by Janetha on May 14, 2011

in body for life,questions answered

i get asked about body for life more than any other topic. that’s not a surprise, considering how much i talk about (and rave about) the program.  i LOVE body for life! you can read more about my success with the program here.  i am not an expert, but i can weigh in with my two cents (or more).

just for fun, i am going to publish a few random questions i have received regarding body for life.  i am going to try to keep the answers short and snappy, because we all know how i can get super long winded (like in my last FAQ post…)

here we go!


I am thinking about starting Body For Life.  I was going to buy the book and realized there are a few…

– Body For Life:12 Weeks to Mental and Physical Strength
– Body for Life for Women, or
– Eating for Life

Which do you suggest?


it is VERY important that you get the right book–it is the original Body for LIFE by Bill PhillipsEating for LIFE is the cookbook he wrote that goes hand in hand with the challenge, i love it.  DO NOT get BFL for Women!  no way, no how, it is not the real BFL program.


Do you think the diet or exercise regime was more important in achieving your results? I know both are essential, but I am planning on training for a half marathon in the near future.  My exercise routine during my last training included running and body pump classes.  I guess my question is do you think being flexible with the exercise regime is okay as long as I continue to exercise?


i would say that results are 80% diet and 20% exercise–especially if you are in it for fat loss.  if you are more in it for muscle gain, then you have to follow the workout plan to a T or you will not achieve the muscle gains you are after.  i was in it for both fat loss and muscle gain, followed it by the book for 12 weeks and didn’t skip or cheat, and had optimal results.

i think a big part of BFL is weight training, so if you use your marathon training for your cardio days and then still do the weight sessions, you would probably be fine.  but you won’t see the optimal fat loss like you do with HIIT–it is something else and nothing is quite like it.


Did you always exercise on an empty stomach? I’m finding it really tough to fit in a morning workout (as I’m in work from 7am most mornings!), and tend to have a ‘meal’ about 1-2hours before exercising in the evening.


i always worked out after work and if it was a cardio day, i made sure I hadn’t eaten for about an hour.  i am a believer in the method of doing HIIT in a fasted state has better results.  if you are going on some long run where you need fuel, that is a different story.. but HIIT is for 20 minutes and doing it on an empty stomach worked great for me.

if it was a weights day, i ate normally and made sure to eat within 30 min after my workout, getting a good balance of both carbs and protein.. but i kept the fat minimal for my post-workout meal/shake.


Did you just drink water and coffee for the whole 12 weeks? I’m getting a bit bored!


yes just coffee and water.. sometimes green tea and would spike the water with lemon at times. this is all I ever drink, so it’s easy for me.. but seriously, it’s what’s best as you shouldn’t drink your calories or have carbonated beverages.


Did you do any exercises to specifically target your abs? You have awesome abs!! And that’s one of my key goals for my 12 week challenge, so any advice you have would be super.


i didn’t follow the BFL ab routine.  instead, i would do 25 ab reps between each set on weight training days. this may be confusing but i will try to explain it.  on upper AND lower body days, i would pick four ab exercises.  one to target obliques, one to target upper abs, one to target lower abs and then just one more targeting where ever.  here is a good list: http://www.shapefit.com/training-abs.html
anyway, I picked four moves because of the times of rest between sets.

SO, take quads for example.  instead of resting between sets, here is what i would do:

12 reps of quad exercise
25 reps of oblique move (each side)
10 reps of quad exercise
25 reps of upper ab move
8 reps of quad exercise
25 reps of lower ab move
6 reps of quad exercise
25 reps of fourth ab move
12 reps of quad exercise
12 reps of second quad exercise

make sense?  every time you do a muscle group, you also do 100 repetitions of ab work.  i did this on upper body days, too.  instead of doing abs BFL style on lower body day, i replaced it with glutes.


Did you use the EAS supplements?


I did use EAS brand protein powder, but not every day. I used it simply because I liked the flavor. I don’t believe EAS products are required to have success. I avoided using bars all together.


Did you find it difficult to keep up will all of the meals?


As long as you plan out your week’s meals, you will not mess up. Even if you don’t follow the planned meals (say you don’t feel like Tuesday’s lunch, switch it to Thursday and eat something planned for another day that sounds good)–just do all your grocery shopping Saturday or Sunday for the upcoming week. Always be prepared with clean eats. Have your 5 or 6 meals planned for the day and have them readily available.. and then switch them up if you don’t feel like one or the other. “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail!”


can you use greek yogurt as a protein in a meal. The book says yogurt is a carb but greek yogurt has tons of protein.


yes i use greek yogurt as a protein all the time, but only if it is plain and nonfat or low fat.  i use 6 or 8 oz as a serving and pair it with a carb (cereal, fresh fruit, natural granola, muesli, etc).. i don’t use the flavored greek yogurts when on BFL as they are high in carbs and all the carbs come from sugar.. i would rather get my sweet naturally from fresh fruit.


Can you use any other shake besides EAS  as meals I have some vanilla EAS soy protein powder would that work. The eas premade shakes are $$$$


i never buy the premade shakes.. ugh i think they are nasty! you can use any brand of protein powder/ready-to-drink protein shakes. i do suggest you follow a few guidelines: 1-make sure that a serving is around 20g of protein, 2-make sure the carbs are <5g per serving if you are adding your own carb (ie: fresh fruit, milk) to the powder. if you are using the shake as a total replacement, you can opt to pick something with equal protein/carb ratio.. but again, i like to get my carbs from fresh options.. so i opt to use a protein powder (i use EAS 100% whey) that has 3g carbs and 23g protein, then i blend it with almond milk, spinach and some fruit and that makes it a meal.


I also don’t see nut butters on the list of approved foods. Can you use nut butters as protein in a meal?


nut butters are considered a healthy fat. on BFL, you want a ratio of 40% carbs 40% protein and 20% fat. the nut butter would be part of that 20% fat. i would limit your fat intake to about 35 grams daily in order to hit that ratio.  you can spread it out however you want, but i definitely don’t consider nuts/nut butter a protein. yes, they have protein, but they are fat for the most part.


Can you use Quinoa as a protein in a meal? I don’t eat tons of meat so I am trying to find other protein options besides meat.


i consider quinoa a carb.  it is considered a complete protein in nature.. but it is also a grain that is abundant in carbs.  it is a great carb option because it does have protein, but i would use it as a carb when doing BFL and pair it with tofu or chicken. there are a lot of protein options aside from meat.. try cottage cheese, greek yogurt, tofu, protein powders, eggs…


Can I use a ww flatout wrap as a carb in place of bread?


yes! you can use any sort of grain in the place of regular bread. i have guidelines i follow for this, too: 1-keep the serving to around 25g carbs, 2-no refined flours/enriched flours in the ingredient list, 3-no high fructose corn syrup/not high in sugar grams.  any sort of bread-like replacement goes.. flatouts, la tortilla factory high fiber/low carb tortillas, alternative brand bagels, sandwich thins, etc.


Are Vitatops BFL friendly?


for the most part, yes. i eat vitatops and do BFL. if you want to get super strict about it, then no.. they probably are not the best carb choice. they have sugar in them but they also have a lot of fiber, are low calorie and most are made with whole wheat flour. but i believe everything is OK in moderation, so as long as you aren’t downing a top a day.. you should be fine. also, since the vita is about 25g carbs, you want to make sure to pair it with something high in protein. try some protein chocolate milk with a toasted vita.. or my favorite~ a parfait using the vita and then greek yogurt mixed with protein powder and PB2. i just won a whole BUNCH of vitas.. so i eat them! they were free!


How do you manage your free days?


i went freaking nuts on free day. nuts i tell you. this was before i knew anything about guilt from eating the wrong foods/too many calories. i did BFL when i didn’t have a clue about food blogs or nutrition. i just did it by the book, went crazy on free day, and had the results i had. now i know too much about food, i think, for my own good. on free day these days, i still won’t eat deep fried foods or super horrible choices.. i just eat the foods i like~ but more of them.. bigger portions.. and i definitely eat more sugar–namely ice cream. but i promise.. free day is key. it helps rev your metabolism!


Do I need to count my calories/percentages?


BFL does not suggest calorie counting at all. they promote a split of 40/40/20 for protein/carb/fat.  you use the fist/pam method to measure out your serving sizes and eat every 3 hours.


I’m a huge veggie eater – will it be detrimental to the program if I eat veggies with more than two meals?


i think the more veggies the better! of course try to stick to the more fibrous ones~ i generally try not to over do it on carrots and snap peas as these are high in carbs. but i will eat bell peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, etc all day long. i dont showcase that on the blog, but i am usually munching on veggies.

OKAY! that should keep your brain churning for a bit. remember you can ask me questions anytime.. i will so my best to answer them within 7 or 8 months. (i kid.. sorta.)

xo. janetha g.

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Jenny @ Fitness Health and Food May 14, 2011 at 8:04 am

I have heard many good things about BFL thanks for sharing all of the great info Janeetha! :)

Have a great weekend! :)

ClaireRose77 May 14, 2011 at 8:06 am

Great Q&A, Janeetha! It answers a LOT of my

movesnmunchies May 14, 2011 at 8:11 am

WOW! great Q+A JAnetha!! you really took some time to write such thorough answers!

The Teenage Taste May 14, 2011 at 8:19 am

I agree Carrie – I love how involved and informed your answers were! While I’m not trying to lose weight, I am interested in upping my protein intake so this was very helpful! Thanks! :]

Amanda May 14, 2011 at 8:19 am

This was great for me to read. I always have a million and a half questions about BFL. I think I gave up on it way way too soon!

Holly @ The Runny Egg May 14, 2011 at 8:19 am

Thanks for the info Janetha! I’m considering starting BFL (or a different program) after my marathon in June. I do best when I have a plan/program to follow.

Meg May 14, 2011 at 8:23 am

LOVE this! I just read through this whole thing without even realizing it…not because I’m gonna do BFL, but I just love the way you write, Janetha, it’s almost addicting and I think it’s such an amazing favor that you’re answering all of these for everyone who may be interested.

You rock woman. So does that body of yours!

Kathereine pennington May 14, 2011 at 8:48 am

Can a raw vegan do this? Worth buying the book?

edenseats May 14, 2011 at 9:00 am

I think you would need to compromise. Maybe if you eat raw meat?

Valerie May 14, 2011 at 9:24 am

Awesome post! Like I told you in an email I was starting BFL and I love it too! I start week 3 on Monday! I learned so much from your blog about BFL…thanks! <3

Jenny May 14, 2011 at 10:00 am

obvi my weight goals are a little different than the ones BFL typically promotes, but I really love the plan’s logic and approach to eating.. no calorie counting, eyeballing, etc. Sounds like what I need!

katty lea @ The Ne Plus Ultra May 14, 2011 at 10:24 am

I second the vegan question! What do you think? Does BFL jive with a vegan diet at all?

Janna May 14, 2011 at 5:08 pm

I think Mama Pea at “Peas & Thank You” did that. I’m not certain though.

janetha May 14, 2011 at 5:10 pm

She sure did. Vegan, at that.

Sent from my iPhone

janetha May 18, 2011 at 3:39 pm

Sarah at Peas and Thank You did it vegan! Check her blog out for recipes and inspiration.

Annette @EnjoyYourHealthyLife May 14, 2011 at 11:29 am

awesome and helpful post!

Maggie @ Say Yes to Salad May 14, 2011 at 11:48 am

I’ve never done BFL but I like a lot of it’s ideas! Especially the free day – SO important for your metabolism to change it up every so often. Thanks for the answers, good info even for those of us who don’t do bfl :)

Maggie @ Say Yes to Salad May 14, 2011 at 11:48 am

ps – totally agree with everyone about your abs. i want ones like that!

Brittany May 14, 2011 at 12:48 pm

Okay lady, now you have my wanting to do BFL! I feel like having a desk job for 3 years is making my body change- in a bad way. I’ve been trying to eat cleaner and incorporate more strength training on my own but it would be nice to have a plan. I’ll have to check out the book.

Jaapna Dhillon May 14, 2011 at 1:04 pm

Great Q & A post! Thank you for sharing!

andrea May 14, 2011 at 2:26 pm

why are carbonated drinks not good?

janetha May 18, 2011 at 3:41 pm

The carbonated bubbles take up space that should be filled with water.. if you are drinking the suggested gallon of water a day, carbonation really has no place. Plus it causes bloating, same as with chewing gum. I try to avoid carbonation at all times.

Lee May 14, 2011 at 5:24 pm

I think I might buy the book. All my clothes are getting a wee bit (and by wee, I mean very) tight.

Cherlyn May 14, 2011 at 6:47 pm

I just finished reading the book and had some questions. You answered every single one of them! Thank you SO much!

Christine May 14, 2011 at 9:35 pm

A healthy lifestyle is very important to me and I love the idea of BFL but I am worried it will be too time consuming??

janetha May 18, 2011 at 3:42 pm

As long as you plan out your meals each week, it is actually a time SAVER because you already have everything in line for the week and know what you will be eating. The workouts are short and effective.

Silvara May 14, 2011 at 10:48 pm

Thanks Janetha for all the great answers again! I started BFL in mid-Jan (not sure if you remember me asking u for advice then and on BFLtracker?) and did so well for 4-5 weeks until I got injured from running :( So was out for at least a month and my eating plans got shot too…now I’m in Hong Kong for 3 months for work and wishing I could do it all again!

Let me tell you though – in those 5 weeks I saw fantastic results – I lost inches! :D (now if I was a guy that might be cause for alarm haha…ok…stopping now). Will start it up again once back home in Aus :) It’s a fabulous program.

melissa May 15, 2011 at 12:54 am

You rock for doing this, Janetha!

I’m definitely in the process of researching BFL and always go back to your results. Its hard NOT to try it when you were so successful!

MelissaNibbles May 15, 2011 at 2:32 pm

Great answers Janetha! I completely agree with it being 80% diet 20% fitness. Bodies are made in the kitchen!

Morgan @ My Name is Morgan and I'm a Pumpaholic May 16, 2011 at 9:21 am

thank you so much for posting this! i’ve been so behind on reading and i couldn’t have found your post at a better time. i ordered the BFL book and read it this weekend, today is my first day. biggest lesson = planning! i’m going to try to have a better end of the day than middle. tomorrow will be super thought out, i’m going through recipes online and your old posts for ideas. whether you know it or not you’re so helpful!!

runrettarun May 17, 2011 at 2:18 pm

Great post! I didn’t have the results that most people have on BFL b/c like you said, it’s 80% eating but I still got results and love the plan very much. Thank you for your help when I was a newbie!!

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