P90X Slow Carb Diet

By Chad, 21 March, 2011

I’ll be starting P90X using the Slow Carb Diet. Previously, I have used my P90X Low Carb Diet with great success. But sustaining that for long term is difficult (way too many hamburgers!). I’ll be sticking with the Fat Shredder phase for most of P90X.

What is “Slow-Carb”?

The Slow-carb diet consists of foods that have a low-glycemic index, such as Shakeology. The glycemic index (GI) factor is a ranking of foods based on their overall effect on blood sugar levels.


How does it work?

With low-glycemic foods your body will break them down slower. This results in stable blood sugar levels (no spikes as there is with white breads and sugary foods). The idea behind the diet is to not count calories and to keep meals simple (but to eat more protein laden foods as they are less calorie dense). You can lose pounds on this diet is 30 days without exercise.

What foods can you eat?

According to Tim Ferris’s book The 4-Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman, you can eat the following foods [my notes are in brackets]:


Beef (preferably grass-ed), Fish, Pork, Chicken Breast or thigh, Egg Whites (with 1-2 whole eggs)


Lentils, Black Beans, Pinto Beans, Red Beans, Soybeans, [other beans], [nuts - but go easy]


Spinach, Mixed (broccoli, cauliflower, or other cruciferous vegetables), Sauerkraut,  Kimchee, Asparagus, Peas, Broccoli, Green Beans


Get some omega-3’s as well, olive oil is good, and saturated fats.

Are there any rules to follow?

There are 5 rules:

1. Avoid “White” Carbohydrates.

Avoid white rice (even brown), cereals, breads, pasta, etc.

2. Eat the same few meals over and over again.

K.I.S.S. (not the rock band). Keep it Short and Simple (there are other variations). Get whatever is easiest to prepare so you can concentrate on eating the correct foods. If it takes a lot of preparation you may give up after awhile. It may not be “fun” but it’ll get you results. Make a couple of daily food plans and you can alternate. Use myfitnesspal.com to help track caloric intake.

Canned beans are you friend and are easy to cook (so start stocking up).

3. Don’t drink calories

Water BottleHigh fructose corn syrup is the devil. Avoid it at all costs. Also, diet pop is okay, but limit your intake as Aspartame and other sugar substitutes have been shown to cause problems. I cannot have suraclose as I get horrible abdominal pains (which makes it difficult to find good tasty protein powders). Coffee, tea, and water are your new friends.

Avoid Milk. Try cinnamon or other spices for your coffee or very very light non-dairy creamer.

4. Don’t eat fruit.

If it’s within 2-hours after your workout you can probably have some fruit. Your body will convert those sugars into fat if you get too much fruit.

5. Take one day off per week.

Cookies Eat whatever you want one day a week.

There are “damage control” activities you can do to help prevent any possible fat gain during this day (see Time Ferris’s book The 4-Hour Body). Some of the activities include: drinking grapefruit juice before eating junk meals, doing air squats, chest pulls, and wall tricep extensions minutes before eating and 60 to 90 minutes after eating. This opens up receptors on your muscles to help burn off that food intake. Whereas without doing those exercises your fat will be the only thing receiving that intake of food. You want to maximize your ability to burn food by using your muscles instead of fat. The grapefruit juice levels out your blood sugar.

The results from the day off have been increased weight loss and metabolic rates. It’s also easier on the soul and mind knowing you do not have to give up EVERYTHING. A tip, as one of Tim’s test subjects explained, write down your cravings during the week and consider it “deferred eating” for your day off.

Should I spread my meals out?

This has been debated a lot. Some experts say to spread your meals out to keep your metabolism high. Others say it doesn’t make one bit of difference. I say, whatever is easiest for you and allows you to reach your goals. Everyone’s body works differently. Try it differently for a week each and see how you respond.

Can I eat out?

Mexican FoodYes, but substitute those fries for vegetables or beans even if you have to pay extra. As Tim Ferris says, consider it your “Six pack tax”. Get olive oil and a vinaigrette for salad dressing. Mexican foods are excellent for this diet, just order more beans instead of rice. No soda, no juice, and no rolls (just ask to find out how many calories a single restaurant butter roll has! *its over 300*).

How does this work with P90X?

I am modifying this to fit P90X. As P90X is an extremely intense workout program, requiring a high caloric intake, in order to prevent your body from going into starvation mode (less than 1100 or so calories a day) you need a lot of calories. You’ll need to calculate these based on your level of activity, weight, and resting metabolic rate. P90X has three phases:

  • Fat Shredder
  • Energy Booster
  • Endurance Maximizer

I am focusing on Fat Shredder which is 50% protein, 30% carbs, 20% fat.

The hardest part to obtain is the high protein and fat. I’ll be working on sample Slow Carb diet plans that fit with the ratios above. Keep an eye out on the site for them.

A tip: Calculate calories needed based on the weight you want to be at. In my case, 165 lbs at 10% body fat is my goal. With an activity burn of 20%, my energy amount is 2580 calories per day, which puts me in Level 2. Level 2 is 2,400 calories/day for my nutrition level. This sounds like a good number to start at considering how many calories I burn during P90X.

With the low-glycemic foods and sustained levels of sugar in the blood stream this should hopefully be a good diet for P90X. I'll be testing this over the next few months.

Recommended Suppliments

Get a good vitamin like Activit or P90X Peak Health or better yet, Shakeology.

Get some omega-3’s.

Get a good protein powder if you need extra protein.


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