Rss Feed
Tweeter button
Facebook button
Stumbleupon button

Nutrition 101: How to Eat for Results

 

One of the main questions that I get asked consistently is in regards to nutrition.  I believe that nutrition is the KEY to getting extreme results with any fitness program that you choose.  Each program (P90X, Insanity, TurboFire, PUMP, etc) comes with a great nutrition plan that you should read and follow.  But, I know that those guides don’t provide all the answers so I wanted to make sure I gave an easy, step by step guide to start you off of the right track.  If you struggle with Knowing what to eat, how much to eat, and when to eat it, for your specific goals (fat loss or muscle gain) then this post will be for you!

Getting Started…

1.  Read the nutrition guide.  This may seem like an obvious starting point but most people that come to me for help skip this entirely.  The first thing that I did to get my results was read the nutrition guide that came with P90X.  This guide was my food “bible” for the full 90 days.  I read it front and back many times over to make sure that I was keeping on track and eating the right foods.

There are a few things that you should focus on while reading the P90X nutrition guide.

  1. How many calories you should be consuming for your body type, height, weight and goals.
  2. The percent (%) of calories that you should consume from the macro-nutrients Protein, Carbs, Fat.
  3. What types of foods you should be eating.  You should be concentrating on Lean Proteins, Complex Carbs, and Healthy Fats.
  4. How many grams of each macro-nutrient (Protein, Carbs, Fat) you should be eating each day based on the percent (%) that is recommended in the guide.

2.   Calculate Your Calories for your goals

I am a big fan of knowing how many calories/day you are currently eating vs how many calories a day you SHOULD be eating.  This is a very easy exercise that you can do that will show you exactly what you are doing wrong and how to fix it.  The easiest way is to log your food online!  Once you determine that you are now ready to calculate the amount of food you should be eating for your designed goal of fat loss and lean muscle gain.  This is how you do it…

  1. Calculate your Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR):  BODY WEIGHT (LBS) x 10 = RMR
  2. Calculate your Daily Activity Burn (DAB):  RMR x 10% = DAB
  3. Determine your Calories Burned from your Daily Exercise (DE) =   For P90X, Insanity and TurboFire workouts the average = 650 calories/workout
  4. Determine your goal.  If you want to Lose Weight then you will run a Calorie Deficit (CD) and you will subtract -500 calories/day.  If you want to Gain Weight you will Add Calorie Surplus (CS) of +500 Calories/day
  5. Determine your Daily Caloric Target (DCT)RMR + DAB + DE +/- CS/CD = Daily Caloric Target (DCT)
  6. Determine your Nutrition Level:  LEVEL A (1800 calories/day) = 1,800-2,399 DCT,  LEVEL B (2400 calories/day) = 2400-2999 DCT, LEVEL C (3000 Calories/day) = 3000+ DCT .
  7. Example for a 180 lb male that wants to lose fat:  180 x 10 = 1800 (RMR),  1800 x 0.10 = 180 DAB,  1800 + 180 + 650 – 500 = 2130 DCT, so This person would be Level A or 1800 Calories/day

3.  Choose your Protein/Carbs/Fat Ratios (The THREE Phases)

Now that you have determined how much food you should be eating, it is now time to choose which ratios of Protein/Carbs/Fat is best for you.  The P90X nutrition guide is divided into a 3 phase plan that is built to help maximize your fat loss and muscle building results.  These ratios are meant to be a guide, not an exact science.  Use this as a guide for how much of these macro-nutrients you should be eating per day.  These 3 phases are:

  1. Fat Shredder  50% Protein / 30 % Carbs / 20 % Fat:   This high-protein phase is designed to teach you about your body’s relationship with carbohydrates.  The lack of carbs in your diet will cause your body to look for other resources energy…primarily body fat.  If you have a lot of fat to burn then you can be on the fat shredder phase for a longer period of time.  If you have little body fat to burn then you should feel the effects more quickly and move onto phase 2.  I recommend not being on the fat shredder diet longer than 6 weeks or if your workouts start to suffer from lack of energy.
  2. Energy Booster  40% Protein / 40% Carbs / 20% Fat:  This is the diet that seems to work the best for me and the one that is considered the “middle of the road”.  My body responded very well to the balance of carbs and protein.  Using this ratio will still give you plenty of protein for building muscle while at the same time give you more carbs to help with energy and performance.
  3. Endurance Maximizer 20% Protein / 60% Carbs / 20 % Fat or 25% Protein / 50% Carbs / 25% Fat:  This phase is for those who have now gotten in great shape and are looking for extra fuel for performance.  I would only recommend this phase to those who have gone through at least 60 days of P90X, Insanity or TurboFire.  This is more of an athletic diet that will utilize carbohydrates as fuel.

Tips:  If you are very thin then you can go right to 40/40/20.  If you are ultra fit, then you can use 40/40/20 or 25/50/25.  If you are looking to burn belly fat then try 50/30/20 for at least 2-4 weeks.

How to determine the amount of Protein/ Carbs / Fat in grams for the appropriate Ratios

I will use 2,000 calories/day as an example

2,000 cals x 50% protein = 1,000 cals protein.  Protein is 4 cal per gram, so 1,000 cals / 4 cal per gram =  250 g protein

2,000 cals x 30% carbs = 600 cals carbs.  Carbs are 4 cal per gram, so 600 cals / 4 cal per gram = 150 g carbs

2,000 cals x 20% fat = 400 cals fat.  Fats are 9 cals per gram, so 400 cals / 9 cal per gram =  45 g fat

4.  What To Eat

Protein:  Protein is made up of amino acids, which are primary building blocks for muscle, skin and bones.  You should focus on LEAN Proteins.  Staying away from protein that is high in saturated fat like Fatty Cuts of Steak.

  • Chicken breast, turkey breast, white fish, shellfish, lean red meat (example: top round, fillet minion), lean game meats (examples: bison, venison, etc), egg whites and whole eggs, whey protein.  If you are trying to get lean and build lean muscle then you want to focus on the leanest proteins possible (egg whites, chicken breast and white fish), in order to control calories. There are also some vegan options like Tempeh and Seitan.

Carbohydrates (Carbs):  Are the body’s primary energy source.  You want to focus on Complex Carbs and stay away from Simple Carbs like White rice, White Flour, White Sugar, Pasta, White Breads, Potato Chips, etc.

  • Complex Carbs you should eat are oatmeal (unsweetened old fashioned rolled or steel cut), brown rice, sweet potatoes, yams, and white potatoes, Quinoa, Whole Grains, etc.. You can also have beans, lentils, black eye peas and other legumes.  You should only have Whole Grain breads (Sprouted whole grain is best).

Fat:  Healthy fats are essential for almost every human activity.  They are used for energy, brain function, and protein synthesis.  Fat is not the enemy but should be consumed in moderation.  Stay away from TRANS Fats (hydrogenated oils or partially hydrogenated oils).  Try to limit your saturated fat intake as well.

  • Healthy fats you should focus on include Avocado, Olive Oil, Olives, Nuts, Seeds, Flaxseeds, Pumpkin Seed Oil, Almonds, Walnuts, Canola Oil and Chia.

Veggies + Fruits:  You can and should be having as many veggies as possible.  Having 1-2 servings of fruit is also recommended.  My take is that since these come from the earth and are easily digested and full of phytonutrients then you should eat them with every meal.  It’s almost impossible to gain fat eating green veggies and other fibrous carbs because the caloric density is too low

  • Fibrous non-starchy vegetables, green vegetables and salad vegetables, broccoli, asparagus, green beans, spinach, cauliflower, red/green peppers, onions, mushrooms, celery, tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce and other leafy greens.

Tip:  Base your meals around Lean Protein and Veggies and you will see results.  Lean protein + Fibrous Carbs is the world’s most no-brainer diet to get ripped.

5.  When to Eat

This can be a blog post in of itself but I will keep it simple.  Eat Often!  I am a fan.  Try to have a meal or snack every 2-3 hours.  This has helped me to keep myself full throughout the day, even when trying to cut to lose body fat.  It helped keep my metabolism working and it also provides protein (amino acids) to the muscles through the course of the day as well.  Try to keep your meals to 5-6 per day.  An example of this can be shown below.  It is important to be consistent with your diet.  Better results come to those who eat early and often.  Meaning it is important to have Breakfast everyday as well.

  • Example of how I eat:  Breakfast, Snack, Lunch, Snack, Workout, Post-workout Shake, Dinner, snack.  (6 meals)

COACH ADVISE

  • Make sure you are avoiding all Junk food.  This is crucial.  You need to rid your house of all fried, fatty, sugary, foods.  Stay away from those high caloric, high sugar drinks.  If you are consuming too many of these then you are not going to see results.
  • Stick to your plan!  The more consistent you are with your plan the better and faster your results are going to be.  You get out what you put in.  If you are trying to gain mass and aren’t eating enough calories everyday then you will not reach your goals.   If you are trying to lose body fat yet have cheat meals every chance you get then you will not see those 6 pack abs that you have been looking for.
  • Adjust the calories and ratios for your goals but no crash diets!  Nutrition is about trial and error.  Trying things, determining what is working for you and sticking with it.  But it’s also a lifestyle.  You need to approach it like that.  If you are looking to lose weight then adjust your calories to make sure you are in a caloric deficit but don’t go below 1400 (for men) and 1200 (for women).  If you are trying to gain mass then adjust your calories for a surplus.  That surplus might be 500 or it might be 1000.  Start at 500.  Studies show that in order to gain weight you need a surplus of 3,600 calories per week (1 lb gained).  That is equal to 500 calories extra.
  • Plan ahead. Those who have a plan in place of what they will eat that day or meal are typically much more successful.  Bring a healthy snack with you if you know you will be away from healthy food.  I bring a protein bar with me where ever I go.  If I have to go to a restaurant for dinner with friends, I look it up online for the nutritional facts and plan what I will have.  Have a plan!
  • Don’t Cheat!  Those who cheat don’t get the extreme results of those who don’t.  Having a cheat meal/treat meal once per week needs to be earned.  If you are starting your first 90 days then no cheating allowed!

 

87 comments
jasonwsu
jasonwsu

Hey sean I tried contacting you via Facebook but you never got back to me the first time. I am entering the second phase, chest back tris and so on, of the classic. So should I add more calories so I'm on a calorie surplus like you did or where should I go from here?

dreasam
dreasam

Hi coach,

So I'm in my 3rd week of p90x. I've been doing well as far as nutrition. I used the math you've provided, and calculated if I want to lose weight specially around the stomach area (I am 5'1 105.6lbs fairly athletic) that my daily calorie intake should be about 1,311.6 using the (50-30-20) would mean 163.95g protein, 98.37g carbs, and 29g of fat. Now I know that I have a smaller frame, but is my calculation correct? I feel like it's too small. I've been feeling like I have less energy lately not like my first two weeks. Am I on the right path? And this last question might sound stupid but I'm doing the portion approach, so we also count the amount of carbs/protein/and fat on the other foods we're in taking, correct?

Hope to hear from you soon. Thank you!

jasonwsu
jasonwsu

Hi Sean I was hoping you could get back to me on the post I made earlier in this section; it wouldd be appreciated. Thanks.

Coach Sean
Coach Sean moderator

@jasonwsu Done :), make sure you find me on facebook, its easier to reach me on there these days

jasonwsu
jasonwsu

Hi Sean, I am 5 foot 10, weigh approximately 155 pounds, and am about 16% body fat give or take 2%. My goals are to reach 8%ish body fat while adding muscle weight/size sorta like you did. I plan to do p90x intertwined with insanity, both of which I have done before. According to the nutrition guide, my total calorie burn is 2305, using 10% to calculate my daily activity burn. So this means I should be in phase 1 level 1 eating 1800 cals/day or is that a little low for my goals, and should I move up to 2000 cals/day to better reach my goal of 8% body fat while adding muscle? Also how often should I recalculate my calories and how much should raise it by when I do? I also sent a message to you on teambeachbody as you are my coach on it; I just wanted to make sure you got the message

Coach Sean
Coach Sean moderator

@jasonwsu I would move up to 2000-2200 per day for your goals.  You will also need to make sure you are eating enough protein to help build the muscle you are after.  I would also do it for 2 weeks and see how you are looking.  From there you can then contact me again and we can see where to go next.  Make sure you contact me on Facebook because it's the easiest way to reach me.  

dreasam
dreasam

Hello Coach Sean, I am looking into doing p90x although i do have some questions. I am a 20 year old 5ft young lady (110lbs). I am fairly athletic, but I am wondering if following (and which one of the three) the nutrition guide will work for me or is it too much? 

dreasam
dreasam

Thanks coach, btw, I'm hitting all the needed nutrition following the portion approach, but I'm about 500 calories bellow my aim. But I don't know what else to eat. And I know it says to have 1 serving of fruit, if I hit 2 sometimes, is that fine?

Coach Sean
Coach Sean moderator

@dreasam Yes that's fine.  The easiest way to add calories is to add slightly larger servings to each meal.  For example, instead of eating 4oz of chicken have 6oz.  

dreasam
dreasam

Thanks for such a quick response! I want to lose mainly on my stomach and legs, though I know you can't spot reduce. What do you suggest? Would I be doing level 1 plan all 90 days or just a couple of weeks?

Coach Sean
Coach Sean moderator

@dreasam Do level 1 for 2-4 weeks.  After that you will be able to see if it is working for you and then you can adjust

Coach Sean
Coach Sean moderator

@dreasam Yes I believe that it will but it depends on your goals.  I would look at the level 1 plan based on the info you just gave.  I would then look at the fat burner ratio or the 40/40/20 plan

dreasam
dreasam

@Coach Sean thanks coach! one more thing, do you think 9:30 is too late for 1 scoop protein shake?

robert5891
robert5891

Hi Sean,


I just finished my 2nd round of P90X3 and am looking to go back to do a round of classic P90X2.  I am 5'11, 137 lbs, 28 years old.  I know I need to gain some weight and put on some lean muscle.  I've done multiple rounds of X, X2, and various One on One hybrids over the past 3 years and have loved working out ever since I first did P90X over 3 years ago.  What would you recommend as far as workout schedule and calorie/macronutrient intake?  I'm currently eating around 2200-2400 cals today of all clean food.Please let me know.


Thanks,

Robert

Coach Sean
Coach Sean moderator

@robert5891 The programs that you select are good for what you need.  You can also do Body Beast if you are inclined.  Your main two things you will need to focus on are #1 Nutrition...You will need to eat more calories, protein, and make sure you are eating a decent amount of complex carbs and healthy fats.  #2 you will need to make sure you are using weight that challenges you to remain in the 8-12 rep range.  If you find that you are stopping early when you could lift more or that the weight you are using is too light then you need to make sure you can either buy weights or get to a gym where you can use heavier resistance.  Feel free to sign up for me as your coach and I can help you with this in more detail.  

marra_c
marra_c

Hi Coach Sean, 


I'm on Day 2 of the P90X Lean program and am following Phase I of the diet plan which is 1,800 calories a day. The meal plan is okay for me overall, the only problem I am having is with breakfast - a 6 egg white omelette is a lot more than I usually eat at breakfast & I feel too full to finish it. Is 1,800 calories enough of a deficit for me to see results?


I'd like to lose fat in my stomach area & have a generally lean & toned figure. I'd love to lose 10 lbs if possible.


I'm a tall female, 5' 11", 156 lbs. My DCT is 1,866 cal


Thank you for your help.

CrystalCrydermanKrinke
CrystalCrydermanKrinke

Hi Coach Sean I need some help trying to figure out how any calories I need a day to lose the lbs I am 5'2 and 180 lbs!My goal weight is 120-125 any help would be appreciated!! 

eprunner10
eprunner10

Hi Coach, I'm on day 2 of p90x. I need some help, please!!! I'm a female 160 lbs, 5'2 and my goal is to lose body fat. I'm following Level II of phase 1. Here is where i need your help. I'm fallowing the   nutrition plan to the T but by the time dinner comes i feel really full. Two, should i consumed 2400 if I'm trying to lose body weight?? Thank you your feedback will be highly appreciated. 

Coach Sean
Coach Sean moderator

@eprunner10 You should definitely drop down to Level 1 of the plan.  At your height/weight, I would shoot for 1500-1800 calories during the first month.  That will be much better for your goals.  2400 is too much for you.

jeia0690
jeia0690

@Coach Sean  Hey Coach, first of all thank you for the informations you put on the website :) They are all useful! Anyway, I am female, 5'2" and 119 lbs with 26% body fat. With P90X calculator, my daily calorie intake should be 1,800. My BMR according to Katch-McCardle is 1,788. I'm still trying to lose fat (not really weight) while building lean muscle. That means If I eat according to P90X, I'm on calorie surplus. But I still want to lose fat. What is the ideal daily calorie intake for me? Thank you so much for the help

Coach Sean
Coach Sean moderator

@jeia0690 At 5'2" I would shoot for 1500-1600 calories to start.  

Coach Sean
Coach Sean moderator

@jeia0690 No problem!  If you would like, I would love to have you sign up for me as your coach and join my team.  That way I can plug you into my team and help you in more detail.  It is free to join.  Just click on the link above or the "join our team" tab

jasonlb12
jasonlb12

I am eating 1900 calories in the 50/30/20 ratio and I am 5' 11" and am now 154 pounds currently with 8 percent bf. Just finished the first phase of the classic routine.

Coach Sean
Coach Sean moderator

@jasonlb12 Yep, go up to 2400 calories/day.  Sign up for me as your coach (it's free) and I can help you in much more detail

jasonlb12
jasonlb12

@Coach Sean I dropped my body fat percentage down to eight percent now and dropped my weight from 161 to 154 in the first phase. So now I want to up my calories so i can gain more muscle while maintaining my body fat %. Would you recommend I up my calories to 2500 ,with 40/40/20 ratios, or so to do this?

Coach Sean
Coach Sean moderator

@jasonlb12 How many calories are you currently eating at?  What is your height/weight?

jasonlb12
jasonlb12

@Coach Sean Hey I was wondering for your first 90 days what calorie intake, DCT, did you start off with? Secondly when did you decide to switch from the 50/30/20 (protein,carbs,fat) ratio to 40/40/20. And did you ever switch to phase 3 of the nutrition guide within the 90 days and if so how far in? Lastly did you keep your DCT the same throughout the 90 days or did you have to add more calories as you gained weight? Thanks Sean hope you can remember that far back!

Coach Sean
Coach Sean moderator

@jasonlb12 I started out trying to hit 2000 calories per day.  It was tough for me because I was eating way less then that.  I slowly upped it to 2400-2600 by the ned of my 90 days.  I did 50/30/20 for 30 days then switched to 40/40/20 for the rest of the program.  I like 40/40/20 as my main diet currently.  

filosophiapraxis
filosophiapraxis

Hello, I'm starting Insanity but I have some belly fat on me. Should I go to 40/40/20 or can I start on 50/30/20? I understand Insanity is more cardio-based that P90x. Should that make a difference??

Coach Sean
Coach Sean moderator

@filosophiapraxis You can definitely start on 50/30/20.  I wouldn't stay on it for longer than 3 weeks with insanity.  You will need the extra carbs of 40/40/20 to get through the workouts when you switch to the 2nd phase.  Hope that helps!  If you like, you can sign up for my team for free so I can help you in more detail :)

tiferetsephirot
tiferetsephirot

HI Sean!  I am 28 year old woman , weight 145 lbs and height 5´1. What is your recommendation?

mpasseyrock
mpasseyrock

hey sean iam 5 foot eleven 210 pounds trying to get down to 170 iwould be ripped iwork in the oilfield 15-18 hours aday at 2400 cd its very hard to eat six times a day what do you recommend

TahimyWuech
TahimyWuech

Hi Sean, I'm a female with a height of 5'7 and weight 146lbs. I did all the calculations that you mentioned and I have learned that I must eat 1,656 calories a day and I am going to do the 50/30/20 because I want to lose belly fat even though I am pretty lean already I really want to lose some body fat so I can get very toned. Now my question is once I have been following this method for 2-4 weeks like you said and I lose some weight and body fat do I still need to be eating the same amount of calories of 1,656 with maybe the 40/40/20 ratio or do I need to make a whole new calculation? I mean if by eating 1656 calories a day and doing the 50/30/20 method I lose about maybe 10 pounds and now i weight 136lbs then I don't need to have a deficit anymore which means that my calorie intake would change? I don't know if you understand what I am trying to ask, but I am sure you can help me since you know how to lose the body fat and maintain your weight. Hope to hear an answer soon. Thank you

jilapit
jilapit

hey sean I weigh about 320lbs and I'm 6' how many calories do you think i should i eat? i feel that 3200calories is to much?

justin

ajs1850
ajs1850

I was wondering Sean, can I go down to level II if I want to lose more weight? I found that level III seemed like a bit much of food. I'm at about 5'11 and 210.

bethturunen
bethturunen

 I just started the P90X yesterday and am only on day 2 of the Regular Workout. I am around 110 lbs, 5'3" and my goal is to lose some belly fat and get really tone by the end of this. My goal is to build muscle and lose a little, but there is not much to lose! Should i increase my daily calories by 500 right off the bat or should I decrease them for 2-4 weeks to lose those few pounds? I planned on starting with the 40/40/20 for food but didnt know if I should do the 50/30/20 for the first few weeks to lose the belly fat? HELP!

 

Thanks,

Beth

Matt Scheller
Matt Scheller

Hi Sean!  Great information!  I have one quick question that I am still really uncertain about.  I have completed Insanity about 4 months ago and definitely got leaner results.  I have always been thin, weighing between 140 and 150 pounds and only 5'8".  I'm looking to get thicker and build much more muscle and definition.  I just started p90x this week and currently  weigh 142.  What do you recommend for my nutrional plan?  Upon calculations, I should be in phase 1.  When I add on an additional $500 I should be in Phase 2.  What are your thoughts?  Also, how long should I be on  the fat shredder portion of the p90x nutritional plan?  Thanks! 

Vincent
Vincent

Nice info here, Sean! I've really learned so much from your website. I'm actually a 17 year old kid (2 months before I turn 18), and I want to try out the P90X program. Oh, and btw, I'm from the Philippines. My height is 5'5 and i weigh at around 130 pounds. Do you think this program's appropriate for me? Thanks! :)

Megan
Megan

Hey Sean! Thanks! I am a member and I tried to add you as my coach, but I am not sure if it worked? There a couple of other questions I have regarding my nutrition, and it'd be great to talk with you through whatever forms you usually do to help people. I appreciate any and all support! :) Thanks so much! God Bless!

Megan
Megan

Thanks so much Sean for your response! I really appreciate all the insight! Is there any way someone could take a look at an example plan I have in a word document to see if I am on the right track? Thanks so much!

Megan
Megan

I have a quick question regarding macros. If I am 100 lbs and taking in about 1600 calories a day and following the 40/40/20 ratio, I was wondering if that's too much protein. That puts me at about 160 g a day. I am currently about 21 percent body fat and would like to be in the teens. I eat very clean and have no processed food in my menus. If I take My calories up to 17 or 1800 then again my protein would be very high. Thoughts? I appreciate feedback in advance! Thanks!

Ray
Ray

Hey Sean, Sorry for the delay. I didn't see your reply. I'm 5'11, 169lbs, and 22 years old.

AJA
AJA

Hey Sean, I'am entering the last four weeks of the P90X for mass. I'm taking 2446 Kc on training days and on non training days I drop 200 Kc to keep fat gain to a minimum. So far by I've put on some mass, my question is because of this should I increase my calories in these last four weeks? If yes how many (give or take)? Thanks man.

Tommy
Tommy

Hey Sean, I know that to gain mass you need a calorie surplus, however, I fin it easiest to follow the p90x portion approach. Right now I should be eating 1800 cals, so I was wondering if I should just switch to level 2 eating of the portion approach and that will give me a 600 cal surplus. Is that to much? Will I gain to much body fat from that? Thanks in advance.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] My Fat Burning Diet Posted by Coach Sean on Apr 6th, 2012 in Diet, Nutrition | 0 comments This post is for those of you who ask me what I do to drop body fat while maintaining as much muscle as I can.  This is NOT my typical maintenance diet.  This is  a nutrition plan that I use when I want to cut my body fat down.  This is a diet that can be used for up to 4 weeks so you can burn that extra body fat to show that muscle underneath.  Feel free to use this as a guide for the types of foods you should be focusing on and the type of nutritional timing that has worked for me. If you need help getting started, check out my Nutrition 101: How to Eat for Results post FIRST! [...]