I've been competing for about eight years now and during that time I've tried many approaches to dieting. Especially during the past year, I've learned a very important lesson: different diets work differently for different people. There's no such thing as a "one size fits all" diet. I know what works for me, not for anyone else. And this is true for everyone.
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One of the most important things you can learn is to know your body, understand what works for you as an individual. It's basically a process of trial and error. Personally, it took many years of experimenting before I found the right diet, which I put to use at last year's Fitness Olympia. During the competition season, I follow a modified 40:30:30 diet [protein:carbs:fat] with more protein than carbs. Everyday, these ratios changed slightly. I don't like to follow a certain ratio too rigidly. By keeping my diet variable, my body doesn't have a chance to adjust. Understanding my genetic limits, I know what I can get by with-what I can eat and what I can't.
There's nothing wrong with trying out different diet plans. Just because one diet doesn't work for you doesn't mean you should quit trying to lose weight altogether. If nothing else, dieting teaches you discipline. Whenever you start a new diet plan, you should pay attention to how it makes you feel. Try to write everything
down in a log book.
For example, try the Zone Diet for 6 weeks to see if it works. Then, try the
Atkins Diet for six weeks and see how it compares. The main thing you need to remember is discipline and consistency. You've got to stay with a program for a minimum of six weeks. Two or three weeks is not enough for your body to adjust to a new diet. You have to train your body to stay at a lower body fat level, especially if it's a new level that it hasn't been accustomed to before.
I know what my body craves-sugars and starch. I also know that these things keep me chunky. Once again, the real trick is consistency. I eat "clean" about 75% of the time. Since this can be really tough, I give myself little breaks here and there. For instance, I treated myself to a rich dessert yesterday at a restaurant. Don't be afraid to splurge once a week, maybe on the weekend, and eat something sinful. It will help keep you honest for the rest of the week. Not only that, it will help prevent your body from falling into a regular pattern.
I try to eat protein with every meal, whether it's chicken, turkey, tuna or a protein shake. If you're like me and travel a lot, there are a couple ways to make sure you're never without protein. For example, I always pack some canned chicken/tuna in water. It's really convenient.
Whey protein is also really easy to take. My favorite is Universal's Orange Cream Super Whey Pro. Instead of taking the whole bottle, what I do is spoon out measured amounts of protein into little plastic baggies and take them with me wherever I go. That way, I can be sure to get a lot of protein. I usually want at least 1g of protein per pound of bodyweight. When I'm training intensely, I take about 1.5g of protein per pound of bodyweight-up to 200g per day.
The reason why women need more protein is because without adequate amounts, their bodies will eat away lean mass, especially when they diet. And with less lean mass, your metabolism slows down.
Water is a must. Proper hydration is critical for staying in top shape. Personally speaking, I drink at least a gallon of water per day. No matter where I am, I have water handy-I keep it next to my bed so that I can drink from it in the middle of the night. I have a bottle in the car, and another one in my gym bag. Wherever I am, I have water.
Supplements can definitely make a big difference. I would strongly suggest it for people who are serious about sticking to a weight-loss program. Go with what you feel comfortable with. Because Ripped Fast 2 is so powerful, I'll only take one capsule at a time. Universal also has an effective formula called Herbal ThermoStack E/C/A which works better for women because it doesn't have ephedrine in it.
Remember, stick to a program for at least six weeks. Do the cardio. Hit the weights. By doing so, fat burners will work even faster. In addition to these fat burners, I also use plenty of whey protein and a good multivitamin. Women's Fitness Pak is about as complete as you're going to find. In terms of snacks, my favorite are the muscle builder bars. This little bar packs a lot of nutrition with protein, a little carbs, and a little fat. For women who want a little more lean mass, I'd recommend Creatine Chews. It's got plenty of creatine and it even tastes like Sweet Tarts.