Are you struggling with your comp diet? Is it a complicated mess of measuring, counting, logging, and calculating macros, timing meals or particular foods?
Wouldn’t you like it to be really, really simple so you don’t have to think about it or stress about it?
Well, here’s how you can.
Over the years my comp diet has become and easier and easier, because, not only have I learnt what works exactly for me, I’ve also boiled down the process and prep to the absolute key essentials to the point that I know at a glance whether what I’m eating fits my plan/calorie limit/macro breakdown or not, and I can now simply throw stuff onto a plate knowing that it will work.
It does mean eating virtually the same thing every day, and I tend to rotate through a group of about 35-40 regular foods, but therein lies the secret.
Once you know what 130g of chicken/beef/lamb/kangaroo/turkey/fish or 300g of mixed fibrous green veg or 75g of sweet potato looks like, you will also be able tell whether today is a 10 or 15 almond day or a chilli scrambled egg breakfast day or a ben and jerrys with cheat meal day.
You will also be able to prep up days’ worth of food and throw it together in seconds.
I call it the ‘Lego’ approach.
Stack the coloured blocks together until you have the correct meal.
For those of you who have time, creativity, inclination to make every meal of your comp diet different and interesting, then this is not for you.
I don’t have that luxury, and I don’t mind eating venison stew or kangaroo bolognaise or chicken salad 5 days straight. Food is fuel and the quicker I can get it on a plate and into me (why bother with the plate?) the better.
Here’s how it breaks down:
- Set my overall calorie limit. If you don’t know what is a good starting point then 14-16 times Lean Body Mass in pounds usually comes in about right.
- Set my macro split: Protein – 50%, Fat – 35%, Carbs – 15% (do what works for you)
- Calculate g/day for each macro.
- Split protein across 6 meals (5+pwo), fat across 3 meals and carbs across 4 meals (do what works for you).
So here’s what my weekly food plan looks like at the start of prep:
Now, that’s fine for the starting point, but how do you work out what and when to cut calories/amounts of food?
Well again that’s easy – my approach is high protein, low carb, medium fat. Over the course of a prep, the first thing I reduce is carbs. At each new ‘cut’ I simply remove the entire amount of carbs from one of my meals.
At the start, I set my carbs at 75g of sweet potato which is 65 calories (do what works for you). Therefore each cut is taking 65 calories off my total. Yes, my starchy carbs are always sweet potato because:
a) I’m kinda addicted to the stuff
b) it’s easy to cut, and prep 5 days’ worth in one go and hence
c) easy to plonk a chunk on a plate without worrying about measuring
d) even easier to not plonk a chunk on a plate when its cut.
If I start at 4 meals with carbs, my first reduction would be to take carbs out of afternoon snack.
My 2nd reduction would be to remove carbs at lunch:
You notice that also means more green lego.
3rd cut, remove carbs at morning snack (more green lego)
and 4th cut (if required) remove PWO carbs:
Now, for those of you wondering if I lose energy/muscle at this point, the answer is no.
How come if I’ve got ‘no’ carbs in my diet?
Well, there’s usually still about 30-40g carbs in my diet from the veggies, and by the 4th cut I’m up to about 1kg/day!
Due to the fibrous nature of my veggies though, I’m often in negative carb territory. However, protein, of which there is a ton of (about 65% by now) also breaks down to glucose, just like carbs do. Yes, it is a less efficient conversion, but therein lies the added bonus – because my body has to work harder to get its energy, it means more fat burning!
Win, win all round.
Should I require any more than 4 reductions – and last year I only had 3, I will next start on the fats.
5th cut will be to halve the amount of fat at morning snack and lunch (again approx. 60 calories)
6th cut will be to remove fats at lunch (another 40 cals)
Again with fats (not counting supps or cooking fats), I tend to stick to almonds. Why? Because almonds are less ‘fatty’ than other nuts and more ‘proteiny’ so I can have quite a lot of them which maintains volume and the protein also helps with satiety. I might start at 30 a day, then reduce to 20 a day, then 10 a day – nice round numbers. There’s also the psychological thing about just having more stuff on a plate, you tend to feel less deprived. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather have 30 almonds than 8 macadamia nuts…that kinda leaves you thinking ‘Where’s the rest of them?’
Much as I love avocado, it’s much more difficult to gauge how much even a thin slice weighs and hence how many calories are in it.
It’s less ‘lego-y’.
I’m all about convenience.
Should Aiden tell me to do a single larger cut e.g 100 calories, again that’s simplicity itself – instead of having to re-weigh amounts I just remove carbs from one meal (65cals) and 5 almonds (35cals)
So I could do 4 ‘big’ cuts of 1 carb + 5 almonds for an overall reduction of 400 calories.
Easy. No thinking involved, just remove the appropriately coloured block.
That’s pretty much it.
If I do need to continue making tiny cuts here and there, then once I’ve removed all the carbs and am down to 10 almonds a day, only then do I start cutting protein. Again it will be tiny cuts – 25g/day at a time.
I don’t worry about the fact that there are more calories in 100g chicken/beef than 100g kangaroo/turkey – minor details. It’s better and more healthy to keep the variety. Similarly I’m not going to stress about the 2g extra carbs in 100g rocket compared to 100g spinach – the rocket has more fibre in it so it all balances out.
Likewise I don’t particularly worry about how much vegetables I eat – I might start at 750g/day and by the end of my prep be eating over 1kg of fibrous green veggies a day.
Yes, you did read that right, I usually increase the green stuff. Why? Fibre! Not only is it bloody hard work chewing through all that green stuff, but my body has to work overtime to digest it.
Hard working digestion = more fat burning.
Calorie-wise it may add about 25cals overall, but when I’ve cut 400 or so, it really isn’t going to matter one little bit.
Don’t sweat the small stuff.
Most of the calories come from the protein, fat and starchy carbs, so those are the ones I ‘track’. I can load up a dinner plate of green stuff and it will usually come to no more than about 100 cals.
Currently I’m on 2300 cals and you can see from the charts below that I’m going through about 750g of protein which is approx. 38% of the amount of food by weight. Similarly I’m going through about 750g mixed green, red, orange and yellow veggies, which is also approx. 38% of my food by weight.
But look at how many calories each contributes to my daily total – the protein is 55% of my total calories, but that mountain of veggies is only 13% of my daily cals.
This is why my plates of food still look like this all the way through my comps:
This is how I throw together a a typical ‘Lego’ Salad:
- Big handful salad leaves/spinach/rocket
- 5 snow peas
- 6-8 broccoli florets
- 3 asparagus spears
- 5 green beans
- 10 almonds or avocado – cut a ring about the thickness of the top joint of your forefinger
- 2 teaspoons hummus
- 4 cherry tomatoes (not any more…fruit of Satan!)
- cucumber – about the length of your forefinger
- chunk of chicken/turkey
- chunk sweet potato
A typical ‘Lego’ dinner:
- Portion of Venison stew (make a big pot and divide into required number of meals)
- 1/2 zucchini
- whole bunch of asparagus
- 2-3 cauliflower florets
Now, there is another advantage of the lego approach to eating – it totally lends itself to reverse dieting!
Just as you took out a yellow or white block during the cutting process, for reverse dieting you just add the appropriate coloured block back in.
it would be if I was any good at reverse dieting.
Which I’m not.
This is what tends to happen for the first few weeks post comp:
Evenings and weekends are my bogey times – it all tends to come a bit undone there!
But it generally only lasts a few weeks and then I’ll be back to where I started:
Want to know what my lego macros consist of?
Chicken, Beef, Kangaroo, Wallaby, Venison, Buffalo (when I can get it), Turkey, Eggs (whole!), Salmon, any white fish, Prawns, (Fresh) Tuna, Bacon
Current block size: 150g
Almonds (block size: 20)
Fish Oil, Coconut Oil, Butter, Flaxseed Oil, Uddo’s Oil, Chia Seeds, Hummus, Nut Butter (Block size: 2 teaspoons)
Sweet Potato, Baked White Potato, Sweet Potato Fries, White Potato Fries, Pumpkin (occassionally): block size – 75g
(Ben and Jerry’s Ice Ceam),
honey (1 teaspoon)
Broccoli (6-8 florets), Cauliflower (2-4 florets), Brussels Sprouts (5), Kale (2-4 leaves), Green Beans (5-10), Peas (25g), Snow Peas (5), Asparagus (3 or a whole bunch), Leeks (1), Onions (1/2), Mushrooms (5), Olives (5), Zucchini (length of forefinger) , Cucumber (length of forefinger), Red Cabbage (1/4), Green Cabbage (1/4), Carrots (1/2).
I used to eat Capsicums (1 cheek), Tomatoes (5 cherry) and Eggplant but these are all nightshades which I am now intolerant to.
I don’t eat celery because I hate the stuff.
So there you have it
Easy as Lego.
Once you work out the size and shape of your blocks, your diet will also become really really really ridiculously easy too 🙂