Monday, July 10, 2017

Bodybuilding Diet: Off-Season and Pre-Contest


The most important things you need to know regarding food before you step on stage, especially if you want to start a career as a bodybuilder. If you are from South Africa, check out the bodybuilding competitions you can compete enter in SA. If you're new to competitions, see why size doesn't win competitions and how to win.

This article is about ow to create the best diet that you need to eat during your bodybuilding cycle. There are different meal structures for different times of the year. These different times include the pre-contest and off-season phases. Take a look at what you should be eating, depending on where you are in your competition cycle. The goal of this diet structure is to assist your exercise routine by fueling muscle to be as big and defined as possible when you step on stage. The two phases we will be focusing on is pre-contest and off-season. Since diets that contain little fat lead to lower testosterone levels, make sure that at least 10-15% of your calories come from fat sources at all times. 55-60% of calories should come from carbohydrates in both eating plans. These carbohydrates, even on pre-contest plans, will still be decreased since total calories consumed will be lower. 55-60% of calories from carbohydrates are lowered when the total amount of calories you eat in a day are lowered. Keeping carbohydrates at this level ensures maximum training performance and thorough muscular response. Consuming sufficient nutrition before and after exercise will allow for best results, regardless of phase.

Off-Season Bodybuilding Meal Plan

This is often referred to as the bulking phase. The 'off-season' phase of your eating plan pertains to the food you eat when you are not competing in any bodybuilding shows and are not planning to for a while. This stage is important because it is when you need to focus on packing on as much muscle onto your body as you can. Since muscle takes a lot of nutrients to build, you should be eating more calories than usual to give your body everything that it needs to build as much muscle as you can - as fast as possible. You can't determine the exact amount of calories that your muscles need, so aim for an excess (too many calories) instead of too little. If your body does not get all the calories that it needs from food, it can't grow as much muscle as it could if it did have them. Fewer calories often mean less muscle gain. It is okay to put on a little extra fat during this phase, since you will be losing that fat in the pre-contest diet phase. Your off-season phase should be a lot longer than your pre-contest phase, so that you can spend more time putting on muscle (and probably increasing fat) than preserving muscle (but decreasing fat). The calories you eat versus the energy you spend determine your energy balance. Having a positive energy balance (eating more calories than you use) creates an anabolic environment where muscle can grow. Muscles take a lot of calories to grow, apart the calories burned during exercise and other daily activities. Calories are not the only things you will be focused on consuming. You need a lot of protein for your body to turn into muscle.

  • Eat more calories than you burn (Aim for a 15% surplus).
  • Make sure that enough of these calories come from protein.
  • One gram of protein serves 4 calories, one gram of carbohydrates serves 4 calories and one gram of fat serves 9 calories. 
  • Use these metrics to divide up your macro nutrients from the calculator counter below.
  • Remember to time you meals right. Very importantly: have meals planned for before and after exercise. Nutrients absorbed during these times have very direct results for muscle growth.
  • Supplements like protein shakes count towards total calorie consumption.
  • As a rule of thumb: you can have too many calories, but not too little.

Pre-Contest Bodybuilding Meal Plan

While your goal was to build as much muscle as possible, even if that meant adding a little fat; the role of this phase is to drop as much fat as you can while maintaining the muscle that you have built up. This phase focuses on adding definition to the muscle that you already have so that you can look your best on stage. The pre-contest phase lasts for 6-12 weeks before you compete. You should start your pre-contest diet during this time to lose as much fat and preserve as much muscle as you can for your stage appearance. The main goal is to get fat levels extremely low while keeping the muscle you gained from your off-season efforts. Although you wanted a positive energy balance (calories consumed vs burned) during the off-season phase, you want a negative energy balance in the weeks leading up to competition. This increases the amount of fat burned and stops fat levels from increasing. You must eat enough protein to preserve muscle and prevent it from breaking down. Springer Link cites evidence that making protein 30% of calories consumed will decrease muscle loss, as opposed to making protein 15% of calories consumed, during calorie restriction. It also cites that a higher percentage protein vs other foods will add a thermionic element, increasing fat loss. 
  • Eat less calories than you burn (Aim for a 15% deficit).
  • Make at least 30% of these calories protein.
  • One gram of protein serves 4 calories, one gram of carbohydrates serves 4 calories and one gram of fat serves 9 calories. 
  • Make sure to drink lots of water when on this eating plan. You will need it!
  • This diet needs to be as strict as possible. Stick to it!
  • Here is a good example of a pre-contest eating plan.
Many people ask about how to decrease water in the body so that there is little cushioning between the muscle and skin. This gives that hard look, as if the muscles were completely naked and nothing stands in between them. This is a nice method is to completely drown your body in water and then cut it off. This washes away your electrolytes and therefore its ability to hold water. Don't worry about drinking too much water if it is only for a short period of time.

What Now?

Use Bodybuilding.com's calorie calculator to find out how many calories you need to be consuming per day. Divide these calories into macro nutrients (protein, carbohydrates and fats) using the following measurements: 4 calories per gram of protein and carbohydrates and 9 calories per gram of fat. Eat 15% more to gain muscle (bulk) and 15% less when preparing to compete (shred), 6-12 weeks before you walk on stage. Make 55-60% of these calories carbohydrates, 25-30% of them proteins and 15-20% of them fats. Remember that 100 grams of protein is not 100 grams of protein. On average, 100 grams of lean mince has only 21 grams of protein, 5 grams of fat and 136 calories. If you want an estimate on what calories different kinds of activities burns, click here.

Let me know about your experiences and what works best for you in the comments below. STAY STRONG!