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P90X Nutrition Plan - Chris Garrett Fitness | Dream-2-Reality | Team D2R

P90X Nutrition Plan

For a lot of people the P90X Nutrition Plan can be a bit confusing.  I want to go over the basic information you need to follow from the guide and explain how we manage what we consume on a day to day basis.

It is important that you read your P90X nutrition plan!  The following information can be determined by reading your P90X nutrition plan:

1)  The % of calories that should come from the 3 food categories for the different phases of the diet.

2)  How many calories the guide suggests you should take in for your body size.

3)  What are some good foods to make up the majority of your diet during P90X and Insanity (they are all listed by category in the guide).

4)  How many grams of each category of food you should take in each day based on the % of each category you are shooting for. For example… if you were following a 2000 calorie plan with the fat shredder phase it would look like this:

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

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

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

Now that you have understood these basics, allow me to help you get the most out of the P90X nutrition plan!

First, understand that once you figure out what the nutrition guide suggests for your daily calorie total, you need to ADJUST that depending on your goals.  If you want to remain about the same weight, and slowly convert body fat to muscle, the suggested calorie total from the guide is what you’ll want.  However, if you want to lose body fat quickly, you MUST run a calorie deficit.

If I had started P90X instead of Power 90 the P90X Nutrition Plan would have recommended I get on a 3,000 calorie diet.  3000 calories would have been to maintain what I had, but I would have wanted to lose weight so I would have chosen a 1000-1200 calorie deficit and picked a plan that held me to about 1800 calories .  Power 90 burns less calories than P90X and I followed a 1500 calorie diet which was also about a 1000 calorie deficit.  A 1,000 calorie deficit may be too much for you to handle.  That’s okay.  Try a 500 calorie deficit then.  But the bigger the deficit, the faster the weight loss.  However, you also need to remember to fuel your body enough to maintain your muscle mass.  If you “crash diet” (less than 1,200 cals for a man or 800 calories for a woman) you WILL lose muscle — that’s not good!  So be smart!

And if you want to gain mass, you’ll need to eat MORE calories than the plan suggests. For me the plan now suggests a 2400 calorie diet.  I am currently trying to gain weight by adding muscle mass, so I am going with 3,000 calories (a 600 calorie surplus) and I am following a 30/50/20 protein/carb/fat ratio.  Studies show that when gaining lean muscle mass, you want to gain about 1 lb per week of body weight (more than that will just be fat), and to add 1 lb per week, you need a 3,600 calorie surplus for that week (thus about 500-600 per day).  (The math behind that figure is that 1 lb of body weight = 3,600 calories, so if you are at +600 calories per day, you’ll gain 1 lb per week, and if you are at -600 calories, you’ll lose 1 lb per week).

Second, you want to choose the phase based on your goals.  Phase 1 (fat shredder) is designed to “jump start” your weight loss.  **NOTE** You do not want to stay in this phase for more than a month.  It is not healthy long term to stay on a high protein / low carb nutrition plan.  Phase 2 is designed to give you more energy and if you do this coupled with a calorie deficit, you will still be able to push are because you have the energy from the added carbs.  If you are a “hard-gainer”, don’t start in fat shredder mode!  Start in the Phase 3 plan to maximize your energy levels and run a calorie surplus to help you gain mass.   Complex carbs are your friend as they are your energy source, but it is important to know what are good carbs and bad carbs.  You obviously don’t want to get your carbs from white flour, cookies, cake, candy, etc.  You want carbs like veggies, whole grains, legumes, quinoa and some fruit.

Third, you don’t have to follow the meal plan or portion plan that the guide lays out for you!  I am not following the meal planner.  Why?  Most of the stuff in the meal plan takes a lot of preparation, and you may or may not even like the food choices.  So the meal plan approach may not be practical.  The portion plan is VERY innacurate.  For instance, on the “portion plan”, if you make a shake with protein powder, a banana, milk, and peanut butter, does that count as a shake, a protein, a fruit, a dairy, a fat, or all 5??  It’s just not accurate.  The only way the portion plan can work is if you never eat any foods that are combinations of proteins, carbs, and fats, but most of what we eat is a combination.

So, what then shall we do to decide how much of the different categories to eat?  TRACK IT!  If you want to take the nutrition aspect of this program seriously, you simply MUST put in the effort to track what you eat.  Every calorie, every gram of protein, every gram of carb, and every gram of fat.  Use a program like, which has an iPhone app as well.  My FAVORITE tracking app is myfitnesspal…  I highly recommend it!  It takes some effort to get your favorite foods put into the database, but after a couple weeks it becomes a matter of simply clicking on what you ate and it will give you a complete, accurate, breakdown of exactly what % of each category you have eaten on any given day.  Hitting your targets for % (or at least getting very close) is the key to maximizing your results.  If you don’t want to put in the time or effort, that’s up to you, but don’t expect to see the same level of results.  Nutrition is 80% of the results.  For a little while I was eating healthy foods, picking foods from the nutrition plan, but was not tracking it.  I did not understand why I wasn’t seeing better results until I started tracking what I was eating… I was way off my targets!  I now track EVERYTHING to ensure I am holding to the right caloric intake and protein/carb/fat ratios and I am seeing the results I desired!  One additional tip when tracking your foods… make sure the pre-set items in your tracking tool match up the the nutritional values of the foods you are eating.  I found a lot of times they don’t quite match up so 90% of the foods in my tracker I set up as custom foods to ensure the most accurate data.

Fourth, eat often!  The goal is to keep the metabolism humming, and if you let yourself run empty on fuel, your metabolism will slow down.  You don’t have to eat tons of calories to keep the metabolism high.  You are actually better off eating multiple small meals / snacks (about every 2.5 – 3 hours) all day long.  Keep the fuel source coming in the form of foods that provide sustained energy (proteins, low-glycemic index carbs like whole grains, veggies, legumes, quinoa and fruit).  If you can stick to the top 2 tiers of Michi’s Ladder you are in good shape!  You can see what is on Michi’s Ladder HERE.

Fifth, have a plan!  Don’t leave the house for the day without taking healthy snacks or planning your meals.  You’ll end up getting hungry, grabbing fast food, and ruining your nutrition for the day.  I always take healthy snacks with me everywhere I go.  These include Cheerios, Protein bars (either P90X bars or Pure protein bars, almonds, yogurt, apples, carrots, etc.  There is never an excuse to eat a bunch of junk fast food because you didn’t think ahead.  When I go on business trips I make sure I pack my Shakeology, protein powder, protein bars, almonds

Sixth, don’t cheat!  You’ll hear people say that you can get away with cheat days or cheat meals, but having one cheat meal can change your body’s chemistry and set you back 2-3 days…  I don’t want that!!  I guarantee the non-cheaters have the best results …. period!

Seventh, stick to it 100%!  The nutrition is every bit as important (in my opinion, MORE important) as the workouts.  Why bust your tail working out if you are going to just cut out the obvious junk food and hope for the best.  The nutrition takes more effort than that.  It takes some studying at first to get a handle on how to measure serving sizes, how to use measuring cups, how to read nutritional labels, and how to plan your diet for the day.  But it’s SO WORTH IT when it pays off!

I hope this helps you guys get an overall picture of what it takes to get extreme results!  The P90X Nutrition Plan is a guide, but ultimately you will need to track everything you do in order to lose weight with p90x or if you are gaining mass with p90x. It takes extreme attention to detail and you can do it!


Your article is useful for my job. Thanks !


Nice breakdown of the Nutrition Guide! For beginners it definitely can be overwhelming.....