Your Figure Contest Diet is 90% of Your Fat Loss Success
The truth is, your figure contest diet is the number one backbone to your success. To enter and compete in a bodybuilding competition you have to diet off your excess body fat so your lean muscle definition can shine through on stage. Sadly, far too many first-time competitors jump in contest prep dieting with no plan or effective course of action. They dramatically cut calories, carbs, and fat from their diet and within just weeks they have no energy, lose muscle, gained body fat and just totally burned out.
Below I will cover the basics of your figure contest diet so you can start losing body fat and maintain your lean muscle mass so you can present a well-balanced physique on stage, catch the judge’s eyes, place well, and even win.
How Many Meals Should I Eat a Day? (Nutrition Is Key)
Generally, most figure competitors eat 5-6 small balanced meals a day. Each meal needs to be spaced out about 3 hours apart. If you get up at 5:30 am, eat your first meal between 5:30 am and 6:00 am. From then on eat a small balanced meal every 3 hours. So that would put your meal times roughly at:
- 6:00 am
- 9:00 am
- 12:00 noon
- 3:00 pm
- 6:00 pm
- 9:00 pm
If you work a late shift or a night shift, these times will obviously be different for your sleep and wake pattern. The idea is to eat a meal within 30 minutes of getting out of bed, then every 3 hours after that until be time. Do Not Avoid your pre-bed meal. Your body needs nutrients when you are at rest for recovery. If you eat the right type of meal, you will not gain body fat.
Foods to Avoid in Your Figure Contest Diet (Avoid Junk)
Avoid processed foods such as bread, pasta, sugary snacks, sugary cereals, boxed and canned goods as much as possible in your figure contest diet. Basically, if it’s man-made, it’s best NOT to eat it. Man-made food-like items are slap full of chemicals and provide absolutely ZERO nutrients to your body.
Foods to Eat in Your Contest Prep Diet (Eat Quality)
Choose natural foods from Mother Nature (not processed) such as:
- Protein: Egg whites, an occasional yolk, chicken breast, turkey breast, sirloin steak, fish, whey protein, egg protein, lean ground beef, deer, etc.
- Carbs: Sweet potatoes, while potatoes, red potatoes, whole wheat pasta, brown rice, oatmeal, fruit, etc.
- Non-starchy veggies: Green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, onions, peppers, lettuce, cabbage, etc.
- Essential fats: Avocados, olive oil, peanut oil, natural peanut butter, almonds, cashews, raw organic coconut oil, etc.
How Many Calories Should I Eat a Day? (Meal Consistency)
Most first-time competitors either eat too many calories based on “advice” from facebook or eat too little calories based on no guidance. To lose body fat you NEED to lower your calories. A good starting place for caloric intake is take your body weight and multiply it by 12. That will give you a baseline number to start your figure contest diet.
Therefore, if you are 140 pounds (140×12=1680) you will need to start with about 1680 calories. Give those calories two weeks and then check your weight and body fat percentage. You will have probably lost about 6 pounds, putt you right about 134 pounds. From there multiply your new body weight by 12 (134×12=1608) and you will have your new caloric outline for that week.
Journal Your Diet (Log And Track Your Meals)
The only way to know what you’ve been doing, what is working, what isn’t, and what you need to be doing is to log your diet in a journal. You need to keep track of your figure contest diet so you can lose body fat effectively. If you notice you aren’t losing body fat anymore, take a look back through your diet journal and look for any problem areas such as heavy carb meals late at night or overeating calories. Adjust and tweak your diet based on your findings.
How Much Protein Should I Eat? (Keep Nutrients Flowing)
Being that you are a figure competitor and need a fair amount of lean muscle mass to compete on stage, you need to consume a diet of about 40% complete protein. If you are eating a 1680 calorie diet, then 40% protein would be 168 grams of protein a day, divided by about 6 meals. That would be about 28 grams of protein per meal, which is equal to about 3 oz chicken breast, 3.5 oz turkey breast, 7 egg whites, or 6 oz orange roughy.
How Many Carbs Should I Eat? (Great Energy Provider)
You will need carbs in your figure contest diet to provide energy. The types of carbs you choose will be what helps provide you energy, and still allow for fat loss and muscle gain. Your diet should focus on solid complex carbs that provide sustained energy. Don’t go for the sugary simple carbs such as cakes, candies, colas, and all the other fattening foods the average American diet contains.
Eat about 30% carbs in your figure prep diet. If you are eating 1680 calories, then 30% carbs would be 126 grams of carbs a day. Divide that by 5 meals (eat only your first 5 out of 6 meals complex carbs) and will be about 25 grams of carbs per meal. That would be about a 5 oz sweet potato, a 4 oz baked potato or 1/2 cup dry oatmeal (1 cup cooked oatmeal).
I Hate Vegetables. Do I Really Need Them? (Green Makes You Lean)
Veggies are the best food group for burning fat. Non-starchy veggies (NSV) are such foods like broccoli, green beans, cauliflower, asparagus, peppers, onions, lettuce, cabbage, etc. These healthy, high-fiber food melt body fat like no bodies business. NSVs can be considered a freebie food, a fat burning food, a negative calorie food… NSVs are extremely low in calories, high in fiber, and don’t affect your insulin levels. When your insulin levels stay consistently low, your body is able to tap into body fat much more efficiently, allowing you to lose weight a lightening speed.
Essential Fats (Necessary For Building Purposes)
Essential fats should compromise about 30% of your diet, as well. If you are eating 1680 calories, then you would be eating 56 grams of fat a day. Divide that by 6 meals and that’s about 9 grams of fat per meal. Don’t fear the fat. Essential fat is ESSENTIAL. It’s fine to eat provided you don’t over eat it. Also, be sure to stick with the good quality fats like healthy oils, fish, avocados, nuts and seeds and avoid the butter, fast food, and high-fat processed snack foods.
Take a Cheat Day (Cheating Has Its Bonuses)
Taking one cheat day ONCE a week can trick your body into burning MORE calories and fat. The tactic behind this method is when you are eating somewhat low calories for 6 days, and you take a high-calorie, high-fat, and high-carb cheat day once a week, your metabolism is shocked. You will not gain fat weight with this cheat day method because the next day you get right back on your figure contest diet. So, by the time you are back on your low calories, your metabolism is running at triple the speed.
A Word of Caution: This cheat day is ONLY effective if it is limited to just ONE day ONCE a week. If you extend it any longer than a 24 hour span, you can start gaining weight.
Critical Information (Must Read)
Don’t rush the process. Plug-in the system and follow it. Consistency pays off big time in this sport.
Now that you have some baseline information you can further your knowledge and put it into action. You can do so by getting my FREE Contest Prep Crash Course. It’ll take your physique to the next level. Get started now by clicking the link below…
Karen Sessions NSCA-CPT
Thanks for reading over my article! I hope you found the information helpful. If you have any questions you can contact me directly using the “Contact Link” at the top of the page. I answer all emails.
If you did like this article then you should sign-up for my FREE Contest Prep Crash Course. These lessons provide science-based information on fat loss, muscle gain, and contest prep. Get the facts and you get the results.