I enjoy sharing my P90X experience with others and often I get questions from people looking for advice about the program. I got some good questions from a reader so I wanted to post them here in case anyone else was looking for the same information. Of course, I’m not a personal trainer or nutritionist, so I often turn to the experts whenever I give advice to others! I’ll post her question(s) and then my response(s) below:
In terms of eating, it’s REALLY hard for me to make a lot of the recipes…so I try to do the portion approach! I know you’re not supposed to drink, but normally on Saturday nights we will go out with friends to dinner and such. Should I just eat less on those days since I know I will have a few drinks? Also, what to do if I eat too many calories? I’m great when I make my own meals…it’s just eating out or eating at other peoples houses that worries me! I want to follow the plan as perfectly as possible, just didn’t know how those little mistakes might hurt me in the long run! Also… I know it says to drink 12 oz of water before every workout…but on Tues, Wed, Thurs I have to workout first thing in the morning before work. The plan doesn’t say if you should eat before a workout or not? I like to make a smoothie with protein powder, almond milk and frozen berries, with a tablespoon of flaxseed oil. I think its about 350 calories. Some people say it’s OK to do cardio on an empty stomach but I wanted to get your opinion. One more thing! (sorry!). I didn’t buy the P90X meal bars or recovery formula. How important do you think they are? My boyfriend has a recovery formula from GNC, but my friend said she just mixed creatine with gatorade. I’ve also read about chocolate milk. What are your thoughts on any of these? Again, I really appreciate all the help!
It’s really important that you don’t cut back on calories…EVER! When you cut back on calories you lose muscle mass and also slow down your metabolism. BOO! The bad thing about alcohol is that you are often taking in a lot of calories with very little nutrients. You always want to make sure that your calories count for something! Calories aren’t bad necessarily, but when those calories are EMPTY you aren’t doing your body any favors. In fact, alcohol may actually increase the amount of food you eat at any given meal. Plus, your body will always process alcohol calories before any other type, since it can’t store them. So your body will use less fat for energy when you have alcohol in your system.
Personally, I don’t drink alcohol so it’s not an issue for me but I would try to limit your alcohol consumption as much as possible, especially while doing P90X. 🙂 Red wine seems to be the best choice, with few calories, few carbs, and some healthy micronutrients like antioxidants. Steve Edwards, Beachbody’s fitness advisor, says “If you drink, make sure of two things. One is that you drink extra water to keep your body hydrated. The other is to adjust your diet for alcohol. Those 7 calories per gram should be treated as sugars, so a sound diet should include extra essential fatty acids and proteins.”
Eating “too many calories” only becomes a concern to me when those calories don’t provide essential nutrients which is often the case with junk food, pop, etc. One book that has really helped me understand some of the fundamentals involved with nutrition and exercise is The New Rules of Lifting for Women by Lou Schuler. Very helpful!
When I know I’m eating out or headed to a gathering with food I always eat something filling before I leave so I don’t arrive hungry. Also, one thing that has really helped me is making meals and prepping my veggies, chicken breast, etc. in advance (usually on the weekend or my day off). That way all I have to do is throw stuff together during the week. It helps a ton! Sometimes I will also cook a big pot of soup and it will last me almost the entire week! When something is already prepared, you are less likely to settle for “convenience” foods which are often not as healthy! Even something as simple as keeping hard-boiled eggs in your frig (I don’t eat the yolks! eww!) will help.
There is a lot of debate out there on what is best nutriton-wise both pre and post workout. This article provides a good summary of the basics of pre and post-workout nutrition. I’ve been doing a lot of reading on the topic and it seems that a combination of pre-workout meals, night-time eating and multiple post workout meals/drinks provide more benefit than one post workout drink. For more information on this topic check out this article on T-nation.com
Really, in the overall scheme of P90X it doesn’t really matter what time of the day you do your workouts as long as you are consistent with pressing play everyday. Check out this blog post: http://cavakia.com/?p=58 I agree 100% with what Cavakia has to say! Steve Edwards also has a good article on his blog that talks about eating before exercise: http://steve-edwards.blogspot.com/2010/06/spartan-logic.html
Your smoothie sounds fine…personally I like to change things up a bit and not do the same thing everyday just like my workouts. Sometimes I will have low-fat chocolate milk, sometimes the P90X Recovery Drink with almond milk and banana, and sometimes Shakeology. There are some days when I even eat real food both pre and post workout. 🙂 There are lots of different options, the fun part is experimenting to find out what works best for you. Besides whey protein powder and Shakeology I currently do not take any additional supplements. I do enjoy the occasional P90X bar but they are not a staple of my diet.
Try not to worry too much about the little mistakes. It’s all a part of the learning process. Like I mentioned before, I pretty much live by Hal Higdon’s philosophy in that “as long as you are consistent with your training, the overall details won’t matter.”
So I guess what I’m trying to say is that as long you keep pressing play for 90 days and are generally smart and clean when it comes to your diet, you will be fine. 🙂