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Editor’s Note: This is a review of the Precision Nutrition books. Check out this review of Precision Nutrition Coaching or this review of the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification, if you prefer.

precision nutrition binder

Ever wonder about the best diet ideas? Yeah, we all do. There are very few endurance athletes out there that aren’t infatuated with nutrition and all the choices over proper food and drink intake.

The problem is, it’s a lot harder to prepare a healthy meal than it is to choose an energy bar or gel. And while we’re bombarded with ads for sports drinks and supplements, there’s comparatively little information out there about real food. You know, the stuff you should be eating when you’re not on the bike!

That’s why I wanted to review something called Precision Nutrition. You could call it a “nutrition system,” as it contains practical guides to nutrition, cookbooks, and access to an online nutrition community.

It’s a lot more than a diet book. Actually, it’s nothing like a diet book. It’s a complete guide to creating your own nutrition system for your needs. And as your needs change, you still have the tools to change the system. It’s pretty neat.

By Dr. John Berardi

Precision Nutrition was created by Dr. John Berardi, an experienced coach, professor, and also the 1995 Mr Jr USA bodybuilding champion! I found Dr. Berardi’s Precision Nutrition system thanks to a good recommendation by Nate Green, a fitness author I’ve been following.

Here’s what you get in the package…

Precision Nutrition, Piece by Piece

Let me share my thoughts on each part of the Precision Nutrition package as I work my way through the binder…

Success Guide

pn success guide

The Success Guide is a quick introduction to explain how the Precision Nutrition (PN) system works. It also serves to get you motivated to take action rather than just learn and theorize about losing weight.

Ten success tips about goal setting, making progress, etc. are included. Some stuff I’d heard before, but some ideas and sayings were new to me. Overall it’s a good, quick read.

Diet Guide

pn diet guide

This 38 page guide is the real meat of the PN system. It’s the “how-to” info. PN gives you a great overall, well-rounded diet plan. Or system, whatever you want to call it.

Most diet plans focus on one thing (weight loss), but Precision Nutrition makes sure you improve body composition, improve health, and improve sports performance. It’s not just improving one area at the expense of others, which happens with many standalone diet plans.

Believe me, it’s not hard to neglect your health in favor of sports performance! Many people lose weight and look slim, but lose strength at the same time. So PN has a great idea there.

All the information is solid. It’s “tried and true” information that has been proven through science and multiple tests with clients over the years. It’s hard to disagree with anything. In other words, there’s nothing extreme like intermittent fasting or cutting out so many carbs you’re not even allowed to eat fruit.

Not only is the information solid, it is presented in an easy-to-follow format. The diet centers on “10 rules” to follow and “21 Super foods” that make a good base for all your food intake.

Plus, you get plenty of charts, cheat sheets, etc. to review and reference quickly. There is even one to tear out, fold up, and keep in your wallet.

Quick Start Guide

pn quick start guide

Exactly what it says. This is a quick guide to getting your kitchen and pantry ready and to go shopping today so you can ease into the PN lifestyle. Plus, there is a little advice on cooking and even a few recipes (great if you don’t already know your way around a kitchen).

I’ve already accomplished this set-up, but I did it gradually over the past few years. Read this guide and you can do it in a day!

My kitchen was ready to go before reading this, but chances are, if you’re in the market for any sort of diet/nutrition program like this, you’ll find the info useful!

5-Minute Meals

pn 5-minute meals

To expand on the recipes from before, here are 37 pages of meals, separated by category – breakfast meals, chicken and poultry, seafood, beef, side dishes, snacks – that you make in 5 minutes or less. That’s a short amount of time!

Of course, it’s a 5 minute “preparation time.” Obviously you can’t actually cook a chicken breast or steak in 5 minutes. But, good recipes nonetheless! They are easier and simpler than a lot of the recipes out there.

Worried about variety? Well, I’m a picky eater but I can see myself eating some of these dishes!

Even if you’re wary of new foods, quite a few of the “snack” recipes are for shakes and smoothies. So that’s pretty normal; I mean, what athlete doesn’t like smoothies?

I’m really impressed by the fine details in each shake recipe. Like how toasted wheat germ is just the thing to bring the flavors of apple and cinnamon together! That’s the difference between a good smoothie and a delicious smoothie!

Super Shake Guide

pn super shake guide

Looks like the creators of PN love shakes! It makes sense, since a good shake is like a complete meal that can be prepared in a blender.

This is a short (9 page) guide to the “super shake.” All PN shakes start with the same basic formula. But many varieties are listed so you have specific recipes to follow for a variety of flavors. Then when you’re ready, it’s easy to craft your own recipe.

I could probably live on these things!

Individualization Guide

pn individualization guide

This one is 46 pages of solid info! This is where you go from the basic “one size fits all” PN plan to developing your own specific plan. That means you actually have to buckle down and figure some things out to adapt the diet to your life!

But if you’re serious about getting in shape, it’s great that this Precision Nutrition guide goes into detail. It covers what to do on different days, and takes into consideration if you’re an athlete, currently pregnant, have allergies, etc.

One big focus is nutrient timing, which can really change your diet results from good to spectacular. Basically, nutrient timing is about what time of day you can eat carbs (hint: it depends on your body type and goals).

The best example of nutrient timing is two athletes who eat the exact same foods, but in different order throughout the day, and one has better results than the other! Yes, it happens, and getting it right might be that last little detail you need to finally get those six-pack abs.

Low-carb diets and carb cycling are also covered. I’ve actually experimented with this exactly how it talks about in the book, so I know from experience that it’s good advice.

I should also point out that this is NOT one of those “carbs are evil” diet plans. It even provides sample plans and ideas for endurance athletes, complete with high-calorie, high-carb days!

This part also covers a few types of supplements (including protein, fish oil, creatine, etc.) and who needs them. Food logs are covered as well.

Measurement Guide

pn measurement guide

This is a surprisingly long section, covering how to measure your progress (lots of pictures though, so it doesn’t take too long to read). We’re talking body weight, body fat %, girth, and other measures like bloodwork at the hospital.

You actually get a guide to doing your own skinfold measurements (and therefore body fat % calculations) at home. You’ll need a partner to help you, and both of you will need a good amount of practice to get consistent, but it’s good info. Buy some calipers (about $20) and give it a try!

Some stuff is rather basic, some advanced, but it’s all great info if you aren’t familiar with it yet.

Plant-Based Diet Guide

pn plant-based diet guide

Here’s a special section for anyone that favors a plant-based diet. Whether you call yourself vegan, vegetarian, or you just like a diet based mainly on plants rather than meat, this is for you. It’s a slightly edited version of the PN habits and superfoods to make sure you still get a complete diet like this. And it discusses supplements you will need.

I find myself using more of a plant-based diet than a typical American, so I loved this section for all those little details on how to make sure you’re not missing out on important nutrients. To me, this was the most educational part of the program.

Maintenance Guide

pn maintenance guide

A very important section that you might not have expected. Do you ever see any other diet plans that tell you what to do once you have successfully followed the plan and changed your body? Probably not.

But since the vast majority of your life should be spent keeping your good body rather than changing it (unless you enjoy yo-yo dieting), maintenance is key. There are 14 tips in here. It’s nothing complicated, but I’m glad PN included it since it’s an under-appreciated topic.

Support Guide

pn support guide

This covers the three main components of diet success other than food and exercise, such as the support of others and mental aspects.

It’s a vital part of your continued success for sure! Most diet books just say “surround yourself with supportive people” or some other general statement. This goes quite a bit further into the details.

Tip: Also apply this advice to your sports career or really anywhere in your life where there is a goal you want to accomplish.

Gourmet Nutrition Cookbook, Volume 1 (hard copy)

pn gourmet nutrition

The Support Guide concluded the PN system. Now it’s time to put together your meal plan that follows everything you just learned.

Some people would definitely struggle and maybe quit at this point, since you’re no longer reading and actually putting a plan into action by picking out what foods to make/eat. Luckily, PN steps in again and gives you a cookbook full of plenty of PN-friendly recipes to keep you going!

This book comes in a nice format, focusing on two main sections:

  1. Setting up your kitchen
  2. Gourmet recipes

Setting up your kitchen was already covered in the PN system, so basically we’re looking at the recipes.

As far as the recipes, some look good, some don’t. Your tastes will vary. But I bet you can find some good ones in there for your tastes since there’s a wide variety. Heck, I’m very picky, and there were quite a few recipes I’d love. There are some I’m not sure on, but they look so good I’m willing to try them (which is odd for me).

Throughout the book there are cooking tips like the cleaning, trimming, chopping, and storing of various foods. That’s cool because not everyone is an experienced chef and knows how to do all that properly and efficiently!

The only downside is that this book is in black and white. Color pictures of the meals would look more delicious!


This is a members-only section of the website. It has tons of info on so many different subjects. My only complaint is that because the articles are so long and there are so many good ones, I can spend all day reading them anytime I go there! Talk about information overload!

Also, the members forum is included. For the most part, it’s a standard forum with health, fitness, and nutrition, discussion. What sets it apart is that Dr. John Berardi (and other qualified professionals, some from the PN team and some with their PN certifications) actually join in the discussions and always have good info and opinions!

Even better than the great information is how you’ll find less misinformation there than you would at say, Bodybuilding.com or BikeForums.net. So there is less wading through bad advice and bro-science, trying to separate fact from fiction.

Last but not least, it makes for a great support community!

My final verdict is…

The Precision Nutrition system is an excellent value at the current $49 price tag (the whole package cost $147 when I first purchased it almost 5 years ago!) because of what it can do for you. Precision Nutrition could take you from knowing nothing at all about nutrition to feeling great and looking great. If I had to give someone a “Coach Levi Recommended Diet,” it would follow the Precision Nutrition guide virtually 100%.

If you’re already a top athlete (and chef) with a perfect diet and no nutrition questions whatsoever, your money would be better spent elsewhere. But if not, PN would be an ideal way to get your body into prime condition so you can get the most out of your training and racing. Even if you’re just a recreational athlete, Precision Nutrition would give you a great base so you can be healthier and happier now and for many years to come.

Official website: www.PrecisionNutrition.com

Product Review Details
Company: Precision Nutrition
Product: Precision Nutrition System
Reviewed by: Coach Levi
My Rating: 5.0 out of 5
Date first published: 2010-09-29
Date last updated: 2018-06-26
Obtained Product: Purchased at retailer.
CoachLevi.com Advertiser: Yes; paid affiliate.

Click here if you would like to get your product reviewed on CoachLevi.com.

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  1. Is this for men or women?

  2. @Eileen

    It’s for both men and women! 🙂

    It’s for everyone, while simultaneously being just for you, one individual. Obviously it takes some work on your part though to put the Individualization Guide into practice.

  3. This is a magic bullet, right? 😉

  4. @Steve

    LOL. Yep. If you read the books, follow the advice, put it into practice each day, and work hard for month after month, you will “magically” improve your fitness!

  5. Isn’t Nate Green the self righteous guy who is known to be vulgar at times? And he’s working for Precision Nutrition now?

  6. @Sally

    I thought of him as confident, and maybe a little cocky, but I think his book was aimed at guys who were used to reading Men’s Health, T-Nation, and Tim Ferriss’ blog – all places where that sort of behavior is normal. I don’t know him personally, but Nate seems polite compared to some other writer’s in the men’s fitness arena.

    I’m not sure what his role is with Precision Nutrition, but I’d bet he’s more involved in writing and coaching their Scrawny to Brawny program (for guys who want to pack on muscle and likely need that style of coaching/motivation). If you don’t care for his style, I don’t think they’d match you up with him in the Lean Eating coaching program! I would hope not 🙂

  7. Why did they lower the price?

  8. @Cynthia

    Good question. Back when I purchased Precision Nutrition v3, it was normally $147, and I bought it oon sale for $97. Now they released version 4 and cut the price in half.

    I think they changed some of the wording in the book, but it’s still the same thing. So I don’t really know what influenced the price drop. (But I would buy a copy before they change their minds!)

  9. How can i get the book ??
    And how much ??

  10. Hi— I’m looking at the precision nutrition program that is 12 months ($179 / month) or $997 paid in full upfront. Are you familiar w this program by any chance? Thanks!

  11. I’m in week 46 of PN Coaching and I’d like to buy the cookbook offered back in the program but can’t find it. Where’s the info to purchase it?

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