What Is the Beyond Diet?

fruit, vegetables and nuts

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In This Article

The Beyond diet promises you can lose up to 10 pounds in two weeks by adopting a meal program that's lower in carbs and that omits grain-based foods and sugar. The program, outlined in the book Beyond Diet by author Isabel De Los Rios, aims to jump-start your weight loss efforts quickly through a fairly restrictive diet, then ease you into what it says is a more sustainable program.

It's likely you'll lose some weight by following the Beyond diet, especially during the first four weeks of the program. However, the plan devised by De Los Rios, a certified nutritionist, eliminates foods that most nutritionists would consider healthy parts of a balanced diet. Her plan also requires you to buy a proprietary green protein powder from her company and encourages the use of other Beyond-branded products, including an omega-3 supplement.

What Experts Say

The Beyond Diet offers several weight loss plans with recipes and an online forum. This structure and support can help users lose weight. However, experts disagree with certain off-limits foods, and past users warn there’s frequent up-selling of additional products.

Chrissy Carroll, RD, MPH

Background

De Los Rios, author of Beyond Diet, bills the Beyond diet as "three-step fat loss." The program encourages you to eliminate sugar and most grain products, shifting your food intake to lower-carb fruits and vegetables along with lean protein sources. It also urges you to eat frequently, drink plenty of water, and consume moderate amounts of fat.

Many people who say they've been successful with the Beyond diet credit the program's online support community for their success. In addition, there are multiple additional recipes, meal plans, and exercise recommendations online.

However, you can't access some of this unless you pay a one-time membership fee to join the community.

How It Works

When following the Beyond diet, you'll follow specific meal plans for the first 14 days. Once you've completed the first two weeks of the program, you'll move on to another two-week-long set of recipes. All these recipes are designed around "real food," and cut back on sugar, certain fats, certain carbs, and some other foods.

Once people following the Beyond diet wrap up their first 28 days on the diet, they can begin creating their own meal plans, based on the principles outlined in De Los Rios' book.

What to Eat

Compliant Foods

  • Fruit (including apples, bananas, and berries)

  • Mixed greens and spinach

  • Avocado

  • Bell peppers

  • Broccoli, carrots, and cauliflower

  • Tomatoes and celery

  • Sweet potatoes

  • Bacon and sausage (natural and nitrate-free)

  • Ground buffalo, beef, and turkey

  • Chicken breast and thighs

  • Sliced turkey

  • Eggs

  • Raw almonds, macadamia nuts, pumpkin seeds, and walnuts

  • Coconut oil and butter

  • Extra virgin olive oil

  • Spices

Non-Compliant Foods

  • Sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, and other sweeteners

  • Artificial sweeteners

  • Soda and other sweetened drinks

  • Highly processed wheat

  • Processed, packaged health foods

  • Soy

The Beyond diet's menu plans for its first 28 days will look familiar to anyone who's followed a diet that's lower in carbohydrates. They contain lots of fruits and vegetables, healthy, lower-fat protein sources such as chicken and fish (with some buffalo, as well), and a smattering of nuts and seeds. Coconut oil and extra virgin olive oil are encouraged, while canola oil is not allowed (despite most nutritionists agreeing that canola oil is healthy).

The diet does not include any grain-based carbohydrates in its initial 28 days. Therefore, you'll be eliminating all bread, pasta, chips, and all sweet grain-based products such as cake, muffins, and cookies. There's also very little dairy (only a small amount of parmesan cheese and some butter), so you'll be skipping milk, cheese, and ice cream during the diet's initial phase.

Fruits and Vegetables

Fresh produce forms the core of the Beyond diet. Your weekly shopping list will include nearly 12 cups of mixed greens and spinach, along with apples, berries, green beans, onions, tomatoes, bell peppers, and spaghetti squash. Every meal will include some type of fruits and vegetables—often more than one. Expect to eat lots of salads and steamed vegetables. and plan on snacks such as bananas, celery, and carrots.

Meat and Seafood

The Beyond diet encourages moderate amounts of lean protein at every meal. For example, breakfast might include turkey sausage sauteed with fresh bell pepper and onion, lunch could be broiled salmon, and dinner might feature turkey chili. All the recipes are included, and portions of protein tend to be small—generally, 4 oz. or less of protein per meal.

Eggs and Dairy

During the first four weeks of the Beyond diet, you'll eat only a handful of eggs per week and practically no dairy. The only two dairy products allowed are raw organic butter for cooking (in small amounts), and parmesan cheese (as part of a recommended salad dressing recipe).

Nuts and Seeds

The diet recommends eating a few ounces of nuts every day as a snack, and also allows some nut butter as a snack. Recommended nuts and seeds include: raw almonds, raw macadamia nuts, raw pumpkin seeds, and raw walnuts.

Oils

Only two types of oils are allowed on the Beyond diet: coconut oil and extra virgin olive oil.

Seasonings

You won't need to suffer through bland foods while you're following the Beyond diet program. Recommended seasonings include: fresh basil and parsley, black and cayenne peppers, chili powder, ground cumin, garlic powder, dried oregano, parsley, and thyme, paprika, and unrefined sea salt.

Each day's meal plan begins with the Beyond diet's daily greens energy drink. To make this drink, you need to purchase De Los Rios' proprietary "Daily Energy Spring of Life" powder mix, which contains raw spirulina, wheatgrass, and raw cacao. The product is available on Amazon or directly from the Beyond diet website.

In order to buy this product directly from the Beyond diet website, you must sign up for recurring shipments (the fine print states that you can cancel at any time, but you have to opt-out or you'll continue to be billed). Wherever you purchase it, you will pay around $80 for one month's supply.

Actually making the daily greens energy drink is simple: add one scoop of the powder mix to an 8 oz. glass of water, and stir.

Recommended Timing

When following the Beyond diet, you'll eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner, plus a morning snack and an afternoon snack. There's no recommended timing (eat the meals and the snacks when you want), but you'll probably want to spread the meals and snacks throughout your day to keep any hunger pangs at bay.

Breakfast will include the daily energy greens drink, plus protein (eggs, sausage, chicken, or bacon) and vegetables such as fresh tomatoes. You'l also have two teaspoons of unrefined virgin coconut oil every morning—you'll use it to cook the protein and vegetables.

Lunch will consist of a protein-based main course such as turkey chili, plus more vegetables and perhaps a piece of fruit for dessert. Morning and afternoon snacks generally consist of fruit or carrot sticks combined with nuts or nut butter.

Dinner is similar to lunch, with protein (in the form of turkey burgers, chicken, or fish) alongside vegetables and/or a salad.

The seventh day of every week is a "free day" (De Los Rios takes pains to distinguish it from a cheat day). On your free days, you can eat anything you want for one meal; the other two meals should be from the Beyond diet blueprint.

The author asks readers to commit to giving the program four weeks to work, although she promises that they will see results within one week and definitive results within the month.

Modifications

It's possible to follow the Beyond diet if you have food allergies or preferences. However, people with some food restrictions may find it difficult.

Dairy-free

It's simple to follow a dairy-free diet as part of the Beyond diet—you'll just need to omit the parmesan cheese-based salad dressing (try olive oil instead, with herbs for seasoning), and cook with coconut oil instead of butter.

Vegetarian/vegan

People following a vegetarian diet or a vegan diet will find it tricky to adhere to the Beyond diet's blueprint since most meals center around animal protein. In addition, common vegetarian sources of protein such as soy, legumes, and grains are not allowed on the Beyond diet.

Gluten-free

Almost everything in the Beyond diet program is naturally gluten-free, with one important exception: the daily energy greens drink powder, which contains wheat grass. Experts do not consider wheatgrass to be gluten-free. However, you could consider substituting another green smoothie powder that is gluten-free but contains spirulina and raw cacao—there are many from which to choose.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Emphasizes fruits and vegetables

  • Eliminates sugar

  • Includes active support forum

Cons

  • Avoids healthy whole grains

  • Requires purchases of proprietary products

  • Likely unsustainable in the long term

Pros

Emphasizes Fruits and Vegetables

The Beyond diet places fruits and vegetables firmly at its foundation—you'll eat them at every meal when following this weight loss plan. Since fresh produce is the cornerstone of a healthy diet, this aspect of the Beyond diet is a point in its favor. The program also includes various recipes that should help keep you from being bored with the diet and likely will encourage you to eat your vegetables.

Eliminates Sugar

Added sugar is unhealthy, and most of us would probably benefit from ditching sweetened drinks and other sources of added sugar in our diets. The Beyond diet addresses this head-on by eliminating all products with added sugar in all forms—including high-fructose corn syrup.

Includes Active Support Forum

There's no doubt that social support helps many people to lose weight, and those following the Beyond diet often enjoy the specific support offered by this program on its website. However, note that you'll have to pay to join the community.

Cons

Avoids Healthy Whole Grains

Skipping entire food groups can make a diet difficult to follow, and may make it unhealthy, as well. The Beyond diet eliminates all grain products, including healthy whole grains.

Requires Purchase of Proprietary Products

Lots of diets feature homemade smoothies, but the Beyond diet expects you to pay top dollar (close to $3 per day, in fact) for its proprietary green drink powder. That may place the program out of reach financially for many people.

Likely Unsustainable in the Long-term

The Beyond diet likely will help you to lose weight in the short term. But any diet that eliminates or severely limits major food groups—in this case, grain-based foods such as bread and pasta—likely won't work in the long term. In this diet program, you are allowed to have bread after the initial 28 days, but you're limited to sprouted whole grain bread. Most people will find that too restrictive.

How It Compares

The Beyond diet is similar in concept to other diets that are lower in carbohydrates and call for moderate protein and fat intake, including the South Beach diet. However, its emphasis on proprietary products causes it to fall short of other effective diet programs.

USDA Recommendations

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's MyPlate nutrition tool encourages you to get around half of your daily food intake from vegetables and fruits, around one-third from grain products (whole grains are emphasized), less than one-quarter from protein sources, and just a small amount from fats and sweets.

The Beyond diet meets those recommendations for fresh produce and protein, and it eliminates sugar entirely. However, the program also nixes grains entirely, and calls for somewhat more fat than the MyPlate tool recommends. You may find the meal plans monotonous, since they frequently call for eating left-overs and use the same recipes repeatedly.

In addition, the meal plans outlined for the first four weeks of the Beyond diet contain fewer calories than the MyPlate tool recommends, both for men and women. In the first four weeks, you'll consume around 1,200 calories per day (in some cases less, depending on your meal choices) on the Beyond diet. After that, De Los Rios' blueprint contains recommendations for meal plans featuring higher maintenance calorie levels—from 1,400 calories per day to 2,400 calories per day.

Keep in mind that many women and some men would gain weight on a program that included 2,400 calories per day, especially if their activity levels were lower than average.

Similar Diets

The Beyond diet shares some similarities with other diets, including the paleo diet, the South Beach diet, and other diets that focus on reducing carbohydrate intake, especially intake of carbs that are high on the glycemic index.

Paleo Diet

The paleo diet encourages followers to "eat like cavemen." In other words, when following the paleo diet program, you'll eat only foods that were available to early human hunter-gatherers as they roamed the Earth. The Beyond diet program encourages similar foods, including lots of vegetables, fruits, and lean meats. Still, the Beyond diet's required green energy drink is not something a cave-dweller would have eaten.

South Beach Diet

The South Beach diet is a highly popular program that encourages weight loss via a program of mostly fresh produce and lean protein, with little or no sugar and processed carbs. The Beyond diet echoes these tenets. Both diets skip processed grains and white potatoes in favor of a hefty serving of vegetables.

The South Beach diet actually cuts out more carbs in its first week than the Beyond diet—the South Beach program eliminates fruit in that first week, while fruit is always on the menu for the Beyond diet. Both diets offer proprietary products for sale, but the South Beach diet doesn't require them.

Low Glycemic Index Diet

Beyond Diet author De Los Rios states that losing weight is easier if you stick with carbohydrate-based foods that are low glycemic, and her program features these foods, which include apples, sweet potatoes, and greens. However, the Beyond diet doesn't include all low glycemic foods; for example, oatmeal and whole wheat are low-glycemic, but are not included on De Los Rios' list of recommended food choices.

Advocates of a low glycemic diet believe that low glycemic foods help you to regulate your blood sugar, since your body absorbs them more slowly. Still, nutritionists point out that not all low glycemic foods are healthy choices, while some foods that are considered moderate or even high-glycemic may be part of a nutritious diet.

A Word from Verywell

Choosing a diet can be difficult—there are so many choices, and the various claims likely will be tricky to evaluate. If you choose the Beyond diet, it's likely you'll lose some weight, especially at first, since the program is low in calories and relatively easy to follow in the short term. It also offers the opportunity for social support. However, long-term you may find you get better results with a program that offers you more food options, and that doesn't require you to purchase expensive products.

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Article Sources

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  1. De Los Rios, I. (2013). Beyond diet. Mount Pleasant, SC: Live Smart Solutions.