Do’s And Don’ts Of Diet During Off-Season By Iqbal Sayed

Bodybuilding is all about how dedicated you are towards building your body scientifically and calculating every step that brings you closer to winning. This message has been put forth in the most articulate manner by Amateur Olympia Silver Medallist, Iqbal Sayed in a one on one conversation with IBB. What differentiates a winner from an ordinary athlete is his focus and a strong will power, a winner is the one who never loses focus from what it takes to achieve his goals. Be it preparing for contest or the off-season, not losing focus from your goals and being dedicated all the time is important says this brilliant young achiever. Iqbal gives a deep insight into how important is your diet during the off-season and how should you go about in this great informative article to IBB.

 Guide To Off Season Diet

  1. What period is considered as the Off-season?

The couple of months and/or week, before an athlete or a bodybuilder starts his contest preparation could be termed as their Off-Season period. The period between his two successive contests, scheduled months apart would also provisionally mean an off season.  off-season is the time to make improvements to your lagging body parts for the next contest.Off Season India Diet

  1. What are the changes your body is supposed to go through during the off-season and why?

During an off season, usually a body builder would subject himself to a high calorie diet with a high protein and massive carbohydrate intakes and heavier weight lifting exercises. So, the hypertrophy of the muscle fibers and the hyperplasia of the muscle cells are the most common body science that an athlete’s body would experience, provided an intellectual protocol for the diet and training in combination is implemented.

And I believe, it is essentially required, as an off season is the period to make improvements to our own physique in terms of muscle increase and adding symmetry and proportions to the body, if lagging.

  1. What are the differences in diet requirements during the season and off-season?

I strongly believe that an athlete or a bodybuilder must not forget that the off-season dieting is as important as pre-contest period diets. We must control our eating habits, because any mistake would hinder the muscle gaining. If we don’t meticulously calculate our macros and lose control over diet, then we may start gaining more fat than clean lean muscle.

During an off season, let’s be honest: For a lot of people, an offseason diet plan is usually nothing more than an all-you-can-eat “bulking” period. Athletes would be seen in most of their favourite ice cream parlours or burger joints. I say, we must limit them fortnightly or once in 10 days. In fact, preference should always be given to fresh and clean food items.

The major differences in diet requirements during the on and off seasons is that while you are off season, the carbohydrate intake is way too high with the intention of more muscle mass gains.

  1. What are the common mistakes regarding diet intake during the off-season?

The most common mistakes that athletes would generally do or most of them actually do are:

  • An athlete would take an offseason diet plan as usually nothing more than an all-you-can-eat “bulking” period.
  • It is well agreed upon fact that the carbohydrate intake should be way higher with the intention of gaining more muscle mass, but most of the times, an athlete would fail in making the appropriate choice between the type of carbs, which carb is to be loaded at what time, misses the protein proportion to the carbohydrate.
  • With the intention of gaining, they may load sugar or sugar based food items.
  • Cheat meals are the part of an intellectual diet protocol if they are well calculated, planned and scheduled. But cheat meals are considered as the indulgence meals by the athletes during the off season period and hence go more than the number of times actually required.
  • With intention of loading more protein and carbs, most of us fail to incorporate the vegetables in our diet. We must ensure the array of vegetables in our diet as we get most of the anti free radicals and micro nutrients from the vegetables.
Off Season Example
Off Season Bulking
  1. What should be a typical diet plan during the off-season?

 Protein Fat and Carb Ratio

Let us make this point very clear at the first, that a diet plan is individual specific and hence no second person can copy and implement your diet.

A typical diet plan during the off season would be more of protein and carbohydrates and an optimum amount of good fat. A probable percentage of calories would be say 40% from protein, 40 to 50% from carbohydrates and rest your calories from the Fat can be 10% approximate.

To understand how many calories you need, we must be able to arrive at the calorie requirement depending upon the several body parameters, workout intensity and most importantly our goals.

In the process of this calculation, one should also make sure to load sufficient vegetables. I take around 5 to 6 servings of greens in a day. Dietary Fibers, enzymes and multi vitamins should be given equal importance in the diet. Well, Supplements are the supplementary part of your diet but are inevitable and hence they need to be scheduled very intelligently during the day as a part of your diet


  1. What is the importance of diet during the off-season?

The importance of the diet during an off season can never be dodged at all. The better you gain in off season, the better and more defined you shred in contest prep. I would say the base of the body structure you would desire on the stage, is built during an off season and is only carved to the definitions during the contest prep period.


  1. What is the impact of poor diet during the off-season?

The gains, in general, are experienced during the off-season period. The amount of lean muscle mass gained during this period is also a function of diet and the synthetic hormones and supplements we take. A bad diet would hinder the progress by non-proportionating the lean muscle to fat gains.


  1. What should be your diet and training goals during the off-season

I always mention, Bodybuilding is still a long road under discovery. The best thing an athlete can do is experience the results and do the body analysis with the different diets he has tried in past. Depending upon these, an athlete himself is the best person to gauge the quantity of food and feeding times.

My goals during the off season is always to make more lean muscle gains. In order to do that I increase the protein and carbohydrates intake. The challenge lies in choosing the type of carbohydrates and when to take them. I prefer simple carbs like white rice and white potatoes immediately after my workout. As a pre workout, an hour before, I prefer complex carbs like sweet potatoes. As an intra workout, I prefer loading carbohydrate in liquid form say VITARGO.

Same is the challenge with choice of protein. When I wake up in the morning and the body is in the most catabolic state, I prefer loading one or two scoops of Isolate whey protein with water as the first serving of the day. While going to bed, I may load some casein protein. Also immediately post my workout, I load isolate whey protein.

About the workout, Off season period is the most crucial period for an athlete, as all the gains are made during this period. No single workout session should be haphazardly planned and executed. A well planned workout is well trained and better results yielded. As far as my training protocol is concerned I do MTUT workouts devised by IFBB Pro Dennis James and also include IFBB Pro Ben Pakulski’s MI40 programs viz Cell Expansion, Strip sets, etc. There are weeks when I train one body part a day and there are weeks when I train two body parts a day where a single body part would be trained twice a week

That’s Iqbal Sayed sharing knowledge which brought him victory at Amateur Olympia. With such meaningful insights coming from an expert, it’s time you take a look at your diet regime and understand how important it is to not lose focus even after the competition is over. So even if you are in your off-season do what’s right for your body.  Above all, bodybuilding is a lifestyle that calls for dedication at all times, irrespective of whether or not you are preparing for a competition.

About Iqbal Sayed

Iqbal Sayed ( also known as "The Humble Beast") is Silver Medalist at Amateur Olympia Asia 2017

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