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Posted by Barry on Mar 6, 2011

P90X Nutrition


Your body doesn’t run on exercise. It runs on the food you put in your mouth. The goal of this article is to help you learn what kinds of food, how much, and when to eat so that you can lose fat, get lean, and get into incredible shape. If you want real results from your exercise program then having a nutrition plan is a MUST. Establishing and maintaining the right kind of diet is just as important to your overall success as any workout. In fact I consider the diet the toughest exercise- but it is absolutely key to achieving your best results.

Once you incorporate these principles into your life, you will quickly begin to feel better, look better, and without a doubt, perform better.  Your cravings for unhealthy foods will be greatly reduced. Because P90X is structured to challenge your body through 3 phases, this plan is designed to change right along with your workout schedule. This 3-phase system works in tandem with the P90X routines, providing the right combination of foods to satisfy your body’s energy needs every step of the way, with no unhealthy gimmicks.

PHASE 1 – FAT SHREDDER – Days 1-28

A high-protein-based diet designed to help you strengthen muscle while rapidly shedding fat from your body.


A balanced mix of carbohydrates and protein with a lower amount of fat to supply additional energy for performance.


An athletic diet of complex carbohydrates, lean proteins, and lower fat with an emphasis on more carbohydrates. You’ll need this combination of foods as fuel to get the most out of your final training block and truly get in the best shape of your life!

Keep in mind that there are basically three types of people when it comes to following a nutrition plan: those who adhere to the guidelines and follow the plan to a tee; those who follow only the basics, eliminating foods that are high in fat and sodium; and those who read these words and then continue to eat the way they’re accustomed to. If this last group describes you, now is the time to make a change. Your commitment to getting in the best shape of your life depends on it. Just take comfort in knowing that the fundamentals of this plan are simple and easy to follow, and that you can always go back to your old habits after the 90 days. (Doubt you will, though!)


First you need to record your current body fat percentage and determine your nutrition level. The data you provide will determine how much food you need (and how much you don’t need) while you go through P90X.

Category           FIT RANGE                ATHLETE RANGE                 ELITE ATHLETE RANGE


MEN                  14 – 17%                          10 – 13%                                     4 – 9%


WOMEN           21 – 24%                           16 – 20%                                    12 – 15%

Lowering your body fat and increasing lean muscle mass is essential to your overall success. Because of this, it is important to track your progress throughout this program by measuring and recording your body fat percentage at the end of each phase.

To get started you can click on the link below to use a formula of simply use a body fat caliper.

Calculate Your Body Fat Using The U.S. Navy Circumference Method


Your nutrition level is based on the daily amount of calories your body needs for optimal health and performance during this extreme fitness program.  To determine your nutrition level, simply complete the following 4 steps.

Calculate your resting metabolic rate (RMR). This is basically the number of calories you need to breathe, pump blood, grow hair, blink-be alive.


Calculate your daily activity burn, the calories required for daily movement apart from exercise.

Keep in mind that all lifestyles aren’t created equal. A construction worker will have a higher daily burn rate than a computer programmer, so this figure should be treated as a ballpark estimate. You will probably need to do some personal adjusting to get it perfect. Don’t worry; this will become more obvious than you think once you get going.


Add the calories required for your exercise needs, which for P90X is 600 calories per day.


Add it all up and you’ve got your energy amount.

Now use your energy amount to determine your nutrition level.

Example:  A 6-foot, 180-pound man                                     YOUR ENERGY              NUTRITION

RMR = 180 (body weight in pounds) x l0 = 1800                       AMOUNT                      LEVEL

Daily activity bum- 1800 (RMR) x 20% = 360

Exercise expenditure = 600                                                   1800-2399                1800 cal/day

Energy amount = 1800 +360 +600 = 2760                              2400-2999                2400 cal/day

Nutrition Level = 2400 cal/day                                                 3000+                    3000 cal/day

Like the P90X exercise program, the P90X Nutrition is divided into 3 progressive phases calibrated to move from fast, efficient fat loss (Phase 1) to peak energy (Phase 2) to lasting success (Phase 3).


PHASE                                                                    GOAL                                                PROTEIN       CARB             FAT

PHASE 1 Fat Shredder                               Strengthen Muscle                                        50%            30%              20%

Days 1-28                                                   and shed body fat

PHASE 2 Energy Booster                         Maintain Phase 1 changes

Days 29-56                                                with additional energy                                   40%            40%              20%

PHASE 3 Endurance Maximizer                Support peak physical

Days 57-90                                                        performance                                           20%              60%              20%


A large body of scientific evidence shows that diet and exercise work hand in hand to promote fitness and physical performance.  One reason for the symbiotic relationship is the energy equation.  When you expend more calories than you consume, you burn body fat (a.k.a. “stored energy”) and build lean body mass, but because you need energy to exercise every calorie you eat must be of the highest quality to get you over the hump.

Another reason diet matters is metabolism.  A nutrient dense, interval based eating program keeps your metabolic rate high to burn fat at the maximum even when you are not working out.  Finally, a healthy diet regulates blood sugar to balance hormonal secretions, promoting optimal fat burn and a steady fuel supply.  All this works together to get you into peak condition in 90 days.

This plan is designed to optimize energy and fat loss while working with your exercise plan to build strength and lean muscle mass.  This dramatic change in your physical composition means that you might not see a big difference on the scale because you will be trading fat for lean, strong muscle-and you will not only see, but you will definitely feel the difference in your body. Unlike other diets that focus on the relatively meaningless measure of weight, you’ll use body fat percentage and self-perceived energy to guide you to your goal.


The number one obstacle to success is underestimating portion size.  Calories DO count in the energy equation, and small errors can add up to big disappointments. It’s very important to measure each portion accurately at every meal. It might sound like a lot of work, but after 90 days it will be second nature.  I use an excel spread sheet and the website .  There are also many cool apps for your smart phones that help you track your daily calorie intake.


  • Skipping meals and eating off schedule.
  • Following fads and trends, such as overemphasizing certain food groups and excluding others.
  • Not planning ahead with your food choices.
  • Skimping on fruits and vegetables, your natural supply of anti-aging nutrients. This is where Shakeology helped me as it made sure I got the right amount of fruits and vegetables along with all the protein I needed on a daily basis.


Drinking enough water is a vital part of any conditioning program, as it aids every aspect of bodily function.  You should drink at least six to eight 12-ounce glasses of noncarbonated water each day.  This means no sodas or flavored waters and choose caffeine-free coffee and tea.  If you are use to drinking lots of sodas or tea then start off cutting them down and work towards eliminating them.


It is important to follow a regular eating schedule.  First it keeps your blood sugar stable instead of peaking and crashing, which can lead to overeating and a general poor feeling. Second, regular meals will speed up your metabolism by challenging it to keep processing calories, rather than storing them in a game of “feast and famine.”

The concept of time is crucial to everything in life-it keeps us on track, and this is especially true when it comes to eating. Success in P90X comes to those who eat early and often. You should be eating every few hours while you’re awake, favoring small meals and snacks.  Try to finish your last snack approximately three hours before you hit the sack.  This will help keep undigested carbs from being stored as fat (for more on this read “Sleep Yourself Skinny”). If you do need to break this rule, a small protein shake would be the snack of choice before bed, as it can help your recovery during sleep.



While P90X is designed as a 90-day program, there are a few reasons why you might choose to extend one or more of the phases an extra week or two.

Phase 1 especially will affect people differently. Those who are reasonably fit and have more body fat can extend this phase more easily than someone who is quite fit and doesn’t have a lot of excess body fat to lose. This stage is designed to cut down your body fat percentage, and as this happens, your available energy should also decrease. Therefore, Phase 1 should only be extended if you need to drop more fat and also feel like you have ample energy to push hard during your workouts (I personally used Phase 1 for the first 8 weeks). Conversely, this phase could be shortened by a week or two if your body fat is already low and you feel like you don’t have the necessary energy to get the most out of your workouts.

Phase 2 is more of a well-rounded eating plan, and there shouldn’t be too much trouble once you get here. This stage can also be extended if you’re feeling great, have plenty of energy and it seems like you’re making overall progress.

Phase 3 should be earned. It’s an athletic diet and you’ll only need it if you are pushing your body to the limit, which you should be if you keep your promise to “Bring lt.” Of note is that Phase 3 should be tried at some point, even if you feel good in Phase 2 (I personally did not go to Phase 3 until my second round of P90X, you have to listen to your own body). Many people hesitate to move back to this more carb-heavy phase for fear that they’ll gain weight, but surprise!  They found that once they did, they had more energy, worked out even harden and had better results. This is important to keep in mind. Athletes eat more carbs, and there is a reason that they do. It wouldn’t be in the plan if it weren’t proven.

There you go.  Hope this helps and remember if you have any questions feel free to e-mail me or contact me.



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