Your first competition is over... What now?

July 20, 2016

So you're about to reach the end of your prep, you've dedicated the previous 12-16 weeks to transforming your physique into the best it's ever looked with months of training, cardio and calorie/food restrictions. You can't wait to go back to "normal" and indulge in all the wonderful foods you've been dreaming of and who can blame you? 

Please though, stop to consider some things that often never get spoken about: 

Many first time competitors (myself included) make the mistake of going straight in at the deep end and gorge themselves on treats, cakes, sweets and fast food, this can often end in disaster. I gained 24lbs in 10 days and felt absolutely terrible, my ankles were swollen, I had NO abs and I resembled what I looked like at the start of prep. If you have a (good) coach, they will have made you aware of post competition nutrition and what to expect as you come out of comp prep. Some people label this as "reverse dieting" although sticking a label of further restriction in my opinion isn't the smartest idea as the competitor can often end up creating a very bad relationship with food and almost feeling like they CAN'T EVER eat certain foods. You often see competitors adding micro amounts of food back into their diet in fear of adding body fat, you cannot stay comp lean for long, and adding 10 cashews or 50g of rice as opposed to an extra bowl of oats or a few tablespoons of Nut Butter will not keep you comp lean.

The reality is that after competing many don't ever look at food the same way and can struggle to have "time off" from dieting. Finding a good balance when you aren't in comp prep will make your life/training much more enjoyable.

On the flip side however, the period after a show where calories are increased is one of the best times to add new muscle tissue as anabolic activity is massively increased. Weight training at this point becomes very enjoyable as not only are the quality of sessions improve but you recover much faster.

So what do you do? A much safer much healthier suggestion would be to set out a day or two after your show to completely relax and come back to earth. You've worked very hard and you absolutely deserve a reward so go and eat your treats, your pizza, have a few drinks, relax and spend time with the people in your life. After this period increase your calories from what they were at the end of your comp prep and assess how hungry you are, stick to single ingredient whole foods and limit treats to 10% of your food intake but don't be scared to eat. If you're eating quality nutrition and you are still hungry then eat some more. When you choose junk food/chocolate over whole foods you can trick your body into feeling hungry but it's a vicious cycle of sugar spikes/crashes/cravings, these foods are also very calorie dense so the amount of calories it will take to "fill" you from pizza and mars bars will have about 4-5 x as many calories as it would take you to be full from a bowl of oats/honey/fruit (for example).

Your health and your emotional state are vital to a good physique so look after them 

Want to hear more from Ben?

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