Swimsuit Competition Diet Tips
Exercise is only the first step in preparing a figure for the swimsuit competition. The second step is eating to win. “Weight training is what shapes the body,” explains Sharon Turrentine, a pageant fitness trainer with four Miss America title holders among her clients. “but if she does not eat right and does not do aerobic activity, the shape remains covered with a layer of excess fluid and body fat and she won’t see the changes.
Her physical fitness level will be improving on the inside but she won’t be able to see it. Therefore she thinks nothing is happening, she becomes discouraged, and she quits. Eating right is the bottom line.”
Debra Maffett, Miss America 1983, is a great example of how proper nutrition can help transform a figure. “I worked my way through college working at a bakery,” she recalls. “I didn’t know anything about good nutrition and I was very, very unhealthy. I was really into junk food and I had a weight problem.”
After her boyfriend jokingly called her “thunder thighs” Debra began an exercise program and changed her eating habits. “I started eating fresh vegetables, fruit, and lean meats. To think that years later I won the swimsuit competition in Atlantic City… when at one time I was twenty pounds overweight!”
Eating to win isn’t complicated. “Here is the secret to good nutrition,” says Turrentine. “Your third-grade teacher taught you this: three balanced meals a day, foods from the four basic food groups, and the proper portions on your plate-period.” Of course, that can be a tough prescription for a generation of teenage girls brought up on junk food. “It is difficult to do because our society doesn’t accept proper nutrition. Fast foods are a lifestyle for most people.”
Still, Turrentine insists that junk food has no part in a serious contestant’s diet. “Any ‘food’ — and I use that term loosely — that one consumes from a paper bag from a drive-in window should not be consumed by a human being!” She chuckles. “And especially not someone who is going to put on a swimsuit and walk out on a stage in front of millions of people.”
What is a winning diet comprised of? “About fifteen percent of your total caloric consumption should be protein,” advises Mike Fifrick, pageant fitness trainer and author of Better Bodies for Beauties. “The emphasis in the diet should be on complex carbohydrates: pastas, potatoes, rice, wheat breads, grain cereals and, of course, fresh fruits and vegetables are great.”
High-fat foods have no place in a winning diet. “It’s simple,” says Turrentine. “Fatty foods make you fat. There’s no mystery to it.” Indeed, fat is the first item yanked off a state winner’s menu. “I would recommend that a pageant contestant, like anyone else, eat a low-fat diet,” says Fifrick. “That isn’t to deny themselves food. It’s to make better food selections. There are plenty of low-fat foods that are tasty. I encourage them to find those foods that they like to eat that aren’t so high in fat.”
- Fat calories are converted to body fat much easier than calories from other foods. You eat fat … you get fat.
- Researchers report that “starvation diets” change the metabolism by putting the body into “survival mode”, making it harder to lose weight.
- Water suppresses hunger and helps flush fat and waste out of the body. Aim for at least eight glasses a day.
Maintaining a healthy body chemistry during competition is critical to success in the swimsuit competition. Any change in body chemistry can harm a contestant’s chances by hurting her appearance onstage. Water retention and weight gain due to PMS or menstruation is a common problem. “A girl can look great, but that particular week or getting into that week, she’d be five pounds heavier,” explains Joseph Christiano, owner of Body Redesigning by Joseph Christiano® and developer of a line of dietary supplements called Body Genetics®. “Her hormones are upside down, her water retention is up, and all of her work is going to go down the tubes if we don’t adjust for that.”
You can’t make the menstrual cycle cooperate for competition, but careful planning can help prevent any accompanying water retention. To combat bloating, says Joseph, some contestants take “a vitamin-B complex with an additional vitamin B6 which works as a natural diuretic.” Further, he says, “I make my girls drink lots of water to pass water. You don’t retain water if you drink lots of water, because you’re hydrated.” But if a young lady does not consume enough water, “The body signal is ‘We’re dehydrating so let’s retain water’. Then she balloons up!” (* Always check with your doctor before taking supplements)
Remember to drink plenty of water.
Sudden changes in eating habits during pageant week are another common problem, causing unflattering water retention that makes a young woman look puffy in her swimsuit. “The problem is that when they leave their state and go to [the nationals] the chow wagon is just garbage,” explains Christiano. “The sodium content is much higher than the pretty strict diet the girls are on when they’re preparing. Consequently, they’re overloading on salts.”
A Real Life Example of What can Go Wrong
Since the resulting water retention can bloat an otherwise trim contestant, Christiano invariably spends pageant week biting his nails. “I’d be a ‘nervous father’ all week hoping they’d hang in there and not go ‘blow-up’!” He recalls one national contestant who had a terrific figure and had won her state swimsuit competition. After training the young woman for a year to get her into superb condition, Joseph sent her off to the nationals, confident she was a top contender. When he saw her two weeks later, he was shocked speechless. “I couldn’t believe it! She just blew up overnight. It looked as if she had swallowed an air hose!”
Between her period and a suddenly high-salt diet, her body ballooned with water weight. “It looked like she put on fifteen pounds. Well, you don’t get fat in one week, but the sodium content was so much higher.” He sighs. “There was a girl who had worked hard to get her body in shape. She was going to be a real threat, very competitive, but when she walked on that runway it was over.” Her body cycles and a suddenly unhealthy diet conspired to sabotage her chances.
“Peaking [being at 100 percent top form that day] is the most important part,” says Christiano. “After all the work is done, if you don’t peak on that day you’re not going to look your best, and of course, you’re not going to score as well. You need to peak at the right time.”
When a young woman has worked for years to achieve her dream, it’s devastating to watch a temporary water gain ruin those efforts. Proper diet is the key to preventing, or at least diminishing, such problems. “You’ve got to eat right,” asserts Sharon Turrentine. “Fluid retention comes from excess sodium in the diet. Of course, physical problems can also cause that, but as a rule, excess sodium is what causes fluid retention. If she is eating right, that is going to be such a small factor it won’t make a difference.”
During competition week most pageants provide an assortment of foods and beverages backstage and room service at the hotels. Contestants can maintain a healthy low-salt, low-fat diet by making careful food choices. Some girls stock their hotel room with fruit, bottled water, and pop-open cans of water-packed tuna for healthy, on-the-go snacks.
When eating backstage between rehearsals or at pageant-week luncheons, dinners, and parties, choose fruits, vegetables, and lean meats. Avoid pastries, fried chicken, hamburgers, pizzas, deli sandwiches, and hors d’ oeuvres which are loaded with fat and salt that contribute to water retention and bloating.
Carefully control your eating habits during competition to keep your body in healthy condition. Don’t allow a change in diet or unruly body chemistry to derail your dreams.
So you’ve changed your eating and exercise habits to build your perfect body. Now it’s time to find the right swimwear to put on it. For the swimsuit competition, the ideal swimsuit should make your figure look well proportioned, camouflage figure flaws, create a winning image, and help you stand out from the crowd. Since your choice of suit can dramatically alter how you look onstage, you don’t want to settle for just a pretty swimsuit. You want the perfect pageant swimsuit.