How to Come Off a Pre-Contest Bodybuilding Diet

The nutrition article every competitive bodybuilder should read

I can’t count how many times I have heard bodybuilding/physique competitors publicize on social media what they will be devouring after their contest is finished. I have seen people buy and stockpile hundreds of dollars’ worth of empty calorie junk food, none of it conducive to bodybuilding. If this happens to describe you (assuming you’re in the midst of a contest diet) or something you have done in the past—please read this article carefully and save yourself some damage control. I want to thoroughly discuss the pitfalls, and even dangers of this mentality that says. “I am going to demolish some junk food for one to two weeks after my show, then I will clean it up.” Adhering to this two-week “see food” diet will potentially lead to the following unfortunate outcomes:

  • EXTREME FULL-BODY EDEMAinitiating hypertension, and depending on severity, hospitalization.
  • EXTREME LETHARGY, causing a lack of motivational energy.
  • DEPRESSION due to going from a contest-ready physique to the Pillsbury Doughboy imitator in seven days or less.
  • ELECTROLYTE IMBALANCEScausing irregular muscle cramping and muscle tightness, making it difficult to weight train or even walk for long periods of time.

So let me embed some very crucial and helpful information in your brain on how to really come out of a contest-prep diet and not suffer these negative side effects and outcomes. 

First off, I want people to adopt the mindset that a champion needs to be concerned with bringing his or her very best package to the stage and focus solely on first place, not what junk foods they are craving most toward the  final four weeks out from their competition. I believe seasoned competitors realize this, but I still see experienced vets talking about food fantasies quite often. This is completely understandable for a newbie or first-time competitor, but I would expect more from seasoned vets. During the final four weeks is when you design (or have your nutrition coach) design a plan of attack for post-contest with precisely how to transition out of this delicate phase properly. Planning your post-contest nutrition plan, supplement regimen, and off-season training protocol will ease your mind so you are not winging it or playing it by ear (which will never work out optimally).

I’m not saying you cannot or should not have some fun and celebrate and eat amazing foods you’ve been deprived of, but you need to know when to call it quits, and how to control and regulate the rebound effects from enjoying these tasty delicacies. 

Another factor often not considered has to do with whether you’re a naturally stubborn endomorph body type or a blazing fast ectomorph body type. If you’re the metabolically slower endomorph, this article is even more imperative for you to take to heart, as I’ve witnessed these individuals (endomorphs) go from stage-ready to looking 20 weeks out in five to seven days! The ectomorph counterpart will have much more leeway with coming off a contest diet and could potentially experience only water retention from going gung ho on a weeklong food frenzy. This means the ectomorph should keep things regulated immediately post-contest to ensure the transition into off-season is optimized.


First, I am going to lay out a detailed example of how a competitor can avoid the negative ramifications of coming out of the contest diet the wrong way: 

The competitor is now three days out from his/her contest. Carbohydrates have been reduced to fewer than 50 grams per day from their previous 200-gram allotment. The competitor has now begun to reduce sodium levels to attempt to rid the subcutaneous tissue of water retention. Water consumption prior to this point was at two gallons per day, and it has now been reduced to one gallon, and eventually it will be just sips of fluid one1 day out from the contest. The competitor has also employed water-loss pills in conjunction with the water/ sodium/carbohydrate restriction to further increase diuresis, and hopefully appear shrink-wrapped the morning of the contest. 

Every single one of the crucial dietary manipulations that this competitor utilized will spell absolute disaster if he or she chooses to go hog-wild post-contest by eating everything in sight.

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