Disclaimer: All numbers/weight/macros are personal to me. Because I am a particular weight in one pic doing particular macros at another time, does not mean these are the magic numbers, nor does it mean they will work for you. My slow decline of cals was monitored so closely after a year of reverse dieting to maintenace cals. I also incoroperated refeeds which meant my low number in the final phase were actually higher on average. This is not a (one size fits all) scenario and I am just sharing the process rather than telling you this is how it should be done. And that is all. Disclaimer over. Mwah xxx
I think doing a bikini comp, or on my fitness journey at all really, I underestimated how much nutrition makes a difference. And yup, I'm a PT and yup, I know this, and yup, I've followed macros for a long time... but, actually nailing my numbers, actually sticking to them, day in day out for over 16 weeks, I felt like it makde a difference to my body composition. The deficit I created was how I lost fat. The numbers/grams macros I hit I felt was more to do with how I created that deficit and what worked best for my body.
I don't like sharing my numbers in case people think that these will work for them, but because this is a broader picture I want to look at, here is what I did over the whole period in terms of numbers/ratios. I tracked it every week and it enabled me to know when I needed to up my protein again or lower my fats. It became very apparent fats were the decider factor for me regarding bloat. Turns out carbs were my friend. Despite dropping them slightly at the end, my progress was made keeping carbs up and dropping my fats the most. High protein was a savior for me. When I dropped it I felt squishier.
My period stopped in Feb, 6 weeks into prep. It was possibly lower body fat but more than likely stress of 6 days a week hard core 2hr training sessions. But this was just a reminder of how comp prep is not an ideal lifestyle choice, but a short term process. The P and I were reunited in July, two months post comp and 2 kilos heavier.
I had decided at the beginning of prep, that despite this was not a long term lifestyle choice (and being in a deficit of calories never should be) I was going to flexible eat my way through prep by still having cake/fries/roast dinners and popcorn etc. I wasn't going to only eat veg and cod and I was not going to make myself miserable by depriving myself of things that made my days better... ie pudding every single night all the way till the night before comp.
With anything when you want to achieve goals, you will have to make sacrifices at some point. You will have to change up certain things. I hate this part about my job as a personal trainer. I want to be able to say that you can carry on eating pizza and crisps and chocolate (as a majority of your meals) I want to say you can have a croissant for brekki everyday. And truth be told. I could say that. Nutrition/weight loss we all make a lot harder than it is. We COULD eat all that, it is just that there is a big but. And I don't mean the good kind. And because this is a murky, grey area and I hate confusing clients, I DON'T say, you can eat pizza everyday. One because that wouldn't be the healthiest choice, but two, because often the psychology behind starting a fitter/healthier lifestyle, can get confusing, let alone saying... go forth and eat pizza daily and explaining about deficits and letting them try to find balance without giving them some structure to follow at first. So I work on an 80/20 rule with clients. This is enough to see results. Sacrificing brownies on a Monday afternoon with work collegues where you mindlessly shove it in your mouth like there may never be another brownie in your life, vs having one on a Friday after dinner on a date night with the boyf, is a perfect balance. Once the mentality around 'picking your fights' is fixed, nutrition and food become far more fun in knowing what works, what doesn't in terms of maintaining your body, or loosing fat or gaining muscle. It is trial and error. So going into comp after a couple of years in this fitness lifestyle, I felt I knew my body well enough to go balls deep, as some would say, in sacrificing more than I normally would in terms of food day to day!
So, pudding became a protein blend ice cream rather than chocolate and peanut butter mousse. Brekki became more egg white based than oat based in the final few weeks and protein powder got ditched in the final hurdle and pudding became soy yogurt and pb2. But a lot of the things I did through prep were about my mind, keeping me satisfied mentally. Knowing I could still go out and see friends without starving myself. I just made them eat sushi, a lot.
I talk a lot about my emotional journey with prep over here but i also want to reiterate why comp prep/being 13% body fat, living in a deficit is so far away from being ideal. If you follow me on IG here then you know that my journey has not always been a healthy one. From body image dysmorphia to a very dysfunctional relationship with food, to lack of knowledge in what works (properly) in terms of weight loss and why what we have been taught (by the media and fads) is total and utter bull crap!
Low calories will make you lose weight. Yes. IF these calories are a deficit from your maintenance calories. If you maintain being 9 stone on 1400 calories (what I call low) then this is NOT making you lose weight and therefore NOT a deficit and therefore you will have to drop calories even lower, to shift fat. NOT OK! Low calories will also only do so much. You will plateau as well as not look toned and tight and yes you say fit into smaller jeans but you may look a bit squishy in a bikini. Which is OK. Squishy is fine, being a size 6 or 16 is fine. If you are healthy, eating well, living life, not beating yourself up, not trying to lose weight by eating next to nothing, then cool. But if you are trying to lose weight/tone up as we like to say, then low cals/starving ourselves/restricting foods to get there, just isn't going to do it.
- To lose weight we need to create a deficit of calories (calories in/calories out)
- To be toned we need muscle
- To get muscle we need to eat (in a surplus of cals even slightly)
- To lose fat but not muscle we need to eat the right amount of certain nutrients
- To keep muscle we need protein
- To help protein get to our muscles we need carbs
- To have the energy to work the muscles to build/condition them, we need food (calories)
- To stay lean and eat food without gaining weight we need our food to metabolise
- To create a high metabolism we need muscle
- To get muscle we need to eat...
So you get the gist!!! Being in a deficit is a temporary place to be in. Being there too long can mess you you mental state, your social life, your muscle mass (your tone) and therefore your metabolism. Lowering calories, if done slow, means you can preserve muscle. Doing it too fast means the body may go get rid of muscle for energy and leave you (skinny fat) I will do another post on nutrition/weight loss asap too as I wanted to keep this simple :)
So... below is the process of how it worked for me over five months. Next prep I will do a maximum of 12 weeks as I will already be used to high cals and hopefully be in better shape to start and know what needs to be done unlike this year going in blind.
Supplements-Phase 1 to the end.
Protein powder (Twice a day as brekki/post workout and dessert/day snack)
BCAA During a workout (weights and fasted cardio)
Glutamine (Before brekki lunch and before bed)
CLA (With brekki lunch and dinner)
Vit B complex and vit D (With dinner)
Digestive enzymes and probiotics (With 3 meals)
Pre prep week 20 to 16
Average 190g carbs 140g protein 80g fats
Here I felt I was getting used to number tracking more meticulously than normal. It consisted of no deficit. I was using flexible IIFYM to enjoy going out still and not feeling like I was on a diet. Nothing was off bounds. At all. I still had alcohol here and there. My body reacted really well in the 1st 4 weeks and I leaned out, even seeing ab definition when I was upping my cals. I was suprised, as I cut out cardio here too.
I was drinking 2 lts water.
Phase 1 Weeks out 16 to 12
190g carbs 130 protein 70/60 fats (1 week in LA where I averaged at 100g fats)
I upped my water intake. And I begun to look at lowering cals by adjusting my fat intake slightly. I still enjoyed cake/fries/and sweet and salty popcorn within my macros.
The week I was in LA through me. I drank less water, also had a couple of glasses of prosecco over the week and my fats sky rocketed to 100g on average and my protein dropped to 130g ish. That week set me back a week or two. See my regression below slightly as I actually gained weight.
I was drinking 3lts water when home.
Phase 2 weeks out 12 to 8
160g carbs 150/160g protein 60/50g fats
Back from LA I upped my protein back up again and continued lowering my calories with fats. I cut out nuts and smoked mackerel, anything that was high in fats and not worth it for me, so that I could eat more of what I liked best (peanut butter). I felt like this was the (get serious moment) The timings of my food became more consistent as I really needed to maintain my muscle whilst dropping weight in a greater deficit. I didn't drink alcohol from here on in.
- Brekki consisted of carbs fats and protein
- Post workout was just carbs and protein
- Lunch was protein fats and carbs
- 2nd lunch was protein and veg and sweet pot
- Snack was protein and fats
- Dinner Protein and veg
- Dessert pre bed was protein and fats
I drank 3lts to 4lts water
Phase 3 weeks out 8 to 4
160/180g carbs 150/160g protein 50/40g fats
Here I cut out protein made foods like protein bread and stuck with real protein from fish and egg whites (protein powder being an exception). I drank 4-5 lts water. I cut out avocado and coconut oil as I would rather have had it in peanut butter, of course. I stopped having normal bread every morning and ate less fruit from here on in too. ie no dates at all. Maybe one portion of berries with breakfast. This is when my weight started to drop consistently.
I started implementing refeeds every 2 weeks. At around 350g carbs 120g protein and 50g fats. Around 4 to 6 weeks out was where I started to notice the difference the most.
Phase 4 weeks out 4 to comp day
1550-1400cals (With refeeds this averaged out to 1650ish)
140/100g carbs 150/160 protein 34g fats
I drank 5-6lts water.
No processed foods at all ie no bread/bagels/pasta (accept on refeeds) an stuck to grains sweet pot and oats for carbs. Avoided carbs in the evening and only had around workouts. I ate out still but stuck to sushi/fish. I was still having my refeeds which helped a lot.
I will do a post of refeeds asap!
During prep I managed to stay at a lean muscle mass of 42kg (2kilo of bone) I weighed 54kg in Jan and Went down to 50kg on comp day. Meaning I was able to lose 4kg in fat. Fat loss being mainly due to nutrition and keeping muscle a lot to do with lifting heavy (along with protein)!
Looking back at pics I see that for comp I would have done better with more muscle on me. So I have decided to spend half the year now, bulking, so that I can go on stage next year with at least 1 kilo more muscle on me. Which really doesn't seem like a lot but my PT friend told me to think of a 400g pack of lean mince and then to double it. That's a lot of muscle.
The aim is to keep the fat as low as possible. Which some trainers say fat gain is inevitable when bulking and others say that it is possible. For me, I want to treat it how I did comp prep in terms of learning. Everyone said I would lose muscle and strength, yet I gained 10k on my BB squats over that time. An other massive aim for me is to create more shape. Build my lats and obliques more to create some curve (soon as I am quite athletic and straight down) get my glutes bigger and work on my hammy/glute separation.
Bulking phase 1 has begun.
The dream. Gain 1 kg of muscle... keeping my fat kilos relatively the same. Lets see what we can do...