The Art of Staying Lean (for competitors)
How do you maintain a lean physique for life?
If you're like me you thrive off feeling like a chiseled masterpiece. It takes a lot of dedication to sport that look all year round. It's doable but it sure is not easy.
You might never want to compete in fitness or bodybuilding, still you want to look like you could if you wanted to.
Most competitors who have done more than one show you know every time you have promised yourself to stay in great shape and you actually believe you will succeed, but then you get hit by the dreaded post contest blues... And you just can't sustain your great diet habits anymore. You burn out.
You might be able to maintain your condition and sticking to your leanness promoting diet for a little while, but then, it just goes straight out the window. You see, it's not just about keeping it up, it's mentally very challenging to maintain.
Why is it so hard to maintain a lean physique?
Well, let's start with the obvious reason. You're no longer on a deadline! You're not going to flaunt your body on stage anymore.
Without that coming up, it's tough to stay motivated! For the first time dieter, you're doomed to run into what everyone else experiences: You'll gorge on all the wrong foods and in a few days you're magically back to fat and bloated.
Can you possible regain all your fat in a week you spent months shedding? Oh yes you can!
First, I want to calm you a bit about the post contest regain. No matter how closely you monitor your calorie intake you will rebound. For example, depleting yourself of water, carbs and salt will cause weight gain. This water retention is unavoidable and it will go back to normal after a few days.
Do not sweat this. But, there's the other weight gain which you can completely avoid: the fat gain! How do you do it? By saying no to party for your fat cells! Basically you cannot get fat by that which you don't eat.
The difficulty in the task of not regaining fat is avoiding to binge on all the goodies you have deprived yourself of for so many months.
There's a way to get around this though -and personally of course I say 'Fighter Diet is the trick', but I'm in no way objective, I just talk from experience with my personal experience as well as thousands of others who have relied on Fighter Diet to maintain a lean body and grow more muscle.
Here's my step by step guide on 'coming off a fat loss diet' without body fat gain
Stuff yourself with veggies. You must satisfy your hunger! You will not succeed if you're mentally and physically starving.
Slowly increase calories. Let's say you were dieting to get leaner doing 1600 calories a day. First step is simply adding 200 calories per day. I highly recommend you put the calories around your workouts since this will just signal to your muscles to grow.
Remember, if you never get fat after the show by eating junk you will speed up your metabolism bit by bit! When your body fat is low your muscles will absorb all your calories efficiently and nothing will end up as new body fat. I want to show you an example on why you should increase your calories over a course of several weeks:
Let's say you water a plant. If you pour too much water on it, the soil will be satisfied after a while and the excess water will flood over. It might get too soaked and actually die.
Now, if you pour a little water first and let it absorb, the plant will take it all, grow and you can add more water. Adding excess water too fast will slow down the growth of the plant. Your body is the same way, except your fat cells are always open for more fuel to get fatter! Do not allow the fat cells to get fat and happy! Give only so much food to your system so it can nourish your muscles but no more.
Monitor your condition daily. When you're lean you can easily see if you're overfeeding it too much too often or the muscles are munching on all you take in and you look fuller not fatter. If you look flat, increase calories. Again, small increments, not large ones. If you look smooth and weigh more than usual, hold on with the reintroducing more calories until you look leaner again.
You will most likely feel your system's increased metabolic rate. Energy goes up, you feel warmer, you are more alert etc. With more food your thyroid will increase its hormone production.
You see, dieting can momentarily cause a lowered thyroid hormone output. One great aspect of refeeds on Fighter Diet is to make the thyroid happy. It works very well! You will feel these effects the day of a refeed as well as the day after: increased heart rate, higher body temperature (sometime a fever), increased energy and happier mood.)
On refeeds you increase your calories and carbs in particular. Carbs release more insulin which is very anabolic. High blood sugar, which is not maintained chronically, will get your diet miserably body into happy happy mood.
"Why don't I just keep on refeeding then if carbs are so good for my metabolism?" you might ask. Well, your body will adapt and when you've filled your muscles and liver to max with carbs, there is just one more place they can go: to fat cells. Yikes! Again, cycling calories by doing regular 'lower or maintenance calories' with refeeds is the best way to get buff, stay lean and feel euphoric!
After a few weeks, slowly increasing your calorie intake you'll find yourself thinking less about all the food you avoid to maintain your lean body.
How come? You're eating enough to provide homeostasis (balance as in you're providing exactly the nutrients and calorie intake you're expending plus a little bit for muscle gain, but no big excess) so that means your brain is content. Cravings will disappear. You see, cravings are signs of deprivation. Without deprivation, cravings go away.
You're now in cruising phase. It's the holy grail of dieting! Your refeeds are just making you leaner, stronger and buffer while you're excited about the fact you don't really miss your junk food anymore.
I call it the Dieter's Nirvana: the phase when anything you eat seems to disappear into air. How long can you sustain this? Science might claim your metabolism is elevated like that for top two weeks but that's not true. Not when you monitor closely and steer your ship the right way. It's again down to discipline. You want to be the turtle here and allow plenty of time.
It's now your lifestyle to be lean. When you're entering contest dieting again you'll be able to keep your calorie intake higher than before, for a longer time too. Your metabolism has been primed!