Fitness on a Budget Part 1: The Poor Man’s (or Woman’s) Precision Nutrition Plan

I have a small, semi-blasphemous announcement to make.

I legitimately bought and paid for Precision Nutrition (version 1.0) last year, but I have no plans to pick up the recently announced, limited availability “upgrade” to version 2.0.

Like many other fitness and nutrition geeks blogging and posting away on the forums and boards of the Internet fitness subculture, I was curious about Precision Nutrition, the nutrition plan to end all nutrition plans, and impressed enough with its author Dr. John Berardi’s articles on his website to justify the $97 price tag for the program. I’ve certainly paid more in the past for college classes, a not-so-hot hair cut and highlight session at a local salon, a single night at a hotel, and yes, nutrition and exercise coaching and plans from other experts. However, I fully realize that spending almost $100 on a nutrition program is a budget-breaker for a lot of folks out there, though, which is why I decided to write this article.

I do not regret picking up the program because I feel that all education is valuable and I simply choose to funnel the money most women spend on cosmetics and clothing into acquiring more knowledge, but I absolutely do not feel that a bulked up individualization guide, some 90% compliance tracking charts, and the addition of actual calorie calculations/estimates (the original PN is rather patchy on how much you are supposed to eat for maintenance, fat loss, and muscle gain) are worth an additional $39.99 on top of what I’ve already paid, especially since I have already created my own free downloadable Excel spreadsheet to figure those things out and plenty of (also free) sites on the web also allow you to plug in your typical activities and workouts to pop out a ballpark estimate of your daily energy expenditure.

To put it bluntly, I think the “upgrades” should have been made available to existing owners of 1.0 as free PDF downloads, particularly since folks ordering the PN program now automatically get the v. 2.0 extra materials without an additional charge.

But let’s get back to exactly why I don’t consider the upgrade a must.

I feel that my genetics are pretty average, and as such I respond pretty well to just about ANY nutrition plan as long as it contains sufficient protein, veggies, fruits, unprocessed starches, and the right amount of calories. Nutrition for the general fitness enthusiast/hobbyist like me who works out for 45-60 minutes 6 days a week and does not train for a sport is, well, not even close to rocket science.

Maybe it’s a byproduct of the modern Western touchy-feely “everyone is special” attitude, but I think people have a tendency to think that they are each custom-built, one-of-a-kind sports cars with a slew of special fuel intake needs when in fact, 99% of us are just run-of-the-mill Toyota Camrys that run perfectly well on the cheapest unleaded gasoline and regular oil changes every 3 months.

I love the Gourmet Nutrition cookbook and would definitely recommend getting the PDF download of it (no shipping there, at least. 😀 ). Besides the recipes, there are also quite a few good tips on how to speed up food preparation.

As for the rest of the system…one of the members of a women’s fitness forum I run asked about PN a while back and I compiled a list of links to Dr. Berardi’s articles on his site that more or less cover the basics of PN as well as how to tailor it for yourself. Between those free articles, Dr. Mohr’s nutrition guidelines for TT (which are already VERY close to the nuts and bolts of PN), Gourmet Nutrition, and the two free PN PDF downloads that I also linked in my response–Gourmet Nutrition Desserts and Precision Nutrition Strategies–you can probably piece together the majority of the program on your own. If you are still hungry for more knowledge after reading those articles, then by all means pick up the full program, but I don’t consider it a necessity if you are already pretty well-read on sports/bodybuilding nutrition and don’t need someone to hold your hand through bulk food preparation.

And now, my list of Berardi articles for you to print out and compile to make your very own Poor Man’s Precision Nutrition Guide:

Useful FREE resources from non-PN sources:

Pick up the PDF copy of the Gourmet Nutrition cookbook, and you’ve pretty much got the PN system for 1/3 the price, sans the audio CDs (which just reiterate the 7 habits and some cooking tips from Gourmet Nutrition) and the DVDs that explain things to true newbies.

Unless you really, really want to have access to the forums at to ask questions or access the bonus workouts, I don’t think the full program is required to design your own PN-based nutrition plan if you have a pretty good understanding of healthy nutrition already and are comfortable with preparing your own meals. Just use my (free!) Fat Loss Spreadsheet to calculate your caloric intake needs for both maintenance and fat loss, consistently and diligently apply the 7 habits, post-workout nutrition, and tailoring techniques covered in his articles above, pair the nutrition plan up with a good workout regimen that includes both resistance training and cardio/intervals (Body for Life, Turbulence Training, Leanness Lifestyle, etc.) and voila! You’re doing PN!

And if you STILL can’t shake the hankering for the “real” Precision Nutrition v. 2.0 program after taking a swipe at it yourself using the wealth of free resources on Dr. Berardi’s site, I’m not going to try to talk you out of it. Just realize that after reading through the articles above, the official PN binder is a most definitely a want, not a need, and make your spending decision accordingly.

Fitness on a Budget Series:

9 thoughts on “Fitness on a Budget Part 1: The Poor Man’s (or Woman’s) Precision Nutrition Plan

  1. Awesome compilation of sources Maggie! i’m gonna recommend my friends to this post when they are interested in PN…

    ~ Vilma

  2. I got suckered into the upgrade and ended up returning it. I agree with you, there just isn’t enough there to justify the added cost after paying for the first version. What gets to me is that they do delete negative posts to the part of the forum where they’ve asked for comments on the upgrade. The posts weren’t rantings, but basically said the same thing you did. I wasn’t the only one whose post was deleted and I did see the other deleted posts. Those postings weren’t out of line, but pointed out that it wasn’t really worth it to get the upgrade if you owned the original. Poof, gone, without a trace or explanation. When asked, the PN staff claimed to not know anything about it. Left a bad taste in my mouth.

    I still think it’s a good program though.

  3. Samantha – Ouch. I’m almost sorry to hear my suspicions about the skimpiness of the “upgrade” materials confirmed. I do think PN is a good program (and certainly cheaper than the $200 I paid for Swolegenix, which is nearly identical in its nutrition protocols)…I just don’t think that 1st edition owners should have to pay another 40% of the original cost to get the same thing that late adopters are getting for free.


  4. Thanks Maggie, for putting all those helpful links in one place. That was a great review of PN as well. I too was suckered into the “upgrade” and was sorely disappointed. Fortunately they were smart enough to refund my money when I said “thanks, but seriously, no thanks”.

  5. I’d like to know what you think of Mike Rousell’s “Naked Nutrition” guide. There are times when this program looks like a better, cheaper version of Berardi’s work, and then some things Rousell says just strike me as “snake oil salesman” just trying to bilk the average consumer out of cash. I’m half suspecting he’s trying to gain credibility riding with Alwyn Cosgrove on this project, but just because a good name lends his credibility, doesn’t mean a product is necessarily good.

    He was talking about on his newest blog ( think that’s the address) about how a guy lost nearly 18 pounds of pure fat in 3 weeks, and I called him on that. From what I understand, you lose 3 pounds in a week, chances are high (according to the ACSM) that the person is losing LBM. When I saw how he was pushing this, it set off all my “this is not a solid program” bells and whistles.

    Can you take a look at this program and give your opinion of it, please?

  6. Even though this is the first time ever to visit your site, with a comment like “Maybe it’s a byproduct of the modern Western touchy-feely “everyone is special” attitude, but I think people have a tendency to think that they are each custom-built, one-of-a-kind sports cars with a slew of special fuel intake needs when in fact, 99% of us are just run-of-the-mill Toyota Camrys that run perfectly well on the cheapest unleaded gasoline and regular oil changes every 3 months.”, I think I may have just falled in love with you (ok, just kidding – but it sure warmed my heart).

  7. Maggie,
    Thanks for your website, you rock!! I have read a lot of valuable health, fitness and nutrition tips from your site. You’ve put a lot of time into this. What the heck do you do for a living? Again Thanks!!

    U.S. Army in Germany

  8. Hey all-
    I just got the P90x and it WILL kick your butt! I\’ve had the chin up bar since DEC and it took me over 2 months to be able to do a chin up! It\’s hard work, but if you\’re into it, it\’s awesome.
    If you like high energy workouts that are actually mixed up and not boring, then this is for you. The calendar available here is a huge blessing. Sometimes we lose our stuff!
    If you are willing to put in the work, you will get results. I just did the PLYO and whoa nelly… I\’m sure I won\’t be walking tomorrow!! Remember, working out is a lifestyle change for many, so it takes commitment. I hope I can commit long term! I\’ve been faithful with my bar, just got bored with not knowing other routines. Now I have the video and I can work out with Tony and company. It\’s worth your money IF you do it!!!

  9. Thank you Maggie for all the helpful links and downloads!! I have a mischievous puppy who got a hold of my calenders, so your PDF downloads are saving me some trouble. Its nice to find someone that is genuine about helping people. Thank you for the time you put into this, I appreciate it 🙂

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