Could there really be something as eating too clean a diet? Well, yes and no, to a degree. If you have ever prepared for a fitness or bodybuilding show, or decided to get into really good shape, aesthetically speaking, you will know what we are talking about when we say your diet has to be very strict, clean and on point for the 3 or 4 months (on average) preceding your deadline.

‘Cheat’ meals are scarce and it is a true test of self-control, discipline and patience to make it through those months with the restricted calories and extra cardio to really shed off those pounds of fat.

So it can be established that during such phases, it is of utmost importance that your diet is clean and suited for you. ‘Clean’ meaning that it is equipped with good quality long lasting carbohydrate sources for example, such as basmati rice, sweet potatoes or quinoa.  It has to be monitored closely over time as you should make small tweaks as you go on depending how and if you are losing fat or not.

Healthy clean fish meal

But then once the deadline is reached and the competition comes to an end; what then? Is it essential to keep your diet just as clean but to allow yourself some extra calories? Or can you now enjoy yourself and eat whatever finds its way in front of you?

The answer is not so straight forward. It really depends on your goals and how you want to achieve them. Some people believe they can go all out and eat whatever they want, blow up in weight and then diet down a few months before their next competition. That is not an ideal or healthy way to live or do things though.

The better method is to carry on with your diet, but now slowly add in a few extra calories week by week for example. This will ensure that you do not blow up immediately post contest and find yourself floating around full of water.

Something which you will learn by experience is that every time you ‘diet’ down to lose fat or to prepare for a competition, it will most likely be slightly different each time. For example, as you progress you may find that you actually need more food and find yourself eating a lot more calories than previously.

It is quite a test of discipline to really control yourself after a contest to not go all out and eat for days, but you have to mentally accept that you do not need to do that.

So then where do the ‘nice’ and tasty foods come in? Well, after a few weeks of slowly adding calories back in, you will reach a good point where you will start to maintain your weight and you will remain fairly lean. This is now the ideal point, to keep your body fat low and slowly continue to add on small amounts of muscle, gradually.


Here’s a little secret, the leaner you are and the more muscle you have, the more you can get away with eating the tasty stuff, now and then.

As long as you stick to your training which is consistent and intense, and you keep consistent with a relatively good diet every day, you can afford to, and you should eat different things every now and again, even eating out if you enjoy that.

You will not suddenly get fat if you decide to have a burger once in a while or have some cake and ice cream for dessert on occasion. There are definitely ways to enjoy your food while still being healthy.

Although, you should still exercise good choices when it comes to your meals, such as skipping the fast food and rather going for a burger and chips where the burger is flame grilled, for example. Rather still stick to foods which are not so processed.

Fit girl flexing

It also becomes more about being healthy in addition to looking good, and avoiding processed foods will help keep your body and mind healthy as your body processes these foods more efficiently.

Just remember this is mainly aimed at people who have already lost fat and who maintain a relatively low body fat percentage. If you are in the process of losing fat and you have a high body fat percentage then you need to really be a lot stricter with what you eat. Once you have built a solid base and foundation and you are in relatively good shape, you can start to enjoy your food a bit more.

Variation and change is also a great tool when it comes to your body.

Some people hate life when they have to stick to eating the same things day in and day out, but some people actually thrive off it to. If you are one of those who hate it, then this approach will keep your mind fresh as much as it will your body.

The saying, “It must become a lifestyle” as cliché as it is, rings very true. If it becomes a way of life for you, to maintain your physique AND maintain your health, your whole frame of mind will change and your thinking will shift and those cravings for certain things will disappear because you know how bad they are for your body.

There is another interesting aspect to consider, which comes from 4 time Mr Olympia Winner Jay Cutler.

jay cutler eating a meal

I won’t quote him here, but he basically said something along these lines:

When in the ‘off season’ and trying to keep lean while gaining lean muscle you shouldn’t be scared to change your diet up slightly and add in some extra calories and add in the less dense sort of foods. For example instead of sticking to whole-wheat pasta or brown rice year round, rather enjoy normal pasta, or white basmati rice when you are NOT in preparation mode for a competition. Then when it comes time to diet down and get stage ready, initially all you have to do is swap out the white rice for brown rice and cut out any restaurant meals, for instance, without even altering your calories, and you will already start to see a difference and lose fat.

If you are so strict with your diet and never allow yourself to experience some of the tasty foods out there, or even experience the atmosphere of being out with friends and enjoying yourself, you are going to miss out on a lot and it’s something which you really don’t have to do. This extremist view of the fitness life style is really not the way to go.

You don’t have to believe the hype that being healthy and fit and looking good is only achieved by eating steamed vegetables and bland boiled chicken with no spices.

It’s a very bad perception which needs to change, because you can still enjoy tasty and good food while remaining healthy and in shape.

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