The P90X Diet: A Review
The P90X Nutrition Plan is a weight loss diet designed to accompany the P90X workout. The workout plan is a 90-day program while the nutrition plan is, officially, a 13-week program with three phases that you can follow at any time based upon your nutritional/energy needs. The philosophy of this plan is that you need to eat the right combination of foods to lose weight and satisfy your changing needs throughout the 90-day workout.
In a nutshell, what is the P90X diet about?
Many diets have three phases, stages or steps. Diets with ‘three steps’ include the South Beach diet and the Atkins diet. Phase one of the P90X nutrition plan is the ‘Fat Shredder;’ phase two is called the ‘Energy Booster’ and phase three is the ‘Endurance Maximizer.’ As you might imagine, the first phase is the strictest, high in protein and slim on carbohydrates, while the last phase is the least strict – more in line with a regular diet.
In all phases, you are encouraged to eat frequent small meals and drink lots of water. You have two options; you may follow the meal plan or the portion plan. The meal plan includes recipes and sample menus. The portion plan is slightly more flexible. Armed with a list of how many servings of each food type/group you can create your own meal plan. Foods recommended include lean meat and eggs, low fat milk and cheese, fresh fruits and vegetables (fruits in the second/third phases), peanut butter and soy nuts, flax seeds, wholegrain bread and pasta, protein bars and low-calorie condiments.
What is the difference between the phases?
The ‘Fat Shredder’ is a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet “designed to help you strengthen muscle while rapidly shedding fat from your body.” For this phase, about 50% of your calories come from protein foods, 30% from carbohydrates and 20% from fat. You may shorten this phase by 2 weeks if your body fat is already low and you are easily fatigued during your workouts.
The ‘Energy Booster’ or second 30-day phase comes next. It is slightly lower in protein and higher in carbohydrates. The breakdown of calories is 40% each from protein and carbohydrates and 20% from fat, much like the ‘Zone Diet.’ According to the P90X nutrition plan website, this phase helps you “maintain phase 1 results with additional energy for midstream performance.” Described as “well-rounded, long-term and sensible” you can stay on this phase longer than 30 days, if desired.
Phase 3, the ‘Endurance Maximizer’ is described as “an athletic diet of complex carbohydrates, lean proteins, and lower fat with an emphasis on more carbohydrates.” Per the P90X website, this phase is ‘earned’ after you lose the desired amount of weight. It is true: carbohydrates are the body’s preferred source of energy. The breakdown of calories is 20% protein, 60% carbohydrate and 20% fat, which mirrors the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s recommendations.
What about calories?
There are three calorie levels (I, II and III) the lowest averaging about 1,800 calories and the highest, about 3,000 calories daily. The calculation is based upon the resting metabolic rate and activity factor (taking into consideration that the workout burns approximately 600 calories). Once you have calculated your energy needs for weight maintenance, you round down on average, one level to create a ‘calorie deficit’ for weight loss.
What are the pros and cons of the P90X diet?
On the ‘pro’ side, the P90X exercise and nutrition plan are more affordable than joining a gym and hiring a personal trainer/registered dietitian. There is no expensive equipment to purchase. High protein diets encourage quick weight loss, though much is water weight, and these diets tend to reduce appetite. The lower caloric intake, exercise and high-protein intake make it an effective way to lose weight. The plan includes healthful foods and recipes with nutrition facts as well as on-line support which may increase the likelihood that you will succeed.
On the ‘con’ side, the first phase of this diet, in particular, is very low in carbohydrates, far below the recommended amount for healthy adults. A low carbohydrate intake may result in fatigue, particularly if you are participating in vigorous workouts. Carbohydrate-rich foods, such as whole grains, fruits and starchy vegetables, are healthy and high in vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber. Dietary fiber is essential for promoting regularity.
Like many weight loss diets, the P90X nutrition plan is restrictive, making it difficult to eat out. Following this meal plan requires time for planning, preparation and cooking. In addition, the rigorous level of exercise recommended may not be suitable for everyone.
- BeachBody.Com. P90X Workout
- BeachBody.Com. P90X Nutrition Plan. Download PDF.
- Institute of Medicine. Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein, and Amino Acids. Washington (DC): The National Academies Press; 2002.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture. Grains: Health Benefits and Nutrients. Accessed June 29, 2010.