Bodybuilding Contest Diet
By Lee Hayward
This article will outline what I do to prepare for a bodybuilding contest. I hope that this information is of help to those of you who do compete or those who are thinking of competing in the future.
I start dieting for a contest at least 5 months in advance. I want to have plenty of time to prepare myself. For the first month I simply cut out all junk foods and eat nothing but clean foods. Such as beef, chicken, turkey, fish, eggs, milk, protein shakes, rice, potatoes, pasta, fruit, vegetables, etc. I eat about 5-6 small meals each day. I drink plenty of water at least 1 gallon a day. I will also do 20 minutes of cardio exercise about 3 times each week, before breakfast. I continue my regular weight training workout.
The second month of preparation is pretty much like the first. I will still eat the same as mentioned above. But I will increase my cardio exercise to at least 30 minutes, 4 times per week, before breakfast.
The third month I get stricter with my diet. I will begin to cut back on my portions of starchy carbohydrates while keeping my protein intake high (between 250-300 grams of protein per day). I also eat more vegetables. My diet is now mainly foods such as very lean meat, poultry, fish, protein supplements, vegetables, rice, potatoes, oatmeal, etc. I will increase my cardio to about 30 minutes each morning before breakfast.
I start taking ephedrine, caffeine, and aspirin (ECA). I take 200 mg of caffeine, 25 mg of ephedrine, and 300 mg of aspirin 3-4 times per day on an empty stomach. I take ECA before aerobics and before my workouts because it helps give me an energy boost, curb my appetite, and raise my metabolism enabling me to burn more bodyfat. I also take a serving of GABA each night before going to bed. GABA releases natural growth hormone and aids in fat loss.
I will also practice the mandatory poses for about 30 minutes 3 days per week.
The fourth month is pretty much like the third month with dieting. I increase my cardio to 30 minutes each morning before breakfast and 30 minutes after each weight training workout. I will practice posing for about 30 minutes 3-4 days per week. At this stage I am getting lean and can see the definition showing in my abs, legs, back, chest, etc...
The final month before the contest I get stricter with my diet. I will eat approx. 1 gram of carbohydrate and 1.5 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight each day. I don't count fat grams, but they are kept low.
A typical days eating will look like this:
- bowl of oatmeal
- protein drink
- can of tuna
- garden salad
- 2 chicken breasts
- 1 baked potato
- protein drink
- steamed veggies
- 1 cup of rice
- protein drink
I also salt my food and even add a couple shakes of salt to my protein drinks. This may seem off the wall to most people. But I find that if I don't add salt to my diet I get bad muscle cramps when training. Don't worry you will not retain water, your body will adjust to a higher salt intake within a few days and as long as you are drinking lots of fluids your body will flush out any excess water.
I don't try and lift too heavy in the gym because I know that I will not gain any new muscle during the last month before a contest, I am just trying to maintain my muscle mass and get leaner. I basically have my posing routine down pat. At this stage I just want to keep my bodyfat low and allow my skin to get tighter and thinner to really bring out the definition. The temptation to cheat on my diet is very strong now. It is very important not too cheat. I keep my eye on the finish line and know that the dieting will be all over soon.
I do not carb deplete or carb load during the last week. I have tried all kinds of crazy stuff like this in the past and I found that it is best to just diet right up to the day of the show. But I will increase my water intake to about 2 gallons per day. I will stop all training a couple days before the contest to let my body rest and recover.
The night before the contest I will mix up 1 cup of red wine and 50 ml of glycerine and sip this before going to bed. This helps to fill out the muscles. Glycerine temporarily draws water inside the muscle cells making them fuller. I will have the wine and glycerine again early Saturday morning. Glycerine is also a mild laxative, so it will help eliminate any bloating.
Friday night and all day Saturday I will eat small meals of high fat foods like steak, eggs, peanut butter, peanuts, french fries, and protein bars. I do not drink a lot of water, usually just enough to wash my food down. But I will have a couple cups of coffee during the day because caffeine is a mild diuretic. I also take herbal diuretic capsules on Friday and Saturday to help get rid of the excess water under my skin.
I go to the tanning salon about 3 times per week during the pre-contest. So the only pre-contest tanning agent that I use is Dream Tan. I will put a coat on the morning of the show and another coat on about 30 minutes prior to going on stage. Dream Tan works great and it has oil in the tan so you do not need to use additional posing oils.
When I go to the contest I take along my walkman and a tape of my posing music with me. I try to find a place by myself back stage so I can practice my posing routine. By doing this, my routine is fresh in my mind before going on stage in front of the audience and judges.
When pumping up before going on stage I will do some light, high rep, upper body exercises such as push ups, bent over rows, bicep curls, etc.. with a rubber fitness band. Never pump up the legs, legs always look and flex better when they are not pumped. I will sip red wine while pumping up, the sugar and alcohol in the wine help to bring out the veins. Do not pump up too much because it will make you shake when you pose. Just warm up and get the blood flowing to the muscles.
And the last thing that I recommend is to go out there and have a good time. Be confident and proud of your accomplishments and put on a good show for the crowd. At this stage you have done all you can do, now it is up to the judges to decide the rest.
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