In my opinion the most important aspect of getting healthy is figuring out what to eat, when to eat, and how much to eat to acheive the desired result. It will differ depending on your goals and a number of other factors but there are general rules that apply to everybody who is trying to lose weight, maintain, or bulk up. When you purchase any Beachbody program it will come with a great guide that will give you the knowledge and foundation to be able to get the results you want. I want to build on the foundation of the nutrition plans with all of the programs and also share what has worked for me.
Step 1: Read the Nutrition Guide
No matter if you are a beginner or have gone through 5 rounds of P90x. Every time I get a new program I will go through the nutrition guide to build on the knowledge I acquired from other programs. We often get really excited for a program to arrive in the mail and focus on the workout part which is important but your workout is only 25 mins-1hr per day with the other 23 counting so much more. If you are novice in the kitchen like myself they will also have great recipes that are stupid proof and already give you the breakdown of total calories in addition to the macronutrients so you can pick and choose what snack or meal best fits your goals.
Step 2: Calculate how many Calories you should be Consuming for your Goals.
I think one of the best exercises for anyone to do when you are first starting your health/fitness journey is to track everything you eat so you can see how every little “bite size” snack or meal will either get you one step closer to your goal or one step further away. From my own experience it does a couple things for you. It will show you how unhealthy some of the “healthy” foods you think you have really are, you will realize that you are eating way too much, and it will make you more aware of the foods/drinks you are consuming. I personally have used myfitnesspal in the past for its ease of use entering in food online via your cell phone or computer. Now how to calculate how many calories you should be eating.
- Calculate your Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR): BODY WEIGHT (LBS) x 10 = RMR
- Calculate your Daily Activity Burn (DAB): RMR x 10% = DAB
- Determine your Calories Burned from your Daily Exercise (DE) = For P90X, Insanity, Turbofire, Body Beast, Combat workouts the average = 650 calories/workout
- 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
- Determine your Daily Caloric Target (DCT): RMR + DAB + DE +/- CS/CD = Daily Caloric Target (DCT)
- 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 .
- 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
Step 3: Choose your Protein/Carbs/Fat Ratios
By now you have gone through the nutrition guide multiple times and know how many calories you should be eating per day based off your goals and workout program. Now it is time to determine which phase best suits you. You will see three phases below with each one having it’s own particular focus and goal in mind. One thing I learned over trial and error is that the guides are not perfect, we are all different and our bodies react differently to protein, carbs, and fats. You will need to make a plan, evaluate your progress, and perhaps adjust accordingly so dont take the phases as something that is 100% set in stone. The 3 phases are:
1. Fat Shredder 50% Protein / 30 % Carbs / 20 % Fat: As you can see this is a high-protein phase that is designed to teach your body to use the additional fat as energy. Carbohydrates are the preferred source of energy for the body and by reducing the amount of carbs in this phase your body will begin to use your fat sources as energy and hence you will begin to lose weight. How long you stay on this phase will depend on your own personally progress. If you have a lot of fat to lose I actually recommend staying on this phase until you get to the body fat % you desire. If you begin to notice a big decrease in energy during your workout you may need to move to phase 2 to get more carbs to get the energy levels back up to ideal levels. During this phase I plan most of my complex carb consumption to before and after my workout to give me the energy needed for a strenous workout while also replenshing enery levels after my workout. For the rest of the day and especially after 3pm I tend to keep consume protein with little to no carb consumption. The key to this level is to make sure you are eating well balanced meals and snacks every 2-3 hours to keep you full while keeping your metabolism going full speed.
2. Energy Booster 40% Protein / 40% Carbs / 20% Fat: This phase is ideal for those who have reached their body % goals or are 1-2% away. You will see an increase in carbs for this phase which will help sustain your energy levels and performance during any program. This is the phase I tend to stay in when my goal is to maintain my results.
3. Endurance Maximizer 20% Protein / 60% Carbs / 20 % Fat or 25% Protein / 50% Carbs / 25% Fat: As you can see this phase is very high in carbohydrates and really only meant for those who have gone through multiple programs and have reached elite levels of fitness. This phase will utilize a high number of carbohydrates to help and increase your performance. This is a phase that very few use and one that I would not recommend unless you are noticing a huge decrease in energy levels with phase 2.
What phase should I start in?
Most people will start in phase 1 as they are looking to burn some fat while building lean muscle. If you are already very thin or fit you may be able to jump right into phase 2 or 3 but if you have any additional fat to burn I would stick to phase 1 for at least a couple weeks before considering the next phase.
Step 4: What to Eat
Protein: Proteins are the building blocks of muscle, enzymes, and sonic hor-mones. They are made up of amino acids and are essential for growth and repair in the body. A gram of protein contains four calories. Those from animal sources contain the essential amino acids. Those from vegetable sources contain some but not all of the essential amino acids. Proteins are broken up by the body to produce amino acids. They are the primary building blocks of our muscle, tissue, and bones. Not all proteins are created equal, you should focus on lean proteins. Some good examples are: Chicken breast, lean turkey, fish, lean red meat, greek yogurt, whey protein, egg whites, cottage cheese, quinoa, nuts (nut butters), and black beans to name a few. Lean proteins should be high in protein and low in fat so you can’t eat steak everybody and expect to lose weight!
Carbohydrates: Our main and preferred energy source is carbohydrates. Just as every protein is not created equal the same applies to carbs. One of my general rules is to just say no to anything that is white (white rice, white bread, white sugar, white flour, white pasta, etc) You want to focus on good complex carbs such as (brown rice, quinoa, sweet potatoes, good whole grains, and vegetables at will!
Fat: Contray to what people believe healthy fats are essential in every persons diet as they contribute to your recovery, brain activity, nutrient absorption, and cell membrane integrity. Some healthy fats include almonds, walnuts, sun flower seeds, flax seed oil, olive oil, avocado, chia, and canola oil.
Step 5: When to Eat
When to eat is just as critical as the previous four steps. Some people think the best way to lose weight is to maintain a fasted state and to skip meals to see a number on the scale go down. The healthy way is to understand your body and feed it accordingly every couple hours what it needs over a long term to achieve what you want. As mentioned I believe it is best to cosume a majority of your carbohydates for breakfast and around your workout time both before and after because A) if you eat your complex carbs in the morning you will use the majority of that energy throughout the day and B) eating good carbs before and after your workout especially on a low carb phase like the fat shredder plan will insure you get enough fuel for your workout to perform at your best and challenge yourself while also replenshing the body immediately after which is key to building lean muscle and burning fat.
* Plan your meals for the week! No matter what your goals may be (trying to bulk up or lose weight) you need to take one night per week and first plan your meals out to make sure they line up with your total calorie goal i.e. protein/carb/fat % breakdown and prepare your meals for the week. Going into Monday saying “I am going to try to eat well today” will only lead to failure. Take 2-3 hours 1x per week to prepare your meals and snacks for the week so when something comes up during the week you can stay on track. I can’t emphasize this enough, I have seen so many people who wake up with good intentions to eat well during the day but things come up with school, work, family, etc. that lead you to skip a meal or eat something that is not aligned with your goals and day by day that adds up.
* Try to eat your fruits in the morning but if you are deciding between starburst jelly beans (my weakness) and an apple at 10pm at night, use common sense.
* K.I.S.S. – Keep It Simple Stupid! eating healthy does not have to be hard. Plan ahead and keep it simple, use your common sense and evaluate your progress or perhaps your lack of progress and adjust as needed. Don’t make the mistake of continuing to do the same thing if you are not getting the results you want. It will take time and trial and error to find the right formula that works for your body.