A Vegan P90X Meal Plan

Tempeh, anyone? Gone are the days when vegans were viewed as anemic, sprout-chewin’ wimps. Athletes like triathlete Brendan Brazier, cyclist Molly Cameron, bodybuilder Robert Cheeke, and track and field Olympian Carl Lewis, just to name a few, have proven to the world that a body can be in top physical form without ingesting animal meat or byproducts.

P90X Vegan Food PlanBut then there’s the P90X Workout. It’s one thing to win three gold and one silver Olympic medals while sustaining yourself on vegetable matter, but what about pulling off Shoulders & Arms or Back & Biceps? How’s that supposed to happen? And Plyometrics! Who could possibly do PlyoX without the aid of animal protein?

The answer? You!

Here’s how.

A few things to consider before you start.

P90X Vegan Nutrition PlanThis article isn’t a complete guide to vegan athleticism. It merely tweaks the P90X Nutrition Plan a little to make it more accessible for those electing to go meat-free. It’ll get you through 90 days, but if you’re looking to make this a lifetime commitment, you’ll want to do your homework. Becoming Vegan by Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina is an excellent all-purpose guide. If you’re an endurance athlete, check out Thrive: The Vegan Nutrition Guide to Optimal Performance in Sports and Life by Brendan Brazier. It can be a little alarmist and supplement heavy, but there’s still useful information within. Lastly, if you’re looking to build mass, read Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness by Robert Cheeke and Julia Abbott.

Second, remember that the P90X phases aren’t set in stone. Without the aid of calorically dense meats and dairy, you’ll be eating a lot of volume to get all the protein required for Phases I and II. If it’s just not working for you, go to Phase III. If you’re concerned about getting the fat-cutting benefits of high-protein nutrition, don’t be. Macronutrients are just a small factor in weight loss. The calorie deficit is the primary factor.

Finally, if you spot-check these diets against online calorie counters, you’ll probably find that the protein, fat, and carb numbers don’t match up perfectly with the typical X balances. That’s fine. Again, the calories are the real concern here. Furthermore, unless you plan on consuming massive quantities of supplements, your diet is probably going to be a little carbohydrate heavy. If they’re good carbs, don’t sweat it. It’s just the nature of the beast, so to speak.

Potential vitamin and mineral deficiencies

P90X Vegan Plan Possible DeficienciesHumans are omnivores, meaning our bodies will survive on just about whatever we shove down our blowers. It also means we thrive better with variety, so when we deliberately kick aside foods we’ve been eating since we started walking on two feet, we need to be smart about it.

The five nutrient deficiencies often associated with the vegan diet are vitamin B12, vitamin D, iron, calcium, and omega-3 fatty acids. The modified Fats portion list below should help with omega-3s.

B12 and D are tricky. It’s hard to find veggie sources, so you’ll probably want to take a good multivitamin, like ActiVit®.

As for iron and calcium, if you keep plenty of variety in your diet, you should be okay, but you’ll want to lean towards the following foods:

Calcium: Leafy greens, almonds, broccoli, oranges, chickpeas, and soy. A salad a day should cover it.

Iron: Spinach, pumpkin seeds, white beans, and lentils

Whole-grain cereals are often fortified with both of these minerals, so check the labels on those as well.

Vegan Recovery Drink recipe

P90X Vegan DrinksMost recovery drinks, including our own P90X Results and Recovery Formula, utilize whey protein because the body absorbs it so quickly. Since whey comes from dairy, we suggest soy protein, or pea and rice protein, in its place. These may not be soaked up as quickly, but they’ll get to where they need to be, so don’t stress. I’ve left hemp protein off this list because it’s typically loaded with fiber, which further slows down absorption.

Just mix 12 ounces of apple or grape juice with the protein powder of your choice. Powders tend to vary in calorie amounts, so do the math. You’ll want approximately 10 to 12 grams of protein to the 45 grams of sugar you’ll find in the juice. You’re shooting for a carb-to-protein ratio of between 3 to 1 and 5 to 1.

The fructose in fruit juice isn’t an ideal sugar for a recovery drink, but it works and it’s about as natural as you can get, which is a priority for many vegans.

The Plan

The P90X Vegan PlanIf you know the existing P90X plan, the serving amount modifications below won’t be too difficult to figure out. We’ve modified a few of the portion lists. Most notably, carbohydrates have been split into two subcategories: legumes and grains. The reason for this is that vegans need to get protein wherever they can find it. Legumes contain half the amino acids essential to humans. Grains contain the other half. Eat both and you get yourself complete protein. Note that you don’t need to eat them at the same time to get the benefit. Any time during the same day is fine.

Phase I:

Level 1
Proteins 5
Fruit 1
Vegetables 2
Fats (omega-3) 1.5
Carb one (legumes) 1
Carb two (grains) 1
Snacks: double (or two singles), Vegan Recovery Drink
Condiments 1

Level 2
Proteins 7
Fruit 1
Vegetables 4
Fats (omega-3) 2
Carb one (legumes) 2
Carb two (grains) 1
Snacks: single, double (or two singles), Vegan Recovery Drink
Condiments 2

Level 3
Proteins 9
Fruit 2
Vegetables 4
Fats (omega-3) 2.5
Carb one (legumes) 2.5
Carb two (grains) 1.5
Snacks: single, double (or two singles), Vegan Recovery Drink
Condiments 2

Phase II:

Level 1
Proteins 4
Fruit 1
Vegetables 3
Fats (omega-3) 1
Carb one (legumes) 1.5
Carb two (grains) 1.5
Snacks: double (or two singles), Vegan Recovery Drink
Condiments 1

Level 2
Proteins 6
Fruit 1
Vegetables 3
Fats (omega-3) 1
Carb one (legumes) 2
Carb two (grains) 2
Snacks: single, double (or two singles), Vegan Recovery Drink
Condiments 2

Level 3
Proteins 7
Fruit 2
Vegetables 3
Fats (omega-3) 2
Carb one (legumes) 2.5
Carb two (grains) 2.5
Snacks: single, double (or two singles), Vegan Recovery Drink
Condiments 4

Phase III:

Level 1
Proteins 2
Fruit 2
Vegetables 2
Fats (omega-3) 1
Carb one (legumes) 2
Carb two (grains) 2
Snacks: double (or two singles), Vegan Recovery Drink
Condiments 1

Level 2
Proteins 3
Fruit 3
Vegetables 3
Fats (omega-3) 1
Carb one (legumes) 2.5
Carb two (grains) 2.5
Snacks: double (or two singles), Vegan Recovery Drink
Condiments 2

Level 3
Proteins 4
Fruit 3
Vegetables 5
Fats (omega-3) 2
Carb one (legumes) 3
Carb two (grains) 3
Snacks: double (or two singles), Vegan Recovery Drink
Condiments 3
Revised Portion Lists

Revised Protein Portion List

Hemp protein powder – 100 calories, depending on brand
Rice and pea protein powder – 100 calories, depending on brand
Seitan – 3 oz.
Soy burger – 1
Soy cheese slices – 5
Tempeh – 2 oz.
Tofu – 3 oz.
Veggie burger – 1
Veggie dog – 1

Revised Carb One (Legumes) List

Baked beans – 1 cup
Beans (kidney, black, etc.) – 1 cup
Hummus – 1 cup
Lentils – 1 cup
Peanuts (raw or home-roasted) – 1 oz.
Refried beans, nonfat – 1 cup

Revised Carb Two (Grains) List

Amaranth – 1 cup
Whole grain bagel, medium – 1
Bran muffin (2.5 oz.) – 1
Whole-grain bread – 2 slices
Whole-grain cereal – 1 cup
Whole-grain couscous – 1 cup
Whole-grain crackers – 12
Whole-grain English muffin – 2 halves
Oatmeal – 1 cup
Pancakes (3.6 ounces) – 3
Whole-grain pasta – 1 cup
Quinoa – 1 cup
Rice, brown or wild – 1 cup
Whole wheat tortilla, large – 1
Whole-grain waffles – 2
Wheat berries – 1 cup

Revised Fat (Omega-3) Portion List

Flaxseed Oil – 1 Tbsp.
Pumpkin Seed Oil – 1 Tbsp.
Walnut Oil – 1 Tbsp.
Canola Oil – 1 Tbsp.
Chia Oil – 1 Tbsp.

Revised Snack List

Single snacks
Dried fruit – 1 oz.
Frozen fruit bar – 1
Fruit – 1 medium piece
Rice cake – 1
Peanut butter (with celery sticks) – 1 Tbsp.
Popcorn, air-popped or light – 3 cups
Soy nuts – 2 oz.
Seaweed – 10 oz.

Double snacks
Bean dip (with 4 oz. chips) – 4 Tbsp.
Hummus (with carrot sticks) – 1 oz.
Pumpkin seeds – 2 oz.
Raw nuts – 1 oz.

One Final Note

Making the choice to go animal-free is a big one. (Almost as big as deciding to commit to P90X!) It takes some serious thought and planning. While we thoroughly tested the menus for the initial P90X Nutrition Plan before release, what you’re reading here is a work in progress. Do we have a test group? Yes. You’re the test group. Please, give the plan a try and tell us what you think. What did we miss? What’s not working for you? If the feedback is constructive and positive enough, we’ll try to weave this vegan plan into future editions of the Guide.

So put your steak knives away, bust out your salad forks, and let’s eat!

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