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

THE TRANSITION DIET Issue #064 01/11/11

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The 8-Week Transition Diet

By Steve Edwards

The 6-Week Transition Diet was one of the first things I ever wrote for Beachbody, way back in 2001. It's remained popular ever since; in fact, in 2005, I gave it a facelift and increased it from 6 weeks to 8. Six years on, it's time to dust it off and spruce it up for the modern age. We've found over the years that this transitional eating plan is one of the easiest ways to change your eating habits for the better.

Steve Edwards

It's often said that no one diet works for every individual. While this is true, you may have noticed that all Beachbody eating plans target a similar goal: eating more natural whole foods and less junk. That's because there are no secrets to healthy eating. There are strategies that can lead to various performance benefits, but 99 percent of diet is cutting junk and eating real food. With this in mind, our Beachbody nutrition guides use various strategies, all designed to lead you to the same place.

While those nutrition guides tend to be detailed and filled with recipes, the 8-week transition plan is for those of you who are less detail oriented. Conceptually-based diets like this can be easier to follow, because they focus on providing you with a short list of "no-nos," leaving you with a fairly wide array of foods that you are allowed to eat. Of course, that isn't the attitude you want to have for long-term success. Any diet, no matter how easy it seems, will take some willpower on your part if you want to see results. Your long-range goal should be to eat well, period. If you can accomplish this, your physical transformation will become a natural extension of your lifestyle, instead of something you need to pursue.

As healthy eating becomes a habit, you will find the other intangibles (such as weight loss, increased energy, etc.) falling into place. For many people, the easiest way to accomplish the healthy eating habit is to make a gradual transition from food choices that hinder human performance to ones that help you perform better. By making this transition gradually, you'll find that it isn't as difficult as you expected.

Week 1

Potato ChipsNo junk. Eliminate junk food from your diet. That's it, just junk. Other than this, you can eat whatever and whenever you like. Now, how hard can that be? Guess this depends on what I mean by "junk." But all I'm concerned with this week is the obvious stuff like potato chips, candy, ice cream, cake, etc. You may be stricter if you'd like, but for Week 1, don't be too hard on yourself. For many of you, this step alone will reap huge benefits.

Cheat Days: 2

Since no one's perfect, you get 2 days to cheat. That's right, 2 days where you can eat anything you want! A trick on these days (and, yes, this means there will be more) is to listen to your body. At first, it'll probably tell you it wants whatever you've been denying it. However, over time, it'll start to crave nutrients you're deficient in. Learn to read your body's subtleties. If you're craving ice cream, you may be short on essential fatty acids. If you crave a hamburger, your diet may lack protein. This way, you can make better food substitutions. It's a way of getting in tune with yourself that will benefit you for your entire lifetime.

Weekly focus: Water. Not swimming in it, though that's good too, but staying hydrated with it. You should drink at least 6 to 8 glasses of water per day. Diet sodas and such are no substitute, because they contain a passel of ingredients that live right at the bottom of the junk heap. Drinking a glass of water when you feel hunger pangs coming on will not only keep you hydrated, but will help stave off your hunger to some degree.

As for other drinks, juices and sugary sodas also (obviously) fall into the junk category. And alcohol should be kept to a minimum. We tend to forget (purposely or not) that alcohol has calories. A lot of them: 7 calories per gram. Mixers can be even worse—not only can they add calories, but sugary calories influence the way alcohol reacts with your body. When you do drink, red wine is the alcohol of choice, with natural beer running second.

Week 2

Small BitesEach week's rules are cumulative, so the "no junk" rule from Week 1 will apply until the end, as will each subsequent week's rule. Remember that this is a learning and conditioning process. It's like you're in a school and the subject is your own body.

Eat small, eat often. Eat four to six small meals a day, and don't eat anything for about 3 hours before you go to sleep. Following these rules will keep your blood sugar levels more static and your energy level will stay consistent. Try to keep each snack or meal balanced. Keep a 30 percent protein, 40 percent carbohydrate, and 30 percent fat scale in mind, though you don't need to worry too much about it. Just realize that you need a bit from each macronutrient group. Eat based on what you'll be doing for the next few hours (if you're working out, eat a little more; sitting at a desk, eat a little less). The 3-hour-before-bed rule is important, especially for fats and carbohydrates. By allowing time for all the carbs you eat to get into your bloodstream, your body will sleep in fat-burning mode, rather than in calorie-storing mode. This is important because undigested carbs in your stomach at night are stored in adipose tissue (fat).

Cheat Days: 2

Weekly focus: Carbs are not the enemy. Your body needs them, just like it needs proteins and fats. The trick is to choose the right carbs. As a society, we eat too much refined sugar. Complex carbs, like whole-grain breads, whole-grain rice, sweet potatoes, and legumes are outstanding foods. Even fruits, which have simple carbohydrates wrapped in fiber, are very good for you and hard to overconsume. While you don't want a diet based on nothing but carbs, making the right carb choices will maximize your body's potential. Try to avoid white rice and flours. Read labels, and try to avoid ones that use the word "enriched," because this means these products have been stripped of their natural nutrients, overprocessed, and then fortified with a few random nutrients

Week 3

VegetablesEat some colorful, low-density food at every meal. These are foods that take up a lot of space without a lot of calories. Veggies are the most obvious example. You can eat a salad bowl overflowing with lettuce and veggies and you most likely won't exceed 100 calories. By eating low-density foods like veggies and fruits, you'll keep your portions under control naturally, because they have very few calories for their size. Conversely, high-density foods, like chocolate and butter, are loaded with calories in even the smallest amounts. So beware of salad dressings and other things you add to salads and veggies. Only add enough for flavor; don't fill up on them. When it comes to live foods, the richer the colors, the fresher the products tend to be. Try to eat a variety of colors in your diet. This simple and somewhat random act will help ensure that you're covering your bases, nutrient-wise.

Cheat Days: 1

Weekly focus: Protein at every meal. This becomes even more important as you eat more low-density food, because protein tends to be high-density. Many veggies have a lot of protein, but the quantity you must consume starts to become prohibitive. Try to get some protein—meat, dairy products, nuts, seeds, or legumes—each time you eat, especially when you're working out hard, because you need to repair broken-down muscle tissue. Frequency of protein consumption is even more vital for women, who aren't able to digest as much protein at one time as men are. It's almost impossible to get all your necessary protein at one or two meals, so try to get 10 to 20 grams of protein each time you eat. Reading labels is a simple way to learn how to estimate your protein intake, but if you eat natural foods, most of which don't have labels, you can look at online nutritional information guides to determine the amount of protein each serving contains.

Week 4

Man CookingCook at home. One of the best ways to control your eating is to prepare all your meals yourself. Eliminate all fast food (which should have been gone in Week 1) and most other restaurant food. You may still eat food from certain restaurants where you can be sure of the ingredients (most will be savvy enough to make a point of how healthy their food is). But avoid all fast food chains, even ones that claim to be "healthy." Restaurants need their food to taste good, so they'll often use compromised ingredients, even when they list low numbers on fats and/or calories. Fast food can contain many hidden evils in addition to calories. For example, next time you see one of those nutrition charts, check the sodium levels; most fast foods use ridiculously high amounts of salt. Avoiding fast food alone will often bring your body closer to homeostasis; its desired state of balance. This can be hard for many of us because we now have to plan our meals and prepare ahead of time, but try and treat it like vocational school—you don't learn new a new "job" without a little retraining.

Cheat Days: 1

Weekly focus: Fat is essential. Remember that fat is a vital part of your diet, not just something that makes you fat. What is not vital is a lot of saturated or trans fats. Trans fats are mainly those that are artificial, and hopefully they've been eliminated from your diet by this point, since they're generally only found in junk. Saturated fats are found in dairy products and meats, and you don't need too much. For cooking, try to use olive oil when possible. Also, the addition of either flaxseed or hempseed can have a pronounced effect on your health. These seeds are loaded with essential fatty acids, omegas 3 and 6. Be careful about that amount of fat. It is dense and has 9 calories per gram, opposed to 4 for both carbs and protein. A tablespoon goes a long way!

Week 5

PotatoesReduce starchy carbohydrates. Starches include rice, bread, potatoes, corn, beans, and other legumes. While many of these are in no way bad foods, most people tend to consume far too many of them. So what you want to do this week is cut way down on them, if not cutting them out completely. Then add them back in when your body feels like it needs energy, which it will at some point if you're exercising (and why wouldn't you be?). But don't add a huge plate or bowl of pasta; instead, add a small single serving. Starches are great energy food, but if you eat too many, they turn the tables and make you sluggish!

Cheat Days: 1

Weekly focus: Sugar is only beneficial after a hard workout. Your body doesn't need processed sugar. But if you really enjoy it and can't avoid letting some sneak into your daily diet, the 1-hour period after you exercise is the best time to indulge. During this window, your blood sugar is low, because you've used it up to finish your workout (assuming you pushed yourself), and sugar during this time will help you recover faster because it speeds into your system and initiates the recovery process. Adding a little protein, but not too much, will enhance your recovery even further. The best ratio is 1 part protein to 4 parts carbs, as in P90X® Results and Recovery Formula®. You should avoid fats during this immediate post-workout period, because they slow absorption—a good thing most of the time, just not during and immediately after working out.

Week 6

CheeseIf man makes it, don't eat it. This is likely to be the hardest week of your diet. You want to eat only whole foods and eliminate all processed foods, even good ones, for the week. This includes breads, most salad dressings, all cereal, luncheon meats, cheese, dried fruits, anything with preservatives, and alcoholic beverages. What you can eat are whole foods such as fruit, raw or steamed vegetables, meat (sans any type of sauce), natural whole-grain rice, poached eggs, etc. Since your eating habits have been slowly changing, this shouldn't be that big a shock to your system, but keeping in focus that you only have to do this for 7 days will make it easier. (Although each week's rules are cumulative in the plan, Week 6 is more of a "cleanse" or "reset" week where you avoid all processed food; after Week 6, you can go back to the occasional processed food, but chances are you'll take what you learned this week and tend to make healthier, smarter choices.)

Cheat Days: 1

The "cheat day" mentality isn't a bad one. Rewards like decadent desserts, a night at the buffet, or drinking with friends are good for you as long as you keep them in perspective. These are rewards for a life well lived and you should be able to feel good about doing them. Plus there's some method to this madness as well in that you still tend to crave nutrients you lack. So if you're cutting down on the calories to lose weight, allowing yourself a cheat day will give your body a chance to take in what it needs to avoid being malnourished.

Weekly focus: Nuts make great snacks. A handful of raw almonds or cashews is a quick and easy snack that goes a long way. Don't be put off by the high fat count of nuts, because this means it takes fewer of them to satiate you. Nuts are loaded with important phytonutrients, as well as good fats, proteins, and fiber.

Week 7

Woman Sitting in Yoga PoseBe yourself. No rules—just try and eat as healthily as you can and do it by feel. Trusting yourself might seem like a lot of responsibility, but by now you'll be up to it. Learning to eat by feeling what your body needs is an important step in your transformation. Consider the way you've been eating over the last 6 weeks, but don't worry about what you should and shouldn't do. Just fuel yourself. The point is to take a mental break. Relax and allow yourself to eat in a way that feels normal. You may be surprised to find yourself craving something healthy instead of a candy bar or soda. You'll be better at listening to your body because it'll tell you what it needs to eat, as opposed to what you're used to eating. Your body should feel somewhat transformed. Does it?

"Reward for a Life Well Lived" Days: 1

Weekly focus: If you're so hungry at night that you can't sleep, try a protein shake (like Beachbody Whey Protein Powder) before bed. When it's real, and not habitual, hunger means you lack nutrients your body needs to repair itself as you sleep. You want nothing but protein powder and water. No carbs or superfluous calories. But protein at night, especially whey, will help the body repair damaged tissue and enhance the natural growth-hormone spike that you get while you sleep.

Week 8

EggsEat a perfect diet. Now it's time for a real challenge—are you ready? The perfect diet is strictly individual, as there's no one diet that suits everybody. So who better to choose the perfect diet for you than you? Our bodies are all different, and the key to your own perfect diet is learning about how your body reacts to different foods under different circumstances. Your journey over the last seven weeks should have brought you to a new understanding of how food affects your body, both for good and for bad. Now it's up to you to put it to the test. See how well you can eat for a week. In fact, see how well you can eat for the rest of your life. Live and enjoy.

Reward Days: 1, of course!

Weekly Focus: Don't bonk. Bonking is a state where your body runs out of stored blood sugar for energy. If you feel like your workouts are going backwards instead of forwards, this is a likely culprit. Use your energy level as your gauge. As soon as it starts to drop, start adding carbs back into your diet until you feel energized all day long. When you feel energized during your workouts and not sluggish throughout the rest of the day you'll know you've found the right balance between carbs and other nutrients. Also, remember that as you body puts on more muscle, you will need to eat more. Muscle weighs much more than fat and as you gain muscle and lose fat you will shrink at the same weight. You will also require more calories in order to maintain your muscle. So when you're working out hard, don't be afraid to eat more carbs than you do otherwise.

Related Articles
"10 Ways to a New You"
"7 Tips for Portion Control"
"Eat More, Lose More (Really?)"

Questions about your workout program, diet, the latest newsletter, or anything wellness related? Chat with Denis Faye, Beachbody fitness and diet expert, in the Beachbody Chat Room on Monday, January 24th, 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.

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Bring Home BRING IT! in the New Year

Tony Horton's "Bring It!"Tony Horton's new book Bring It! can be yours at the following online retailers for up to 43% off the retail price!

Barnes & Noble.com

Questions about your workout program, diet, the latest newsletter, or anything wellness related? Chat with Denis Faye, Beachbody fitness and diet expert, in the Beachbody Chat Room on Monday, January 24th, 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, recently named one of the Top 50 blogs covering the sports industry by the Masters in Sports Administration.

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The Tao of Beachbody®

By Denis Faye

Everyone loves that old Tony Horton chestnut, "Do your best and forget the rest." It's catchy and insightful, and it sticks in your brain like only a good mantra can. But here's something you might not know about this little bon mot. It's also part of a 2,500-year-old Asian philosophy (even older than Tony) that's prevalent in most things Beachbody.

Statue of the Buddha

Here's how the words were first written by the ancient Chinese philosopher Lao-Tzu: "When you are content to be simply yourself and don't compare or compete, everybody will respect you."

Granted, Lao-Tzu's words may not roll off the tongue like a good Tonyism, but they're every bit as profound, if not more so. His book, the Tao Te Ching (or, loosely translated, The Book of Way) is a cornerstone of Eastern philosophy that espouses balance and moderation in all things. Taoism has had a huge influence on our society, as it's informed the decisions of heads of state, rock stars, and, most importantly, Beachbody trainers.

Yes, you read that last line right. Admittedly, programs like P90X®, TurboFire® or INSANITY® paint a picture of our trainers as buff adrenaline junkies, pushing you to go harder, faster, and better. While there's an element of truth to that, it's just one side of the coin. P90X may torture your body with plyometrics, but it also soothes and heals it with yoga. Chalene's Fire Drills in TurboFire may drive your heart rate off the charts, but Stretch 40 balances that out, cools you down, and promotes recovery. It's all about balance.

Debbie Siebers"Live life now! Be the best person you can be right now. Follow your passion and be kind to yourself."
—Debbie Siebers, Slim in 6® and Slim Series®

Taoism is tricky to describe, given the opening line of the book is, "The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao." However, if you'll allow my interpretation, it's about patience, balance, and letting things happen as they happen. Sure, you want six-pack abs and you want them now, but if you're doing the work and doing it right, those abs are going to happen either way. Stressing and obsessing about them the whole time won't make them develop faster, but it can make the journey a lot less pleasant.

Debbie pretty much nails this outlook when she says, "Be the best person you can be right now." From the Tao Te Ching:

Be content with what you have;
rejoice in the way things are.
When you realize there is nothing lacking,
the whole world belongs to you.

The truth is, you succeeded the moment you Pushed Play for the first time. You're exercising and eating right. That's all you can do, so just enjoy the process. That said, when you're dealing with Taoism, you need to remember that there are always two sides . . .

Chalene Johnson"Get comfortable being uncomfortable. That's how you break the plateau and reach the next level."
—Chalene Johnson, ChaLEAN Extreme® and TurboFire®

As is the case with life in general, working out isn't all roses and peanut butter sandwiches. It can be really hard. Sometimes, you just don't want to do it, but it's important not to lose sight of why you're doing it.

The path into light seems dark,
the path forward seems to go back,
the direct path seems long,
true power seems weak,
true purity seems tarnished,
true steadfastness seems changeable,
true clarity seems obscure,
the greatest art seems unsophisticated,
the greatest love seems indifferent,
the greatest wisdom seems childish.

The Tao is nowhere to be found.
Yet it nourishes and completes all things.

OK, now you're scratching your head. "What a minute," you sputter. "One minute you're telling me to enjoy the journey, and the next minute you're telling me to buck up because it's hard?"

That's correct. The trick is to look at the big picture. Sure, there are days when I just don't want to get off the couch. I don't want to work out. Working out bites! But then I remember how I'll feel after the workout. I remember that sense of completeness and health I'll feel and it carries me through the workout. It's still hard and I'm still uncomfortable, but I'm content in the knowledge that it's benefiting me. It's cool to allow the future to compel you, but don't let it overwhelm your appreciation of the now.

Jon Congdon"Trade in the concept of staying motivated and replace it with commitment."
—Jon Congdon, President, Beachbody

When I look forward to completing a workout, it's very different from being obsessed with my abs. I'm not living for the completion of my workout, but I find tranquility in what the future holds. I'm not going to try to get six-pack abs. I'm going to get six-pack abs. Similarly, I'm not going to try to work out. I'm going to work out. It's just going to happen. Accepting these not as possibilities but as truths removes a lot of pressure.

He who stands on tiptoe
doesn't stand firm.
He who rushes ahead
doesn't go far.
He who tries to shine
dims his own light.
He who defines himself
can't know who he really is.
He who has power over others
can't empower himself.
He who clings to his work
will create nothing that endures.
If you want to accord with the Tao,
Just do your job, then let go.

But no matter how motivated you are, it's important to remember those last three words: Then let go.

Steve Edwards"Intense training should only be done in short cycles. As good as it feels to keep pushing yourself to your limit, you have a breaking point."
—Steve Edwards, Beachbody Director of Results

Sometimes we get so caught up in action that we forget the value of inaction. Always make time to recover. Muscles can only grow if they're given time to repair.

Being and non-being create each other.
Difficult and easy support each other.
Long and short define each other.
High and low depend on each other.
Before and after follow each other.

However, you also need to know when it's time to start working again. Sometimes we can get a little carried away with that recovery. Sometimes we never get off the couch. Sometimes we screw up.

Carl Daikeler"If you miss a day . . . congratulations, you proved that you're human."
—Carl Daikeler, Chairman/CEO, Beachbody

If you mess up, no problem. Own it and move on.

Failure is an opportunity.
If you blame someone else,
there is no end to the blame.

Therefore the Master
fulfills her own obligations
and corrects her own mistakes.
She does what she needs to do
and demands nothing of others.
Gillian Marloth Clark"Everyone at Beachbody started from scratch somewhere along the line. Look at us now."
—Gillian Marloth Clark, Yoga Booty Ballet®
What is rooted is easy to nourish.
What is recent is easy to correct.
What is brittle is easy to break.
What is small is easy to scatter.

Prevent trouble before it arises.
Put things in order before they exist.
The giant pine tree
grows from a tiny sprout.
The journey of a thousand miles
starts from beneath your feet.

Rushing into action, you fail.
Trying to grasp things, you lose them.
Forcing a project to completion,
you ruin what was almost ripe.

"The journey of a thousand miles starts from beneath your feet." Think about it and think about what Gillian said. The road to good health is wrought with fear and passion. It's too easy to let those consume you. That fear gets to you and you give up. The passion gets to you and you start making mistakes, training too hard, getting injured. Just choose a path, take a breath, follow the instructions and succeed. It's that simple. If you have problems, don't panic, don't veer off course. Just look to us for answers. "We've laid the groundwork for you," adds Gillian. "We reach out our hands to help. When we each reach a vista, it's a good idea to enjoy it, then root into it and help others on up too."

Brett Hoebel"Walk your talk."
—Brett Hoebel, RevAbs®

With this motto, Brett echoes Tony—and they both echo Lao-Tzu, who said it millennia before them. The only way to reach your goals is to stop pondering them and go for it.

The Master does his job
and then stops.
He understands that the universe
is forever out of control,
and that trying to dominate events
goes against the current of the Tao.
Because he believes in himself,
he doesn't try to convince others.
Because he is content with himself,
He doesn't need others' approval.
Because he accepts himself,
the whole world accepts him.

Related Articles
"12 Ways to (Painlessly) Go Green in 1 Year"
"Your Brain on Exercise"
"Doing the Right Thing—for the Right Reasons"

Questions about your workout program, diet, the latest newsletter, or anything wellness related? Chat with Denis Faye, Beachbody fitness and diet expert, in the Beachbody Chat Room on Monday, January 24th, 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, recently named one of the Top 50 blogs covering the sports industry by the Masters in Sports Administration.

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Meet Steve Edwards

If you've spent any time around Beachbody, you know his name. He tests all our programs. He tells you what to eat. He answers your questions on the Message Boards. He writes articles (like the one in this very newsletter) to help you get in the shape of your life. Now you can get to know our favorite fitness guru in this video profile. Click below to meet Steve.

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Recipe: Turkey and Wild Rice

Recipe: Turkey and Wild RiceOkay, Thanksgiving was 2 months ago . . . It's cool to have turkey again, right? It's one of the best lean protein sources around, so we should be thankful for it more than once a year. This tasty recipe is low in fat, with a great protein-carb balance, and is easy to prepare.

  • 1-1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup raw wild rice
  • 1/2 cup raw long-grain brown rice
  • 3 cups sliced mushrooms (button, crimini, or portobello)
  • 1 Tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
  • Black pepper (to taste)
  • 3 cups turkey, chicken, or vegetable stock (or water)
  • 1 cup cooked light-meat turkey, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh broccoli
  • Cayenne pepper (to taste)
  • 2 Tbsp. minced fresh parsley (for garnish)
  • Medium saucepan with tight-fitting lid

Select a medium saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Heat oil in saucepan over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking (about 2 minutes). Add garlic and rice and sauté about 3 minutes. Add mushrooms, soy sauce, and pepper and sauté for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Add stock or water, cover tightly, and bring to a boil (about 5 to 7 minutes). When it boils, reduce heat to low and simmer 40 minutes. Add broccoli and turkey pieces, stir, and simmer 5 more minutes. While it simmers, taste and adjust seasonings (add more garlic or pepper, or a dash of cayenne). Remove from heat and let sit for 10 minutes. Garnish with fresh parsley and serve. Makes 4 servings.

Cooking Time: 70 minutes

Nutritional Information (using stock): (per serving)

Calories Protein Fiber Carbs Fat Total Saturated Fat
323 22 g 3 g 41 g 9 g 1 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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