Main | Program Overview | Nutrition & Supps | One Rep Max | Taper Week | Get Started
The PH3 program is very demanding. Nutrition and supplementation will be crucial for proper recovery and optimal results. That's what this trainer is all about: results. Keep that in mind, and you're on the right track.
First things first: You'll need to know your weight and body-fat percentage in order to calculate your calories and macronutrients. So if you haven't measured both of them recently, go step on the scale and get pinched right away.
As an advanced lifter, you can expect muscle gain to be slow on this and pretty much any other training plan. To add lean mass, you're going to need a caloric surplus and sufficient protein as well as a proper amount of carbohydrates and fat. But you also have to temper that and make sure your calories don't get too high, causing you to gain excessive fat. That requires you to walk a very fine line of caloric intake, so tracking your macronutrient intake is going to be critical.
Here's how you'll do that over the next 13 weeks.
Layne Norton's Ph3 Trainer Nutrition and Supplementation
Watch the video - 10:30
All the Info You Need, None You Don't
I'm not the type of coach who is going to give you an approved foods list. Sorry, that's just not me. You can call my approach flexible eating, IIFYM, or whatever else you want, but just realize on the front end that I'm not going to hold your hand. I'm just going to give you the numbers, and what you do with them is up to you.
I'm providing you with four levels of calorie intake depending on your specific goals. I'll also provide a range of examples of how they play out, so you don't have to sit there doing math for the next week. The four levels of calories are:
- Lean muscle gain: You're OK with gaining muscle a little more slowly
- Medium muscle gain: Slightly more muscle, still very little fat
- Fast muscle gain: More muscle, slightly more fat
- Extreme muscle gain: You want to gain muscle quickly and are OK with some body fat
So how do you determine which one is right for you? Just as the PH3 training program is based around your one-rep max, the PH3 nutrition program is based around your basal metabolic rate (BMR). This is essentially the amount of calories it takes to maintain your weight when you're at rest. If you know your basal metabolic rate, your general activity level, and how fast you want to gain, it's easy to determine how many calories you'll need to reach that goal.
Wondering which activity level to choose in the calculator below? It depends on what an average day looks like for you. Here are some options:
- Sedentary: You sit at a desk all day and move very little.
- Moderate: You don't really do intense work, but are on your feet walking around a few hours a day. (This is most of us.)
- Intense activity level: You have a serious manual labor job and are on your feet or exerting yourself almost constantly.
The number that results is your maintenance calories. Once you've got that number, it's time to customize it for your goals. Here's how those look:
- Lean muscle gain: Maintenance plus 5%
- Medium muscle gain: Maintenance plus 10%
- Fast muscle gain: Maintenance plus 15%
- Extreme muscle gain: Maintenance plus 20%
Now let's talk about how these calories translate into the macronutrients of protein, fats, and carbohydrates.
For protein, I recommend anywhere between 1.0 and 1.3 grams per pound of lean body mass—not body weight. The calculator below sets it at 1.3 grams, which is what I recommend for this program. Protein is the macronutrient that is the easiest to determine, and it's going to be relatively stable for various body weights and body-fat percentages.
For fats and carbs, there's quite a bit of play, depending on how fast your metabolism is and how well you tolerate carbohydrates. Those two macronutrients operate in a push-pull relation, where one simply has to go down when the other goes up, and vice versa.
If you're somebody who has a really high carb tolerance—in other words, you can eat a lot of carbs and still have a good energy level and you don't tend to gain a lot of body fat—then I recommend setting fats at around 0.3-0.45 grams per pound of body weight (not lean body mass, as you did with protein). If you're someone who's kind of in the middle, and you tolerate a modest amount of carbs pretty well, I would recommend setting fat at 0.45-0.6 grams per pound of body weight. And if you're somebody who knows that if you eat carbs, your energy levels dip and you gain body fat, then I would go a little bit higher on the fat intake, like 0.6-0.75 g per pound.
Now that you've determined your protein intake and your fat intake, the rest of your calories will come from carbs. If you have a higher fat intake, your carbs are going to be lower. If you have a lower fat intake, your carbs are going to be higher.
What Will My Macros Be, and What Should I Eat?
Short of a personal consultation, it's impossible for me to tell you how to construct your plate. I've done all I can with this calculator, but there's a lot that will be left up to you. I'm confident that, as an advanced lifter, you're up to the task. Most importantly, I want you to eat foods you love in ranges that feel right to you.
A couple of notes about the calculator:
- I calculate BMR by multiplying lean body mass (LBM) by 14. Then, to determine maintenance, I multiply that by 1.1 for sedentary, 1.3 for moderate (which is most of us), and 1.5 for intense.
- I've put protein intake at 1.3 grams per pound of lean body mass, which I think is the ideal intake for the intense training of PH3. If you need less or more, you can recalculate yourself using my breakdown above.
- The low-fat/high-carb setting is 0.3 g of fat per pound of body weight; moderate is 0.5 grams per pound; and high fat/low carb is 0.75 grams per pound. If your preferred ratio is somewhere between those, it's easy to redo the calculations on your own.
For comparison's sake, here are a few examples of how this plays out for men and women of different body weights:
185-lb. male, body fat 10%, moderate activity, moderate fats/carbs
|Lean muscle gain||3182||216 g||93 g||370 g|
|Extreme muscle gain||3636||216 g||93 g||484 g|
185-lb. male, body fat 15%, moderate activity, moderate fats/carbs
|Lean muscle gain||3434||216 g||93 g||338 g|
|Extreme muscle gain||3434||204 g||93 g||445 g|
185-lb. male, body fat 20%, moderate activity, moderate fats/carbs
|Lean muscle gain||2828||192 g||93 g||306 g|
|Extreme muscle gain||3232||192 g||93 g||407 g|
215-lb. male, body fat 15%, moderate activity, moderate fats/carbs
|Lean muscle gain||3492||238 g||108 g||392 g|
|Extreme muscle gain||3991||238 g||108 g||517 g|
215-lb. male, body fat 20%, moderate activity, moderate fats/carbs
|Lean muscle gain||3287||224 g||108 g||355 g|
|Extreme muscle gain||3756||224 g||108 g||472 g|
215-lb. male, body fat 25%, moderate activity, moderate fats/carbs
|Lean muscle gain||3081||210 g||108 g||317 g|
|Extreme muscle gain||3522||210 g||108 g||428 g|
150-lb. woman, body fat 15%, moderate activity, moderate fats/carbs
|Lean muscle gain||2437||166 g||75 g||275 g|
|Extreme muscle gain||2785||166 g||75 g||362 g|
150-lb. woman, body fat 20%, moderate activity, moderate fats/carbs
|Lean muscle gain||2293||156 g||75 g||249 g|
|Extreme muscle gain||2621||156 g||75 g||331 g|
150-lb. woman, body fat 25%, moderate activity, moderate fats/carbs
|Lean muscle gain||2150||146 g||75 g||223 g|
|Extreme muscle gain||2457||146 g||75 g||300 g|
It's extremely important to be consistent with your nutrition on this plan. And to track your macronutrients, you're going to need to weigh out foods. I recommend getting a good electronic food scale.
Nutrition Frequently Asked Questions
How accurate do I need to be?
This is the question I hear most frequently. Listen, you're never going to be 100 percent dead-on with either calories or macronutrients. That's just not going to happen. In fact, there's a 10-20 percent error even on food labels. So what's the solution? Focus on consistency as much as accuracy, and it'll all come out in the wash. If you're getting within 5-10 grams of each macronutrient each day, that's good enough.
Should I measure foods cooked or raw?
Typically, the values listed on a package are for raw, so that's the easiest way to calculate. But you should know both values when possible. For example, if you're dealing with meats, they'll usually lose a quarter of their weight when they're cooked to something like a medium level. So, if you want to get 25 grams of protein, and a chicken breast says that 4 ounces raw contains 25 grams, that would equate to approximately 3 ounces cooked. This can be especially helpful when you're buying cooked food or eating out.
How do I measure fats?
Fats can be hard to measure, particularly liquid fats like olive oil. My method: Put your empty container on the scale, weigh it, tare it so it goes back to zero, and then weigh out your fat source in the container.
How often should I eat?
Meal frequency is a pretty hot topic. The science indicates that when it comes to gaining or losing fat, meal frequency really doesn't matter all that much. However, for optimizing muscle mass and gaining muscle, it does seem that eating multiple protein-rich meals per day is probably your best bet. I recommend anywhere from 3-6 meals per day, but if you press me, I'll admit that I prefer 4-5. Some literature says eating too frequently is bad for anabolism, while other research claims that eating too seldom is bad for anabolism. Aiming for 4-5 meals per day is the sweet spot, in my experience.
Should I time my carb intake?
Yes! I typically recommend anywhere from 25-35 percent of your daily carb intake pre-workout and post-workout.
On the PH3 program, there will be nine supplements to take. That may sound like a lot, but you can find many of these grouped in pre- and post-workout mixes like those in my newly released Carbon line. I've listed them in order of importance, but each one plays a crucial role in this trainer.
Whey protein 25-35 g at a time
I recommend whey protein whenever you need a high-quality protein source. You can also take it post-workout to enhance your recovery.
Creatine monohydrate 3-5 g daily
There's probably no supplement that's been tested more than creatine monohydrate, and it's stood the test of time in terms of increasing strength and muscle mass.
Branched-chain amino acids 4 g between meals 3-4 times per day, and 5-6 g post-workout
BCAAs increase muscle protein synthesis more than any other amino acids. They're also helpful for decreasing muscle soreness and improving your recovery from a workout.
Betaine 2.5 g pre-workout
This is a relatively new supplement, but the existing studies indicate it may be beneficial for increasing power output, workout performance, and possibly lean body mass.
Citrulline malate 6-8 g with your pre-workout meal
Citrulline is great for fatigue resistance, and there's some evidence that it can enhance muscle protein synthesis as well.
Carnitine L-tartrate 1 g pre-workout and 1 g post-workout
This is the specific form of carnitine I recommend, because it's the form that's been used in studies where they've shown increased androgen receptor density in muscle cells, and also increased workout performance and recovery. Improving androgen receptor density means that the testosterone that's in your blood can have a better effect on your muscle, even if the amount of testosterone doesn't necessarily increase.
Fish oil 1 g of EPA post-workout, 1 g at another point in the day
There are a lot of different types of fish oil out there. I recommend getting a fish-oil product that has the highest possible concentration of EPA and DHA you can find. If you get those two in a high enough dose, there's evidence that fish oil can enhance the anabolic effects of amino acids. EPA is the active component we're getting the most benefits from, so that's what I use to calculate dosage.
Huperzine 200 mcg 1 hour pre-workout
I love my pre-workout. However, I don't always want to take a pre-workout with caffeine. So if you want something that still helps you focus and improve your performance, I recommend a cognitive enhancer like huperzine. This is something you can take before a workout or before you study, and it's going to give you more focus and hopefully lead to more productive workouts.
Multivitamin 1 serving taken at the same meal every day
This isn't something to use as a crutch, but rather just to make sure you fill in any nutritional gaps that you might have missed.
As I mentioned, there are products out there that contain several of these ingredients. I think those are fine to use as long as you're getting a sufficient dose of each of them. For the products you can't find in multi-ingredient formulas, I would recommend buying a single ingredient and adding that in.
Nutrition to Grow On
You've got your macros and your stack dialed in. You know what the program will look like. Now there's only one thing left to do before you start PH3: Go to the 1RM tutorial and determine your one-rep max to start the program.
In the meantime, bookmark this page, and make sure to come back each week and update your progress. Share it on social media with the hashtag #PH3, and tag myself and Bodybuilding.com to let us know how you're doing.
Push the limits of your muscles. Outlift your mind. Aim to be superhuman with PH3.