Q: Do I need to eat from all the sub-hierarchies in the carbohydrates list? If so, how much of each?
A: No, you do not need to eat from all the sub-hierarchies. However, it’s a good idea, considering that the more variety you get into your diet, the wider array of nutrients you end up with.
For the most part, the order of the sub-hierarchies is hierarchical itself, so the higher up the list you are, the better off you are nutritionally. In other words, if most of your carbs come from the first three sub-hierarchies–Non-Starchy Vegetables, Starchy Vegetables, and Fruit–then you’re in really good shape.
By the way, given the honor system nature of these lists, some of you may have discovered that you can get away with skipping veggies entirely. Congratulations. Apparently, you slept through your second grade nutrition lessons. Now stop feeding your broccoli to the dog and go to your room.
Q: How does Shakeology fit into the P90X3 Nutrition Plan?
A: Half a scoop counts as one Protein portion. When we say that it “isn’t part of the food list hierarchy,” we don’t mean it can’t count as a portion. What we mean is that we didn’t want to compare it as better or worse than the other items on the list. It’s important to understand that there’s a difference between “supplemental nutrition sources” and whole foods. Supplements can play a small (important) role in a diet, but then should always take a backseat to whole foods. So have your Shakeology daily, reap the benefits, and count those calories as a protein portion, but understand that, ideologically, you’re having it as a supplement to your healthy, whole food diet.
More astute observers may notice that protein powder didn’t get the same treatment. We made this call because, while it’s technically a supplement, it’s just an isolated part of a whole food, like cheese is an isolated part of milk, so we felt it was okay to count as a food in this context.
Q: Can a food count as being from two different groups?
A: Nope. Each food only counts as one portion. Of course, when you’re factoring a mixed food into your plan, you need to account for the individual components. So, for example, if you’re having a salad with lettuce, feta, grapes, and walnuts, it doesn’t just count as just a carb. You’ll need to break it down into the individual ingredients and factor each.
Q: The calories I got from the calculator seem kind of high! Is that correct?
A: Believe it or not, the P90X3 Calorie Calculator is fairly bulletproof. If you’re on the heavy side, it may seem like a high number, but if you eat that high number using a diet filled with whole, healthy foods, in all likelihood you’ll lose weight unless you have some underlying issue.
Some people have a hard time believing this when they see the massive volume of, say, Plan E, which is about 2,700 calories worth of healthy, whole foods. “I’ve never eaten that much!” they insist. Odds are, they have. You see, because of the high refined carb and fat content of junk food, it tends to cram more calories in a smaller space. The classic example is a Big Mac, large fries, and large Coke. We’re talking 1130 calories—and that’s McDonald’s “estimate.” Odds are, it higher.
(Another ones of my personal faves is the Starbucks line of Frappuccinos, which routinely shoot past 500 calories.)
Also, there’s an ever-increasing body of research showing that calories aren’t the only factor in weight gain. Stress, imbalanced hormones, and poor blood sugar regulation can all be part of the issue—and junk food plays a role in all of these things.
Finally, odds are you weren’t exercising on a P90X3 level when you gained your weight. Hard workouts require food because food is fuel.
That said, you don’t need to cram down 2700 calories. If you’re feeling satiated, stop eating! (Just don’t use it as an excuse to skip your veggies. Again, that’s totally second grade.) And if you’re obese, you have a lot of body fat to tap for energy, so it might be okay for you to bump down a Plan or two. If you do this and you’re not getting results, tanking mid-workout, or feeling lousy, don’t be afraid to bump back up.