When I decided to go into bodybuilding there was so much information out there I didn’t know which way to turn. I was a pro at losing weight, but SHAPING my body?
I had no idea what I was in for. IIFYM, keto, carb cycling, macro counting, then throw in intermittent fasting - sheesh. A noob gets overwhelmed!
Related - What is the Keto Diet?
I really didn’t get that it wasn’t a “lose weight” kind of contest at the time. I just thought if I lifted a few 5 pound weights around the gym and dieted my face off, then I would look like the girls in Oxygen magazine.
I soon found out that the eating was pretty much the most important part. Don’t freak out - yes, lifting more than 5 pounds is important too, but the diet is what makes or breaks you as a competitor.
Before I had a coach, I really didn’t get any of the dieting concepts that were touted and didn’t learn that all of them can be used at different times in your prep. I still to this day use the KISS principal - keep it simple, stupid.
For one, I can remember it - I am getting old and feeble these days. For two, I believe the body responds to most anything if you are consistent - if you confuse it too much, then it just gives you the finger, anyways…
Here is what has helped a novice like me navigate all the confusion.
5 Important Diet Tips
Tip #1 - If You Can Afford a Coach, Do It
Yes, its no secret that most competitors have a coach.
Find one that actually listens to you, doesn’t give you a cookie-cutter plan and talks to you about why they are doing what they are doing as far as your diet. I was floored by the amount of coaches that said to me, “I give you the plan and you follow it - there is nothing more you have to do.”
Um, that kinda said to me, “Don’t question me.” Well, that's not my jam, especially after reading some horror stories about contest prep.
I wanted to know what the following months were going to look like, why I increased my food intake up to three months before cutting, what diet was best for me, etc. If someone refuses to do this, humbly tell them to take a hike.
Tip #2 - Research Research Research
How can you ask legit questions if you sound like a dufus?
You need to know why each type of eating style is used, at what time in prep is it optimal to use, etc.
Tip #3 - Know What You Are Willing to Do
I love high fat low carb - it keeps bingeing to a minimum for me. However, the drawback for my body is that it doesn’t make as much muscle.
Am I willing to make less muscle and have less problems with wanting to binge? This prep I was. Next prep I am not.
This next prep, I want to grow as much as possible, and know that I will have more cravings. I can't lie, I am scared, but I want to give it a go.
Tip #4 - About Eating Styles
You can use all types of eating throughout your prep. I used a ketogenic, flexible dieting macro counting approach.
Crazy, right?! They are not mutually exclusive.
Tip #5 - Everybody is Different
Your body may respond to macro counting and you are able to eat cheesecake everyday. Mine, not so much.
If I eat more whole foods compared to processed foods my body responds. If I eat crap, even if i am within my macros, I bloat like a puffer fish.
It is what it is.
This is what helped me navigate contest prep. Each prep is different, and each time you take away something from it; learn something more about yourself and your body that you didn’t know before.
This is one of the reasons I love prep-its challenging, satisfying AND you get to look banging on stage!