What Is the Beachbody 21 Day Fix?

In This Article

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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. One of its most popular programs is the 21 Day Fix, which incorporates a portion-controlled eating plan and a series of workouts.

What Experts Say

"The 21 Day Fix claims users can lose up to 15 pounds in 21 days. By portioning foods into color-coded containers and exercising, weight loss is promising but probably not to the promised degree. Experts dislike the short-term focus and suggest some may find it too restrictive."
Chrissy Carroll, RD, MPH

Background

Beachbody provides a wide range of workouts for at-home exercisers. Users either buy the programs on DVD or use the company's streaming service, Beachbody On Demand, to access the content. 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 fitness programs include an eating plan designed by a celebrity trainer and in-house nutrition experts.

Beachbody also sells Shakeology drinks, nutritional supplements, multivitamins, and other diet aids, as well as a set of portion control containers. The 21 Day Fix is just one of Beachbody's many fitness and weight-loss plans.

To buy Beachbody products, you purchase through a Beachbody coach. Coaches are not trained exercise or nutrition specialists, but 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.

How It Works

The nutritional approach for each Beachbody program varies slightly, but most plans, including the 21 Day Fix, follow a 40/30/30 model where you consume 40 percent of your calories from carbs, 30 percent from protein, and 30 percent from fat.

On the 21 Day Fix, users first calculate their own daily calorie needs, based on current weight and using a formula supplied by Beachbody. This calorie target then determines the number of servings to eat from the color-coded portion-control containers.

What to Eat

Compliant Foods

  • Fruits and vegetables

  • Lean proteins

  • Whole grains (in moderation)

  • Healthy fats (in moderation)

  • Seeds and dressings (in small amounts)

Non-Compliant Foods

  • Refined carbohydrates

  • Added sugars

  • Processed and fried foods

  • Alcohol

Fruits and Vegetables

Like all Beachbody plans, the 21 Day Fix recommends eating plenty of whole fruits and vegetables. A serving is one cup. Depending on your calorie count, you will eat three to six servings of vegetables and two to four servings of fruit per day.

Lean Proteins

The 21 Day Fix eating plan recommends lean proteins such as skinless chicken breasts, tofu, fish, eggs, and low-fat Greek yogurt. You will eat four to six (3/4 cup) servings a day.

Whole Grains/Carbohydrates

The grain serving size is small (1/2 cup) and the plan calls for two to four servings per day, again depending on your calorie count. Recommended foods include grains such as quinoa and brown rice, legumes such as peas and lentils, and starchy vegetables, such as potatoes and sweet potatoes. Three times per week, you can swap out one of these carb servings for a treat such as dark chocolate or dried fruit.

Healthy Fats

This category includes avocados, nuts, and cheeses. The serving size is 1/3 cup and regardless of calorie goal, the plan limits this group to one serving a day. Two to six teaspoons of nut butters and oils are also allowed daily.

Seeds and Dressings

One two-tablespoon serving is allowed for all calorie ranges. The 21 Day Fix eating plan includes recipes for salad dressings that meet its criteria.

Foods to Avoid

While you're on the 21 Day Fix, you should avoid added sugars and sweeteners, processed foods (such as deli meats and packaged snacks), refined carbohydrates (e.g., white bread, pasta), fast food and fried food, and alcohol.

Recommended Timing

The 21 Day Fix eating plan calls for three meals and three snacks a day, made up of the number of servings determined by your calorie need.

Resources and Tips

The Beachbody 21 Day Fix plan comes with access to a Beachbody coach and online support. The peer support offered by Beachbody coaches may be helpful to some users. 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 workout plan is also an integral part of the Fix. It includes six different 30-minute workouts and a calendar. You'll do at least one every day.

Many Beachbody workouts are led by well-respected trainers with years of experience in exercise and motivation. And while many are quite challenging, the company recommends 21 Day Fix for beginners or for customers who are overweight.

Modifications

The 21 Day Fix eating plan includes recommendations for daily calorie counts ranging from 1200 to 2300. Beachbody says that if your calculation indicates you need fewer than 1200 daily calories, you should round up (and consume 1200 calories per day); for counts above 2300, round down.

If you are gluten-free or vegetarian, you can adapt the 21 Day Fix eating plan to meet your dietary needs. Recommended foods include gluten-free and meat-free options. But if you already know that you need to follow a specific 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.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Emphasis on whole foods and fiber

  • Nutritionally balanced

  • Help with portion control

  • Exercise included

Cons

  • May restrict calories excessively

  • Short-term solution

  • Can be expensive

  • Products offered through multi-level marketing

Pros

Whole Foods

During the 21 Day Fix, users are directed to favor whole foods and avoid anything processed. This is generally a good strategy for both weight loss and health, because it encourages consumption of foods that are rich in nutrients and fiber and low in calories, sugar, and salt.

Balanced Nutrition

The 21 Day Fix eating plan does not restrict any particular group of nutritious foods, and it aims for a healthy mix of carbohydrates, protein, and fat.

Controlled Portions

The Beachbody portion-control container kit is a smart system for people 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.

Exercise Included

Unlike many eating plans, the 21 Day Fix comes with a series of workouts designed to be used in combination with the diet. This could help users start new, healthy exercise habits.

Despite these benefits, experts do have some concerns with Beachbody in general and this program in particular.

Cons

Calorie Restriction

The formula that the 21 Day Fix uses to determine calorie goals could result in a suggested daily calorie count under 1500 calories. For many people, this would just not be enough calories for energy and health, especially when you factor in the daily workouts. Similarly, the portion sizes are quite small and could be hard for some people to use successfully, even for just the 21 days of the plan.

Short-Term Solution

Beachbody promises quick results with the 21 Day Fix, and it is only meant to last for three weeks. During this time, users will probably need to avoid eating out, and must find time to exercise for at least 30 minutes every day. Returning to previous habits and portion sizes after the 21-day period could mean regaining that lost weight.

Expensive

The 21 Day Fix kit costs about $60, and it includes the portion control containers, workout videos, and eating plan, along with other resources and information. However, purchasing whole, unprocessed foods can be pricey. In addition, your Beachbody coach may encourage you to purchase more Beachbody products.

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 up to $129.95. The price is likely to be higher than the cost of making your own protein smoothies at home. 

Multi-Level Marketing

Peer support and recruitment is a cornerstone of the Beachbody system. 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. 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.

How It Compares

Elements of the Beachbody 21 Day Fix may be familiar to you from other diet and weight loss programs, and from general nutrition advice and guidelines.

USDA Recommendations

Food Groups

The 21 Day Fix suggests a balanced mix of protein, fruits, vegetables, grains, and dairy, albeit in small serving sizes. This is in line with USDA recommendations for filling your plate with a mix of all these foods.

Calories

The USDA suggests a daily calorie intake of 1600 to 2000 calories for weight loss, depending on age, sex, weight, and activity level. The 21 Day Fix calorie-target equation does not factor in age, sex, or weight, which means the number could be wrong for you. You might have more success with this tool below, which does include these variables.

Similar Diets

Other weight-loss programs, both commercial and not, incorporate some of the same strategies that the 21 Day Fix uses.

Beachbody 21 Day Fix

  • General nutrition: The 21 Day Fix provides for a balanced mix of foods and emphasizes whole, unprocessed ingredients. These are most likely to have plenty of nutrients while also being lower in calories.
  • Safety: This diet is reasonably safe; however, it may restrict calories too much for some users.
  • Practicality: Being able to follow a prescribed plan for meals and exercise is helpful, and there's no calorie counting or measuring (just use the portioned containers). But convenience foods are off-limits, and preparing all the compliant meals may be time-consuming.
  • Sustainability: This is not meant to be a long-term plan, which is good because it would be hard for most people to continue eating this way beyond the 21 days.

Biggest Loser Diet

  • General nutrition: Like the 21 Day Fix, the Biggest Loser diet does not restrict food groups; instead, it focuses on healthy, nutrient-dense choices and portion size. It also includes exercise as an important part of the plan.
  • Safety: Again, this diet mirrors the 21 Day Fix in that is generally safe, but can be too low in calories for some users.
  • Practicality: The diet provides some helpful guidelines, such as its recommended "4-3-2-1 pyramid" of daily consumption: Four servings of fruits and vegetables, three of protein, two of whole grains, and one "extra." It doesn't require special foods or calorie counting.
  • Sustainability: The calorie restriction, and the ban on refined carbs and alcohol, could make it hard to stick with this diet for the long haul.

Dr. Oz's 21-Day Diet

  • General nutrition: On the plus side, the Dr. Oz 21-Day Diet emphasizes whole foods and allows users to eat unlimited servings of most vegetables. However, it severely limits animal proteins and even whole grains.
  • Safety: This diet is generally safe, at least for the short term that it's intended to be used. But anyone with a medical condition should consult with a doctor before trying it.
  • Practicality: This diet doesn't require calorie or carb counting, although serving sizes will need to be measured. It also doesn't require any special foods or supplements—but since it bans processed foods, it will require a fair amount of food planning and prep.
  • Sustainability: With many foods banned, and the remaining ones quite low in calories and fat, it could be hard to adhere to this diet for the full 21 days (or repeat it, as Dr. Oz says could be necessary).

Low-Calorie Diet

  • General nutrition: A low-calorie diet is not a formal plan, but includes any eating plan that clocks in at 1000 to 1500 calories per day. Since there are no particular rules, no foods are restricted. But in order to pack enough nutrients into those calories, people on this diet have to be careful to choose nutrient-dense foods, like vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains.
  • Safety: It's hard to consume such a small number of calories safely. This kind of diet is best undertaken with the help of a medical professional.
  • Practicality: This eating plan requires careful calorie counting, food tracking, and meal planning.
  • Sustainability: Adhering to a low-calorie diet can be tough, although it's doable if you find the mix of nutritious, fiber-rich, satisfying foods that works for you.

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. 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. Do-it-yourself programs require more time and effort to set up. The good news is 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. It's also important to talk to your healthcare provider before starting this or any exercise or diet program.

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