Eat Your Way Lean: The Bikini Competition Diet
Feb 01, 2014 03:15PM
Eat Your Way Lean: The Bikini Competition Diet
by Lindzie St. Martin
Certified Trainer, Nutrition Coach, & NPC Bikini Champion
For those who've done it, could likely agree, the Bikini Competition is not just another fitness goal -- it's a total transformation. The training will test your body and mind, while the diet will test your willpower and discipline. A commitment, sacrifice, and nutrition plan that will change far more than just your outside. And for many, it will change the way they eat forever. So if you think a bikini competition prep is on your horizon, the good news is, there's no starvation here -- you'll be eating your way through it!
In case you're unfamiliar, a bikini competition is another division of bodybuilding; like women's figure, men's physique, and fitness. All divisions require a similar diet -- what many competitors like to call the contest prep. This diet, or what I prefer to call, the nutrition plan, is actually a tried and true formula for very effective fat loss, while maintaining lean muscle mass. It is a delicate balance of the right macronutrient ratios (protein, carbohydrates, and fat), and when done correctly, has been proven to be successful time and time again. The attraction specifically to bikini rather than figure or bodybuilding, is the softer, more mainstream beach body these ladies can bring to the stage. This also allows for a less extreme diet for the average body, over a twelve to sixteen week preparation.
This so called, contest prep diet is also quite misunderstood from any outsider's point of view. Before I got the nerve to do my first show, I actually thought bodybuilders and physique competitors had to live on nothing but fish and water, so I was convinced there was no way I could ever pull that off. After several years, I decided to try it anyway, and was pleasantly surprised at how wrong I had been. It was quickly brought to my attention how many other people also had similar misconceptions, that I would basically be starving myself (of course, until they'd realized I had four meals in my lunchbox). The real surprise, even for me, was in how much and how often I needed to eat, and how effective this method proved to be working.
Perhaps now, I've peeked your interest, yet there's still more to know. If you're serious about this endeavor, I highly suggest you do your homework. This is a big commitment, and can offer some of the most positive impact in your life. Be sure you go into this with plenty of information about what you're signing up for. It's invaluable you have all the proper information and expert guidance along this journey. Especially when it comes to your nutrition plan -- here's an idea of what you can be looking forward to:
* Eating five to six meals a day!
This revs up your metabolism, in much the same way we feed a fire -- feed it often and it will burn hotter. Eating frequent meals will also help you avoid low blood sugar, resist temptations, and prevent your body from tapping into valuable muscle tissue for fuel. This also entails a lot of food prepping and meal planning in order to stay prepared.
* Protein with every meal! In most general cases, this would be primarily from complete protein sources such as lean meats, poultry, fish, and eggs. Protein digests slowly, keeping your appetite sustained and blood sugar level, all while creating a thermogenic effect in the body. Adequate amounts of protein offer the necessary amino acids in maintaining lean muscle, rebuilding after the tear down of training, and especially assisting in recovery.
* Carbohydrates are strategically calculated! These are strictly complex carbs, which are not the kind that most people eat as part of a typical diet, although they should be. Most commonly, the choices are limited to whole grain oats, quinoa, brown rice, beans, legumes, and starchy vegetables like the sweet potato. Over the course of twelve to sixteen weeks, these carbs are quite structured into specific quantities, then reduced gradually and finally down to zero in the last few weeks. However, there is also a window within the final days, that competitors like to refer to as filling up, when carbs are reintroduced in order to fill out and plump up the muscles.
* Moderate Fats! Healthy fats play such an important role in fat loss. During contest prep, the majority of fat will come from plant based sources such as nuts and nut butters (often almond or peanut butter, in its natural form), various seeds like ground flax meal, sesame butter (used in hummus), and healthy oils like olive and coconut. Adding these fats actually encourages your body to use long-term fat stores as a form of energy to burn, especially once all carbs have been eliminated. They keep your system well lubricated, aid in mental focus, and provide energy when carbohydrate intake becomes restricted.
* Fruits and vegetables in their natural whole form! These are often misunderstood, but only in regards to their unique differences. Fruits and some vegetables contain small amounts of sugar and carbs, that might not matter as much with any ordinary healthy lifestyle. In this case, these micrograms are definitely factored in, particularly toward the end of prep, when the body is seeking any form of carbohydrate it can find for energy. This is typically when most competitors reach ketosis (when fat becomes primary source of energy) and the final layer of body fat is stripped away. Fruits are sometimes allowed in the beginning, but with limited meals or strictly post-workout. Vegetables are encouraged with every meal, with the exception of starchy varieties, which would be calculated within carbohydrate limits. They are absolutely invaluable for their necessary nutrients, and the fiber they offer to assist in digestion and elimination.
* Water, water, water! A habit you should be getting into from day one, and as a normal routine as well. We all know that water has an unlimited list of health benefits, and it is most definitely important when developing healthier eating habits of any kind. During the initial weeks of contest prep, most people go through a mild detox, while eliminating all added sugars and processed foods. And this continual cycle of clean eating will encourage all body systems to function at more optimal levels, and drinking plenty of water will assist with flushing out toxins. The most common prescription is one gallon a day (128 ounces), with an increase the final week, in order to reduce any water retention.
* Restrictions! Of course there are restrictions. The first thing I usually tell someone, who asks what I eat for a competition, is generally what I don't eat. These are the obvious things -- all the foods everyone should avoid if they are trying to lose weight. These are added sugars, all refined or simple carbs of any kind (bread, tortillas, crackers, chips, etc), any saturated fats (fried foods), and dairy (for the sake of lactose; "milk-sugar"). And, I'm particularly a stickler about avoiding artificial sweeteners. This basically takes most processed foods completely out of the scenario!
In a nut shell, the bikini competition diet is exactly what you would call "clean eating", and the beauty of it is -- it works! As you can see, the primary source of nutrients comes from whole food sources, in their most natural form. The perfect formula to achieve a lean, strong, and healthy physique. The key is in those macronutrient ratios, particularly for your body type, and every diet can be subtly different. There are plenty of diets and other unhealthy methods that will starve you, and strip your body down to nothing if skinny is all you want. But if a strong, toned physique is on your wish list, then a bikini competition might just be in your future goals. I strongly encourage you seek out a professional to guide you, offer you a positive experience, and who is particularly an expert in the competition diet itself. No fad diets and starvation -- learn to eat clean, and eat your way lean!