Ok so in part one we discussed the personal reasons one might have for competing. Next is probably one of the most important topics about the subject and that is diet.
They say there are a million and ones ways to skin a cat, well one could argue there are equally as many ways to get to stage condition. And while this is true, efficiency should be the name of the game. Anyone can put someone on a crash diet and come back in 12 weeks and what do you know? That person got a lot leaner. But there’s a lot more to it than just lowering calories.
First thing you need to consider is time frame. Typically the “average” contest prep is 12-15 weeks. Depending on how much you have to lose this could be entirely inadequate. It doesn’t account for the fact that life doesn’t always go the way we want it to. In layman’s terms, shit happens. My rule of thumb is, take however long you “think” it’ll take, now add 4 or so weeks and that’s how long it will “probably” take, then add 4 more weeks and that’s how long you “should” take. Most people under estimate how much fat they have to lose, taking more time will ensure you’re not rushing. Also add even more time will allow you to account for possible speed bumps along the way.
So let’s set up a scenario. You “think” you need to drop 20lbs to get to stage weight. Well in reality you need to drop 25-30. So instead of taking 16 weeks you might take 24 weeks, possibly as much as 30. Granted this scenario would be for the natural athlete. Even for the enhanced athlete I believe taking a bit longer could work to your advantage as much more muscle will be able to be maintained, diet and dosage dependent of course.
So you have a 24week prep. As for bodyweight loss per weight, I’d recommend anywhere from 0.5-1.0% of total bodyweight loss per week. This will ensure that you make progress but you’re not going so fast as to worry about loss in LBM. Although one would argue that at the beginning of a prep, you could be more aggressive at the start while BF% is higher. A 200lbs individual should shoot for 1-2lbs per week, so caloric deficit from diet and cardio should reflect that goal. As for macronutrients, those should be your standard fare, .35-.4g/lbs of fat, 0.8-1.2g/lbs of protein, and the remaining calories from carbohydrates and anywhere from 10-15g of fiber per 1000 calories.
So this 200lbs individual maintains on 3300 calories per day and seeks to drop 1.5lbs per week at the start, 1from diet and the rest from cardio(which we’ll touch in part 3). So he needs a 500 calorie deficit. So at the start of his prep he will be at 2800 calories. Playing middle ground on protein and fats he’ll put fats at around .375g/lbs and protein at 1-1.1g(that will change as prep goes on to help increase satiety as leptin drops).
So starting macros would be something like 200-220p 75f 290-310c. Granted with fats that high, one might opt for closer to .35g/lbs in exchange for more carbs. Remember, there is no need to go low carb right off the bat. Carbs promote greater training performance since glucose is the preferred energy source of the body. Dropping carbohydrates, fat, calories, whatever should be gradually and methodically done. And when it comes to adjustments, you don’t have to make extreme changes. Sometimes you just need to make tweaks here and there to get the ball rolling.
A topic that comes up a lot is the topic of refeeds. What are refeeds? What are the purpose of refeeds. During prolonged periods of dieting, certain metabolic hormones become down regulated and others are upregulated. Leptin and thyroid hormone downregulate to a degree and ghrelin(the hormone that signals hunger) is upregulated. So while the ability to burn fat isn’t halted, it will go down to a degree. So the purpose of a refeed is to get these hormones back in check.
Now you’ll normally see the one day refeed. This does a lot physiologically, as glycogen stores will be more filled, you’ll move more, you’ll train harder for a couple of days. This will increase both NEAT(Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis) and ultimately TDEE(Total Daily Energy Expenditure). It will also be a slight mental break, which could help lower cortisol which is also elevated while dieting and training hard. But ultimately this will not affect hormones much at all if any. For that typically a 2 day refeed with calories up to maintenance would be recommended.
Granted to achieve the deficit that you want, you might have to increase the deficit on your other days to compensate. Refeeds should be conducted relatively the same in either scenario in terms of calories. To allow for more carbohydrates, dropping fat lower would be a good idea, protein as well.
In terms of the major topics of diet, let’s recap. We’ve gone over Duration of diet Amount of weight loss per week Setting up your deficit Determining starting macros Refeeds and how to approach them If you have any questions message us at the Evidence Based Performance Coaching FB Page or message me personally.
-Coach Gavin McCort