10 Lessons Learned Competing in a Natural Bodybuilding Competition

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I competed in the NZIFBB Natural Drug Tested Competition in October 2017 and came second place in Novice Physique.
I did this to prove that Flexible Dieting would work for any level of body fat and also to prove my own skills as a coach. I ate burger fuel every week, lasagna and a bunch of my other favourite foods amongst an otherwise healthy diet.
I learnt A LOT along the way and thought I would share my experience and learnings with you now.


Second Place!

Second Place!

1. I have a social addiction to alcohol

Giving up drinks when attending social events was one of the hardest things for me. I think New Zealanders are quite attached to our alcohol and if you aren’t drinking you are normally the exception at the party.I did find it hard to go out to social events and not have a beer. I like the taste, it makes me relax more and I don’t mind a bit of ‘social lubricant’.

That being said… every beer is 150 empty calories and alcohol is the gateway to many wrong decisions so I had my last ‘blowout’ weekend 8 weeks before my competition. I was ahead of schedule and this was a personal choice I made. It worked out OK.

However I really felt like I was missing out socially but this was my own personal demon to face.

2. Hot chocolate can be your friend when dieting

I had a hot chocolate almost every night while prepping for my show. It was a great way to beat hunger cravings or the urge for sweet snacks. These come in at only 50-70 calories each.

3. I abused caffiene… I needed a detox afterwards

When you are hungry and avoiding everything loaded with calories, you do need your comforts. I found my comfort in sugarfree V and coffee.

Is this healthy? No way.

Was it one of the things that got me over the line? Definitely.

Getting competition ready is not a super healthy sport, lets face it.
I found that even after the competition, I couldn’t cut my V habit straight away though I did cut the caffeine in half!

4. Training is 10x more fun when you have an urgent deadline and a big goal in the future

I really surprised myself with the amount of workout volume I put out over the 16 week cut.

I broke personal bests every week with Legs and Back and lost zero muscle during the cut according to the body composition scanner.

5. A 500 calorie deficit is the key to looking your best on stage

I did a 16 week cut. My first 4 weeks were pretty relaxed and I barely even checked my portions. I simply increased my exercise to 6 days a week while calculating the numbers in my head.It wasn’t until the 16 week mark that I put together a proper plan to get me to my goal.

Before The Competition Started

Before The Competition Started

6. Your diet will not suck only if you have looked after your metabolism

I got up to 3200 calories and did a solid bulk for about 12 weeks before I started. I was eating more food than I’ve ever eaten before and my metabolism had never been higher.

Since I had the luxury of dropping my calories in stages, my diet didn’t really feel like a diet for too long. I was dropping fat at 2400 calories for a stage and finished my comp on 1700 calories.

7. Stevia is awesome for a sweet treat and makes everything better

I was using Stevia for my coffees, overnight oats and protein pudding.
This sweetener is natural and derived from a plant. It’s definitely not exactly the same as sugar and you need to be careful with dosage beware!

8. Calorie/Carb Cycling and eating burgers makes competition prep a breeze

This is best explained in my video log you can find by clicking here

9. Most peak week advice is a load of BS and ruins physiques

On the way out my wife overheard one of the bikini competitors throwing up in the toilet because she had her first sip of water after being so dehydrated.

This is absolute broscience yet every coach still prescribes it.
I personally didn’t cut water. I didn’t take diuretics. I didn’t even have red wine.

Yes you should do a little bit of water manipulation but the broscience out there is seriously dangerous. If you feel like your coach is wrecking your body, get a second opinion. Who knows it could save you a trip to hospital.

I was one of the leanest/driest in the room. I was also the only one drinking water. Is that a coincidence? I think not. In fact if I do it again I would drink MORE water as I got dehydrated later in the day and my physique suffered.

My one piece of advice is to PRACTICE your peak week 4 weeks out when you are reasonably lean already. The peak week is a definite science / art. It’s not easy to get right first time.
See my practice run 4 weeks out below.

Peak Week Progress

10. You do not need to eat clean to get results

Everyone will tell you that you need to eat clean.
Most people were asking me ‘how do you feel’ as I got closer and when I responded that I feel pretty normal and not much has changed it shocks them.
Bodybuilders and other people were shocked that I’m still eating reasonably normal food.
I literally had burger fuel the night before the competition for my carb up.Everyone around you will tell you that you need to start eating clean as you get close to your comp date. While I did have to make some sacrifices, don’t listen to the bro’s.
It’s hard to stay strong and believe in the process when everyone around you tells you the opposite but you gotta trust in the science. Flexible Dieting FOR THE WIN.

Even though it was a struggle, it was a great experience and I really loved seeing what my body could do.

If you’re interested in competing yourself and want to do it the FlexiDiet way, message me at info@flexidiet.co.nz and we can set up a call. I can do online training as long as you can take photos so we can track progress.

The Glorious Post Comp Feed

The Glorious Post Comp Feed

PS. I think someone should start selling rice cakes outside bodybuilding events. It was hilarious how many people were eating them backstage!


Hi I’m Brad, the founder of FlexiDiet. I’m a ISSA & NZIHF Certified Nutritionist/PT specialising in getting people lean eating burgers. Here at FlexiDiet we don’t believe in clean eating or restrictive diets and we want to teach YOU how to make your favourite foods healthier. If you are enjoying your food, your results will be PERMANENT and you don’t actually need to use a temporary fix ‘diet’.

FlexiDiet is the result of hundreds of successful client transformations. Will you be next?

Your diet doesn’t have to be super clean and restrictive.

Your diet doesn’t have to be confusing.

You diet doesn’t need ‘special foods’ in order to lose fat.

You can still socialise, drink alcohol and lose fat.

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