A recent cross-sectional study looked into 51 UK Based competitors and the dieting strategies they used for their contest preparations. The contest in question was the BNBF Finals. 35 were male, 16 female.
It can be useful to compare your contest prep strategy to others, especially those that placed high. Please note that this is for natural bodybuilding.
Below is a quick summary of the insights and my own comments.
1. Average prep length was 22 weeks
This is not surprising as maintaining muscle while being natural requires a longer prep. Trying to crash diet faster without performance enhancing drugs will lead to major muscle loss for most. This should give those looking to do their 1st natural show a good indication of how much time they really need.
2. Diets were generally high protein, high carb and low fat
While in a calorie deficit, the most important macro decision for maintaining muscle is keeping protein high. Carbs / fats seem to play a secondary role and can generally be interchanged to suit the individual.
3. In those that placed in the top 5 of their category:
a. Protein intake was around 3.1g/kg for men and 2.9g/kg for women
b. Carb intake was around 4.9g/kg for men and 3.7g/kg for women
c. Fat intake was around 0.8g/kg for men and 0.7g/kg for women
4. In those that did NOT place in the top 5 in their category
a. Protein intake was around 2.8g/kg for men and 2.7g/kg for women
b. Carb intake was around 3.6g/kg for men and 3.5g/kg for women
c. Fat intake was around 0.9g/kg for men and 0.8g/kg for women
5. Total calories decreased over the length of the prep
This is a no brainer, and necessary to counteract the metabolic adaptations while in a calorie deficit.
6. Those that placed higher generally started off with higher carb intakes
A coincidence? Or perhaps could signal that greater insulin sensitivity was their advantage or that carbs were better at maintaining muscle mass? Or they had a greater % of muscle mass to begin with? I would be interested to see how a competitor using a ketogenic diet would compare.
7. As prep progressed, cardio increased (almost only in males)
This is interesting, I’m assuming it is either because men have to get to a lower more extreme body fat level or that females start out doing more cardio and just maintain that level through out.
If you compete naturally how do you compare? What are your thoughts?