Remember my adventure in bikini competition prep last fall?
I went in having basically zero understanding of what I was going into, but I learned a lot during that time. At least enough to get me through my first one, anyway!
Some of my first bikini competition posts, in order, here:
- Sweet Potato Protein Pancakes
- My BIG Decision
- Pre-Workout "Powerballs"
- Chocolate Post-Workout "Powerballs"
- Blackened Mahi-Mahi Salad + Pre-Contest Musings
- Perfect Low-Carb Protein Pancakes + a Day in My Pre-Contest Diet
- One Day Out (And All You Got Was This Novel)
- Europa Expo Recap
- Smoked Salmon Butternut Salad + more on bikini prep
- Mashed Butternut Sweet Potatoes + more bikini prep
- Two Carb-Conscious Fall Recipes + Bikini Diet Prep
For my 3+ months of prep, I (attempted) to start sharing some of what I was learning during that time, including recipes (and/or pictures of what looks sort of like food, taken right before scarfing it down,) and videos (I managed to get all of, what, three? in that whole time, one of which was about bunnies?) - so maybe you got something out of that experience, too?
Well, it's happening again.
But this time, one of my hopes and goals for this next competition - now that I know a little more and can be less self-involved/obsessive about training + dieting - is to give you a better picture of what I'm doing.
I "officially"* decided to begin training for a show right at the beginning of the New Year, so it's been just a couple weeks of getting into gear for me.
*A term here used to mean "did an extra set here and there at the gym and ate slightly less dessert."
I'm planning to do a show at the end of March. For me it's all about having a deadline, not too far in the future, that I can use to help get my bum in line and do a bit of serious training/ clean eating. Not about the stage and the bikinis. Okay, maybe a little bit about the stage and bikinis.
I have to admit, it all turned out to be pretty fun. I also met some cool girls and got a whole TON of free swag. It was almost worth it for the swag alone.
Anyway, I might as well let you know how things are going so far. I've been allowing more (and more) carbs since I finished that last competition. Paired with training hard at the gym - and I mean it - I've been gaining a lot of muscle I didn't have before. Of course, with it and the occasional indulgences... has come back some of the fat.
Not that I didn't fully expect to get some back. Let's face it, I wasn't going to stay that lean for long, plus it's so hard (maybe impossible) to train or gain that kind of muscle without some extra calories! But I'll get to the point now: I've gained 10 pounds since the competition (about 107 pounds now) and I'm at 14-15% body fat, according to my FitBit scale and the handheld devices at the gym - or 16-17% according to the calipers.
This means I'm starting at a higher lean body mass/lower body fat than I did last time! Woohoo!
Now I still don't want to give up all my carbs or go too low on calories at this point, but I am starting to take out carbs where I need them less. This means eating a bit of complex carbs before lifting at the gym - like sweet potatoes or oatmeal - and having some quick carbs immediately after - like a protein bar and/or vitamin gummies - plus a little more slow carbs later. The carbs usually end up being for dinner, because I like to weight train in the afternoon or evening. Besides the few hours before and after the gym, I'm aiming to eat more protein and more greens.
One of my favorite ways to get low-carbs + protein in the morning, when I'm not preparing for an epic session at the gym, is pancakes. You know me and my protein pancakes! Of course, I have two versions already - an easy low-carb pancake + a sweet potato pancake.
While I love them both, I have to admit that the low-carb pancake does not work as well with some protein powders. They just come out a little... flat. So I made sure that these ones were as soft and moist as could be by just adding one ingredient for moisture, and two for lift. So you can use this recipe with ANY protein powder and still get good, pancakey results.
This is a big recipe, so feel free to halve it if you need smaller meals, but let me tell you - I ate this plus three slices of bacon for a late breakfast yesterday (without marshmallows or chocolate chips, sadly) and I was full almost the whole rest of the day. I still ate some spaghetti squash + greens for a snack, but I felt like I could have probably gone until dinner if I wanted to.
By the way, here is my overview on some of the protein powder brands I've tried:
My favorites so far for use in pancakes:
BPI Nutrition's Whey HD (Milk & Cookies flavor, does well in particular)
BarnDad's Fiber DX (German Chocolate Shake flavor)
Monster Milk protein powder (Chocolate - I think vanilla might taste better though, but I haven't tried it yet)
My favorites for flavor in general - I mix these in yogurt, some of my baking, or just mix with water for after a workout:
Optimum Nutrition's 100% Whey (in Graham Cracker & Pumpkin Pie flavors)
Cutler Nutrition's Total Protein (Chocolate Brownie)
MRI Performance's Pro-NOS (Dutch Chocolate Royale flavor is one of the best chocolate protein powders to make a shake of by itself!)
Cytosport's 100% Whey Protein (in Chocolate)
Smores Protein Pancakes
- 1 egg
- 3 T. liquid egg whites
- 3 T. ground flaxseed
- 1 scoop (29 g) protein powder (I used Optimum Nutrition's Gold Standard Graham Cracker flavor, here)
- 1 T. plain Greek yogurt (apple sauce or peanut butter would work, too)
- 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/8 tsp. cream of tartar
- Toppings: mini marshmallows, mini chocolate chips (unfortunately not pictured), maple syrup (optional - but I like Walden Farms' zero calorie syrup!)
Preheat a large nonstick pan over medium heat + spray with cooking spray.
Whisk together all the ingredients in a bowl. If you are using one of the above listed pancake-perfect protein powders, you may not need the baking powder or cream of tartar - but it won't hurt if you do add them.
When the pan is hot, spoon about 3 T. of batter in the center of the pan and cook, about 30 seconds or so, then flip and cook the other side.
Once all the pancakes are cooked, top with the marshmallows and chocolate chips to make them "s'mores-like."
Other flavor combinations that would be fun to try:
- Triple-Chocolate: chocolate protein powder in the pancakes with chocolate chips and Walden Farms' zero calorie chocolate-hazelnut butter
- Pumpkin: pumpkin or vanilla protein powder with pumpkin pie spice in the pancakes and pumpkin butter and/or walden farms maple syrup on top
- Strawberry Shortcake: vanilla or cake batter flavored protein powder with sliced, warmed strawberries and a dollop of sugar-free whipped cream on top
Makes one large serving.
Nutrition for pancakes only: 337 calories; 15 g fat (3 g saturated); 10 g carbs; 5 g fiber (for 5 g net carbs); 43 g protein (Bonus: 10% DV calcium; 15% DV iron)
Nutrition (with 1 T. mini marshmallows and 2 tsp. sugar-free chocolate chips): 388 calories; 18 g fat (5 g saturated); 18 g carbs; 6 g fiber (for 12 g net carbs); 43 g protein (Bonus: 10% DV calcium; 15% DV iron)