Dr Susan Baxter
5 signs to warrant a “red flag” on competition preparation diets.
Updated: Mar 3
This is by no means a scientific look at what should and shouldn’t be done on a competition diet, but here are some broad indications that you might want to request a second opinion or do a little more research before parting with cash, or following such plan.
Following an inadequate diet (whether for competition or for some other reason, is dangerous for many reasons. Some of these are:
-Lack of concentration
-Hormonal imbalance/metabolic syndromes
All of these can also mean that there is a massive backlash or huge consequences post competition (including a great deal of weight gain, and food intolerances, sometimes even disordered food relationships.
Some of these are extremely common and should be questioned for your own health. I certain do not mean that there isn’t certain times that might warrant some kind of manipulation (for a day or two) but not for a full 16-12 week preparation diet.
1. Lack of coloured foods allowed:
If the only vegetable colour you are allowed is green, and your meat can only be white/chicken…. its time to re-consider the approach. This is the set up for a bad rebound after you finish prep, and can have extreme effects on your gut health. Other problems can include disordered eating post comp, even hair falling out, and downy hair growing on your neck and arms. Vegetables have a variety of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. Abstaining from even having a bite of beetroot or carrot because it is off limits is a sure fire warning sign. 2. No fat allowed:
Fats are extremely important to your health. You actually need fat to burn fat, and your hormone health (amongst other things) are dependant on healthy fats. Healthy fats reduce inflammation in the body, and you require these from a variety of both plant and animal sources. Omega 3s are so essential in your diet… to read more about what “essential fatty acids” are and why you need them, check out my article. 3. Removal of carbs:
Before you start raising that red flag…. vegetables and various other salad ingredients have carbs in them… so if you have no bread and no pasta in your diet, but you do have vegetables in there (and i don’t mean a little broccoli)…. you are not on a no-carb diet. However, if you are still 10 weeks away from your competition and you have to weigh your lettuce. Please run (oh wait you might not have enough energy), or walk away for another opinion! Carbs affect your sleep, so a lack of them over time will reduce your sleep quality, and even have long-term effects for your mental health.
4. The bulk of your diet (more than one meal) is low-calorie sauces, no-carb pasta, and protein bars:
When on a low-calorie diet, these options can help your sanity. However, they tend to be extremely nutrient lax (highly processed). In fact, they can even cause overeating and increase appetite. As you reduce your calories below your maintenance, each food item that you have becomes more important: there are fewer chances to hit all of the micronutrients that your body requires for health. dropping fat is stressful on the body too, so your immune system needs all of the support that it can get. If you are reducing that chance by eating foods that are so-called “calorie-free” or full of processed ingredients like alcohol and sugars, you effectively limit your chance to be able to stay as healthy as possible whilst reducing body fat. If you want to know more about calculating body fat, check this link.
5. Extremely low calorie:
Your body has a basal metabolic rate. A minimum number at which you require for intake of energy sources in order to be able to minimally function. You are doing exercise so reducing calories below basal metabolic rate is a real cause for concern for your hormones (especially ladies, if you ever want to consider children). Unless under GP guidance, you should never swoop below that. In fact, you should aim to be eating as many calories as possible whilst still reducing your body fat. This requires that you start far enough out from a show for healthy weight loss (aim for no more than 1 kg a week at the very most), and that you reduce the number of calories slowly.
If you like what you read, I do have a series of Ebooks you can find here. I have designed these to inform and educate with real no-nonsense information about how to live a sustainably healthy life long term. It is the tool kit and knowledge that you need to make your own informed decisions for long-term health.
Thank you for reading.