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How Many Calories Per Workout with P90X for Burning Fat & Building Muscle?

Question: I have just recently purchased the P90X program and love it!

I do have a question though, I’m a runner and usually run 22 to 37 miles a week depending on the weather.

I would like to know how many food calories I should have each day to properly support me since I burn a lot of calories per workout doing both running and the P90X program?

According to the program I’m in the 1800 calorie burn range, but I know calories for a runner combined with workout calories are probably more. I want to get the results from Tony Horton P90X workout program but I also need the energy for my runs, especially on Saturday when I need to sustain my energy and have the correct food calories for a 15 to 20 mile run.

I would appreciate any suggestions or guidelines the Tony’s Horton’s diet plan might have.

Balancing Burn Calories with Fitness Needs

Carol Bardelli, Beachbody Coach: You didn’t give specifics about your height, weight, age, or goals, which are essential to any individualized nutritional advice. You’re on Power 90X and running, so I assume your goals include achieving extreme fitness. You’ll likely want to build muscle and burn body fat. As a veteran P90Xer, I know this is possible.

The Power 90X nutrition guidelines state calorie intake is not an exact science. You’ll have to adjust your food calories up or down to fuel your body and achieve you’re specific goals. Experiment to find your nutritional “sweet spot.”

Monitor your body fat and muscle mass. If you don’t see improvements you can adjust your calorie intake to encourage fat loss. Cut 100 to 200 calories per day and see if your results improve. As a rule, no one should go below 1800 calories on Power 90X. The nutrition guide suggests adding additional calories as you progress to support muscle growth. Your body’s energy demands increase in the latter stages of the program.

Calories for Marathoners

RunningTufts university did a study on normal and overweight marathoners. This study revealed how little energy they expended during a run.

If a 150 pound person runs at 5 MPH for 90 minutes they burn an average of 850 calories. It’s very easy to offset this deficit with a snack. A protein bar and energy drink (a snack averaging 500-700 calories depending on brands) can counter your efforts. Add an extra piece of whole wheat toast with breakfast and you’ve canceled out any calorie deficit from the run. If you’re running with burning calories (and body fat) as you’re goal, choose your snacks carefully.

Optimal Workout Calories Fueled with Protein, Carbohydrates, and Fats

I did Power 90X Doubles two years ago (one hour of P90X and one hour of aerobics every day). This is similar to your situation. The Tony Horton P90X Nutrition guide advises you should fuel your workouts with a combination of protein, carbohydrates, and fats. Your pre-run snack should include a carbohydrate that digests fast. Many runners rely on a pre-run snack of mostly carbs. Others prefer a mix of protein, carbs, and fat.

pic-peanutbutter-wholewheatAbout an hour to three hours before you run, eat a light snack of 150 to 300 calories, depending on your height and weight. Good sources of fast burning carbs include fruit, whole grain bread, cereal, or energy gel. A classic runners pre-run snack is peanut butter and whole fruit on whole wheat bread.

How Much Fat?

A common issue among runners and resistance trainers is a habit to cut too much fat out of their diets. Researchers studied two dozen male and female runners who ran an average of 42 miles per week. The goal was to study the runners’ endurance on different amounts of dietary fat.

The group alternated diets, starting with a low fat diet of 16% fat. After four weeks the runners switched to an average diet of 30% fat. Then they increased fat intake to 44%. All diets had the same number of calories. The endurance of the runners while on the lowest fat diets reduced. And their levels of essential fatty acids and nutrients like zinc were too low.

Healthy Fat in an AvocadoThe authors of the study concluded that a diet too low in fat compromises health and athletic performance. Make sure your diet is balanced, and you eat adequate amounts of healthy fats from foods like nuts, fish, avocados, and healthy oils like flax, walnut, and olive oils.

All of these foods are allowed on the Power 90X nutrition plan.

Best of luck with your goals!

About carol_bardelli

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  1. I’ve been doing the Power 90 Sculpt 3-4 circuit for several years now and really like it, but I’m wondering how many calories one burns while completing it?

  2. The answer to calories burned for any activity is different for everyone because actual calories burned is based on many factors including weight, height, age, sex and muscle mass versus fat mass. A pound of muscle burns 35 to 50 calories per day versus a pound of fat burning about 5 calories per day. The more muscle you have the more calories you’ll burn. Exercise intensity plays a large role as well. One person may workout hard and burn more calories, while another may take it easy and burn relatively few calories.

    To come to an approximation of calories burned in any activity you need to factor in all of these variables. The common tables on calories burned per activity are generalizations usually based on a 150 pound person, so these are rough guides. Bottom line, while physical activity helps with weight loss, gets and keeps you fit, it only works if you don’t out eat the calories burned by any chosen activity. Determine your approximate amount of calories burned with an online daily caloric calculator which factors in height, weight, sex and activity level. Then keep a food diary like those at Fitday and keep your calories below your daily calorie expenditure to lose weight.

  3. Hello, I am on week 11 of P90X. I have gained tremendous muscle, endurance, flexibility and respect in myself. This is a harsh program. I am looking for a new program. I am tired of the workouts, and they are so long. I would also like to lose about 10 more pounds of fat, mostly around my middle and arms. Any suggestions?

  4. Hi Mork,

    Power 90X is an intense and time-consuming exercise program, and as you have attested, it is the real deal. However, variety in workouts, and in the intensity and duration of workouts, is important or you can easily burn out. To reach your goals it’s vital to keep working out, so switch up your fitness routine with new and varied physical activities.

    A simple solution is to do half of a Power 90X workout in the morning, then the other half of the same workout in the evening. Just make sure to warm up and cool down properly for each session. Studies show the benefits of exercise are cumulative. 30 minutes twice a day is just as effective as 60 minutes once a day.

    Two Beachbody alternatives are Tony Horton’s 10 Minute Trainer and the original Power 90. The 10 Minute Trainer program has the same elements as Power 90X broken down into 10 Minute segments. The workouts are less time consuming but nearly as effective. Tony’s original Power 90, often confused with the more demanding Power 90X, is a less demanding workout.

    You may also want to try other Beachbody programs like Chalene Johnson’s Chalean Extreme or Turbo Jam. These exercise systems follow the Beachbody philosophy for getting fit while changing up your approach.

    When it comes to staying fit variety is an essential component to your workouts. Your body adapts to doing the same exercises, so try new workouts often. Be creative and have fun. Try outdoor activities like cycling, hiking, horseback riding or surfing. Indoor activities like dancing or spin classes burn many calories and are enjoyable as well.

    Fitness should be an enjoyable lifelong journey, not a 12 week one time regimen that leads to burn out and quitting.

  5. Hi, my name is Cody, I’m sixteen years old and I am currently working on P90X and have recently ordered Shakeology because of all the fantastic reviews I’ve heard. The reason I’m emailing you though is not for myself but for my grandpa. My grandpa is 65 5’11” and about 220 pounds. He isn’t in fantastic health and is currently on all kinds of medicine for cholesterol and blood pressure and I am pretty worried about him. He goes to the gym everyday and does basic cardio exercises for about 2 hours. Although he does this he is not losing any weight and this is due to all his unhealthy eating. I am on a mission to help him change this and get him in better shape and health. Since there are so many fantastic things about Shakeology I though that maybe if i bought him a month supply of Shakeology that this could help him greatly. I am emailing you for your input on this situation and what you think i should do. I highly value your input and thank you so very much for your time. Cody Clayton.

  6. Hi Cody. Congratulations on embracing a healthy lifestyle and embracing Power 90X and Shakeology. Both are excellent ways of pursuing fitness and proper nutrition. Be sure to use Shakeology as a supplement only and include a wide variety of foods in your diet from the P90X nutrition guidebook. Eat plenty of healthy whole foods like fruit, vegetables, lean meats, dairy, and healthy fats. These are vital to your overall health and achieving your fitness goals.

    As for your grandfather, at age 65, 5’11” and 220 pounds, his BMI is 30.7 and he is in the obese range. It’s not surprising he’s suffering health issues, but it’s never too late to change. But your grandfather is going to have to want that for himself. You can’t force him to change his lifestyle. This means he must choose to clean up his diet, do resistance training at least twice a week, and cut down on cardio.

    Doing two hours of cardio exercises a day is a recipe for muscle loss. And muscle loss equals a slowed metabolism and weight gain. Building new muscle doesn’t have an age limit. Studies show people in their nineties can still build muscle mass with proper diet and resistance training. If your grandfather wants to get fit and healthy he still can. Many seniors prefer Tony Horton’s 10 Minute Trainer. It incorporates resistance training with cardio and can be done in 10 minute increments.

    No amount of cardio can undo too much unhealthy eating. Shakeology will only help your grandfather, or anyone else for that matter, if they choose to also eat a healthy diet. Try to persuade him to eat like you do. Show him the Power 90X nutrition guide and point out simple swaps he can make. He can choose leaner cuts of meat, cut out refined carbohydrates and starchy foods, and replace them with vegetables and some high fiber whole grains.

    Steer him away from junk food and fast food, and show him how to make healthier choices. Teach him what a proper portion size looks like. Many people are so used to enormous restaurant servings they also eat larger portions at home. Make sure he understands that liquid calories count. Sugar filled soda, gourmet coffees like lattes, alcoholic beverages and even fruit juices are loaded with calories that contribute to weight gain.

    Diseases like high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease often respond positively to a healthy calorie and carbohydrate controlled diet. Along with exercise, your grandfather can make positive lifestyle changes that improve his health. He may also benefit from stress reduction that contributes to poor health. Perhaps he would enjoy joining you for Power 90X Yoga, although he may have to modify some of the exercises.

    Best of luck to you and your grandfather.

  7. I am forty-nine years old, and have worked out and ran 5k’s for several years. I had a mastectomy on my right side three years ago. I have been totally reconstructed, and happy to say, I am cancer free. I am on week five of the P90X program , and I am keeping up. But I haven’t tried doing real pull-ups yet. I use the bands, but would love to do them the right way. My doctor doesn’t even like for me to do push ups, but I do fine on my knees. Should I try and see what a partial pull up feels like, or just stick with the bands? I know with the correct bands I get a good burn, but want to try more. I absolutely love this workout!

  8. Frederica Jones

    Hello, I have the power 90 Workout DVDs and wanted to know how many calories I’m burning with each video? I’m female, 5’8, 191 lbs, and age 25. I do both DVDs and alternate each day for five days of the week. Thanks, Frederica.

  9. Hi, Frederica,

    Congratulations on embracing a healthy lifestyle. Power 90 is a great place to start if your goals are weight loss and muscle toning. Power 90 is geared for beginner and intermediate fitness levels and it’s not as intense as its sister fitness system, Power 90X. Power 90X was designed by Tony Horton for those individuals who are already at a high level of fitness.

    Power 90 is often confused with Power 90X. Assuming you’re doing the original Power 90, you’ll burn less calories due to the lower intensity. When you become fitter, you can graduate to Power 90X, and Power 90X Plus. These two fitness systems are extreme in-home boot camp programs and calorie blasters.

    The original Power 90 includes six fun and easy cardio and body-sculpting workouts. How many calories you’ll burn depends on several factors. First, height and weight will play a major role. At 5′ 8″ and 191 pounds, you will average approximately 250 to 275 calories burned for 30 minutes of mixed intensity aerobics.

    Other factors that influence how many calories you burn are your sex, age, amount of muscle mass you have, and the intensity at which you work out. Men burn more calories than women because they’re bigger and have more muscle mass. A pound of muscle burns roughly 50 calories a day, while a pound of fat requires about 3 calories a day to maintain.

    As people age, they often lose muscle due to inactivity. This means they require fewer calories for daily weight maintenance. At 25, it should be easier for you to burn fat. If you maintain your muscle mass, or even better build new muscle, you’ll retain a healthy metabolism that burns fat efficiently.

    Most importantly, the intensity at which you work out determines how many calories you burn. If you’re just going through the motions and not breaking a sweat, you will burn less calories. The harder you work out, the more calories you’ll burn.

    Therefore, as you can see there are many variables involved in how many calories are burned in an activity.

    Just remember, it’s very easy to undo all your hard work with a poor diet. Proper nutrition and portion control are a must to reach your weight loss and fitness goals. Follow the Power 90 nutrition guide carefully, and minimize unhealthy food choices like junk food and refined carbohydrates.

    Best of luck with your goals!

  10. Thanks, Carol. I checked out your reply above, and then did a bit of research on Power90. Unless I am misunderstanding the dynamic of Power90, this is a program that is done daily. I wanted a fat burn program that is done between gym visits. Also, does this program include weight training. You mentioned muscle confusion. I have been doing a muscle confusion technique for decades, so again, I was looking for a program specifically to burn fat to be used in between weight training days. I can’t imagine spending between 60 and 90 minutes hitting the weights and then 30 to 45 minutes of cardiovascular. Am I missing something?

  11. First, just to clarify, Power 90 and Power 90X are two completely different programs. They often get confused, or people use the names interchangeably because they sound similar. Tony Horton’s Power 90 uses sectional progression training. This means each movement in the program targets a specific area of your body for maximum results. Power 90 incorporates both cardio for fat burning and resistance training for muscle toning. Power 90 is geared for beginner and intermediate fitness levels.

    Tony Horton developed Power 90X to take already fit people to the next level. Staying with the same training program for more than a few months begins to garner less and less results. As you get fitter, your body adapts and actually quits responding to exercise. Power 90X uses muscle confusion to get results back on track. Remember the X in P90X stands for Extreme. Power 90X is geared for intermediate and advanced fitness levels.

    Power 90 and Power 90X are both designed to be used four to six days a week. All the exercise sessions are less than 60 minutes in length. Because they combine both cardio and resistance training within one session, there’s no need to hit the weights, then do cardio separately. This efficiency not only saves time, it creates a synergy that cannot be achieved by doing cardio and weight lifting at different times. This means achieving improved muscle definition and superior fat burning.

  12. Wow, I guess that maybe I am still not making my point. I don’t want a resistance program to do at home, I want to continue going to the gym. I want a separate fat burning program to do at home. I don’t need assistance with the resistance training aspect of working out, just fat burning/cardio. Is there any program out there to do at home in between gym visits?

  13. I know what you’re saying, Anthony.

    You want to do your weight lifting in the gym, then do fat burning cardio at home. Tony Horton’s program’s combine those two elements, so they don’t fit your unique situation. Beachbody has a new program that fits your bill. Shaun T’s Insanity is intense cardio, and only cardio. At about 35 minutes a session, you’ll burn fat and be crawling to the shower afterward. Believe me, this is not your momma’s Richard Simmons’ “Dancing to the Oldies” cardio. Insanity is the most intense cardio on the planet. We’re talking about the most efficient fat burning system ever. There’s a reason they call it Insanity. We’re talking about the most extreme and physically demanding fat burning workout ever designed.

    Good luck!

  14. Uh-oh, I kinda decided that Power90 might be the way to go; just doing my own resistance program at the gym and following Tony’s cardio program. My girlfriend may have already ordered it. Should I try to cancel it and opt for Insanity, or might Power 90 cardio program work?

  15. Power 90 has two cardio DVDs and they are designed to burn fat. You can skip the resistance training DVDs, or save them for times you cannot get to the gym. If your girlfriend is into working out, she should enjoy the Sculpt Circuit DVDs. And you can use the Sweat Cardio DVDs, with their innovative cardio moves that include kickboxing and Pilates, to burn fat. These workouts are just a little over 30 minutes each and save time. Power 90 cardio is less intense than Insanity. I’d suggest you try Power 90, then if you find it too easy, move on to Insanity. Remember, your body adapts to the same routine. You’ll need variety in your workouts to keep fat burning optimized. So, it wouldn’t hurt to own both programs. I do and use them both.

  16. Carol, I’m on my 4th round of P90X and know from past experience that somewhere in month two the cardiovascular workouts, like Plyo and Kenpo, as well as Ab Ripper X, are no longer much of a challenge. Reading your posts has made me consider using Insanity during these days, but you had mentioned that too much cardiovascular will undo muscle loss. At what point does that happen? How much cardiovascular will result in loss of all that muscle I’ve worked to gain?

  17. Hi Jamie,

    It’s true that it’s possible to get so fit Power 90X isn’t the challenge it once was. This isn’t very common, so you should be proud of your level of achievement.

    Insanity would definitely add the challenge you need to your cardiovascular workouts. Although the workouts are under 40 minutes, they’re very intense and challenging. You might also want to consider Tony Horton’s new Power 90X One On One workouts, or Power 90X Plus. Mixing up your exercise routine is key to continuing to improve fitness, and has an added benefit of keeping you mentally challenged. Variety wards off boredom which can lead to quitting exercise all together.

    While too much cardiovascular exercise can lead to muscle loss, this is not typical of people who do resistance training on a regular basis. Changing up what cardio you perform will accelerate fat loss. As long as you keep performing progressive resistance exercise, eat adequate protein, and get enough sleep, short and intense sessions of cardiovascular exercise should not result in loss of muscle.

    Usually people who lose muscle mass through excessive exercise do so because intense cardio is all that they do. And this doesn’t happen overnight. Small amounts of muscle are lost over decades and this leads to gradual weakening and a slower metabolism. As long as you keep up your resistance training, and keep your cardio to under an hour per session, you have nothing to worry about.

  18. Hi Carol, I have been doing P90x on and off and right now I am on week nine, but I had a question. I really do not like to do yoga and wanted to see if I can replace that video with the Cardio. X video. Would it affect my muscle loss and my routine or should I try anything else? Is that too much cardiovascular work for the week? Anything would be helpful. Thank you.

  19. Hi Carol, I mountain bike 2-3 days per wk. about 30-40 miles per wk. with pretty intense hill climbing and want to keep doing that as part of my routine. However, I recently started incorporating the Power 90 and Slim in six video series as well. I feel the Slim in six is too much of an unnecessary leg workout, but like the other cardiovascular and resistance band exercises in the Power 90. I am a 35 year old male, 5’7″ in height, and my weight is 223 lbs, with a lot of muscle mass from my heavy power lifting days. I am attempting to slim down and lose the remaining belly fat I have gained in the last ten years. I know I will never have lean muscles or be tall but would like to get my six pack and thin out my mid section and upper body. The belly area seems to be my weak spot, and I am also a Type 1 Diabetic since the age of four. I eat well but seem to be hitting a plateau at losing ten lbs. Do you have any suggestions that will help increase my weight loss?

  20. Hi, Luis. Yoga is included in the Power 90X system because it helps to achieve a balanced physique and optimal flexibility. Yoga also improves strength in unique ways. Yoga moves target muscles in ways other resistance training and cardiovascular can’t. Overall strength and balance are what yoga will give you. You can replace yoga workouts with other workouts including Cardio X. But Cardio X and Yoga X serve very different purposes within the Power 90X system. Skipping the yoga part of Power 90X will not affect your muscle gain over all. And any cardio. will promote fat loss. Too much cardiovascular work in one week is pretty difficult to achieve. Just limit cardio. training to no more than 60 minutes a day and about three to six days a week. Anything more would be flirting with over training. Best of luck with your goals.

  21. Hi, John. Sounds like you’re into some intense biking, which is great. Mountain biking incorporates both aerobic and anaerobic exercise, so you kill two birds with one stone. Incorporating Tony Horton’s Power 90 and Debbie Siebers’ Slim In 6 workouts into your current fitness routine is certainly doable. But if you feel Slim In 6 means too much of a leg workout in addition to mountain biking, save it for the occasional week you don’t bike.

    Because you’re a former heavy weight lifter and your cardiovascular fitness is well developed, you may want to add Power 90X to your program instead. The original Power 90 is less demanding than Power 90X. Power 90X is much more efficient at burning off body fat and it targets abdominal muscles in a serious manner. Tony Horton developed this extreme in home boot camp system to get already fit people into the ultimate shape possible.

    As a type I diabetic, you should consult your physician before changing your diet or starting any new physical activity. Diabetics often find weight loss difficult. This is because insulin is one of the hormones that tell your body to store fat. This makes managing your blood sugar crucial. While hitting a plateau is something most dieters deal with at one time or another, diabetics have it even harder. Ask your physician or dietitian about controlling carbohydrates in your diet. Carbohydrates, including fruits and whole grains, raise blood sugar and boost insulin demands, which leads to fat storing instead of fat burning.

    Best of luck with your goals.

  22. I’m in my third week of P90X and really loving it. I’m reading all this stuff on the message boards about life post P90X and still haven’t seen a systematic approach to returning to the gym to maintain what I’m doing with the program. I know I have many weeks to go but is there a day by day guide I can use once I go back to the gym? I’m 56 and usually hit the gym six days a week and would love to incorporate some of the stuff I’m doing on P90X into a regular routine.

  23. Hi Neal,

    I’ve been doing Power 90X for about four years. I never really stopped traditional gym workouts while doing the P90X program. I did stagger them on out throughout the week to avoid over training. You can go back to the gym and do classic weight lifting and aerobics workouts while using Power 90X. You can use P90X routines on your own at home for variety. Remember, it’s the muscle confusion that variety creates that keeps your progress on track.

    Most Power 90X graduates don’t abandon the program after a single 90 day round. They continue to use it exclusively, or incorporate it into their post grad fitness workouts. Many go on to become Power 90X Plus or Power 90X One On One users. Tony Horton’s Power 90X One On One releases a new workout every month and they are designed to challenge even the fittest Power 90X users.

    If you want to incorporate P90X style exercises into a regular gym routine, take the Power 90X guidebook with you to the gym as a reference guide. Or you can make your own exercise routine ahead of time, and jot it down on an index card or in your fitness log. You can design your own circuit training routine by switching between traditional weight lifting and P90X moves. Below are a few examples.

    On a back and chest day, start by doing one to three sets of a chest press, then perform one or more sets of Wide Fly or Diamond push ups. Repeat. Likewise, you can combine machine back rows or pull downs with wide grip pull ups or reverse grip chin ups. This type of pattern can be repeated as often as needed for the level of challenge you need. You can integrate Power 90X with traditional workouts very easily on your own. It just takes some planning beforehand.

    Best of luck with your goals.

  24. I have just started into my first week of P90X and wanted some clarification on diet, so I stumbled upon this string of posts, and may have become even more confused! When I calculate out my daily calories according to the nutrition booklet, it’s around 1400/1500, but after reading above, I see that it is recommended that you go no lower than 1800 cal/day. I recognize that everyone is different, but I am really wanting to lose about 10-15 pounds, and have found it virtually impossible in the past, so I am truly looking for the answer to steady, permanent weight loss. Any suggestions, especially regarding daily diet? Thanks!

  25. When I finish my first 90 days of P90X I want to do it again but at times replace the Kenpo and Plyometrics with running. What type of running is best? I’ve heard so many conflicting opinions. Do I do interval training and if so, how long should I run, or do I do more of an anaerobic, longer time but slower speed?

  26. Just starting the nutrition program. I am 6’1″, wiegh 248. underwater testing shows my lean muscle and bone to be 184.
    where in the nutrition plan should I start, its confusing.
    Fat shredder level I, II, or III.
    My goal is 205-215.

  27. Hi, my husband and I have started the P90X an were wondering how many calories are burned during the work outs? I am 5′ 3″ an 145 pounds and on a 1200 calorie diet. He is 6 ft 293 pounds and on a 1500 calorie diet. We both are drinking about 10 8oz glasses of water per day.

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