THREE BIGGEST MISTAKES OF PRE CONTEST DIETING: PART 1
By Lily Ochkur, Natural Figure Competitor, (with Jackie Paisley, former IFBB Pro Bodybuilder)
Everyone who has stepped on stage, at least once, knows that it takes discipline and dedication. I expected that the discipline and hard work, over time, would bring exponential results. Instead, I found myself having to diet more strictly (to not “backslide”), having inconsistent results with water balance, and had low mood and energy. Is your body’s response to training, diet, and pre-contest prep improving with time, or have you found it more difficult and are backed into a corner? I vowed to make some changes, and got OUT OF THAT CORNER. It is time for you, too?
“THE BRAIN RUNS ON FATS, AND FATS ARE INVOLVED IN NEUROTRANSMITTER AND BRAIN NEURON FUNCTION.”
Since I started competing eight years ago, I have tried several diets from different coaches. Many of the pre-contest diets were very similar; extremely low fat/low carb/ high protein. This formula is very simple, and even “accepted.” In actuality it depletes and violates many of the body’s systems that are not only involved in recovery and growth, but crucial immune functions as well! So I will talk about these issues, provide solutions and ideas, and expose the most UNKNOWN and understudied reason for NOT taking the fat out of your diet! First, let’s uncover the 3 main pre-contest diet mistakes.
#1) Extremely low fat, high protein.
#2) Eating protein late at night.
#3) Cooked foods (low raw enzymes).
Hormones, stress, cognition, recovery…where’s the FAT?
In order for hormones to be produced, distributed, and function, fat is needed. When we think of hormones it isn’t just the “sex” hormones that are involved here. Adrenal, “stress” hormones, and immune system hormones, also depend upon fat. Hormones like CCK not only need fat to digest fat/function, but CCK also helps with other functions, including satiety, taking stress from the pancreas (improving insulin in the process), and cognitive/neurotransmitter function.
The brain runs on fats, and fats are involved in neurotransmitter and brain neuron function. Also, the fat-soluble vitamins A,D, E, and K-depend upon fat. Even water balance, pH balance, and energy cycle processes like the sodium/ATP pump cannot function properly without the right fats in the diet. While this is a simplification of complex processes-the right spectrum/combination of fats can fuel all of these crucial functions.
“INSTEAD OF RUNNING OUT AND BUYING AN HSP RECOMMENDED ‘SUPPLEMENT,’ YOU NEED TO LOOK AT THE FOUNDATION YOU HAVE…”
HEATSHOCK PROTEINS: Our secret source of defense and growth…Not happening without FAT!
How can I portray the vast attributions of the heatshock “family” of proteins without launching into a separate article, altogether? This is really an “underground” system of “stress proteins” that translate to the adaptation and “elite” functioning of the body. The name “heatshock” comes from the idea that cells, under thermal stress, adapt and become ninja warriors to correct and protect the body. However, we now know that “other” stresses also create specific heatshock, or “stress” proteins. These stresses include, heat, cold, shivering, toxins, viruses, hot/cold therapies (used for cancer), and “controlled stress” like exercise.
The “potential” ubiquitous benefits, of which these proteins are capable, is asounding! HSP are involved in preserving cells that need help, defending/killing stuff that is abnormal, and working with the vast cholesterol/albumin/ lipoprotein system to maximize recovery. HSP also play a part in processing trauma (emotional or chemical), and help form other proteins! There is a myriad of information available on supplements to enhance HSP, even studies which have shown certain anabolic steroids to instigate HSP!
All of this information needs to be filtered through the following lens-It’s not just what makes the HSP-it is the intricate system that helps HSP to PROPERLY carry out functions! Otherwise-HSP can be thought of as “cells”-there are some that need to be there, and some that do NOT! So-what this means is-instead of running out and buying a HSP recommended “supplement”, you need to look at the foundation YOU have in order to allow HSP to work-as well as look at some things you are doing to sabotage the HSP process!
“TO MAKE THINGS MORE CONFUSING IS THE HSP FOUND IN FOODS, PRIMARILY COOKED MEATS AND PROTEINS.”
To make things MORE confusing is the HSP found in foods, primarily cooked MEATS, and proteins. The “thermal” stress of the heat causes adaptation of the food/meat so the structure of the protein changes (cross-linking). We as humans have been eating like this for eons, right? Is this NOT the premise of the “paleo diet”?
The fact is that cooked protein foods CAN and DO interrupt enzyme systems INSIDE the body that are ALSO involved in our ENDOGENOUS HSP production and function. How did the “paleos” do it? Why may this idea not hold “meat,” today?
There are two answers, the lack of “live” enzymes in our foods today, and the lack of proper fats in the diet from clean meats and oils! For the vegetarians out there the LACK of crucial fats (most found in meats) can ALSO cause “damage” to the HSP system! In summary, HSP that we produce internally can be very beneficial. So, to summarize, the consumption of cooked HSP can interfere with our own “internal” HSP functions if adequate fats, enzymes and liver functions aren’t there to support it.
So with all of the benefits of the HSP “system,” we need to understand that NO supplement or drug (or even hot/cold therapy) will work unless we include the very fats (and key enzymes) that are needed to assist with cooked/crosslinked proteins and our own internal HSP process. These fats include the CLA from (preferably organic, grass-fed) beef, and dark poultry, organic butter, raw nuts, extra virgin coconut oil, and MCT oil. Ironically, just taking CLA pills with an (otherwise) low-fat diet doesn’t protect or help HSP. Oftentimes, CLA (isolated) caps don’t work for fat loss, either. They must be combined with other supplements and enzymes in order to work.
“ANABOLIC STEROIDS, JUST ONE CYCLE, CAN SHUT DOWN PATHS AND CONTINUED — USE SERIOUSLY AFFECTS KEY ENZYME SYSTEMS IN THE BODY.”
Omega 3 FA are important for the brain, nervous system, and hormones but not as intricately involved in the HSP initial process. All of these fats need to be included in the diet and the amounts and ratios should be individually assigned NOT based upon standard body fat analysis or visual cues but from internal processes going on. Another good tool is body fat analysis with a Bioprint-certified consultant/trainer. (bioprint is a method of total body fat analysis, that also measures individual hormone bodyfat related issues. These issues can manifest in specific, localized skinfold measurements. Therefore, specific nutrition/diet/training protocols can be prescribed, based upon this information).
What hinders the HSP process? First, think of maximizing HSP as the “best insurance” for continued health, longevity, recovery, and continued elite functioning of the body. Anabolic steroids, just ONE cycle, can shut down paths and continued use seriously affects key enzyme systems in the body (as well as DNA signals) that the liver relies upon to make ninja proteins and growth factors. The lowest total body enzyme systems are seen in athletes who use steroids, and-in cancer patients. It is no accident that low enzymes leave weak defense systems to fight more serious issues like cancer.
Damage from drugs, including some drugs for asthma, clenbuterol, cholesterol meds, some antidepressants, painkillers, alcohol (high ethanol), antibiotics, anti-estrogens, and anabolic steroids often means blocked paths and these remain blocked, until actively fixed. Digestive enzymes won’t help for HSP, unless they are “raw” (not synthetic). Take raw veggies, vitamix, juicing, moringa powder, non-denatured, grass-fed whey, live vegetarian proteins.
Note on individuality
In summary, it is crucial to include these fats in the diet. MCT oil is ideal for pre-contest, low-carb diets. However, there are some individual conditions in which MCT isn’t tolerated. (this requires healing the gut and the underlying issues). Extra virgin coconut oil is also great and is good for the brain (as well as immune function containing lauric acid) however, in some pre-contest situations, it needs to be kept to minimal proportions.
In some cases with metabolic hormonal standstill due to heatshock “damage” there has to be a period of loading and monitoring fats, until the systems are working, again which, in some cases means putting off the next competition. Benfotiamine, is a supplement that can be used to combat/correct HSP damage but it must be used on an individual basis. Some people need specific herbs as well. Take a look at the framework of YOUR diet and adjust it for function and well-being for now and the future!
Look for part 2 and 3 of this series, coming soon!
We hope this article is helpful, and incites ideas! Please contact Lily Ochkur or Jackie Paisley (on Facebook) with questions. For more information on the science of HSP, please refer to “Shocking Muscle Growth” by Jerry Brainum (www.ironman.com). For more information on bioprint body fat analysis, please search online (Charles Polquin/bioprint). NMI
Lily Ochkur | Contributing Writer
Lily is a Natural Pro Figure competitor, mom and full-time nurse. She finds a way to make the most ordinary foods taste great, loves to train hard, and believes that the sport of Bodybuilding should invite us to be not merely chemists, but scientists and our own physicians. This way we can help ourselves and others to excel. She has a degree in genetics from the Ukraine. Lily has upcoming shows in the fall 2015. Her trainer has a hard time keeping up with her!
Jackie Paisley | Contributing Writer
is a former IFBB Pro Bodybuilder who loved to create posing routines with dance as well as teach the physiology of exercise and diet. She graduated from ASU in exercise physiology, with a minor in music performance. Along her journey to overcome illness from genetic causes and compounding/multiple misdiagnosis she studied, unearthed and discovered amazing secrets that the body holds for healing and growth. In order to access these secrets, she had to fix damage from medicines, doctors, treatments, vaccines, and anabolic steroid use from the past. She is a single mom, and also helps children and adults with health issues that are “hard to crack.”