Fitness Contest Preparation:
Advanced Diet Advice
While you certainly will need to exercise, and exercise hard, to win either of these contests, your success will be largely based on how “clean” (i.e. healthy and with the correct amount of protein, fat, and carbohydrate) your diet is during the twelve weeks of the contest. The winner of both of these contests will have to lose a significant amount of bodyfat. The photo contest participants will see better results as well by building more lean muscle, and the bodyfat loss contest participants will also find that adding some lean muscle mass will help them because it will stoke the metabolism, leading to greater fat loss.
Assess your progress during the first four weeks. If you lost four pounds, you probably were creating an average calorie deficit of 500 per day. If this was your goal, super: just keep it up for the next four weeks. Now that you are lighter, you probably will have to eat a bit less, or exercise a bit more, to continue to create that 500 calorie deficit (a lighter person burns fewer calories). If you lost eight pounds, or 2 lb./week, you probably were creating an average calorie deficit of 1000 per day. If this was your goal, super: keep it up!
If you lost more than eight pounds, it could be due to water loss during the beginning of your diet in addition to fat loss. As long as your strength is the same or has improved, there is no need to worry: just keep doing what you’re doing. If you DO find yourself losing strength, increase your calorie intake, or decrease your amount of activity by a small amount to be sure that you don’t lose muscle.
If you lost less than you had wanted to the first four weeks, you will need to reduce your calorie intake and/or increase the amount or intensity of exercise you do to burn more calories. A consultation with Gina might be helpful at this point if you’re unsure what the best course of action would be.
If you’re fairly lean already (less than 22% bodyfat for women, and 16% for men) you might want to include a “cheat day” or “reefed day” or two to help keep your metabolism up and ensure that you don’t lose too much muscle. In the long run, by eating more calories one or two days per week you will actually lose more bodyfat (because you will be sparing muscle and burning more calories during the week). A good starting point is to increase your calories by 1000 over what you normally eat on “diet” days, and make sure most of your calories on that day come from carbohydrate, with a lower fat intake, for best results. For example, if you eat 1500 calories per day on your diet, eat 2500 on a refeed day. Experiment with how your body reacts to adding one refeed day per week. Ask Gina if you are a candidate to have one or two reefed days per week for best results.
Resistance training should be performed 2-3 times per week for all major muscle groups during this phase of training. Train as heavy as you can in the 6-8 rep range to prevent excessive muscle loss. If you’re an intermediate or advanced exerciser, add one or two interval training sessions for cardio per week.
If you haven’t implemented this idea already, get strict with your intake of saturated fats, sugar, and alcohol. These three all put a roadblock on fat loss. They will derail your efforts to lose fat as rapidly as possible.
If you’re having problems feeling hungry, go ahead and eat extra protein and veggies. A bit more fat might help as well. Drink lots of water and green tea: both of these will help you lose more fat and remain healthy and energetic while dieting.
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