Extreme Newsletter—Diet and fitness tips, recipes, and motivation

Issue #048 09/28/10 P90X Meets the No- or Low-Carb Diet!

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Going Grainless, P90X® Style
(Or how to get all the carbs you need from Phase 3, without all those pesky carbs.)

By Denis Faye

Most P90Xers rejoice when they arrive at Phase 3 of the program's Nutrition Plan. Not only are they two-thirds of the way through the boot camp from hell, but they also know they're about to ramp up their workouts by introducing more carbohydrates, the body's primary energy source, into their diets. There are, however, dissenters—those who glance at Phase 3 of the P90X Nutrition Plan and blanch. "What's with all the carbs?" they grumble.

Peas, Legumes, Edamame, and Peanuts

There are several reasons a person might not embrace "The Energy Maximizer." Maybe you suffer from celiac disease, so navigating your way around 1,000 calories of complex carbs while avoiding wheat seems overwhelming. Maybe you follow one of the popular Paleo Diets and subscribe to the belief that our ancestors didn't eat grains, and therefore neither should we. Or maybe you just don't like all that pasta and rice.

Either way, Phase 3 just isn't your thing. The obvious solution would be to stick with Phase 2, which balances the macronutrients a bit more, but to quote the P90X Nutrition Guide, "Phase 3 should be tried at some point, even if you feel good in Phase 2. We've seen many people hesitate to move on to this more carb-heavy phase for fear that they'll gain weight, but surprise! They found that once they did, they had more energy, worked out even harder, and had better results."

Just because you want to avoid grains, wheat, or "starches," doesn't mean you should be denied those better results. The P90X Nutrition Plan was designed to be flexible, so with a little thought, you can easily rework Phase 3 to suit your needs. Let's make it happen.

A better understanding of everyone's favorite whipping boy: carbs

There are three macronutrients vital to your body's health: carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Everything you consume (except alcohol and the petrochemicals that lace a lot of fast food), is made up of these three things—and the three are hopelessly intermingled. Even if you were to skip the plan's carbohydrates portion list entirely, you'd still get carbs from fruits and vegetables, as well as some condiments, snacks, dairy products, and even the veggie-based options in the protein list. You just can't hide from macronutrients.

BroccoliBut the primary difference between the carbs in the Carbohydrate list and those in the Fruits and Veggies lists is that the former are primarily complex carbs, while the latter two are a combination of simple carbs and complex carbs. What does that mean? Scientifically speaking, simple carbs, or sugars, are single molecules, which means they're broken down into glucose (the body's primary fuel) more quickly. Complex carbs, or starches, are three or more simple carbs linked together, so the body needs to break them down into simple carbs before it converts them into glucose. The benefit of this is that complex carbs can provide more of a slow energy drip because they take longer to enter the system.

In truth, complex carbs are almost impossible to avoid. Although they're denser in grains and legumes, they tend to show up in most carb-based foods. For example, 50 percent of the digestible carbs in broccoli are complex. Even the banana, long thought to be one of the most sugar-laden fruits around, contains 10 grams of digestible complex carbs in a medium fruit. But I digress. The point is, you want to keep those complex carbs down a little, so let's see how to tweak Phase 3.

The Numbers

The revised portions look like this:

Level 1

  1. Proteins 2
  2. Dairy 1
  3. Fruit 4
  4. Vegetables 2
  5. Fats 1
  6. Carbs 2
  7. Snacks single, bar, drink
  8. Condiments 2

Level 2

  1. Proteins 3
  2. Dairy 2
  3. Fruit 5
  4. Vegetables 5
  5. Fats 1
  6. Carbs 2
  7. Snacks double, single, drink
  8. Condiments 3

Level 3

  1. Proteins 4
  2. Dairy 2
  3. Fruit 5
  4. Vegetables 6
  5. Fats 1
  6. Carbs 3
  7. Snacks double, single, single, drink
  8. Condiments 4


Revised Carbohydrates Portion List

  1. Baked beans – 1 cup
  2. Beans (kidney, black, etc) – 1 cup
  3. Edamame – 1 cup (shelled)
  4. Hummus – 1 cup
  5. Lentils – 1 cup
  6. Peanuts (raw) – 1 ounce
  7. Quinoa – 1 cup
  8. Refried beans – 1 cup

AppleSee? It's pretty simple, actually. Primarily, you replace your grains with fruits and limit your intake from the Carbohydrate list to legumes. We did add a dairy block in a couple places to help lessen the volume of produce the revised plan requires you to eat. Most low-fat dairy contains a decent amount of carbs, so it should help fill the void, but if you can handle more fruits and veggies, feel free replace that extra dairy block with the caloric equivalent in fruits or vegetables. You'll also notice the addition of a couple of items to the carb list (edamame and raw peanuts), as well as the fact that quinoa made the cut. People often assume this South American seed is a grain. In fact, it's a pseudocereal, more closely related to spinach and beets. So you're all good, Paleo people!

Remember, don't let this one modification be the end of your experimentation with the P90X Nutrition Plan. As I stated earlier, it was designed to be flexible, so get in there and start flexing. Whatever your nutritional needs, you should be able to find the way that works for you.

Related Articles
"Tropic Plunder: 6 Super-Healthy Exotic Fruits"
"Everything You Need to Know about the Glycemic Index"
"8 Foods to Boost Your Metabolism"

Questions about your workout program, diet, the latest newsletter, or anything wellness related? Chat with Steve Edwards, the overseer of Beachbody's fitness and diet development (who also serves as your Fitness Advisor on the Message Boards), in the Beachbody Chat Room on Monday, October 4, at 3:00 PM ET, 12:00 PM PT.

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

Check out our Fitness Advisor's responses to your comments in Steve Edwards' Mailbag on the Message Boards. If you'd like to receive Steve Edwards' Mailbag by email, click here to subscribe to Steve's Health and Fitness Newsletter. And if you'd like to know more about Steve's views on fitness, nutrition, and outdoor sports, read his blog, The Straight Dope.

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Dance, P90X, and INSANITY®: Get the Dancer's Body of Your Dreams

By Stephanie S. Saunders

Whether you take ballet six times a week, or just loved tap dancing as a kid . . . once a dancer, always a dancer. Even though we outgrow our love for pink tights and tutus, we never really give up our love of movement—not to mention our desire to have a dancer's long, lean body. Since dance might be the only athletic endeavor where most practice sessions are done in front of a mirror, it's understandable that dancers are among the most aesthetically obsessed athletes on the planet. So why is it that many dancers still struggle to acquire the perfect body, even with all of the hours of training? And what does this mean for those who might still take classes occasionally—or who have hung up their dancing shoes long ago?

P90X®, Woman Dancing, and INSANITY®

The reason anyone's body stops changing is because it's adapted to the movement you've given it to do. When you've trained the same way since you were four, standing at the same barre and doing the same grande jetés across the floor, your body becomes extremely efficient at what it's doing. This is also true if you've been doing 60 minutes on a Stairmaster® at level 12 for the last 3 years. Simply put, your body has no reason to change.

That is, until now. Welcome to the latest Beachbody® hybrid: P90X/INSANITY/dance.

Why P90X and INSANITY?

P90X and INSANITY are two very intense training systems, both designed to get you into the best shape of your life. And simply completing one of these programs would probably alter your body considerably. But here's another little-known fact about dancers, from the amateur to the professional: Most are bored with exercise they can't do in a dance studio. Admit it, nothing is as fun as dancing. And that's OK, 'cause this hybrid program will keep the boredom at bay while stimulating your muscles in whole new ways. The resistance training and intense cardiovascular conditioning will alter your physique while all the elasticity will keep you feeling like a rubber band. And you can still take dance class (or start again, if you've had some time off).

When to begin

DancerIf you're an active dancer rehearsing or performing in a show, you should wait until the job is completed before beginning an X/INSANITY hybrid program because of the soreness you'll most likely encounter initially. Hindering your ability to perform or dance is not what you're looking for. If you dance for exercise or fun, though, this is the perfect time. And should you not be dancing presently, but still want a dancer's lean lines, consider this hybrid program and perhaps add a dance DVD into the mix.

Schedule your hybrid workouts at opposite times of day from whatever class you're taking. As you'll see in the mock schedule section, you should do your intense plyometric or lower-body resistance training on days when you're not in dance class, and you should do your upper-body and flexibility training the days when you are.

Foundation

Dance is amazing at working most of the major muscle groups in your body, and most dancers have a pretty strong core and good balance. What many dancers lack is muscle in the upper extremities and high-intensity cardiovascular capacity. Most also deal with a huge amount of muscular imbalance. If you're a recreational dancer, you might have fewer of these imbalances, but you may not have the same amount of core strength or flexibility as a pro. P90X and INSANITY combined should solve all these problems.

Periodization

Periodization is a method of alternating training loads to produce peak performance for a specific event. And it's something dancers don't really do. Herein lies the difference between dance and most other athletics: Dance is an art form that is never mastered. It's not quite like running, where the fastest one wins. There's always a bigger jump, another turn, or a higher extension to master. So you keep pushing through until you end up injured or too old to care anymore. Ironically, this is another reason why dancers (and those who aspire to look like them) can fail to get their bodies to their full potential. You need to learn to give your body time to adapt to the load of work you're giving it, and then begin to increase that workload. Train in cycles and shock your system into changing.

Recovery

Dancers, both professional and recreational, also need to learn to allow for recovery. Because soreness is second nature to a dancer, you think you're invincible and just keep going. So not true. Because your training will be in cycles, and will be very intense, you must adhere to the recovery weeks and not push so hard. Also, your muscles need 1 day of rest each week, which means all you get to do is stretch.

Putting it together

Shaun T's Dance Party SeriesHopefully you've read Steve Edwards' entire series on customizing P90X and hybrid programs. If not, it has invaluable information that's worth looking back at. Steve is very specific in stating that if you're unable to complete either P90X or INSANITY on its own, a hybrid of the two will not serve you well. This still rings true. This dance hybrid is offered, assuming that you're in excellent physical condition and are hopefully dancing on a regular basis. If you're someone who takes a cardio hip-hop class once a year at the gym, this hybrid isn't really intended for you. It doesn't mean you can't try it, but make sure you're at a physical level where you're able to complete all three exercise systems on their own, before combining them. If you're not enrolled in dance classes at all, you could use a dance DVD from the Yoga Booty Ballet® Ab and Butt Makeover series or Shaun T's Dance Party Series™ in place of the dance classes.

Schedules

The following is based on P90X Lean and Doubles, INSANITY, and a mock dance schedule. You will, of course, have to tweak the formula to fit your schedule, as every dancer—or those who desire the physique of one—takes a different amount of dance classes per week. Some take two; others take ten, which obviously is a different amount of stress on the body. Also, since most forms of dance are more intense on the lower body muscles, we're trying to avoid overtraining them. So however you adjust the schedule, make sure you're not completing a brutal leg or plyometric workout on the same day as a 3-hour dance class. If you're not presently in a dance class, you could skip the dance workouts or use a Yoga Booty Ballet or Shaun T video, as suggested previously. Also, although we're following a Doubles schedule, we'll focus more on flexibility, assuming you'll get cardiovascular work in your dance classes. There are few forms of dance that don't require great elasticity, so maintaining those long, lean, pliable muscles remains important.

Weeks 1, 2, 3

Day 1 AM: P90X Core Synergistics PM: Ballet Class
Day 2 AM: INSANITY Plyometric Cardio Circuit 
Day 3: AM: Dance ClassPM: P90X Shoulders & Arms, Ab RipperX
Day 4: AM: INSANITY Pure Cardio & Abs 
Day 5: AM: P90X Yoga X PM: Dance Class
Day 6: AM: P90X Legs & Back 
Day 7: Rest or P90X Stretch X  

Recovery Week 4

Day 1: AM: P90X Yoga X PM: Dance Class
Day 2: AM: P90X Kenpo X  
Day 3: AM: Dance Class PM: P90X Stretch X
Day 4: AM: INSANITY Core Cardio & Balance  
Day 5: AM: P90X Core Synergistics PM: Dance Class
Day 6: AM: P90X Yoga X  
Day 7: Rest or P90X Stretch X  

Weeks 5, 6, 7

Day 1: AM: Dance Class PM: P90X Core Synergistics
Day 2: AM: INSANITY Cardio Power & Resistance PM: P90X Kenpo X
Day 3: AM: P90X Chest, Shoulders & Triceps, Ab Ripper X PM: Dance Class
Day 4: AM: INSANITY Cardio Circuit, Cardio Abs PM: P90X Legs & Back
Day 5: AM: Dance Class PM: P90X Yoga X
Day 6: AM: INSANITY Cardio Recovery, Cardio Abs  
Day 7: Rest or P90X Stretch X  

Recovery Week 8

Day 1: AM: P90X Yoga XPM: Dance Class
Day 2: AM: P90X Kenpo X  
Day 3: AM: Dance Class PM: P90X Stretch X
Day 4: AM: INSANITY Core Cardio & Balance  
Day 5: AM: P90X Core Synergistics PM: Dance Class
Day 6: AM: P90X Yoga X  
Day 7: Rest or P90X Stretch X  

Week 9, 10, 11

Day 1: AM: Dance Class PM: P90X Chest & Back, Ab Ripper X
Day 2: AM: INSANITY Max Interval Plyo PM: P90X Core Synergistics
Day 3: AM: P90X Cardio X PM: Dance Class
Day 4: AM: INSANITY Max Cardio Conditioning & Abs PM: P90X Yoga X
Day 5: AM: Dance Class PM: P90 X Shoulders & Arms, Ab Ripper X
Day 6: AM: INSANITY Max Interval Circuit, Cardio Abs PM: P90X Kenpo X
Day 7: Rest or P90X Stretch X  

Recovery Week 12

Day 1: AM: P90X Yoga XPM: Dance Class
Day 2: AM: P90X Kenpo X  
Day 3: AM: Dance Class PM: P90X Stretch X
Day 4: AM: INSANITY Core Cardio & Balance  
Day 5: AM: P90X Core Synergistics PM: Dance Class
Day 6: AM: P90X Yoga X  
Day 7: Rest or P90X Stretch X  

Ted Shawn, the great pioneer of modern dance, once said, "Dance is the only art in which we ourselves are the stuff of which it is made." This is part of the reason that having a beautiful physique makes dance so much more appealing to see. So whether you're dancing in a company, or just taking classes for fun, use P90X and INSANITY with your classes to acquire the perfect canvas to paint on. You'll also find that you're stronger, have greater stamina, can jump higher, and might be even more flexible than you were 12 weeks ago. Now that's good stuff.

Related Articles
"Life After P90X, Part II: Creating Hybrid Programs"
"6 Ways to Avoid a Plateau"
"Endurance Athletes: Get Ripped in the Off-Season"

Questions about your workout program, diet, the latest newsletter, or anything wellness related? Chat with Steve Edwards, the overseer of Beachbody's fitness and diet development (who also serves as your Fitness Advisor on the Message Boards), in the Beachbody Chat Room on Monday, October 4, at 3:00 PM ET, 12:00 PM PT.

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

Submit A CommentTell A Friend Bookmark and Share

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97 Pounds in 180 Days!

cbielich1 was 34 years old and tipped the scales at 277 pounds. He decided to do something about it. Two rounds of P90X Lean Routine got him into amazing shape. Check out his unbelievable transformation below.

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Recipe: Greek Feta Chicken

By P90X nutritionist Carrie Wiatt
Greek Feta Chicken

Mediterranean cuisine is considered to be among the healthiest in the world. This Greek chicken dish is not only delicious—it delivers an amazing 33 grams of protein with every serving. So "Greek out" with this easy-to-prepare dish.

  • 8 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • Glass baking dish
  • Medium bowl
  • Cookie sheet
  • Grill

Marinade:
  • 8 oz. plain nonfat yogurt
  • 4 tsp. garlic, minced
  • 1/3 bunch fresh oregano, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1-1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper

Topping:
  • 6 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1 Roma tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 cup canned artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, blanched and chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh oregano, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped

In glass baking dish, whisk together marinade ingredients. Set aside 1/3 cup of marinade to use later for basting; place in sealable container and refrigerate until needed. Add chicken to remaining marinade in baking dish, turn to coat, cover with plastic wrap, and marinate in refrigerator at least 1 hour (or as long as overnight).

When chicken is done marinating, preheat grill (gas, charcoal, electric, or tabletop electric) and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Discard used marinade. Grill the chicken, basting with unused marinade set aside for this purpose, for 4 minutes on each side, or until juices run clear and center is no longer pink. While chicken is grilling, in medium bowl, mix together topping ingredients. Lightly coat cookie sheet with nonstick cooking spray and arrange chicken on pan. Place 1 rounded tablespoon of topping on each breast half. Bake for 5 to 8 minutes or until cheese is softened. Makes 8 servings.

Preparation Time: 1 hour and 20 minutes. (May marinate longer if desired.)

Cooking Time: 16 minutes

Nutritional Information (per serving):

Calories Protein Fiber Carbs Fat Total Saturated Fat
218 33 g 1 g 7 g 6 g 4 g

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

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