(For competition prep)
I’ve done both. 3 shows on macro and 3 shows on meal plan and here are my personal results and opinions of which is better and why. It’s worth saying that right now I’m on a meal plan and I have been for my last 3 shows (and current one which I am 3 days out from).
Which do I think is overall the better route considering beginners and long term affects? Keep in mind when reading this blog post that this doesn’t mean either diet plan is bad or that I didn’t enjoy one or the other or won’t choose one of them again. Each plan has its pros and cons and they need to be considered for what best suits you. You can achieve the same outcome with BOTH diets. See my picture below for an example.
MACRO PROS: You learn about food and nutrition. Less likely to rebound after your show. Less likely to gain weight. Less likely to have body imagine and food relationship issues. Able to satisfy cravings during prep. Less likely to binge eat during and after show. You look at food as fuel / nutritional rather than food just being good or bad. You understand food and how it affects your body's ability to FUNCTION. You get your nutrients, vitamins and minerals from several different sources rather than just one.
MACRO CONS: You will not hit your numbers 100% of the time being -5 or +5 grams which leaves you feeling defeated or like you are messing up. You will think about food 24/7 and how you can fit into your set macro numbers.
MEAL PLAN PROS: It takes the thinking away, you just have to focus on doing (this is my reason for doing it). Less time spent in the kitchen cooking and grocery shopping because you know exactly what to get.
MEAL PLAN CONS: Nutrients, vitamins and minerals from one source so you need to supplement. You learn nothing. You will rebound unless this isn’t your first rodeo. You are more likely to develop a bad relationship with food post show. You cannot satisfy cravings during prep. You will HATE curtains foods afterwards. Less likely to follow post show reverse diet. More likely to punish yourself with extra cardio or workout sessions for substituting food in your diet plan.
Conclusion, macro wins because you have less post show issues because YOU LEARN. If you don’t understand food and how it affects your body, you’re in for hell post show as beginner if you do a meal plan diet. A meal plan diet is for someone who knows what to expect because all those cravings and foods you haven’t had in 3 plus months you’ll go binge on or you’ll say you will follow your reverse diet but you won’t, don’t kid yourself. We read about it all the time and you’re not getting up on stage half naked in front of hundreds anymore, you won’t follow it. You’ll give yourself the things you’ve been wanting for 3 months because you don’t understand what you did to your body during prep and now you’re about to overload it on nutrients you that also do not understand. You’ll gain weight, a lot. Fast. So you will go from being the smallest you have ever been to big and you'll develop food relationship issue, body image issues and binge eating issues annnnnnd then, you'll punish yourself after you do it with cardio. You'll repeat that cycle for a long time. Then once you realize you have developed these issues you will blame this sport for your issues saying it made you develop them all when really, you have these problems now because you didn’t LEARN by choosing the right diet plan. It's not the sports problems. The sport didn't make you binge eat and hate the way you look now. You did. Save yourself the hurt and hassle and educate yourself first.
Chose macro and understand that this sports is 20% what you do in the gym and 80% your diet. Your diet affects your body and the outcome of your work in the gym. That your diet plan is the main tool in your entire prep. Its like the hammer in your tool bag. The secret sauce. You will use it every day to manipulate the way your body looks.
If you are a beginner reading this, I hope it sheds some light on diet plans through my experiences. If you are not a beginner in this sport, I'm sure you connected with my experiences.