P90X Without the Nutrition Plan

12 Mar

Ooo…my absolute favorite thing to google before starting P90X:

“P90X success without the nutrition plan”

I googled it many a time hoping I would get a different result.  Isn’t that the definition of insanity?  Doing things over and over again expecting a different outcome?  Well, with this particular search I really hoped that I would find something, anything out there saying “Hey if you eat healthy food, you will have the same results!  And if you cheat only a little, you’ll still have great results!”


Well…the fact of the matter is: the nutrition plan is a vital part of the P90X program.  So much so that Adam and I have often remarked “Wow, nutrition is probably 70-80% of our results.” It hurts to read, I know – it hurts to type!  I just wish it weren’t true.  But the bottom-line is: to have the absolute best results possible you need to use the nutrition plan.  

Now you may be thinking, “Kelly, how do you know that?”

My credentials in this matter: I did P90X without the nutrition plan and then with the plan (back to back).  I did my own experiment, and I have been shocked at the results of it.  When I mean results I’m referring to: physical changes (muscle gain, weight loss), overall health (I just feel better than I did before), and ability to stick with the program (when you are working so hard on the nutrition side, you are extremely motivated to never miss a workout.)  Just to give you a little background, here is the premise of my experiment:

Round 1:
  • Exercise: Completed on average 4.85 workouts per week (never did X-stretch). Ran a couple days a week at lunchtime.
  • Nutrition: Ate “healthily” – lots of fruits and veggies, average amount of carbs, and plenty of 100 calorie packs to keep my calories low.  Didn’t count, measure, or stress about amount.

Results: Lost weight, saw improvements in strength and fitness from Oct – Feb. (3 weeks in there I did only 4 workouts and those weeks I redid the week.  I chose to start P90X right over the holidays so it was a challenge for sure!)

Round 2:
  • Exercise: Average of 6.25 workouts a week. Trying to fit in X-stretch when possible. Running 3 days a week (average of 10 miles a week). Adam and I are currently on week 6 of the program.
  • Nutrition: Strictly following the plan.

Results: Losing weight much more rapidly (saw more results in first two weeks than first 6-8 weeks without following the nutrition plan). Easily seeing more definition.  Mentally feel much better.  Energy levels are up.  Dare I say, I’m more positive about things?  I’ve been surprised at the overall (total body) transformation I have been seeing when combining the workouts with the nutrition plan.  I didn’t realize how much you are what you eat.  If you fuel your body, you really will perform everywhere better.  This has been an eye-opening experience for us. Especially since I thought I always ate healthy!

So what am I not eating now?
  • Processed anything: no more 100 calorie snack packs or “calorie-light” options. I’ve had 1 or 2 in desperate situations, but try to pack lunches to avoid this.
  • Caffeine: Gave up diet soda for this one (and let me tell you, I used to drink a LOT of coke zero)!  I still have caffeine free soda a few times a week, but I’m working on getting this one to 0.
  • Lean Cuisine: I used these as an alternative when I didn’t have time to cook.  Now Adam and I plan in advance our dinners and grocery shopping so we always have healthy, whole dinners.
  • Sugar: No more desserts at the office – oh this one is a toughie!  I stay away from candy and sugary snacks.  I did have some cakes and treats for Adam’s birthday last Saturday, but that was the first time in weeks…and it hit me like a brick wall.  A very uncomfortable brick wall that I did not enjoy.


What am I eating now?
  • Lots of veggies: measured out into my new “calorie pack” – really just an appropriate serving size.
  • Less fruit: I used to eat a ton of fruit (probably 4-5 servings a day).  Now I have measured out portions.
  • Real dinner! I’m cooking more now and trying to eat dinners with protein and veggies.
  • Tea: Lots of tea at work (caffeine free).  And I’m finding the more days I go without lots of sugar the more delicious the tea tastes!
  • More protein: I’m eating measured portions instead of “what I think looks good”
  • Less carbs: This was really hard during phase 1, but man was it effective. Now when I eat carbs I’m working to eat more whole grains and just better carbs.

rasp IMG_1997almonds

To sum it up:

You can have success with P90X without following the nutrition plan.  However, it will not be nearly the success you would see if you followed the plan.  Trust me, it’s worth learning and committing to the plan.  Your body will thank you!

Happy eating!


“If you’re committed to eating healthy, its time to start investigating whether your food choices are as wholesome as you believe.” -Unknown

8 Responses to “P90X Without the Nutrition Plan”

  1. terry4505 April 1, 2013 at 11:59 am #

    I had the exact same experience. I went 9 months, three full rounds of P90X without following the nutrition guide. I thought, like you “Hey, I’m eating well”. It wasn’t until I started tracking my food (I use myfitnesspal) and following an actual plan (I have mine on my blog under “Diet”). I had the same experience. I had good results when not following the nutrition guide. I have had great results since I started tracking it. I still don’t follow the nutrition guide though.

    • racesrepsramblings April 1, 2013 at 12:07 pm #

      Yep! It’s amazing what a little tracking can do – I’ve been pretty shocked at the difference. I’ll have to check out your diet plan, sounds like it has certainly been working for you. Thanks for sharing your similar experience – glad I’m not the only one!

      • terry4505 April 1, 2013 at 12:09 pm #

        Literally the first question I get when people ask me about my experience with P90X is “did you follow the diet guide?” Everyone wants results, without changing how they eat.

        • racesrepsramblings April 1, 2013 at 12:25 pm #

          Yeah – I think I remember that being the first thing I googled when thinking about P90X. I was desperate to find someone who had perfect success without changing their diet. I was very resistant to changing it, but now I’m happy I did! The reality is nutrition is 70-80% of the success.

  2. Alex January 2, 2014 at 4:26 pm #

    Did you follow the nutrition plan meals that come with p90x? My husband and I tried to follow it exactly for the first week but it just wasn’t cost effective enough for us after having already spent money on the DVDs and equipment. We’re currently trying to follow the 50/30/20 percentage plan for protein, carbs, and fat. Any idea on the effectiveness of using the percentage approach to planning our diet versus strictly following the meal plan?

    • kelly @ racesrepsramblings January 2, 2014 at 6:34 pm #

      Hey Alex! We actually followed the portion plan and didn’t use the meal plan at all. So when were tracking things it really came down to portions of carbs vs. protein vs. fats and calories. I’m a huge fan of the portion plan because I think it’s helpful in teaching the right ratios. I think if you look at the portion plan a bit more you’ll find it’s pretty percentage based. Though it doesn’t give you the percents for each, but it does sort of train you in a high protein low carb thing. I think that the carb ratio in the first phase of P90X is probably less than 30% though I really could be wrong. I’d definitely look at the portion plan as it seems like that’s more what you’re looking for – I wasn’t a huge fan of sticking to the meal plan… wasn’t very realistic for us! You can still be cost effective with the portion plan and still be following the nutrition guide – a real win win. Hope that helps!


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