Dieting and exercising for weight loss is seldom as fun as trying to gain weight. A lot of smart coaches advise that if you’ve been competing for less than a year, you shouldn’t cut at all — you should focus on building a base for competition.
But if you have good reason to cut weight, generally speaking, it’s best to start about a month out from the meet. And oh boy, does that month bring its challenges.
1) The Terror of Losing Strength With the Weight
It’s true that bodybuilders and figure competitors do tend to lose strength as their fat loss becomes more aggressive, but so long as the cut is done responsibly, it doesn’t have to be a problem for strength athletes.
If you don’t start a cut until a month out from your meet, try and keep the weight loss to one or two pounds per week, keep your protein intake high, consume carbs before and during workouts, and get plenty of sleep (consider a magnesium supplement), strength shouldn’t be an issue. Most pro lifters limit their calorie deficit to 500-1000 calories a day, but talk to a sports dietitian to get recommendations for your training history.
2) A None-Too-Subtle Drop in Sex Drive
One of the greatest ironies is that as you approach what some consider the apex of human sexiness — Ryan Reynolds abs and spider-veined biceps — your interest in sex can start to dip.
It could be a combination of low fat intake affecting testosterone levels or stress affecting the thyroid gland. (It’s probably both.) It’s usually reported in bodybuilders and many consider it very difficult to fix if you’re under 10 percent body fat. If it’s affecting you, consider increasing your fat intake on non-training days and ensuring you consume enough zinc, magnesium, vitamin D, and selenium to hedge your bets.
3) Exploring Creative Ways to Add Low-Calorie Bulk to Your Belly
For real, Spiralizers cost about forty bucks, and once you start adding paper-thin ribbons of zucchinis to your meals, you’ll marvel at how easy it is to feel insanely full on a hundred calories. You’ll also suddenly find a lot of new ways to consume tomatoes as well, and you might find yourself discovering tasty, low-calorie foods that you’ve probably never heard of. (Ever tried jicama?)
4) Peeing All the Time
About a week out from the meet, a lot of people start the water cut: that involves drinking lots and lots of water, some two gallons per day, which coupled with the smaller meals means a lot of trips to the bathroom.
The day before the meet, water is typically cut way down or completely eliminated until the weigh in. That’s when you’ll actually miss your constant pee breaks.
5) Learning That There Are Different Kinds of Water
Unlike purified drinking water, distilled water is totally free of minerals and salts, and it’s what a lot of people recommend during your water loading phase to avoid taking in any extra sodium.
6) Cursing the Fact That Sodium Can Increase Water Weight
Damn it, sodium! Why are you so delicious and why do I have to limit you during the last week of prep? In the final days before a meet, sodium gets cut way down to avoid any possible water weight tipping you into another weight category. This is when so-called salt-free seasonings become a staple. Despite what the packaging tells you, it only makes you remember how great actual salt tastes.
7) Learning How to Rehydrate Fast
After your weigh in, it’s a rush — well, a slow, controlled rush — to gain as much nutrition and fluid as possible before lifting begins.
Here are some popular tips that are worth considering: take some Immodium after the weigh in to prevent more water loss and diarrhea, consume some Pedialyte or Gatorade to help replenish some of the lost electrolytes, and take a tablespoon of Glycerin, which can help the body rehydrate.
We won’t deny that cutting weight isn’t as much fun as eating for weight gain and increases in strength, but if it’s done responsibly and with these tips in mind, and can prove a new and interesting challenge in manipulating your body and performance.