I have a small, semi-blasphemous announcement to make.
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:
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Nutritional Programs
- Advanced Workout Nutrition
- Berardi’s Kitchen – Part I
- Post Workout Nutrition For Girls
- The Science of Nutrient Timing – Part I
- The Science of Nutrient Timing – Part II
- Tailor Made Nutrition Part 1
- Tailor Made Nutrition Part 2
- Tailor Made Nutrition Part 3
- Beyond Oatmeal, Part 1 – Protein and Carb Meals
- Beyond Oatmeal, Part 2 – Protein and Fat Meals
- Precision Nutrition Strategies
- Gourmet Nutrition Desserts
Useful FREE resources from non-PN sources:
- My 90% Compliance Chart (Printable PDF format)
- My Fat Loss Spreadsheet (To calculate calories needed for maintenance, muscle gain or fat loss
- Hussman’s BMR/Calorie Target Estimator (A quick web-based applet that gives more aggressive calorie targets for fat loss–useful if your exercise program is a lower volume one)
- My 90% Compliance Chart (MS Excel spreadsheet version with automatic calculation of your compliance percentage)
- Body Composition for Beginners (A great guide on how to measure your own body fat with calipers)
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 PrecisionNutrition.com 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: