Anyone who has ever dieted down for a competition knows how hard it can be, especially when you’re not at home. To prevent drive-thru dementia when the hunger pangs strike, you haul around a day’s supply of low-glycemic vegetables coupled with protein-packed lean meats. While the typical fitness diet is undoubtedly stringent, competitor Cathy Nordyke has even less on her on-season menu. That’s because she’s an herbivore, and has said no to meat for over a decade.
While many would say a vegetarian diet does the body good, it also leaves Cathy with fewer options with which to fill her daily protein requirement of 130 to 140 grams. As Kermit the Frog noted: “It ain’t easy being green.” To some, her pre-contest diet may appear to be restrictive twice over, but Cathy wouldn’t have it any other way. Not only does she believe she is healthier than most meat-eaters due to her ultraclean diet, it has also molded her award-winning physique. In the past four years Cathy has competed in over a dozen fitness and figure competitions, and her credits include capturing third place in the tall figure class at the 2002 NPC Junior USA. And for anyone else who wants to follow in her footsteps, Cathy shares her dedication, motivation, and method behind being a vegetarian athlete.
Cathy’s tips on being green
Cathy’s pointers for training and dieting are essentially the same as meat-eating competitors:
- Be organized; pack your cooler before you leave the house so you're never without your meals.
- Drink between half and one gallon of water a day - your skin will thank you.
- Don't completely eliminate carbohydrates, but do choose wisely – look for whole wheat and high fiber.
- Don’t skip that morning cardio. “There’s great debate about whether or not cardio on an empty stomach is the best way to burn fat,” she explains. ‘I have tried both – eating a little something before cardio and going without – and have found doing cardio on an empty stomach works best for me. It helps me get leaner.”
- Read labels: “Often people assume if it’s meat-free it’s healthy, but that is not necessarily true,” she says. “Manufacturers will often add a lot of sodium and sugar to improve the taste or fat to make meatless items seem more authentic.”"