Does Beachbody Work?

Review Beachbody Nutrition, Workouts, and Support Before You Buy

Beachbody Shakeology nutrition
 Beachbody

Beachbody has been a recognizable name in the fitness and weight loss industry for years. The company has produced popular at-home workouts like P90X and Insanity and sells Shakeology shakes, along with other nutritional supplements and exercise gear. Celebrity trainers like Tony Horton and Chalene Johnson have designed programs for the brand. But does Beachbody work?

How Does Beachbody Work?

Beachbody provides a wide range of workouts to at-home exercisers. Users either buy the programs on DVD or use the company's streaming service, Beachbody On Demand, to access the content on their laptops, tablets, TVs, or smartphones. Workouts usually combine cardiovascular training with strength workouts and flexibility exercises. There are dance workouts, high-intensity training programs, yoga, and other specialty formats. Most of the programs include an eating plan designed by the celebrity trainer and in-house nutrition experts.

Beachbody customers are advised to purchase and consume Shakeology drinks along with the workout program. Beachbody also sells nutritional supplements to enhance workout performance, multivitamins, and other diet aids. For customers looking to lose weight, the Beachbody Portion Control Container Kit and eating plan is recommended.

If you choose to buy a Beachbody product, you'll purchase through a Beachbody coach. Coaches are not trained exercise or nutrition specialists, they are simply sales representatives that make a commission when they sell the company's products. Coaches are usually Beachbody customers themselves who have had success with the programs and offer peer support and product recommendations to their clients. They also make a commission if they recruit you to sell the products. This multilevel marketing system has been a source of both success and controversy throughout the company's history.

Does Beachbody Work?

If you want to change your body, there are three important components to look for in any program: nutrition, exercise, and support. Beachbody offers all three elements but there are benefits and drawbacks to each.

Beachbody Fitness

On the upside, there is a wide range of Beachbody exercise programs and styles from which to choose. Many of the workouts are led by well-respected trainers with years of experience in exercise and motivation. While many of workouts are quite challenging (P90X, Body Beast, and INSANITY, for example), others are geared for fitness newbies. The company recommends YouV2, Country Heat, Slim in 6, or 21-Day Fix for beginners or for customers who are overweight or obese.

But there can be a downside to exercising at home on your own. It's easy to get interrupted by household chores, family members, and other distractions. And you may not have space that is fit or safe for exercise. Not only do you need a large room, but you should also be mindful of your workout surface. Many home flooring surfaces (like concrete or carpet) are often not optimal for workouts that involve jumping, twisting, or plyometrics.

Lastly, when you exercise at home, you don't get the benefit of feedback. It's not likely that you've got a large mirrored surface in which to check your form during workouts, and you won't have a live trainer to make personalized corrections. Doing exercises incorrectly can lead to injury or burnout. But for some, exercising at home provides the convenience and privacy they need to exercise on a regular basis.

Beachbody Nutrition

The nutritional approach for each Beachbody program varies slightly, but most plans follow a 40/30/30 model where you consume 30 percent of your calories from protein, 40 percent of calories from carbs and 30 percent of your calories from fat. According to the company, there are some governing guidelines (like eating plenty of vegetables) that apply to all Beachbody programs, but they tailor eating plans to suit the goals of each individual program.

A company spokesperson explains what to expect.

"The eating plans for our beginner programs (such as Country Heat and YouV2) focus mainly on weight loss and tend to be more lenient in terms of food choices so that people used to making poor food choices can ease into healthy eating. On the other hand, our more challenging programs (such as 80 Day Obsession and Shift Shop) feature a much more buttoned down eating plan."

Beachbody's Shakeology shakes are not required for the program, but the products are heavily promoted. They are also expensive. You need to buy the shakes in large quantities (a carton of 24 packets is the smallest size offering that is available) and you'll pay $129.95 (retail) or $97.46 if you are a coach. The price is likely to be higher than the cost of making your own protein smoothies at home. 

According to the company, Shakeology shakes provide you with "dense" nutrition. Each scoop of shake mix provides 160 calories, 2.5 grams of fat, 6 grams of fiber, 7 grams of sugar, 17 grams of carbohydrate, and 17 grams of protein. Nutritional information will vary if you mix your shake with juice or milk. The shakes are also fortified with herbal and other "superfood" ingredients to boost nutrition. Each shake also provides 2-20 milligrams of caffeine for energy.

While the ingredients used in Shakeology shakes may sound impressive to consumers, health experts recommend that you get your nutrition from whole foods, rather than processed supplements. In a recent JAMA publication, authors stated: "supplementation is not a substitute for a healthful and balanced diet and, in most cases, provides little if any benefit beyond that conferred by such a diet." So, relying on the shakes to fill gaps in nutrition may not be the smartest approach for optimal health in the long term.

So are Shakeology shakes meant to replace a meal? Or do you consume them in addition to your daily meals? As a consumer, it can be slightly confusing to figure out the answer. Some reviews on the site and other online comments from coaches would lead you to believe that the shakes can be used as a meal replacement. However, the company acknowledges the confusion with a blog post on the topic, in which they say, "By itself, Shakeology does not replace a meal. That being said, it certainly can be part of a balanced meal when combined with healthy foods like berries and other fruit, nuts, seeds, and nut butters, avocados, various milks, or whatever else tickles your fancy."

Beachbody Support

Peer support and recruitment is a cornerstone of the Beachbody system. Beachbody coaches enlist friends, family members, co-workers, and neighbors both in person and on social media. For example, many coaches promote their Beachbody success on Facebook, often using amateur before and after pictures as evidence of their success.

However, because the peer support is tied to financial compensation, the company has come under fire from some experts in the industry for promoting "coaching services" by sales representatives with no exercise or nutrition credentials. The company says that individual distributors are qualified to provide support and encouragement because they have been successful Beachbody users themselves. But no formal exercise or nutrition training is required.

Anyone can sign up to become a coach online for a one-time fee of $39.95 plus a $15.95 recurring monthly fee. The one-time fee is waived if a new coach purchases a $160 Challenge Pack (bundled fitness and nutrition products). Additional business starter kits and packages are sold to coaches to encourage sales and recruitment. Coaches earn a percentage of each product that they sell and any product sold by a coach that they recruit, so they are heavily incentivized to network and sell.

Will I Lose Weight With Beachbody?

Many Beachbody customers invest in the program with hopes that they will see the same weight loss results that they see in photos online. For many, the before and after pictures provided by regular users (rather than paid celebrities) are evidence that the program works in the real world. But photos can be deceiving. Lighting, filters, posture, body position, hydration levels, and wardrobe changes can easily make "after" photos look more impressive than they really are. So instead of relying on photos, it's smart to review Beachbody services to see if you are likely to stick to the program long enough to see results.

Ask yourself a few questions before you invest:

  • Have I been able to stick to an exercise program in the past? If not, why have I quit? Beachbody and Beachbody On Demand workouts are varied enough so you are not likely to get bored with the same exercises. But you'll need to have some level of self-discipline to motivate yourself to exercise at home every day. Some exercisers need the encouragement of a live instructor or coach to stay consistent.
  • Do I have special nutritional or medical concerns? It's important to talk to your healthcare provider before starting this or any exercise or diet program. But if you already know that you need to follow a specific diet (such as a gluten-free diet) this may not be the best program for you, because you won't get professional or personalized nutritional advice. Similarly, if you have an injury or medical condition that requires you to modify movement, you may do better with a qualified personal trainer or coach who can guide your exercise program safely.
  • Will I be satisfied drinking some or most of my meals? You many be able to reach the calorie deficit needed for weight loss with Shakeology shakes, but it is certainly not a guarantee if you use the shakes as indicated by the company. Adding high calorie ingredients like nuts or avocado will boost the fat and calorie count. You will benefit from protein and fiber, but you'll also drink those calories through a straw. Drinking your meals not likely to provide you with a mindful eating experience, mouthfeel, or sensory satisfaction that can help to promote eating habits for long-term weight maintenance. In fact, scientific studies have been inconclusive about the effectiveness of using of shakes for long-term weight loss and maintenance. In short, if you return to your regular 3-meal-a-day eating habits after you reach your goal weight, you may put back on the weight that you lost with the shakes.
  • Do I have time to invest in meal planning? The Beachbody Portion-Control Container Kit is a smart system for dieters looking to lose weight. The program is appealing to many consumers because you don't have to count calories to use it (although the system is based on reaching programmed calorie targets).  Each brightly-colored reusable container is designed to help you eat the right amount of different foods at meal time so you'll learn healthy eating habits for long-term weight maintenance. Grocery shopping guides and meal planning worksheets are also provided. Keep in mind, however, that the system will require a consistent time commitment (as does any healthy eating program) in order to make it work.
  • Do I have support for my weight loss program? The peer support offered by Beachbody coaches may be helpful to some users. Getting involved in a Beachbody Challenge or having your coach check in with you can help to boost motivation and accountability. But the coaching relationship is based on your continued purchases. If you don't plan to invest in Beachbody products for the long term, you may want to make sure you have other friends and family members to offer support in your weight loss journey.

    A Word From Verywell

    Trying to choose between a commercial diet or fitness program—like Beachbody—and a do-it-yourself weight loss program can be confusing. On the one hand, commercial programs are convenient because many of the elements (such as specific workouts and eating plans) are organized for you. But these plans come at a cost that is often not sustainable. On the other hand, do-it-yourself programs require more time and effort to set up. But that investment may help you create a more personalized program that you can stick to for the long term.

    As you make your decision, think about your lifelong plan for wellness rather than the short-term "after" photo. Focusing on long-term weight maintenance will help you to set up a system that works for you. You may find that a program like Beachbody is a smart springboard to launch your diet and fitness program. Or you might choose to go-it alone and see how far it takes you. Regardless of the plan you choose, reach out for support and use common sense as your guide to keep your body healthy and well.

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