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The Do's and Don'ts of Contest Dieting


The Do's and Don'ts of Contest Dieting.

Tammy PatnodeIFBB Womens Physique Competitor and NPC Judge


I have been a competitive athlete for 15 years, so you might say I am a bit of a dinosaur in my sport. I have competed in roughly fifty shows and learned from my many mistakes along the way. Here's a few of the traps and pitfalls I and others just like me have fallen into.


  • Don't Gain Too Much Weight in the Off Season. “What comes on, must come off”. You don't need to gain 25 lbs to add 3 lbs of lean mass. When insulin is high at higher body fat levels, it makes muscle growth much more difficult. Consider maintaining a leaner physique. You will certainly be able to measure your gains more correctly, and the reduced strain on your cardiovascular system will have your heart saying thank you.

  • So Many People Think of Dieting as Punishment. If you look at your contest prep as torture for 12-20 weeks, it will be a miserable process. Does it get hard sometimes? Sure. But personally, I like clean food year 'round. If you hate a particular type of food, don't diet with it. You don't need to eat what you don't like. There are plenty of options available.

  • Don't Cut Carbohydrates or Calories Too Fast. This is when a coach or another sets of eyes will serve you well. Start out with the highest amount of calories possible so you have a place to adjust from as you lean down and get closer to your goal or show.

  • Practice Posing! As a judge, this is my greatest frustration. This is the cherry on top of all of your hard work. You can have a perfect, dialed in physique but if you don't know how to show case yourself properly, why bother? Posing incorrectly can throw off your symmetry and not bring out the best possible you. Sometimes it can actually make you look worse than you actually appear.

  • Get Plenty of Sleep. A lack of sleep can in essence be poison to your body. As physical stress increases, Growth Hormone production decreases. Growth Hormone is at its highest levels as we sleep. Both Stress and decreased Growth Hormone will crush your bodies ability to recover, maintain fat loss and maintain all of that hard earned muscle you worked for.

  • Don't Rush the Process. If you need sixteen weeks to prep, don't try to cram it into twelve. Start your journey slow and steady so you can maximize holding on to as much muscle mass as possible. Extreme calorie and cardio regimes are guaranteed to back fire and you will come in flat, unhappy and questioning “Why did I do this”?


There you have it. These are just a few of my ideas to have a solid 2016 contest season. Plan ahead, be certain no life obstacles will get in your way, you have the support from friends and family and you are 100% committed to the process. I hope to see you on the stage sometime this year and best of luck!


For more on Tammy visit her website - www.team-tammyfitness.com