T Nation

Dieting to Death


I'm less than 2 weeks out from my first figure show. It's been a great process until recently. My coach has cut my carbs out completely, I do 1.5hr of cardio daily along with my weight training. And my calories have dropped to 700/day, and has even cut out my bcaas and pre workouts. I'm so exhausted, but I can't sleep. I have no energy to get up in the morning. I seen all the warning signs along the way but I ignored my instincts and decided to stick it out like a champ. Is this standard protocol for dieting? It seems pretty extreme to me.


Where were you advised to go down to 700 cals/day? Just the coach? That is absurd. With two weeks left, I would be concerned that you are going to do serious physical damage (much less psychological) within that span. You should consult a doctor, imo.

Edit: also, fire the coach.


Would you mind providing a little more context?

When did you start? And how have your macros, overall cals, and cardio been adjusted week to week since then? Did you start dieting too late or start too soft and the coach is trying to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth?


Are you allowed vegetables for some carbs or are they also out?

700kcal is very low but 9kcal/lbs is not uncommon.

I also don’t get the dropping of BCAAs. Surely that’s a pretty good bang for buck source of aminos when you must keep food intake low?


That’s dangerously low.
Are you even seeing results or is your coach just cutting calories because they don’t know any better?
At that low amount of calories, your body is fighting you to hang onto the fat for survival, you’re likely losing muscle gains.

See Layne Norton’s concept of metabolic damage, he hasn’t proved it scientifically though but might make you consider taking a step back to take better care of your body.


Um, that sounds like pretty insane advice with the cal intake and excessive cardio… This isnt supposed to be easy, but you’re also not supposed to harm yourself I the process either.



[quote]The Mighty Stu wrote:
Um, that sounds like pretty insane advice with the cal intake and excessive cardio… This isnt supposed to be easy, but you’re also not supposed to harm yourself I the process either.


+1. Seems like a recipe for hurting your metabolism and being constantly in a catabolic state.


I realize it is now about 2 weeks from when you posted this, and I have no idea whether this will be seen, but here are my thoughts:

This is entirely bad and DANGEROUS advice you have gotten. I have been hired by several former figure competitors to try to rehab their metabolisms from similar advice from old coaches. The reason you can’t sleep evem though you are exhausted is that your body is producing cortisol and catecholamines in mass quantities to try to keep you awake and hunting for food (as a survival response).

What I would recommend going forward is to increase your calories gradually–on the order of 100/week for three weeks and then after that 5-6% of your total calorie intake (for example, 60 calories or 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil out of a 1000 calories/day diet).

There are too many factors to go into without knowing your history, but the best general approach is to gradually increase calories while maintaining frequent activity (but cutting down the duration of cardio). A sudden increase in calories will trigger a massive rebound through survival mechanisms, and this will be made worse if you simultaneously drop all your cardio.

I would recommend increasing fats ONLY (except for bcaas or intra workout protein) for the first several weeks. Carb content also tends to trigger massive cravings through leptin signalling pathways. The exception is if you are very low on protein intake–in this case I would increase protein to adequate levels as well.

Carbs should first and foremost come into your workout nutrition when you finally do reintroduce them in quantities outside of fibrous veggies.


At two weeks going no carbs isnt going to help that much, probably going to just deplete you, when you drop too low the body fights fat loss