I have been competing in Fitness for the past 4 years and the longer I do it the more I learn about nutrition and exercise. I find that it's a never-ending journey; you are always learning something new. This article will cover my basic nutritional strategy for reducing my body fat level. The first thing I will do is calculate my basic caloric intake needs in order to achieve weight loss.
I do this by multiplying my current body weight by 10 and subtracting roughly about 10% as it's a well know fact that most people no matter how careful they are will always sneak in a little extra calories through out the day. I fell the 10% subtraction is about the right amount for most people.
Calorie Needs Calculator
For my up coming competitions I am following a diet consisting of 45% protein, 40% Carbohydrate and 15% fat. My diet consists of 7 meals a day spaced out evenly through out the day. As I progress through the week I will slightly adjust my calories reducing them by 100 calories or increasing them by 100 calories.
I feel that this variation keeps my body always guessing at what's going on and the metabolism stays active and elevated for a longer period of time and you do not reach a weight loss plateau. I always manipulate the calories by adjusting carbohydrate intake up or down and always leaving my protein and fat intake the same through out all of the phases of my diet.
I eat some complex carbs in the mornings and up to early after noon. I find that gives me energy to carry me through the day, as the day progresses I replace those choices with fibrous carbs, as they are slower burning and will cause less of an insulin release and more fat oxidation. For protein sources I will use lean meats like chicken breasts, turkey breasts, egg whites and whey protein.
I try really hard to take in most of my fats from flaxseed oil, as it is very reach in omega-3 & omega-6 fatty acids, which are responsible for a number of functions in the human body including stimulating metabolism. I try to keep it all pretty simple, stick to the same foods and always make my meals the night before, this allows me to stay strict and not cheat through out the week and use the excuse of "Oh, I forgot to bring my meal to work, so I can have some take out".
Once a week I allow myself a cheat meal, which for me is a cheese-less pizza by removing the cheese as a toping you reduce the total calorie count and I believe make it an excellent cheat meal without sacrificing your hard work and diet. Other toppings I get on the pizza are pizza sauce, mushrooms, green peppers & grilled chicken.
I feel by allowing myself a the above cheat meal on Saturdays it keeps me refreshed and gives me something little to work towards through the week. When the going gets tough, all I have to do is think about that meal on Saturday and that's enough to make me work extra hard to get what I like to call my weekly reward.
When it gets closer to the show, I might cut the pizza out of my meal schedule, if I feel it's necessary for me to further reduce my body fat and increase the rate of my progress. I must admit for some people the cheat meal will not work as it might get them off track and sometimes it's very hard to get back onto a regular diet after stimulating the taste buds with something yummy.
However for me it's an outlet and I do not feel it reduces my progress, I actually think it makes me work harder through out the week. I supplement my diet with Glutamine 3 times a day; first thing in the morning before cardio, after workouts and right before bed. Each time I take 5 gm of glutamine and I feel it really helps me retain my muscle as I diet for the show.
I also take whey protein as a supplementary source of protein. I will also use 5-10 gm of creatine after my workouts up to about 4 weeks out of competition at which point I will remove it from my supplement schedule as I feel it makes me retain some water and washes out my definition.
I do not overly worry about sodium intake, however I do not add salt to any of my meals. Low carbohydrate diets do not cause water retention and the little extra salt will not cause much grief for most people. I always make sure to consume at least 4-5 liters of water per day, and yes it makes me go to the bathroom a lot, but I just consider it a part of my cardio.
I find that following these guide lines allows me to reduce my weight at about 1-2 pounds per week, which I feel is the safe amount that will not be causing much muscle wasting, for which I work so hard in the off season.
I hope that this shines some light on the subject of body fat reduction and give you some ideas on creating your own successful program to reach your goals. In my next article I will focus on my exercise program as well as cardio scheduling and the reasons for doing the things I do. Until next time stay fit, work hard and all your dreams will come true.