What Is the Beachbody 21 Day Fix?

beachbody diet

Verywell / Debbie Burkhoff 

At Verywell, we believe there is no one-size-fits-all approach to a healthy lifestyle. Successful eating plans need to be individualized and take the whole person into consideration. Prior to starting a new diet plan, consult with your healthcare provider or a registered dietitian, especially if you have an underlying health condition.

Beachbody has been a recognizable name in the fitness and weight loss industry for years. It's a multi-level marketing company that sells popular at-home workouts like P90X and Insanity and products like 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.

The Beachbody 21 Day Fix is a diet and exercise program that promises quick weight loss of up to 15 pounds. The diet plan emphasizes whole foods without unprocessed ingredients, which are often rich in nutrients while also being lower in calories. The plan also encourages 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise a day, which is helpful for weight loss and heart health.

This 21-day diet plan is relatively safe; however, some people may find they're not getting enough daily calories to convert to energy for exercise. Weight loss is possible on the 21 Day Fix, but since it's not meant to be a long-term diet plan, some people may regain the weight that was lost once the diet is over, should they return to their usual eating habits.

What Experts Say

"The 21 Day Fix claims people 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

What Can You Eat?

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

On the 21 Day Fix, people first calculate their 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.

Each brightly colored, reusable container is designed to help you eat the right amount of different foods at meals 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.

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. 

What You Need to Know

The Beachbody 21 Day Fix plan comes with access to a Beachbody coach and online support. Having your coach check in with you can help with 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 support you in your weight-loss journey.

A workout plan is also an integral part of the 21 Day Fix. It includes six different 30-minute workouts. 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 the 21 Day Fix for beginners or for customers who are overweight.

The 21 Day Fix eating plan includes recommendations for daily calorie counts ranging from 1,200 to 2,300. Beachbody says that if your calculation indicates you need fewer than 1,200 daily calories, you should round up (and consume 1,200 calories per day); for counts above 2,300, 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.

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.

What to Eat
  • Fruits and vegetables

  • Lean proteins

  • Whole grains (in moderation)

  • Healthy fats (in moderation)

  • Seeds and dressings (in small amounts)

What Not to Eat
  • Refined carbohydrates

  • Added sugars

  • Processed and fried foods

  • Alcohol

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. However, the portion sizes are quite small, which means that some people may find they're not getting enough daily calories, even for just the 21 days of the plan.

Fruits and Vegetables

Like all Beachbody plans, the 21 Day Fix recommends eating plenty of whole fruits and vegetables. A serving is 1 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. A serving is 3/4 cup. You will eat four to six servings a day.

Whole Grains

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 2-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.

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

The before and after photos are compelling, but does the Beachbody 21 Day Fix really work? The diet plan encourages a healthy lifestyle and promotes long-term healthy habits like portion control, but the program itself is not a successful method for long-term weight management.

Pros

  • Whole foods: During the 21 Day Fix, people 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 the consumption of foods that are rich in nutrients and fiber and low in calories, added 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). 
  • 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 people seeking long-term weight management start new, healthy exercise habits they can stick to.

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 1,500 calories. For many people, this would just not be enough calories for energy and health, especially when you factor in the daily workouts.
  • Short-term solution: Beachbody promises quick results with the 21 Day Fix, and the program is only meant to last for three weeks. During this time, people 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.
  • 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 who make a commission when they sell the company's products.

The company says that individual distributors are qualified to provide support and encouragement because they have been successful in Beachbody programs themselves. But no formal exercise or nutrition training is required. Coaches also 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.

Is the Beachbody 21 Day Fix a Healthy Choice for You?

The Department of Agriculture (USDA) suggests a daily calorie intake of 1,600 to 2,000 calories for weight loss, depending on age, sex, weight, and activity level. Yet the 21 Day Fix calorie-target equation does not factor in age, sex, or weight, which means their recommended number could be wrong for you.

You might have more success with this tool below, which does include these variables. Nutrition experts continue to recommend calorie counting for successful weight loss and long-term weight management.

The 21 Day Fix suggests a balanced mix of protein, fruits, vegetables, grains, and dairy, albeit in small serving sizes. Though this in line with USDA recommendations for filling your plate with a mix of all these foods, it is not a long-term solution for weight management.

Health Benefits

With an emphasis on consuming whole foods in moderate portions, the 21 Day Fix is a nutritionally balanced approach to weight loss since it promotes healthy lifestyle habits. The fact that the diet plan encourages regular heart-pumping physical activity is a boon for weight loss and even long-term weight management, but only if healthy eating habits and consistent exercise remain part of your routine.

Research continues to show that proper nutrition combined with regular physical activity is a gold standard not just for weight management but also for the prevention of chronic disease as we age.

Health Risks

The 21 Day Fix is likely an effective way for most people to lose weight in the short term, but it is not sustainable for long term weight management, particularly if normal eating habits are resumed after the diet. Additionally, excessive calorie restriction may not always be an effective method for weight loss.

While there are no common health risks associated with the Beachbody 21 Day Fix, some research has indicated that calorie restriction could lead to nutrient deficiencies, which may cause fatigue. Other studies have shown that prolonged calorie restriction could slow the body's metabolism. In some cases, a reduction in bone density and muscle mass was shown in older adults, but in general, the long-term effects of calorie restrictions in humans remains somewhat inconclusive.

A Word From Verywell

Commercial diet or fitness programs like Beachbody 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 weight loss programs require more time and effort to set up, but that investment may help you create a personalized program that you can successfully stick with longer.

When weight loss and overall health are your goals, it's important to think about your lifelong plan for wellness rather than the short-term "after" photo. Focusing on long-term weight maintenance will help you set up a system that works for you.

A program like Beachbody might be a smart springboard to launch your diet and fitness program. Or you might choose to go it alone. 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 a new exercise or diet program.

Remember, following a long-term or short-term diet may not be necessary for you and many diets out there simply don’t work, especially long-term. While we do not endorse fad diet trends or unsustainable weight loss methods, we present the facts so you can make an informed decision that works best for your nutritional needs, genetic blueprint, budget, and goals.

If your goal is weight loss, remember that losing weight isn’t necessarily the same as being your healthiest self, and there are many other ways to pursue health. Exercise, sleep, and other lifestyle factors also play a major role in your overall health. The best diet is always the one that is balanced and fits your lifestyle.

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Article Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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