Colette Nelson Shares Her Bodybuilding Philosophies In Preparation For The 2010 New York Pro!

IFBB Pro Boybuilder Colette Nelson is making a huge comeback and showing her best physique yet at the 2010 New York Pro competition. Discover her training and nutrition philosophies and her plans for the future in this interview!
Article Summary:
  • Colette Nelson is a registered dietician and an expert on diabetes.
  • Although she considers bodybuilding a healthy lifestyle, she strives for balance in her life.
  • Her favorite competition memory is seeing herself in the big screen at the 2006 Olympia.
  • I am sure you are all familiar with the old saying that beauty and brains rarely come together in the same package. However, in today's world we are rapidly experiencing the decline of this assumption thanks in no small part to women like IFBB Professional Bodybuilder, Colette Nelson.

    Having just made her comeback to the stage a few months ago in Phoenix, Arizona, Colette is now poised to enter the New York Pro on May 8th. Undeniably in full possession of the goods when it comes to beauty, Colette also has the brains to match.

    She's a registered dietician and certified Diabetes educator. Colette designs both off season and pre-contest diets for a long and impressive list of clientele and, considering the success of those who enlist her services, she seemed like the ideal recipient of my questions regarding the so called 'facts' about the bodybuilding diet.

    So first of all let's start with the great dairy debate.

    Colette Nelson At The 2010 Phoenix Pro. Colette Nelson At The 2010 Phoenix Pro.
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    [ Leigh Penman ] Over the years dairy products have received a lot of criticism as a protein source in the bodybuilders diet, particularly when it comes to pre-contest dieting and yet you advocate the use of cottage cheese and yogurt as a great bodybuilding food. Care to explain why?

    [ Colette Nelson ] If you turn your attention to the bodybuilders competing in the 80s, they used cottage cheese religiously as part of their off-season and pre-contest dieting. However, now we are constantly told to avoid dairy for the following reasons:

    1. Lactose

    It contains Lactose (milk sugar) and many people may suffer from what is known as lactose intolerance. Now, and hear me on this, I am not suggesting that you drink copious amounts of milk but today you can find Greek Yogurts and cultured cottage cheese that have billions of live active cultures which utilize the lactose sugar making it safe for those who are lactose intolerant.

    Therefore, why not include these foods in your bodybuilding diet. For example, 1 cup of 0 % Fat Free Greek Yogurt has 120 kcal, 22 gm protein and no fat.

    Also Nancy's Cottage Cheese (or Cabot) - contains probiotics and has 160 kcal, 28gm protein, 6 gm carbs and 1-2 grams fat per cup.

    2. Salt

    We forget that salt can actually be anabolic. I have never believed in following a NO SALT contest diet. You end up depriving your body of intracellular water. As bodybuilders we are working out and sweating everyday and if you are following a low carb diet your body is constantly spilling water and you need the salt to help keep your muscles full and strong. A dehydrated muscle is a weak muscle.

    3. Casein Protein & Whey

    Aren't those in your protein shakes that you are drinking while you are dieting?

    Casein is the predominant protein in cottage cheese. In the manufacture of cottage cheese, skim milk is acidified, virtually all of the whey is precipitated out and curds remain for further processing.

    Some cream and/or milk may be added to the curds after this process, providing varying fat contents, texture and flavor. Milk is 20% whey and 80% casein.

    4. Dietary Calcium

    Studies show that dietary calcium, rather than just supplemental, may assist weight loss.

    5, Healthy Bones

    Calcium is also necessary for healthy bones, skin and nails.

    So, if you are dieting for a bodybuilding show don't count out fermented dairy products like Greek Yogurt, Cultured Cottage cheese and Keifer. These foods are all easily digested and highly beneficial. They are good for your intestinal tract. They also increase the number of good bacteria in your colon which you need for digestion and to help fight yeast, parasites and the general unclean condition of the colon.

    Do You Eat Dairy Foods While Preparing For A Contest?

    I Haven't Competed.

    [ LP ] What about the use of Omega-3's? They have recently been criticized for impairing muscle growth - your thoughts?

    [ CN ] For every study to prove one thing I can find you a study to argue against it. With that said, I feel that we should always approach bodybuilding holistically. There are so many positive benefits attributed to consuming omega 3s which outweigh the possibility that they are somehow hindering muscle growth.

    I have been on 6-9g of omega 3s for years and haven't noticed any detrimental effects.

    Digging deeper, omega 3's also help with many other well known health problems. All in all I think the benefits outweigh the risks in terms of muscle recovery.

    [ LP ] You are known to have an involvement with Species Nutrition, a company which has recently been under fire for its use of Usnic Acid in its fat burning products. There are some who claim it causes liver damage, care to respond?

    [ CN ] Usnea is a fungus/algae that grows on a variety of trees. It is also an uncoupling agent. What this means is that it increases thermogenesis without stimulating the central nervous system.

    In theory I find that this mechanism is safer than other stimulants on the market. We live in an over stimulated world of high stress and it would seem ingesting something to further stress our bodies can't be beneficial.

    The studies are inconclusive and the issues surrounding Usnic Acid currently seem to be unfounded.

    Colette Nelson At The 2010 Phoenix Pro. Colette Nelson At The 2010 Phoenix Pro.
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    [ LP ] On a chemical note, as a type 1 diabetic how do you feel about the use of insulin by non diabetic bodybuilders in order to give them an extra 'edge' when it comes to muscle growth? Do you think insulin could be considered a valuable ergogenic aid?

    [ CN ] Insulin is one of the most anabolic hormones in the human body. Why? It is the only hormone that allows the foods we eat to enter the cells of the body, most importantly the muscle cells.

    However, I think you have to look at the big picture. Insulin can make you fat before it can make you muscular. You really have to look at a person's metabolism and look at what other supplements they might be taking.

    Also, keep in mind you are playing with fire. You can die from hypoglycemia. Insulin is nothing to play around with. It takes precise dosages.

    [ LP ] Turning to diet, as a registered dietician and a professional bodybuilder you have a great many clients who you coach on their diet throughout the year. In terms of macro nutrients what ratios do you favor?

    [ CN ] When I work with clients I always consider the big picture. That means what their relationship with food is. I find that eating disorders are very prevalent in this business. I also ask about trigger foods. Then I look at what type of eater and what kind of life they live to make it something they can actually do and stick with. Dieting is all about strategy.

    With that said, I like to do a type of hi fiber carb cycle with fat & protein. I like the keto approach but also like to play with macronutrients such as legumes, squash, whole oats, berries, Greek yogurt, and cottage cheese. It really is more holistic.

    Some days I have you eating healthy fats such as those found in lean meats, salmon, whole eggs, and avocado. While other days I lower the fat and include legumes, berries, Greek yogurt and oats or even 'Fiber One' cereal.

    Colette Nelson At The 2010 Phoenix Pro. Colette Nelson At The 2010 Phoenix Pro.
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    [ LP ] Are you a believer in the multiple small feedings principle as opposed to larger less frequent meals?

    [ CN ] The only way to diet is 5-7 small meals per day. For women I find 5 meals are best and men 6-7 meals. When you eat there is something called the thermal effect of food, and this accounts for 10% energy loss and that is equitable to calories lost. This is what we want when we are dieting.

    [ LP ] How do you approach a woman's diet as opposed to a man's? Are there significant adjustments?

    [ CN ] The main difference is in the serving sizes. Men are typically larger in stature and therefore their calories, carbs, proteins, and fats are higher. Men like to keep things simple while women are more emotional with food. I like to give them options to satisfy their sweet tooth while adhering to their diet.

    [ LP ] When it comes to pre contest dieting what changes do you make to an individual's program?

    [ CN ] When it comes to pre-contest dieting I like to get rid of the bad habits like adding creamer to your coffee and nibbling and cheating outside of scheduled meal times.

    I also have my clients measure their food and start timing their meals, eating to the clock. In addition, I do not believe in all out cheat meals but rather a structured meal off the diet and something that will not psychologically throw you off for days or make you feel sick.

    Colette Nelson At The 2008 New York Womens Pro. Colette Nelson At The 2008 New York Womens Pro.
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    [ LP ] Turning to your own competitive plans, you are just going into the New York Pro having made your comeback to competition in Phoenix earlier this year. What are your hopes as far as this year's show is concerned?

    [ CN ] When I was preparing for the Arizona pro show earlier this year I had to overcome many emotional, personal, and physical obstacles. I am still recovering from my torn bicep tendon; yes I tore the long head of my bicep and decided not to get it fixed.

    But, I have felt good preparing for the NY PRO. I had it in my head that I was going to do as many shows as necessary to qualify for the Olympia. But after moving to New York City and starting a new job working in the diabetes field and an air brush tanning business I might want to refocus my energy after the NY PRO on my business aspirations.

    I really want to write a book about my diet philosophy as it relates to my personal experience with insulin and type 1 diabetes.

    [ LP ] How do you see your future evolving? Is your focus going to be inside or outside of the sport?

    [ CN ] Focus? What is that? LOL, I love to do so many different things it is amazing that I have enough time in the day to shower! I really would like to continue to establish myself as an expert in the field of diabetes and nutrition. I think writing a book is a very necessary step for me to be taken seriously in the world of nutrition periodicals.

    I love the sport of bodybuilding and do plan on competing at least once a year to stay in shape and keep my name out there. But there are so many things that I would like to do that you are all just going to have to sit back and watch and let it unfold.

    Colette Nelson At The 2008 New York Womens Pro. Colette Nelson At The 2008 New York Womens Pro.
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    [ LP ] When the time comes for you to stop competing, what will be your most treasured memories of your years in the sport?

    [ CN ] I can't imagine the time when I walk away from competing forever. It is like Cher, her 'farewell tour,'how many times has that happened? I think IFBB can compete for a very long time as they seem to get better with age like fine wine.

    However, it really becomes a matter of is it worth the sacrifice necessary to step on stage. There are so many amazing memories but one that I will always cherish was when I was on the Olympia stage in 2006 and I looked up and saw myself on the big screen doing a back lat spread. I shed a small tear of joy and disbelief.

    I made it. I really made it to the Ms. Olympia Stage. I never thought that would be possible for someone from a small town in Michigan with Type 1 diabetes.

    [ LP ] Any final words of advice to someone who may be reading this and only just beginning their competitive career?

    [ CN ] For women especially, I warn about the dangers this sport can cause in regards to your eating behavior, relationship with food and your body image. You never seem to love your body in any other condition except contest condition which isn't possible to sustain year round.

    In fact, it isn't healthy. Women are supposed to be between 12-14% body fat and we push ourselves to the limits for the stage. The bodybuilding life style is the healthiest way to live but remember to always look for balance in your life first.

    Bodybuilding and being a slave to a lifestyle can be unhealthy if it impacts personal relationships and career outside the sport. Always keep in mind this is a hobby and something that you should never rely on making money from.

    Colette Nelson At The 2008 New York Womens Pro. Colette Nelson At The 2008 New York Womens Pro.
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    Colette Nelson At The 2008 New York Womens Pro.
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    Anyone seeking to enlist Colette's help with diet, training, posing and choreography can find out more by visiting her website:

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