The other day my husband said he’s going to start having protein shakes for breakfast in the morning. Normally a non-breakfast person, he’s been taking up the clean eating habit and learned he’s supposed to start the day with protein. I asked if he’d be adding fruit, to which he replied, “no I just need to get the protein, I don’t care how it tastes.” To me, this is a big step: part of eating for a fitness competition, or for weight loss, is really to start seeing food as fuel and how it impacts your body, rather than just eating something because you feel like it.
Obviously, eating like a robot is no way to live life. We associate food as part of being human: it’s a reward, a pleasure, part of our culture and how we connect with others. Most can’t imagine a baseball game without a hotdog and beer, or a birthday party without a slice of cake. Most fitness competitors (if not all) spend weeks dreaming about their post-show pizza.
But, when you have a goal in mind you have to put these thoughts away and look at your food a bit dispassionately, just for a little while. On that note, here is an update on what’s on my menu for these last few weeks leading up to my competition. I’m putting this out there as an example of what fitness competitors eat, but if you are thinking of doing a show yourself, I would strongly advice a personalized meal plan from a trainer or dietician to make sure you’re eating right for body type and to match the intensity of your training. While my list of “allowed” foods is limited, it’s shortened even further by what I like to eat, so take this as a sample rather than an absolute meal plan:
- Fish (tilapia or salmon)
- Lean beef
- shellfish (shrimp, scallops, oysters etc.)
- Cottage cheese (until about six weeks out when I cut all dairy)
- Protein powder (whey until six weeks out, then I use Vega Sport)
- Sweet potato
- rice (brown or wild, usually only after workouts)
Fat: about 1 tbsp per serving
- Almond butter
- Olive oil
- MCT oil
Vegetables: 1 cup per serving
Most vegetable are ok, I stick to the ones in the above list because I like them and it’s just easier to keep my options limited. (It’s like Steve Jobs and the black turtle neck, the less I have to think about choice, the more time I have). The only vegetables that are really not ok are the ones high in sugar (yes that exists!) like carrots and beets. Tomatos are pretty high too so they get cut closer to the competition date.
- Almond milk for coffee and with shakes
- Mustard as long as there are no added sugars
- Cider vinegar
- Herbs such as garlic, ginger, cilantro, basil, cinnamon
- And coffee of course. Lot’s and lot’s of coffee!
I definitely don’t eat the same portions every day either. In an early blog, I mentioned carb cycling. Varying your macros and calories keeps your metabolism revving and helps ensure you’re eating enough without over doing it.
Right now my week looks something like this:
- Monday: high carbs
- Tuesday: low carbs
- Wednesday: high carbs
- Thursday: Very low (almost no) carbs
- Friday: High carbs (happy day!)
- Saturday: low carbs
- Sunday: high carbs
- Monday: bootcamp
- Tuesday: cardio
- Wednesday: bootcamp
- Thursday: legs
- Friday: upper body
- Saturday: rest
- Sunday legs
The result: I am very very tired! But it’s working so I’ll be able to stick it out for a few more weeks. Good night everybody!