As you train you must consider your protein, carbs and fats intake (macronutrients), as well as your overall calorie consumption. The is the energy equation for loss, gain or maintaining your weight. It is paramount to ‘dialing in’ your diet. I would like to remind you that the standard recommendation for daily protein intake for bodybuilders and subsequently fitness competitors/fitness models (like you) to keep your lean mass is 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight per day (no I won’t do the metric conversion). So it’s pretty basic if you are a ripped little fitness competitor stepping on stage at 118 lbs., you need to be consuming about 118-120 grams of protein per day. An average egg has around 6 grams. One eight-ounce chicken breast has about 42 grams. That’s why chicken is a favorite lean source for us builders.
That said, I would love to list off here some of the best sources of “whole-foods” protein sources. What I mean by whole foods (not the super-chain ‘whole-paycheck’ market) is non-packaged/processed protein sources. When using the term ‘whole foods’, I’m referring to animals and their byproducts.
Let’s start at the top. Which came first the chicken or the egg? I’m not sure, but I can tell you which comes first—as in number one source for protein: It is the egg!
Chicken eggs are the gold standard for protein. You can get all your essential aminos from eggs. Essential simply means you must get the aminos from a dietary source, as your body only manufactures some of the main 20 aminos required to build, maintain and repair. Remember aminos are the building blocks of protein. (This allows you to maintain and build lean mass). Aminos are also important in immunity. The basics of amino acids and maintaining your lean muscle is based on this fact: Animal-based foods, such as fish, poultry and any animal meat in general (I have a recipe book that calls for squirrel and possum it’s true!) dairy products and eggs, contain complete proteins. They are called this because they provide all the essential amino acids your body needs and cannot manufacture on its own.
Why did the chicken cross the road? To get away from the fitness competitor. Lean white chicken breast (prepared however you like so as long as you are not covering it in fat laden sauces (grill it, steam it, bake it, barbeque it add spices in lieu of fats butter and oil) is an excellent protein source. However, a little olive oil in a pan and seared with spices is fine.
Let’s talk turkey (serious business). Turkey is a good source of lean protein too! Go for the white breast meat, so as to avoid excess fat in the meat.
Eight-ounces of white turkey breast has about 70 grams of protein! That’s a lot! (Eight ounces of meat is also a lot). But this gives you an idea of good lean protein sources. Next up is my old favorite: Tuna. You don’t have to eat out the can like a kitty—although I love chunk white albacore with a little salsa mixed right in the can as a lean protein meal. Its salinity is high however, so if you are pre-contest you may want to get low sodium canned tuna. Another option is hit the sushi bar! This is a favorite! Eight ounces of tuna sashimi has a whopping 53 grams of protein! And the best part ZERO carbs! Again watch out for sodium. Soy sauce is the nearly the equivalent of of licking a horses salt lick. Look, a tablespoon of the stuff has body-bloating, 902mg (milligrams). That is some serious water retaining you’ll be doing. So if you don’t mind being a pool noodle go right ahead. Better yet steer clear of soy sauce especially around competition time. If bloat is not a concern (and so long as you are not hypertensive and you don’t care if you you look the Stay Puft-Marshmallow Man) its not a real concern, calorie wise.
I’d like to mention a couple of popular trendy protein sources here. Trend-watch: Quinoa, dubbed one of the newest superfoods— and an excellent source of protein is a decent source of protein. There are 229 calories in 1 cup of cooked Quinoa, 42 grams of carbs and a mere eight grams of protein. There are other benefits of quinoa, its virtually fat and cholesterol free. So there you go. But I would not call eight grams of protein for a 229 trade off of calories as an excellent source of protein (as many vegans tout it to be). Lastly, there is a big hubbub amongst vegetarians (and vegans for that matter) about the power of beans. I love beans— pinto, black, kidney, and so on. While whole cooked unadulterated beans are an excellent source of fiber and have no cholesterol tis true, they do not compare to the protein of meat and eggs. For example, one cup of cooked pintos (and hey you got to add salt to make them tasty) has 330 calories, 14 grams of fat 33 grams of carbs and a mere 12 grams of protein. I mean beans are a pretty decent source of protein, if we are talking plant based foodstuff. But I will let the data speak for itself.
The energy equation is still a concern. That is energy in— energy out determines gain, loss, or maintenance. Don’t forget if you are taking in more calories than you need (no matter what the source is—I don’t why people forget this) you WILL gain weight. One thing that a competitor should invest in is getting her BASAL METABOLIC rate determined. I have mentioned Dexafit sports lab in past articles. They can give you an accurate measurement of your calorie requirements. They are located in many major cities across the country.  In days of yore (that means along time ago before steroids, GH and diuretics were in most athletes’ medicine cabinets or refrigerators) one could use formulas to determine their BMR. They still exist on line. Also in the past one had to scrutinize labels on everything or use Nutrionalysis software to determine calories and nutrients of food. Today you can find virtually all nutritional information, and gratis on line! I personally use FATSECRET.com  . Just about anything and every food item you can think of is searchable. You can also change the weight and or quantity to give you an accurate breakdown of what you just gobbled-up, or plan to.
Now let’s get into ways you can enjoy treats and cut calories. Next up I would like to introduce a couple of food substitutes for baked goods. Most people enjoy sweets. But when you are a builder or competitor sugar should not be high on your list of consumption. If you like to cook or bake with sugar you may want to consider using Stevia in stead. For one thing Stevia (Truvia® is a popular name brand) is nearly 200 times sweeter than sugar. Thus a little goes a long, long, long way. About one teaspoon of Truvia® can replace one tablespoon of sugar. Furthermore, there is a product called, Stevia In The Raw. It is a granulated product that has an equal conversion rate. Hello sweet caffeine! This is good for bakers too. But note the bulk of your mix will be diminished so you will have to add something. Typically, bakers will sub in one of these to bulk up for the lost sugar volume:
Yogurt Applesauce Fruit Juice
If you still insist on eating baked goods (which really you should avoid as a fitness buff) you can try another little trick bakers' use: substitute butterfat with applesauce. It works! I have put a couple of recipes at the end of this article. The gist of substitution is that you can with just about any baking recipe –reduce the amount of saturated fat by substituting butter with unsweetened applesauce—or any fruit puree for that matter—and a little canola oil! Simply butter can be replaced with half canola oil and half puree. For example, 1 whole cup of butter would be replaced with ½ cup applesauce and ½ cup oil. Now here is where you save on calories: One tablespoon of butter has a bounty of calories, around 102 and that’s about 12 grams of fat! Forget the whole cup! If you add a whole cup of butter—which many recipes call for (and more) you will have packed that baked treat with 1630 Calories. That is just from the butter alone. This of course assumes you eat the whole batch of cookies or bars or whatever it is you have baked. This
Below, I have couple of recipes relating to these sweet facts!
RECIPE NO. 1
RECIPE NO. 2 “ABC COOKIES” (Almond Butter Cookies)
 https://www.dexafit.com March 2017.
 Truvia, to learn more about Truvia you can visit the site Truvia.com/products