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Allen Cress
05-05-2011, 11:39 AM
After recieving numerous emails from competitors and ex-competitors and reading some posts here on WBB I thought I should make some comments about contest dieting and post conetst weight gain.

I see this year after year with competitors and obviously its not health physically, menatlly, or emotionally. A contest diet is hard but at the same time people tend to go to extremes because they are not objective when it comes to them selves and they never think they are lean enough or behind schedule which leads to more extremes.

This is where coaching is very important, but you have to watch out for coaches who only take vital stats, weight, bodyfat, etc... and don't take biofeedback from clients which entails their mentality as well. This needs to be taken into account and to help to avoid the post conetst binge. After a contest of course you will indulge in some of your favorite foods, but when one day turns into 3-4 and you keep eating even though your not really hungry there is a problem psycologically and will lead to a physical problem as well.

There is no doubt that extreme diets (contest diets) can lead to eating disorders and disordered eating: food issues/weight issues/diet issues etc. And this is not opinion. This is well researched. contest diets are extreme. And they are extreme because they take the body beyond comfortable and natural bodyweight set points to force lower bodyweights and lower body fat levels in order to be contest ready. The food issues develope because as the contest gets closer you start associating food as a reward at first then it progresses as a emotinal need thinking it will make you feel better. Once you start indulging you are never fully sastified emotionally and it continues. Then most spiral ut of control and massive weight gain happens along with more psycological issues such as depression due to the weight gain.

Then what comes next is the individual goes back to dieting to lose the weight and the cyle begins and can lead to metabolic damage where you can continue to gain regardless of diet. The last thing you do to solve this is to start dieting again or cutting carbs or what have you. This is not the solution and can cuase more issues. One key besides proper coaching is just eat healthy balanced meals and just indulge here and there a week or so after the contest while taking a week off from the gym as well. Then gradually start back to being more structured. Now of course weight gain will happen but not to extremes.

I get emails from competitors all the time with these issues and they are more common than you think in this industry. So as you can see caoching should entail not just the physical part as most do, but also the mental and emotional. I hope all competitors will take this to heart as it is very real and serious.

I'm not saying you shouldn't compete if you enjoy it, but be realistic in your goals and be careful in your pursuit. You should compete because you enjoy it not just to win a trophy. If at all possible get proper coaching.

CycnuS
05-05-2011, 02:46 PM
Allen,

Thanks!

Time+Patience
05-05-2011, 04:10 PM
It seems very simple on what one should do after a contest, but it gets difficult.

I think most will do it after their first contest, then they realize how quickly they leave the land of rippedness and go back to bloat and fat. You quickly realize how it was stupid to just blow up after the contest. You also come to realize that you weren't hungry or starving for those foods, but that you just wanted them.

I did that after last years contest and don't plan on doing it again.

I think some of the first steps are to try to limit it to a big meal that night, as that's the most common meal. You either eat to celebrate or you eat out of being depressed because you came out of shape.

If you can be mentally tough enough to diet down for a show then you have to try to do what you can mentally to just keep it to 1 day of bad eatting, or 2 days of eatting some bad meals. You have to mentally stay strong enough to not eat like crap for days at a time.

One of the best remedies is to try to keep eatting what you were eatting but in larger portions. You will finally be satisfied and not starving after a 300 calorie meal, but 500-600 meals should suffice.

You have to mentally be on track to make a post-contest diet and binge work out.

Off Road
05-05-2011, 04:17 PM
It's nice to read a fresh topic and see guys with experience trying to help others.

Behemoth
05-05-2011, 05:20 PM
Its not an issue as simple as self control. Prolonged dieting and especially a prolonged diet well below ones setpoint does some crazy thing to people. Believing its a matter of self control is akin to telling a schizophrantic to just act normal all the time, or a depressed person to just not be sad.

Time+Patience
05-05-2011, 06:23 PM
Its not an issue as simple as self control. Prolonged dieting and especially a prolonged diet well below ones setpoint does some crazy thing to people. Believing its a matter of self control is akin to telling a schizophrantic to just act normal all the time, or a depressed person to just not be sad.

Since the dieting is so extreme and you are well below your bodies setpoint then there is no point in bothering to exercise any self control since there is nothing you can do as it just happens. When an alocholic becomes sober it has nothing to do with them exercising self-control, but something just physiologically changed within their body that allows them to sober up.

Comparing people who commonly utilize medication and therapy as treatment for an illness to a person dieting and having cravings is pretty ridiculous.

You believe that one mentally has no control over what happens with how a post-contest binge turns out?

I didn't say that simple self control was the only thing you can do, but it's going to be the biggest factor in allowing for you to avoid a bad post-contest binge.

I do believe the the mental aspect is huge in determining how a post-contest binge turns out, and you have to exercise control to fight off the urges. How else do you not eat the things that can lead to a bad post-contest binge? As far as I know you have to say "no" to whatever it is that you want the food doesn't just appear in your mouth. You have to buy it, cook it, pick it up, and eat it.

You do have to and can exercise the self control necessary to be able to avoid the post contest binge or at least to minimize it rather than go overboard and allow it to get to massive and gluttonous extremes.

I think a lot of the issues are mental rather than physiological.

You begin by rationalizing the first cheat meal as a reward, then maybe a few more meals, or maybe a whole day to bad eatting as an extended reward or as a day to recharge your body. Next you start to rationalize more bad eatting habits because you don't believe or realize how extreme things can get if you continue doing what you do.
You may also rationalize it as I know I can get lean so I can go on ahead and get fat. You may rationalize it as I don't have a contest coming up anytime soon so why kill myself.

I truly believe a lot of the post-contest binge can be avoided if one has the will power to make it happen. If there are some studies that state it's completely physiological then I would need to see those to convince me otherwise.

Behemoth
05-05-2011, 07:20 PM
My point was that ignoring physiological changes one has caused through dieting and believing that cravings and other issues are simply mental or lack of self control is ludacris.

Behemoth
05-05-2011, 07:37 PM
The mental issues stem from physiological stressors. Either not causing them to an extreme extent or adequately and rapidly normalizing the stress is the only way to avoid rebound, unfortunately the only way to rapidly normalize is usually by way of weight rebound. The body controls the mind more than a lot of people give it credit it for. If the bodies out of whack then trying to win the mind battles against food is futile until the body normalizes at least somewhat. What that usually means is weight gain. The key is losing the weight in a manner that causes the least stress as possible.

Setpoints are very real. Unless altered by way of drugs, there will always be some fight to maintain below ones natural level. I'm not saying its not doable, I'm saying its an ongoing endeavor that must be kept up with, ignoring that is foolish.

Time+Patience
05-05-2011, 08:14 PM
Setpoints are very real. Unless altered by way of drugs, there will always be some fight to maintain below ones natural level.
I have seen you refer to the "bodies setpoint" before. Are you referring to a certain bodyweight, bodyfat % or something along those lines that is more natural for the body?

If so then this can be changed over time due to various things such as diet, training, etc. correct? Obviously my bodies setpoint is different now than 10, 4 or 2 years ago due to body mass changes over time, would you agree?

So if this brief summary is somewhat on point could you say that continual dieting down over time would allow for the body to become more comfortable when dieting down to extremely low levels of BF%'s even when you are going beyond what the body is normally comfortable with?

If I dieted down to roughly 5% one year, and then do it again the following year, but with a few extra pounds of lean muscle, and then repeat the same process again the next year could you venture to say that you could more easily adjust to the aspects that make your body fight being under it's "desired setpoint?" Fighting those urges would be a bit easier the more often you do the dieting?

Essentially your LBM may have increased 6-8 pounds over a 2 year span and you diet down to leean BF %'s on a yearly basis. Would you believe that you could be more acclimated to the physiological issues that arise therefire making it easier to fend off those issues and cravings?

If that's not clear let me know. I am trying to locially think about what you've talked about and make more sense of it. You already know I'm less scientific about things and am less knowledgeable about the thinking of some issues than you and others.

Behemoth
05-05-2011, 09:57 PM
Here's an excellent series to spark some discussion. It has been a while since I've read this series (actually probably only a few months) and as I recall this isn't saying conclusively that a bodyfat setpoint is scientifically proven, there is just plenty of evidence to suggest so. I was just initially bringing up the point that trying to blame weight rebound on just mental strength is very wrong and only looking at the issue from one angle.

http://www.bodyrecomposition.com/fat-loss/set-points-settling-points-and-bodyweight-regulation-part-1.html
http://www.bodyrecomposition.com/fat-loss/set-points-settling-points-and-bodyweight-regulation-part-2.html
http://www.bodyrecomposition.com/fat-loss/the-hormones-of-bodyweight-regulation-leptin-part-1.html
http://www.bodyrecomposition.com/fat-loss/bodyweight-regulation-wrap-up-other-hormones.html

Time+Patience
05-06-2011, 05:07 AM
Here's an excellent series to spark some discussion. It has been a while since I've read this series (actually probably only a few months) and as I recall this isn't saying conclusively that a bodyfat setpoint is scientifically proven, there is just plenty of evidence to suggest so. I was just initially bringing up the point that trying to blame weight rebound on just mental strength is very wrong and only looking at the issue from one angle.

http://www.bodyrecomposition.com/fat-loss/set-points-settling-points-and-bodyweight-regulation-part-1.html
http://www.bodyrecomposition.com/fat-loss/set-points-settling-points-and-bodyweight-regulation-part-2.html
http://www.bodyrecomposition.com/fat-loss/the-hormones-of-bodyweight-regulation-leptin-part-1.html
http://www.bodyrecomposition.com/fat-loss/bodyweight-regulation-wrap-up-other-hormones.html

Damn you Rory for giving me all of this information!

I figured the issue of getting past a certain BF% would be one of the larger issues in terms of your body fighting against you as most people would naturally stay at a higher BF %. I wouldn't think it's the actual bodyweight as we all change our bodyweight over time one way or another and it seems as if the body adjusts to that well enough.

I shall read and if any questions come up they will be posted, but I am a slow reader though! I hope it's some good stuff.

Off Road
05-06-2011, 07:14 AM
Setpoints are very real. Unless altered by way of drugs, there will always be some fight to maintain below ones natural level.

I've heard it mentioned that the longer you stay at a certain bodyweight and fat percentage, the easier it is to obtain that again. Any truth to that? Is that like re-setting your set-point?

Allen Cress
05-06-2011, 07:54 AM
Here is part of an article by Scott Abel that goes into detail about the emotional/mental part of contets dieting. Does thsi happen to everyone, NO, but its more common than you may think. I've been in this industry for 17 years and been behind the scenes and its very real and sad. So thinking its as easy as having willpower is incorrect, much more going on. Hope you get a lot from this. As far as set points go they are very real but can be altered to an extent. You have to maintain a certain weight/ muscle mass for a prolonged period of time to create a new set point and then it has to be something that doesn't cause the body's functions to be out of homeostasis.

"During the course of the contest-diet the physical state of hunger, and the emotional state of exhaustion create a heightened sense of arousal. This arousal exists on two fronts. One is the level of competitor exhaustion. This becomes an actual emotional state- and all intense emotional states-especially negative ones-seek relief from being in that state. Furthermore the heightened sense of emotional arousal combined with physical hunger leads to a cognitive association to food as reward. As the contest draws nearer the emotional arousal level which seeks relief becomes more intense. The cognitive association of connecting food-reward as part of the celebration of the contest date becomes more intertwined.

And it also becomes much more intense. Some competitors are not able to sleep for days before a contest-not just because they are excited for the contest-but because they anticipate being able to break their emotional exhaustion and hunger by finally having this anticipated food reward. Food becomes associated with emotional reward, celebration, achievement etc. And as the contest looms, the anticipation of the food reward becomes more intense. This is known in psychology as “attention-bias.” Food as reward starts to take on more and more focus and attention and stronger and stronger emotional value as well. Anyone who has competed understands this to be true.

Unfortunately, they just have never had the potential consequences of this explained to them.

For weeks before the contest there has developed a strong and emotionally-connected attention-bias toward food indulgence. And this is made more intense by diet deprivation and food denial. (This is all well-documented among diet researchers.) This is known as sensitivity-bias. This means when an emotional reward is denied, as in food deprivation, it ends up creating even greater psychological value in a person’s mind. Once this happens it sets in motion a cycle of behaviour to pursue the object of the emotional reward. And this pursuit now has incredible emotional power behind it. This is actually an inherited survival trait from our ancestors. It helps focus our attention on immediate survival needs.

The actual competition phase of food restriction without relief-combined with physical exhaustion sets a cycle of behaviour in motion. And that cycle is to pursue food as an emotional reward. This has little to do with metabolism and everything to do with survival instincts. This cycle is often referred to as “cue-induced-anticipation.” The psychological attention- bias created by food restriction and denial sets in motion a heightened emotional state. And this state is one that not only anticipates food as reward, but heightens the reward value of food by doing so.

The diet has created a strong cognitive association to food as an emotional reward. And the state of physical hunger and exhaustion has also created an emotional state that seeks relief from being in that state. This is all quite natural and quite predictable really. Anyone who has been around an extreme dieter can bear witness to their lack of patience, irritability, and what I call competitor ADD. This is all a consequence of the heightened emotional state of arousal and hunger-both of which seek relief. So, since relief is imposed upon the competitor by delay; the result is various levels of emotional agitation. And this state also seeks relief.

Then contest day comes and goes. Immediately the competitor takes part in a food reward to celebrate the achievement and to relieve the acute hunger state and the heightened state of emotional arousal. Two things are happening here. Once the pursuit of food reward is achieved and indulged in, this heightens the anticipated emotional value of having a stake in food as being emotionally rewarding. It is not going to stop just because the contest is over. This is now a “process” and it plays itself out in repeated cycles. This has nothing to do with metabolism and everything to do with emotional states.

The problem is that the process of dieting for a contest induced heightened emotional states on many fronts. These states are either rewarded or relieved now, with food. Food becomes the object of reward, attention, and emotional value. (Believe it or not, emotionally-speaking this is not far off from a toddler who seeks out his “blankie” for emotional relief and reward: It is the same level of cognitive association happening-and the resultant cue/urge/anticipation/reward/habit cycle.

There are two major ways (as well as some minor ones) this emotionality plays out. When you expect the indulgent food to bring pleasure (as in say, post-contest anticipated meal) this expectation amplifies the reward. This is called positive reinforcement value. And when you expect the food to bring relief from distress (as in say physical hunger and physical exhaustion) this is known as negative reinforcement value. And this also serves to intensify the reward.

So what we now have is a post-contest, post-diet situation where the emotionally rewarding value of food indulgence is magnified many times over. And this is registered in the psyche as a direct connection.

This leads to the psychological concept of “expectancy.” See, now there is an associated and “expected” response in the reward center of the brain that food indulgence delivers psychic reward; in either of the ways mentioned above. The actual act of eating the indulgent food is now to attain the desired emotional reward, not the actual value of the food experience. So, at this point food becomes something else entirely in the brain. It is no longer the taste of the food the person craves, but rather the emotional pay off he/she expects to get out of it. And remember this pay off can be some kind of emotional reward or distraction, or it can be the payoff of relieving unwanted current emotional states-boredom, worry, anxiety, whatever.

As most indulgent eaters know -this cycle of urge, desire, anticipation and relief, can take on a life of its own. This is no longer a diet or metabolic issue. It is now an emotional awareness issue. And if one diet attempt leads to another, (as it does in competitors one contest to the next) then this intense focus on food as reward can become a crushing obsession leading to diet/eating/food issues; and the accompanying mental and emotional torment.

For example I’ve often witnessed and written about the post-contest period for competitors. It often leads to post event depression. I’ve likened this in previous articles to post-partum depression. The competitor works long and hard toward one goal; but that goal comes and is gone in a moment. This leaves a tremendous emotional vacuum. And for some competitors this emotional vacuum leads to post-contest depression, anxiety over post-contest weight gain. More often than not it leads to the state of dysphoria (emptiness). All of these represent, you guessed it, “heightened states of emotional arousal.”

Behemoth
05-06-2011, 08:43 AM
I've heard it mentioned that the longer you stay at a certain bodyweight and fat percentage, the easier it is to obtain that again. Any truth to that? Is that like re-setting your set-point?

I've heard it also. Do I personally believe it? No, not from a physiological standpoint of actually altering something. But like how Lyle explained setpoints are also products of our environment to some extent I do believe they can be altered from a psychological standpoint. That is to say that the same amount of food still keeps you at the same composition but you simply control and manage both external influences (your environment) and internal influences (your hormones) better.

Off Road
05-06-2011, 08:46 AM
you simply control and manage both external influences (your environment) and internal influences (your hormones) better.
That makes complete sense.