My competition preps have always been flexible, in fact, I started flexible dieting when I started bodybuilding and prepping to compete two years ago. My first prep while macro counting had a cleaner focus because that’s what I thought I needed. My clean focus also meant that I had a dry prep; I’d rather eat my carbs than drink them. In 22 weeks I lost 24 pounds, but mentally after that show going back to a much more flexible approach to macro counting was tough. For any competitor, life after show is tough in a variety of ways.
My second prep was the definition of flexible, but I still maintained a dry prep from January until after show at the end of April. This didn’t bother me one bit, although, it did make a few work events slightly challenging. While working large events I will typically get a seltzer or diet soda and ask for a lime wedge because people will assume it’s fancy and won’t say anything. I’ve noticed they’re more curious when you’re not drinking – so this helps prevent those questions.
This upcoming prep – T-minus 9 days – will also be flexible, but I don’t think I’m going to have a dry prep. I’ve been tracking long enough and should be able to trust myself enough to make smart decisions during prep including when it’s okay to have a beer with dinner and when it’s not.
For those who don’t know much about macro counting or tracking drinks – beer is a carb, many beers will actually provide you with their carbohydrate count when you scan the bottle into My Fitness Pal or search for it. Hard liquor is a little more tricky. During fermentation process sugar (carbohydrates) is converted into ethanol (energy). So when you look at something that’s been fermented like vodka, it appears to calories, but no carbohydrates. The same is for the distilling process for other liquors – carbohydrates are converted into energy and energy still has nutrition somehow associated with it. While we know fat is 9 calories per gram, protein is 4 calories per gram and carbohydrates is also 4 calories per gram, many don’t realize that alcohol is 7 calories per gram. So while it doesn’t fit the classifications of the other macro-nutrients, you should still take from their carbohydrate stores – Calories/7 to get the number of grams of carbohydrates they should deduct for the consumption of that drink. This is what I learned when I found this article from IIFYM.com in February when JP and I were going to the Extreme Beer Fest and it was the only time in prep I said I would consume alcohol.
Prior to learning the information above, I used to just take calories and divide by 4, I never saw a difference in my progress by tracking alcohol that way. Now that I know better, I divide by 7 and continue to take from my carbohydrate sources.
For me, this means that when JP and I make gin and tonic, we buy diet tonic water – otherwise you’re consuming carbohydrates from the liquor and the tonic water and we also measure out our liquor. A serving of gin is 2 tablespoons, but those 2 small tablespoons are also about 25c. A 6 ounce serving of tonic water is 16c and it’s 100% sugar, while the diet has 0c per serving it does use artificial sweeteners, but I’ve made it clear that I don’t mind consuming them. I mean look at everything around us – yogurt, cereal, syrups – I could be consuming much worse things. So with a diet tonic water, I’m willing consuming roughly 25c in a glass. We drink a lot of bourbon and whiskey as well, and serving size is similar – 2 tablespoons and if we’re not drinking it on the rocks, we will use diet soda of some kind. Again, like the tonic water, diet soda helps cut the carbohydrates. It’s also important to note that when we do drink we’re not pounding back multiple drinks; it’s usually a pairing with dinner. If it is at a party, it’s 100% planned and accounted for. I know I have an easier time with drinking than JP does, but we’re both pretty good at determining what we’re willing to give up nutritionally to fit these in as well as building around them so that we don’t become hungry throughout the day just for a beer or spirit.
My plan for prep will allow a drink-ish a week. There are some beers that are lighter than my typical stouts and porters that I know are about 12-15c. A glass of wine can range from 20-30c from just 4 ounces. I know what is heavier and will take up more nutritional value for my day; making a better decision isn’t hard, it’s just about planning. While prep is only 12 weeks long, there are a few holidays and events that I know will be happening during that time and personally, this me giving myself permission to be flexible in this way when I need to be.
On the flipside of this: MY LAST CUPCAKE WILL BE NEXT WEDNESDAY. I know, this is terribly sad for me, but my last cupcake will be my first time trying a bakery near work and really, that’s still pretty damn exciting. I am allowing myself a doughnut during prep – yes, it will be from Kane’s and will be at the beginning during the Boston meet up. That will be the only doughnut. Again, heartbreaking, but I’m imagining a post-show half dozen to share with my main squeeze and we really like trying them together and analyzing them. Tomorrow will be the last Birchtree food adventure until after prep because while the bread is pretty easy to figure out and track, the sandwiches and pastries are not. So I’m currently split screen looking at their menu right now.
I believe in flexible dieting, but the few things liked cupcakes and doughnuts are truly guesses when I track them. Prep is a little more refined than typical flexible dieting. So yes, you will still see pancakes on Monday’s and waffles on Wednesday’s, but cupcaking will be put on pause for a few weeks and so will discovering new doughnuts. Bring on the #bigASSsalads and volume veggies with my brownie goldfish and fat free whip cream. I’m ready.