After a contest, your body is primed to put on fat, not muscle (forget what you read in old Flex magazines, they lied). You have pushed your body to the point where it thinks you’re trying to kill it, with excessive physical activity and not enough nutrients for an extended period of time.
Your metabolism is slowed,
Your insulin sensitivity is possibly skewed, and
Your mental perception that you’re going to continue to look contest ready forever will mess with your head if you let it.
I’;m not going to try and sell you on reverse dieting, because some people love it, and some people think its a scam, BUT, I will say this:
-Don’t just stop cardio if you’ve been doing a decent amount. It will knock your caloric equation right off the tracks.
-Don’t assume if you’ve been eating low carb that now you must stay that way, or even that now can just eat whatever you want.
-Don’t foolishly think you can start eating what your caloric requirements were BEFORE your prep. You won’t be happy!
I always brought myself out of a prep in small steps. Nothing like the “twice as long as your prep was” like some folks recommend, but even with my clients, I always advise that you increase your weekly bumps in chunks of mostly carbs. ie. 20g - 50g of carbs added each week (100 -200 cals) will have you back at a decent amouint of food fairly quickly, and if you’re lucky (and smart), your system will acclimate to it (heightened insulin sensitivity from being lean?!) and make use of the added nutrients.
It gets a little more complicated, but No one wants me to write a book on here