Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Day 10, Arms and Shoulders - More Food Talk

I think both Sarah and I really ramped it up a bit for this arm workout today and let me tell you I could barely lift my Listerine bottle when we finished. Absolutely have all the weights dialed in for this workout now which is good but we only do it one more time before the recovery week. It was still hard to keep up with the DVD while switching all the weights and writing everything down and we had to pause a few times to catch up but I think it was better. My lower back was a little sore on the right side since the workout on Monday and I suspected it was something in the Ab ripper X routine giving me problems. I took it a little easier on that this time and concentrated on good form and Sarah corrected me on at least one exercise, I am pretty sure that was the one giving me problems. This is nothing new for me, every time I have started a new workout since the beginning of the year there has been at least one exercise that bothers me a bit and I just have to find a way to work around it and make sure I don't get myself hurt. I still hit the Ab Ripper X hard just correctly.

So I talked to my dad last night and he seems to think I am eating the same thing every day, well maybe but that is not a requirement for the program so I thought I would explain the nutrition plan a bit more because I really think that this is the key to the program. You can work out all day long and unless you are eating right you will not see results. There are 3 levels (relates to how many calories you need on a daily basis) and 3 phases (relates to the percentage of Protein to Carbs to Fat) in the plan. First we will discuss the Level and then the Phases.

Your Level is determined by taking your body weight and multiplying it by ten and then adjusting that up by 20% and add in 600 for minimum required to keep you alive. So I started the program at 160 lbs so (160 * 10) * 1.2 + 600 = 2520 calories of intake daily which puts me as a level 2 as shown below.

  • Level I - 1,800 to 2,399 calories per day
  • Level II - 2,400 to 2,999 calories per day
  • Level III - 3,000 + calories per day

Based on what I was eating prior to this program that is a lot of calories, I was probably around 1800 a day before and I thought that was a good bit. Keep in mind that this is just a starting point and you may need slightly more or less and will have to judge that based on your results. If you are not losing weight that you wanted to the first thing you should try is add more calories, maybe 200 to 250 a day, because too few is usually the reason people don't lose. The body goes into a conservation mode and tries to store energy it thinks it will need later. This calorie thing is tricky because there is really a very narrow range in which you will get the results you want and the hard part is finding that range and staying there.

Now you know where to start off with your daily caloric intake but what do you eat? Well that is where the 3 Phases come in. Each Phase gives a diet that has different percentages of the three things you are concerned with:

  • Phase I – Protein 50%, Carbs 30%, Fat 20%
  • Phase II – Protein 40%, Carbs 40%, Fat 20%
  • Phase III – Protein 20%, Carbs 60%, Fat 20%

As you can see each Phase increases the carbohydrate intake to help you maintain performance. Keep in mind that real athletes are not on Atkins they eat lots of carbs because you need them to give you the energy needed to do intense workouts and you burn them quickly. Also keep in mind though that they should be complex carbs not just sugar. Phase I is basically a cut Phase to help build some lean muscle and drop some extra fat. They also talk about this being a good diet to get you to learn what carbs do for your body. Now there is no one size fits all solution to what Phases you will do and when to switch. The Phases can be run along with the 3 Phases of the workouts but that is not required. If you do Phase 1 for 2 weeks and feel you need more carbs to get what you need out of the workouts you can switch to Phase 2 then. Some people may never get to Phase 3 which is a lot of carbs to allow for really intense workouts so if you are not really pushing it with the workouts you may not need to go there.

Within each Phase the plan provides 3 options you can follow Meal Plan, Portion Plan, and Quick Plan. The Quick Plan tells you what kinds of things you can eat if you have to eat out or travel a lot or something. I am basically skipping this because I think it is more to be used if needed in an emergency and other than that you should use one of the other 2. The Meal Plan provides a one week meal schedule for each Level and Phase that tells you exactly what and how much to eat for each meal and snack with the idea that you just repeat the weekly menu every week. The recipes for the meals are in the book and so far everything I have had has been good. What I am doing is the Portion Plan which defines how many servings of each type of food you can eat as well as what a serving of each is. For example I am Level 2 Phase 1 and my daily intake is as follows:

  • Proteins – 7
  • Dairy – 3
  • Fruit – 1
  • Vegetables – 4
  • Fats – 1
  • Carbs – 1
  • Condiments – 2
  • Snacks – 1
  • Double Snack or P90X Recovery Drink – 1
  • Double Snack or P90X Protein Bar – 1

Examples of each type of food are:

  • Proteins – 3 oz. chicken or turkey breast, 6 egg whites, 3 oz. lean red meat
  • Dairy – 1.5 oz. low fat cheese, 3 oz. Parmesan cheese, 8 oz. skim milk
  • Fruit – 1 medium apple, medium banana, 1 oz. dried fruit
  • Vegetables – 1 cup of cooked veggies, 2 cups of leafy greens
  • Fats – 1 tbsp or 1 serving avocado, canola oil, olive oil
  • Carbs – 1 cup brown or wild rice, 3 3.6 oz. pancakes, 1 cup oatmeal, 2 slices bread (whole wheat, rye, pumpernickel)
  • Condiments – 2 tbsp lowfat sauces and marinades, fat free dressings, mustard, honey, pure fruit jams
  • Snacks – Single - 1 oz. lowfat cheese, 1/2 Protein Bar,1.5 oz. string cheese, 1 tbsp peanut butter w/celery sticks - Double - 1 oz. nuts, 1 Protein Bar, 3 oz. string cheese

Now these are just examples and if you are following the Portion Plan you can eat exactly the foods they suggest or the equivalent but you just limit your consumption to the number of servings given in the guide, I say limit but trust me this is a lot of food just try eating 12 oz of cottage cheese and see what you think. So basically I can go out to a restaurant and eat as long as I know what I am getting and eat what I am supposed to and in the right amounts. The other thing with the plan is you should be eating 5-6 times a day (Breakfast, Snack, Lunch, Snack, Dinner, maybe another Snack). This helps your body to feel like there is plenty of food available which helps increase your metabolism. For drinks you are doing water and that is it, I do have coffee every morning but black. I drink a ton of water all throughout the day, like they used to tell us in the Marine Corps "if you don't have to pee you are not drinking enough water." I cut out most other drinks long ago when I started working out and I can't really drink sodas any more. After going without them for so long they are just too sweet for me. I had been drinking a couple of beers from time to time but I have thus far cut that out completely and plan to continue with that although I may have one at the next football game I go to around day 30, not sure yet.

This may all seem like a lot of work but after the first few days it is pretty straight forward. I tend to eat the same things over and over but that is just me and I did that before as well, like I have Oatmeal and a banana for breakfast almost every day which right now means no more carbs or fruit for me for the rest of the day. I did have egg whites one morning so I could have pasta for dinner but that was just once. After I move on to Phase 2 I will drop 2 servings of protein and 1 veggie a day and add in 2 servings of carbs so that will be a little more reasonable diet along the lines of what I was doing before. Well that is the nutrition plan in a nutshell and if you ask me this is like 75% of what will get you results in this program. You have to work hard during the workouts but cheating on the nutrition part will just kill your results. By the end of 90 days of this you will likely never go back to eating junk, you might have a few chips here or a soda there but I doubt you will want to eat that stuff all the time and there really is no need to.

Post Workout:

  • Creatine (5 grams in water)
  • Whey protein


  • Oatmeal 1 cup
  • 1 banana


  • 1 oz Dried Blueberries


  • Chicken Salad (Chicken, Lettuce, Cabbage, Carrots, Broccoli, Cucumber, and Cheese w/Red Wine Vinaigrette)


  • Flank Steak 6 oz
  • Roasted Red Pepper Soup
  • Cucumbers


  • 1 Protein Bar


  1. I am trying to follow P90x diet exactly as it is lined out and drink a lot of water but I cannot stay full between meals/snacks. I eat foods low in fat, high in protein, whole grains, etc. If I do happen to stay full most of the day, around 9pm I am starving. I should be getting 1900 calories a day but I figured out that in phase 1 the diet only provides like 1500 calories. Is that enough?

  2. First of all I am no nutritionist so take what I say for what it is worth which is probably the nothing you paid for it. that being said I have done a lot of research and can tell you my thoughts. How many calories you need to take in is going to depend on your individual metabolism and your goals. If you are trying to lose weight you will want a calorie deficit and in other cases not. The meal plan from P90X is really just a starting point and most people will need to experiment a little initially to dial in the right diet for them. 1500 calories though sounds o me to be too little unless you are very small. A good starting point, though not very accurate, is multiply your weight by 10 and that is caloric intake to maintain but that would not take into account the rigorous workouts in the P90X program. With that if you were 150 pounds and not doing the P90X workouts 1500 calories would be in the ball park for maintenance. If your goal is to lose it gets a little tricky because you can also go too low and that will cause your body to slow down your metabolism and you could in fact gain weight. There is a relatively narrow sweet spot that you need to find for yourself through experimentation and it may take some time. If you look at this as a lifestyle change the fact that it may take a while to dial everything in does not seem such a problem any more. I would increase your intake if I were you because you generally should not be hungry but keep in mind you may not really be hungry. Eating is much like smoking in that it is habit forming and you can feel like you need to eat just because you sat down in front of the TV at night simply because that is "what you do." Part of this program is learning what your body does and does not need.

  3. Scott, I really appreciate your advice. I have been trying to research it because I do know that I have a tendency to want to overeat. I have really tried to keep that in check for the purpose the diet's accuracy. I am a very small person--I actually started the program with 16%body fat as a girl, which is not much I've heard. I used the formula you set and I (including workouts) burn daily around 2,000 calories. So I have a few questions:
    As someone loses weight do they need to up the caloric intake because the formula then changes?
    Should you feel hungry by the time your snack/meal comes around and not before?
    On the P90x diet sheet he gives portion sizes and calories. Do we go by the portion size or the calories? Because depending on the brand of product you buy the calories differ quite a bit, even with the same portion size.
    Okay, that's all for now. I am not very concerned to lose weight, I am not overweight at all. But I would like to not jeopardize my fitness either, you know? So, thanks for your time and advice.

  4. p.s. lately when I have felt hungry I mean--my stomach was growling--it wasn't just a desire to overeat. But when I have an urge to eat unnecessarily, I try to drink black decaf coffee or unsweet herbal tea. What do you think about that?

  5. If your goal is not to lose weight I would not worry too much about strict calorie counting and instead let your hunger indicate how much you should eat. Just make sure to eat slow and recognize if you are indeed hungry or just bored. Also remember to eat the right things. If you feel hungry for an extra snack some baby carrots are preferable to pretzels for example.

  6. I appreciate your tips, Scott! Thanks for your time.