You’ve heard of people “Counting their Macros”. This is when they are given a fixed amount of protein, carbohydrates, and fats in a day. This system is too simple and is not the best method for contest prep. Macro nutrients need to be properly distributed throughout the day. You’ll also find it needs to be timed with certain activities such as adding a bit more fat before a training and more carbs after. Additionally, you’ll want to avoid combining fats and carbs.
Insulin can be spiked by carbohydrates. Insulin is a fat storing hormone as it increases the major fat storing enzyme in the body called lipoprotein lipase (LPL). It also does two other nasty things that make fat loss very difficult when it is around in larger amounts: decrease hormone sensitive lipase (HSL) the major fat burning enzyme AND slow fat oxidation by suppression of CPT-1 (the rate limiting step in fat burning).
With this understanding of carbohydrates and their relationship to fat consumption and storage, you can see how only “counting your macros” could be disastrous. Also keep in mind that not all carbs are equal. 50 carbs from white bread compared to 50 grams of steel cut oats have a completely different effect on insulin.
There are MANY different opinions on what is the perfect macro ratio. The main reason it varies is that every individual responds differently. In the world of contest prep, there are 2 main approaches:
High Protein, No Carbs and High Fat (Ketogenic Diet)
The “keto” in a ketogenic diet comes from the fact that it makes the body produce small fuel molecules called “ketones”. This is an alternative fuel for the body, used when blood sugar (glucose) is in short supply. Ketones are produced if you eat very few carbs (that are quickly broken down into blood sugar) and only moderate amounts of protein (excess protein can also be converted to blood sugar).
Ketones are produced in the liver, from fat. They are then used as fuel throughout the body, including the brain. The brain is a hungry organ that consumes lots of energy every day and it can’t run on fat directly. It can only run on glucose… or ketones.
On a ketogenic diet, your entire body switches its fuel supply to run almost entirely on fat. Insulin levels become very low and fat burning increases dramatically.
It takes 2-7 days to get into ketosis. You need to monitor it by urinating on Ketone Test Strips for Urinalysis to measure your ketones and determine if you have achieved ketosis. Getting to ketosis is easy, becoming keto-adapted is the tricky part. It usually takes a month to get to the first stage of becoming keto-adapted, and it takes up to 2 years to fully train your body to use ketones fully.
Eat one cookie, fruit or any carb and you start all over on Day 1. There is no room for error.