bikini competition prep

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

Post Competition Binge/Depression

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

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?

 

 

Competition Prep Workouts

Happy Memorial Day! I hope you all are enjoying the long weekend and taking some time to appreciate and remember those who lost their lives serving for our country.

I spent the morning teaching classes and then met up with my trainer for a quick work out. I hope to go to the pool later today.

I wanted to talk a little about what my competition prep workouts look like because I am always curious to see what other competitors are doing. As you may or may not remember, I had switched to a “traditional bodybuilder” plan for my off season. I have now changed it up again to get competition ready.

Currently, I am doing a 5 day split. Here’s how my week usually looks:

Monday: Quads focused leg day

Tuesday: Triceps/Shoulders

Wednesday: Back/BIceps

Thursday: Hamstrings

Friday: Glutes, Shoulders, Chest.

I rarely work abs because I already have a wide waist and I do not want to build it up more. I also do a lot of compound lifts so I am still strengthening my core indirectly.

The exercises I do varies week to week but lately it is usually I do about 9 different exercises at 4-5 sets of 12-15 reps. Often I am supersetting those exercises into 3-4 supersets

I mentioned before and I will say it again I DO NOT DO TWICE A DAY CARDIO. In fact, If I am honest the most cardio I do lately is 20 min. This is mostly because I still need to build muscle and don’t want to burn it away. It is also because I do not believe that 2 hours of cardio a day is necessary for anyone including competitors who do not need to build muscle and are only looking to slim down. I believe that if you take care of your diet, you simply don’t need to do extreme amounts of cardio.

The cardio I do now is mostly focused on building muscle: stair master, lunges on the treadmill, plyometrics and heavy resistance bike or elliptical. I do cardio 6 days a week with one of those days devoted to plyometrics.

I am trying to keep better track of my progress time around by charting my body fat and weight weekly. I am excited to see changes in my body!

What are your workouts looking like lately?

 

Balance, Metabolic Damage and Competing

When I see competitors posting diets with less than 1500 calories I seriously want to have a fit. I mean, for most sedentary people that is enough to just barely get by so for an extremely active person, this is putting the body at a severe deficit. I see girls post motivational quotes about health and strength when really they are starving themselves and going to unhealthy extremes for a plastic trophy.

Don’t get me wrong. I have complete respect for fellow competitors, but honestly I don’t see a need to go so low in calories that every day is a struggle to function. Especially in the bikini category. Bikini girls are supposed to look healthy and more attainable, not stringy and starved. Listen, I’ve been there and being hungry all day makes you irritable, uncomfortable and unable to focus. Basically, its hard to do anything. I definitely would not be able to train clients while eating such and extreme diet.

Not only that, but people who carb deplete or go way too low on calories tend to binge and gain weight like crazy after their competition. Layne Norton’s post on Metabolic Damage brought a lot of light to this issue. Basically, if you are starving yourself too long, you are lowering your metabolic rate and your body will adjust to burn fewer calories to make up for the huge deficit in your diet. That means, by eating the same amount of food as you did before you started dieting, you will gain weight at a quicker pace. YOU ARE PROGRAMING YOUR BODY TO STORE MORE FAT.

Part of the reason I am so passionate about this issue is because I have struggled through it. It sucks to feel so hungry each day is a struggle to function and it sucks even more to completely wreck your metabolism and screw up your hunger cues. It takes time to reset your body. Now I know better. My contest prep diet never goes below 1800 calories. I don’t do HOURS of cardio. I do 30 min. maximum a day.

Yes, it was scary to change the way I ate and trained, but honestly, I look way better now than when I was doing extreme dieting and cardio. I have also seen so many people mess up their bodies by going through contest prep with a keto diet or ultra low calorie diet and bounce back with depression and extreme weight gain.

I know bikini competitions are competitive and that everyone wants to get the edge to win, but to me, a traditional peak week, dehydration and extreme dieting is NOT the way to do it. I hope that I can prove my theory right by getting my pro card. I am two weeks out from the NPC Ft Lauderdale National Championships.