Monday, October 5, 2009

Beachbody: Helping You Lose Weight (From Your Wallet)

To achieve "optimal conditioning," the P90X Fitness Guide recommends purchasing a crapload of "official" P90X/Beachbody-branded equipment and supplements, including:
If you buy all of the above (and order enough of the supplements to last the entire 90 days), you'll end up shelling out almost A THOUSAND DOLLARS -- and that doesn't even include stuff you actually need, like the P90X DVDs themselves and a set of dumbbells or elastic resistance bands.  Beachbody and its nutrition guru, Mark Sisson (who resembles a grown-up version of one of the freaky-looking kids from "Village of the Damned") may have developed the best damned supplements known to man, but we're still in a recession, people. I can think of much better ways to drop a grand.

Still, if you're dead set on replicating the full P90X experience (without breaking the bank), here's what I recommend:

Pull-Up Bar

Forget about the P90X Chin-Up Bar, and get yourself a rafter-mounted pull-up bar ($50) or the Iron Gym Total Upper Body Workout Bar ($40) instead.  The rafter-mounted bar is fantastic if you're working out in your basement or garage; otherwise, buy the removable, door-mounted Iron Gym bar -- it's virtually identical to the P90X-branded version, but sells for almost half the price.

Push-Up Stands

Push-up stands aren't absolutely necessary unless you have serious wrist issues (in which case you probably shouldn't be doing P90X anyway), but if you want a basic set, you can get them for about $12.  The PowerStands are for wealthy Tony cultists only.  (But even Tony himself doesn't use PowerStands in the P90X videos; he uses regular, no-frills push-up stands.)

P90X Peak Health Formula

The P90X Peak Health Formula is basically just another daily multivitamin, but costs TEN TIMES AS MUCH per serving.  Try Costco's 100-pack box instead, which sells for $16.49.

The P90X Recovery Drink

As for the much-heralded P90X Results & Recovery Formula (a.k.a. the "P90X Recovery Drink"), you can just swap it out for a glass of chocolate milk.  Researchers have found that chocolate milk's a perfect post-workout recovery drink; as one article put it:
Believe it or not, 1% low-fat chocolate milk is one of the best recovery foods out there according to the results of a small, randomized trial reported in the February issue of the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism. “Our study indicates that chocolate milk is a strong alternative to other commercial sports drinks in helping athletes recover from strenuous, energy-depleting exercise," coauthor Joel M. Stager, PhD, from Indiana University in Bloomington, said in a news release. "Chocolate milk contains an optimal carbohydrate to protein ratio, which is critical for helping refuel tired muscles after strenuous exercise and can enable athletes to exercise at a high intensity during subsequent workouts."
If you compare the P90X Recovery Drink's nutrition label with that of skim chocolate milk, the latter actually has fewer calories (170 versus 220), less fat (0 grams versus 2 grams), fewer carbs (29 grams versus 39 grams), and about the same amount of protein (11 grams versus 10 grams).  Although the P90X Recovery Drink adds a boost of Vitamins C and E, it's not really necessary if you're already downing a daily multivitamin. The Recovery Drink is also spiked with a bit of creatine, L-glutamine and L-argenine, but you can buy these supplements separately -- and a lot more cheaply -- at a health food or vitamin store like GNC.  And while I've seen reviews touting the tastiness of the Recovery Drink, chocolate milk is both delicious AND cheap.

P90X Protein Bars

Clif Builder's Bars offer virtually the same nutrition as the P90X Protein Bars (260 cal., 7g fat, 31g carbs, 20g protein).  And if you buy a box of 12 Clif Builder's Bars for $17 from Amazon rather than buying the P90X variety from Beachbody, you'll save $1 per bar.  The savings add up quickly over a period of 90 days.

Beachbody Strength & Muscle Men's Formula

The "Strength & Muscle Men's Formula" is just creatine and artificial flavoring mixed with some carbs (in the form of dextrose) to spike your body's insulin and drive the creatine to your muscles.  For a much cheaper alternative, pick up some pure creatine monohydrate powder (Vitamin Shoppe sells a 181-serving container for $20) and some grape juice.  Better yet, just mix a scoop of creatine powder into your post-workout chocolate milk.

Beachbody's Whey Protein

You can buy whey protein powder just about anywhere (Sam's Club, Safeway, Costco, Wal-Mart, etc.), and for a lot cheaper than $47 for a one-pound package.  GNC sells a pound of 100% whey protein powder for $16 -- ONE THIRD of Beachbody's price.  You can add whey protein powder to your chocolate milk, too.

Beachbody's Joint Support Super Formula

The main ingredients in Beachbody's Joint Support Super Formula are glucosamine and methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), which work together to form the building blocks of collagen.  Costco's version costs $17 for 180+ servings.  The same amount of Beachbody's product will set you back $228.

Frankly, none of the above items are essential for completing P90X (though taking a daily multivitamin's always a good idea, with or without P90X).  But if you're intent on going all-out, consider some alternatives before you take out a second mortgage to fund your Beachbody purchases.

*These prices include shipping & handling charges as listed on Beachbody's website.