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)


  • 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!



  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! [...]