Video 2 of 4


Same recipe names, different results. 😉

Friendly little duel #2

Would love to your thoughts on this

in the comments below!

3  Spaghetti Squash & Meatballs Recipes.
3 different outcomes.

They all have similar ingredients and they are all really delicious. However, even though they have similar ingredients, they are quite different when it comes to protein, fat, carbs and calories.

Between the P3tolife dish and the Pinterest dish I found, there’s almost a 200 calorie difference!

The reason that this matters and why I want to show you a comparison is because up until now our resources for P3 have been to do our due diligence on Pinterest, Yummy and Google. That’s what I did and that’s what most of us did.

There’s really been nothing specific to P3 for us to follow. We make it work in general but we run into challenges. For me, I tended to overeat. I really didn’t know what’s in my recipes when I searched on Pinterest or Yummly. My main goal was to find low carb recipes. If it was low carb then I figured I’m good but in reality I would still find myself having to do steak days because I was still simply OVER CONSUMING food.

Which is probably why I’m one of those people who never lost more than an initial 5 lbs when trying low carb diets for weight loss in the past. I’d lose that 3-5 lbs of water weight, and then that was always pretty much it. Because I was still just eating a LOT. Of cheese, nuts, meat, butter, bacon, etc. etc.

Are seeing a running theme here with the whole volume thing? Can you see why I’ve had to get creative to maintain the past 5 years?

You can see all the details of the P3toLife Program and Enroll here:
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You can also view our looong list of P3tolife testimonials here:
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Ideally we don’t want to have to breakdown and research EVERY SINGLE RECIPE we make, right?

Most of us eat 2-4 times a day and if we have to research everything we’re going to put in our mouths for every meal, every day – I don’t have time for that.

So I’ve done a lot of research for the Phase 3 meal plan. I’ve done all that research to get rid of the things that are probably not a good idea on Phase 3 and make all the things that are a good idea for Phase 3 a reality.

So that you don’t have to do any of that research yourself.

These 2 dishes I found on Yummly and Pinterest. I chose them because the pictures look beautiful – okay, one I burnt by accident, but I promise I did not do it on purpose to make it look worse! I left the broiler on too long (a frequent occurrence in this house). They look delicious in the photos and they’re labeled low carb. That’s how I made my choice.

This first dish is more like a lasagna.

  • 590 calories
  • 14g carbs
  • 40g fat
  • 48g protein
  • 3g fiber
  • 11 net carbs

The great thing about this is it’s only 14 carbs so it’s pretty low carb. What’s not so great about it is it has 590 calories and 48g protein.

The protein is not a big problem later but because this dish is so high in protein AND fat, one serving ends up with too high calories for say week 1 of Phase 3. I can eat this dish on Phase 4 but as you’re easing in Phase 3, this might be too many calories once you factor in your other meals for the day.

Dietitians agree that when coming off of a low calorie diet, it is very wise to gradually increase your calories.

That’s not something that sounds good in theory, I can tell you by and large that the people who email me or I see online who stabilize during Phase 3 well and don’t have to do a million steak days are the individuals who did gradually increase their calories.

MAN I wish I’d been like them. I had to learn the hard way. Self control with eating has never come easy for me.

So with this dish being 590 calories unless you only eat a much smaller amount of calories for the rest of the day for breakfast and lunch during the first week of Phase 3, a lot of us ladies coming off P2 are going to probably end up eating too many calories total for a whole day.

The other thing is this dish got a lot of cheese in it. Most of us can have nuts and cheese but again, by and large, most find that introducing those 2 food groups a little later is usually better for stabilizing. A lot of us end up discovering we have intolerance this food group to some extent.

That doesn’t mean you can never have cheese or nuts again. I do have a little intolerance so I can still eat a little bit but I can’t have a ton. But just having a bunch right off the bat in Phase 3 can more easily cause you trouble than easing yourself into a little bit later in Phase 3.

The thing about all this is would you know this just looking at the recipe online or even looking at the ingredient list of the recipe. I know for me, I wouldn’t have known that.

In fact, when I chose this recipes, because I knew I wanted to make a fair comparison based on what I would naturally do if I were picking out recipes for myself, I didn’t actually know if the macro breakdown for each dish was going to be very different or not when I chose them and it turned out that it was.

Let’s move on to the 2nd dish.

Again, I’m so sorry about how it looks. I meant to make it pretty and it didn’t turn out that way. #burnedit

This recipe called for 1 medium sized spaghetti squash and the serving size is half of one. It’s got the meatballs, pasta sauce, cheese, and all that stuff. Same type of ingredients.

  • 575 calories
  • 43g carbs
  • 30g fat
  • 38g protein
  • 10g fiber
  • 33 g net carbs

What’s good about this?

The only thing I can find out beside the taste, of course it tastes good, was that the protein content was good enough. It had about 38g of protein – so that’s plenty of protein.

but I ran into some trouble with this recipe.

The ugly

When I picked it, it probably looked the most beautiful of all the photos, it wasn’t burned like mine so it had that beautiful half spaghetti squash and it was just all gorgeous. I was like “Yeah! That’s the one I want to make!”

So I go to the grocery store with my little list of ingredients printout. This one needed already-prepared pasta sauce. Now it can be hard to find a spaghetti sauce that doesn’t have added sugar. I lucked out and the first one I grabbed was a natural one and it had no added sugar.

But as I got down to the portion of meatballs and instead of ingredients, it said 1 lb prepared meatballs which is linked to a secondary recipe on her blog for the meatballs. So I got my phone and got the recipe. Keep in mind the recipe was advertised as being low carb and everything but the meatballs recipe I was linked to wasn’t low carb.

It has some grain in it. It called for gluten-free cereal. It stopped me in my tracks and thought what do I do? I have 2 choices, leave it out entirely or replace it. Myself, I decided I will just replace it versus leaving it out because I know ratio of ingredients make a difference to their final consistency.

If you were going to replace grain in a dish with a low carb alternative, what would you choose?

Let me guess….probably…almond flour, or coconut flour right?

So I chose to replace it with almond flour and it ended up higher in calories than it would’ve been because of this. Again, this is something I would not have realized would happen when I made this adjustment. And I would have gone on my merry way and maybe eaten 1.5 servings of this or something and gone overboard again.

Another ingredient this recipe called out for is Worcestershire sauce and I saw it had both molasses and sugar which is a no-no in Phase 3, so I was again at a crossroads with yet another decision to make, for literally just this one recipe and I was like, oh man, what do I do?? Once I actually figured it out, one serving will only have ¼ g of sugar worth of sauce in the recipe so I’m not going to worry about a quarter of a gram. However, once again, these frequent decision-makings are emotionally draining and exhausting.

I ran into those problems, I worked through them, I got home and I made the recipe. Then I did the macro breakdown for this one. This dish is 575 calories and 43 carbs.

As you can see, the carbs are actually pretty high for just 1 meal as well! On what was supposed to be a “low carb” meal. The serving size of spaghetti squash was too vague (1/2 a spaghetti squash- which would be VERY different in size) and it was just way too much of that ingredient.

So all that work, all those decisions to make which really threw me off emotionally and drained my energy, all to end up making a dish that wasn’t even that ideal for me to be eating in Phase 3.

Finally, I personally felt that there was too much spaghetti squash even from a taste perspective and not enough sauce.

This last dish is from the Phase 3 Meal Plan. The Spaghetti Squash & Lean Beef Meatballs

  • 336 calories
  • 29 carbs
  • 22 net carbs
  • 8g fat
  • 36g protein

This dish without the cheese is 336 calories and 29 carbs, 22 net carbs. This has much lower calories and net carbs. Low carb diets are typically 50g-100g if you’re living in a low carb diet for a while. That’s the way we designed the meal plan so it’s totally reasonable. This is actually one of the few meals in the meal plan that is a slightly higher total carb meal than most of the dishes, and I compensated on those day’s meal plan by making sure the other dishes that days were comparatively lower carb so that the total for the day was still a “low carb day.”

One thing I’ve done with the meal plan is we don’t include cheese and nuts until Week 3 and at that point its small amount of them. The reason for this is because

by and large people find that they do much better in stabilizing on Phase 3 when they wait to introduce the cheese and nuts.

Whether it’s an intolerance to it or the fact that its calorie dense- you can eat a lot of nuts and cheese and it’s a lot of calories and even eating a small amount and you will still eat a considerable amount of calories, it’s just how it is and it’s SO easy to overconsume.

This dish is listed for Day 5 of the very first week of P3! And again you’ll have it without the cheese for that Phase 3. BUT, when you want to make this dish again because it’s really, really delicious, you can make this meal again and now you’re going to add ¼ cup mozzarella cheese, when you do that, now with the cheese the full dish is 405 calories and 1 extra carb. Even though the calories have now gone up a little bit 405 calories for a full meal is a completely reasonable amount and still far less than these 2 dishes here.

Notice the amount of found that’s in one serving!

I’m eatin’ dat.

It’s GENEROUS even though the carbs are less. It’s generous because of the ratio we designed this recipe to have. It’s got some fat, some carbs, and a good amount of protein.

That’s what I want to show you there. The whole Phase 3 meal plan is designed like this.

It’s specifically tailored to fit within a reasonable amount of carbs but not carb-free.

We’re not having grains or sugar but we are getting some carbs that are coming from lower-carb vegetables and whole fruits. For me, with all the low-carb diets I’ve done and the reading I’ve done, I think our brains have been just impregnated with this thought of everything needs to be as low carb as possible and I need to look for foods that are 5 net carbs or less and anything above that seems high carb. But it’s not. All it has is one cup of spaghetti squash so it’s totally reasonable.

For instance, we tend to think of dairy as low carb, but if you have enough of it, which is easy to do, the carbs in the dairy add up. And this isn’t necessarily bad, it’s just what we’ve been programmed to believe it low carb or not low carb, but I have come to learn over time that it’s not just WHAT food but also how MUCH of a food we eat. If you eat just 1 cup of spaghetti squash, this is going to be nice low carb choice still.

You guys know that this meal plan was designed SPECIFICALLY for you to be used on Phase 3 so you can stabilize your weight. It’s such an important time. You don’t want to ruin all that hard work you’ve just put in. The weight loss has been a big deal and you’re happy about that. You feel so much better in your jeans or you’re down a few sizes and that’s exciting.

Now you want to solidify that.

No one wants to keep eating 500 calories and living on celery and fennel.


Some people mention continue eating Phase 2 foods but just increase them. That is certainly an option!

I will say though that this is not usually necessary if you don’t want to do that.

With the Phase 3 meal plan, everything is designed. The recipes are designed to have variety when it came to the types of meat, I used a lot of different vegetables and fruits, and different types of cuisine so you don’t get bored. You will definitely enjoy them. They are so delicious and they are really easy to modify.

The Phase 3 meal plan is designed to have:

  • Variety when it came to the types of meat
  • Different vegetables and fruits
  • Different types of cuisine

MODIFICATIONS to make it a maintenance recipe.

Just like Phase 2 is a special time period, Phase 3 is also a special time period. So for all the recipes in the first 2 weeks where the total calories of those meals are a little lower to help  your body readjust, and don’t contain the cheese and nuts, I’ve listed modifications to those recipes so that you can eat those in phase 4 and add a little more calories, taste, texture and dairy or nuts if you so choose.

So you’ll see ways to add fat, protein, or carbs in a reasonable amount to that recipe if you so choose for when you make it again.

So there ya go! The friendly little duel with pinterest. 😉

So I’m curious now, when you pick recipes online, how do you guys make your choice? Are you like me and go with whatever looks prettiest and says paleo or low carb on it?

I had NO idea there could be such differences in recipes like this!

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