Now that comp season is done, a lot of you are probably turning your thoughts to next year and next years comps – there’s so much to think about and plan! are you going to do the march – june season? are you going to take time off and wait until September are you going to aim at a specific comp? are you going to do both seasons or are you going to compete at all? there’s so many options and depending on your answer this can determine what happen next for you.
If you do take time off to recover, how long do you take off? or do you get straight back into training and work on improving your figure – did you get feedback from the judges? do you even know what to work on?
Whatever your goals and plans are in terms of training, that it just one part of the equation. As always there is that perennial problem that bodybuilders – especially women – face, how can you grow bigger without growing bigger? bulking muscle wise without bulking fat wise – is it even possible?
There are so many theories about off season eating for more mass gain, but I think generally they fall into the eat more to gain more bucket – but eating indiscriminately could hamper your muscle gain aspirations as much as not eating enough.
but how much is enough? here is an excellent article by Lyle MacDonald on common muscle gain mistakes.
we all know the oft quoted 1 – 1.5g protein/pound of body-weight but there are plenty of variations for example the Sports Dietitians of Australia range from 0.8g – 1.7g/pound of body-weight, but my next question is what do they mean by body-weight is it lean muscle mass as measured by a dexa scan or similar, or is it the number that whatever set of scales you stand on?
also, as you gain mass (whether it be muscle or fat or both) do you adjust the amount you’re eating to the new higher value?
do you even monitor what you eat?
As you know – diet and what can be achieved through manipulation of diet fascinates me – I’ve had a year now to play around with food regimes. Immediately Post Comp whilst I tried my hardest not to gain weight and stay in control of my eating, somehow I just couldn’t seem to manage it and 9kg of fat found its way back onto me. After about 3 months I reinstated proper comp diet with one cheat meal a week and got rid of 4kg over 2 months – despite not being able to train due to my shoulders at that time having been freshly sliced up and my hips and hammies beginning to start their degeneration. Once I hit a plateau with comp diet, I switched onto Lindy Olsens eating plan and lost another 3kg over 2-3 months to get back down to within 2kg of comp weight on even less training – by this time the doctors were telling me not to get out of bed in case I broke something else and I hadn’t set foot in a gym for 6 weeks.
My next experiment with diet was the A.D.G officially government approved ‘healthy’ eating – and that packed on 2kg of fat in just 5 weeks – so it was back onto high protein, high veg, very low carb to take it off again. But by now I was back into training and beginning to train hard enough that it was possible I could start putting on my lost muscle, which meant I now had to eat accordingly.
I keep a food diary, have done for getting on 2 years now – its a great way of spotting habits, patterns and keeping you accountable and besides Aiden wanted to know exactly what I was eating like – I’ve always told him I eat very cleanly, but if we were now aiming to really try and get some muscle back onto me then he wanted to know exactly what I was eating.
the verdict? not enough.
I guess I was averaging about 1500 – 1700 calories a day so he told me to up my protein by 25% at every meal and get some more carbs into me – I was probably averaging about 40g carbs a day.
At first I found all this extra food quite hard to take – 25% increase in protein doesn’t sound like much so my 100g chicken at mid morning snack became 125g, but initially I just felt fat and eating an extra 40 – 80g carbs a day translates into more rice or more sweet potato which I really didn’t like – and still don’t really eat much of either – I am eating a lot of fruit though and more bread, I seem to be able to cope with that. I also couldn’t quite get the hang of the extra food so my calorie range shot up to about 2200 – 2400/day with some days as high as 2600, so of course I have put on fat, but my last dexa 4 weeks ago also showed I’ve regained 3kg of my lost 5kg of muscle and I’m still just about within the 10% of comp weight that I want to try and maintain.
so what theory am I following? well its hard to say really.
I’m averaging about 150 – 180g protein/day from food + another 50 – 80g from post workout shakes, casein and BCAA’s and I’m at 56.6kg (124.5 pounds) so that works out to be approx 1.6 – 2.1 g/ pounds of bodyweight
another theory I read about is that you should aim for 300 – 400 calories above maintenance value on training days and maintenance leve on non training days. My maintenance calories intake is approx 1750 so that gives me a range of 1750 – 2150 to play with
yet another theory stats that you should aim for 18 – 20 calories /pound – so that gives me a range of: 2240 – 2490 to play with.
now when I started eating ‘big’ – it was still clean, there was just LOTS of it I was up in the range of 2200 – 2400 cals/day, but I’ve now got it a bit more sorted and in the last few weeks have probably been averaging about 1800 – 2100 (except on legs day – boy do I need to eat on legs day!) and it seems to be working – I’m holding steady ish at 56.5 – 57kg.
so how do I eat?
Well during the week I’m probably about 90% clean – meat and fruit for brekky, meat/fish + big green + nuts salad mid morning, meat/fish + HUGE (350-400g) salad + avocado + fruit lunchtime, meat/fish+fruit mid afternoon, meat/fish + LOTS (300g +) steamed green veggies at dinner. On legs day I add bread at bread and pasta at dinner, and I’ve discovered raisins – they add a stack of carbs!
The weekends…well thats where it goes a little bit haywire. On Friday I usually have an enormous post workout brekky of bacon, eggs, toast, avocado, spinach, tomatoes or a massive omelette on toast with bacon – whatever I feel like really, its my treat 🙂
then the rest of Friday I keep it quite clean, but I’ve been so involved with the magazine I sometimes forget to eat at all or I just grab a protein shake and get right back into it! Saturday brekky is usually a protein shake, then another protein shake after my workout and Sunday I’ve got into the habit of heading down to a local cafe for a coffee and cake in the afternoon, so not so good really.
I have another dexa scan in 4 weeks so it will be interesting to see whether I’m gaining muscle or fat, hopefully its very much the former!
I’m also going to do another experiment on myself – you’d think after the last effort that I would have had enough, but not so – having read the 4 hour body by Tim Ferriss recently, I now have a ferocious curiosity about a whole lot of things – one of which is muscle gain.
When it comes to gaining muscle I’m definitely in the hard basket category – I’m female to start with (in case you hadn’t noticed! ) and I’m the wrong side of 40 – big double whammy when it comes to trying to pack on some size, and, according to my blood results that I had done last week and even for a female it seems I’m on the low end of the ‘Free T’ scale…triple whammy!
So the experiment is to try to eat to boost my testosterone levels and see if it affects how quickly I put on muscle…if at all.
In short, I’m going to try and find the ‘T Spot’
Let the eating begin…