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Bodybuilding Contest Nutrition Outline
Competition nutrition overview
An athlete’s regime to try to reach body fat percentages below comfortable levels.
There are certain factors to consider when designing a competition program, although there is no one exact protocol that will work for everyone. Each person will respond differently to the diet and exercise suggestions, so you will need to consider adjustments to reach your goals. However, the bottom line for everyone is to maintain and energy deficit without losing lean mass until you reach your goal.
First, determine the appropriate daily calorie intake for yourself. It should be based on the following variables:
1. Body statistics (height and weight)
2. Current calorie intake (before the start of competition preparation)
3. Current training level (time and intensity)
4. Current body fat percentage
5. Remaining time before the competition
Then estimate the percentage of protein, fat, and carbohydrates that will provide maximum energy production within your calorie allotment. When designing a competition diet, the percentage of daily dietary fat can be reduced to 15 to 20 percent, to give you a greater amount of food to consume for the same amount of calories.
The goal here is to help you during this long-term energy deficit by increasing the amount of food (same calories but larger portions) and eating activity (chewing, swallowing, digestion, etc.) thus producing satiety without adding calories. Do not eliminate fat from the diet completely. A specific amount of fat in the diet is essential for reducing body fat. In addition, dietary fat makes its own metabolic contribution to satiety and performance (up to a point), which can vary from person to person. Because of this individuality, some prefer their allotted calories to contain a higher percentage of fat.
To lower fat intake, simply replace some of the foods that contain little or no fat. Manipulating the percentage of fat in the diet will not affect the number of calories consumed. To maintain or increase muscle while striving for optimal definition (loss of body fat), one must constantly feed the muscle while starving the body fat. This can be achieved by supplying the body with foods and supplements necessary to compensate for dietary deficiencies resulting from the limited caloric intake and high energy production. These added nutrients provide the body with high quality nutrition and few, if any, calories.
Try to keep the calorie intake as high as possible, for as long as possible, so that you can achieve optimal results from each workout. Attempting to get in shape by simply reducing calorie intake causes the body to adapt to the reduction by wasting muscle tissue. As the lean tissue is reduced, you also lose energy and strength. Consequently, exercise and daily activities suffer and fewer calories are used.
Instead of cutting calories in an effort to reduce body fat, increase your level of cardiorespiratory activity (treadmill, stairmaster, bike, etc.) and interval training during the allotted time. The body’s response to a combination of weight training, cardiorespiratory activity, proper nutrition and exercise results in the preservation of lean muscle tissue and a reduction in body fat.
Research has shown that cardiorespiratory exercise in conjunction with weight training and optimal nutrition can promote the production of lean muscle tissue and inhibit muscle atrophy. Under this fail-safe approach to dieting, the body perceives lean muscle tissue as being more valuable than body fat and has the ability to support it nutritionally when properly supplemented.
The final body fat percentages for men and women immediately prior to competition shall be as follows:
MAN: Top amateurs and professional bodybuilders – 2.0 – 3.5 percent
MAN: beginners and advanced amateur bodybuilders – 3.0 – 6.0 percent
FEMALE: top amateurs and professional bodybuilders – 5.5 – 8.0 percent
FEMALE: beginners and advanced amateur bodybuilders and fitness models 8.0-14.0 percent
Setting up the competition protocol
Let’s set up a hypothetical case to illustrate how to properly set the protocol. If a man weighs 200 pounds, has a body fat reading of 13 percent and has 16 weeks before his next competition. His body fat percentage is currently at the highest point allowed for a male competitor 16 weeks before a competition; Female bodybuilders should be no higher than 20 percent body fat. In general, top professionals and amateurs men have from 6 to 11 percent and women have 11 to 16 percent when they begin preparations.
The first priority of a male athlete is to get them down to seven percent body fat within the first eight weeks. This goal should be fairly easy to achieve. Start with the following questions:
1. How many calories do you consume on an average day? (example: 4000)
2. How much cardiovascular exercise do you do? (example: very little)
3. Has your weight been stable? (example: yes)
4. Are you following a proper weight training protocol? (example: yes)
5. Do you supplement your food intake? (example: vitamin and protein shake)
Set the energy intake:
Now you can determine the correct percentage of protein, fat and carbohydrates and the number of calories he should consume. Assume that this person requires 3500 calories per day to begin losing body fat with 25% protein, 55% carbohydrates, and 20% fat. The first change might be to reduce fat intake to 12-20 percent of his daily calories.
Adjustment of energy intake and output:
Have him begin low- to moderate-intensity cardiovascular exercise four days a week, twenty minutes each session. The amount of time and intensity that will be devoted to cardiovascular activity in the future will be determined by how quickly he loses body fat.
The goal is to get as many large muscles as possible to work hard, but continuously, to burn the greatest amount of calories during and after exercise. Once the body has adapted to the current workload (no longer losing fat or slowing down), it needs to change.
Try to help achieve two things with alternation:
1. Help burn more calories during exercise.
2. Maintain the adaptation period with this change so he continues to burn extra calories throughout the day.
A measurable reduction in the athlete’s body fat should occur every 2-3 weeks. Do not make any adjustments if the athlete is making significant progress. When or if the athlete’s progress (body fat reduction) slows dramatically or stops, the workload (calorie production) must be changed. Reducing calorie intake is usually the last option. Whenever possible, use training adjustments to maintain the deficit (within time constraints, workload, performance, etc.).
If necessary, he should increase his cardiovascular to as much as two 60-minute sessions a day, six days a week. The amount of work is rarely necessary, if all possible adjustments, within someone’s time. You may also want to start fluctuating daily calorie intake – three days of reduced calories and one day of increased calories. Low days should consist of only reducing carbohydrates and high days should consist of increased carbohydrate intake.
Everyone loses fat at different rates and with varying amounts of physical activity.
Setting up and adjusting nutrient gain: Dietary supplements allow us to increase nutrient intake without affecting calories, for a potential thermogenic effect. As the body becomes leaner, supplements can be used to improve performance and daily activities without adding calories and allow the athlete to maintain the mandatory deficit for fat loss. Proper supplementation can also help maintain and increase lean body mass, therefore offsetting net weight loss. In addition, supplementation during periods of extreme physical exertion and restricted calories can help maintain health. This can have a huge impact on the ability to maintain peak performance and regular gym attendance.
Guidelines for the last week
(Assuming the competition falls on a Saturday)
No thigh training for the last 10 days
No cardiovascular exercise in the last 4 days (depending on)
Weight training with less intensity on Monday and Tuesday
Wednesday, full body workout
Thursday and Friday should only pose
Calories must be increased during the last week before the competition. However, it is crucial that the athlete does not overeat. The athlete needs to look tougher and more vascular every day. If he/she begins to lose this appearance, reduce calories by limiting carbohydrate intake. The athlete’s highest calorie intake should be the Thursday before the competition. Friday, reduce the athlete’s calorie intake by 20 percent. For example, if he/she eats 3,000 calories on Thursday, reduce it to 2,000 on Friday. This may not be necessary if the athlete continues to get tougher and more vascular through Friday. If this is the case, keep the athlete’s caloric intake as it was on Thursday.
Sodium intake should be normal, if not higher, until the Wednesday before the competition. On Wednesdays, reduce sodium intake as much as possible. At this time, the athlete should drink and cook with only sodium-free distilled water. Recommend that he/she drinks water until mid-afternoon on Friday. Beyond that point, he/she can sip moderate amounts of water.
The athlete should eat a good breakfast consisting of complex carbohydrates consisting of oatmeal, rice or potato. After this meal, simple and complex carbohydrates should be consumed every hour until stage time. Also, only sip an isotonic solution – only when you are thirsty.
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