. I also do an hour of posing and routine work". That's seven hours a day, which is a full-time job.


Training for seven hours is associated with lots of sweating, which leads to excessive mineral loss of zinc and magnesium, which affect sex drive, and it also lowers your production of the hormone DHEA, which further lowers your sex drive.

One woman who specialises in making women look special in fitness and physique competitions is Canadian coach Francine Savard. Francine is a former competitor herself, with 25 years' experience.

Savard's clients undergo thorough screening tests involving blood work and gut rebuilding protocols but her clients only need two hours of training a day, even when preparing for competitions.

She has found that when she fixes the gut, the body starts to detoxify, and this jump-starts the metabolism. Food intolerances are a common problem that affect the gut and the solution sometimes involves detoxification and cleansing protocols.

Savard feels that most of the women she works with don't need aerobic training, especially at the beginning of the season, and as competition time nears she integrates interval training using boxing and modified strongman training.

Jodie's training approach and appearance shouldn't frighten women off. We all have a different view of what we want to look like and there are not many who have the time to train seven hours a day and are prepared to live on protein shakes and eggs alone.

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