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Clean Food and Contest Dieting

So lately there has been a lot of "GURU" bashing going on in the bodybuilding world and I think the large majority of it is deserved.  Large “Teams” with cookie cutter starvation diets = stupid.  Endless amounts of cardio on restricted calories = stupid.  Cutting sodium = stupid. Cutting water = stupid. Fasted cardio = stupid. Suggesting bikini/figure competitors load up on roids = really stupid.  “Coaching” without any real world or personal experience = stupid.  I could go on and on.  I’m glad people are having these conversations.

However, the one thing I don’t fully understand (and I have mentioned this before) is the bashing of “clean” eating. I really don’t get it. If someone chooses to eat clean food and enjoys it, why should they be bashed? I get flexible dieting. I actually think it can be very effective and I use it on a number of my clients. However, I still stand by my experience that the majority of your foods should be unprocessed, unrefined foods instead of Poptarts and ding dongs. I don’t get why people think it is cool to post pics of freaking Poptarts smothered in frosted hohos and bash someone for eating chicken and broccoli. Is this where I should insert a stupid hashtag? #peoplewhoeatcleanarelosers #IamawesomebecauseIeatbenandjerrys3timesaday?

For me, it is “clean” food all the way when I am contest dieting. That is my preference. However, I work with clients who prefer that and some who also prefer to have more flexibility. Either way can get results. But I have seen firsthand improvements from taking someone from IIFYM to a more structure precontest. Novices start looking like experienced competitors; amateurs turn pro; and good pros become champions. There is a tradeoff that needs to be made. Are you willing to give up a little bit of flexibility to maybe improve 2-5%? Many won’t. Some will. That is a personal decision and I respect and help people who choose either approach.

When I am not contest prep I eat extremely flexibly, eating out 3-5x per week, often not even tracking my macros. I am at a point where I am very in tune with my body and know what I need to perform. Most young competitors, and many experienced competitors, still have yet to learn that. I know it certainly took me a long time to get to that point. The large majority of my food choices are still “clean” though, as that is what makes me happiest because I feel and perform better. For me, eating a Pop-Tart doesn’t make me happy but I understand for some it might. Can’t we all just get along?


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