Christine Envall Female Bodybuilder Australia

Contest Dieting

A Decade of Diets

The year 2001 will mark my 10 year anniversary of competitive bodybuilding.  I remember back to my first contest diet in 1991.  I ate nothing but canned tuna and salad vegetables for 6 weeks; things were tough!

I've learnt a lot about nutrition, supplements, contest dieting and listening to my body since those early days and still believe there is a lot to learn.  Every time I get ready for a show my body responds differently and I have to be ready to modify my diet and aerobics as required in order to get into the best possible condition.

The Starting Point

In the good old days when I was younger it was nothing for me to get up over 200lb in the off-season and then diet back down to 160lb for a show, shedding upto 50lb in 20 weeks.  Now I find I feel too uncomfortable and don't train well if my off-season weight goes up above 185lb.  Also I don't really like how I look when I am heavier because the extra weight is fat and not muscle and it makes me look 'small' (I'm not kidding) and find I have to work too hard to get the extra weight back off so it's not worth putting it on in the first place!

Having said all that, this off-season I went back to the old ways and got up to around 210lb.  I found that last year, keeping leaner, I got complacent on the diet and didn't work as hard as I should have, believing I wasn't in too bad shape.  The result; badly out of shape on stage.  I was sadly over the whole dieting thing and needed a real mental break.


When it comes to dieting down for a show I am a big believer in doing it slowly.   Regardless of how much weight I have to lose I like to start about 20 weeks out from the first show.  This way I have plenty of time to fine tune as the show get's closer, I don't have to drop my energy intake too radically so I don't lose strength and can keep my training weights heavy.   I find keeping my weights heavy during dieting gives the muscle a more 'textured' and denser appearance.   When I was an amateur I would often do a run of about 3 shows spread over 4-6 weeks.  I try not to drop more than 2kg from the first to the last show and find that even if my weight doesn't change, training on the lean muscle gives my body a much harder look by the time the last show comes around.  Now as a professional, I don't get the luxury of fine tuning over several shows; I get one chance and then have to wait  another 10 or more weeks for the next show!  This means keeping the mental focus to continue dieting even when you are 'in shape' as any lapse in the diet will cause a backwards step and there isn't enough time for an off-season between the shows. 

Energy Intake & Nutrient Ratio's

When I start my diet for a show I eat about 2500 - 3000 calories per day, depending on what I have been eating in the off-season.  This year my nutrient ratio's will be about 35:45:20 (protein, carbohydrate, fat). 

As the diet progresses I will need to reduce my energy intake (and increase my aerobic activity).  I do this by reducing the amount of food I eat.  Every diet is different, but the lowest I will go is about 1500 calories/day and usually by the time the show comes around I am back up around 1800 Calories.  This year I will maintain the same nutrient ratio from start to end of the diet.

What's on the Menu Today?

I started dieting on January 1st as I planned on competing at the 2004 Night of Women's competition on May 23rd.  Since hearing that only Top 5 will be doing there posing routines I am having second thoughts about going.  It costs a lot of money and is a long way to travel to potentially only spend a few minutes on stage in the Pre-Judging.  I will most likely sit this show out in preference for the South West Pro Cup in Dallas in August.  I am sticking on my diet, but relaxing my serving sizes as it is still quite a way until August.  If you are interested in the sort of food I am eating right now, check out my typical daily menu.  

As the competition get's closer I will drop out the dairy products.   Even closer again I will stop using protein powder and tuna and switch to chicken as my sole source of protein.


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