So there I was Mid January 2012 and I’m contemplating whether or not I really want to compete in my first show in June. Being a fitness professional I had a strong grip on various weight lifting protocols and principles I could use to prepare for my first show, but what was completely foreign to me was how and what I was going to eat in order to put the best product I could on that stage.
First and foremost, if you’re planning on doing a competition and you have the financial means, hire a coach and a personal trainer. Hiring somebody who has done this before and who has the experience is going to allow you a potential advantage. But if you were like me, this was not an option, so I had to figure it out on my own.
When trying to find information on the Internet regarding competition diets, I found most of it to be unnecessarily complicated and hard to follow. I did, however, manage to find some common themes and principles that I could combine with what I knew from my own training to put a relatively basic plan together. WARNING: Before reading further you’re going to need to understand the concept of calories in and calories out, and as always you should consult your physician whenever you plan on making drastic changes to your diet.
Step 1- Bulk!) The first thing I needed to do for my show was add some size. I decided to bulk up for the first 4.5 months, and had to do so without gaining fat. So what did I do? I ate whole foods and created a calorie surplus on a daily basis. I made sure my carbohydrates were complex, stopped drinking (for the most part) and stayed away from sugary, processed foods. I used www.livestrong.com to keep track of my calories throughout this process.
Step 2-Get Shredded!) Next it was time to get shredded (lose fat), which is what separates the pros from the guy flexing in the gym mirror…. Granted preparing for this show involved a lot of flexing in the mirror! I decided that at 5 weeks out I wanted to start cutting weight given the fact that I am naturally pretty lean (for those of you who tend to carry more body fat cut for 12-15 weeks). In order to do so I simply then created a CALORIE DEFICIT, and gradually lowered the grams of carbs I ate per day on a weekly basis. Week 1 was 100 g/day, week 2 was 75, weeks 3 and 4 were under 50, and then during peak week it was as close to 0 as possible. While doing this, I kept my grams of protein per day the same as they were before, which was about 200g per day. How did I track all of this “complex” info? I used the same site I used to count calories, livestrong.com, although there are other websites that are equally as useful (myfitnesspal.com works the same way).
I finished off my dieting with some water and salt manipulation, as well as a “carb load” in the last week. These are all quick fixes that help create the final product you want to show on stage, but that don’t lead to any long term results.
So there you have it… bulk up by eating healthy with a calorie surplus, then create a deficit and lower your carbs. If you’re doing a show, photoshoot, going on a beach vacation, you can find info on doing a “peak week” on the internet.
It’s important to note that the diet I did (I won my division) is in fact as simple as I describe it. I didn’t worry about what time of day I was eating, I ate when it was convenient; and I didn’t worry about eating a certain number of meals per day, I just worried about my carb and protein intake. I didn’t find some miracle cure, I just exercised and ate properly day in and day out… Our whole lives we’ve been hearing eat less, move more and I think that is the best advice you can get.