Nutrition

Bikini Competition Diet Tutorial

So you’ve signed up for your first bikini competition or you just want to look like a bikini competitor. The most important thing you will need to focus on during your training is your diet.

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Exercise alone will not transform your body to its full potential, in fact most of the exercise you do during contest prep will be focused on losing fat and maintaining muscle. The diet is where the real magic happens.

Its also important to realize that every body is different and responds differently to different diets. Although there are general guidelines that work for MOST people, it is important to keep track of your progress and change things as needed. This is one of the reasons I think working with a credible coach is great. They can help tailor your diet to your body.

The first thing you should do is calculate your calorie requirements for maintenance.

You can do this using any of several formulas here is a link to a calculator to make it easy for you 😉

Next, you want to calculate how many calories you will need to reduce your diet to lose the number of pounds you think you will need to lose to achieve the look you are going for. Considering that a pound of fat=3500 calories you will multiply the number of pounds you want to lose by 3500. Then, you divide it by how many days you have until your competition. This will be the number of calories you will need to subtract from your daily maintenance caloric requirements you calculated earlier. Keep in mind that this is not an exact science, changes is metabolism will change you your body loses weight. As you lose weight your metabolism will decrease. Also, it is NOT recommended to go below 1200 calories a day.

For example, let’s say my caloric requirements for maintaining my weight are 2400. If I want to lose 10 pounds by my show date in 60 days:

10 lbs x 3500 calories/lb / 60 days = 583.33 calories/day

2400 calories/day – 583.33 calories/day= 1816.66 calories/day

Once you have your calories, you need to create a menu of food that approximately matches that amount. You also need to factor in the right ratio of macronutrients: carbohydrates, proteins and fats.

The recommendations for macronutrients are as follows:

Fats:

Average or low bodyfat: 1-2g fat/ kg body weight [between 0.4-1g total weight/ pounds]
High bodyfat: 1-2g fat/ Kg LEAN weight [between 0.4-1g LEAN weight/ pounds]
Low calorie dieting: You can decrease further, but you should maintain AT LEAST 0.30g/ pound.
Proteins:

STRENGTH training -> 1.4 to 2g per KG bodyweight (about .6 / pound)

Research has shown that 2.2g-3g per KG body weight can help with muscle retention which may be good as you are dieting down for a show.

Carbohydrates:

There are no specific requirements for carbs, so the rest of your calories (once you have subtracted fat and protein) can be carbohydrates.

 

Ok, now sorry but I have to throw some more math at you.  Once you have the number of grams of fat and protein your body needs you will need to convert those into calories. You can do this by multiplying the number of grams by the number of calories per gram for each macronutrient. Carbohydrates and Proteins are 4 calories/gram; fat is 9 calories per gram. Once you have figures out how many calories you will be eating based on the protein and fat requirements, divide the remaining number of calories by 4 to find out how many grams of carbohydrates you should be eating.

Got that? Hope your head is not spinning! If that was really too much math for you here is a link to a calculator to help you out!

Now, I hope you like puzzles, because you are going to have to play around with the types and amount of food you are eating to meet your requirements. If you are off by a little that is totally ok! I like the my fitness pal app to help me keep track of what I am eating and to help plan out my meals to make sure they fit my requirements.

Now you could probably plug in junk food and reach your macro goals, but I recommend eating whole foods as much as possible. This will help with your hunger levels and also help your body get all the micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) it needs to function.

Here is a list of some foods I eat when I am competing (and usually when I am not competing) to meet my macronutrient goals.

Protein
Chicken breast
Lean ground chicken
Turkey breast
Lean ground turkey
Lean steak
Tilapia
Salmon
Swordfish
Sea bass
Mahimahi
Grilled calamari
Shrimp
Scallops
Cottage cheese
Greek yogurt
Whey isolate Protein powder
Egg whites
Whole eggs

Carbohydrates
Leafy greens
Green beans
Asparagus
Brussels sprouts
Brown rice
Potatoes
Sweet potatoes
Squash
Bell peppers
Onions
Mushrooms
Oatmeal
Quinoa
Water melon
Berries
Mango
Pineapple
Banana
Apple
Ezekiel bread

Fats
Fish oil
Flax oil
Walnuts
Almonds
Pistachios
Cashews
Almond milk
Vinaigrette
Olive oil
Coconut oil
Avocado
Almond butter
In general you will want to eat about 6 meals and have a serving of protein, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats at each meal. Make sure you are paying close attention to your portion sizes. THE BEST WAY TO DO THIS IS WITH AN ELECTRONIC SCALE. They are pretty affordable and take the guess work out of measuring. Here is what a day of eating can look like for me:

Meal 1

Oatmeal with flax oil

Egg whites

Meal 2

Ezekiel Bread with P28 peanut butter

Meal 3

Chicken Breast

Spinach

Walnuts

Sweet Potato

Meal 4

Protein Shake

Meal 5

Salmon

Green Beans

Quinoa

Meal 6

Cottage Cheese

Berries

Tips to Resist Halloween Candy

You know the scariest thing about Halloween? The average trick-or-treater consumes 3 cups of sugar and up to 7000 calories on Halloween night! It’s hard, as adults waiting around with big bowls of candy, to resist nibbling on a Reese’s cup here and a KitKat there. And, even worse, if you don’t get many trick-or-treaters you may fall victim to the left over candy for weeks to come. Now that’s spooky!

But, don’t fear because I have a few tricks up my sleeve for helping you resist the candy temptation and keep your health and fitness goals on track.

1. Buy candy you don’t like- Don’t want to be tempted? Don’t buy candy you like. If you are a sucker for chocolate but hate hard candy,  buy jolly ranchers. Hard candy also tends to have fewer calories and takes a longer to consume– which leads to less consumption over all. If you can’t stand chocolate, load up on Hershey’s bars. That way it won’t be hard to resist your treats.

2. Discard or Donate candy after the last trick-or-treater: I know, I know “you don’t want to waste the candy” but seriously, all those calories will be wasted in your body anyway. If you really can’t bring yourself to throw it away and/or if you are feeling philanthropic donate your candy to troops over seas. If you have kids of trick or treating age you can have them donate their candy as well.

3. Make a deal with yourself- I’m all about moderation and sometimes allowing yourself to have just one or two pieces of candy can help you resist mindlessly eating the left overs. After all, one fun size candy bar is not going to derail your goals and the fact that you are not completely denying yourself may make it easier for you to stay on track. However, limit yourself to one or two small pieces of your FAVORITE candy and then keep your hand out of the candy bowl for the rest of the night. If you know one candy is likely to lead to a binge of more, it may be better to skip this tip

4. Get some exercise in- Whether you go to the gym or spend time running or walking around your neighborhood, burning a few extra calories will help you set the tone of your day as a healthy one. Not to mention that vigorous exercise has been shown to suppress appetite.

5. Chew gum- Chewing gum is a great way to satisfy your sweet tooth with few calories. Also chances are, if you have gum in your mouth you will be less likely to cram other Halloween goodies in it!

Hope you like these tips have a safe, happy and healthy Halloween!

6 Healthy Japanese Foods You Must Try

Back in college I spent about a year in Japan. To me, one of the most intriguing parts about Japan is the food. The Japanese have been renowned world wide for their diet which supports not only a healthy weight, but a long healthy life.

Here is my list of nutritious Japanese foods that you can use to add variety to your diet while still retaining flavor and health. These foods (in conjuction with healthy eating and exercise) will help you lose weight and gain overall health!

1. Kabocha (Japanese Pumpkin)- If you are a sucker for everything pumpkin in the fall, you have got to try kabocha! Kabocha is denser than butternut squash and has a very sweet, almost cake-like flavor and texture. A one cup serving of Kabocha has only 40 calories and 70% of your daily value of vitamin A. I like to roast 1-2 Kabocha at the beginning of the week for my meal prep and eat a serving as my source of carbohydrates for the meal.

2. Satsuma Imo (Japanese Sweet Potato)- Satsuma Imo is similar in taste and texture to the Kabocha, it is drier,denser and milder than the American sweet potato. You can recognize a Satsuma Imo because it has purple skin and yellow flesh. Satsuma Imo is a great source of fiber and Vitamin C. Since Sweet Potatoes are a staple in many physique athlete’s diets, this Japanese version can be swapped out to add variety. I also bake these weekly with my meal prep when I can find them.

3. Konnyaku- Made from the Konjac plant has close to zero calories. Konnyaku became sort of main stream with Shirataki noodles (a combination of tofu and shirataki). But you can find plain konnyaku and cook it up for a filling fibrous meal with even fewer calories. Konnyaku can smell fishy and feel slimy when you take it out of the package but don’t let that scare you away, with proper cooking and a good recipe you have a tasty, filling, almost calorie free food.

4. Seaweed- Packs of seaweed have also reached mainstream markets in the US. I have seen “seaweed snacks” in Trader Joes, Costco, & Wegmanns. Seaweed is another food that has barely any calories- around 25 per serving.

A 2011 review of  100 studies on the health benefits of seaweed found that seaweed had more bioactive peptides, which aid in heart health and blood pressure reduction. Additionally, seaweed is a good source of other micronutrients like iodine, Vitamin A, B-6 and C.

Sashimi

5. Sashimi- Most people are familiar with sushi but many people don’t know the difference between sushi and sashimi. Whereas sushi includes rice and other ingredients, sashimi is just the raw fish. This way you get protein, omega three fatty acids and fewer calories and carbohydrates than sushi rolls. After all, with toppings like mayonnaise and fried noodles you didn’t really expect your average sushi roll to be a healthy choice did you?

6. Green Tea- Green Tea is full of antioxidants which are powerful free radical fighters. Green Tea also helps boost your metabolism so you burn more calories even while at rest. I love drinking green tea with my breakfast or as I am teaching classes to give me a little boost of energy and soothe my dry throat.

While Japan has many other foods to explore, this is my top list of healthy go-tos that have been favorites of mine throughout the years.

Post Competition Binge/Depression

Anyway, today I wanted to do a little post on post-competition blues/binging.

How to Get Rid of Stubborn Fat — No Gimmicks!

Hey guys!

Do you have stubborn fat? You know what I am talking about– your body just favors one place to store fat over another place. For women its usually but and thighs for guys its usually the gut.

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One roadblock I had been coming up against is losing the fat right around my belly button. I am thin– 120lb and 5’7″– and I stay around that weight even when I am not competing but the fat right at my belly button does not want to go anywhere!

I started noticing this after I had my son, I know that it is not just loose skin. At first I thought it was due to a hormonal change, and some people said that when they stopped breast feeding they lost weight in there belly, but unfortunately for me this did not happen.

If you are a competitor, you know that a small waist is one of the key points that they look for and my body was just not cooperating.

So you know what I did, I decreased my calories a little bit and increased my cardio a little bit and my waist has come down an inch!

I believe that our body stores fat in preferred zones for many reasons including genetics and hormones. Although it may be the last fat to come off, it will come off if you continue dieting and exercising properly. While that body part may never look as good as someone who is more genetically gifted in that area, trust that by continuing to lose weight that fat will come off. Losing weight is a game of calories in vs. calories out.

I have heard several different theories on how to spot reduce, but I do not believe anything has ever been clinically proven to reduce fat in a targeted region.

That’s the beauty of body building– you can’t choose where you burn fat but you can choose wear you build muscle, its all about building muscle to create the illusion of  the figure you want and then losing the fat to reveal that frame.

Although it can be hard to trust the process and you may feel like you will never lose that last little bit of stubborn fat. I promise that it will come off if you stick with you diet and track your progress. Hope that helps!

Where do you store fat? Do you believe you can spot reduce?

 

Product Review: P28 Bread!

I was super excited to find P28 bread at Wegmanns last time I went. I had been meaning to try it since I keep seeing it a competitions and in reviews on blogs and vlogs.

I was not disappointed! The bread is nice and fluffy and pretty large. It has some seed and nut pieces in it to make it a little heartier. I usually spread some peanut butter on the bread and haven’t really used it to make savory sandwiches but I think it would work for that too.

The bread also stays soft when I take it with me in my cooler, which is nice. It also tastes really good– just like real bread. My only complaint would be that it is a little tougher than regular bread (meaning harder to bite through) but that is really not a big deal to me. I eat about one slice a day and find that it is really satifying and helps fulfill carb cravings. Although the bread is a few dollars more expensive than regular loaves, I think that it is totally worth it and will continue to buy it.

I can’t wait to try the peanut butter versions when I go to my show next weekend, since the grocery store only carried the bread and flat bread.

Have you tried P28 products? What did you think?

IIFYM vs. Eating Clean for competition diet

Hi guys! Hope you are having a great weekend!

I wanted to contribute to the great debate on competition diets.

If you have been involved in the fitness industry, you are probably familiar with two of the main meal plan styles when it comes to body building and competition prep: IIFYM and Eating clean (aka traditional body building diet). IIFYM stands for “If it fits your mouth macros.” Meaning that you calculate how many grams of protein, carbohydrates and fat you should have in a day and can eat whatever you want as long as the numbers add up at the end of the day. “Eating clean” can mean many different things but for the purpose of this post I will use it to mean a “traditional body building diet” of whole, unprocessed foods with an emphasis on high protein.

For my last few competitions, I did more of an IIFYM style of eating. I tried to eat healthy, unprocessed foods whenever possible but I would often turn to protein bars and other processed foods when I was in a time crunch.

This time around I have actually been sticking pretty closely to my meal plan and ONLY eating whole, unprocessed food.

Since I cut out the processed food I noticed huge changes in  my body. First of all, I feel better. I have more energy and feel like my body is just running better if that makes sense. Secondly, I feel like it is easier to lean out this time around. I have always been pretty lean, but I noticed that in my last prep, I was looking a lot softer than in my first competition. This time I am looking more cut and defined. Although the numbers on the scale have been going up, my body fat has stayed the same, which means I have gained muscle. With IIFYM my weight and body fat were slowly creeping up.

Check out these two progress pics:

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Today (June 1) Back Pose on “Traditional Eat Clean” diet

Back pose April 2014 IFFYM

Back pose April 2014 IFFYM

Check out the definition in my glutes and hamstrings in my recent “eat clean” photo. I think that my skin tone even looks better now. Even though I have been training hard, I am positive that my diet has made a huge difference.

Its interesting because when I started this journey I wanted to believe IIFYM. IIFYM makes dieting a little easier because you can be more flexible about your food choices. And, after all, 20 grams of protein from a chicken should be the same thing as 20 grams of protein from a protein bar, right?

Well, now I don’t think so. I think that this may be the result of many factors including the thermogenic effect of food (how many calories it takes your body to process your meal), producers not being entirely accurate on their nutrition labels and the possible the effect of food additives and/or lack of nutrients on metabolism.

IIFYM may work for some, and it may help you reach your goals if you are not worried about minor physique details (i.e. fitness competition). There are also many ways to do IIFYM and I think taking and “eat clean” approach to IIFYM would be great (like eating all whole, unprocessed food to meet your macro requirements.) However, I now know that a liberal IIFYM diet does not give me my best results. I need to be a little more strict about my eating to look my best.

I am excited to see how my body will transform in these next few weeks as I prep for my 4th contest.

Have you all experimented with your diet? What did you find worked best for you?

 

 

All Natural Ways to Kill Your Sugar Cravings

Battling Sugar addiction is a hard one. Even if you wouldn’t call yourself an “addict” most of us have those sweet tooth cravings hit us once in a while. While a little sugar in moderation is ok, American culture has fallen overboard and sugar is added to everything –even canned beans! Sugar has also been demonized as a contributor to some of the biggest killers out there– heart disease, diabetes, and liver disease. Not to mention that a high sugar diet has been linked to an increased risk of wrinkles (hey I thought I would throw that in there to appeal to your vanity ;)). With that said, the more you can combat sugar cravings the better. Here are some of my best methods for avoiding sugar cravings:

1. Single serving dried prunes- Sometimes you just need something sweet and prunes are just that– sweet. If you are a gummy bear type of person. Prunes are a great swap out. Not only are they packed with antioxidants, but they also have fiber, which helps stabilize blood sugar, promote (ahem) regularity, and keep you feeling fuller longer. However, dried fruit still packs some (albeit natural) sugars so its not good to go crazy. That’s why I recommend the single wrapped version to help keep portions in check.

2. Fruit- Sort of along the same lines as prunes. Whole fruit is sweet but has a high water and fiber content, which help fill you up. Some of my favorites are berries, melon, pineapple and mango.  Again, fruit still has some sugar so, if it leads to a binge, you may want to avoid it, but I have found that fruit for dessert can be really satisfying.

3. Sweet Veggies- Beets, sweet potatoes and winter squash. Sweet, high fiber, and low calorie sweet vegetables make the perfect snack to beat a sugar craving. I like to roast Kabocha (Japanese squash) for a rich-tasting sweet treat.

4. Sparkling water- Or really just water in general. Sometimes we misinterpret thirst as hunger and especially as a craving for sweets. If you find yourself drinking soda often (even diet soda) try swapping sparkling water. The bubbly texture does the trick for me.

5. Spice it up- Cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves are some spices that naturally add a sweet flavor. In fact cinnamon has been proven to help stabilize blood sugar levels. Cinnamon on a sweet potato or sprinkled in some organic cottage cheese make a great sweet treat to help bust sugar cravings.

 

I hope you find these tips for busting sugar cravings helpful. Do you have any tips of your own?

(Extended) Breastfeeding, Weaning and Fitness

Hey guys! Happy Monday! I am finally starting to feel like myself again after battling round 2 of the flu and I am now moving on to my next project– weaning Cyrus.

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Breastfeeding has been a great journey for me. I started going to La Leche League meetings when I was pregnant to meet fellow new moms and to learn about breastfeeding. It ended up being so much more important to me than I thought it would be. The moms at the meeting made me realize how great breastfeeding is and made me determined to stick with it when Cyrus was born.

Any new mom knows that breastfeeding comes with its own set of challenges. There can be unforeseen problems in the beginning– poor latch, tongue tie, low supply, excessive supply and the list goes on and on. For me, it always seemed like I was fighting to keep my supply up and it took a lot of discipline to to make sure I pumped enough milk for Cyrus to drink when he was with his nanny.

The first time I had to give him formula (because I forgot my pumped milk at home when I was taking him to his day care) I felt like a failure. Trying to keep my supply up meant I had to make sacrifices in how long I could be away from my baby. I would start to panic and feel sick if we were separated for more than 5 hours. I even spent time pumping in airport bathrooms and brought my baby on a business trip.

But in spite of all the struggles I faced, I am so glad I was able to breastfeed for as long as I did. Not only was it a great bonding experience, but numerous studies have proven the benefits of breastfeeding for babies’ health and intelligence. That’s not to shame moms who feed their babies formula. I know that breastfeeding is not for everyone. I just think that if there is a choice to be made and you are leaning toward breastfeeding try it and don’t get discouraged. I felt like giving up so many times in the first few months and then it clicked and it got easy.

Because of that, I think breastfeeding is a lot like starting a fitness program. It really takes discipline in the beginning, but after a while,  it becomes like second nature.

Cyrus’s second birthday is in a few weeks and I feel like now is the right time to stop nursing. I have been slowly cutting down his feedings, which were already only about 3-4 a day. I have been telling him that the “milkies” are sleeping and it seems to be working so far.

It is a little sad to close this chapter of my relationship with Cyrus but I am also excited to get my boobies back to myself. I worry that it will not be as easy to get him to sleep, that I will not be able to comfort him as easily, that plane rides will be a lot more difficult, but I am sure I will figure all that out.

Do you have experience weaning a toddler? I am dying to know what worked! What do you think about breastfeeding?

Exercising through the FLU

Hi guys! I am officially less than a week out from my national competition!

I haven’t written in a while because I have been sick. It started Tuesday after teaching classes. I started feeling VERY tired and sore all over, I thought it might be overtraining, but just didn’t feel right. Something was telling me it was the flu… I asked my husband if he thought I had a fever, too lazy to find a thermometer I decided to use his touch for the judgement, and he confirmed it for me. Basically I spent the rest of the day in bed.

I asked my coach if she thought I should still try to go to the gym and she recommended that I stay home. 2 days and a lot of dayquil later, I felt pretty much back to normal, but a LOT weaker in my workouts. It was really disheartening since my competition is so close, I want to put my best effort forward, but I got knocked on my butt by the flu.

That got me thinking, what really happens when you are sick? are you catabolic (breaking down muscle) How many calories do you need? more or less than a normal rest day? can/should you work out?

The normal advice I hear on working out while sick is that if your symptoms are above your neck, you can work out if you feel like. This has held pretty true for me. When it comes to head colds with a stuffy nose and sore throat, working out usually makes me feel a little better. But if I am feeling sick to my stomach, dizzy or have a fever, working out (yes I have tried it before) usually just results in me ending up as a pale sweaty mess almost ready to pass out.

I also found this article that explains “if you have the flu, your body is already fighting a catabolic state caused by the Influenza virus. In this case, weight training would only add more catabolism, which in turn would negatively affect the efficacy of the immune system against the virus, causing you to get sicker.” Makes sense, right?

But the only scientific article I found was on subject who had been infected with a cold and they found that exercise made no difference on symptoms.