So you are going to give 90 days of your life to P90X? Welcome to the club. As you are probably already aware, your success is dependent mainly on your nutrition and not on the actual exercise. You will fail if you don’t get your nutrition down solid and the sooner you can figure it out the sooner you will see results.
Nutrition guide highlights
- There are 3 phases in the plan and your calories percentages
- Fat Shredder. Protein 50%, Carbs 30%, Fat 20%
- Energy Booster. Protein 40%, Carbs 40%, Fat 20%. Protein
- Endurance Maximizer. Protein 20%, Carbs 60%, Fat 20%
- How many calories the P90X diet guide suggests you consume
- See Page 5 if you have not done these calculations
- What you should be eating
- Each phase has a list of foods you can eat. You may also find Michi’s Ladder helpful in choosing what to eat
What do all the numbers mean?
After figuring out all the math in the guide you now know what your energy amount is. The guide used an example of a 180 pound male, making his nutrition level a two. But what you may not realize is this calculation is to MAINTAIN weight, not to lose it.
One pound of fat is 3500 calories. If you want to lose one pound a week then you need to have a deficit of 500 calories each day. If you want to lose two pounds a week then you need to have a deficit of 1000 calories each day. Working out to P90X you do not want to lose more than two pounds a week. Anything more may be eating into your muscle and that is counterproductive. If you feel like you need to lose more than two pounds a week I recommend the Ultimate Reset. To be totally honest, it is the healthiest way to lose weight quickly that I have ever seen. But besides the weight loss I feel that the nutritional education you get is fare more valuable.
Subtract 500 or 1000 from the total number of calories you calculated to determine your nutrition level. For example if the 180 pound man wanted to lose 2 pounds a week during P90X his total calorie need for each day would be 1760. Warning age, height, weight, body fat percentage, sex, occupation, and more effect your caloric needs. These are just general guidelines.
When I started P90X I was 5’ 11” and 205 pounds. I wanted to lose as much weight as possible as fast as possible so I decided on a 1200 calorie deficit. My caloric intake was 1800 calories a day. I found that I was hungry all the time. I didn’t have the energy I needed to really push myself through the workouts and worse I think I lost about four pounds for the entire month that I tried doing it.
My problem was not enough food. My body was starving and when I increased my calories to 2200 I began to lose the weight faster. I wasn’t hungry anymore and I had the energy I needed to push through my workouts. I felt one hundred times better.
My point is I do not recommend going over a 1000 calorie deficit. I recommend starting at an 800 calorie deficit and adjust accordingly. If you have a lot to lose you may be able to get away with the full 1000 calorie deficit but as you lose weight you may need to increase you calorie intake to keep losing weight. Sounds crazy I know but believe me that is how it works. You won’t need to worry too much about increasing your calories until you have reached the body fat percentage you want.
If you really listen to your body it will tell you what it needs. Be cautious I said listen to your body not your mind. Your mind will tell you to eat crap and not workout until you train it to think differently. Listen to your body.
Understanding the Phases, they can be extended as needed
The phase lengths can be lengthened for as long as you are getting the desired results. Don’t feel like just because the calendar says that the phase lasts a month you have to stick to that time frame. If you are in the Fat Shredder phase and want to keep losing before you move on then please do so. The same goes for all the other phases.
Once you have decided you are going to move on to Phase 2 Energy Booster, you will need to recalculate your energy level as you did on day one. Do the math again and determine what your new nutrition level should be. Your body fat percentage should be no more than 5% away from where you want it to be. If it is keep on the fat shredder phase.
Phase 2 is a maintenance phase designed to get your mind and body ready for the last phase. After calculating your nutrition level you will not reduce your calories as drastically as you did in the fat shredder phase. I recommend having no more than a 300 calorie deficit in this phase. You have spent the fat shredder phase getting rid of the extra fat now it’s time to put a little more muscle onto that lean body. You need muscle to increase your natural metabolic rate and you need calories to build muscle. You should still be losing a little weight in this phase as your body converts more fat to muscle.
Phase 3 Endurance Maximizer is the final phase. This is the phase that will make all the difference in your physique and is what you have been preparing for the whole time you have been doing P90X. When you start this phase you are going to recalculate your nutrition level again. Get your number and this time you will have no deficit at all. I will say that again, do not reduce your calories. You should be gaining weight in this phase at a rate of about 1 pound per week.
You have shredded all the fat and built a little muscle in the previous two phases. Now it’s time to put some meat on that skinny little frame. I recommend adding between 300 to 500 calories a day. Do not add more than 500 calories otherwise you risk increasing your body fat percentage. This phase is all about building muscle so you will need to eat clean and lift heavier. For the ladies doing P90X this goes for you too. Muscle will help you keep the weight off so don’t be afraid of gaining muscle. It’s easier to lose muscle then it is to build it so if you get too muscular it will be a simple fix.
Forget about the portion approach and the meal plan approach they are worthless
Let’s be realistic and come to the understanding that there is no way in Hades that I am going to only eat what is in that book for 90 days or that I am going to try to figure out if my Shakeology, peanut butter, oatmeal breakfast where I used one cup of fat free milk would be considered a serving of fruit, dairy, carbohydrates, protein or all four. Not going to happen.
You can barely walk to the kitchen anyway after doing Plyometrics or Legs and Back the last thing you want to do is make a complicated healthy meal. Just eat what you know is good food and stick to your calories amounts. Get some ideas of recipes to try from the guide and take the foods in the category lists to come up with your own meals. Cook foods that you like already or try new ones that you are unsure of to find out what else you may like. You need to like what you are eating if you have any hope of sticking to it. I also recommend having one cheat meal a week as a reward. That’s one meal not one day. Rewarding yourself will also help you stick to your new eating habits. It’s not about perfection it’s about consistency.
More helpful tips
- Eat every two to three hours
- Be ready to eat wherever you go
- Don’t let yourself get hungry otherwise you will be more likely to over eat
- You should be drinking around a gallon of water each day
- Use MyFitnessPal to track your food and know exactly what you are eating
- Get connected with a support team and keep learning