I’m in Ft. Lauderdale for a great NPC/IFBB show—The Ft. Lauderdale Cup. Last night, Gen Strobo and I had the opportunity to teach the free posing and presentation seminar. It was a blast! At the end of the seminar, a small group of us got to talking about how to avoid the dreaded post-show rebound
—rapid weight gain following a show. This is a really important topic for keeping your body, mind and metabolism healthy, so I wanted to share what we discussed and my tips for avoiding it.
Why is it so easy to gain weight post-show?
After having been in an extended calorie deficit, the body wants nourishment and tends to hold onto the calories we give it. So, when you have a calorie-fest post-show that continues for many days (or weeks) and stop (or significantly decrease) your cardio and training, your metabolism slows, your body stores fat and your weight rapidly increases. If you are not careful, in less than a week, you can look like you never competed.
Consequences of rapid weight gain post-show
Rapid weight gain post-show is not only hard on your body and joints; it can also kill a competitor’s self-esteem. It can lead to depression and cause a competitor to engage in drastic measures to attempt to re-lose the weight, which can damage the metabolism. None of these results help a competitor to live the healthy and happy lifestyle she originally aimed to achieve.
My tips for keeping it tight post-show and avoiding a rebound
Post-show meal - Don’t make yourself sick. Post-show, I allow myself to enjoy whatever I want, but I’m careful not to eat too much. If you over do it right after a show, you will not only will you feel awful; you’ll pay for it for days with bloating and water retention.
For my post-show meal, I like to order a lot of different things for the table to share and do a small tasting of everything. Don’t go out of your way to “pig out” by having an entire cake, bags of cookies etc. in your hotel room or house.
To help minimize bloating and water retention from your post-show meal, take digestive enzymes, drink tons of water and limit your celebratory cocktails to one or two.
Drink water! The sooner you get your body rehydrated and your electrolytes back in balance, the better you will feel and look. Often times thirst is confused with hunger, so you can end up eating more than you need in the days following a show because you aren’t properly hydrated.
Do cardio the morning after the show, if possible. After following a low sodium, low carb diet for weeks, you will definitely hold water and get a little puffy after a post-show meal. To help shed the water, minimizing bloating and keep your energy up, I recommend doing a little cardio the morning after the show. It doesn’t have to be intense or long—even 20-30 minutes of walking on the treadmill will help.
Keep it relatively clean and maybe enjoy a few treats for the next few days. Consistently eating increased sugar, refined carbs and fat over the days following a show will lead to rapid weight gain. So, the sooner you get back to eating clean, the better.
Monday after the show – Get right back on track. I try to get back to a clean nutrition plan and training the Monday after the show. In the past, I have taken time off from training and simultaneously increased my calories the week after a show, but this always led to me feeling puffy and exacerabated the post-show blues.
Now, I don’t increase carbs and fat too much the first week following a show and get right back to doing cardio and training. Although I do decrease my cardio to once a day, I do it intensely. Usually, by Tuesday or Wednesday after a show, I am back to looking show-ready.
Each following week - make small adjustments. If you are going into the off-season, the goal is to give your body a rest from tons of cardio and a calorie deficit without piling on fat. You want to find a comfortable place where you can maintain a healthy weight and where you feel good for training and life. It’s time to take a break from being hangry (hungry + angry). ;)
So, each week, slowly increase your calories (100-200 calories/day) and decrease your cardio (10 minutes/day). Also, start incorporating new and different (although still clean) food sources (i.e., different veggies, carbs, fruit, proteins, fats).
I hope these tips help you feeling and looking great post-show!
Until next time – keep pushing toward your best!
IFBB Bikini Pro