Pre Contest Diet Changes 6 Weeks Out: Tightening up even more


Monday, August 30th 2005. Four weeks ago (at 10 weeks out), I made my first cut in calories and carbs to about 3200 calories per day on my low days. Last week, I cut them again… time to go from “lean” to R-I-P-P-E-D! …

My new calorie and carb cycle is 2900 calories and about 180 grams of carbs a day. High days I am still keeping at about 375 grams of carbs and 3800 calories. I’m using a 3 days low, 1 day high rotation, although a couple times I have taken 3 days low, 2 days high if I felt very depleted and or flat. The high days are important because I do a lot of cardio and I’ve been training very hard with some relatively heavy training during some of the workouts.

As of earlier last week, the diet now looks something like this:

Meal 1: 6:45 am
3/4 cup oatmeal
1/2 large grapefruit
2 scoops vanilla protein powder
Meal 2: 9:30 am
1/2 cup oatmeal
1/2 large grapefruit
8 egg whites
1 whole egg
Meal 3: 12:30 pm
6 oz yam
6 oz chicken breast
8 oz broccoli
Meal 4: 3:00 pm
8 oz top round steak (grass fed, organic)
8 oz broccoli
Meal 5: 5:30 pm
6 oz chicken breast
8 oz asparagus
Meal 6: 8:00 pm
6 chicken breast or 1 can tuna or 8 oz Alaskan salmon
8 oz asparagus or spinach salad

This breaks down to about 180 grams of carbs, 360 grams of protein and about 70 grams of fat (that’s approx 50% protein, 25% carbs, 25% fat, give or take). I know many people go much lower on carbs, but this is about as strict as it gets on a contest diet for me. I don’t believe in removing all the starchy carbs (and besides, I would get really, really grumpy if you took away my oatmeal and yams!)

I’m still keeping my high days the same as before: 3800 calories, 380 grams of carbs. That may seem like a lot of food, but at this point, my body just “incinerates” it, and one day at that level is not nearly enough carbs to fill me out. It would take 2.5 to 3 days to completely carb up and fill out, which is what I will do the last week before the show. I consider these high days very necessary to keep my energy up, my muscles full, the metabolic machinery running smoothly and the fat burning hormones flowing normally, as much as possible.

I’ve decreased my oatmeal from 1 cup to 3/4 cup in meal one and to only ½ a cup in meal two (that aint much). I decreased my yam to 6 oz (I weigh the yam before cooking to make sure it’s exact). I’ve even decreased my protein portions to 8 egg whites at a time (formerly a dozen) and 6 oz of chicken breast (formerly 8 oz). The protein is still very high though, about 360 grams a day. I’m keeping some fat in the diet in the form of an egg yolk, red meat once a day and a tablespoon of an essential fatty acid oil blend.

My bodyweight is down to about 191 lbs now, although it fluctuates quite a bit. It was 194 lbs in the evening on my last high carb day (carbs and water inside the muscles), but back down to 192 the following day and once again 191 the day after that. With these diet changes, I intend to drop now into the 180’s over the next several weeks. I should be ripped in the low to mid 180’s the week before the show. I don’t have to worry about making a weight class this year as the NBI-sanctioned Natural USA Championships go by height classes. When I competed in the NPC, I was a middleweight (cut off 176 ¼ lbs), which means I often had to decrease water quite a bit the last day or two to make weight (I often weigh 181-183 just days before the show)

I haven’t changed my cardio much in past weeks: it’s still 1 session 7 days a week for 45 minutes at a moderate to moderately-hard intensity sufficient to burn at least 600-700 calories (according to the stairmaster readout). Every other day, I do a 2nd session of 30 minutes in the evening. Some of these are steady state sessions and some are high intensity interval sessions with a brief warm up, 12 one minute sprint intervals alternated with 12 one minute recovery intervals and a short cool down.

Most of my cardio is on the stairmaster now because I seem to get the best results that way. Walking on a treadmill doesn’t seem to do much of anything in the way of fat loss for me, and the lifecyle isn’t as effective for me either because by the time I get the pedal resistance high enough that my heart rate is high enough, my quads burn like crazy and its difficult to maintain. It’s much easier for me to hit 145-150 bpm target heart rate on the stairs – regular stairmaster or stepmill stairmaster.

Compared to previous years, my training and diet have been more conservative this year. For previous shows, most of my dieting was on 2600-2800 calories a day and 150-175 grams of carbs on low days and about 300-350 grams on high days. I even experimented with very low carb diets (under 100 grams), but the results were always the same: I came in looking flat and thin. Cardio used to be two sessions a day, every day for at least the last 8-12 weeks.

This year, I’m eating more and doing (a little) less cardio. As a result, I have lost weight and fat slowly, but also believe I’ve maintained more size and strength and fullness. So far so good, but I’m not quite contest ready yet. If it takes less carbs, less calories and more cardio over the next several weeks, then that’s what I’ll do. Whatever it takes!

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Comments on Pre Contest Diet Changes 6 Weeks Out: Tightening up even more Leave a Comment

September 5, 2005

Evan @ 7:37 am #

Very inspiring Tom to say the least.Wish i was there to watch you train mate! Sometimes i look for excuses to skip a session and i think about TV doing it for over 20 years and still going!
Stay Strong

September 7, 2005

Phil @ 10:35 pm #

Tom: I am thoroughly enjoying your daily writings and have found some great ideas for my own workouts. Regarding your diet, specifically your protein intake, how do you come up with 360 grams with the diet you’ve outlined above? I seem to only calculate around 220-240 grams. Could you break down the amount of protein from each of your meals? Thanks. All the best in your upcoming competition.

September 17, 2005

Tom Venuto @ 6:43 am #

I’m aware that there are a few well known nutrition gurus who recommend “only counting complete protein foods,” but when I do my menu planning, I count all the protein in all the foods in my total protein count, including the protein found in the oatmeal, vegetables, etc.

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