Nutrition Is The Number One Factor in Regards to Your P90X Results
So do you follow the P90X Nutrition Guide? What do you eat? Am I eating enough? I’m not losing weight, why? Those questions… by far the most asked on the message boards. I’m going to give you the straight skinny on research I’ve done, what I feel works, doesn’t work etc.
What You Stuff In Your Face Will 100% Impact Your P90X Results. Nutrition is KEY!
First, it’s not a “Diet Plan”, if you want a crash diet, it’s not going to work long term. Really what most of us need to do is adjust our thinking on food and nutrition. In the world today it’s been way to easy to sacrifice nutrition for convenience That’s how I got fat, I’m lazy when it comes to cooking for myself. I’m a single guy, and making an ornate meal is about the lowest thing on my agenda, just above cutting the grass or shoveling snow. I just like to eat, and if someone else wants to make the food I stuff in my pie hole that’s even better.
So what will it take to get your 6 Pack? Well I’m going to be honest, it’s going to take dedication like no other. You need to be sub 10% body fat for a guy or sub 15% for a female. The food you stuff in your face is one of the few things you control in your life. Double Bacon Cheeseburger, or Extra Lean Turkey Tacos? You decide, and the path you chose will have consequences, and that is either carrying around a keg, or a 6-pack.
MATH. It’s Not Just For School – Your “Food Budget”
Losing weight, in it’s simplest form is easy math. Calories Eaten – Calories Your Body Needs To Live – Calories Exerted On Other Activities = Weight Loss/Gain. To lose weight you need to be in what is known as a Calorie Reduced State, a negative number.
To lose 1lb weight, you need that equation to = -3500/week. Or roughly 500/day. So how the heck do you figure that out? Well there are a number of studies and formulas, but the one I use is this:
Calories Your Body Needs To Live (aka you Basal Metabolic Rate or BMR):
- Men: 66 + (13.7 x weight in kg) + (5 x height in cm) – (6.8 x age)
- Women: 655 + (9.6 x weight in kg) + (1.7 x height in cm) – (4.7 x age)
So lets use me as an example, 213lbs when I started, I’m 5’11 and I’m 34 years old…. a quick google calculator conversion to get from Imperial to Metric gives me this: 66 + (13.7 x 96.61) + (5 x 180.34) – (6.8 x 34) = 2,522.46 calories just to breath, and sleep.
Then we need to figure out what does life take to live, so there are some other generally accepted numbers:
- 1.0 Sedentary – you do nothing but sleep and veg out on the couch
- 1.2 Very light activity – nothing too physical, you work an office job,
- 1.4 Light activity – office job but a lot of walking, but no real “working out”
- 1.6 Moderate activity – your job requires physical labor, maybe an occasional workout
- 1.8 High activity – you are training a lot, running regularly, lifting etc.
- 2.0 Extreme activity – very physical job, plus working your butt off on the off hours.
The way I use this is NOT to factor in any working out (we’ll get to the why later). So for me, I’m a 1.2, I’m a computer nerd by trade sitting in cube world so:
2,522.46 * 1.2 = 3,026.95 calories just to maintain my weight doing what I do all day or 21,188.65 calories a week. So now that we have that, lets subtract 20% to get some weight loss going. 3,026.95 * 0.8 = 2,421.56.
If you look at those numbers, reducing my caloric intake everyday by 20% will come out to a 605.39/day or 4,237.73/week deficit. Since 1lb = 3500 calories, just doing this will be a 1.21lb/week loss.
Let’s take that a bit further, I want to lose on average 2lbs (a generally acceptable weight loss for someone overweight), that means I need to consume 7,000 calories less in a week or 1,000/day. So, if we take my BMR – 1,000 calories, we’re down to 2,026.95 calories a day is my food budget. That is the number of calories I need to eat, each day to keep my body running, but still losing weight. AND THAT IS WITHOUT WORKING OUT. Even if you’re not exercising this will work, I’ve done it in the past, I know it works. What that DOES NOT MEAN, is to limit yourself to 1,000 calories and lose 10lbs a week, your body doesn’t work that way, it’s smarter than that and there’s more on that below. I posted about my “1900 Calorie Diet“, which is what I use for the first 3o days of P90x
How Does My Workout Plan Figure In?
So any workout plan, be it P90X, Insanity, the boring treadmill, is going to burn extra calories, just think of it as a bonus. The P90X program says you burn 600 calories/workout. That’s a huge generalization. Someone in decent cardio shape may not get that out of something like Plyo, someone who’s fairly strong may not hit that on the resistance training. If you want to know, strap a HR monitor on yourself and it’ll tell you what it thinks you burned based on the metrics above (height, age, weight), but that can be inaccurate. I’ve done the HR monitor, and a number I’m comfortable with is 400 calories/workout on average. Sometimes way more, sometimes less, it all depends how I’m feeling, how much I put into it etc, but for the sake of a constant # I use 400.
Sooooo, where does that get us?
2026.95 calories – 400 = 1626.95 calories a day is what’s left over for my body to use to sleep. Back to the top, we can easily figure out that 1626.95 - 3026.95 = -1400/day * 7 days = 9800 calories “saved” a week. Then we take what we saved, 9800 I either didn’t eat or burned working out and divide it 3500 and I’m at 2.8lb/per week loss. THIS IS MY AVERAGE Loss this round so far, by eating about 2,000 calories a day. Math is math.
All Food Is Not Created Equally
Running hard for 20 on a treadmill will burn somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 calories. What is 200 calories?
- two pieces of whole wheat bread – nothing on them.
- or 29 almonds
- or a doughnut
- or less than two 8oz glasses of apple juice
- or not quite a pint of Guinness
- or 1.5 cans of coke
- or two cans of red bull
So, what would you rather do, run your butt off for 20 minutes, or eat/drink one of those things? The thing to remember is your body is not a computer or calculator. How your body handles nutrients is different based on the nutrients you’re consuming. While eating less calories than you need will indeed help you lose weight, you should be conscious of what that food you’re stuffing in your face contains. Try and eat lean proteins. Eat GOOD carbs, you know, ones that grow from the earth, not put together in a factory and have a bunch of junk added in as fillers and other junk. Get your fats from good places like nuts, seeds, avocados.
The P90X nutrition plan has 3 different “Phases”, where you eat different amounts of various nutrients depending on where you are in the program. The way I usually eat is on the 50/30/20 plan. 50% of my calories are from lean Protein sources, 30% from Carbs, and 20% from fat. This works for me all the way through the program and I see great results. I’d recommend this at least through the first 30 days and then listen to your body. Different nutrients make you feel different ways. This particular breakdown, while being in a big deficit tends to make me feel hungry at times once I hit week 3 and 4, at which point I tell my brain and stomach to be quiet and drink some water. I also am intaking calories every 3-3.5 hours the entire time I’m awake (5am-9 or 10pm). The major meals have more calories than the in between “snack” times.
So how do you track all this? First, you buy all your own food, and limit going out to eat as much as possible. Second, you need to track your caloric intake, which is WAY easier than you might think. I use a website called MyFitnessPal.com. It’s a free site, has a great free application for your phone, and a huge user supported and verified database of just about anything you want to eat, easily searchable by brand and what it’s called on the bag (including a lot of restaurants). It sounds daunting, but once you do it a few times, it just becomes second nature. The key is to find a variety of foods that you can put together and hit your needs. The third thing you need to buy is a cheap food scale, I personally use the Taylor Precision 37204014T, it’s $4.50. Then you mesure out every portion you put into every meal, it takes 2 seconds. You can even create custom “Meals” on MyFitnessPal based on ingredients you’re using, so it’s easy to recall it later to track.
Here’s what I ate today, it’s a bit Spartan looking, but I like it. You can see my macros are a bit off, mostly because I like protein more than carbs:
So I Should Just Really Stop Eating And I’ll Lose All The Weight Right?
WRONG! Your body is a smart machine, and it adapts. I can’t constantly keep eating 1,900 calories and keep that weight loss up. Some people call it “Starvation Mode”, call it what you will, but your body adjusts your metabolism in an effort to keep you healthy and protect itself. After the first 30 days, I take my weight, and refigure things. I also INCREASE my caloric intake. The reasoning is because your muscles will actually burn more fat while sleeping, sitting, working out than the tubs of lard you just spent 30 days burning off. Remember, you want your body going after the fat stores, not the lean muscle mass you’re working on toning and building. Your body needs more to keep the furnace pumping. If you’ve hit a plateau with your weight loss, my first reaction is Eat MORE! I typically will bump up my intake by 400-500 calories after the first month, and believe me, it works, there are plenty of resources and forum posts discussing this.
I’ll be blogging my “Nutrition Breakdown” over the next 3 months
Here’s my 1900 Calorie Breakdown
Anyway, that’s my “quick” lesson on nutrition, and there are or will be more blog posts about these topics, but this should set you in the right direction. If you have any questions at all, PLEASE email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or hit me up in the comments section and I’ll get back to you ASAP. If I don’t have an answer, I’ll do the leg work to set you off in the right direction.