Egg Whites, Sweet Potatoes, Blah Blah Blah… by Katie Szep
Who decided that egg whites, sweet potatoes, oatmeal and grilled chicken are the cornerstone of a competitor’s diet? I asked myself this question before I designed my first pre-competition meal plan. After interviewing competitors, and reading numerous articles on the subject, I found that these foods (give or take an occasional whey shake or vegetable) were consumed by every athlete in vast quantities. Not only were these foods included on the diets every day, but other seemingly healthful foods were considered absolutely “off limits”. The lack of variety and limitations in these diets were enough to make me give up on the idea of competing entirely. I couldn't survive on this limited diet for a week, never mind three months! My question then became “could I design an effective competition diet full of variety and choices? The answer is an absolute “YES!”.
While it is true that Fitness and Figure athletes need to follow a controlled diet, with just a little extra effort, they can still enjoy many of their favorite foods-even during the last few weeks of dieting.
Most competitors follow diets based on those originally designed years ago by bodybuilders. Not only were these diets designed without the benefit of recent scientific research, they were also primarily developed for male bodybuilders seeking to lower their body fat to 3-4%. These diets are quite restrictive, “banning” many healthful foods such as fruit or organic breads. Before my first competition, I decided that instead of designing a diet influenced by bodybuilders of the past, I would create a diet based on science and all-natural, diverse foods.
When I design all diets, including my own, I first base them on the following principles:
1. Burn more calories than you consume, and you will
However, for pre-competition purposes I also had to consider the body fat level that I was striving to attain, while still maintaining my lean muscle mass. To accommodate these needs I added the following principles to those mentioned above:
1. Carbohydrates should be tapered down throughout the
day-the highest amount consumed at meal one, the smallest at meal six.
The only step left, was to figure out the amount of
calories I needed per day to achieve my goals. I then used the principles
mentioned above to calculate what percentage of these calories would
come from carbohydrates, protein and fat.
I realize that it is tempting to follow a diet that requires little thought. It may seem easier to bake seven sweet potatoes per week, than to think of seven different choices for low glycemic carbohydrates. However, your mind and body will eventually tire of this monotony. If you plan to compete often, you will want a diet that is effective, but one that will keep you sane and healthy!
I have had great success with my diet strategy as have
my clients. If I can help you develop a pre-competition diet suitable
for your tastes and goals please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org