“I just competed in my first figure competition last weekend and I haven’t been able to stop eating since the show!”
“Did you see whats-her-name? She has put on so much weight since her competition last month!”
“I put on 20 pounds after my first bikini competition and it was so much harder to lose it getting ready for my next show!”
“I’m so depressed since my show. I just can’t seem to get back the motivation that I had to eat clean and train like I did during my prep.”
If you have ever overheard any of the above statements, you are witnessing the effects of post contest rebound. Furthermore, if you have ever trained intensely for a competitive event like a physique competition, you may have suffered with this rebound yourself. After months of eating a super strict diet and enduring lengthy and strenuous workouts often several times a day, you suit up, get on stage, strut your stuff and before you know it, you the show is over and all you have to show for it is some stage photos and a tacky trophy. It’s easy to see how this could cause some degree of sadness. Although you have achieved your goal of getting on stage, you may find yourself struggling with a number of post-contest issues. The main issue that I will delve into in this article is post contest binge eating and how this relates to the phenomenon of post contest blues. It is common for athletes to suffer with disordered eating and depression after bodybuilding or physique competitions in particular, as these events require physical perfection and leanness often beyond what is healthy. It is not uncommon for competitors to overindulge after the event is over and many have a difficult time getting a handle on this binge eating behavior.
Binge eating is very common among physique competitors (men & women) after their competition is over. Many competitors begin planning their post-show cheat meal for weeks prior to the show. After months of following a strict diet void of variety and flavor, many competitors plan at length what they will indulge in after the show. In the world of physique competition, it is very common to see these super tanned lean athletes stuffing their faces with candy and pizza after the show- just check out the Facebook profiles of such athletes and I’m sure you will see many individuals even have photos of themselves chowing down on their post-contest cheat meal! In the deprived state that the body is in on the day of the contest, it’s not uncommon to suffer bloating, water retention, abdominal pain and cramping and fatigue after consuming large quantities of empty calorie foods. Your body is like a sponge in this state, absorbing every bit of what you ingest leaving you looking soft and feeling terrible.
It’s definitely normal and necessary to indulge a little bit after a show, but if continued, bingeing post contest can have many harmful effects to the athlete’s metabolism and psyche. And since many competitors have a feeling of burnout from the intense training they have endured leading up to the show, often the enormous post contest ingestion of empty calorie foods is usually accompanied with down time from cardio and weight training which only leads to muscle atrophy and fat storage.
This may come as a surprise to you if you are a competitor, but the actual contest diet sets us up for bingeing tendencies. As you diet, the leaner you get, the hungrier you become as your body secretes higher amounts of the hormone Leptin as a survival mechanism against starvation. Obviously, as this hunger persists, the athlete may find themselves fantasizing about cheeseburgers, ice cream and pizza, even though they may have never even had the love for those foods prior to starting their contest diet. Increased Leptin combined with lowered blood sugar levels from a restricted carbohydrate diet leads to the craving for carbohydrate laden foods and a decreased ability of one’s self control over the consumption of these foods.
Continued binge eating after following a strict contest diet can be very damaging to your endocrine system thus negatively affecting your metabolism. When you are very lean, your insulin levels are very low. Thus, when you binge or continue to overeat after your competition, the sudden surge of an excessive amount of carbohydrates causes a spike in the insulin secreted by your pancreas. Heightened insulin levels in the body causes the metabolism to slow down and thus lead to greater fat storage- changes that can take a long time to correct. This can play into your preparation for future contests as you could end up having to diet harder and longer if you have done damage to your metabolism after your post show pig out. I’m making you rethink that pint of Ben and Jerry’s you have planned for after you show aren’t I?
Let’s talk a little bit about post-contest blues. Many competitors feel down or depressed after their show is done. The effects of post-contest bingeing can almost always be to blame for this change in mood. Dieting for months for a physique competition is close to starvation since most contest diets are void of variety, low in calories, fat and carbohydrates. Many athletes find that once they open the floodgates to bingeing on junk and empty calories, they are unable to stop. Eating junk food after a lengthy contest diet causes the release of endorphins- the feel good chemicals in the brain. Many describe the release of endorphins that you get when you give into your cravings after the show as a “high”. These endorphins have an even more powerful effect on your mood in a dieted state, as the hungrier you are, the greater the sense of euphoria you will experience. Once you have started this reaction, it becomes even harder to stop it as you will notice greater fluctuations in mood relating directly to what you eat, and strong cravings for junk food that are difficult to resist. You must be very careful to monitor portion size of calorie rich foods in this delicate post-contest state so that you can control the release of these endorphins. It is also best to get back on a clean eating plan as soon as possible to avoid sinking into a depressive state and a cycle of binge eating that is difficult to get out of.
Ok, so now we understand how bad it is for us as physique athletes to binge eat after a show, but how do we combat this? Below are some of my strategies that I have developed over my past 7 years of competing in fitness, figure and bikini.
I hope you find the information in this article helpful to you and it is my hope that you will find some comfort in knowing that post-contest bingeing and rebound happen to many physique athletes. Now that you are armed with the knowledge and strategies to defeat these issues, I hope that you will find greater success on the stage and enjoy life both during your prep and in the post contest phase!
The post The Detrimental Effects of Post-Contest Binging and How to Fight Back! appeared first on 1st Phorm.
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