Meal Planning and Dieting – Fitness Figure Competitions


Dieting does not mean tons of restriction! Regardless as to whether or not you are leaning out, diet plays a crucial role in your end result. A very high percentage of achieving an amazing physique is your diet. What you take in will be the difference between a figure physique and a fit body. You can eat healthy, exercise and get a nice fit toned look but that will not be enough for a figure contest. Unless you are starting with a body type which is almost contest ready, muscularity that is mature and lean, then you will have the general needs most women have which include body shaping, symmetry and single digit body fat percentage.

Diet will affect how much muscle you can put on in combo with the training but if you train hard with a poor diet, you will not see the same optimal outcome. You need to plan out a rough estimate of your diet plan taking you from off-season to stage ready. Diet for the off-season will focus on muscle building then going into pre season which looks at transition into conditioning. On season begins the leaning process.

These cycles are part of your year out plan. If you want to get into more detail you can calculate your calorie requirements throughout each cycle including your protein, carb and fat breakdown which will cater to your personal needs. These figures need to be relative to you and you alone, requiring some calculations and researching of the formulas. Counting calories and grams of fat is not absolutely necessary and I did not do this for over 10 years yet still achieved all of my goals and pro cards so don’t do it if it deters you, only if it motivates you. I now find I like keeping track of more info. Average off season calorie intake is 2,000 calories per day but this can vary depending on your height, weight, measurements and body type. 1,200 to 1,800 calories per day is the lower end for lean down consumption making sure every one of those calories are from clean foods found in the grocery list included in this guide.

For diet, I recommend using an online program that has a food database where you can track your calories and macronutrients. Find one with a great database and is very user-friendly. The figures should be exactly what you need and very valuable. It should break down all the macronutrients for you and allow you to add food products and their nutrients making it easy to see exactly what it going on and eliminating any guesswork. Spend a small period of time each night to log your data and it will provide you with incredible information to reference.

A pre-written diet plan is also a great way to be accountable. You do minor adjustments as you go along. I find it easier to log afterwards personally, rather than having it pre-done but most of the competitors I train rely on a pre-done plan.

Protein needs can vary but you want to be at 1-2 gram per pound per day using the higher end for off-season and the lower end for lean down.

Carb manipulation has many variations. They don’t all work on everyone so you need to find your nitch through trial and error. Most women do well on moderate carbs during pre season as long as they are clean carbs such as those included in the grocery list. Some like to up and down the carbs a few months out then drop them to nothing by the week out of the contest and slowly increase them during your last week. I have included a sample diet with general carb portioning but for lean down this diet would most likely be tweaked.

Fat is essential in all cycles and EFAs are the way to go! I personally like Udos Oil, and not for cooking since it will break down to quickly. Omega fats will help with your fat loss and muscle gains as well as injury prevention.

Face it, most of your choices will be simple, repetitive, boring and lacking taste but your body functions great, digestive functions become optimal and there is a cleansing effect to some degree. Creativity is an asset to your diet!

Most sauces are not good for these dieting purposes so you should rely on grainy mustards, citrus fruits, vinegars, and non sodium spices to flavor your foods. Even foods which say “diet” and “low carb” are all gimmicks, so stick with clean whole foods. Leave the ketchup, dressing and mayo off and rely on self-made dressings or sauces.

Dieting Foods For Fat Loss
During the lean down process you will hear all sorts of things which work or don’t work for others but there will always be those who do things different. Nothing is right or wrong, just relative to the person. In general, competitors will omit dairy, fruit, processed foods and most grainy carbs excluding oats, brown rice, quinoa and a select few others. Wheat is almost always omitted. Those who omit these do so because it causes them to swell or bloat taking away from tone and making them look “soft” instead. In many cases, these omissions begin up to 6 months out depending on your body at that time and how much work you have to put in. The degree of omission or taper is individual again!

Plan to eat every 2-3 hours and know where you can get food when on the run or have a back up cooler with items ready to go when you have to eat in a hurry or on the road. Pre-cooked chicken, tuna cans with an opener, broccoli and the like would all be great considerations for your cooler. A shaker cup and protein powder is the minimal amount of items to carry around. This way you can get water and have a protein drink if all else fails. You really do not want to EVER miss a meal, since this goes against you! Fitness is best achieved when the body is at a positive nitrogen balance and having protein every 2-3 hours promotes this while avoiding catabolism (muscle breakdown). Plain, raw almonds are a great item to keep on hand for munching but just make sure you carry 1/2 cup or less so that you do not have too many to finish off or then you may end up eating too much fat, good fat or not! Overdoing anything is not good but balance is hard with so much restriction! The higher protein intake also helps with limiting hunger and cravings.

Water is very important and you want to take in no less than 2 liters per day especially if you take supplements. I find that I tend to only drink water during contest prep because this way I can try for 2-3 liters per day and I’m not full from other non-nutrient dense liquids which may contain caffeine which strips you of nutrients, sugars and bad sweeteners. Filling up on coffee or pop is useless, although it is a weakness of mine and many of you! Some like to cut water for lean down. I do not suggest you cut to low if you do it at all but starting with a plan ahead of time will most likely mean you do not need to resort to any drastic water cutting and may even be able to keep up with minimal amounts of fruit up to contest time. See the complete Fitness Figure Competitions Guide.


About Author

Linda Cusmano

Linda is a national level fitness and figure pro who dabbles in bodybuilding competitions, obstacle and strength challenges along with fitness model competitions. She is a triple certified elite personal trainer and the owner of Body Rush Personal Training. See my profile page for more information!

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