How to Properly Come Off of a Contest Prep Diet

You’ve had an amazing season! You trained hard and stepped on stage. Maybe you walked away with a trophy, or maybe not. The next thing on your mind, besides eating ALL the things, is moving into a solid off season, and maybe take a bit of a break. But, before you do, there are a few important things you need to consider. One of those things, probably the most important thing, is knowing how to properly come off of a contest prep diet. Let’s discuss exactly that!

How to Properly Come Off of a Contest Prep Diet: What NOT to Do

You might have heard of it a million times… A girl you know, or may have heard of, was looking AMAZING going into her show. But as soon as she stepped off stage, all Hell seemingly had broken loose.

She gained like 20-30 pounds in a week, she was holding a ton of water, her skin hurt to the touch, her stomach was bloated, and she really was embarrassed to be seen out or even show up at the gym.

I’ll tell you what, I’d be lying if I said this has never happened to me. It has! The difference is that I was prepared for it, and knew how to mentally handle it. I even knew how to avoid it, but honestly, I didn’t care about that at first. However in the aftermath, I always wished I would have come off my show smarter, and took a more gradual approach to  reintroducing food to my body.

How and Why a Rebound Happens

Think of this, you’ve been dieting for WEEKS – sometimes months – for a show. You’re eating foods to push along fat loss, and they tend to be foods lower in fat. The amount of sodium and carbs are very controlled to a great degree.

Your hormones are in a major flux (especially if you are using any kind of anabolics, or taking fat burners, t3 , anti-estrogens etc), so things are not hormonally at a level where your body would be had you not been dieting.

By the time the show arrives, you are depleting water and in a state of dehydration, and skewed aldosterone (the hormone that controls water balance in the body)  levels are teetering on a fine line that can later mean disaster.

The Rebound Explained

So now imagine if you, right after stepping off of the stage, go right into eating everything you hadn’t over the course of your prep. All of that sugar, carbs, salt, and more just flooding into your bloodstream. Your body becomes SO overwhelmed, especially when you go a little crazy post show, that it stores those nutrients appropriately (shuttling a lot of it into depleted glycogen stores in the muscle and liver), and with it stores a TON of excess water.

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That’s often what rebounds are. Unless you are gorging on COPIOUS amounts of food, and eating WELL over 3500 calories consecutively for a number of days, there is no way you’re gaining huge amounts of fat.  I want you to keep that in mind as the weight gain can trip you out . What a lot of that is is indeed water, and it will subside after a few days.

And although this is a POSSIBLE scenario, it doesn’t mean it HAS TO be this way every time you do a show. There are ways to prevent a rebound and – yup – it all has to do with how to properly come off of a contest prep diet.

Enjoy Your Post Show Cheat Meal Mindfully

The advice I always give to my clients is to plan out their cheat meal. But most importantly to keep in mind that this won’t be your last good meal! It’s so easy to want to just go crazy and eat everything you have been craving in one sitting. And as tempting as it seems, it’s not really the smartest idea. Especially to do all at once.

Instead, what you can do is this:

  • The night of your show, enjoy a really good big meal of choice.
  • Keep the alcohol to  minimum, like 1 or 2 drinks at most, it might make you sick if you obviously haven’t had any in a while.
  • Begin drinking water again after you step off of the stage. More water in = more water out. This will help to keep aldosterone balanced, and avoid major water retention as you introduce normal food to your body.
  • Before bed, if you were using a diuretic, you may want to consider taking it in a very small dosage to ween your body slowly off of it. Especially true if you’ve used dyazide (hctz) or even Xpel, dandelion root, etc.
  • The next day, GET BACK ON PLAN! I cannot stress this enough. If you continue to eat like crazy, you’re begging for a rebound.
  • I always tell clients to loosely follow their plan, eating just when hungry. This way there is a bit of a mental break from the diet, but they eat in a way to stay ahead of water retention.
  • Enjoy another cheat meal of choice the day after the show. Again remain in control!
  • Increase water to 1-2 gallons the day after the show. This will keep water moving OFF of you. By this point you should be ok to completely drop your diuretic.
  • By the Monday after your show, GET BACK ON YOUR PREP PLAN COMPLETELY. This is major because you want to normalize your body, and then slowly start to bring things up as you transition into off season.

Post Show Reverse Dieting Tips

In the days after your show, introducing foods back into your diet slowly is essential. The Monday after your show, and during that first week, it’s a good idea to simply follow your prep diet once again. This will help to move any excess water that may have crept in, and keep you in greater control of your body.

In the weeks following your show, you can start to add more calories into your diet. Don’t be in a rush, and most importantly, listen to your body. Start off with adding simply 100-250 calories per week to your prep diet. And do this until you reach maintenance levels for your ideal weight.

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You should also loosen the reigns a bit, and allow for plenty of food variety to avoid boredom, and to simply aid in compliance. I like to have clients enjoy a weekly cheat meal at this point as well, with an occasional small snack or treat or two during the week to kill a craving. Dietary freedom is so important post show, as this will keep you from binging, and keep you focused on a SMART transition to your off season.

The Smarter Approach to Your Prep Always Wins in the End – Download My FREE Contest Prep Crash Course


Look, the one thing I want you to learn from everything I share is that you can indeed have a SMART prep, and look amazing in the end. You CAN do things the right way, and WIN on stage.

All it takes is working with the right advice and tips to help you to get there, and to truly develop into the amazing athlete that you already are.

I pride myself on developing my competitors. To TRULY guide them, hands on, to their best. To be there for them for that motivation, mental support, honest feedback, and attention to detail that will get them to their winning physique.

I created this amazing eBook to help you to start to take a smarter approach to your prep – all while looking your ABSOLUTE BEST on stage!

In this eBook I’m breaking down everything you need to consider when it comes to cardio and weight training for prep, dieting for your show, posing and presentation tips, and so much more!

Plus, I’ve got some really great bonus videos that will help you to master the game, and figure out exactly what you need to do to ensure that you look like a star up on that stage.

You Deserve to Win!



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