Coming off my overall victory at the Orange County Muscle Classic the question asked most of me has been what my “contest diet” was like. So I’m going to make my first blog about that very subject or rather the evolution, or should I say de-evolution, of my “contest diet” through my 3 ½ years of competing.
I competed in my first show in November of 2007. I entered at the request of my close friend and IFBB Pro Fitness competitor, Sylvia Tremblay. I had no clue what I was getting myself into. I always worked out and was in pretty good shape I felt and ate what I considered a healthy diet (no white breads or pastas, fried foods, etc. You know the drill) but Sylvia asked me to show her my typical diet and I listened to her tear it apart. All I can remember is her saying is “take this out and this and never eat this & add this and this” and you get the idea. What I thought was a healthy diet, basically sucked donkey [email protected]%$#. Sylvia has a competition resume that most will never achieve so I did exactly what she said without question. It was basically complex carbs, lean proteins, veggies and healthy fats. Very clean, very simple and effective. I decided to take pics for 30 days leading up to the show and didn’t look at them until the day of the show. The change was pretty dramatic! I was shocked how big a difference diet actually makes.
So now I was hooked. I wanted to learn more about how to use my nutrition plan to help achieve a better physique for future competitions. I decided at that point to purchase bodybuilding icon Lee Labrada’s book “Get Lean”. This book laid out on a bi-weekly basis exactly what a competition diet should be based on how many weeks out you were from a show and adjusted the macronutrient totals (not to insult anyone but in case you didn’t know those are proteins, carbs and fats) according to your weight. Being new to this world of competing I was still clueless about what I was doing so I used it as a guide to prep me for my early 2008 shows. I got myself in the best condition I’ve ever been in for my first two shows of the year. I wish I had the book still just because it was such an easy read and I feel a good starting point for beginners. Sadly, that book suffered the same fate as many of my comfy t-shirts and was stolen by an ex-girlfriend. But my kleptomaniac girlfriends are not what this post is about so I’ll get back on topic.
Now I started reading more and more books about nutrition and started looking up research papers on sites as well as some eBooks from “fitness professionals”. It was crazy all the different things that foods can do to change your body. My next experiment was carb cycling. That involves numerous days of carb depleting days followed by a carb load day. With this diet plan I carb depleted during my training days and loaded on my rest day. I tried 5 deplete days and then 4 days and then 3 days. Next was the Keto diet. I didn’t feel like I got very good results from them and felt my conditioning was no longer getting to where it used to at the beginning and my energy levels sucked.
Another thing I always did in preparing for my shows was the typical carb deplete for numerous days while killing myself in the gym the week of a show followed by a few days of no exercise and carb loading while pulling my water just before I stepped on stage. Funny thing is that I felt I always looked better a week before my show or the day after. It sucks to put months of work in only to mistime when you peak.
There had to be a better way. My next revelation was hormones and how what we eat affect our hormones. The fact that hormones control everything that our bodies do I felt it was probably a pretty important aspect of my contest prep that needed serious consideration. I came to the conclusion that most contest prep plans really aren’t that healthy for us overall. They are far too extreme and, although allow us to achieve extreme levels of conditioning for our shows, they wreak havoc on our bodies and are typically followed by a huge rebound immediately after. I would actually be heavier afterwards then when I originally started my contest prep. I would retain so much water that my belly and arms were so bloated that I couldn’t bend over to tie my shoes and it was a chore to hold my SonicCare toothbrush for the 2 minutes it’s vibrating the plaque off my pearly whites!
My goal is not only to do well at these shows but to live a healthy life as well. So I chose to take my nutrition out of my hands and enlisted the help of a good friend and retired IFBB Pro Bodybuilder, Jamo Nezzar. (www.jamcoretraining.com) The first thing he told me is that I am no longer going to do the whole delete/load routine that almost everyone does for these shows. We made it a cleaner and simpler meal plan, removed protein powders and pre workouts, and replace them with lot so amino acids. He definitely knew what he was talking about because each day I got tighter and energy levels increased! I didn’t even pull water. The other competitors kept asking what I’m doing because they have gone days sipping on water while I’m drinking water like I normally would. Jamo kept saying “why fix what aint broke”.
Now I could try saying I won because I’m the nastiest beast to ever step inside a gym or maybe because I do this weird hip shake thing during my quarter turns (I do it for the ladies guys! Lol) but the truth is I won it in the kitchen. So anyone who is struggling with their contest prep I would say get back to the basics and make it a lifestyle because, just so you know, there is no off season for Men’s Physique competitors!