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Beachbody 21 Day Fix Review: Pros, Cons, and Effectiveness

Written by Sharon Lehman, RDN

Published on February 11, 2021

Our Expert Rating:

4.0

About This Rating
The average rating of this product is calculated based on the evaluation of the following factors:
  • Evidence-Based:3.0
  • Easy to Follow:3.0
  • Customization:5.0
  • Sustainability:5.0
  • Safety:4.0
  • Value for the Price:4.0
  • Accountability:4.0

21 Day Fix is a nutrition and fitness program based on tried-and-true weight loss methods—portion control, creating a calorie deficit, and regular physical activity—so I’d recommend giving it a try if you’re looking for a weight loss program.

Beachbody 21 Day Fix Review: Pros, Cons, and Effectiveness

Pros

  • Balanced macronutrients
  • Can be customized for vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, and dairy-free
  • Container system provides visual learning tool for portion sizes
  • Encourages physical activity, meal planning, and cooking

Cons

  • Measuring and counting food containers can be cumbersome
  • Workouts may be tough for beginners
  • Beachbody supplements, particularly Shakeology, are strongly encouraged
  • MLM business model raises questions around who is providing weight loss education and accountability to customers

What Is the 21 Day Fix?

21 Day Fix is a diet and exercise program from Beachbody, a multi-level marketing company known for popular exercise programs like the P90X and Insanity workouts.

Independent consultants, called coaches, who may or may not be qualified to give weight loss advice, sell their line of workout and nutrition programs and supplements.

I’m usually wary of such companies, but I happen to be a fan of at-home workouts and have personally used Beachbody On Demand for years.

21 Day Fix is one of my favorite programs in their catalog because each workout is only 30 minutes, they’re effective and can be easily modified for several fitness levels.

I’ve also personally followed the 21 Day Fix meal plan both with and without using Beachbody supplements.

On both occasions, I lost weight, gained muscle, and had improved body composition.

After the initial three weeks, I abandoned the container system for more mealtime freedom but continued with the workouts and managed to keep the initial weight off for several years.

The diet component of 21 Day Fix revolves around a color-coded container system.

When the eating plan and workouts are combined, Beachbody claims users can lose up to 15 pounds in 3 weeks.

21 Day Fix’s Scorecard

The 21 Day Fix eating plan was objectively evaluated by a dietitian based on the following criteria:

  • Evidence-Based: 3.0
  • Easy to Follow: 3.0
  • Customization: 5.0
  • Sustainability: 5.0
  • Safety: 4.0
  • Value for the Price: 4.0
  • Accountability: 4.0

Overall Rating: 4.0

Learn About the Methodology

How It Works

The first step in the eating plan is figuring out your daily calorie goal. This is done with some simple math.

You’ll multiply your current weight by 11 for a calorie baseline, which is a rough estimate of your resting metabolic rate or the number of calories your body burns at rest.

Then, you add 400 calories to your baseline to account for exercise, which is a rough estimate of the number of calories you’d need to eat to maintain your current weight.

Then, you subtract 750 calories from your maintenance calories to determine how many calories you need to eat to create a calorie deficit that supports weight loss.

This number puts you into one of four calorie brackets. The brackets are:

  • 1200–1499 calories/day
  • 1500–1799 calories/day
  • 1800–2099 calories/day
  • 2100–2299 calories/day

Your calorie bracket determines how many portions of each food container you eat each day.

Each food group is a different color container, as follows:

  • Green: vegetables
  • Purple: fruits
  • Red: protein
  • Yellow: starches and healthy carbohydrates
  • Blue: healthy fats
  • Orange: seeds and dressings

The containers reinforce portion control, balanced macronutrient intake, and bring consciousness to what you’re eating, which can help you make healthier choices and eat fewer processed foods, unhealthy fats, and sugary items.

Although the program is technically only three weeks long, users are encouraged to complete additional “rounds” to keep losing or maintaining weight.

Foods to Eat and Avoid

There aren’t too many restrictions on the 21 Day Fix eating plan.

You eat a variety of whole grains, healthy starches, lean protein, and healthy fats.

You avoid refined carbohydrates (i.e. white pasta, rice, bread) and processed, sugary, and fried foods.

The diet is designed to provide you with 40% carbohydrates, 30% lean proteins, and 30% healthy fats.

This macronutrient breakdown is evenly balanced to ensure you aren’t eating too much or too little of any one nutrient.

How much you eat is determined by your calorie bracket and the corresponding number of each container.

Each day you’ll eat the same number of each container. The program includes food lists of approved foods so you know which foods go in which containers.

The food lists are extensive, so there’s plenty of variety and ideas. You certainly won’t get bored eating on this plan, unless you stick to the same few foods by choice.

For foods that don’t “fit” in a container, like a banana or waffle, the lists indicate how much of each food counts as one container.

Here’s a quick breakdown of what can fill each container:

  • Green: vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, greens, squash, bell peppers, string beans, cucumbers, and onions.
  • Purple: fruits like berries, melon, apples, citrus, bananas, pears, and stone fruits.
  • Red: proteins including fish and seafood, poultry, game meats, eggs, yogurt, lean beef, tofu, lunchmeat, cottage cheese, and protein powder.
  • Yellow: carbohydrates including whole-grain bread products, sweet and white potatoes, beans, whole grains (quinoa, oats, brown rice, whole-wheat pasta), starchy vegetables like parsnips, peas, and corn.
  • Blue: healthy fats like avocado, raw nuts, hummus, and cheese.
  • Orange: seeds (pumpkin, sesame, flax, chia, etc.), shredded coconut, olives, and “Fix-approved” salad dressings.

Each calorie bracket also includes several teaspoons for additional fats, like cooking oil, nut butter, butter, and butter.

You’re allowed some freebies like herbs, spices, and some low-calorie condiments.

For beverages, the program encourages water consumption but allows some unsweetened coffee and tea as well.

The program also strongly encourages users to consume uber-expensive Shakeology, Beachbody’s powdered protein and superfood supplement, but it isn’t required, and the program can be followed without Shakeology.

You’re allowed to substitute three of your fruit or carbohydrate containers each week for a determined number of snacks, sweets, and cocktails, like dried fruit, dark chocolate, chips, pretzels, wine, or beer.

One thing that makes it challenging is that it is tough to figure out how many containers mixed-ingredient recipes, like soups or casseroles, count for.

But there are plenty of recipes on the Beachbody site that include container equivalents.

I found it’s easier to create simple meals, like grilled chicken with steamed broccoli and a baked sweet potato, from the food lists to ensure you’re meeting your container portions.

Can It Help You Lose Weight?

Portion control, learning to cook your own food, and choosing protein and fiber-filled foods over fast food, fried foods, and sweets are important for lasting weight loss no matter what program you’re following.

Eating fewer calories and getting regular exercise are proven strategies for losing weight and keeping it off.

Some factors included in 21 Day Fix, like high-intensity interval training, weigh-ins, and logging food intake, are associated with more significant long-term weight loss.

Overall, the 21 Day fix program is based on tried-and-true diet methods like healthy food choices, portion control, and calorie reduction.

Sustainability

I think 21 Day Fix is highly sustainable because it promotes a variety of healthy foods and a balanced macronutrient intake while providing some flexibility for more indulgent foods.

The eating plan is inclusive since it can be customized to fit various eating styles, like vegetarian, vegan, dairy-free, and gluten-free diets.

This may be a more manageable program to commit to since it has a short duration. It’s more realistic to plan meals and set weight loss goals three weeks at a time instead of months or years.

Measuring and counting everything you eat with the container system might get tiring for some people and lead them to revert to old eating habits.

The containers can also be tough to utilize in social settings and dining at restaurants.

Even if you stop using the containers after several weeks or rounds, you’ll probably start to learn to eyeball appropriate serving sizes and can still log your food intake.

Accountability

Most of the accountability in 21 Day Fix is personal responsibility, but the program provides plenty of resources to help you stay on track.

There are worksheets to track daily container intake and grocery shopping lists to help with meal planning and keeping you accountable for what you eat each day.

The Beachbody website also has tons of recipes with container equivalents. You’ll find lots of user-created “fix-approved” recipes with container equivalents on other sites as well.

Individual support is available through your designated or chosen Beachbody Coach (aka independent consultant), who may or may not be qualified to give diet advice.

Value for the Price

21 Day Fix is available in several packages that include 1-year access to Beachbody On Demand, a monthly subscription to Shakeology, and various workout supplements.

The basic package costs $59.95 and includes 21 Day Fix and 21 Day Fix Extreme workout DVDs, food containers, and the written materials to get started.

Considering the other bundles cost $100 and up, I think this is a great value and much less expensive than a gym membership.

The DVDs alone include 16 workouts, and you get enough nutrition information to get started with the container system.

However, when you have access to Beachbody On Demand, you get even more workouts and recipes.

If you choose to use Shakeology with 21 Day Fix, it will cost you much more since Shakeology costs over $100 for a 30-day supply.

However, you can still follow the program and achieve results without Shakeology.

21 Day Fix is backed by Beachbody’s 30-day money-back guarantee.

Safety

21 Day Fix is safe for most healthy people to follow. My only concerns would be for pregnant and breastfeeding women and anyone with a history of disordered eating.

If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, it’s not recommended to restrict calories for weight loss, and some forms of exercise need to be avoided or modified.

It’s best to speak with a dietitian if you want to make dietary changes during these life stages.

Tracking food intake and counting containers might be too restrictive for individuals recovering from an eating disorder.

Because calorie needs don’t take individual lifestyle into account, some highly active people may end up in a calorie bracket that’s too low for their needs and experience hunger and moodiness, making it harder for them to stick to the plan.

How It Compares

21 Day Fix is less restrictive than other diets, like keto or Paleo, which require you to eliminate certain food groups.

The container system is probably most similar to the Weight Watchers’ point system.

However, 21 Day Fix puts more focus on balanced macronutrients, physical activity, and prepping your own meals than Weight Watchers does.

The Bottom Line

21 Day Fix is based around sound nutrition and weight loss theories that can help you safely and effectively lose weight, but the program requires a lot of self-discipline and meal prep work.

I like that the program teaches users how to prepare healthy food, portion out meals and snacks, and encourages daily physical activity.

However, the container system may be too restrictive for some individuals, and some of the workouts may be too advanced for beginners.

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