A success factor in committing oneself to a competition diet (or any diet for that matter!) is to personally attain the right information.
Don’t just fall for any fitness competition diet, crash diet or advice you may adhere from friends at the gym, fitness/heath magazines, or infomercials.
Instead, do your own research and look into statements, making sure that what you are going to commit your body too makes sense and is not only healthy, but positive for you long-term.
Since competing in a fitness competition requires a lower body fat percentage (roughly anywhere between 10-15%, sometimes down into the 8% range), one has to have a decreased body fat percentage and an increased lean muscle mass percentage in order to “Wow” the judges and achieve the ever coveted fitness figure.
This not only takes time in the kitchen- meal prepping, food weighing and portioning- but also requires time spent in the gym- building muscle groups and adhering to a progressive training program.
Starting out, it is best to recognize the length of time it will take you to get from point A to point B, without losing motivation or becoming bombarded with wrong and unhelpful information.
Choose a figure competition that you would like to compete in
(usually aim for a minimum of 12 weeks away) so that you can plan your diet and exercise regime accordingly.
Once you have chosen a competition, it is time to improve your body and by extension, your self-confidence! Be sure to take a “before” photo to mark the beginning of this fitness competition diet journey, showing as time tells the progress and changes made.
When incorporating strength training the scale sometimes can have a disheartening effect on our progress (so we women tend to think) – which usually is not a good indicator of the actual changes taking place.
Eating 5-6 smaller meals per day will help to keep the metabolism stable throughout the day,
lessening the chance of losing energy as the day prolongs or blood sugar spiking out of control.
To determine your caloric daily needs, take your goal weight (realistically speaking!) and multiply that number by 10. This will give you your base number of calories needed in order to just survive.
Take this number and add 300 to 400 calories to provide enough fuel to take full advantage of workouts in order to help build lean muscle while reducing body fat. Similar to an engine, your body needs fuel to function- and it gets this fuel from food.
Knowing the caloric amount behind each gram of energy will help you on the path to success in your fitness competition diet.
There are 4 calories per gram of protein, 4 calories per gram of carbohydrate, and 9 calories per gram of fat.
This is important to keep in mind as you use the above equation to figure out your specific amount of calories in order to further break it off from their according to each energy group (protein, carbohydrate, and fats).
Keeping yourself hydrated throughout the duration of the figure competition diet will help muscle growth continue.
Dehydration causes serious stunting of muscle growth, which will stunt the growth of muscle due to improper nutritional support.Did you know that the human body is 60% water in adult males and about 70% in adult females?
Muscles are roughly about 70% water- which informs us of the importance of maintaining proper hydration and good health in order to digest, transport, and absorb nutrients from food as this is dependent upon proper fluid intake.
According to The Institute of Medicine report from 2004, women should consume about 91 ounces of water- or ¾ of a gallon per day, while men should consume about 125 ounces per day (1 gallon=128 ounces).
One of the best things about water is the fact that it is calorie free too- so drink up and maintain appropriate hydration levels throughout your fitness competition diet!
Pre and post-workout meal planning is just as important as one’s daily fitness competition diet.
Ingesting high glycemic index carbohydrates, around 20 grams, with a fast digesting protein, around 20 grams, 30 minutes prior to a workout will not only give you the energy you need to drive your workout, but will trigger insulin release counteracting the effects of cortisol while increasing blood flow to muscles and protein synthesis.
Upon post-workout, studies have shown that eating carbohydrates and protein after weight training leads to a reduction of body fat, body composition improvements, and larger development of lean mass.
Therefore, it is crucial to eat within an hour of finishing an intense workout, while your body is still in anabolic state, and will absorb glucose, glycogen, and amino acids at a higher rate than normal.
For the majority of women, post-workout meal includes around 50 grams of medium-to-high glycemic index carbohydrates and roughly 20-30 grams of protein.
Last but not least, the fifth step to a fitness competition diet that will not fail you or make you feel deprived is one that includes a “cheat” meal.
This is where most often fail and completely lose control of their willpower, often eliminating the prior success made before falling to a binge eating episode. Going buck wild and completely losing control through a binge episode or a serious of “cheat” meals that incorporate themselves into “cheat” days, will only prolong the fitness competition diet and cause havoc with metabolism.
Getting too crazy on weekends or when one decides to cheat will only gain right back the weight which you spent trying to diet and exercise off through a strict regime.
Therefore, don’t think of cheat DAYS, but rather of cheat MEALS in which you eat slightly more of a certain food or incorporate a certain food into the meal.
When done 1 to 2 times per week, a cheat meal is satisfying to one’s cravings and can help to speed up your metabolic rate.
In the end, a successful fitness competition diet is one that requires building and maintaining healthy and positive eating habits through eating enough calories, eating planned and consistent meals, staying properly hydrated, ensuring that your body has the proper nutrients to adapt to intense training, and incorporating cheat meals to satisfy and “re-feed” your body.
 Chris Poole, Colin Wilborn, Lem Taylor and Chad Kerksick. THE ROLE OF POST-EXERCISE NUTRIENT ADMINISTRATION ON MUSCLE PROTEIN SYNTHESIS AND GLYCOGEN SYNTHESIS. Journal of Sports Science and Medicine (2010) 9, 354-363.