P90X: Getting Started

on July 13th, 2008 by

So, you’ve decided that P90X is the workout and diet plan for you to achieve lasting fitness and health for the rest of your life. Excellent! You won’t regret making the commitment. Now that you’ve ordered the DVDs, you need to get ready for their arrival. You ordered the DVDs, right?

Equipment Needed

You will need some equipment. Don’t worry though; it’s not much and you may already have some things. Let’s start with the most important first.

Weights or Bands

You’ll need either dumbbells (free weights) or resistance bands. There are a ton of options for each, but there are some basic guidelines you should remember when choosing.

You can get simple free weights at many department stores as well as sporting good stores. I recommend getting single piece weights. You can buy them in sets, but if you get the interchangeable plate design dumbbells, it may end up slowing you down. However, there are newer options now that let you adjust the weight of each dumbbell. These are very cool, but usually cost more at this time. If you get the single piece dumbbells, make sure they are coated for a good grip (or use gloves). Look for polychloroprene (i.e. Neoprene), or any kind of rubber/vinyl, coating. Here are links to some affordable dumbbells of each type:

Resistance bands are very versatile tools for strength training also. Each band is rated at a certain resistance, but you can vary the amount of resistance depending on the distance from the handles you pull. This actually allows for a much broader range of resistance. One option that I appreciate are bands that can be interchanged with a set of detachable handles. There are several types of bands that you can purchase. I, personally, own the full set of bands by the creators of P90X. Once I figured out how to easily swap the higher resistance bands among the handles, I really grew to like these bands.

Pull/Chin-Up Bar

A good pull-up bar or chin-up bar is something that you will absolutely need for this program. Depending on the type of person you are, you will learn to love or hate pull-ups. That said, you want to get a bar that makes the whole process much easier on you. You can get one that stands free like a tower on your floor. These are usually adjustable in height. A cheaper alternative is a bar that installs in a doorway. Some of these require a sturdy doorway with trim that you set the bar onto. Others need brackets screwed into the studs of your doorway with the bar resting into the brackets (these usually telescope to the appropriate length). Below are links to a couple of each type.

Fitness Floor Mat

Another essential for your workout plan is a floor mat. You will be on the floor for an hour and thirty minutes of extreme yoga. You will be sweating through plyometrics (jump training) for about an hour. You will be stretching all your muscle groups for another hour. Thankfully, these exercises are on different days. However, you will need a floor mat that is thick enough for these activities.

Heart Rate Monitor

Several workouts in this plan are cardio-based: Plyometrics, Cardio X, and Kenpo X. In order to get the most out of these workouts, you should monitor your heart rate. It is important to keep your heart rate within an ideal range for burning fat. A good monitor will prompt you for your physical attributes and calculate the rest for you. After a proper setup, you can equip the monitor and it will beep when you are out of your range. This allows you to adjust your activity to get back into range.

Other Equipment

Some other equipment that you may get could improve your experience.

Most importantly, a way to monitor your fat loss is very nice to chart your progress. You can get a standard caliper or an electronic monitor. Some are built into weight scales, others are hand-held.

If you have wrist issues or want to get more range of motion out of your push-ups, you can purchase a pair of push-up stands. I have a bad wrist, and a set of push-up stands are great.

Lastly, yoga blocks are absolutely great for so many people. For me (and most guys), yoga blocks will help to perform the more advanced stretches which would otherwise not be possible. For the more flexible people out there, yoga blocks will help you stretch beyond normal means.

Supplements

I suppose it is possible to experience this workout plan without supplements. However, I really do not see how this would work. In order to meet your dietary needs, I sincerely recommend that you invest in supplements. You can get all of these items at GNC, Vitamin Shoppe, and other similar shops or online with Amazon and many others.

Vitamins

The foods we have available to us today are usually very short on the vitamins and minerals our bodies need. Then, if you take on any workout plan, let alone an extreme plan, you will really need the vitamins. Get a multi-vitamin for men or women. For the P90X program, consider getting a multi-vitamin that targets sports activities or athletes.

Protein

The first phase of P90X expects you to really put down the protein and lay off the carbs. It is really, really hard to eat enough protein via food. You’ll want to consider a protein powder supplement. I keep it simple. I consume a GNC whey protein that is chocolate-flavored. It actually tastes great mixed with just water (this has come a long way in the past 10 years). 1 scoop of this stuff is equivalent to 1 protein on the P90X diet plan. Be aware that whey protein contains eggs, so if you are a strict vegetarian, look for an alternative to whey. You can mix a protein drink as a snack in the middle of the day and get a full protein count toward your daily goal.

For protein bars, there are the P90X Protein Bars; however, I prefer the Atkins Peanut Butter Granola Bars.

Recovery Drinks

After an extreme workout, you need to recover; and fast. There is an important 1-hour window, right after your workout, when you have the opportunity to help your muscles recover from the stress and strain beyond natural means. Consuming a recovery drink after such workouts, you will experience less soreness and will actually repair your muscle tears so much faster.

P90X has a recovery drink that I understand is great. However, my wife and I decided to find out the ingredients and find an alternative. The key to a recovery drink is the 4:1 ratio. That’s 4 parts carbohydrates to 1 part protein. If you want an alternative that is fairly affordable, I recommend Accelerade. You can find it at GNC and Vitamin Shoppe at a decent price. I believe GNC only has 2 of the flavors, while Vitamin Shoppe has all 6 or 7 flavors. You should take 2 scoops of Accelerade, but you may want to divide that up into 2 drinks unless you like it strong. This stuff tastes great and we always look forward to it after a workout.

Note: Accelerade (and most recovery drinks) use whey, which contains dairy. So, if you are strictly vegan, know this fact and read the labels to find something suitable for you.

Summary

It may seem overwhelming at first to get started on a high intensity workout. However, once you make a list of the things you need, it is not that bad at all. If you have to purchase everything listed here to get the most of your P90X workout plan, you can expect to spend the following amounts:

  • $150-$225 start-up costs for equipment
  • $35-$65 monthly costs for supplements

You will not regret committing yourself to this workout plan. P90X definitely guides you to real results of fitness. I mean long-lasting fitness. My wife and I love the results we are getting. I expect to finish the program, take a small break, then start it all over again. Yeah, it’s that good!

Good luck!

The preceding is the opinion of the author(s) and is not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, or individual. The views of the writer are his own, and do not in any way reflect the views of the site they are posted on, other sites affiliated with this site, the staff involved with the site, or any other members of this site. For more information, review the full Terms of Use for this site.


229 Responses to “P90X: Getting Started”

  1. Deb gunn says:

    Hi Matt!
    Great site, thank you.
    I am going to give p90x a shot. What do you recommend for someone who does NOT eat dairy. Just substitute a protein/carb? Just an extra protein? This is not because I don’t “like” dairy….it does not agree with me.
    Thanks for your help.
    Deb g

    • Matt says:

      Hi Deb,

      Good luck with your P90X journey! Quite honestly, if I had to deal with a dairy intolerance, I would substitute each serving with a half serving of a protein and a good fat (nuts, avocado, etc.). My theory would be that most dairy contains some protein and a bit of fat. It’s not a perfect substitute, but considering the situation, that’s how I’d go.

      You may want to join the P90X forums and ask an official representative of the program there. It should still be free to ask such questions of the experts.

      Have fun!

      -Matt

  2. Annette says:

    Hi Matt,
    I calculated that I am at Level I and just starting in Phase I of the diet plan. The recommended caloric intake for me is 1800 calories per day. However, when I add up the portions and multiply them by the number of calories for each type of food (for example, 5 portions of protein X 100 calories/portion = 500 protein calories + 2 portions of dairy X 120 calories/portion = 240 dairy calories + 200 carb calories…etc.) the total calories only add up to 1610 for the day. Should I stick with that by strictly adhering to the number of portions? Or should I maybe add another portion of carbs or a lot more fruit and veggies to get the calories up to 1800/day? Thank you!

    • Matt says:

      Hi Annette,

      Good eye. You’ll find that some of the numbers are just a little variant in the program. It’s mainly due to the estimation done for all the calculations. Firstly, your recommended caloric intake is a formula that works for 95% of people with some variance. Additionally, the calories for each portion are definitely estimations. For the most part, they are still completely valid, but we all know that our steak is not likely 100% lean and nothing but protein. The little bits of fat and other essential goodies change the calories just a tad.

      All that said, I would do one of three things in your case.

      1. Don’t sweat the details and just go with the portions each day.
      2. Add a little more protein and veggies, but not carbs nor fruit.
      3. Start off with the portions as-is, and adjust according to how you feel. By this I mean, determine if you are sluggish when eating just the portions. If you are, add just a tiny bit of good carbs (whole grains, fiber, etc.) until the sluggishness disappears.

      Also, adding veggies is almost always a no-brainer. You can add veggies at any phase of the diet with no adverse effects. They have little calories (other than perhaps corn, and the like) and will never be a detriment as human fuel.

      Good luck!

      -Matt

  3. loretta perillo says:

    Hey! I’m an insulin dependant diabetic. The most frustrating thing getting started on an exercise plan is all the low blood sugar reactions and getting my insulin dosage regulated. Which feels impossible when I have to eat more if it drops too low, and then figure out what to take with my next shot and so on. I’m 42 and I also have thyroid problems. I’m not over weight, just soft with alot of toning up to do, and a “jelly roll” to get rid of! My diabetes seems to fight me EVERY STEP of the way…any ideas?

    • Matt says:

      Hi Loretta,

      Quite honestly, I would recommend speaking with your doctor about such an extreme workout as this. The fact that each phase changes your intake of both carbohydrates and protein quite drastically from the normal is too complicated for us to figure out the insulin balance alone. If that is a dead-end, perhaps you could try finding a personal trainer or workout nutritionist that specializes in diabetics. If you’re having trouble finding one, call or visit a local gym to speak with someone on-staff, who may be able to put you in contact with just the right person.

      Your blend of diabetes and thyroid issues is a diet challenge by themselves. Once you add-in typical exercise, the complication easily doubles. An extreme workout, such as P90X, likely pushes the variables for proper nutritional balance and insulin dosage beyond manageability. You may have to consider a less extreme workout and just really, really stick to something that is more long-term and steady, considering your condition.

      I wish you the best of luck though. The health benefits you, specifically, will gain from a steady program are immense. It’s as if a steady, long-term exercise plan is a natural balancer of both of the internal “juices” you are battling with.

  4. Kimberly says:

    Hey, thank you for this amazing site! I am preparing to start P90X on this Monday. Borrowed it from a friend and she lost the nutrition guide!!
    Can you tell me how many grams of protein/carbs/fat I am to consume on Level 1 Fat Shredder? I have been reading for hours the last two days trying to figure all of this out. Also, I am in a transition (bad divorce) and am temporarily living where it is not possible to use the pull up bar. I will be doing the Lean version and to my knowledge this program does not require the use of the pull up bar, it appears I can use the bands instead…is this correct? Thanks again and Happy Fourth of July weekend!

    • Matt says:

      Hi Kimberly,

      Congratulations! Unfortunately, it is more complicated than just telling you those limits. It depends on what level you are (Level I, II, or III), based on other calculations in that guide. I suggest you look at what is available in the downloadable PDF of the Nutrition Guide on the Beach Body website. It’s not entirely complete, but it will get you started. You can also order a replacement guide from their site. The guide puts restrictions on the amount of proteins, dairy, fruits, vegetables, fats, carbs, snacks, and condiments; all based on what level you calculate for your body type and existing condition.

      If you do find out what level you should be at, let me know and I’ll tell you the restrictions for that level. You should be fine using just the bands without a pull-up bar. Good luck!

  5. Jesse says:

    Thank You very much for an extremely informative, helpful and straight forward article that answers almost every question I had before starting P90X. Well Done!

  6. Has anyone tried flavoured milk as a P90x Recovery Drink Alternative?

  7. Chrissy says:

    I just posted an article about Eco-Friendly Yoga supplies:
    http://www.liwovien.com/p90x-ecofriendly-supplies/.

    I feel that the P90X Yoga is probably the part of P90X that was most beneficial to me.

  8. pat says:

    Matt I see where alot of people have chocolate milk as a recovery drink, if made right it has the proper 4:1 ratio. Is this an acceptable recovery drink. Thanks Pat

  9. Susan says:

    Thank you so much for all of the information. My husband and I will be starting on the program soon. I had considered ordering all the products from the company but was discouraged by the price. Even though I have never done the program, I do believe it is a great thing for people who want to get in amazing shape. Thanks again.

  10. Ed says:

    Hey Matt,

    I started P90X today, and the workouts were hard as hell. I’ve tried to follow their nutrition program, but woke up late and skipped breakfast. So, my first question is what should I do when that happens ?
    I’m 25 years old, 250 lbs , 5 10 and I want to loose weight and gain muscles.
    Should I stick with the P90X nutrition guide ?
    My RMR is 2500 + 500 for daily activity burn + 600 calories for the P90X program = 3600 calories. Do I really need this many calories, since my goal is to loose weight also ? Is this program even right for me ?

    Thanks,
    Ed

    • Ed says:

      By the way Matt, I’m doing level 3 right now, should I do a lower level ?

      • Matt says:

        Ed,

        Level III sounds right for your weight, but I really think you should try a program that’s a step down first for a while. Then, come back to P90X and bring it! Feel free to come back here anytime; whether you’re P90X-ing or otherwise.

    • Matt says:

      Hi Ed,

      Generally, you do not want to miss a meal. If you have to, eat as soon as possible. If you have to wait due to working out, be sure to get past about 45-60 minutes after you finish your recovery drink. Then, make up that meal immediately.

      I know 3,600 calories sounds horrific. However, evaluate how many calories you were eating daily before this program. If it was more than 3,000 calories, this sounds right. If not much more than 3,000 (or you were eating less), than I suggest you take what you were consuming and add about 400 calories (i.e. if you were consuming 2,700 calories, go with 3,100 for this program).

      You may want to reconsider this program, as you’ve hinted. See how a week goes. If you are exhausted all the time, event after a nearly perfect day of working out and eating right, it’s time to shelve P90X. Consider getting P90 (without the “X”) to start off with. After you drop about 50-60 lbs with another program, grab your P90X discs off the shelf and press play again. You may have to do another program multiple times, but something like regular P90 should do the trick quite well. It’s also available at a huge discount nowadays, since it’s been out so long.

      I think one mistake many people make with P90X is seeing it as a super weight-loss program. It reality, this is an extreme muscle-building program. Granted, building muscle naturally burns fat, but I’ve known way too many people to get injured on P90X because they were not quite at the right level to begin it. Drop some of those extra pounds while still getting some solid muscle on P90 first. You’ll feel great and be more apt to come back to give “X” a go. That’s when you will really put on the muscle and shred the last bit of fat you may still have.

      Don’t discourage! This is definitely something you can pull off. The fact that you bought this program and started it proves that you truly want the change.

    • julien says:

      A) Your weight in pounds

      B) Multiply A by 11 to get your resting metabolic rate

      C) Multiply B by 1.6 to estimate your daily calorie expenditure through normal activities

      D) STRENGTH TRAINING – Multiply your number minutes per week of ST by 5

      E) AEROBIC AND SPRINT TRAINING – Multiply your number of minutes per week of AAST by 8

      F) Add D and E together and divide by 7

      G) Add line C and F together to get your ‘ Daily Maintenance Calories

  11. Brandon says:

    This site is great! Thank you for all the time it must have taken to provide answers to THESE SPECIFIC P90X questions. I’ve been looking for answers of these sorts for awhile now. I apologise ahead of time for the questions to come:

    I just recently started my P90X and like many people on here, I’m confused as to what my exact caloric intake should be. I’m assesed as level II per the guide but,…seriously? That many calories? Also, like many others, my day is busy and it seems tough to fit all the proper calories in with what would have to be all of the necessary feedings.
    I guess I’m wondering if you could break down a decent schedule? I know the nutrion guide “kindof” does but…
    I’m working out in the morning, usually around 7 am, so we’re looking at an hour and a half for most workouts(including abripper days), plus I haven’t worked out like this in years, so I’m taking advantage of Tony’s “Hit the pause button” advice. Should I be eating breakfast somewhere in the morning? Egg whites, turkey bacon? But if I eat, I must do it an hour before working out? Man, that’s early.
    So after I work out, I take some Accelerade but NOT a protein shake or anything or else I’m canceling the benefits of the Accelerade? Also, protein bars should not be mixed with protein shakes as that’s overkill and/or useless?
    Where do I fit my breakfast, Accelerade, protein shake,1st snack, protein bar, lunch, 2nd snack, protein bar/shake and dinner, all the while getting my full load of calories but not carbs in a day???? I desperately want to do this program right and gain as many benefits as I can from doing it. Just afraid the diet will derail me. Thanks for listenin’.

    • Matt says:

      Hi Brandon,

      It’s definitely tricky getting started. 2,400 calories is a bit, but you will likely need it; trust me! If you were eating around 1,800 calories without working out, the extra 600 calories is for this workout alone. The first couple days are the worst for such an increase in your eating. After that, you’ll be hungry enough to eat that much.

      Working out in the morning is an added challenge with this program. You’ll need to save your breakfast for after the workout unless you finishing eating an hour before starting the workout. Here are you morning options for working out:

      1. Option 1: Eating high protein breakfast before the workout.
        1. Eat breakfast.
        2. Wait an hour while drinking water as instructed prior to working out.
        3. P90X
        4. Drink Accelerade immediately after finishing workout.
        5. Wait 45-60 minutes before eating or drinking anything else, other than just water.
      2. Option 2: Eating high protein breakfast after the workout.
        1. Drink water as instructed prior to working out.
        2. P90X
        3. Drink Accelerade immediately after finishing workout.
        4. Wait 45-60 minutes before eating or drinking anything else, other than just water.
        5. Eat breakfast.

      Option 2 is better on time, if you can do it. However, working out for so long after waking up with no food can be tough. You may have to have a really light snack 20 minutes before working out to get by. If you have such a snack, avoid protein. Protein soon before a workout of this magnitude will make you tank; horribly. I know this from experience; I could barely do a tenth of my normal as my body feverishly processed the protein, preventing me from using the necessary energy on the workout.

      Also, I commented a few days ago on ways to ensure you get more calories out of what you are eating. If you don’t meet your caloric intake on a day, see how tired you are the next day after your workout. If you are not keeping up with the program and getting better, try harder to get those calories up.

      Let me know if this helps.

  12. Jamie says:

    Thank you so much for all the help! especially the link to the accelerade.
    something you MAY want to add..whey is found in milk, so if someone has a lactose intolerance, they can have serious issues with whey.
    I have a lot of food allergies [wheat, dairy, soy, eggs] so hemp protein is the only thing that works for me. they also make a soy protein for vegans.
    I don’t know if you want to post all of that, but it may come in handy for someone.
    Thanks!

    • Matt says:

      You make a good point, Jamie. Whey is a byproduct of the cheese making process. Whey is intentionally separated from the lactose; however, it’s not perfect and was directly related to it at one point.

      I also recommend to people that have rampant allergies to consider pea protein. All vegetable; no dairy, soy, egg, or other stuff.

  13. Traci Rathfon says:

    Hi –

    I just wanted to say thank you for posting this. This was absolutely great information. I am getting ready to start the P90X program and needed some questions answered and they were all answered here!!

    Thanks again

  14. Iris says:

    Hi Matt,

    Im starting the p90x next week and I was so confused and still am a bit but your website just cleared a lot of questions I had, thanks! It truly is a wonderful site! Im a bit confuse on the diet plan that they have. Im suppose to be doing Level I with 1800 calories a day. I wrote out what Im suppose to have for the day but it doesn’t add up to the calorie intake a need. Im about 500 calories short but it makes no sense because I have incorporated foods from each group. am I doing something wrong?

    • Matt says:

      Hello Iris,

      Don’t fret! Not everything is fully explained in all the manuals of the program. This is something my wife and I struggled with at first too. The catch is to make the most of those types of foods that naturally carry more calories. Your “money maker” will be carbohydrates. Here’s the trick.

      Pick from the allowed protein foods from the manual that also contain a decent amount carbohydrates. An example of this is legumes (beans). Legumes are considered a carbohydrate portion; however, they are notorious for proteins too. So, you’re satisfying a serving of carbohydrate and getting some extra calories from the proteins they carry. Another example is avocado. It’s listed under fat in the manual, but is packed with calories beyond the standard (a pure unsaturated gram of fat is 120 calories), due to the carbs in it (it’s a fruit after all).

      You’re natural tendency will be to choose foods lower in calories, because that’s what you’ve always looked out for. As you’ve discovered, you need to find foods from the same categories that are “loaded”. Let me know if this makes sense and is helpful enough or not.

  15. CJ says:

    Hey Matt (aka nutrition guru)-
    Thanks so much for the link to my blog! =) I hope it is as helpful to people as your site and your advice have been for me!
    – CJ =)

    • Matt says:

      CJ,

      I’m sure your site will do wonders for people. I saw some really tasty looking protein pancakes on it the other day that would be perfect for phase 2 or 3. Keep up the great work and thanks!

  16. Nico says:

    Hi Matt,

    As everybody has stated great job on the site and you seem to be very informative. Let me give you a little background on myself so I can give you a better understanding of my situation. I’m turning 30 this July and decided that its time I get back in shape. Throughout HS and previous years I have been very active with sports like, soccer, track and ulitmate frisbee. (Yes, Ultimate frisbee) LOVE IT!!. Since I moved into a new place I have gained some weight and become out of shape. Not a great deal out of shape but have some extra weight I’d like to drop and tone up. I’m currently 6ft and about 186lbs give or take a lb or two.

    My goal is again to burn the fat and tone back up. Possibly even adding some muscle mass as well. Now I am new to this whole self fitness world because all I use to do was run and whatever calories I consumed I simply burned off. I have all the gear I need to start my p90X workout and have been reading up on the supplements and recovery drinks. I have a local GNC down the street from me and I couldnt find where you mentioned what types of multivitiams you would use to replace teh ones P90x offers. I’m a total newbie on this stuff so given my history what do you recommend for somebody like me to get my desired results.

    One last thing to mention is my diet is fair at best. REason I say that is cause I will have pizza, hamburgers once in awhile. I do try to balance things out with diary, fruits, cranberry juice, red meat ect. Following the diet plan p90x offers is very complicated to me and hard to follow. Not to mention seems very expensive. Any advice is greatly appreciated.

    thanks again.

    Nico

    • Matt says:

      Hi Nico,

      That is great! Making up your mind is half the battle for fitness. I’m a fan of the disc too. My dad played disc golf with the esteemed “Captain Snap” back in the 70’s and 80’s. Good stuff.

      I recommend you pick up the Mega Men’s Sport mutli-vitamin from GNC. You can read my article all about supplements for P90X to get more information. As for your diet, one of the hardest things you’ll find is to eat enough calories! It’s odd, but downing 2,400 calories will seem daunting at first; especially, when you cut out nearly all carbs. If you can do it, pizza is a no-go for the next 90 days. If you want a hamburger, load it with vegetables and ditch the bun (or have it open-faced with just a single slice).

      The food expense issue is really what you make of it. You will be eating more, and healthier foods are more costly, unfortunately. Stick to the simple and abundant proteins (chicken and ground beef) and vegetables to keep the cost down. You may want to shop somewhere that has a bonus card and start keeping an eye out for usable coupons. You can also take advantage of the season we’re in and buy veggies from local produce stands that you trust (or learn to trust). You should find that buying from those locals will often be a bit cheaper than grocers.

      Feel free to peruse the P90X tagged articles for even more goodies (if you haven’t already). Good luck and have fun with this!

  17. Danielle says:

    Hello Matt,

    I am turning 42 on Saturday, and starting P90X on Sunday..I am pumped! I am 5’1 and 110 lbs. so I don’t need a lot as far as caloric intake. I got my Accelerade, in the orange drink and I was wondering which one of the flavors tastes the best, lemonade or orange? My other question is this: I drink the Accelerade an hour after the workout, and have the protein bar at that time or save it for a half an hour after the drink? GNC has a PRO Performance AMP Amplified Recovery Protein XR drink that was suggested. I compared it to the P90X protein product and it seems almost the same. Now, I would rather have the protein drink INSTEAD of the bar, when should I drink this, after my workout? Its hard to do what everyone else can do, because I am short and gain weight really fast.

    Thanks for all your information, it gives me a better idea what I should shoot for in my goal to do this right.

    Danielle

    • Matt says:

      Happy birthday (tomorrow), Danielle!

      I like the orange flavor. My favorite flavor is the lemonade though. My wife’s favorite flavor is the lime. However, she prefers mixing the lemonade with the lime (half and half) over any single flavor.

      You should drink the recovery drink as soon as you finish your workout. Do not wait an hour to drink it; drink it right away. You have to drink it completely within an hour of finishing your workout in order for it to be effective. The sooner you drink it, the better. Also, if you can help it at all, avoid eating or drinking anything else (other than water) for 45-60 minutes after you finish the recovery drink. The 4:1 carbs to protein ratio only really works if you do not upset that balance by adding more carbs or protein (like a bar or shake) while the drink is being processed.

      If it is a true recovery drink, it must have 4 parts carbohydrates to 1 part protein (i.e. 20 g carbs, 5 g protein). If it does not have that ratio, it cannot be used effectively as a recovery drink. For some reason, GNC keeps recommending protein heavy mixes as recovery drinks. If their drink is heavy on protein, feel free to have that instead of the bar for your protein supplement, just not your recovery drink.

      As far as when to have protein supplements (bars or drinks), choose to have them throughout the day when you cannot eat enough protein. Just be sure that you don’t waste your efforts. Synthetic protein cannot be processed by your body as fast as natural protein. Therefore, most of the bars and drinks should only be eaten until between 20-30 grams of protein in a single sitting. After you eat that much of the supplemental protein, make sure you wait another hour to hour and a half before eating more of it. Your body will just ignore more than that amount and get rid of it. Natural protein (meat, soy, egg, etc.) is a different story. You can ingest several servings of natural protein at a time and your body will handle it just fine.

      Good luck and have fun on Saturday and Sunday!

      • Danielle says:

        Thank you for the tip! One more thing, what about ground turkey…how much is considered 1 portion?

        Danielle

        • Matt says:

          Danielle,

          You’re welcome! All lean protein meats follow the same basic rule of portioning. 1 portion is always around 3 ounces weighed.

  18. Jack says:

    I’m starting P90X on Monday. I’ve read through the nutrition plan I don’t know how many times and have been spending a lot of time reading here as well as the P90X website. There is one question I haven’t really gotten an answer to. If you are starting in Phase 1 (fat shredder) when should you transition to Phase 2 and subsequently to Phase 3? Should the phases follow pretty much the months? I am level 3 for the nutrition level but question being at that level and really feel I should be in level 2.

    What are your thoughts?

    Jack

    Great site and information here by the way. Love it.

    • Matt says:

      Hi Jack,

      I’m glad you enjoy the site!

      You should transition between each phase every 4 weeks. It is the same as when the workouts transition to new routines. I would say that if you are questioning being at level 3, then try level 2 for the first week. If you are still hungry 30 minutes after eating any of your meals, eat more…please, eat more. If that is the trend for the entire first week, consider going up to level 3.

      While eating too much is certainly not good, eating too little is far, far worse. After a couple of weeks on the program you should have a feel for how your body is handling the diet. Just do not go hungry. Your body will pull from your muscles for energy instead of your fat if you go hungry. During this workout, going hungry is just like starving yourself. Eat enough to build those muscles even more and the fat cannot help but burn away. Muscle gain burns fat fast.

      Good luck!

  19. Luc Thomas says:

    I love your site…so much info and help, thank you. I just have a quick question. Im starting the P90x for the first time. I would have liked to purchase accelerade as a recovery drink, only I live in Canada and GNC doesn’t sell that in Canada. Is there any other recovery drink 4:1 alternative for us Canadians?

    • Matt says:

      Hi Luc,

      I will look into Canadian alternatives at some point. However, you can always order Accelerade from Amazon.com. I don’t know if you can get the super saver shipping price in Canada. I checked Amazon.ca for Accelerade and they do not have it yet either.

      Good luck until I can get back to you!

  20. Jason says:

    Where can I find answers to some P90X questions, like the nutrition part? I want to know if granola bars (Nature Valley, etc.) are counted as carbs or proteins? Also, same for protein bars (Tiger’s Milk, etc.). Has anyone made a list of these? Thanks.

  21. Steve says:

    Matt,

    Great forum and thanks for all the amazing insight. I am about to start a very intensive academic program that runs for about 22 weeks. 16-18 hour days with about two hours dedicated to physical training and the rest being moderate in physical requirements, mostly hand-eye coordination stuff. My question to you is, if this program may force my body into ketoacidosis, should I supplement with additional sugars for improved brain functioning? Is this even a concern?

    Thanks,
    Steve

    • Matt says:

      Hi Steve,

      This may be a concern, but only if you are not eating enough or you are not eating a balanced diet. By that I mean, you plan to not increase your calories during this program and/or you attempt to cut carbs or fat more than usual.

      For diabetics or alcoholics, ketoacidosis is a huge concern during such an intensive program that you are describing. Since you are likely neither of those, the next biggest culprit causing ketoacidosis would be prolonged fasting. Now, that is probably not going to be the case either; however, with all those hours of physical activity, a state similar to prolonged fasting may occur if you are not eating enough.

      Much like with P90X, the addition of intense physical activity absolutely requires additional calories. You will definitely want to eat more than usual during your 22 weeks. Depending on the intensity of your activity, you will likely want to ingest an additional 600 to possibly 1,000 calories. You will also not want to put yourself through a low-carb diet during that time. You will need those sugars; just make sure they are good carbs. Try to track your foods’ glycemic indexes as well to keep an eye on things. You do not want your insulin levels to get out of control.

      As I always recommend/disclaim, please see your physician before you begin the program. Discuss what you will be doing and what foods will be available. Your doctor should be able to set you on the right track (even if that means referring you to a nutritionist) for the program. Is this program in a controlled setting? If so, you should have professionals on-site to instruct/recommend on an appropriate diet during this time.

      Good luck! This sounds like an experience you will never forget, so enjoy it safely.

  22. Corey C. says:

    Great resource Matt! I’m starting P90X this week and have been working out for about a month to get ready for it. My question is two fold. I’ve been using Syntha-6 as a meal replacement which has 22g of protein and is 200 calories per scoop, drinking two scoops per recommended dose. I’m at level II and already take this shake three times a day along with a steady diet of fish chicken and beef daily. I also drink liqiud egg whites before bed which is about 34g of protein. This is more than enough per day now that I have to stick to the meal plan so where should I cut back and do I really need to stay around 30g per serving?
    Also what do you think of Syntha-6 as a product?

    Thanks

    • Matt says:

      Corey,

      From what I’ve seen of the nutrition facts for Syntha-6, it looks like the serving size is 1 rounded scoop. As for staying around 30g per serving, that’s really necessary for synthetic proteins; like the protein drinks. The egg whites shouldn’t be a problem with servings. Check your total caloric intake and make sure it doesn’t exceed your 2,400 calorie limit for level II. If so, definitely cut back.

      The Syntha-6 product looks pretty good. It’s good to hear that you’ve been preparing for P90X. Good luck with the program and let us know how things go.

  23. Andrew says:

    Hi Matt,

    Thanks for creating this site, it was very helpful to me for getting the right equipment and alternatives to the P90x brand products!! Starting the program on Monday, very excited about it. Already tried a couple of the workouts and I’m ready to bring it! Most people I’ve seen do this to lose weight, while I’m trying to get muscle mass and get toned. Of course, I need to shed a bit of them handles (my body fat %is 18.6, I’m 37), and want to get my abs back.

    My question is, even if I don’t need to lose a lot of weight, how important is the meal plan? I’m planning to follow it, (going shopping this weekend) but I’m always pressed for time and that may be my biggest challange… Also, anything you can suggest for bulking up? I have my whey protein, which I heard is good for muscle mass…

    FYI: I bought the BioPro CTF formula, my local nutritionist suggested that instead of getting a recovery formula + a tub of whey protein to just go with the BioPro formula wich is both (packed with whey, aminoacids etc…)By adding 10oz of juice and eating a banana, I should have my 4 to 1 ratio after the workouts. And can of course be used with the meal planner’s protein shakes. It turned out to be cheaper and it made sense, but we’ll see how it works.

    Thanks in advance! Hope you have a good evening!

    Ciao!

    • Matt says:

      Andrew,

      The meal plan is very important. It’s designed to condition your body for muscle growth. It just so happens that a convenient side-effect of muscle growth is fat loss. It is challenging sticking to the meal plan with time constraints. I suggest finding some meals that you really like and make them in bulk on the weekend. Try to prepare your entire week’s worth of meals and just heat them up as you need them.

      Whey protein is great. Check out my article on protein for more information. You can also look into creatine. I have an article all about creatine that should get you started.

      So long as you meet the 4:1 ratio for your recovery drink, I don’t see a problem with that formula. I’m glad you found an additional combination that is cheaper and works for you.

      Good luck and have fun with P90X!

  24. Angelica says:

    I am just starting my second week of P90X, and i have to say that i am hooked. I love the workouts, and i am also following the recommended diet. Here’s my concern, although i was going to the gym frequently prior to starting P90X, I stopped after i came back from a long business trip (my work schedule was consuming my time). Now I am only doing P90X without any additional workout regimen, except taking my dog for a walk/run. I am concerned that I will not get the same results because I’m not doing any additional exercise. My questions are the following: Will I get the same (or any) results by doing P90X without any additional workout routines? or are we expected to have an additional workout routine along with P90X?

    • Matt says:

      Hi Angelica,

      P90X is designed to be the only workout you need for 3 months. If you are interested in more than the standard, consider looking at the “Doubles” version in the P90X workout book. Also, if you add more on your own, be sure to account for the extra expended calories by eating a little more. You don’t want to go hungry or your body will go to your muscles for “food”.

  25. Leilani says:

    Hi Matt!

    Your site has been very helpful. Thank you so much for providing so much information.

    I’m starting the P90x next week – I’ve got everything ready to go including my multivitamins, whey protein and accelerade. I weigh around 126 lbs and I wouldn’t consider myself moderately fit but I’m okay. I did pass the Fit test and I did P90 a couple of years ago. My problem is that I carry alot of my weight around my stomach and a lot of this has to do with the kind of job I possess. I sit all day in front of the computer and so my question to you is, I supposedly fit into Fat Shredder Level 1 – I’m not sure whether I should be taking this much calories if I don’t have a lot of activities throughout the day. Do you think I should cut it down some more? What do you suggest?

    Thanks!

    Lani

    • Matt says:

      Hi Lani,

      I’m glad the site is helping you. My wife fell about in the same area as you. You’d be surprised that you need those extra calories. If you starve your body during such an intense program, you’ll do nothing but lose muscle. Each workout is around 600 calories burned! That is truly amazing and why you need to eat so much. If you always feel full after following the plan for a week or so, try to cut 200 calories from the diet and try that for a week. Keep doing that until you find the balance that leaves you full but not hungry. Make sure you keep the same balance of protein, fat, and carbs through each phase.

      Give it a shot as is first and see how you feel. You should always listen to your body. The hard part is actually hearing it correctly. ;-) Good luck!

  26. SP says:

    Hey Matt,

    This website is awesome!!! I just came across it two weeks into starting my P90X and boy I’m glad I found it. You’re doing great work filling in the holes on P90X journey.

    Today I start my week 3 and can’t wait to see results at the end. Already ran into a few bumps as expected though…I’m 5’0″ and 106lbs and fairly fit having done Jillian Michael’s videos but the challenge is doing these workouts 6 days a week which gets tough trying to balance 14hr workdays on my feet and getting enough sleep. And the other challenge is eating right. I’m a vegetarian so that puts a little glitch on planning my meals, which for the most part include protein bars throughout the day. Otherwise, love the program and just got Accelerade from your recommendation.

    Thanks!

    • Matt says:

      Hello!

      The time needed for this program is definitely challenging. Not only do you have to set aside time to perform the workouts, you have to prepare a lot of food. Furthermore, as a vegetarian, you will have to work around the protein issues that are not addressed in the diet plan. However, there is hope.

      I suggest you look into pea protein shakes as a way to get your protein. You will really need to stay on top of protein with your diet lifestyle choice. It can be done though. The thing to consider is how much to take and when. Since most protein shakes are synthetic protein, you can’t really take 3 servings at once and reap the benefits. You may have to spread your servings out; you should wait about 1-1.5 hours between servings of synthetic protein to avoid wasting the extra you consume.

      However, I’m not as versed in the pea protein to tell you if the above suggestion of serving management applies. It may be that you can have more than a serving at a time and your body will process it just like it would multiple servings of natural protein (food protein). I just don’t know enough about the process for pea protein. It may even come down to the brand and how they process it too.

      Regardless, pea protein is definitely for you! Good luck and keep it up.

  27. Jonathan says:

    Hi Matt, I’ve placed my order for P90X, and I’m getting to ready to hit the ground running as soon as it arrives. I do have a question about some of the protien drinks that are recommended. I’m in ok shape for 41, but I do have moderately high cholesterol. I noticed most of the protien drinks are very high in cholesterol (about 23% of daily recommended). Should I be concerned, or will I make up for that by cutting out fat in my meals throughout the day (I haven’t had a chance to review the nutrition plan in depth yet)? Anyway, thanks for all your great advice and support for us P90X newbies!

    • Matt says:

      Hi Jonathan,

      I’m glad you’re starting P90X and have a good attitude about it all. Yes, most of the protein drinks out there have cholesterol, primarily because they are based on whey protein which derives from dairy (and even eggs). However, the biggest problem I have with the current regulations by the FDA with regards to posting cholesterol totals on food products is there is no requirements for the types of cholesterol. As you certainly know, there are 2 main types of cholesterol and they are totally different beasts when it comes to your health. Since there is no requirement on the details of publishing the numbers on food labels, we can only assume that they post total cholesterol. We don’t know how much of it is HDL vs. LDL.

      I suggest 1 of 2 options for you. First, take one of the protein shakes to your doctor and have him/her look over the ingredients and help you decide if it’s suitable for you to take based on your changes in diet as well. Make a list of everything and make an appointment. Secondly, you can order purely vegetable-based protein shakes online if they are not available in stored near you. They are almost always based on pea protein and are extremely good products overall.

      I highly recommend looking into pea protein shakes.

      Good luck with the program! I wish you the best.

      • Jonathan says:

        Thanks so much for your feedback Matt. I will definitely check out the pea protein drinks. Also, I’ll be doing my workouts first thing in the morning (I start the program tomorrow). Should I be eating something before my workout…if so, what would you recommend? Thanks again for all your great advice!

        • Matt says:

          It’s tough working out in the morning for this very reason. You’ll be hungry, but it’s best if you can make it through the workout before eating. If you just can’t make it, try to eat quick burning carbs, so you can burn through them during the workout. The trick is to find quick burn carbs that are still good carbs (e.g. unprocessed, unrefined, etc.). Your best bet is a natural sugar without much fiber and no protein at all (e.g. O.J., grapes, etc.). Avoid protein because you will tank during the workout before you even finish. Good luck and have fun!

  28. Amanda says:

    Hi Matt, I started P90X a few months ago, but I was not very consistent with. 2 weeks ago I started again and have finally been consistent. The first week, I supplemented 1 cardio day and the yoga day for a run. This week (in all honesty) was my 1st week ever to complete every workout everyday…I am wiped! I don’t know if it’s just now getting to me or if it had something to do with not running and solely doing P90X. I was definitely sore everyday and today (my rest day) I am soooo tired. So to continue with my honesty…I have also not been eating on the P90x diet or even close to it and I have not taken any supplements or drinks or shakes. I know that’s bad. My weight lose has also been on a hold for a few weeks now. I eat healthy, but after looking reading over my guides I realized Im not getting the nutrients I need to sustain me though my day.

    So I’m trying to do it right. Planned my meals, went grocery shopping, stoped my GNC. I purchased the Atkins Bars and (just as the guy in one of your comments above) was sold the Amplified Wheybolic Extreme 60 as a replacement for the recovery drink. I want to make sure I understand. Atkins Bars I can get, but I can only handle purchasing either a protein shake or recovery drink. In that case, you suggest doing the protein shake? If so, are the bars and the shake plus eating right going to give me what I need? I am also breastfeeding and I haven’t seen anything about that. Is there anything I need to add for that reason?

    Thanks so much.
    Amanda

    • Matt says:

      Hi Amanda,

      I understand. None of this is simple or easy; that’s why it works so well when you do it right. I’m glad to hear that you realized your mistakes and got on track. I’m unsure why the folks at GNC keep insisting on that product as a replacement for the recovery drink. I can only guess that they may get some kind of bonus/commission.

      Anyway, it seems that you may be better off going with a recovery drink over the protein shake and bars. You’ll be able to get the protein you need through just one of those (i.e. the bars), if you eat enough. The recovery drink will help tremendously with your soreness and more.

      I also suggest eating non-fat Greek yogurt, if you like yogurt. My wife eats Chobani brand. That type of yogurt can be your dairy for the day and help you make up some lost protein. 1 serving of that yogurt is almost a full protein serving. In addition, you’ll get those active cultures and probiotics for good digestive health, etc.

      As for breastfeeding…please, make an appointment with your doctor to discuss this exercise program. Before you see her/him, make a list of all the supplements you are taking daily, what types of foods you are eating throughout the week and the frequency of them, and the types of workouts you perform with their frequency. Your doctor will need to know all of this in order to advise you properly on what else you will likely need to keep you and baby healthy. My first guesses for deficiencies would be Vitamins A and D, but there are likely other things that may need special attention.

      Good luck and let us know how things are going in a couple more weeks!

  29. Deathpunch says:

    Thank you for the alternatives. I have spent a lot of time looking for alternatives that I could just go purchase (I like to keep my business local). Through all the searching I have done, this is the most complete and helpful site I have found! Thank you very much now I’m off to the store…wish me luck!

  30. CJ says:

    Hi again Matt!
    My husband has done the Lindora program before, which was very similar to the portion approach Phase 1, although Lindora is based around the concept of ketosis. I’ve noticed that P90x doesn’t refer to this at all, just curious if you have any thoughts on ketosis? Is this diet basically working on the same principle, just not talking about it?
    CJ

    • Matt says:

      Hi CJ!
      I would guess that the makers of P90X did not want to add yet another term and concept into the mix for their followers. During Phase 1, your body will definitely produce more ketones as a result of the very small amount of carbs you’re taking in. In such a state, the body pulls from fats; both through the fat portions you eat and your fat reserves (yay!).

      Most of these types of low-carb concepts are based around a small glycemic load. My wife and I even tracked the basic glycemic index for each of the foods we consumed on the program to help ascertain our total carb intake. This will differ somewhat from the carb portions allowed on this diet because things like the recovery drink, some protein shakes, bars, and even some of foods that are mostly in the fat category have a glycemic index above zero.

      So, long story to get to the fact that, yes, the P90X program has the same basic principles during Phase 1. However, every good nutritionist will tell you that your body needs a fair amount of good carbs. Phase 1 is the purge phase to ween you away from any dependency you may have on refined/processed carbs. Phase 2 starts to bring good carbs back into the picture now that your body knows what it’s like without the bad stuff (and it likes it this way). Finally, Phase 3 gets you back to where your diet should be with regard to the portions of the main groups of foods.

      That was a great question!

      • CJ says:

        Hey thanks so much for the response, Matt!
        My husband is now almost a week into the second month of the program. He has lost 6 lbs so far and 3 inches off of his belly. Yay!

        So far I have kept him on the Fat Burner diet plan because he still has so much more to lose, and the impression I got from the P90x materials is that Phase 1 is focused on burning fat, and Phase 2 is just for maintaining the fat loss that has already happened. Then Phase 3 is an athletic diet that “must be earned.” I know that you’ve said before that if I keep him on Fat Burner for too long he will plateau. Do you think he will plateau weight-wise or just energy-wise? So far his energy still seems to be OK. I guess I’m worried that if I move him to Phase 2, he’ll stop losing weight. What are your thoughts?

        Thanks again for all of your help.

        • Matt says:

          CJ,

          That is great news! 3 inches has to be very exciting. The good news is, it’s more important to lose the inches than the weight. As he gains more and more muscle, his weight loss may begin to level off. Remember, muscle weighs a whole lot more than fat! I think you’d be okay extending the phase 1 diet by another 2 weeks. You don’t want to keep up with low-carb dieting for too long because your body needs those carbs. It’s just not natural, nor is it good for you, to reduce carbs for long.

          Don’t worry as much about his weight; look at his body fat percentage. You got a monitor or calipers to measure that, right? That should be your focus. Of course, there is also another option; he can take a couple weeks off after he completes the 90 days, then start all over again. A lot of people with extra weight do just that.

          Keep up your support of him and good luck with your diet/nutrition blog.

  31. Laura says:

    This is so informative. Thanks! I am about to begin week 4 of P90X. I started at about 108 lbs and am 5 3 1/2″. Like Danielle, I want to lose some belly fat and tone up. I still can’t do a single pull-up w/o a chair and only push-ups off my knees. I’m hoping to see some real results by the end of this, and am wondering how important the diet is. I didn’t really stick to the diet the first 2 weeks, but have been trying this past week and going forward. As for the recovery drink, I have not been using one. Is it really necessary to achieve results, or just to make you “feel” better after a workout? I am sore after workouts, but not uncomfortably so. As for a protein supplement, I just started drinking Muscle Milk. I haven’t really kept track of exactly how many proteins I eat during the day, as I don’t know how many ounces a chicken breast or slice of turkey is – but I’ve been eating lots of chicken and turkey and limiting myself to just one carb from the list a day. I also eat 2% cottage cheese as opposed to 1%. How important is it to strictly follow the diet? Is it ok to just eat lots of protein, some fruits and veggies and dairy and limit carbs? Or do I have to follow the plan exactly to get results? I was hoping just eating healthier would work. Finally, since I didn’t really diet the first 2 weeks, should I stick with the “fat shredder” for a longer time than phase 1? Sorry to be so long-winded.

    • Matt says:

      Hi Laura,

      Give it time; it should come. The diet is extremely important. Most importantly, you should eat enough protein and have very few fats and even fewer carbs. Likewise, those fats and carbs must be healthy ones; avoid most cane sugar (sucrose) and refined/enriched flours (whole grain is key). The recovery drink does allow you to do more in your workout the following day, so don’t treat it too lightly. Natural protein, like chicken breast and turkey, is about 3 ounces for 1 serving of protein. Try to keep track of what you eat, including calories, so you can hit your intake goals. 2% cottage cheese is not bad, just be aware of the total fat and dairy you consume in a day and try not to go over the values listed. Since your carbs are to be extremely low in this first phase (in order to cleanse your system of its dependency on them), the 1 serving limit means you can only have 1 piece of fruit or a couple slices of whole grain bread.

      You can extend the fat shredder phase a little longer if you’d like. I wouldn’t extend it more than a week though, or your body will definitely plateau. Good luck!

      • Laura says:

        Thanks SO much for your advice, Matt – this is a really great thing that you do for others. I plan to buy some Accelerade as a recovery drink and will try to stick to the diet. I’ll let you know how many pull-ups I can do in another 66 days or so. :-)

  32. CJ says:

    Thanks, Matt!
    What about having the recovery drink in his system right before bed? Tonight he’s working out at 7:30 or 8 at night, and I’m a bit concerned about giving him the carb/sugar rush of the recovery drink right before going to sleep. Should he skip the recovery drink on late nights like this?

    • Matt says:

      @CJ: Working out close to bedtime is tough to manage. It would be better to not have the recovery drink right before bed. However, if he waits the 30-45 minutes necessary for the recovery drink to work its magic before he goes to bed, that should be fine. So, after the workout, have the recovery drink, then wait 45 minutes after drinking it before going to bed. If it’s not possible to do even this, I would still rather he have the recovery drink. I doubt his body will store the carbs as usual. He just may not get optimum sleep during his first cycle (learn about sleep cycles from another one of my articles). It shouldn’t be that bad though.

      • CJ says:

        Thank you again so much. I agree with Mike that is is so awesome that you are giving so much support to so many people. I tell my husband that Matt, my “P90x eating guru” said this or that, and he is much more convinced! =)

        • Matt says:

          CJ: Your comment made me smile as I read it! It is great that others can sidestep all the discovery my wife and I had to go through. This is a great program and deserves a proper attempt. I’m really glad some of you can get quick answers to some of those initial worrying questions. Thanks for taking the time to comment again, CJ. I hope I can get back to writing more articles on the next topics soon.

  33. Mike says:

    I’ve read over your page here and I’m VERY impressed. You not only tell of your experiences, but continue to support and help out when you can. For that I feel the least I can do is say thank you.

    I have a few questions about Accelerade and Protein bars.

    I’ve noticed when reading the label for Accelerade that the vitamin make up is drastically different. There is also no creatine. Should creatine be added to the Accelerade, or is it even needed?

    My other question is what would you recommend for protein bars that are affordable?

    • Matt says:

      @Mike: I really appreciate the thanks. It helps keep me motivated. So, thank you as well!

      Accelerade is a bit different in its makeup. I sincerely believe that the most important thing about a recover drink is the 4:1 ratio. The creatine may be of benefit, but I feel that if it is important to you, purchase a creatine supplement and add it to your protein shake or take it with water before your workout. Feel free to read my article on creatine. The Accelerade also lacks the L-glutamine that is in the P90X recovery drink formula. That one is a little more tricky; however, I prefer to get that via my multi-vitamin. You can read more about recovery drinks in my other article as well.

      Lastly, I have yet another article, “P90X: The What, When and Why of Supplements“. It covers all the above.

      I have had great luck with Atkins Advantage Bars. I am always on the lookout for better ingredients and healthier ratios. After trying a ton of protein bars, these are the ones I’ve stuck with longest now. They have plenty of protein and very little sugar. Most of the others try to up the taste factor with sugar. These taste good without extra junk.

      • Mike says:

        Would you say that the Atkins bars are better than the Cliff bars you mention in the supplements article?

        • Matt says:

          Mike: I have switched completely to the Atkins bars. I still think the Clif bars are excellent. The Atkins bars simply have less sugar. Otherwise, they seem equivalent.

  34. CJ says:

    Hey Matt –
    OK, one more question.
    My understanding is that these are all priorities:
    1. Drink the recovery drink in the 1 hr after workout.
    2. Don’t eat for 1/2 hour after drinking recovery drink.
    3. Eat 3 hours before going to bed.
    4. Get 7 hours of sleep.

    This leaves my hubby on a very tight schedule. My question is, are one or more of these more important than the others? For the last 2 days he has finished his food at 7 p.m., and then had to choose between getting the right amount of sleep and staying awake for the recommended 3 hours. What are your thoughts on this? Which is more important, adequate sleep, or making sure that the food isn’t still in your system?
    Thanks again!
    CJ

    • Matt says:

      @CJ: Definitely favor the proper amount of sleep over having food in your system when going to bed. Especially, if his last meal of the day is heavy on protein. The reason I recommend people eat protein at night instead of carbs or fat is because your body can store carbs and fat, but it cannot store protein. This way, your body will process the protein the way it needs to instead of choosing to store it (since it simply can’t).

  35. AC says:

    Very helpful information! I am still running through the P90X workouts before I commit to starting the program. My question is this – I am at work very early ~ 6am and do not get home until about 5pm so I must workout in the evening. By the time I get home I’m always fairly tired/sluggish. Is there anything I can eat or drink prior to working out for a decent energy boost? Would a pre-workout recovery drink help?

    • Matt says:

      @AC: If your day is already full of physical activity, the solution will be to eat more calories during the day. If not, it’s tough to say what’s best for a pre-workout snack. A recovery drink won’t really do the trick. The best thing would be slow-burning carbs (whole grain) an hour before your workout. In a pinch, a quick-burning carb (an apple) near the workout would be okay, but not ideal. This, of course, cuts into your very limited carbs for the day.

      The one thing I must stress, is to avoid protein an hour or less before your workout. Your body will be very busy processing the protein and just will not be able to perform for the workout. Trust me on this one. My wife and I tried a protein shake 20 minutes before a workout once. It was the saddest thing you’d ever see. It was like watching a maimed gazelle try to escape a cheetah.

  36. CJ says:

    Thank you SO much, Matt. So nice to get some external, more-knowledgeable confirmation of my gut feeling about the calories. And thanks also for the plan for adjusting his calorie intake, and advice regarding injuries. It feels so good to have a concrete plan of attack that takes our situation into account.

    I have ordered the Accelerade, but it looks like it’s not coming for a week. In the meantime I bought some chocolate milk but sadly the stats are 27carb/9protein, which only comes out to a 3/1 ratio instead of 4/1. Just curious if I could add sugar or something to it to make it fit the bill until the Accelerade shows up? If there is no way to alter it, is my husband better off skipping it entirely, or will 3/1 give him better recovery than nothing?

    Thanks again for the detailed, down-to-earth advice!
    CJ

    • Matt says:

      @CJ: You’re quite welcome! If the chocolate milk you have requires milk (it’s a powder/shake), then the milk will add appropriate sugar (lactose) and may get you to the 4:1 ratio depending on how much you add. Otherwise, sugar will do the trick until the Accelerade arrives (just about all of the recovery drinks use sugar anyway). With those two options, you should be able to get the proper ratio for the first week.

      Good luck!

  37. CJ says:

    Hi Matt!
    I want to thank you for this information, it has been incredibly useful. My husband is starting P90x tomorrow, and I’m taking care of the diet portion for him.
    One question, he is 222 lbs and not in great shape – carries most of his weight in front in the stomach area. He has passed the fit test and wants to go with the P90x instead of the P90 though. So my concern is that he supposedly fits into Fat Shredder Level III, which is 3,800 calories a day! Youch, that seems like A LOT. I was wondering if, since the P90x is designed for moderately fit people, that number of calories is designed for a moderately fit 222.
    Should I pack those calories down him and just stick with the portion approach as written, or start him on Level II 2,400 calories?
    I would appreciate any recommendations you could give me. Thanks so much!
    CJ

    • Matt says:

      @CJ: I’m glad you’ve made some use of this information. Level III seems like overkill in this case. I would definitely try him out on Level II. Now, beware! He will likely be hungry the first few days. If the first day doesn’t work out too well after dinner, throw in another 200 calories before it gets too late in the evening. If he’s still hungry later, mix him a protein shake. Using protein just before bed helps prevent those sleepy calories many get from midnight snacking (usually of fat and/or carbs). If he is still hungry, try adding 400 calories on the 2nd day (2,800 calories). Use the same tricks that evening.

      Try not to go over 3,000 calories within the first 4-5 days. I say this because his body will likely be hungry due to the shock of not having all the carbs. Hang in there. If he is still hungry after those 4-5 days, add another 200 calories the next day. Keep doing that slowly, until he does not feel like he’s starving. You’ll know after a week that you can rely on his hunger to be accurate. Then, listen to that hunger to get the amount of calories right.

      It’s very important that he doesn’t cheat on the carbs and fat intake the first phase. If he does, you may never find the right number of calories. But, once you do, stick that number for the remainder of the program.

      Good luck!

    • Matt says:

      @CJ: One more thing. He must be careful with the plyometrics exercises. With that kind of weight (the kind that isn’t muscle), he could very easily hurt his knees. I did just that at 190 lbs with okay fitness. Of course, I’d had slight knee problems most of my life, but it’s still a consideration. In fact, the 2 largest injuries people get from P90X are ankle and knee injuries. Just be careful and listen to your body (that’s always good advice).

  38. mike says:

    I’ve heard that chocolate milk is a good substitute for a recovery drink. what if i added milk with some cacao powder/sugar with mixed berries to my protein shake? would that make it from a 4:1 to a 4:4? like an all in one shake? might be a stupid question but it wouldn’t hurt to ask.

  39. mike says:

    if i’m taking a protein shake post workout, do i still need a recovery drink? i’m short on money now and willing to start now with a smile on my face if it’s not really necessary to have two drinks post workout everyday. if i can choose one which one would be better? protein shake or recovery drink? thanks

    • Matt says:

      @mike: A recovery drink is best post workout. It will help your body fill-in the necessary goods to recover from the strain of the workout. You do not need 2 drinks post workout; only the recovery drink. Protein shakes are your supplements throughout the day to help you ingest enough protein.

      However, if I had to choose between a recovery drink and a protein shake for my regimen, I would choose the protein shake. You’ll likely not be able to eat enough protein to meet your intake goals without a shake to supplement your diet.

  40. Branden says:

    Okay, Which one is better to take while working out with P90X. Muscle Milk or Accelerade?

    • Matt says:

      @Branden: Muscle Milk is not a recovery drink; Accelerade is. Your recovery drink should have a 4:1 ratio of carbs to protein.

      Muscle Milk would be an option for your protein shake that you supplement with throughout the day. In that case, it comes down to your preference. So long as the protein shake has 20-35 grams of protein per serving.

  41. Ian Mckenzie says:

    Hi fellow P90Xers, we should have a convention. I am five weeks into the program and I still have a huge problem finding the right Ab muscles I am supposed to engage doing the V-rollups and straight leg sit-ups. Do you have any tips so I don’t rip out my colon?

    Cheers, Ian

    • Matt says:

      Hi Ian,

      I understand your pain. It took us 4 weeks just to be able to finish the Ab X program after our normal workout. All I can say about the roll-ups and leg sit-ups is to curl your back forward. Try it standing up to get a feel for the muscles engaged. Stand straight, tighten your abs, then just curl your back forward like a hunch-back. You should feel the top abs engage first, then your lower abs will work as you curl down more. Once your back is curled a little, you can pull the rest of the way with just your abs.

      One of the things I struggled with most was my lower back; especially, during v-roll-ups and the killer ending to the Ab X workout. You know the one! It’s a lot of work for your back muscles to hold those positions with good form. I also had some issues with my groin on one side. I had hernia repair surgery years ago and that’s just lovely the rest of your life.

      If you feel it starting to pull much lower than your upper groin, take a break. Also, be aware of how much your groin is working if it’s not used to that. Good luck!

  42. Jason says:

    Oh yeah, they work outs are kicking our butts. Being mostly sedentary up till now we might have to get Power 90 instead. We can’t finish the P90X workouts atm. We are feeling the workouts after they are over (days), maybe more than I expected to with the Accelerade (we should probably try the Endurox R4). The problem isn’t necessarily that we are too physically exhausted overall (we are exhausted) but our muscles specifically are exhausted to the point we cant do the movements accurate for the second round.

    The first day we only finish half of the first video and had no energy left overall to do the ab video. The second day we still had energy around the halfway point of the video but out the muscles we were working out specifically had no energy to continue.

    We did the test the day before starting the program and we were able to complete it. The day after I felt so much discomfort in my legs (not the typical soreness I would expect) … the pain is still there 4 days later. I think it came from trying to touch my toes as I am not flexible AT ALL.

    Over the weekend we will have more time to devote to eating properly so we can really focus on getting our calories in and maybe that will prove to be the reason we can’t finish a whole workout.

    I don’t think we are getting enough protein either based on the information you provided. It looks like we are getting 5-7 servings per day of protein (about 1 per meal/snack with 2 at dinner maybe). Adding eggs beaters egg whites and ground turkey (4 slices) each morning will me a good start plus the Slim-Fast shake and OJ/fruit. That would be about 2 servings of protein in the morning and around 450 calories. To get even close to the calorie amount we need to eat about 550 calories each meal with two snacks.

    We are going to continue the program through the week the best we can but might switch over to Power 90 starting Monday.

    Thanks again for all your help!

    • Matt says:

      @Jason,

      It’s really tough! I barely passed the test before we started. Those first few days were pretty bad. I think you may be right on 2 fronts. Not getting the calories will definitely prevent you from finishing workouts. Also, we came to the same conclusion; we probably should’ve done P90 first. Of course, we decided to push forward anyway with P90X and I injured my knee with the plyo. I recovered and still believe that P90X is an incredible program, but we should all definitely listen to our bodies more often. Don’t just write off a feeling because you’re not athletically inclined or haven’t done this sort of thing in the past. Listen to your body and it will tell you what you need to “hear”.

      Good for you, deciding to start with P90 first! When you’re done, you’ll be just as happy as you expect to be after P90X. Then, you can rest for a few weeks and take the P90X test again. You should be able to breeze through it. Then, you can start P90X and give it all you can.

      Good luck!

  43. Tamara says:

    I have been taking Herbalife products which consist of the healthy shake/protein meal alternative. My husband I just started P90X lean program this week and I was wondering what your opinion was on using the herbalife shake for breakfast and after dinner? I was also thinking of purchasing the accelerate drink but didn’t know when was the best time to take it and if we should mix? Also, a friend of mine suggested to purchase the Pure L-Glutamine Powder.

    Your help is appreciated!

    • Matt says:

      @Tamara,

      Hi! a protein shake/meal alternative is fine anytime during the day. Just be sure you don’t bother taking much more than a single serving (15-20 g of protein) within 1 to 1.5 hours of each other, because your body won’t use the extra. You can ingest multiple servings of natural protein (meat, soy, etc.) and you can also have 1 serving of your synthetic protein with any number of natural proteins (e.g. you can have a shake with your big chicken dinner or with your egg white breakfast).

      Accelerade is only to be taken after a taxing workout to help your body recover. You should take your recovery drink within an hour of your workout or it will do you no good. Also, you should never mix your recovery drink with any other foods/drinks (more water is fine). If you do, you will tip the balance of the 4:1 ratio of carbs to protein that makes the recovery drink work so well. Wait 45-60 minutes after you finish your recovery drink before ingesting anything more. You can learn more about recovery drinks and how they fit in with other supplements on this site.

      The 2nd article above touches on L-glutamine. It’s a good supplement, if you can afford it. Just be sure to look into how much you should really take based on your body weight and fitness goals. The serving size should be quite different for you and and your husband.

      Good luck!

  44. Jason says:

    We have started the program this week and it’s already obvious we are going to have a problem with calories. The problem is getting enough calories in as we are both listed as level 2 (even though I am 12 points shy of level 3).

    With a Slim-Fast shake and orange juice in the morning (280-300 calories), Clif Builder bar snack (270 calories), Healthy Choice meal (370 calories), Clif Builder bar snack (270 calories), recovery drink (120 calories)and lastly dinner (400-600 calories) it only equates to about 1910 calories. Dinner itself will be a challenge even getting that many calories as our carb count will have already been blown at lunch since most of the Healthy Choice meals pretty much count as one serving.

    Eating more in the morning or lunch would be obvious but with time constraints not to mention already feeling full with what we currently eat, it’s a little more complicated.

    Any suggestions to get those added calories?

    Also, how do you calculate how many servings a protein shake or clif bar count as?

    • Matt says:

      @Jason,

      The hardest thing thing for us in the beginning was meeting our caloric goals. However, if you are full, I would say do not eat more. Give it a bit longer, and I think you’ll start getting hungrier.

      When that time comes, my suggestion is to add more calories with egg whites in the morning. They scramble quickly and I add ground turkey into mine to get even more protein and calories. Additionally, you will have to start adding 1-2 protein shakes in there as well to get more calories. Don’t drink them with the bars (it’ll be a waste), but you can have them with your lunch and dinner, assuming you are eating natural protein for those meals.

      Again, if you are full, do not add more. Your body seems to not need it yet. Are you really feeling the results of each workout? By that I mean, are you getting your butt kicked with the workouts? If not, you may need to step it up and/or make sure you are not breaking between exercises. You may just have an efficient body type.

      A single serving of protein (natural or synthetic) is about 15-20 grams of protein. You can (and likely should) eat more than a single serving of natural protein (i.e. meat, soy, etc.), but don’t bother eating more than a serving of synthetic protein within an hour to an hour and a half (i.e. shakes, bars, supplements, etc.).

  45. Jorge says:

    Also, would you recommend splitting up the recovery drink on these days? So taking one scoop after the morning workout and one scoop after soccer in the evening. Or should I take two scoops after each workout? Or do I not need the recovery drink after soccer?

    I really appreciate any help.

    • Matt says:

      @Jorge,

      Your best bet is to recalculate your nutrition level with the added calories you burn for your soccer exertion on those 2 days. Eating at that newly calculated level on those days should be okay, but I would only eat at a different level if you are well into that level’s energy amount range. If you don’t push too far into level 3 with the new calculation, I would stay at level 2 and possibly just add an extra protein to my diet on those days.

      To get your new energy amount, just find you existing calculation on the page for nutrition levels in the diet booklet. Then, add the calories burned playing soccer. You can consult a couple different websites to find the calories burned, but I recommend the calculator on the Health Status website.

      As for the recovery drink, you can certainly split it up among both activities on those 2 days; however, Tony says you can have a regular recovery drink serving after each major workout. Therefore, you should be able to safely have a full recovery drink after your morning workout and your evening soccer event. You’ll definitely want to drink some bit of a recovery drink after each to get through the muscle exertion.

      Good luck!

  46. Jorge says:

    Hi Matt,

    Great article and very helpful, Thank you!

    I have a question. I am starting P90x next week and have my supplements, accelerade, and protein all lined up. However, I play fairly intense soccer twice a week and am not willing to give this up during P90x. My (ambitious) plan is to wake up early and do p90x and play soccer in the evening on those days while on normal days working out in the evening. So this will be adding an extra cardio workout twice per week and I wanted to know how this impacts my diet. I assume I should eat more these days to compensate for the extra calories I’m burning but I’m not positive about this. I will be in phase 1 and I am at level 2 so my idea (which might not be a good one) was that on soccer days I would eat according to level 3 and on only p90x days stick to level 2.

    What do you recommend?

  47. Jason Logan says:

    Oh ok, that makes a lot more sense!

    Once again, thanks!

  48. Jason says:

    Thanks a bunch for your information!

    One more thing, can you help me understand or point me to a good article that can explain the server layout of the p90x program?

    What is throwing me off is how to understand how much of each item we can have. For example, it says for the first phase 1 server of carbs and 1 serving is 200 calories but how does that work? Virtually everything we looked at has carbs in it from the breakfast to dinner including all the snack bars and recovery drinks. It would seem that just one of the high protein Clif bars is enough to meet our carbs for the day, how do you stay with just one? lol

    Thanks again

    • Matt says:

      You’re welcome. If you go the way of the portion approach of the diet, you can follow along by choosing the number of items from each grouping that you are allowed. For example, the bar may have carbs in it, but it is still counted as 1 of your bar portions. While nuts are listed under fats, they have carbs too; but they only count as a fat. Milk has lactose, which is a natural sugar and carb; but it counts toward your dairy. The only things that will really count towards carbs are foods from the list of those shown under carbs (and each is 200 calories per serving). P90X accounts for these facts, so don’t over analyze it too terribly much. It’s hard to avoid carbs completely, so just do your best and try to only pick foods from the groups in the manual for each group.

      Be sure to stay within your allotted amounts for each group too. That will prevent an extra milk, serving of nuts, bar, or drink from unbalancing your carbs.

  49. Jason says:

    Third, we have both been eating the Slim-Fast snack bars until recently, when we actually looked at how bad the ingredients are. I saw that you eat the Clif Builder’s Protein Bars, are there any others that you have used or recommend just so we have some sort of selection?

    We will be throwing in fresh fruit or vegetable packs in for our later snack.

    Fourth, the vitamin supplements are pretty straight forward but I was wondering about your gender specific comment on your supplements article. Which is better, to be as close to the p90x vitamins as possible or gender specific. I see the one you are taking is similar in some ways but adds various vitamins while at the same time subtracting others that the p90x has.

    The largest concern I have with the vitamins and the workout is the fact that my fiance is also currently taking a womens product called SlimQuick. She has been taking this product for several years and has actually seen good weight loss with little effort and want’s to continue it now. What do you think about that in conjunction with a womens vitamim?

    We are going with the Accelerade you suggested for after workouts.

    Our diet will be pretty static accept for dinner where we will alternate between many of the p90x guides suggestions (including some quick suggestions in the back).

    Thanks for any help and insight you can provide me with!

    Btw, sorry for such a long post (two actually). Just have a lot of questions.

    • Matt says:

      Yes, many snack bars that claim goodness are not so great. The hardest thing about protein bars is to find some that you like with low sugar. It’s very difficult. You can go to GNC and look around for some, but just get 1 at a time until you verify that you like the taste and can even chew the darn thing (yeah, some are that bad). I’ve had great luck with Atkins Advantage Bars. It was a long search to find some with decent protein and hardly any sugar. Although, Atkins is known for throwing fat into everything, these bars are among the lowest for saturated fats as well (many of the bars have sat. fats too).

      Be careful with the fruit in Phase 1 with your subs and bars. You’ll easily double or triple your allowance for carbs. It’s extremely tough to get through Phase 1, but just as extremely important that you do it right. You have to detox yourself from the carbs. Each phase gets easier and in the end, you are not hooked on carbs (especially bad carbs like sugar). The general rule for Phase 1 with carbs is, you get to have any one of the following, no more:

      • 1 piece of fruit
      • 2 slices of whole grain bread (your sub will suffice here)
      • 1 cup of whole grain pasta (it exists, and it’s good)
      • …more specified in the P90X diet manual under portioning section

      I don’t think there’s too big of a difference in the gender-specific ones. The main differences are obvious; women get more vitamin D and calcium (the D helps bind the calcium and we’re mostly all deficient due to lack of daily sunlight), men get more zinc and possibly L-glutamine and/or creatine. Her SlimQuick looks decent and shouldn’t counteract a daily vitamin. She definitely needs more vitamin D and calcium than what is in there though. The special ingredients are mostly tonic herbs and do not affect other vitamins/minerals. You’ll see some things on dailys with several hundreds (or even thousands) of the RDA percentage. That’s because some vitamins/minerals counteract each other. Ideally, you would take a set of them in the morning and the other counteracting set in the evening to avoid the conflict. Since, that’s not likely for most people, they crank up the amounts in dailys to overcome the conflicts.

      Your fiance should be fine with the SlimQuick and a daily vitamin. The conflicting stuff is relatively low in the SlimQuick, so there should not be a problem.

      I’m glad to help. Good luck to the both of you!

  50. Jason says:

    Hi, I have been following this site for a little while and appreciate the help you have provided for many people.

    Btw, I had to break this into two posts because it was being seen as spam… lol

    I have my own list of questions, maybe you can help me.

    First, I have been always been a big fan of Subway but do understand that their meats contain a lot of sodium (processed meat in general). The food guide included with the p90x program lists acceptable fast foods in the back but notes limitation to once a day and only a few times a week at best.

    Does this truly apply to subway or more specifically for places like McDonalds? Is it really that bad to have a 6″ turkey sub or salad everyday for lunch? The only dressing I get is vinegar.

    The guide also lists the appropriate portions to eat for that one meal at each of the fast food restaurants but some don’t make sense. For example, the veggie salad at subway is listed at 60 calories with no dressing; how is that going to satisfy my calorie goal for the day when I am supposed to be on level 3? It would seem I would have to eat several salads to satisfy and even out my calorie intake for the day, which doesn’t do much for my protein goals.

    Second, my fiance is joining me with this p90x program but never has time to eat a true breakfast, lunch for her is the same (Subway). Her breakfast right now is just a regular Slim-Fast shake. She was thinking about switching to one of the High Protein shakes but wanted to get your opinion on them and see if you suggest a better alternative (she is particular about flavoring). They are relatively affordable, a three month supply for about $66 through Amazon.

    • Matt says:

      Hi Jason,

      Subway is your best choice for food away from home. I try not to eat even there more than once or twice a week just due to the sodium, etc. If you must for convenience sake, keep getting the turkey and get it on wheat. The turkey is the one of the healthiest options there and the wheat is as close as you’ll get to whole grain. Just know that you cannot have any more carbs the rest of the day when you eat a sub during Phase 1. 210 of the 280 calories for a turkey sub are carbs from the bread. Your max in Phase 1 is 200 calories of carbs, so this will put you at your max. The sub will also only be about 1 serving of protein (if you reference the portion track of the P90X diet). The salads need a lot more protein to fill you up, so if you get a salad, ask for double meat or mix in some grilled chicken.

      You cannot make it through Phase 1 without a protein shake mix. There are just too many protein requirements to do it on food alone; especially for a Level III. Your fiance should definitely consider a high protein shake. Protein at breakfast is vital here. Just beware of the carbs during Phase 1. Each of the SlimFast High Protein Shakes has around 12-15 g of carbs. That’s about 50 calories of carbs, and 1/4 of her daily allowance of carbs in Phase 1 (1 g of carbs = 4 calories). Granted, only half of those carbs are sugar carbs, but that’s the bad kind. That’s not to say that the other protein mixes don’t have carbs in them. Just be aware of your intakes and compare them to the portions in the diet manual for your phase and level.

  51. Daron says:

    This was perfect! I was looking all over for an alternative to the P90X recovery drink. Excellent article overall.

  52. David says:

    Have you done any testing of the new Accelerade Hydro product?

    • Matt says:

      Hi David,

      I have not tried Accelerade Hydro yet. However, I did research it for the ingredient list and nutritional information a few months ago. I will check to be sure, but from what I remember, the Hydro variant uses a different blend of sweeteners. I recall sucralose (Splenda is made from it) in the list. I think it still maintained the 4:1 ratio though.

  53. Todd says:

    Hi Matt, we started Monday AM so having not heard anything we decided to do week 3 again this week. Now after reading your comments Im wondering if I should just jump to day 3 week 4 and go from there as you suggest.

    • Matt says:

      You can continue repeating week 3, maintain on your week away, then resume week 4 when you return, or jump to week 4, maintain, then move to phase 2 on return. I think you’ll benefit with either decision, so it’s up to your preference.

  54. Jason R says:

    Mike,

    This information has been amazingly helpful.

    The Recovery Drink you recommended Accelerade, which one do you recommend:

    Endurox R4 Recovery Drink
    http://www.accelsport.com/product-info/EnduroxR4.html

    or

    Accelerade
    http://www.accelsport.com/product-info/Accelerade.html

    Thanks!

    • Matt says:

      @Mike: Both of those drinks are good. If you want L-glutamine with your recovery drink, go with Endurox R4. If you could care less, go with the Accelerade. I discuss a little bit about L-glutamine in my supplements article. Check it out for a basic comparison in the section on recovery drinks. Good luck!

  55. Jim H says:

    Matt, I am 44 years old and my wife and I just completed our second day of P90x (boy am I sore, and those ployo’s really kicked my butt today).

    We didn’t want to spend the money on the P90x supplements or recover drink so we headed to GNC. I picked up the Mega Mens Sports Extreme (it does have Creatine) as a replacement for the supplements and the GNC guy sold me on the GNC Pro Performance AMP Advanced Muscle Performance called Amplified Wheybolic Extreme 60 as a replacement for the recovery drink. It claims (on the label) that it is good for strength, recover, and Stamina, but after reading your articles and comparing the ratios, I don’t think this is what a ‘recovery’ drink should be. It has 60g of Protein and only 7g of carbs.

    Should I switch to Accelerade for the recovery drink?
    Should I continue to use the AMP for protein once a day?
    How about the supplements? do you know of these and would you recommend them?

    Thanks in advance. I want to correct any issues with our workout plan before we get too far in.

    -jim

    • Matt says:

      @Jim H: Yikes! There was definitely a miscommunication at GNC. Sometimes, all they think you’re looking for is protein. What you got is certainly not doing you much good for recovery. You need the 4 parts carbs to 1 part protein; that mix is quite the opposite. No wonder you are extra sore! Switch to Accelerade or a similar 4:1 recovery drink (that’s 4 carbs to 1 protein just to be extra clear). Now you know and can be more informed if you go back to GNC. GNC does carry a few flavors of Accelerade if you prefer to shop local. Also, Vitamin Shoppe has a lot of flavors and larger canisters to save you money. Otherwise, grab some off Amazon.com via my link to get a really good price. Check out my article dedicated to recovery drinks.

      That shake should do fairly decent as a protein shake. You may want to reduce it to half a serving though, so you are targeting 30g of protein each serving. Then, you can follow my other advice on protein supplements with natural food protein. I have another article all about supplements that should fill you in nicely. Good luck!

  56. Todd says:

    Hi Matt, thanks for the advise about early morning eating. Another question for you. My wife and I have completed 3 weeks of P90X. I am going away for work 1st week of March which will be week one of phase 2 (week 5). Should I add a workout week to phase one as the fourth week then use my time away as recovery week, or should I just continue as is and start week 5 when I get back. Your suggestion is greatly appreciated.

    Thanks

    • Matt says:

      @Todd: Remember, “recovery week” does not mean you will not be working out on week 4. The recovery week is just a different set of workouts, but it is by no means easy. Your best bet is to try to maintain your level during your week away, then resume Phase 2 when you get back. By maintain, I mean take a look at the week 4 workout schedule (you’re doing it this week hopefully), and note that it is more cardio, but still has the basics. Try to find some cardio equipment (at a hotel you’re staying at perhaps), jog around your stay area, do a bunch of jumping jacks (eXtreme-style). Do a good number of push-ups and take the extra DVD dedicated to abs and do that in your room. Just do enough to get by, but don’t take the time completely off if you can help it. Since, you’ll likely being working out less while away though, do reduce your caloric intake to account for the difference in burn. If you feel you’re doing half a normal workout, cut out 300 calories while away. Do a ton of stretching, just like you will do in your normal week 4.

      Good luck!

  57. Danielle Kale says:

    Hi Matt,

    I am 5’0″ and weigh 105lbs. I’m starting P90X on the 22nd and would like to know if someone my size needs to consume 2 scoops of Accelerade post workout or if 1 scoop is enough? I’m assuming my daily caloric intake is going to be lower than most based on the P90X nutritional level calculator? My goal is to lose belly fat and build muscle, regardless of what the scale says.

    Thanks,
    Dani

    • Matt says:

      @Dani: Definitely go with less than 2 scoops. You could try 1 to 1.5 scoops and see how you feel after a week or two before making any other changes. Your daily caloric intake will be based on Level I by the book. However, if you feel that the amount of calories they assume you would normally consume is too high, adjust the base number for your calculations. I would still assume around 600 calories burned on P90X daily though. Good luck!

  58. Mary Kate says:

    Thank you for everything!

  59. mono says:

    thanks matt , for your advice.i was eagerly waiting for your reply regarding the protein shake.
    good news is that i am finishing my 30 days this Thursday and i have become definitely more strong, toned and the work outs have become more intense and surprisingly more tough. allthough i am not losing any weight!!
    i am still having the protein shake and now the uneasiness has gone ..i guess it was the glutamine and creatine in it which caused increase in the BMI.
    Planing to start doubles for the next 30 days as i would like to loose the weight..lets see how much i am able to stick to it..
    i am also planing to continue the phase 1 the fat shredder stage in month 2 because i guess i have a lot of fat to burn :)
    what are your suggestions !!

    • Matt says:

      @mono: This is a tough one. That fact that you have gotten stronger and are more toned, I’d say you have lost a bit of fat. The thing about looking just at your weight is it is so deceiving at times like these. If you just change your diet, you can look at weight as a measure of true loss. When you add in an intense workout, you have to consider that lean muscle (like what you are gaining) weight a lot more than fat. That said, if you are not losing or gaining weight, that means you lost a lot of fat since it weight less than the new muscle you’ve put on. Follow the logic?

      If you decide to continue Phase 1, make sure you only do it for an extra month. Your body will plateau and it will be much less effective. I suggest, you adjust your daily caloric intake slightly down and see how that works for you over a week or two. Also, try to finish the program and see what your results are then.

      Ultimately, you should get a body fat meter and measure that percentage. Ignore weight and BMI as long as your total body fat percentage is dropping.

  60. Mary Kate says:

    THANKS FOr THE INFO!!!
    If I’m trying to lose weight should I steer clear of the whey and protein bars?
    I am 5’4 and 131 lbs. I want to be 124lbs and want to get lean muscle. How much of this stuff should I be taking to lose weight and get lean?

    • Matt says:

      Protein is your friend when losing weight and building muscle. I would guess that your last 3-4 pounds will be the hardest to get rid of. However, the absolute best way to lost fat (especially, that last little bit of the stubborn stuff), is to build muscle. This program will definitely build your muscle. By simply having more lean muscle on your body (which will add some weight to you), you will burn more fat just standing around! The biggest mistake people make with these types of programs is getting discouraged when they actual gain weight. As close to you are to your target thin weight, you will most likely gain more first. Then, you will even out as you gain more muscle and lose just as much fat. Finally, you’ll lose some of what you gained again in fat. Depending on how fit you are now, you may weight more when you are done, but you will be much leaner if you follow Tony’s plan.

      On a side note, this is where general measurements of fitness like BMI (body mass index) just do not apply to people with lean muscle. That muscle weighs so much more than fat! That’s why athletes ignore BMI measurements; they simply do not apply once you achieve a good amount of muscle. Instead, get a nice body fat reader and use it properly to determine the percent of body fat you have. Read the P90X manual on where you should strive for. Do not obsess with your weight on this program. Look at the percent of body fat you have lost since day 1 instead. Keep striving to lose more from that number.

      Believe me. The guys (or your own guy) will not care what your weight is if you are lean. They will only be smiling and watching you.

      Good luck, Mary Kate!

  61. Mary Kate says:

    also,
    should a bar/ shake be used as a meal replacement OR as a snack? i’m trying to figure it all out! Thanks!

    • Matt says:

      Hi Mary Kate,

      Thanks for your questions. Let’s get right to them.

      1. L-glutamine is not essential to getting the results you want. It’s hard to say if you will notice much of a difference with/without it. If you feel the desire and have the cash, try it out for a month. Otherwise, realize great results without it.
      2. You should be fine eating the banana with your shake. You are allotted 1 fruit in phase 1, so just keep in mind that if you stick with the banana, you’re done for the rest of the day with fruit. Also, it shouldn’t burn off too fast since it is a banana and it is taken with protein. Your body should make good use of it and get you through the start of your morning nicely. By all means, have another shake in the afternoon. You will struggle to meet your protein needs if you do not.
      3. You are allowed 2 or 3 dairy servings a day in phase 1, depending on your level (I or II). That’s 16 to 24 oz (2-3 cups) of skim milk. Again, if you don’t mind using up your dairy servings in your shake, feel free to have milk in your second shake. I would suggest that you give your shake a try with water at least a couple times; just to see if you like it enough. If so, you will know that you can go without the milk some other day when you have other meals planned that will use up your dairy servings. Otherwise, keep an eye out.
      4. You can still have the bars even if you have 2 shakes each day. Just separate full servings of synthetic protein intake (bars, shake, supplements, etc.) from each other by a couple hours. That is, don’t have a bar and a shake within 2 hours of each other, or you’ll be wasting that protein. The body can’t process the synthetic stuff as efficiently as it can the natural protein (chicken, beef, soy, etc.).
      5. Mostly, bars and shakes should be your snacks. You should really make an effort to eat whole meals that satisfy your phase 1 requirements appropriately. These protein supplements will work as a meal in a pinch, but that should not be the norm.

      Good luck!

  62. Mary Kate says:

    Hi Matt,

    I’ve been reading everything and great info.! Now my questions:
    1. I use Accelerate as my recovery drink Should I also take a L-glutamine pill in addition to my womens ultra mega active?
    2. I have been having a protein shake with skim milk and banana for breakfast (i’m in phase 1 level 1) I work out in the AM and drink the shake about 30 min. after i finish recovery drinkj. Should I skip the banana in the AM shake? Is it OK to have a shake as an afternoon snack too?
    3. if i have 2 shakes should i have one with water and one with milk?
    4. If i have 2 shakes, should i skip the bars?

    thanks!!!

  63. Charles says:

    Hey Matt, me and my wife just started P90x! So far I like it. I’m already in ok shape and that is because I go to the gym and follow a simaliar diet. I told my wife that I would do it with her because she wanted a partner through the process! Now I am used to six or seven small meals a day where I spread out my protein, am I able to do this by following P90x guidelines for fat shredder level 3? I guess what I’m saying is can I used protein shakes throughout the day instead of cramming my protein in three meals? Also I saw that u told someone else no wholegrain carbs in the fat shredder regimen. The books says one a day, what should I be doing? Accelerade is a great choice for recovery but I prefer something with creatine and glutamine. Tell me ur thoughts. Ty, Charles

    • Matt says:

      Hi Charles,

      It’s good you are working out with your wife. It will help keep her motivated during the shock of it all. You can and should spread out your protein through the day. I highly suggest using protein shakes, because it is just too difficult to jam it all into your major meals. So, by all means, continue with your current technique, just make sure the balance is followed from the guide.

      My remark may need an edit about whole grain carbs in phase 1. What I was really trying to get across is that you need to really limit your carb intake during that first phase. Very strict is good the first month. However, the 1 carb you are allowed is best spent on whole grains, not refined carbs like sugar, processed/bleached flours, etc.

      If you like creatine and L-glutamine in your recovery drink, I suggest getting the official P90X Recovery Drink. Also, Endurox R4 contains L-glutamine, but I think it lacks creatine.

      Good luck to you and your wife, Charles!

  64. Todd says:

    Hello Matt, sounds like you have done a lot of research. Me and my wife are in week 2 of P90X we workout at 5:00 Am finding this time to work best for us. Do you suggest we should get a carb intake before the workout and how long before. 5:00 is early as it is and we don’t want to have to get up earlier for food to digest if we dont need to. Thanks in advance.

    • Matt says:

      Hi Todd,

      It’s hard working out first thing in the morning without eating something. I know! If you go without eating, that’s your best bet. Workout, take your recovery drink, wait 45 minutes or so for that drink to work properly, then eat a good breakfast. However, if you cannot go without eating something, make it very minimal and carb-based. Something like your daily fruit will work well here. You want low carbs and not protein due to how your body will burn it before (and during) your workout.

      Good luck to your both!

  65. Scott says:

    Hi Matt,

    I just recieved my P90X in the mail and can not wait to start it. This website has been such a huge help getting ready for what I hope to be a life changing endevor. I think you have answered all but one of my questions in previous posts and I am scared to ask it but I need the answer… How is coffee looked at in this program? I am prepared to scale back and replace it with the much needed water and I now lack but I do not think I can do without my fix in the morning.

    Thanks!

    • Matt says:

      Hi Scott,

      If you can resist too much sugar (preferably none), I think a cup or 2 in the morning is not a problem. If you need a sweetener, consider using something natural like Stevia. There are alternates to brand names, like SweetLeaf and Truvia and even Stevia in the Raw, but basically find something that uses the stevia leaf as the sweetener.

      Good luck!

  66. mono says:

    hi again matt, i just wanted to give the follow up on the whey protien, i had another scoop today in the afternoon, i do not have the similar symptoms.Lets see how i feel at night, or the similar symptoms reoccur.
    well one question regarding the recovery drink, the use of having a recovery drink is that it helps decrease the soreness in the ms and help us to perform up to our max best the next day. But the drink it self has a lot of calories, if we have it immediately after our work out inst it that our body will be burning the calories in the recovery drink rather than the fat which is stored in our body ?

    • Matt says:

      Hi mono,

      I can’t speak to the Body Fortress brand or exact source that you purchased. It may take 2 or 3 weeks to get really going with this program. Your body is really making a huge adjustment and believe it or not, is dealing with shock. I’m glad you kept at it and noticed a change in your energy later.

      The recovery drink is an anomaly. Yes, your body will be burning those calories, but that 4:1 ratio is key to several things. Each of those things ties to how the body handles the stress it endures during the workout. Your body will be burning fat during your workout. The building of muscle is done throughout the next 18-20 hours. Taking that recovery drink sets things in motion properly. Don’t worry about those calories. Your body will need extra calories due to the immense amount of energy it needs during the program.

      Good luck and let us know how things go over the next week.

  67. mono says:

    hi matt,
    Thanks again for such a detained explanation,getting messages from you keep the motivation and spirit of working hard alive!i am on second week and i think the motivation is slightly goign down….
    I bought the whey protein, i think brand is BODY FORTRESS from walmart,it has 52 gm of protein together with some super recovery formula having creatinine, taurine,l glutamine& some other stuff which is written separately in the logo, i took one scoop with water and little milk in the afternoon, then i rested for an hour when i woke up i felt weird uneasy and i was constantly hungry after that till i slept though i had had 2 soya patties and i slice of bread . Is this normal!! what should i do?

  68. Todd says:

    HI Matt,

    Another p90xer starting monday the 1st, tomorrow!!!

    I read above and you discussed food prior to morning workout. You said to steer clear of protein before the workout or your body will pull assets away from work out to deal deal consuming the protein.

    I am up around 630 but don’t start my workout until 8.

    Generally I have a Source Of Life shake when I get up and a bit of fruit; grapes, banana, apple, tangerine, something like that. There are 13 grams of protein and 16 grams of carbs in that shake – when blended with soy milk – additionally it was my idea at least for the first phase of p90x to add another bang of protein powder to the shake – bring it to 21 carbs, 25 prot, 190 cals.

    Is it to soon before the workout to eat all this protein? Say Im an hour out from starting worst case..

    I have a 4:1 recovery drink that I will use post workout. i dont want to push my breakfast out to 10:30!

    Should I just have the Source of Life shake when I get up and get the additional protein blended in later in the day? Or is the S.O.L. 13 grams too much as well? Should I just eat some fruit?

    Thanks for this great site..

    Best

    • Matt says:

      Hi Todd,

      I think you should be fine eating at 6:30 with an 8:00 workout. The best thing to do is try it out for a couple days and see if you tank during your workout. If so, try just the Source of Life shake alone. The key is ensuring your body has processed all that protein before you stress it with a workout. Be careful with all that fruit in phase 1. Make sure it fits into the allotted amount for your level.

      The most ideal situation would be to wake up, stretch (allow about 20 minutes for your spine to move its fluids around and prevent injury), then workout before eating (say around 7:00). Of course, that does put you eating your breakfast at 9:30-10:00. I understand the apprehension there.

      I think you’re plan will work as you’ve laid it out though. Give it a shot.

  69. Kasey says:

    Hi Matt,

    Your information is great! Thank you so much. I just have a couple of questions before I start the p90x workouts on Monday.

    1. Since I will be working out in the evening (around 7 or 8), would you say it is best to eat around 5 or 6? Or eat after? I never really understood which is better.

    2. I will be going out today to buy the accelerade and the whey protein shake mix. I am not a big breakfast person but would it be too much if I had a whey protein shake every morning with a cup of fruit? Or should I mix it up to a protein shake every other morning? I am kind of confused because in the book it says drink a protein shake in the morning…and not at night. Would it be okay to drink one for a snack in the afternoon as well?

    Thanks!

    • Matt says:

      Hi Kasey,

      Thanks! I appreciate it.

      1. Dinner tends to be the biggest meal, although lunch is the best one to make the largest, it’s just not possible for most people (including me). I wouldn’t suggest that you eat such a big meal so late (remember, you’ll need to give your recovery drink enough time to work through before you eat something). So, my suggestion is to eat more than half of your dinner as soon as you can (5:00-5:30). Then, do your workout about 1.5 hours after you finish eating (between 7:00 and 8:00 is perfect). Finally, drink your recovery drink right after your workout, wait an hour, then finish your dinner.

        The other option is to eat all your dinner at 5:00, workout at 7:00, drink your recovery drink around 8:15, then eat a light snack at 9:30.

      2. A protein shake in the morning is a great idea. Feel free to make that your breakfast every morning. If you don’t use up your dairy allotment throughout the rest of the day, mix the shake with some skim milk to add some calories and make it last longer. I would avoid fruit in your shake for 2 reasons. First, you only get 1 fruit each day in Phase 1 (unless you’re at Level III). Second, too many carbs for breakfast doesn’t sustain you for very long. The shake will already have some carbs in it; especially if you use milk with it.

        Additionally, feel free to have a protein shake as your afternoon snack. This is a great way to boost your protein. Believe me, you will need all the help you can get in Phase 1 to reach your protein goal. The only thing I would suggest you watch for, is to avoid having more than 1 serving of protein shake within a 2-hour period. The synthetic protein is useless if piled up and will just be wasted as your body discards it. You can, however, have several servings of food protein (i.e. chicken, fish, beef, soy, etc.). Your body can absorb such unaltered protein in more bulk.

      Good luck, Kasey! And enjoy P90X. You’re going to look and feel great!

  70. mono says:

    Thanks Matt, I guess it was because i had not had enough to eat the day prior so i was hypoglycemic. I work out in the mornings so i do not eat anything. I have started having the recovery drink after i work out and then after an hr have my breakfast. i am not sure if i am having enough protein, since i cannot seem to do without having carbohydrate.
    can you think of some solution?
    another thing as per the routine we do ab ripper twice a week for 16 min, when are we suppose to do the separate ab ripper cd and the cardio cd?
    Also after 3 weeks of phase 1, we are suppose to take a complete week off, meaning no exercise or is it ok to do some cardio?

    • Matt says:

      Hi again.

      That makes sense. Not eating enough is definitely a knockout for your workouts. Eating the required amount of protein each day is challenging. That is why you must get a tub of protein powder. You can have a shake between meals to boost your total protein for the day. You can even add a little powder to your meals (assuming you get a powder that is tasteless or tolerable with your meal). Giving up carbs is also difficult, but you have to keep trying. After 2 weeks, your dependency on carbs will have waned enough that you are not so hungry all the time.

      The separate Ab Ripper X DVD is there as a convenience. For example, some people will do the Chest & Back exercise in the morning and go to work. Then, they will do the Ab Ripper X that evening. In this situation, it is easier to pop in the separate DVD that night instead of skipping ahead on another disc. There are 3 variants of the P90X system; Classic, Doubles, and Lean. The Cardio X disc is used in the Doubles and Lean variants. You can also substitute Plyometrics with the Cardio X workout if you are struggling (or experiencing potential injury).

      Lastly, there is no week off in P90X. You can take the last day of each week off or stretch, but you should not take the last week of each phase off. It is called a recovery week, but don’t get confused; it is still a workout week. Most of the variants focus on cardio and/or abs during the last week of each phase and have more stretching. Check your guide and note that you have a program for weeks 1 through 3, then a different 4th week. This is likewise during phases 2 and 3.

      Good luck!

  71. Stephanie says:

    Thanks Matt! This is great information and just the information I was looking for. My husband and I are starting on Monday and I was looking for the necessary supplements that we would need to get started. Your post is perfect and it’s very informative!

    • Matt says:

      You’re welcome, Stephanie! I’m glad the information has proven useful. Good luck to you and your husband. Getting fit together is awesome!

  72. mono says:

    Hi Matt, thanks again for a quick reply, i bought accelerade and am having it as a recovery drink. Accelerade has carbohydrate 21gm and protein 5 gm per scope and slim fast has carbo 30 and protien 10. but the real thing is the suger content is 20 gm in Accelerade and 22 in slim fast isint it too high for a recovery drink?

    Also today i felt v tired while doing my day 5 routine of arms and legs, a little irritable and nauseous. there after i was unable to do a continuation of 16 min of ab ripper X which i did it in evening. Is that ok, and what should i do to prevent what happened today morning.

    • Matt says:

      Great! It’s not too much. If you look at the label on the official P90X Recovery Drink, those numbers are even higher (nearly twice). However, the Slimfast doesn’t have the proper ratio, so it’s good you went with Accelerade.

      Getting tired during a workout isn’t uncommon; especially during the first couple weeks. However, I suggest you ensure that you are getting at least 7.5 hours of sleep, drinking the recommended amount of water prior to your workout (and throughout the day), and do not eat protein just prior to working out (not within 1.5 hours if possible). Protein before a workout will make your workout a train wreck. Your body will work so hard trying to process the protein, that you simply cannot perform well.

      If none of the above applied in this case, see what happens tomorrow. If it gets worse, take a day off. You may be coming down with a cold or flu. If you suspect that, stop your workout until you recover from the sickness. Otherwise, it may have just been an off day.

  73. mono says:

    Thank you Matt for the reply. Another quick question what about the fact if i have the slimfast shake after the p90x routine will it suffice to the recovery drink .

    • Matt says:

      Hi again. You’re welcome. I’d need to see the nutritional information for the Slimfast shake you’re referring to answer that. However, you can verify for yourself. Check the total carbohydrates and the protein values on the back of the product packaging. If the carbs are 4 times the amount of protein (both in grams), then it will suffice just fine (e.g. 20g of total carbs to 5g of protein).

      You need a 4:1 ratio of carbs to protein to get a proper recovery drink.

  74. mono says:

    hi ,
    i just began my p90x this sat, and i was thinking if the recovery drink is absolutely necessary. Is there anything else which we can have istead of the protein bars and the recovery drink.
    I am doing the lean routine and want to loose weight.

    • Matt says:

      Hello and congratulations on beginning P90X!

      A recovery drink just after a workout is very necessary to make sure that your muscles recover from all the strain you put them through with each workout. Any other recovery drink throughout your day is optional. You can always use Accelerade instead of the more expensive P90X Recovery Drink.

      Likewise, use your best judgment on the protein bars. Just be sure you ingest enough protein required by the diet. It is really hard to eat enough “food protein” in phases 1 and 2. Therefore, you will need a supplement of some type. The cheaper alternative to protein bars is a protein shake. You can get a big bucket of chocolate-flavored (or many other flavors) whey protein for a reasonable price. Drink the shakes between meals or with meals that do not have much protein in them.

      Good luck!

  75. amanda says:

    I have a few questions. I am starting the p90x on Monday, but I am starting with the cardio one for the first 90 days then going to the classic.

    Q1. Should I go with the same meal plan or should I lessen anything in my diet.

    Q2. With the exact meals they have, should I eat the breakfast portion prior to or after my workout. I know while I was in the military I never ate prior to PT.

    Q3. When I complete the first 90 day workout it says to rest for two weeks. Does that mean no running or any type of exercise for two weeks for a reason. Would it hurt to exercise during these two weeks.

    Q4. My weakness is coka cola. I usually drink atleast a six pack a day. Would it totally set me back if I drank one or two a day, and if not, when would be the best time to drink them…I’m not sure ill make it without my soda. Ha.

    • Matt says:

      Hi Amanda,

      I think you should stick with the diet plan that is laid out in the P90X books. They do not differ the diet itself based on the workout plan you choose. Make sure you’ve followed the guidelines to determine your level. I know it seems like a lot of calories, but it really is necessary or you’ll lose muscle instead of gaining it. So, be sure you eat enough. On the other hand, if you are not seeing results after a week, try adjusting your caloric intake (possibly lower) for the next week and see if that makes the difference. I would only adjust by 100 calories each week, and would stay consistent that whole week to gauge the results properly.

      Regardless of when you workout, be sure you do not eat a meal within 90 minutes before your workout. Your military memory serves well. Similarly, do not eat your meal within about 60 minutes after your workout. Digesting all that food will definitely impact your workout results. In the case of eating too soon before your workout, you will likely tank and not finish your exercises. Too soon after and you will undo your recovery drink. On that note, be sure to drink your recovery drink as soon as you finish your workout. Ideally, you shouldn’t eat for 45 minutes after you finish a recovery drink.

      If you do workout after your 90 days, try to go easy. Your body will need a good bit of recovering to break the previous trends. This is especially true if you do not take a break day each week during your 90-day workout. To be clear, it won’t hurt to exercise during those 2 weeks, but try to keep it minimal. Simple cardio-only (not Cardio-X) is a good idea for lighter workouts.

      Your weakness is not uncommon. Consider switching to diet soda or Coke Zero (with Splenda). If you’re leery of artificial sweeteners, you’re out of luck until a stevia-based soda comes to market. The carb calories of even a couple sodas a day will definitely throw off your diet. This is most critical during phase 1; which implies going cold-turkey. There is no room for sugar carbs during the first phase. You may want to try weening yourself off “the juice” over a couple weeks before starting P90X if this is a deal-breaker.

      Good luck and have fun!

  76. Tyler says:

    Hi Matt,

    Because of changes to my schedule,I haven’t had time to exercise much lately. I just shifted some things around and I’m restarting P90X. This time, I have to exercise in the morning, it’s great, but I have a few questions about working out early.

    The following is my schedule surrounding P90X:

    *Go to sleep at 11:00 pm., Wake up at 7:00 am.

    *7:00-7:10 EAT:one piece of toast with jam, half an apple, small glass of juice, 8oz of Water

    *7:10-7:30 Let the food start digesting

    *7:30-9:00 P90X workout of the day

    *9:00-10:00 DRINK: 2 scoops of Accelerade and lots of water.

    *10:00 EAT: 6 egg whites, 3oz of tuna, 1.5oz of cheese, one piece of dry toast, 12oz water, vitamin.

    I go to work at 9:30 and eat breakfast there, that’s why I don’t eat first, wait a wile, and then work out.

    So, here are my questions/concerns… is this a good schedule?

    -Am I eating breakfast too late? Is that bad?

    -Am I giving my pre-workout carbs enough time to do their job? (only abt. 20 min)

    -I get hungry during and after my workout, but I don’t want eat to much before my work out and feel heavy, or right after my work out and throw off the 4:1 carb:protein ratio. I can deal with the hunger until I eat breakfast at 10:00, it really doesn’t bother me, but is that healthy for my body to be hungry that long?

    -Also, my water intake pre-work out is only about 8oz… this is much lower than the program recommends. However, I drink enough water daily. Is this something I need to be concerned about.

    Your answers to my past questions have been extremely helpful and appreciated. I would be grateful for any thoughts, information, or advice you have to give…

    Thanks.

    Tyler

    • Matt says:

      Hi Tyler,

      Morning exercising can be challenging, but it sounds like you have a good schedule going considering. Carbs kick up quickly, so I think the 20 minutes of digesting is fine. Eating a later breakfast is fine. Your hunger during the workout is definitely due to the less food in your system at that point. That’s not necessarily bad though. You can always try to adjust your first mini-meal with a tiny bit more food (not much protein though or you’ll tank quickly) and see how you react. If you are too hungry, you will start dragging during that workout. Therefore, if you are maintaining proper energy during the workout, I’d say your hunger is fine. The apple has a bit of fiber (with the skin) to help some of the carbs last longer during your workout. It sounds like a good mix. The key is to listen to your body; which brings me to your hydration concerns.

      Your water intake pre-workout is more than 8 oz. Remember, the juice in the glass and the apple probably adds another cup (8oz) or so. However, the important thing to note about your hydration is how your body is reacting to the workout. Here are some questions to consider the next time you workout:

      1. Are you sweating normally during your workout? If so, you’re good. If you are sweating less than normal (that’s for you to decide), you may be dehydrated.
      2. Are you drinking water during your workout? Be sure to drink during the breaks.
      3. Are you thirsty during the workout? Thirst is usually a later indicator of dehydration, so if you aren’t experiencing thirst, be aware of the onset of thirst and adjust your water accordingly.

      If you pay close attention to the signals your body sends, you should be able to adjust your food and water intake before and during the workout. However, in my opinion it sounds like you have a pretty decent morning schedule going.

      Good luck with your program! My wife and I are trying Tony’s latest program and I hope to report on that one in the next month or so.

      -Matt

  77. Julie April says:

    I am a 40 year old woman in pretty good shape. I will be starting P90X next week and need to get a good vitamin. A lot of vitamins out there offer fat burning etc. etc., but my main goal is to tone — I’m 5’9: 135 lbs. Can you suggest a good vitamin for me?

    Thanks!

  78. Daisy says:

    I am starting the P90x system in the next few days– as soon as i get all my supplies and supplements in order. I am wondering if I could supplement a protein bar with a protein shake? Is there a different between the bar versus the shake? I normally use gold standard whey, which i have a large bottle. I do not want to spend the extra money on bars (nor do I know which bar to purchase since I choose not to buy the ones offered by P90x). Your advice will be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks!

    • Matt says:

      You can certainly substitute a protein shake for the protein bar. In fact, most bars have more sugars that will add a few carbs to your diet. That’s really the only difference. Go for the shakes if you prefer; they are cheaper but less convenient than bars. If you are looking for a good protein bar, I have always liked Clif Builder’s bars.

      Another very good bar also controls the amount of carbs, making it very comparable to shakes. It is EAS’ AdvantEdge Carb Control bars. I’ve actually been eating these a bit lately.

      Good luck with your commitment to health!

  79. I agree with the first comment. My whole purpose in doing p90X is to lower my cholesterol, and the recovery drink has 30 grams per serving. I need to strictly monitor my cholesterol so I can qualify for a new life insurance policy at the lowest premium possible. I was denied the best rate last time due to a high chol/hdl ratio of 5.7. I’m tracking my results at: http://www.insuranceblogbychris.com/lower-cholesterol-using-p90x-program
    Can you please comment on the cholesterol in the recovery drink? Thanks.

    • Matt says:

      Hi Chris,

      First, please be aware that the P90X Recovery Drink only has 30 milligrams (mg). Normally, the typical limit per day is around 300 mg. You will not be able to find a recovery drink, or a protein powder, that is based on whey that does not have some cholesterol. Find out your daily limit from your physician and do the math on everything you eat. You need cholesterol; you just need to know the right foods that your body processes into HDL. Do not avoid cholesterol completely. Lowering your total cholesterol will not do alone. You must get your HDL.

      Another tip I can offer is to eat plenty of raw red onions, walnuts/almonds, fish/omega-3, olive oil, and more. These foods lower the bad cholesterol (LDL) while raising the good cholesterol (HDL). Oatmeal and whole grains are other great foods to help, but are off limits for a good month or two on this program. Unfortunately, food labels do not tell you about the HDL vs. LDL or how certain foods counteract the LDL. My point here is, when you see cholesterol on a food label, it cannot be broken down accurately into the HDL and LDL (unlike how carbohydrates can be broken down into the sub-categories). It’s all about how your body processes the total cholesterol. The above foods are proven to be processed by nearly all of us for the better. In addition, plant sterols block LDL cholesterol; effectively, reducing LDL by more than 10% in many foods that are fortified with them.

      If you just cannot get over the fact that whey contains cholesterol, I suggest you find a recovery drink and a protein powder that is vegan (pea protein or rice protein comes to mind here). The link I offer for pea protein is for a protein powder. I do not know of a recovery drink yet that uses pea protein for the 1 part protein in the 4:1 ratio. However, you can always make your own. Just use pea protein mixed with enough fruit to get the ratio of carbs (fructose in this case) to 4 times that of the pea protein you use.

      Please, let me know if this is not enough information to get you started. I have enough information to make another post on this topic alone, so look out for that in the near future.

  80. Tyler says:

    Hi Matt,

    I have a couple questions about protein today.

    1) In your article about creatine, you mentioned that it should be ingested soon after being mixed into a liquid. Is this at all the case with Protein or protein powders? I ask this because I am not a morning person… but i have to be at work by 6:30 am. It makes my life a lot easier if I make breakfast (and sometimes lunch too) the night before and let it sit in the fridge all night. If I scramble my egg whites and eat them many hours later, does that lessen the protein value? If I mix a protein powder shake and don’t drink it for hours… same question? In the same vein, If I mix my accelerade recovery drink the night before and don’t drink it for hours will it lose value?

    2)This next question series, I realize, doesn’t have a simple cut ‘n’ dried answer because it varies from person to person.

    *How much protein should I eat at one time?
    *How long should I wait before ingesting more protein?
    *Food protein vs. shake/bar protein?
    *If I eat food protein and synthetic protein at the same time, will the synthetic protein get used at all?

    I’ve heard/read so many conflicting opinions on this subject that I’m not sure what to believe. One view I hear often is that the average body can only “absorb and/or utilize” 20-30 grams of protein every two hours. However, I’ve also heard that your body can take as much protein as you can give it, as long as you drink enough water (that doesn’t really make sense to me). I would love to hear as much information and advice on this topic as you can give!

    Thanks, Tyler

  81. Jim says:

    Hi Matt, just getting started and you’re right about having trouble getting all of the protein required in the plan. It would be easy if I could do two really large meals, but my understanding is that wouldn’t have the same effect. My question is do you have any ideas/suggestions for a person who is lactose intolerant to reach the daily intake required for the plan. I guess I could go the SoyMilk route, but not really that tasty….

    • Matt says:

      Hi Jim,

      I suggest that you find a substitute for the whey protein that is often recommended. I highly suggest that you consider using pea protein powder. You can mix it into lots of things to create shakes, or use an unflavored variant to mix into just about anything to boost the protein level. Don’t let the name throw you; pea protein is an excellent alternative that I am considering switching to permanently.

      Good luck!

      -Matt

  82. Ricky says:

    Hello,

    I am a semi-vegan who have been using P90X/Plus for the past seven months. I have been wary of using P90X Peak Recovery Formula due to its ingredients. I also am not a huge fan of cholestrol; the P90X formula having the 30 grams per serving of cholesterol. Instead, I have been using Brendan Blazier’s vegan Vega formula based on the serving of zero cholesterol. I see a bit of an improvement on building lean muscles. I know if I use P90X formula, the effect will be building more muscle mass. I know with rigorous exercising and healthy vegetarian meals, the cholesterol intake will be under control, but I am not too sure. I am still researching and being open-minded till I make a decision whether I will use P90X formula. Your feedback would be appreciated.

    Thanks,

    Ricky

    • Matt says:

      Hi Ricky,

      I understand. The desire to remain mostly vegan is more challenging. It is especially difficult when on an extreme workout plan, like P90X. The hardest thing for most is to ingest enough protein without resorting to meat. The good news is, there are now alternatives. For example, you can use pea protein as a pure vegan protein source.

      Your concern regarding the recovery drink leads to alternatives such as Accelerade and Endurox. For example, Accelerade has 20mg of cholesterol for a similar serving (only 10mg for the serving size suggested by Accelerade). It’s not perfect, but it is better. One thing to note is Accelerade suggests a serving size that is half that of both P90X’s drink and Endurox R4. Of course, you sacrifice things like L-glutamine and and creatine with Accelerade, but it is cheaper and has less impurities than the P90X formula. Endurox R4 has the same cholesterol as the P90X recovery formula and does not have the creatine.

      Regardless the cholesterol is there as a result of the whey protein used in these recovery drinks. Since whey derives from dairy, your bound to get some in there. You could try to find a recovery drink that substitutes pea protein over the whey. I have not come across one yet, but I have not researched the matter either. Personally, I always recommend Accelerade to people. If you want the added benefits of L-glutamine and/or creatine, you can always take supplements. This is also a part of the reason Acclerade is cheaper than the rest.

      Check out my other articles, “What Muscle Recovery Drink Should I Use?“, “Creatine“, and “P90X: The What, When and Why of Supplements“. As a working vegan, creatine may be something you should look into. Your body will naturally be short on supply due to the lack of meat in your diet. Just be aware of the facts, as pointed out in my article.

      Good luck,

      -Matt

  83. Candace says:

    Hi
    I am starting the P90X phase 1 on Monday. I am trying to maintain a tight schedule. I am a full time student and I need to manage my time in order to get everything done within the day. I want to workout first thing in the morning around 6am than eat breakfast and get ready for school, and be out the house by 815am. However, I am concerned about taking the recovery drink and eating breakfast in that close of a time range. Is it allowed for me to take the recovery drink with breakfast or is that too much calorie intake at once? I am following P90X nutrition plan.

    • Matt says:

      Hi Candace,

      Taking the recovery drink with breakfast isn’t a concern with regards to your caloric intake. The issue is; will you be counteracting the 4:1 ratio of the recovery drink by ingesting other carbs and proteins with your breakfast? You will likely not be eating any carbs with your breakfast during phase 1, but protein is a different story.

      If you ingest protein with your breakfast, it will tip the scale of the 4:1, carb to protein, ratio of the recovery drink. Likewise, if you did eat carbs (phase 2 or 3), it would tip the scale in that direction. Ideally, you want to wait about 60-90 minutes after the recovery drink before taking in more sustenance. I’ve never been able to wait that long, due to my schedule. I think you would be safe if you could wait 30 minutes before eating after you finish your recovery drink. However, I have had my recovery drink with food before. Sometimes, you just have to do it.

      Wait as long as your schedule allows after you drink the recovery drink before eating breakfast. If 30, or more, minutes is not realistic, try drinking it with your breakfast and be very aware of the results. Keep a quick log about how sore you are each day and if you are able to perform the workout that day at your best capacity. If you are really sore and/or you just cannot perform to your fullest on subsequent workouts, the recovery drink is not being allowed to do its job.

      Good luck with P90X and have some fun!

  84. John says:

    Matt,

    I am kind of short on cash at the moment (after buying the p90x, pull-up bar, and resistance bands) and can probably only afford the Accelerade at the moment.

    Are there any major downfalls by not taking the Mega Men Sport Vitamins or Pro Performance Whey Protein? Or at least, not taking them right away?

    Thanks,
    John

    • Matt says:

      Hi John,

      I completely understand your plight. If you eat like you should, I suspect you can go without the vitamins for a little while. You’ll want to add them in when you can though. I would probably go for the whey protein instead of the recovery drink. You will likely be pretty sore the first week or two without a recovery drink, but you will adjust. I think the protein is more important. Without it, you cannot build muscle appropriately; you’ll just be wearing down your muscle instead. GNC’s whey protein is very affordable; especially, if you put out for the 5-gallon bucket.

      Of course, if you can actually eat enough protein during phase 1, then forgo the whey for the recovery drink. It is nearly impossible to eat enough protein by food in phase 1. With the whey protein, you should be able to keep up. Then, in phase 2 and 3, you should be able to eat enough protein that you can drop the whey.

      Good luck and have fun!

  85. Jef says:

    Hi Matt,

    With the protein, in the diet it states to take it with food, do I have to or can i drink it with my food. One weird question, what else can I drink with food. I drink a lot of water, NO SODA,and some water down juice because the sugar. Any ideas of what else I can drink. Last question, if I run out of recovery drink do i miss out if i don’t take after a work out.

    Thanks for your time and help!
    Jef

    • Matt says:

      Hi Jef,

      You can drink a protein shake with your food. I also drink the shakes by themselves as a small “snack” or other “meal”. You can drink some diet-type drinks; drinks without sugar. If you use a sweetener, I recommend using one of the herbal ones, like a stevia product or a truvia product.

      You will miss out some if you workout without a recovery drink. A 4:1 ratio carbs:protein drink helps repair your muscles within the critical 1-hour window just after a hard workout. With it, you will feel less sore after and will be able to workout the next day at your full potential. Without a recovery drink, the soreness can really wear on you, but more importantly, you will generally not be able to put forth the amount of effort necessary to get an optimal workout in the following day(s).

      Good luck!
      -Matt

  86. Matt M says:

    Hello,

    My girlfriend and I are starting P90X on monday and are looking forward to it. I have one question. With my work schedule, the best time for me to work out would be first thing in the morning. Is this OK? I have been struggling how to put my day together. Any insight would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks,
    Matt

    • Matt says:

      Hi Matt,

      I’m glad to hear the two of you are starting P90X. Working out in the morning is perfectly fine! Take extra care to not skip any of the warm-up exercises that Tony has you do in each video. You will even hear him talk about morning exercisers in one of the videos. Many people do P90X first thing in the morning, so go for it. Have fun!

  87. Tyler says:

    Matt,

    Thanks so much for answering my questions… it helped a lot!

    Today is my third day of P90X… WOW! I have all the supplements you recommended:
    -GNC Mega Men Sport Vitamin (Yes… it makes you go BRIGHT yellow)
    -GNC Pro Performance Whey Protein (Way cheaper, Tastes AWESOME)
    -Accelerade (I tried Fruit Punch… it tastes alright, I want to try lemonaid)

    Question: I only take one vitamin a day in the morning when I eat. I just read your article on P90X supplements When/Why (Great article by the way). I was a little confused about one thing… Should I take two vitamins a day (Morning and night)? Or is one a day, in the morning with food, sufficient?

    Question: I’m still looking for a protein bar that’s right for me. I found one at Costco by “Premier Nutrition” I’ll list the nutrition facts:
    -1 bar 72g
    -Calories 280 (Fat cal. 70)
    -Total Fat 7g (Sat Fat 3.5g) (Trans Fat 0)
    -Cholesterol 10mg
    -Sodium 420mg
    -Potassium 190mg
    -Total Carbs. 23g (much lower than the P90X bar or Power Bars)
    -Dietary Fiber 1g
    -Sugars 8g
    -Protein 30g (higher than any other bar I’ve seen)
    -Vitamin/Minerals: A 2%, Calcium 8%, Iron 15%, Phosphorus 20%

    It was about $20 for 24 bars… They don’t taste as good as a lot of other bars, but they still taste good (at least to me). What do you think? How do these bars stack up against others in your opinion? Pros/Cons? How compatible are they with P90X? I personally don’t mind sacrificing some flavor for a better price and more protein.

    Thanks for your research and experience,

    Tyler

    • Matt says:

      Hi Tyler,

      Hehe, wow is right! I’m glad the supplements are working out for you. The Mega Men Sport vitamins instruct you to take 2 tablets a day with food (I take both of mine in the morning). All the nutritional numbers on the back are for 2 tablets; if you choose to take 1 tablet, the numbers are halved. It depends on what you are eating throughout the day, but I err on the side of unknowing; thus, I take both just in case. The body will reject what it doesn’t use without issue; so long as you don’t take 4 or 5 of the things (then you could be in trouble). Some people can get away with just 1 a day though. You can try just one and pay close attention to your body to spot any deficiencies (e.g. dark circles under your eyes is a lack of iron).

      I’m a fan of reduced sugar in a protein bar, since protein is what we’re after with a bar. The stats on the one you listed is pretty darn good. It’s a little high on sodium, but if you do not eat much sodium the rest of the day, you’ll be fine. You can also counteract the sodium with potassium. About half of the sodium in that bar is counteracted by the potassium it contains (not too shabby). 30g of protein is awesome and the price is pretty cheap. I’d say go for it!

      Good luck!

  88. Parth says:

    Hey Matt,

    Thanks for answering my question before helped me narrowed it down I am in the 2nd week of Phase 1. I wanted to know how much protein is needed throughout the day or following the diet does the job? and also I found a great product to help mix with Accelerade its Xtend has the essential amino acids to help rebuild muscles (http://www.vitaminshoppe.com/store/en/browse/sku_detail.jsp?fromCatId=cat10277&id=S2-1004) I asked the employee at the shop and he recommend to take this because he is a nutritionist and a personal trainer. Anyways I am confused on how much protein to consume throughout the day and I am following the Fat Shredder plan. I hope you can help me Thanks a lot.

    • Matt says:

      Hi Parth,

      Thanks for the tip with Xtend. I will definitely look into that. The “Fat Shredder” actually refers to phase 1 of the diet. There are 2 approaches you can take for each phase; the portion approach and the meal plan approach.

      If you are following the portion approach, eating the correct number of the proteins listed and your protein bar for the day is sufficient. For example, if you are a level 2, you need to eat 7 portions of protein plus a protein bar. That’s approximately 700 calories of protein in addition to your bar.

      If you are on the meal plan approach, just follow the meals each day (or as close as you possibly can) and you will get enough protein.

  89. Tyler says:

    Hey Matt,

    It’s me Tyler again, a couple more quick questions: What are your thoughts on Gatorade/Poweraid and other electrolite drinks? Should they be used with P90X, if so how/when/how often? Positives/Negitives?

    I’m sure my questions are very elementary… like I said before, I’m new at this.

    Thanks for your input,

    Tyler

    • Matt says:

      Hi again, Tyler.

      Electrolyte drinks primarily give you sugar, sodium and potassium. I would say stick with your 4:1 recovery drink of choice instead of electrolyte drinks. If you want to drink these, keep it to a minimum and try to avoid them altogether in phase 1 of P90X due to the carbs they add to your diet. In my daily life, I have continued to use the recovery drink even when I am not on an intense workout plan. For example, I drink my recovery drink after cutting the grass and doing all the yard work. So, I have chosen to replace electrolyte drinks with a recovery drink instead.

      However, there is nothing wrong with these drinks. Just try to be careful with the sugar intake during P90X.

  90. JP says:

    Hello Matt,

    Great blog sir. I feel clear on the supplements, however I have a question. I am currently a student at a martial arts school. Our workouts are 1 hour in leangth and are very intense for that time period, with workouts consiting of MMA conditioning techniques. I intend to train P90x in the morning and my martial arts training will be in the evenings 6-7p 3 times per week.. Quite frankly; can one train (given the proper discipline & resolve) a program as intense as P90x AND continue to workout and participate in other high intensity activities or workouts? It isn’t my aim to do two-a-days for the sake of ego, but I do not want to fall behind on my martial arts training, nor negate the effects of P90x, by interfering with recovery time. You input is greatly appreciated.

    Thank you,

    JP

    • Matt says:

      Hi JP,

      Thanks! You can do both workouts successfully and safely. Take a look at the “Doubles” workout plan in your P90X Fitness Guide. It is much like the “Classic” plan but adds extra cardio training into your daily workouts as a secondary exercise. I suggest you follow the “Classic” or “Lean” plan while also continuing your martial arts training. This will be really close to the “Double” plan, but will allow you to substitute the extra cardio with martial arts.

      It will be more intense than the “Doubles” plan, but it can be done. Feel free to have a recovery drink after both of your daily workouts too. In addition, be absolutely sure that you hit your caloric goal each day. This will require ingesting a lot of food and protein shakes. If you calculate your level at Level I, definitely bump up to Level II. If you are a Level II, consider moving up to Level III if you are near the high end of Level II’s energy calculations. P90X has you add 600 calories in for its daily workout requirement. I would think about making that more like 800 calories to burn with your goals. This is why I say you may end up in the next level. It’s something to consider, because you will be burning calories like a furnace; you’ll need the fuel.

      You may also want to consider adding some creatine supplement to your diet in order to maintain the appropriate energy you will need to accomplish your goals. Use your own judgment on this point. Some people are leery of creatine, but so far, no side effects have been discovered. I recommend you read my article on creatine for more information.

      Good luck! If you pull this off, you will be one granite-cut masterpiece.

  91. Tyler says:

    Matt,

    WOW! Thanks so much for all your research! I just ordered P90X yesterday and can’t wait to get started! I must say, I was extreamly confused about all the different supplies and supliments (as I have never done anything like this before)… your breakdown of all the supliment/equipment opptions really helped my confidence in starting this program.

    Question: I dont have work-out bands but I have a dumbell set… I’m I missing out?

    Question: I’ve had my dumbell set for 4 years now, It is the adjustable kind (thus more time consuming)… Can I get by with it, or should I invest in one of the sets you recomended… I’d like to save as much cash as I can… But if it would make a huge difference it would probably be worth it.

    Question: what do you think about power bars? The chocolate ones have 8 grams of protien… are there better alternatives?

    Thanks, Tyler

    • Matt says:

      Hi Tyler,

      I’m glad this site has helped you with your decision-making to get more fit. Dumbbells are just as effective as resistance bands. Many people prefer them over the bands, so go forward with them and you’ll do just fine.

      Honestly, a little break between exercises to swap out the weights on your dumbbells may be ideal. If it becomes problematic, just get another set of the bars. You can then have multiple sets of them on standby with different weights. Just make sure the new set of bars you get are compatible with the plates you already have.

      PowerBars are very good. However, you should look into the PowerBar Protein Plus product instead. It has 3 times the amount of protein. There is even a reduced sugar version. I am also a big fan of the Clif Builder’s Bar, which has similar nutrition and can be found in some grocery stores. Try some of them out and find the one you like most. Just try to find protein bars with 20 or more grams of protein in them for best use and as a valid substitute for the P90X Protein Bar.

  92. Bjorn says:

    Thanks for the quick response Matt. I’ve read on numerous websites now that one of the major factors of the success of P90x in making you “gain lean muscle” or whatever they always say is the fact that the P90x supplements contain creatine (I assume it’s the recovery drink?). I read somewhere that Accelerade doesn’t so I’m just wondering if you or anyone else here thinks/knows how big of a difference adding creatine makes. My wife was shocked when she heard I was thinking of using it as a supplement and she said it was like a steroid (although I know now that that’s not true)….some people still seem to think that creatine is bad and dangerous. What’s your take on this?

    • Matt says:

      Hi Bjorn,

      The P90X Results and Recovery Formula does contain creatine. Although, I think the better ingredient is the L-glutamine it also has. You are correct, Accelerade does not have either of these ingredients. It is the cheaper alternative, and it does what it is supposed to do; provide you with the 4:1 ratio of carbs to protein.

      You and your wife should both read more about creatine first and decide for yourselves if it is for you. It is not like a steroid however; it is a naturally occurring amino acid. Like many other things that we take in supplementation, there may be side effects that have yet to be uncovered. Currently, none have been discovered.

      Feel free to read my article on creatine for more information.

  93. Parth says:

    Hi Matt,

    I found your blog very interesting and helpful I just want a clear answer on how and when to use the whey protein and the recovery drink that you prefer, or do i just need to get accelerade. Also I have found a product called Isopure (http://www.vitaminshoppe.com/store/en/browse/sku_detail.jsp?id=NP-1098) which is very rich in protein and it has no carbs. When would this be used during the workouts. To make it short I just want your opinion on what I should use because I am a little confused on what I should be using. So i just want a final say on what supplements to use for vitamins, proteins and or recovery drink.

    Thanks,

    Parth

    • Matt says:

      Hi Parth,

      Thanks! I understand and will try to be brief but thorough in my answer. That is a really nice protein blend you found. It is really packed with protein and it has the coveted L-glutamine. The only thing that may push some people away is, it contains sucralose (the same stuff Splenda is made from). This really depends on you, but some people really shy away from artificial sweeteners altogether. The Isopure does look like a great formula though.

      Please, read my article, P90X: The What, When and Why of Supplements. It answers all of your questions and more.

      Thanks for great questions and good luck!

  94. Bjorn says:

    Hi Matt,

    This seems like a great site. I’m gonna start the P90x on Monday and I haven’t ordered any of the supplements from beachbody.com yet so needless to say I’m not gonna get them in time for day 1. So, I need to go to GNC or a similar store, can you recommend a substitute for the P90x Performance Protein Bars and P90x Peak Health Formula?

    Thanks,

    Bjorn

    • Matt says:

      Hi Bjorn,

      I’m glad to hear you are going to start P90X soon. I have found that Clif Builder’s Bars are an excellent replacement for the P90X protein bars. You can even find these in some grocery stores or on Amazon.com’s food store.

      The Peak Health Formula has a bunch of goodies in it. I have had much success with GNC’s Sport edition multi-vitamin. I personally use the GNC brand Mega Men’s Sport multi-vitamin formula. You can’t really miss this one when you walk into a GNC. Just in case you do though, ask a store associate and you’ll be ready to purchase in no time.

      These are both really good options for P90X replacements that are quite affordable for most of us.

  95. Ken says:

    Matt, thanks for your comment I still havent bought a recovery drink yet but I have narrowed it down. Sorry about you injury I think about it everyday that it will happen to me due to my weak ankles. The two products are still accelerade and endurox r4, Ill probably go with endurox r4 being that it closely fits p90x recovery drink the best and in the big jugs its seven dollars more, earlier you mention that you didn’t think that it was for workouts that last a hour, but from my research I have found that it is formulate for those kind of workouts. The endurox restore is for workouts under a hour. I did find out that they make a ACCELERADE HYDRO so that might be something you maybe interested in. It cuts out the calories and sugars. With two scoops it still give you a 4:1 ratio (calories 120, fat 0g, Carbs 20g, sugars 16g, and 5g protein) serving 50, 25 with two scoops and priced at 39.99. Matt just one last question at the end of the videos is the ab ripper x are you suppose to them after the hour workout or later that day cause both say you should drink the recovery drink after both. So just drink after both or both times if you do the workout a.m. and ab rip p.m.?

    • Matt says:

      Hi again Ken. Thanks for the concern. I have bad ankles too and injured one further while moving heavy furniture a couple years ago. My more recent injury is actually “Jumper’s Knee”. Can you guess how I managed that one? Over the past couple years, sports medicine gurus have seen a surge in injuries from people on the P90X workout. The lesson to learn is, listen to your body. Push your will to its extents, but do not do the same with your body. Be most careful when you are the most tired.

      I have seen the Accelerade Hydro. It uses dextrose (corn sugar; a simple sugar) and fructose (fruit sugar) instead of sucrose (cane sugar) to get the sugar carbohydrates. In addition, the Hydro uses sucralose (what Splenda is made from) to give more sweetness than the dextrose offers. As far as the total numbers, the Hydro lets you have smaller doses; it’s like a half-scoop of the regular Accelerade.

      Ab Ripper X is to be performed whenever it suits you. You can do it in the morning and the workout in the evening, you can do the inverse, or you can perform both the workout and Ab Ripper X back-to-back. If you do them separately, you can have a recovery drink after each (although, I would recommend a smaller drink after just Ab Ripper X). If you perform them one after the other, you should only have 1 recovery drink.

      I found that what worked best for me and my schedule was to do both together in the evening. However, I did better with Ab Ripper X first, followed by my main workout. It’s ultimately up to you though.

  96. Ken says:

    Hi matt,
    I have been going threw all the comments over the alternate recovery drink and in the main description you post accelerade as a alternative to p90x recovery drink and you say you go with a L-glutamine mix. Is that cause the accelerade doesn’t have that. I would like to buy a recovery drink today (7/15/09) but can decide on the accelerade or body fortress L-glutamine at wal-mart. Does the L-glutamine have the 4:1 ratio everyone is looking for? Please email back as soon as you can. Thank you for your time.

    • Matt says:

      Hi Ken,

      Accelerade does not have the L-glutamine ingredient. The P90X recovery drink does have it, so if you want something as close to their drink as possible, get something L-glutamine in it too. Just make sure that the amount of carbs is 4x the amount of protein (in grams) on the back label of whatever you end up purchasing. An example would be 20g of carbohydrates and 5g of protein.

      It’s up to you on the L-glutamine. Recovery drinks with it do have an added benefit, but they are notoriously more expensive than other variants; like Accelerade. Good luck!

  97. Rey says:

    Matt –

    Have you ever looked at another Recovery Drink option, Endurox R4? It seems to be more inline with the P90x recovery drink. Just curious to see if you thought about this one too. Also, do you take a recovery drink after every workout? Sometimes after Yoga X I don’t think it is necessary, just wondering what others thought about it as well. Also, do you think it matters when you take the recovery drink relative to your dinner meal and bedtime? I work out from 5:30 – 7 PM. Then recovery drink immediaately after the workout so from 7 – 7:15 PM, but then I am not hungry usually for dinner till about 8:30 – 9 PM. So then I eat dinner, but then I feel like all of that food is being stored as fat, since I go to bed about 10:30 PM. Any suggestions?

    • Matt says:

      Hi Rey,

      I have looked at several recovery drinks as alternatives to the P90X one. It turns out that Endurox R4 is a little closer to the P90X version. The key to this distinction is the L-glutamine. That’s the “special ingredient” used in the P90X Recovery formula and is in Endurox R4 as well. In addition, Endurox R4’s serving size is more than Accelerade‘s. The serving suggestion is closer to P90X as well. I think this is mainly due to the fact that it is designed for workouts that extend the 1-hour mark (which P90X workouts usually do). The Endurox Recovery product is geared towards workouts less than an hour.

      Of course, you can always take 2 servings of Accelerade to achieve similar results with the others. I usually take 1.5 to 2 times the serving suggestion of Accelerade after a P90X workout, but stick to the actual serving size for lesser workouts (even after 2 hours of yard work). With that said, the biggest difference between the products is the L-glutamine. Accelerade does not have it. I talk more about glutamine in my article on muscle recovery drinks.

      I find that Yoga X actually qualifies just as much for a recovery drink as the other exercises. Extreme yoga taxes your muscles in different ways through isometric strengthening. You are holding your muscles in flexed positions for extended periods of time and you can definitely use a muscle recovery drink afterward. The best question to ask yourself is, “Am I sore the day after ‘Exercise X’?” If you are, use the recovery drink. If the next day is tough, especially the next day’s workout, you need the recovery drink after yesterday’s workout in the future.

      I definitely try to avoid eating within 30-45 minutes of my recovery drink. If you eat soon after your recovery drink (or with it), you are counteracting that balance of 4:1 carbs to protein. Dinner close to bedtime is a problem. Ideally, you should have at least 3 hours between a big meal and bedtime. It is tough with our schedules though and we (my wife and I) struggled with this for a while. The best thing to do is eat your biggest meals for breakfast and lunch. Try to keep dinner light; make it the smallest meal you can. This often means that lunch is going to have to be huge. You can also increase your snacks or mini-meals between the others.

      Lastly, remember that the body cannot store protein. Therefore, if you eat protein before bed, it will not store as fat. Carbs and fats are stored by the body, so avoid those before bed at all costs. This means, if you have to have a decent-sized meal close to bedtime, make it all, or mostly, protein.

  98. Matt says:

    Matt,

    This is an awesome guide! My fiance and I are starting today and if I wouldn’t have stumbled on this site we would have been drinking protein shakes post workout. Now we’ll use the Accelerade. My question is what should be taken pre workout? Protein shake, snack, nothing? In previous workouts I was eating an orange and a cheese stick 30 minutes pre workout but was wondering if there was anything that would be more effective? Also, I guess it doesn’t matter when protein is consumed just as long as it is?

    Thanks so much!
    -Matt

    • Matt says:

      Hi Matt,

      Thanks! I am glad it helped. A protein shake post-workout would not be bad, but a 4:1 carbs:protein drink is much better. Pre-workout is a different story for protein. You really do not want to take in protein within 90 minutes pre-workout. You will tank during your workout; trust me on this one. My wife and I tested this theory and confirmed it to be true. We did not last 10 minutes into the workout before feeling like we just went through boot camp in a day. The body really has to work hard to break down all that protein and it just does not have anything left for a workout whilst digesting it all.

      I really like the sound of an orange and cheese stick. The natural sugars will boost you and keep you going through the workout. Be sure the cheese stick is not too high in fat, or a result similar to the protein may occur. This is a good snack before workout though; especially, if it served you well in the past.

      Protein consumption time is irrelevant, other than pre-workout. There are a couple of other rules to keep in mind though. Try not to consume more than 40-45g of the “synthetic protein” at a time (within 90-120 minutes of each other). For lack of a better label, I am using “synthetic” to represent all protein you consume from something other than natural foods (i.e. chicken, egg whites, soy, etc.). If you take in too much of that type of protein (i.e. whey protein shakes, protein bars, etc.) at once, it gets wasted as the body cannot process a huge amount together. This is especially critical in phase 1 because you’ll feel the need to really ingest the stuff to meet your minimum. However, feel free to pile down any natural protein you feel you can eat in meals. I was eating as much as 9oz (occasionally 12oz; that’s 3-4 protein portions) of chicken during some meals to get my quota. The body can process natural protein in bulk, so go for it.

      Also, if I absolutely have to eat a snack closer to bedtime than I should, I resort to protein. My reasoning here is that the body cannot store protein in reserves, so you won’t be adding fat storage by eating and then going to bed if you stick with protein. This is a little-known trick to get you by in a pinch for a late-night hunger bout.

      Good luck!
      -Matt

  99. Adam says:

    My wife and I are starting this program, but we are unsure about something in the nutrition guide. On several days it will list food and then 1 tablespoon protein powder along with the food for that time of day. Do we just mix the powder in with the food? I know this question seems weird, but we wanted to make sure. Also, we are using whey protein for our protein shakes, would this work for a recovery drink as well, or is the accelerade better? Thanks in advance for any advice.

    • Matt says:

      Hi Adam,

      It’s not a weird question at all. You do not have to mix the protein powder in with your food. There are several types of protein powders out there. Some are meant for shakes with milk or plain water; others are practically taste-free and can be mixed in with any food you want to boost with protein. The ones for shakes, like your whey protein, usually have a sweet flavor and are not ideal for mixing with your food.

      So, you can mix a non-flavored powder with your food, or just mix up another one of your shakes and drink it with your meal (i.e. lunch). Protein shakes are definitely not good for your recovery drink! While you do need some protein in your recovery drink, the key ingredient is carbohydrates. I know that may come as a shock, since you are to avoid carbs like the plague in phase 1. However, carbs are allowed, and expected, to be apart of your recovery drink. In fact, recovery drinks are designed around the 4:1 ratio principle. That’s 4 parts carbohydrates for every 1 part protein. The 4:1 ratio is key within 1 hour after an intense workout at “filling-in” those micro tears you caused your muscles to endure. A properly formulated recovery drink will prevent a bulk of the soreness you would normally feel the next day or so, and help you continue to workout each day.

      My preferred recovery drink is definitely Accelerade. They have a ton of different flavors to suit your tastes and the ratio is a perfect match. It also helps that it is a cheaper alternative to the one sold under the P90X program.

      Good luck to you and your wife!

  100. Ben says:

    Matt. Thanks for the info. That is a big help. One other thing that I am struggling with is that on these workouts I am getting hungry more often throughout the day. I am on the portion plan for the fat shredder so only one serving of carbs a day. I rarely get the 4 servings of veggies in (usually two servings/day). I have been eating lots of grilled/bbq chicken, tuna, and salad. I have a protein shake in the morning with fruit. I am really being disciplined because nutrition is not my strong point, but I have a feeling I am under eating because I want to cut the fat fast. I have seen results in the first 8 days but I am feeling my energy levels getting lower. Should I snack when I feel hungry, and if so what would be the best thing? or Should I just eat more at breakfast and lunch? Thanks again. That should be it for the questions. =)

    • Matt says:

      Ben,

      You are quite welcome. Hunger can be a problem when you start out. I found it extremely difficult to eat 2,400 calories each day when I was starting out. I eventually began tracking my caloric intake, in addition to the standard portion plan guidelines. I suspect you will find that you are coming up short on your calories if you keep track of your intake for a couple days.

      You will want to eat a very healthy portion at breakfast and lunch, with less at dinner. Breakfast and lunch are perfect for stuffing down your protein requirements; even in the form of shakes. When you get to phases 2 and 3, you will still want to hold back the carbs during breakfast. I tried to save the majority of my carbs for lunch and some at dinner or for snacks.

      Snacks are a great way to boost your calories (and energy) throughout the day. By all means, eat a snack when you are hungry! The only thing worse now for your body than over-eating is under-eating. You cannot let yourself go hungry during this type of intense workout plan. If you do, your body will start eating away at your muscle for fuel; not your fat. The only way to force it to pull from your fat is to build more muscle and hammer out that cardio. You can’t build the muscle without the food (especially protein), and a vicious cycle ensues when your body enters starvation-mode.

      See if you can find snack-size bags of baby carrots at your grocery store. If you’re not into carrots, there are other snack-size portions of already prepared vegetables to choose from. You can even get protein bars that have veggies baked into them. It sounds nasty, but there are some very tasty ones out there that could boost your veggie count at the same time you use a bar portion.

  101. Ben says:

    Hey Matt,
    I am on day 5 of the P90X. I had a question about recovery drinks. I usually get my workout in late after I put my son to bed. Around 8-9pm. I am trying out the chocolate milk thing because its cost effective. The kind I have has 3g of fat (0 sat.), 24g sugar, 1g dietary fiber, 27g carbs, and 2g protein / per serving. My questions are: Does this have to much suger? Does it have the 4:1 ratio?, How much should I drink? Also, is there a study that talks about the right brand of Chocolate milk is right for recovery? Someone told me I need lots of protein before bed. Should I ad protein to the choc. milk? My feeling is I am drinking the wrong thing. I don’t want to be wasting all these intense workouts. Should I go to something else? Thanks for your wisdom.

    • Matt says:

      Hi Ben,

      As is, your chocolate milk (or mix) is not 4:1. Judging by the amount of protein you are reporting, I would guess that you have a mix that you stir into milk. If that is the case, you have to add in the carbs and protein from your milk in order to properly determine the ratio. Go with a fat-free milk if at all possible. Determine the amount of milk you want to drink with the mix, and add both carbs and proteins together (milk has sugars in the form of lactose). Take the total carbs minus any fiber and divide it by the total protein to get a number close to 4. For example, I use a brand of milk that reports 12g of sugar carbs and 9g of protein for an 8 oz. serving. So, if I mixed in your chocolate mix with an 8 oz. cup of my milk, the result would have 38g of carbs (26g + 12g) and 11g of protein (2g + 9g). 38/11 equals 3.45. 3.45:1 is pretty close to 4:1.

      Is it too much sugar? It’s not too much sugar for the ratio described above. In fact, a little more sugar would still work for the above scenario (about 6g more). I would say you are right on the money as far as quantity of each though. The official P90X Results and Recovery Formula has 39g of carbs and 10g of protein (check the ingredients PDF at the bottom of their page). With the example above, using my milk (Nature’s Promise fat-free milk), the numbers are practically identical.

      Lots of protein before bed is a theory. However, your body has to work pretty hard to digest protein. You really shouldn’t eat much of anything without a couple hours of sleeping for that reason. Your body needs to rest, not work on breaking down food nutrients. However, if I am really hungry soon before bed, my rule is to eat protein without carbs or fat. Both of those (carbs and fat) get stored as fat when you are not actively burning them (like when you are sleeping). Protein, however, cannot be stored by your body. That’s the reason we need so much of it during P90X; the body can’t store it to use later.

      Just remember, chocolate milk has milk and that is where the extra protein is. If you are using a chocolate mix, don’t forget to count the milk’s nutrients in the formula. If you have a pre-mixed chocolate milk (the kind you keep refrigerated), the numbers should already be included on the back. Just follow this formula to find the ratio: Carbohydrates (without fiber) / Protein. Look for a number very close to 4 as your result to get the 4:1 ratio necessary.

      Good luck with your program!

  102. Rich says:

    …i’m in the process of starting the p90x and there’s so much information out there but i found your site and it’s been really helpful! not all the self or product promo crap that some of these sites post! i’ve found some other forums also that have great input by other people but this is the most down to earth one that i’ve found! keep up the great work mate! cheers!

    • Matt says:

      Thanks, Rich! That means a lot. I really do try to relay the experiences with the P90X program (and others) that my wife and I have lived and breathed. I think that we could all use a little honesty about the life-long battle to become and stay fit.

      Good luck with your battle and stay the course. It is definitely worth it.

  103. Kris says:

    Oh wow, thanks a lot Matt!!
    It has helped me a bunch!

    I have another question about the chocolate milk theory. If I were to take it as a recovery drink, would it be plausible to use it as a dairy serving as well? I’m going by the portion approach.

    Much thanks for the advice! :]

    • Matt says:

      That’s great! I’m glad it helped.

      I can’t speak for Tony Horton or his nutritionist for the P90X program, but I am pretty certain that I would count it as a dairy serving too.

  104. Kris says:

    Hi there Matt, I’m not sure if you still check this blog but here I go..

    I was wondering about the whole chocolate milk craze. Is it true? Drinking 1% chocolate milk is a good recovery drink? I’ve heard that it has the 4:1 ratio of carbs to protein. IF you have any knowledge about this would you mind sharing some information? And how much of the milk will I need to drink after a workout? OF course if you have no idea then thanks for looking over this.

  105. Johnny says:

    Matt you said, “The first phase of P90X expects you to really put down the protein and lay off the carbs.” Does this mean that after the first phase I do not need to keep taking the protein powder supplement? I know that I will continue taking the recovery drink throughout the program, but I am just wondering about the protein.
    Also could you talk more about the vitamin supplements. GNC has the Mega Men Sport Vitapak http://www.gnc.com/product/index.jsp?productId=3293809&cp=3418425. Is that what you are referring to or are you talking about a vitamin less extreme and less expensive?

    • Matt says:

      Hi Johnny,

      These are great questions. The protein powder is more than likely going to be something you need in phases 1 and 2. It’s just very difficult for most of us to eat enough chicken or other high protein foods to reach our P90X nutritional goal. I found it very easy to eat enough protein in phase 3 without a supplement. You probably won’t need too much extra from supplements in phase 2 either, but I did need some help. For me, phase 1 was impossible without the protein powder.

      As for the vitamin supplements, I think you can save quite a bit of cash by getting just the Mega Men Sport variant that GNC offers. I do think that the Vitapak is excellent for travel, especially if you are flying. The packets are great for storage and carrying with you for a quick single serving of your vitamins in such scenarios. Also, the Vitapak does have the added benefit of glutamine, which I discuss briefly in my article on muscle recovery drinks. I stick with the standard “Sport” version and save a ton of money doing so (see below).

      Sport Vitapak = $1.67/dose retail ($1.33/dose with Gold Card)
      Sport = $0.20/dose retail ($0.16/dose with Gold Card)

      Good luck with your program experience. I wish you all the gains you’re hoping for!

  106. […] progress which has has all the pre/post test info you can put in as well. My good friend Matt has a blog post about P90X that outlines all of the extras he bought for using the program. I ended up just purchasing basic […]

  107. […] most important factor of any recovery drink, including P90X’s Recovery Drink, is the 4 to 1 ratio (4:1). 4 parts carbohydrates to 1 part protein taken within an […]

  108. Marc says:

    Hey there,

    I went to a GNC and asked for the closest equivalent to the P90X recovery drink, the gentlemen told me to go with MusleTech’s Nitro-Tech Hardcore, because it has some creatine, as does P90X’s Recovery Drink… just wanted to get some comments/suggestions on that product?

    All the best,

    Marc

    • Matt says:

      Hi Marc,

      Unfortunately, I do not have any experience with that particular product. However, I looked up the product online to see the nutritional information. Please, be aware that the Nitro-Tech Hardcore product is not a recovery drink (unless the product you have specifically says it is one). This product looks more like a replacement for the 3 times daily protein drink. Your recovery drink should have 4 parts carbohydrates and 1 part protein. This stuff is loaded with protein and barely any carbs. This will not be ideal for recovering after a hard workout. Use this product to get the extra protein you need throughout your day.

      When I was planning to get a substitution recovery drink, I looked at the nutritional information on the back of P90X’s Recovery Drink (PDF document) as a reference. I suggest you compare the amounts of each vitamin, compound, etc. Also, check the exact order of the ingredients list. The order of ingredients implies their dominance in the overall makeup of the product. For example, P90X’s drink starts with fructose then whey protein. That’s exactly what I would expect for a 4:1 carbohydrate to protein recovery drink.

      Check out my article on deciding on a recovery drink for more tips. You should note that the P90X drink has both creatine and glutamine. I regard glutamine much higher in its ability to recovery muscles after a workout myself. So, if you want to find a replacement drink with closely matching ingredients, I would focus more on the glutamine. I choose Accelerade for my recovery drink substitute. They have it at GNC. You may want to clarify with the GNC rep. that you were looking for a recovery drink, not a protein enhancement supplement.

      Good luck and best wishes on your training!

Leave a Reply