Since Figure Competitions began, much of the wisdom of contest preparation has been copied over from bodybuilding. There is a good reason for this – many of the goals are similar and so it stands to reason many of the methods would be too. The tried and true method for dieting down for a contest generally involves reducing carbs and increasing energy expenditure by moving to a higher-rep weightlifting scheme while doing more steady state cardio. This is almost always paired with eating 5-6 small meals per day.
This approach is typically effective as long as the correct number of calories is consumed. The huge drawback is the amount of time and the level of commitment needed to eat every 2-3 hours. A magnificent amount of organization is required. Meals have to planned well in advance. Food has to be purchased way ahead of schedule. The logistics make it unbearable tough to work an 8 or 10 hour normal job, travel, socialize, or in general get anything done that isn’t exclusive centered around eating exactly the right thing at exactly the right time.
But eating like this is a necessity, right? Even though figure competitors do not try to build the same muscle bulk as a bodybuilder, not feeding your hard-earned muscle is a sure-fire way to go catabolic. Also, your metabolism will plummet, and it will be more difficult to stay lean. These are all facts, right? This is what we’ve been taught. All figure athletes do it this way. Or do they?
In the last 5 or 6 years, there has been more and more discussion about intermittent fasting. This is where the dieter does not eat, i.e. fasts, for some period of time, before continuing on with more normal eating habits. Ramadan Fasting is one type of fast that is religious in nature, and is used for purposes other than losing weight or getting leaner. It is periodic in nature – generally the fast lasts from sunup to sundown. So this fits squarely within the definition of intermittent fasting.
As it turns out, reviewing scientific literature, and looking at actual studies where scientists have looked at some of these dieting beliefs suggest they are not factual, and that other methods may be at least as effective. By other methods, what I’m getting at is intermittent fasting.
In future articles, we will dig into more details about how figure competitors may be better served by adopting an intermittent fasting protocol, not just for contest prep, but also for bulking or maintenance.