Category Archives: Nutrition

Interview with Not Just A Man’s World (Part 1 & 2)

Shortly after completing the Arnold Classic, I had the pleasure to do an interview with Ammi on Not Just A Man’s World. Ammi put together a very thoughtful collection of questions that range from motivational topics, diet, training and personal tidbits. As Ammi mentions, she and I (especially when put together) are not short in our delivery – therefore, she is releasing this interview in four parts that will be running on Thursdays during the month of May.

For those of you who have followed my blog throughout these Figure preps, there is still never-before shared information due to the nature of Ammi’s questions. You can check out last week’s interview (part 1 here ) and this week’s interview (part 2 here). Stay tuned for the third and fourth portion to be released over the next two Thursdays.

Ammi’s blog has been on my blogroll for sometime now. She provides a great collection of information in a very well-organized manner. Make sure to navigate your way through her site and follow along as she discusses topics on training, dietary strategies for fat loss and women-specific challenges.

We hope you enjoy!

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The Million Dollar Question

 Over the past two years, I have received numerous emails and had countless face-to-face conversations all surrounding the same million dollar question — “What do you eat?”

These days, my dietary routines are rather consistent whether in or out of a show prep. Now that I’m finished competing, I have a little more flexibility allowed for a treat meal or two per week but Carter has taught me a well balanced system and I enjoy my nutritional routines. I follow a really balanced strategy that leaves me feeling satiated, provides a variety of food groups and flexibility and best yet, I don’t feel like I’m “dieting”. I’m also confident that I’m getting the best of the best foods and nutrients into my system.

If you’re training hard but eating crap, you’re really doing yourself a serious disservice. I promise if you’re eating poorly, despite your training efforts, you’re not going to get optimum performance in the gym, you’re probably not going to get proper recovery post training and your simply conflicting your efforts towards your physique goals.

On the Precision Nutrition website, there is an interview with Carter Schoffer from 2006. The last question they ask him is “How important is nutrition in the body transformation process?”
 
Carter’s response really puts it into simple perspective, he says: “Absolutely critical. Nutrition is 100% important just as exercise is 100% important. I mean, you often hear people say things like, “Nutrition is 90% while training is 10%,” or even, “Nutrition is 50% while training is an equal 50%.” I think they’re missing the point. It’s like asking, “What’s more important, the lungs or the heart?” Bottom line is that if you can’t breathe, you die, just like you die if you can’t pump blood. They’re both necessary, and there’s no room for fractions of importance, it’s an absolute. But which do I see people neglecting the most? Definitely nutrition.” — CS

Carter’s strategies (for me) are an extension of the Precision Nutrition system.

The following Top 10 Rules are from Precision Nutrition‘s Gourmet Nutrition book written by Dr. John Berardi and Dr. John Williams. My diet is tailored to my body and goals but it does follow these similar parameters:

1. Eat every 2-3 hours – no matter what.
This doesn’t need to be a full meal each time, I make sure I’m feeding the fire for a total of 5-6 feedings per day.

2. Ingest complete, lean protein each time you eat.
Some of my routine favorites include eggs/egg whites, chicken, turkey, bison, lean ground beef, salmon and shrimp.

3. Ingest vegetables every time you eat.
Aim for a variety of both green and colored, 1. to keep out of a food rut and 2. to optimize the benefits from the intake of various vitamins and minerals provided by the different vegetables.

Some of my personal favorites include: (Green) – Spinach, Broccoli, Asparagus, Green Beans, Zucchini, Cucumbers (Colored) – Tomatoes, Carrots, Mushrooms, Onions, Peppadews, Sun dried tomatoes, Acorn Squash, Butternut Squash, Spaghetti Squash, Canned Pumpkin, Eggplant, Yellow Summer Squash

4. If want to eat a carbohydrate that’s not a fruit or a vegetable, you can – but you’ll need to save it until after you’ve trained.
I aim to keep these carbs gluten free, including but not limited to: oats, sweet potatoes, brown rice, quinoa and beans.

5. A good percentage of your diet must come from fat. Just be sure it’s the right kind.
Best from three types of fat – saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Your saturated fats should come from animal products, your monounsaturated fat should come from mixed nuts, olives and E.V. olive oil. Your polyunsaturated fats should come from flaxseed oil, fish oil and mixed nuts.

Some of my personal favorite daily fats include: avocado, extra virgin olive oil, natural nut butters, almonds and fish oil.

6. Ditch the calorie containing drinks.
Yup, that includes alcohol!! Aim to stick with water and green tea. I also include coffee 🙂

7. Focus on whole foods.
Read as UNPROCESSED FOODS! ‘nuff said. 🙂

8. Have 10% Foods
If you’re not in a contest prep, which most of us are not – plan your socializing or reward meals into your week with the 90/10 rule. Don’t interpret this as permission to go overboard, but if you’re on point 90 percent of the time, allow yourself what you enjoy too. For example, with 5 meals a day, 7 days a week – that is 35 meals for the week – 10 percent of that is 3 treat meals per week.

9. Develop food preparation strategies.
If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. The hardest part about eating well is simply being prepared. Create strategies and habits for yourself to develop CONSISTENCY. Do your routine grocery shopping for the right items. Prep food on certain days of the week (perhaps Sunday and Wednesday). Tupperware your food and take it with you. These are habits that need to be prioritized. I hear it all the time, “I don’t have time” or “I can’t do it like you” but it’s just a priority one has to make if the goals are important enough. Also find foods and tricks for quick on-the-go meals. (I will post more on tips in a future post). It’s a learning curve, give yourself time to learn the tricks and build routines – but start developing a strategy.

10. Balance daily food choices with healthy variety.
Again, Carter did not prescribe certain vegetables, fruits or proteins that I had to eat at certain times. Rather he gave me parameters – a food group and the measurement. He hammered home however that it was MY RESPONSIBILITY to take in the variety.

So there you have it. The 10 nutritional strategies to begin physique and performance success in the kitchen. In future blog posts, I will share with you some of my favorite meals and recipes, certain superfoods, plus more specifics about my personal diet.

For now keep it simple and see if you can adopt these 10 key take-aways.

For more information, you can also visit Precision Nutrition and Body Transformation.

A Great Nutritional Read by T-Nation and Dr. John Berardi

Today I had the pleasure of reading a great nutritional article on T-Nation titled “Sucker Punch: Dr. John Berardi.” I wanted to share this with you all because it not only coincides with what I’m currently doing, it also coincides with a lot of my philosophies in dieting, training, physique prep and mental fortitude.

To sum up John Berardi would be a blog post of itself. You can get a more extensive read about him HERE on his website, JohnBerardi.com.

The following however is what JB shared with T-Nation about his lessons learned from his days of bodybuilding:

“The first is discipline and mental fortitude. Preparing for a bodybuilding show is really misunderstood; it’s a mental battle more than anything. You basically over-train and over-diet for 16 weeks, and as each week passes you get leaner, but more worn down mentally and physically.

By show time you can’t think right, can’t move properly, and you’re literally counting down the hours for it to be over.

Every single ounce of your being wants to quit, and that’s why so many people that intend to compete never do. It’s that mentally draining. But for those who endure, you come out the other side with a renewed sense of confidence in your ability to tackle any challenge – no matter how long it takes and how much you have to put into it – and I think that’s a valuable life lesson.

I published an article on TMUSCLE called the Get Shredded Diet, and in it I talk about how every two years or so I go on a really intense fat loss program. Part of the reason I do this is to exercise those mental muscles of discipline and perseverance.  I do think it’s possible for these muscles to get “flabby.”

So for me, the value of working those muscles has translated into everything that I do, whether it’s growing a business or working with clients; I tend to be a lot more patient, more willing to put in the time doing behaviors that I know will lead to success, even when that success hasn’t arrived yet and I might just be feeling crappy. I think that’s really critical.

Next is the correlation between behavior and results. This is something many people miss when they’re goal setting. You can set goals and write them down, but the most important thing to realize is that most goals are outcome oriented, and you need to engage in specific behaviors to achieve those outcomes.

My bodybuilding days taught me that when my behaviors matched my goals, I got the results I was looking for. I know this seems like a no brainer, but you’d be amazed at how many people miss this. It doesn’t matter how strong your intentions are, if the behaviors aren’t there, the results won’t be there either.

The cool part is that once you really get this concept, you can work backwards. So, if your results are shit, it’s not that there’s something wrong with you, it’s that your behaviors aren’t correct. Fix ’em and the results will follow.

The third is mentorship. When I first started bodybuilding, a guy named Craig Bach took me under his wing. He taught me how to eat, how to train, and how to set goals. This all happened at a very influential time, when I was 18 years old, and it really set me on course. The bottom line is this: there are people more experienced than you, people with more knowledge than you, and if you aren’t seeking them out and learning from them, you’re an idiot, plain and simple.”  – Dr. John Berardi

I feel very grateful to have the pleasure of working with nutritional expert, Carter Schoffer. Carter’s business, Body Transformation Inc is connected with John Berardi’s Precision Nutrition. A lot of what I’m doing now is very similar to what John explains in the T-Nation article. It is also very new to me, relative to what I have practiced in the past for my shows. Despite a different diet approach and initial body response than I’m used to, I trust in Carter and that this process will serve me well for many reasons including the ones I have highlighted above and read in this article by T-Nation / John Berardi.

Check out more of the article on T-Nation here. Within the article, you will also find more Q&A and personal information from JB (ie: mistakes he’s made, supplements in his cabinets, what piece of the puzzle we may be missing). You will also get an inside look as to what he does with MMA’s superathlete Georges St. Pierre.

Happy Memorial Day to all,

Alli

Cheat Meals?

VS.

The life of a Figure Competitor requires a significant amount of will power and dedication when it comes to diet. Keeping your eye on the correct bullseye is imperative. Sometimes hungry, fatigued or even bored of the same food choices? Maybe we don’t feel like cooking, want to hang with friends for a celebration, or even a date night.. the list goes on and on.

As a Figure Competitor however, we forego all of those things for weeks and months at a time. Ask any Figure Competitor what her post show treat will be and she’s guaranteed to start smiling and salivating simultaneously! In fact, many of us know what that treat is months out from stage day ( I know I do!)

During season, every competitor knows of the term “cheat meal.” I’ve enjoyed them in the past during my previous show prep seasons, but this time is a different story thanks to the tough love of my nutritionist. The following was his take on cheat meals and instruction(s) to me:

Cheats: As a rule, during the pre-comp period, the expectation is that you’re at least 95% compliant, if not perfect, and that any deviations are the ones caused by situations like above (travel limitations). That is, you still aim to eat exceptionally well but can’t because of X, Y or Z reason. That said, from weeks 15 to 10, if you happen to have 1-2 “cheat” meals it probably won’t do too much damage. Just be smart about them. Don’t overeat; avoid foods that cause systemic distress (alcohol, fake foods, etc), make sure they don’t displace your veggies, protein and healthy fat, and limit them to within 3 hours post-workout for damage control – especially if starchy or sugary.

From week 10 to show time, you’re in the zone. Food’s only value is nourishment. It serves to help you recover and function and is your #1 tool when it comes to ensuring your body comp success.

In short, margaritas and nachos aren’t cool, no matter how popular they make you with the fat unhealthy kids ;).

Overall we’ll cross each bridge as it comes. If you can earn them via hard work, great compliance and significant body comp change, we may be able to plan a couple in. I’ve found though that if one starts off thinking about cheats vs. compliance, they end up having their eye on the wrong ball. Focus on what you can have and what you can do to help you attain stage success instead of focusing on what you can’t have.”

I couldn’t agree more. After reading this, it set my expectations straight. Cheats just aren’t part of my vocabulary for this show prep. I hope you find the message as strong as I do. This not only applies to physique competitors but any athlete trying to optimize their health and performance needs to eat well. Any weekend warrior trying to shred down for the summer needs to stay dedicated too. When working towards your goal, any goal, cheats may be “fun” but they do exactly what they claim.. they cheat YOU and your hard efforts.

Happy Friday! Skip the tempting weekend cheats!

A Newfound Favorite!

I once read that a Figure Competitor is like a professional dieter. I’m starting to find that to be very true! Competition dieting is tough. We are limited to fresh, lean, clean, veggies, meat, eggs and select, acceptable fats and carbs. You can forget about convenience foods, cocktails, delicious comfort foods or party foods. When the competition goal exceeds the instant gratification and taste of something off plan however, it’s very managable to plan, cook and stay the course– even if it’s one meal, one snack and one day at a time.

Physique competitors eat accordingly for a desired result, not pleasure. If you are anything like me however, sometimes I’m happy with the simple cucumber, tomato and chicken meal and sometimes I want to find ways to add more flavor to the day. I came across an article on T-Nation after Nick and his intern, Dan, discovered a variation of cookies!–I had to see what this was about 🙂

After checking out the article “Six Things You Need to Know About Protein” I tweaked the Lab Rabbit cookies so they were more diet friendly for me. I say tweaked, more like simplified in calories and ingredients.

My new found favorite treat is:

  • Combine 1-2 tablespoons of all-natural, salt free peanut butter (the peanut butter where the only ingredient is peanuts and you have to mix the oil in)
  • In a small cup/bowl with half a scoop of chocolate protein powder (I use American Whey)
  • Mix well and eat with a spoon
  • **On carb days, try throwing in a few oats 🙂

Simple, diet friendly and delicious!! (well, maybe only “delicious” if that is your only deviation for a sweet treat.) It reminds me somewhat of a Reeses and also of the old-school snack “Little Debbie Nutter Butter” bars.

Check out the article on T-Nation here. Feel free to post if you have any other easy, favorite recipes for flavor!!

A Cup of Joe Meets Protein

As we all know, lean protein should be the foundation of every meal. Many of us also drink protein shakes as part of our daily nutrition rituals. If you‘re not, you should at least be drinking a protein shake within a 30-40 minute window after each strength workout.

One of my favorite ways to start my day is to incorporate a serving of protein powder into my morning coffee. Now, I can’t attest that ALL protein powders dissolve well in the coffee, but American Whey (creamy vanilla flavor) is my favorite!

I often go to bed at night looking forward to this coffee drink in the morning:

  • 12-16 oz. of strong coffee!
  • 1 scoop of American Whey Creamy Vanilla protein powder
  • ¼ cup of soy milk
  • 1 packet of splenda

**Mixing Tip: I throw my scoop of protein powder and splenda in my coffee mug first, then add coffee and top with soy milk. I feel it mixes better this way.

Feel free to make modifications, but try it this if you haven’t yet! It’s a great way to jump start your morning with some caffeine and protein.