Disclaimer: I am not a certified trainer and have no formal education in health and fitness other than what we all learn in school. Nothing that follows should be taken without consulting a proper physician. I take no responsibility for any of your own experiments with your body and health on your own journey. This is the way I progress towards my goals day after day, and I hope it is a tale to inspire you. At the end of the day, and in all walks of life, the body is the only vessel we get.
Photo by Kevin Cozma. Me on stage in Takamatsu, August 2016
My Competition Diet
To paraphrase former Mr. Olympia Jay Cutler: Food is for function, not for flavor.
Dieting is often the most challenging journey toward a healthy body. It is vital to make Cutler’s advice echo between your ears.
Isn’t it true? Why do we eat? On a basic level, we take in all the vitamins and nutrients purely to survive. By the Great Creator, or through evolution, or whatever, our tongues developed taste buds and now we have the chance to enjoy this means of survival. However, through capitalist thought and mass production we are bombarded with delicious meals and treats that are not healthy in the slightest. Not in comparison to what we need.
And supplying the body with essential elements is not like cleaning smudges off your glasses, where you can do it anytime and have perfect vision again. If I need a set amount of vitamins today, and don’t ingest them, I can’t fulfill those deficiencies tomorrow. It doesn’t work. It’s more like running a car on low motor oil until it sputters and dies. It’s too late. The damage is done.
So dieting in general must be a well-planned endeavor.
That being said, competition dieting is tough and, if done wrong, hard on a body. Please keep in mind this meal plan will not add size. It is hard enough to put on mass, these low calories will make it impossible. This is for definition. If you are lacking muscle size before toning down, work on that first, and don’t worry too much about a little softness in the gut.
This is a basic look at the diet that took me from 72kg to 60kg in 12 weeks. It was tough going, but I had to succeed for my big contest:
2 scoops of oatmeal
3 scoops of protein powder
1 Steamed/Grilled Chicken Breast
A fist-sized ball of white rice
5 pieces of broccoli
1 egg on top
Protein shake with water
Salad lightly drizzled with low fat dressing
*I took a multivitamin and Fish Oil to help with muscle repair and to ensure I wasn’t lacking in the essentials.
My calorie intake fluxed between 1,700-1,900 calories per day. Slightly more on training days and less on my one non-training day. There is an exact science to dieting and food; however, it gets complex quickly. I’d rather leave you with a “this worked for me” than overwhelm you with mundane details. There are plenty of sources out for that if it is something you are interested in.
I recommend: The New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuildng by Arnold Schwarzenegger, and The Bodybuilder’s Nutrition by Dr. Franco Columbu. Even if you have no interest in bodybuilding, these titles have detailed information on nutrition and how it impacts the body.
My caloric intake was lower than average dieting and doctors may likely advise against it. 2,000 calories is ideal, I believe. I’m not saying for you to follow my diet. This is what I did. If done for too long, it will likely do more harm than good. Be careful.
It is worth noting you should reward yourself from time to time. Some common ways to go about it—without being over the top—are:
One cheat meal every four days,
One cheat day per week.
I suggest you choose one and set it in stone. No extra cheats. For that meal or that day have whatever you like. After a while, you’ll hardly want any junk food. At least that’s how myself and my gym buddies felt after seeing the results of our dedication and perseverance respectively.
Note that during my 12 weeks before competition, I partook in zero cheat meals. In the off season, when my calories are higher anyway, my cheat usually involves ice cream, pizza, and pb&j. How will you reward yourself for reaching your goals?
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