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The P90X Diet

If you're looking for the actual P90X diet guide, you should go here >> P90X Nutrition Plan

Otherwise, here's some explanation/discussion. I'll start off by saying that there's no magic to it... this is basic Good Eating 101, where you're watching your calories and cutting out the junk.

The P90X diet plan is broken down into 3 phases:

  • Fat shredder - a hihg-protein based diet designed to help you strengthen muscle while rapidly shredding fat from your body
  • Energy booster - A balanced mix of carbs and protein with a lower amount of fat to supply additional energy for performance
  • Endurance Maximizer - An athletic diet of complex carbs, lean proteins, and lower fat with an emphasis on more carbs.

As described above, the difference in the phases is the ratio of types of foods you eat (ie carbs vs proteins vs fats), making sure you eat enought to fuel workouts and also burn fat. While P90X goes in three phases, you may not go through all 3 phases during your 90 days. I stayed on fat shredder almost my whole first round. Some people stay on it only a few days or not at all, it just depends where you're starting from.

The plan goes on to help you calculate how many calories you need to take in each day. From there, the book goes on to present the portion approach, the meal plan approach, or the quick option approach.

  • The portion approach defines what a 'portion' of a food is and breaks it down into how many portions of proteins, dairy, fruits, veggies etc you should have.
  • The Meal Plan approach is where different recipes and a meal schedule are laid out for you. The recipes are GOOD.
  • Quick options discusses some ideas for quick-made meals for on the go - and discusses choices for fast food restaurants. The guide commands you do not exceed one fast food meal per day, a few times per week - and recommends a similar thing if you use some of the frozen meal (Lean Cuisine, Healthy Choice etc), making sure the meal doesn't have too much sodium (the sodium level allowable is different depending on what tier of calorie intake you're targeting, but under 600 mg of sodium will keep you safe regardless of what tier).

Can you modify the P90X Diet Plan?

Yes, and the guide clearly states that you may need to adjust - a single guide can't possibly fit every type of person who will use it, so keep in mind what you already know about your body when designing your food plan, and don't be afraid to change things as you learn what works for YOU.

I adjusted - I'm not sure I would do it again this way if I had Round 1 to do over, but here it is as an example. To me it seemed like it was calling for a suprisingly high calorie intake - based on a weight loss experience after my first pregnancy where I also counted calories, it seemed like too much. So, I just decided to take in less than the recommended calories, my energy was good, and the weight just fell off. However, (and just as the guide predicted), then I plateaued, at least weight-loss wise (strength continued to improve, however) for a LONG time, about 5 or 6 weeks.

I did several things...

    - I wore a heart monitor and got a better feel for what my actual calorie burn was on the workouts, instead of assuming 600 as the P90X diet guide suggests, and used that to inform my calorie intake.

    - I switched to an old Turbo Jam DVD for Cardio and Kenpo - those workouts were feeling almost too easy near the end of Round 1 (now I'm experimenting with Insanity mixed in)

    - I re-doubled my efforts to drink enough water (my calculation is to take your weight, divide by two, and drink that many ounces per day while trying to lose weight. It's a LOT of water and you pee all the time... and you feel great). You may have heard that feeling hungry may actually be your body telling you it's thirsty...

    - Finally, I went back and read the guide again... and ADDED calories a little at a time.

Plateau broken... not sure which of the things did it, but does it matter? I needed to do all of them - and you'll need to adjust as you go through your workout journey and figure out what works well for you.

The point is, while you may have to modify it according to your own situation, you NEED to follow the P90X diet plan. Junk doesn't work and just slows you down. We found our results to be 40% workout and 60% diet. If you work out but eat junk, you'll get fit, but won't look it.

Ideas for helping you stick to the P90X Diet

Find substitutions for foods that don't make the cut.

If you don't have one, grab a free Team Beachbody account, go to the Eat Smart tab and then choose Michi's Ladder. This gives lists of food and then suggests alternatives you can swap out for. Look around for alternatives at the store, too... one we like is that instead of regular bread, try Sandwich Thins, Orowheat is one brand that makes them. They're big enough to fit your turkey burger on, but half the calories of a couple slices of bread.

Snack smart

You may have heard that 5-6 small meals per day is preferable to 3 big meals. Eating smaller meals and snacking in between helps keep you from spiking and dropping your blood sugar, leaving you more in control.

Fresh veggies like carrots, broccoli and celery help you feel like you've eaten something because they're so crunchy. A piece of fruit can be a good choice, and *small* portions of nuts, avocado, cottage cheese or hummus can be filling.

I love protein bars for a snack, and I do recommend the P90X protein bars. I'm not recommending them because I'm a coach and I'm trying to sell you a bunch of stuff, I say this because I started 55 pounds overweight and found myself ravenous at 3pm, ready to eat anything that walked by, and these work for me. I experimented with a bunch of bars, everything from GNC to what's sold in bulk at Costco, and when you take into account effectiveness (meaning, do they help you not feel hungry?), actual nutrition (so you aren't eating just pure carbs) and taste I think the P90X ones do a great job.

There are lots of alternative bars out there, but whatever you choose I recommend finding one with a good wallop of protein (14 grams at least, the P90X ones have 20), but also some carbs. I experimented with a lot of different bars and found I got hungrier, quicker, with ones way higher on either protein or carbs. The only ones on the market that I think compare are the Clif Builder Bars, which are similar in price to the P90X bars but not quite as tasty. Zone Perfect bars are somewhat cheaper and taste great, but don't have as much protein - you get what you pay for.

Other stuff

Keep cuts of meat lean, and broil or bake them. A rule of thumb is a portion of meat (3-6 ounces) is roughly the size of your palm - or the size of a deck of cards.

A huge help for me in simplifying nutrition was Shakeology. This is my lunch or sometimes dinner, and I can foresee staying on this long-term.

There's a lot of good tools in your free Team Beachbody account, check out the Eat Smart tab, and also look at the message boards for great ideas on specific questions. The Beachbody nutritionists hang out on the Nutrition board too... a great chance for expert help.

If you want more recipes than are in the P90X diet guide, or want a meal planner laid out for you, consider doing the My Meal Planner, also under the Eat Smart tab. You answer some simple questions about your height, weight, workout plan etc, then it it takes your answers and lays out all your meals complete with recipes for you. It leaves no guesswork. You have to be a Beachbody "Club" member for this, it costs 2.99 a week billed quarterly. There's an option sign up as or upgrade to Club membership when you follow that same Team Beachbody account link I listed above.

If you want to check out what some of those recipes look like, go here.

It's Worth It

The concepts behind the P90X diet guide aren't rocket science. But, counting calories and not eating junk can be challenging, especially in the beginning - I think EVERYONE struggles with the P90X diet plan in some form. Keep trying - making the effort to make the changes and stick to it is worth it - you'll see it in your workout results and it DOES get easier over time. At our house, it's helped me significantly improve a fast food habit. It's not so much about the food as it is about the convenience - when kids (and mom) are tired and hungry, the drive through can seem like a real problem solver. By watching my own intake, I'm being more conscientious about packing healthy snacks ahead of time, and actually looking up each restaurant's nutrition info so we can choose healthier items when we do the meals on wheels thing (which is MUCH less frequent).

You might want to see how the P90X Results and Recovery formula fits into the P90X diet. Finally, if you're looking for a way to track your daily calories without having a million scraps of paper with scribbled numbers floating about, try the free P90X worksheets.

Bon appetit.

Related articles:

P90X Classic Program
P90X Lean Program
P90X Does It Work?
    P90X Before and After Photos
    P90X Nutrition Plan
    P90X Fitness Guide
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