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5 Incredibly Important Pre Contest Diet and Training Tips (Part 1)

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I have comprised this short list of rules and pre contest tips based on the latest pro and bro scientific evidence to help you make the most of your next fat loss diet whether your competing in the biggest looser or wanting to dial your physique in for a cover photo shoot.

Like all my articles everything I say is based in general context and assumes the reader is in good health. Of course, like everything in life – there are exceptions.

1) Start Small – Make Stepwise Reductions In Your Total Energy Intake Over Time.

What this means is, if you’re going to restrict calories, start with a calorie deficit of around 10-15% and then gradually increase that by fine tuned 5-10% increments over time as your fat loss protocol plateaus. This works far more healthfully and effectively at promoting fat loss and safeguarding lean muscle mass 1 whilst you diet compared to starting with one big all or nothing calorie cut.

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2)Try Not To Limit Your Energy Deficit To Lower Than 40% of Your RMR.

Theoretically speaking, lets say you have calculated your resting metabolic rate (RMR) at 2000 calories per day, you would never on any day want to limit your energy deficit to more than 40% of that value, i.e. no lower than 1200kcal per day. Running off such low energy will result in severe fatigue, reducing training performance and non exercise physical activity 1,2  resulting in less energy expenditure and promote specific metabolic adaptions that serve to increase fat mass and muscle loss (in other words make things very difficult).

3) Keep Lifting Heavy Whilst Dieting To Minimize Muscle Loss.  

This is why you should never prioritise high rep low resistance style training such as circuit classes as your main mode of weights resistance training – realize it does very little to help promote or maintain muscle mass.

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Research 3 has proven time and time again that the best way to lose fat and build muscle is to lift heavy (obviously with good form). Key examples include heavy compound lifts for 5 sets of 5 reps followed by auxiliary exercises for 3×10 reps. Such an approach provides the necessary contractile stimulus and hormonal output for muscle tissue development and maintenance.

4) Use Both Diet And Exercise To Induce An Energy Deficit.

Rather than strictly restricting calories through diet also make sure to expend additional calories through exercise. A great way to do this is to perform a mix of low intensity steady state and high intensity cardio. The proportion and amount of which will vary between individuals. This approach has been shown to accelerate fat loss versus restricting calories alone through diet.1

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5) Increase Protein Intake To ≥ 25% of Total  Energy Intake.

Protein has proven time and time again to be highly beneficial in ones attempts to get lean. It is the most satiating macro nutrient meaning it will keep you fuller for longer 1, 4. Protein has the highest thermic effect of feeding value at 20-35% of the value consumed – this basically represents the metabolic cost of processing food for use and storage. For example: if you ingested 100kcal or protein 25-23kcals would be used up in processing. This makes protein a great asset in helping boost ones metabolic rate. In terms of how much protein?

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A randomized control trial by (Pasiakos. 2013) on the effects of high-protein diets on fat-free mass and muscle protein synthesis following weight loss suggests intakes of 1.6g/kg-2.0g/kg protein are ideal, this would equate to an intake of around 200g for the average person.

Bottom Line

No matter who you are the end goal of fat loss is a healthier and better-looking physique. Give these recommendations a go and let me know how you get on! Part 2 will be out and ready to read next week – stay tuned!

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1. Sports Nutrition & Performance Enhancing Supplements. Eds. Abbie Smith-Ryan PhD and Jose Antonio PhD. ISBN: 1-60797-339 Linus Books. 2013.

2. Trexler et al. Metabolic adaptation to weight loss: implications for the athlete.” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 11 (2014):7.

3.  Micah J. Drummond ,Hans C. Dreyer , Christopher S. Fry , ErinL Glynn , Blake B. Rasmussen Nutritional and contractile regulation of human skeletal muscle protein synthesis and mTORC1 signalling. Journal of Applied Physiology – Published 1 April 2009 Vol. 106 no. 4,1374-1384

4. Pasiakos SM, Cao JJ, Margolis LM, Sauter ER, Whigham LD, McClung JP, Rood JC, Carbone JW, Combs GF Jr, Young AJ. Effects of high-protein diets on fat-free mass and muscle protein synthesis following weight loss: a randomized controlled trial. FASEB J. 2013 Jun 5.

5. Introduction to Human Nutrition: A Global Perspective on Food and Nutrition. H. H. Vorste. Protein, Carbohydrate and Fat Metablosim.