by Briana Michel Six Pack Abs
Do you know a competitor, have been one yourself or have just read about the misery camouflaged as the hardcore bodybuilder diet? You know the one where it seems chickens are being trucked in by the ton and shoveling down bushels of plain broccoli is a badge of honor. I used to be a figure competitor and it was a running joke amongst us in the industry that as show time approached, the ‘closest to death wins’. We were starving ourselves, depleting water and nutrients, over doing cardio, restricting our fat intake and boy oh boy did my body feel the damage after a show. My joints ached, I ballooned up when I reintroduced fruits and higher carbs back into my diet, my skin was dry and aging faster and my hair was thinner and slower to grow. If all those things weren’t bad enough, my mood was low, I had crazy sugar cravings and I had trouble sleeping. I certainly didn’t feel like an accomplished winner, even when I looked at my photos and trophies. What was I missing? Did we really need to suffer so much to accomplish a coveted lean physique and incredible six pack abs. I know now after many more years studying nutrition and experimenting with myself and my clients, that we really were doing a lot of things the hard and not so smart way. Now, in my private practice I see figure and bikini competitors on a daily basis who I am helping to EAT their way into a stage ready body instead of starve their way into an unhealthy, hormonally damaged physique.
I am not actually knocking chicken or broccoli as quality foods. In fact, I often write those two items into meal plans, BUT what I am saying is that living on just a few restricted foods and missing an entire world of other nutrients and skimping on healthy fats is simply foolish and will ultimately work against you. Achieving a lean physique you can live with is an art. It is a beautiful balance of macro and micronutrients, colors of the rainbow, flavors, spice, taste and texture that make creating a optimally functional body you love an enjoyable process. When you cut out fat and lower carbs in your efforts to be shed fat, the only macronutrient left to derive your calories from is protein. Did you know that excess protein (more than your body can process and utilize at each feeding) turns to glucose and is then stored as body fat? Did you also know a lack of fat in your diet can cause mental decline, joint pain, hormonal imbalance, lack of menstrual periods, dry skin, insatiable hunger, constipation, premature aging and more?
You aren’t what you eat, but you are in fact what you absorb. If you are eating your veggies kudos to you, but if you aren’t eating them with a fat, you aren’t absorbing the fat soluble vitamins like vitamin K. Vitamin K plays an essential role in normal blood clotting, promoting bone health, and helping to produce proteins for blood, bones, and kidneys. It is naturally produced by bacteria in the intestines but medications and lifestyle can deplete that production. Getting fat soluble vitamins through diet is a better idea than relying on supplements. Fat soluble vitamins are stored in the liver and fat cells and can be toxic in high amounts, which is too easy to over due with supplements.
The simplified key for the every day Joe/Jane who wants a lean physique is to:
- Start your day with a protein and a fat instead of a high carb meal
- Eat across the rainbow
- Avoid processed foods and refined flours
- Say no to excess sugar added to recipes, drinks and more
- Measure protein portions 20-25g for women and 35-40g for men on average per main meal
- Include veggies with a fat for at least 2 meals and one snack per day
- Use sea salt on your foods replace electrolytes lost on a lower carb diet I will boost energy, stave of muscle cramps and keep headaches away)
- Multiply your ideal weight by .75 that number should be your minimum water in ounces you take in. (Ex: if my ideal is 130 lbs then 97.5 ounces of water should be what I aim for each day.
- If you are looking to compete in a show and want to diet down smart contact myself (firstname.lastname@example.org) or someone you know to be professional, experienced with these types of diets and has a reputation for keeping their athletes healthy, and for never using drugs/synthetic hormones to achieve the desired physiques. Ask them what % of your diet would be fat and how would your protein requirements be calculated. If they answer less than 40% on fat and would calculate protein on anything other than lean mass, if they don’t understand how critical sea salt/electrolyte or don’t emphasis gut health (via digestive enzymes and probiotic regimens)…then RUN and find someone else.