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What phase of the nutrition should I start with?  When should I switch to the next phase?  At 30 days?  After 1 round?  How many calories should I aim for?

There are so many questions that come to a person’s mind when going through P90X about the nutrition, and they are GREAT questions.  As you know, nutrition is 80% of the results.  When you are busting your tail on these workouts, you need to have a nutrition plan that is dialed in to help your body produce the results you are working to achieve.  Workouts alone won’t do it.  You need a dialed in nutrition plan!  And it will be different for every one of us because at any point, we are different people with different goals and our bodies are different.

So is it hopeless to figure out how to dial it in?  Of course not!  I’m going to give you the basic rules of thumb for where you want to be on your nutrition based on your height, your gender, and your goals (shed body fat, maintain weight but get stronger, or build mass).  These rules of thumb will need to be experimented with and tweaked for each of you based on how your body responds, but this will get you very close to where you need to be.

Here’s my rules of thumb:



If you are MORE than 2% away from your body fat goal, you need to be on a fat shredder diet.  That means 50% protein, 30% carbs, 20% fat.  Let’s say your goal is 8% body fat — as long as you are over 10% body fat you will stay on fat shredder (whether that takes 1 month or 6 months).  We want to shed fat fast until we get very close to our goal before switching to an energy booster phase 2 diet.  You also need to be running a good deficit of calories (taking in less than you burn in a day).  As for the total number of calories, these are my recommendations:


6′ and above = 1900-2200 cals per day.

5’6 – 5’11” = 1700-1900 cals per day.

less than 5’6″ = 1500 cals per day.


5’6 and above = 1200-1400 per day.

less than 5’6″ = 1000-1200 per day.

Running the fat shredder at these calorie totals will result in rapid body fat loss, which is what we are after in this stage.



If you are within 2% of your ideal body fat, you need to be on a phase 2 diet (40/40/20) that is close to your maintenance calorie level.  During this type of diet, the main goal is a slow reduction of body fat but a lot of energy for getting stronger and building muscle.  This is where you see fine tuning of your results like I did in my round 2.  I was 8% body fat at the end of round 1 and 5.5% at the end of round 2 while staying the same weight.  My recommendations for those needing a phase 2 energy booster diet are:


6′ and above = 3,000 cals per day.

5’6″ – 5’11” = 2600-2800 cals per day.

less than 5’6″ = 2200 – 2400 cals per day.


5’6 and above = 1400 – 1600 per day.

less than 5’6″ = 1200 – 1400 per day.



If you are already shredded (whether that’s muscular and shredded, or just plain skinny LOL), then it’s time to build MUSCLE!!  (But NO, you can’t start bulking if you still have body fat to lose!  You must first get the body fat where you want it using the fat shredder diet or energy booster diet before you start bulking up).  For a muscle building diet, you need a lot of carbs to give you tons of energy and fuel the muscles to the max.  You should shoot for 50-60% carbs, 20-30% protein, and 20% fat.  But make sure those carbs are GOOD carbs!  Fruits, veggies, grains, wheats, oats, etc.  And you need to take in a calorie SURPLUS to help you gain weight, but you want to monitor your weight closely to be sure you are at a steady pace of about 1 lb per week.  If you are gaining more than that, it will be body fat which you don’t want.  In a round of the X, you should be able to put on 13 lbs of muscle without increasing your body fat much at all if you do it 1 lb per week.  Here’s my guidelines for total calories on a bulking diet (but you’ll need to adjust based on how fast you are / aren’t gaining weight each week):


6′ and above = 3,600 cals per day.

5’6″ – 5’11” = 3000 – 3200 cals per day.

less than 5’6″ = 2800 – 3000 cals per day.


5’6 and above = 1800 – 2000 per day.

less than 5’6″ = 1600 – 1800 per day.



As part of dialing in the diet, it’s important to learn to track what you eat.  I’ve written about Nutrition Tracking several times (how to determine the % of protein / carbs/ fat you are eating each day).  I’ve also got my sample diets in the “nutrition zone” tab for each of the above phases of the diet.  Feel free to follow them exactly, make substitutions that still get you to the proper %, or make your own diet.  As long as you are hitting the correct %, with the correct total calories, and eating HEALTHY foods, you will see AWESOME results!

Here’s some links to articles I’ve written about my diets and how to track:

“The Nutrition Guide” =

“Nutrition Tracking” =

“Round 1 Diet” =

“1900 Cal Fat Shredder Diet” =

“3000 Cal Phase 2 Energy Booster Diet” =

“Bulking Phase 3 Diet” =

Some ideas for “Fat Shredder Foods” =

Some ideas for “Healthy Snacks” =

Tips for “Eating Out” =

How to eat often by “Timing Meals” =

Why “Cheat Meals” will kill your progress =


These are the guidelines.  Everyone will need to fine tune it for their own bodies a bit, but this will give you a GREAT place to start.  It takes effort, but hey, so do the workouts.  And you would be foolish to work so hard on the workouts and then neglect proper nutrition to allow your body to transform!!

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