You work hard in the gym all year lifting weights to build muscle and gain strength. Then in the weeks prior to a fitness or figure competition you follow a strict diet and rigorous cardio exercise schedule to slim down and show off that hard-earned muscle. You don’t want to have it ruined with excessive gas, bloating and water retention. So how does a figure or fitness competitor eliminate gas and bloating?
The first goal is to get the competition diet in check. A figure or fitness competitor should be following some sort of low-carbohydrate diet, or a carb cycling diet to keep carbohydrate intake low. Excessive carbohydrates often lead to bloating and water retention. When carbohydrates are stored as glycogen or stored body fat, the carbohydrate molecule also takes with it three water molecules. So for every one part of stored carbohydrate, the body is storing three times that amount as water!
A good example of a carb cycling diet is one day of high carbohydrates followed by two days of low carbohydrate. Do not do weight training on the low carb days; the lack of carbohydrates will hinder muscle growth and repair and will further weaken the muscles making them appear flat. Do cardiovascular exercise only such as running, speed walking, elliptical machine, rowing machine or kickboxing.
Eliminate processed, refined and simple sugars from a competition diet. Eat only complex carbohydrates that are slow to digest and more likely to be burned off as energy than stored as body fat. Complex carbohydrates include brown rice, sweet potatoes, oatmeal, whole wheat pasta and green vegetables. Eliminate breads and baked goods. The yeast found in these products can cause bloating and digestive upset. Some people are sensitive to wheat products even if they do not think they are. Eliminate wheat from a competition diet if you feel you may be sensitive, or having a hard time losing water weight and bloat.
Other food items to watch out for are sodium obviously. Salt and sodium are notorious for causing bloating and water retention. Eliminate all salt and sodium from the competition diet at least one week prior to the figure or fitness competition.
Eliminate dairy products from your competition diet. Almost 20% of the population has a food sensitivity towards dairy products or is lactose intolerant. Dairy products are mucus forming, prompting your digestive system to secrete excessive amounts of mucus along your small and large intestines. Not only does this inflammation cause gas and bloating, it also restricts nutrient absorption and can lead to malnutrition.
The majority of a competition diet should consist of lean protein and steamed green vegetables. Avoid corn, carrots, broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower; these vegetables can cause gas and bloating. Avoid diet soda, carbonated beverages and chewing gum; these can also lead to gas and bloating.
Asparagus is well known for its diuretic properties. Eat this green vegetable once or twice a day prior to a competition to help flush excess water from the body.
Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. Drinking water does not lead to bloating and water retention. Water helps to flush excess water and toxins that have been released from the body’s tissues. Do not get dehydrated; this does lead to water retention. Water intake should not be restricted until a few days prior to a fitness or figure competition depending on your competition diet.
If the body still appears bloated, supplements may be taken for further gas and bloating reduction. Many of the well-known diuretics contain caffeine or herbs. If you are sensitive to caffeine, avoid taking these in the evening or prior to bedtime.
Avoid calcium supplements or antacids that contain carbonate or bicarbonate as these can be known to cause gas.
Activated charcoal may aid in gas and bloating reduction prior to a fitness or figure competition by absorbing gas causing particulates and eliminating them from the body.
Some people find relief from gas and bloating with a probiotic taken once or twice a day before meals. These friendly bacteria can help keep the unfavorable bacteria from over producing and causing bloating. Acidophilus is a popular probiotic, and is fairly inexpensive.