Many of our readers have been asking for a Precision Nutrition review. In January, Dr. Berardi released Version 3 (V3), and we finally had a chance to sit down and review the updated materials. Here is the official Live Well 360 review of the updated program.
Program: Precision Nutrition System V3
Author: Dr. John M. Berardi, PH.D.
Purpose: To build healthy, lean, high-performance physiques in record time.
Cost: Currently $99
Background on the Author
Dr. John Berardi is Co-Founder of Precision Nutrition and acts as Chief Scientific Officer. Snazzy titles aside, Dr. Berardi received his Masters in Exercise Physiology from Eastern Michigan University (fun fact: Sheila also graduated from EMU) and his Doctorate in Kinesiology from the University of Western Ontario. Dr. Berardi has consulted with and coached individuals from all walks of life including college, professional and Olympic athletes, including but not limited to the Toronto Maple Leafs, UFC Fighters, and Canadian Olympic Ski Teams.
Note: The Precision Nutrition (PN) System is not an e-book. It is a print product that contains two parts:
- The Precision Nutrition System binder, containing all ten guides, separated by tabs so you can quickly flip from section to section.
- The Gourmet Nutrition Cookbook, Volume 1, in a spiral-bound format, convenient for laying flat on your kitchen counter.
What is the main difference between Version 2 and 3?
V3 has been re-written, re-edited and re-designed from the ground up. Every section has been improved, and three new ones have been added, including:
- The Plant-Based Diet Guide: To address the needs of vegetarians.
- The Maintenance Guide: Explains exactly how to maintain the changes you have made over the long term and keep the body you have worked so hard for.
- The Support Guide: Shows you how to use the support tools around you, including the Precision Nutrition Member Zone forum and network of professionals.
Other changes include:
- Revisions to existing guides, in particular the Diet Guide, Individualization Guide, and Measurement Guide to provide more step-by-step instructions suited to your level of expertise, from beginner to professional.
- Expanded Online Library, with downloadable guides, nutrition plans, research articles, and training programs.
- Weekly “All About” articles for members only, covering topics like protein, caffeine, and more.
- Extensive improvements to the Member Zone, the online support community, including a dedicated team of coaches and expert volunteers available around the clock to point you in the right direction.
These guides and improvements are in addition to the following:
- Success Guide: An overview of the program that present 10 success strategies guaranteed to help you stick with the plan.
- Diet Guide: Covers everything from food selection to meal timing, organized in order of importance.
- Quick Start Guide: The 45 minute Precision Nutrition overview, to get you started – NOW.
- Individualized Guide: A step-by-step guide, teaching you how to customize your diet to fit your specific needs and goals.
- Super Shake Guide: Shows you have to make high quality (and super tasty) “meal replacement” shakes customized to your body type and goals.
- 5-Minute Meals: The title says it all. A list of dozens of Precision Nutrition approved meal recipes that can be made in under five minutes.
- Measurement Guide: The how-to on assessing your performance and progress, from body measurements to blood work.
For a more detailed explanation of each guide (along with pictures of each manual), click here.
In the introduction to the binder, Dr. Berardi starts out by stating, “This is not another diet book.” He goes on to explain that this is a system that utilizes the guidebooks, cookbook, and membership in the Members Zone (Precision Nutrition forum) to help each person achieve their individual body composition goals. The four main areas that the program focuses on are:
- Goal Setting
- Keeping Track
In this section, Dr. Berardi talks about setting real, measurable goals and not pie in the sky goals. I agree with him and feel that grounding goals in reality is hugely important.
The topic of goal setting is covered well, but not over done. You get the right amount of detail on how to set goals and, later in the book, how to measure and track those goals. While I do believe that setting goals is crucial, the action taken toward those goals is really the factor that determines success on any diet program. So I like that this is not the main focus of the program.
The Actual Diet
This is without a doubt the biggest chuck of the book, and for good reason.
The Precision Nutrition approach takes into account three variables relating to food intake: what, when, and how much to eat. Dr. Berardi believes that what, when, and how much play a very important role in overall health and well-being, in addition to weight loss and body composition.
He goes on to lay out 10 eating habits that fall directly in line with his what, when and how much approach. To make this process easier, the program offers a general outline showing what foods to eat, when to eat them (after a workout, before a workout, etc.) and the quantities you should be eating. This part can be a bit overwhelming with the plethora of tables, although it is easy information to grasp.
One of my favorite parts of the Precision Nutrition system are the recipes and meal plan templates. These two tie together nicely. The meal plan templates tell you which which meal category (breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack) to pull from and which time of day (anytime, post workout, etc), making it easy for those that are new to dieting to keep things simple and easy.
Controversy Alert: Here is where we get to the never ending debate – to count calories or not count calories. Dr. Berardi is from the school of thought that says not to count calories, as long as you stick to the recipes and the templates.
There a good handful of recipes to get started with in the binder and in the accompanying Gourmet Nutrition cookbook (spiral bound version). If you are looking to widen your recipe horizon Dr. Berardi also offers Gourmet Nutrition as a stand alone cookbook, that is different from the spiral bound version that comes with the Precision Nutrition System. It is more of a traditional cookbook, with really cool professional foodie pics. The spiral bound version that comes with the PN System is done in black and white, and is more of in informational tool (meaning less pretty pictures). A bit confusing I know. I kinda wish they would have named them differently to keep the difference clear. I will say that I have enjoyed many of the recipes from Gourmet Nutrition cookbook (some posted here on the site) and have reviewed the stand alone cookbook here.
Moving on… Dr. Berardi is also an advocate of bulk and batch cooking, as well as, using leftovers to your advantage. He advises on those sneaky calories that most of us don’t account for or realize are hiding in our foods (adding up fast), such as cooking oils and dressings/sauces. This is a bit confusing, since as mentioned above, he isn’t a proponent of counting calories.
This gets into my one big point of contention: The recipes included are based on a physically active 185 pound male (as stated within the materials), and since Dr. Berardi does not have people tracking calories, things could get out of control on a person easily, if you are say a 145 pound female. In order to lose fat, this 145 pound female cannot eat the same amount of food as an 185 pound male. This is why the Individualization Guide is essential in order to achieve your own personal body goals.
My second favorite part of this book is the “What To Throw Away” section of the Getting Started chapter. Dr. Berardi goes through your fridge with you and advises you of the hidden junk that needs to leave your house to help you stay on course. Now that your fridge is pretty much empty, Dr. Berardi follows up by advising you on what to fill your fridge with and gives a sample grocery list comprised of all of the healthy foods that were laid out in the Diet Guide chapter. There is even a section giving a step-by-step on how to prepare meals at night for the following day, this goes back the bulk/batch cooking method.
Dr. Berardi also talks about how to keep your sanity and helps a person understand that although they may not be seeing drastic changes in the short term, as long as they are following the Precision Nutrition System there are changes happening inside the body and will be visible in the mirror in time. I like that the program helps a person to understand what reasonable progress is, understanding that the body will slow down as progress is made. The body is dynamic and always adapting to a persons needs at the time. It will fight your progress, this is normal and something to get discouraged about, it is part of the process.
Precision Nutrition has a built in support mechanism via the Member Zone (Precision Nutrition forum), which you become a member of when purchasing the system. The forum is designed to help in a multitude of areas including accountability, questions and answers, a community of like minded people striving towards the same goal, along with other additional resources.
The final chapter is dedicated to the measurement and tracking of your progression. Included with the Precision Nutrition book we also received a set of skinfold calipers to measure body fat percentage. This final chapter goes through everything from how to properly weigh yourself to how properly measure yourself and even taking pictures. The purpose here is for accountability and tracking.
My opinion is that this is a good solid guide to help people to lose weight. There were a couple short sections that got overly scientific for my taste, but overall the book is an easy read and easy to follow. Everything is laid out in step-by-step process and there are many tips for every day living that will surely help people through the initial overwhelming feelings and struggles to get onto a healthier path.
In general, I think that this is a good program for the person who can’t count calories. At first thought, that seems like an ignorant statement, because of course everyone can count calories. However, I do believe some people experience a debilitating effect from counting calories. Their mindset can go to somewhat of an obsessive place, which isn’t healthy. This is why, in some situations, I think a different, less “controlling” mindset is necessary. The perfect place for a “non-calorie counting” program. I will follow that statement up with the notion that not all “non-calorie counting” programs are the same, and there are definitely many that I do not agree with.
Yes, I know that some will disagree with me, but I say take it for what it is. Do what works for you. If the calorie counting approach works for you, then have at it. If not, then the Precision Nutrition System might be an alternative. Or, you can always create a combo/hybrid version, using the program but still counting calories. I am not really saying a calorie isn’t a calorie, my point is more so focused on mindset than on this never-ending debate.
I also really like that the Maintenance Guide is now included as this is a hugely overlooked and under addressed aspect of many fat loss programs.
Lastly, I believe that the 100% guaranteed is worth its weight in gold (figuratively). Try the program for 45 days, and if it doesn’t work for you, Precision Nutrition will not only give your money back, but will also buy you another diet book of your choosing from Amazon.com.
In closing, if you are serious about fat loss, and this program sounds like a good fit for you, with a money back guarantee like that, you have nothing to lose.
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