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:
- brown rice
- wild rice
- corn on the cob
- oatmeal, steel-cut
- oatmeal, rolled
- pita bread
- english muffin
- 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.