Where I Feel The 21 Day Fix Fails

by Jen on January 19, 2017

Where I Think The 21 Day Fix Fails. Have you been doing the 21 day fix for a while? Have you experienced a stall in your weight loss? Find out why I think this program needs an adjustment.


When I announced that I was switching to a low carb, high fat lifestyle, the most common question I got was, “How do you change the 21 Day Fix to eat this way?”

A lot of people, maybe even YOU, are using the 21 Day Fix nutrition plan (aka, The Portion Fix.) This plan is not limited to just the 21 Day Fix program, it seems that most of Beachbody’s meal plans are centred around this way of eating.

Since I am a Beachbody coach, you may be surprised to hear me say that I believe the 21 Day Fix fails in many ways.

I want to start by saying that I’m not against the 21 Day Fix, in fact, I think it’s a great program to follow, especially if you are just getting started on your health and fitness journey.

Here are some positives of the program:

1) I love that you’re given a list of healthy foods to choose from. It’s the first Beachbody program that I have seen do this. The focus is not on certain recipes, rather certain foods, which are for the most part, whole foods.

2) I love that you learn what a proper portion size looks like. It’s important to know what a 4 oz piece of chicken looks like rather than trying to weigh it each and every time.

3) I think the workouts are great. You get a combination of weight training and cardio and are in and out in just 30 minutes. That’s perfect for busy moms like myself.

BUT…that being said, I do think it needs some modifications.

Here are some fails of the program:

1) The calorie levels go way to low. Depending on your current weight, many women calculate their calories on this plan and end up in the 1200 – 1400 calorie range. Personally, I don’t think this calorie range should even exist. I believe that women shouldn’t eat below 1800 calories! And to take it a step further, I don’t believe we should be counting calories at all! Why? When you decrease your calories so low, guess what happens? Your metabolism eventually slows to match the decrease in calories. The whole point of weight loss is to boost your metabolism, not slow it down. So when we increase our caloric intake by eating more healthy, wholesome foods, we actually boost our metabolism. We can’t eat so few calories and expect to keep losing weight, it just doesn’t work.

2) I don’t like that the plan has you eating 5 – 6 small meals a day. As outlined in THIS blog post, eating 3 larger meals throughout your day will keep you in fat burning mode because it regulates your hormones better and keeps insulin lower.

3) I feel that the plan is too carb heavy. Like I outlined in THIS blog post, carbohydrates turn to sugar in our body. When we have too much sugar in our bloodstream, this raises insulin levels and can lead our body to store more fat. While I do agree with some of the carbs on the plan, I don’t agree with most of them. Someone could easily choose to eat the whole wheat bread, half a bagel, or small tortilla option for their “yellow” container. But is this actually good for you? In my opinion, it’s not.

When I first did the 21 day fix, I was one of those people who chose to eat the least healthy carbs. I ended up becoming bloated, gassy, and I couldn’t get that stubborn belly fat to permanently go away. I now know that it was because of the carbs I was eating. Not only was I eating the wrong ones, but I was eating too many.

Here are the foods that I think should be scratched from the “yellow” container list:

  • quinoa
  • brown rice
  • wild rice
  • corn on the cob
  • amaranth
  • millet
  • buckwheat
  • barley
  • bulgur
  • oatmeal, steel-cut
  • oatmeal, rolled
  • beans
  • lentils
  • edamame
  • pasta
  • couscous
  • crackers
  • cereal
  • bread
  • pita bread
  • waffles
  • pancakes
  • english muffin
  • bagel
  • tortilla
  • masa flour or cornmeal

4) I think there is way too much fruit being consumed. I used to think there was no such thing as too much fruit. I had no problem getting in my “purple” container for the day..mainly through bananas! So what’s wrong with fruit? Fruit is good for you, right? Well, yes, it has some benefits, but most of us consume WAY too much fruit! Like I mentioned about carbs, when we consume fruits, our body recognizes that as sugar. When you’re eating carbs AND fruit, that’s a lot of glucose released into our blood stream, which drives up insulin and promotes fat storage mode rather than fat burning mode.

Instead of eating 3 servings of fruit a day, I now eat maybe 1 – 2 servings of fruit per week. And I make sure that the fruits I do eat are low on the glycemic index, like berries, apples, or kiwis.

5) I don’t believe there are enough healthy fats incorporated. For the past few years, I’ve been afraid to eat fat. Once I started the 21 Day Fix, I stopped eating avocados and nuts because I only could have 1 “blue” container each day. Instead, I would pile on the almond butter because I could have a lot of “tsp” per day. Was this really healthy? I don’t think so. I was missing out on so many healthy fats that are good for our health and our hormones.

Since going off the 21 day fix eating plan, I now eat a TON of healthy fats like whole avocados, macadamia nuts, coconut oil, olive oil, meat with the skin on, full fat coconut milk, chia seeds, etc. I’ve never felt more satisfied in my entire LIFE!! I no longer feel the need to eat every 2 – 3 hours. I can go 4, 5, or even 6 hours without feeling so hungry. I’ve lost that stubborn “love-handle” fat and I’ve lost the belly bloat that made me look 6 months pregnant each night.

So you tell me, would you rather eat small, low fat meals all day long and never feel fully satisfied, or would you rather eat three larger, high fat meals and feel full and happy?

6) I don’t believe that everyone fits into one box. What I mean by this is, not everyone is going to benefit from the 21 day fix way of eating. I do believe it is a good starting point, but I don’t believe it’s something that will be helpful and sustainable in the long run. Every BODY is different. We all have different genetics, and what may work for one person may not work for the next person.

When I had clients that didn’t see great results on this program, I believed that they were still eating too much and not exercising enough. So I told them to buckle down and follow the plan to a T and workout even more. Boy, was I wrong. I no longer believe in the “eat less, exercise more” myth. I also don’t believe in the “calories in vs. calories out” myth. If that were the case, any overweight person would easily be able to lose weight by eating less and exercising more. But that just isn’t the case. There is a lot more going on in our bodies than just calories in and calories out.

I believe it is up to us to experiment with ourselves and determine which is the best way for us.

Maybe the 21 day fix way of eating is great for you and you love it. You never have cravings, you always feel full and satiated, you are never bloated or tired, and you continue to see great results. AMAZING!! Then stick with it!

But maybe the 21 day fix way of eating ISN’T working for you. Maybe you feel tired and hungry all the time, you get bloated after a day of eating, you are carving sugar like there’s no tomorrow, and your results have stopped. If you answered YES to any of those things, then I think it’s time to change what you’re doing because it’s obviously not working.

What can you do if the 21 day fix is failing you?

I would first suggest that you determine how you’re feeling following the 21 day fix eating plan.

  • Are you seeing results?
  • Have your results stopped?
  • Are you starting to gain weight?
  • Are you having any cravings for sweets or salty things?
  • Are you tired in the middle of the afternoon?
  • Do you have a ton of energy and feel great?
  • Are you feeling bloated at the end of the day?
  • Do you have stubborn fat that just won’t go away?
  • Are you hungry all the time?

What I first suggest to my Drop a Dress Size participants is to do the Breakfast Test.

One morning, have a carb heavy breakfast like oatmeal or pancakes with some fruit. Then, two hours later, write down how you feel. How is your hunger level? Are you getting hungry again? How is your energy? Do you feel tired or are you ready to take on the world? How are your cravings? Are you craving certain foods or not?

Four to five days later, have a high fat, low carb, moderate protein breakfast. This might include my Low Carb Egg Cups with 1/2 an avocado or fry a couple strips of bacon and then scramble some eggs in the bacon fat. Then, two hours later, write down you feel. Answer those same questions: How is your hunger level? Are you getting hungry again or do you still feel satisfied? How is your energy? Do you feel tired or are you ready to take on the world? How are your cravings? Are you craving certain foods or not?

Compare the 2 days. Which day did you feel better? If you weren’t hungry, tired, or craving anything after your high carb breakfast, then carbs are fine for you! If you started getting hungry two hours later, or felt lethargic during your day, or had any cravings for something sweet or salty, then you are probably more suited for the higher fat, lower carb breakfast.

My second suggestion is to get rid of the scale and STOP counting calories!

I’ve outlined in THIS blog post why I think the scale is useless. Instead, rely on measurements and progress photos – those tell the real story.

Once you’ve thrown out your scale, you can then delete your weight loss app, like MyFitnessPal. I mentioned above why I think counting calories are a waste of time. If you are only eating healthy, whole foods, then it doesn’t matter the number of calories you are eating. You will eat when you are hungry and you will stop eating when you are full. Listen to your body, it knows what it needs.

If a food causes you to have any side effects like bloating, lack of energy, cravings, skin conditions, gut conditions, headaches, etc. then get rid of it! I suggest to my clients who are having problems losing weight to get rid of GLUTEN, GRAINS, DAIRY, SUGAR, and SOY!! These are the 5 main foods that cause problems. Get rid of any foods containing them for at least 30 days. Check out the Whole30 for a place to get started.

Eating healthy is all about eating from nature, so don’t feel like there is nothing left to eat. In fact, there is an abundance of natural foods you CAN eat. All vegetables, animal proteins like meat, fish and eggs, sweet potatoes, avocados, coconut, coconut milk, nuts and seeds, nut and seed oils and butters, nut and seed milks like almond milk, and an abundance of herbs & spices. Trust me, butter tastes great on any healthy food 😉 Even my 9 year old will eat his broccoli without complaining when I put a dollop of grass fed butter on it!

To summarize, I believe that the key to your success is finding what is right for you. Just because everyone else seems to be doing the 21 Day Fix, doesn’t mean you have to.  It’s about finding what works for you, what keeps you satisfied, energetic, and feeling good! Don’t try to force something that isn’t working. I hope that these suggestions can help you figure that out.

If you need more guided help, consider joining one of my upcoming Drop a Dress Size groups! With the support of my online fitness challenge group, you’ll have daily coaching from me, daily motivation and accountability, access to my favorite low carb, high fat meal plan and the opportunity to ask me questions as you go! I run these private online fitness challenge groups every month. Just CLICK HERE to learn more and register for my next group.

Don’t forget to grab a copy of my Low Carb Beginners Guidebook! It’s got a complete 7 day meal plan, grocery list, and my best tips for adopting a low carb lifestyle!

The Low Carb High Fat Beginners Guide


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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Michelle January 20, 2017 at 1:16 pm

When I first did it, I had a lot of the same thoughts. First, calories were way to low. When I tried it the first few days (following exactly), sometimes my calorie count wasn’t even at 1200 (I wanted to see) and I was starving! I laughed at the, “if you wonder how you will eat all the food”. – cause there wasn’t enough.

I also felt there were not enough vegetable/green containers (I also think some of the carbs on the green list should be yellow, the more starchy ones). I can’t remember how many greens for the bottom (1200-1400) is (maybe 3?) – but I pretty much covered in one meal (a salad). Green veggies should be in abundance. I pushed mine up to 7-8. And adding a cup of spinach was like 10 calories (nothing!) or broccoli (25).

I also didn’t think there was room for enough fat. You once said it was too much (before the new LCHF), and I was surprised because I didn’t think it was enough. The good ones anyway.

And yes, absolutely agree. We don’t all fit in the same box. What works for me won’t work for someone else. And what works for me I figured out by eating different ways and discovering what my body needed.

Great post!


2 Jen January 20, 2017 at 2:00 pm

Thanks for your comment Michelle! I’ve learned so much about proper nutrition these past few months, and most of what I’ve learned goes against everything we’ve been taught – “eat less, exercise more.” This is such BS!! It was hard for me to write this post since I’m an advocate for Beachbody, but I felt that I needed to let people know why I felt this way and I hope that it can help someone who is struggling.


3 Angie January 20, 2017 at 9:36 pm

Great post! I just finished reading ‘Why We Get Fat” by Gary Taubes – it’s an awesome read and echoes what you’re saying about cutting carbs and increasing healthy fats in one’s diet. I was surprised at the all the scientific data that he references that shows over and over again (since the early 1900’s to now) that low fat diets simply don’t work. And the high fat diets consistently led to weight loss and a decrease in metabolic syndrome (diabetes, high blood pressure, etc). I’ve been experimenting with this eating style the last week or so and I feel way more satiated – I don’t miss/need the snacks! I can certainly maintain this way of eating!

I appreciate you keeping informed and spreading good information like this – it will help so many people!


4 Jen January 21, 2017 at 12:04 pm

I have his other book, Good Calories, Bad Calories and can’t wait to read it. Amazing that we feel so good when we eat healthy fat! YAY to fat 🙂


5 Anne January 25, 2017 at 5:16 pm

I received an email from your site and thought I’d read what you had to say about the 21 day fix as I think it is an exceptionally well thought out program, with some of healthiest (simple, whole foods) nutritional options. As I was reading your post, I kept thinking that I’d read pretty much all this info recently (and mostly agreed with it), but couldn’t remember where… Then I read Angie’s post! That’s it – I had been reading ‘Why We Get Fat” by Gary Taubes in December, and Eat Fat, Get Thin” by Dr. Hyman in November. I think a lot of this came from him? Gary Taubes’s explanation of how fat operates – it’s not just sitting there, it has a life – was for me mind-blowing. Totally changed how I view my weight loss efforts.This is all from there. Are any of these your sources? I’ve just started reading his latest book “The Case against Sugar” which came out less than a month ago and am looking forward to his science on this topic. Regarding 21 day fix, I love that it teaches me about portions – that for me is the best thing about it. It might be worth visiting the Vegan version:


which I’m using, and leaving out the yellow containers (yes it has two). It has way more veggies and fruit allowed. While I don’t think someone eating vegan can quit eating beans, it’s possible to reduce carbs and increase ‘healthy’ fats. The jury’s still out (for me) on whether bacon fat is healthy. One thing I appreciate about your post is the reminder that Health and Nutrition and Fitness are not a one-size-fits-all (or even most). Our bodies are so different, why wouldn’t our bodies needs and our preferences be different too? Trying different things to see what works is a wonderful piece of advice. Thanks for letting people know that.
All the best.


6 Jen January 26, 2017 at 1:04 pm

Thanks for your comment! No, I haven’t read those books, however, I do listen to a lot of podcasts and the same information is told there – don’t be afraid of fat!


7 Stephanie Combs January 26, 2017 at 9:57 am

Hello! You mentioned that you would remove certain carbs from the list off the 21 DFX meal plan. It was a long list! I was wondering where you WOULD eat as a carb? I am just so confused about everything.. between what all the BB plans tell you to do, vs mainstream “dieting”, vs what you’re saying vs intermittent fasting… aaahh! Lol!


8 Jen January 26, 2017 at 1:05 pm

All veggies are carbs!


9 Stephanie Combs January 26, 2017 at 4:50 pm

So you’re saying the only carbs you eat are veggies and fruit?


10 Jen January 26, 2017 at 5:03 pm

The only carbs I personally eat are from veggies and my daily Shakeology. I don’t really eat fruit that often.


11 Jennifer May 28, 2017 at 10:14 am

How did you tweak your containers? How many of each would you recommend with a low carb diet for a woman about 140 pounds?


12 Jen May 29, 2017 at 12:00 pm

I’m sorry, but I don’t follow the 21 day fix container system anymore, so I wouldn’t know how to adjust the containers to meet my needs.


13 Mandy Netherton July 14, 2017 at 3:22 pm

Thank you for saying this!! I’m in a 60 day program where we are using the 21-day fix containers and I’ve been starving since day one. I kept thinking, oh I just need to get used to it, get off the junk, etc.

No. This is either too few calories or the wrong nutrition for me. I shouldn’t still be feel miserably hungry every day wondering when I can eat my next container.

I’m only 110 lbs, but have baby belly fat to lose. Because I’m small, I always get grouped in the smallest calorie category and I hate it. I’m so glad to find and read this post. I kept feeling like I was the only person with this issue and that I just needed to suck it up. My weight loss progress has decline, I feel WAY more bloated now, and am still super hungry all the time. I’m going to take your advice and listen to my body.


14 Jen July 15, 2017 at 7:25 am

So glad you’re going to listen to your body!! That’s what is the most important – we don’t all fit into a little box.


15 Tanya Plummer-Saunders August 3, 2017 at 5:29 pm

Awesome blog post! While I disagree about the carbs you suggest to eliminate from your diet, I totes agree with you about there being too much fruit, too little healthy fats and the “calorie categories” being too low. Also agree about eating more to boost your metabolism to lose weight! Great post over all 🙂


16 Lisa August 23, 2017 at 1:57 pm

Low carb paleo was an absolute disaster for my body, my thyroid hormones went crazy and it took me several years to recover. I’m now five years past my year of paleo and feeling great, finally. I wouldn’t recommend,a low-carb paleo diet at all, based on my experience. A moderate amount of carbs are needed for health, just like fat and protein.

But I absolutely agree that no one should be at that low of a calorie allotment. WHO states that 1200 calories per day is borderline starvation. Which tells your body to store fat, not burn it. And I see so many people doing the 21 day fix. Low calorie diets backfire, every single time.


17 Jen August 24, 2017 at 7:00 am

I agree that carbs are needed, especially for women. It’s up to us to find out what our carb tolerance level is. For example, my version of low carb is around 75 – 100g of carbs per day..that works for my body. Someone might do better on 25g of carbs per day. Everyone is different.


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