Competition prep can be a chore if you put 100% into your fitness program. However, if you want to get noticed and take center stage, there are some figure diet strategies you should implement. Doing so will ensure you are stage-ready on your big day.
One of the strategies to nail center stage is that you need to let go of the fitness diet myths such as you need to diet hard year around or never go into an off-season mode. These are equivalent as saying you should work 24/7 and never sleep. If you ever want to present the perfect package to the judges then you need rotation and balance in your nutrition plan.
Eat! Food is Nutrition
Many people eat far too much processed foods these days. Processed foods are those fancy deli meats, boxed and canned goods. Those and other food-like items have an ingredient list longer than this article.
Just a quick tip; if there are more than 5 ingredients in a food item, then it’s best to leave it on the shelf because it won’t provide sustained energy or improve muscle quality. What it will do is those chemicals (toxins) will get lodged in your fat stores and cause fat gain and cellulite over time if you consistently eat them.
The foods you should eat are those that actually nourish your body and don’t weigh you down. Food from Mother Nature is designed to help your body function, and if you can manipulate the calories and macros just right you can even build and sculpt a killer physique!
To be prepared for your contest you need to eat enough calories for energy to workout and to build muscle. For some, this can be as low as 1500 calories a day. For others it can be as high as 2000 calories a day. Everyone is different. Therefore, it’s very important to eat the right amount of calories to build muscle and not excess body fat.
Increase Carbs as Necessary
Other figure diet strategies to nail center stage are eating carbohydrates. Carbs provide energy. However, it’s important to know what carbs to eat, in what amount, and when to eat them. The timing of carbs in a muscle-building phase and fat-loss contest prep phase can vary greatly.
In addition, the amount of carbs you eat can vary from off-season to prep mode. It’s not true for every figure competitor, but many athletes tend to lose fat and still keep their lean muscle on a lower percentage of carbs. Does this mean you strip the carbs out at contest time? No, but with the right carb manipulation you can sort of trick your body into burning fat while keeping most of your hard-earned muscle.
Types of Carbs During Phases
The types of carbs you choose between the two phases (muscle building in the off-season and fat loss in contest prep mode) of training also vary. In building mode it’s good to choose an array of complex and starchy carbs to provide energy and when it’s time to prep you can tweak your complex carb intake and introduce more fat burning carbs to start melting those excess body fat stores.
Structured Cheat Meals
Who said you can’t cheat? Cheating on your figure diet is good for muscle building purposes in the off-season and even for fat loss efforts in your contest prep diet. However, notice how I sub-titled this section, structured cheats. This means the cheat needs to be planned and controlled.
So, what can an off-season cheat look like? Well, if you are 100% on your game plan throughout the week, then it would be perfectly okay to take a full cheat day at the end of the week. Some prefer to have just one cheat meal and that’s fine too.
If you are getting contest-ready and are actually dieting down you should take a more cautious approach. Perhaps start off by testing a cheat day and as you diet down turn that cheat day into a cheat meal. From there, gauge and tweak is as you go. Cheating while dieting down for a show can be a hit-and-miss thing and you really need to track and journal so you know precisely what you can and cannot do in regards to a cheating.
Forming Your Game Plan
Now that you have the nuts and bolts on what the difference is in off-season and contest prep, you need to formulate a game plan so you can be stage-ready. Keep in mind being stage ready doesn’t mean you need just 12 weeks of prep. You need that solid muscle base in place BEFORE you start your prep plan.
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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.
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