This is part 7 of my “Becoming a Bodybuilder” Series of articles, see the other parts here:
Part 2: Selecting a Show
Part 3: The Training
Part 4: Crucial Choices
Part 5: Cycling Steroids
Part 6: Posing
The complexities of dieting
As many athletes may or may not know that diet is the key to this sport. However, it is a very complex subject with a lot of details to keep in mind. In fact, this is where I personally struggled the most when I first began following bodybuilding. There are many techniques and strategies one could use to approach their diet, but there is no one method that will fit every scenario. Moreover, what makes dieting so complex is the fact that every individual reacts differently to the same approaches. Therefore, it is not surprising that for many who start this path the training becomes the easy part, and the real battle is with an effective diet.
How I came to proper dieting
I have always established clear and distinguished goals, so I do not believe in “lean bulking” or anything like that. I either “bulk,” or “cut” - that's it. Thus, I don't think that you can truly maximize potential when hovering in the middle ground, and for me it is an “either or” scenario.
For instance, during my initial “bulking” phases, my diet was quite reckless, as I did not value the aspect of nutrition like I do today. Consequently, I looked towards junk food as an easy way to build the mass I desired. However, with more diet-related education the situation changed soon.
This is when I transitioned my methods to a more structured approach of counting macronutrients. Interestingly, for many years the aspect of tracking macronutrients confused me because it was never easy to figure out. Nevertheless, I dedicated a lot of time to research everything I could, and I began experimenting with different combinations to see what worked best for me. Finally, I found what worked, allowing me to go on and on about my theory on diet and nutrition. But I would be hypocritical in preaching what works for me thinking that it will work for you in the same manner.
Dieting for a competition
It took a lot of time and planning to structure my approach to this upcoming show. As a matter of fact, I began my prep diet approximately fourteen weeks out from the show. My goal was to drop over 50lbs of bodyweight. Obviously, I knew it would not be an easy task to complete, but it could be done. Here is a snapshot of my plan:
Fourteen weeks before the contest, I took away my caloric surplus, and implemented a small amount of cardio workout after each training session as well. This continued until week ten, which is when I had made a sizable dent in my weightloss goal. As a result, I was now down to approximately 255lbs.
From week four to week eight, I put my caloric deficit in place by increasing cardio training, leading to a conservative deficit of only 900 calories below my TDEE. I kept a high intake of proteins and low carbs. Therefore, on a daily basis I was consuming 400-500 grams of protein, against 70-150 carbs. The weight was peeling off fast and definition was coming in. From this point on, I continued to cut any carbs I could, and cardio sessions gradually increased by 5-10 minutes every week. For me, this plan worked very well, and it helped me reach my goals, which is what matters the most.
The importance of high quality food
I have a few words of advice for those looking to improve their diet. As competitive athletes, we take in a significantly higher amounts of food than the average person does. Hence, you need to understand what your food is and where it comes from. Since modern food is overwhelmed with artificial sweeteners and flavorings, not to mention a huge variety of chemicals, you need to be very careful.
Unfortunately, due to the great amounts of food we eat, our exposure to these elements is much higher than most people would experience. Just like you should only put “premium” gas in your high octane sports car, your body needs the highest quality food to hit maximum performance. I get dieting inquiries every single day, and the thing I can not stress enough, is making sure that your foods are of high quality. Believe me, if you follow this advice, you will thank me in the long run.