Nutrition and exercise go hand in hand when prepping for a contest. One of the most common questions athletes and aspiring athletes ask is, "What should I be eating?" With that in mind, I present to you the Top Ten Contest Prep Foods to Add to Your Diet!
These foods form the basis of most contest diets. Item 1- 4 provide you with the lean protein, 5-9 are your carbohydrate sources, and number 10 makes it all palatable!
Typically, the protein would be measured out so that you would get at least 1 to 1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight. You will distribute this protein approximately 3 hours apart over 5 to 8 meals, depending on intake needed and metabolism.
A good fat must also be included to effectively burn your own body fat. Good fats can be in the form of avocado or nuts, as well as different types of oils. For example, when you cook with coconut oil. These good fats are usually taken in with the last meal, instead of carbs, to help with slowing down the absorption of the protein in that last meal, help you sleep, and promote fat loss.
Carbohydrates are the foods that are most played with during contest prep. Basically, carbohydrates give us energy, although we can and do burn fat and muscle as energy, as well. Carbs are stored in our bodies in our liver and muscle tissue in the form of glycogen. This is our bodies first source of energy. If we have glycogen stored left, then we will not burn fat. This is why fasted cardio is effective.
Generally speaking, I have a carbohydrate source with every meal except my last meal before bed. That last meal would typically be fish and avocado, a protein and a good fat.
Carbohydrate and protein have 4 calories per gram. Fat has 9 calories per gram. We need to reduce our fat intake, especially saturated fats, by reducing red meat and minimizing egg yolk consumption, as all the fat in an egg is in the yolk. Some yolks can be taken in, but when eating 10+ eggs per meal, all that fat would increase the calorie intake too much. Obvious fats, like butter, cream and cooking oils, need to be eliminated.
During contest prep, we would alter carbohydrate intake with each meal, while keeping protein high enough to maintain muscle mass. A typical day at the beginning of a prep would be:
MEAL ONE: oatmeal 1cup, 10 eggs (2 yolks )
MEAL TWO: 6 oz chicken breast, 5 oz potato
MEAL THREE: 10 egg whites, 4oz potato
MEAL FOUR: 6 oz chicken breast, 1/2 cup basmati rice, 1/2 cup mixed vegetables
MEAL FIVE: 6 oz chicken Or 10-12 eggs (1-2 yolks), broccoli or potatoes (4 oz)
MEAL SIX: 6 oz fish (salmon), small piece avocado (size of an egg yolk)
As the diet progresses, we can lower the carb intake by 1oz per meal at first. Then we can eliminate carbs from meal 5. Next, we start to vary carb intake on each day to keep the body responding and never get used to a specific carb intake.
The worst mistake I see people making in prep is to reduce carbs too low for too long and do too much cardio. This forces you to go into a catabolic state and lose muscle, as you are using your protein calories to fuel your day instead of repair muscle .
Coming soon, I will go into meal prep and how to make the boring food a little more appetizing!