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Beachbody 21-Day Fix Review

Ready to learn the secrets behind the 21-Day Fix? Read on!

First things first – I an not a Beachbody coach. So don’t worry about me trying to sell you on the 21-Day Fix.

Instead, I thought you’d enjoy a breakdown of the 21-Day Fix program and see how it works behind the scenes.

Overview of the 21-Day Fix

The program is based on a calorie-restrictive diet coupled with an exercise program that focuses on core movement and cardio. Pretty basic stuff, you might say, but most successful fitness programs are based on this concept. 21-Day Fix takes it a bit further and introduces a clever portion control mechanism into the mix.

Although I can’t reveal the exact mechanisms to you, I can show you the basic structure on which the program is based – and how you can adapt it to your daily wellness routine.

I won’t go into the specifics of how the program works; a simple Google search will give you a number of breathless reviews of the program — mostly from paid Beachbody coaches. But I digress.

The program starts off with a calculation of your caloric baseline — that is, the number of calories you’ll need to keep yourself going, but still drop some weight.

Beachbody uses the following calculation for your caloric baseline:

weight in lbs * 11 = caloric baseline

11 calories per lb of bodyweight is at the lower end of the caloric baseline factors; a lot of programs that aim for slow, steady weight loss use 12 or even 13 as a multplying factor. Once you have your caloric baseline, they knock off another 350 calories from that to create a calorie deficit for weight loss.

As an aside: the WHO recommends 1200 calories as the minimum number of sustaining calories for the average adult. Adults who weigh less than 140 lbs, by this formula, would be consuming fewer calories than the WHO recommends. The program, to its credit, recommends that you don’t go below the 1200 calorie limit, but depending on your metabolism, you might have to kick it up a notch if you’re under 140 lbs and trying to lose weight on the program.

With a daily 350-calorie deficit, you’ll be on target to lose about 0.7 lbs of body fat per week — or about 3 lbs of body fat by the time you’re done the 21-Day Fix program. You won’t lose body fat at a crazy rate with this program, but it’s slow and steady, like all good weight-loss programs.

So what do you get to eat on this program? Glad you asked!


There are charts and food lists galore in the program booklet, but the basic food categories in this program are as follows:

  • veggies
  • fruits
  • lean protein
  • legumes, starches, dairy and protein liquids
  • various fat sources

Beachbody includes a portion-control mechanism in the form of food storage containers. It sounds good on the surface, but I have a few issues with the way the portion control is handled.

First, I don’t see any reason to portion control vegetables in the green container. Vegetables are full of nutrients, minerals, fiber, and they don’t come loaded with a lot of calories. I always consider vegetables as “freebie” food on my eating plans.

Second, there is a lot of “lumping” of food groups with the container system. Case in point — legumes, dairy, starches and protein liquids are grouped as a “yellow container” food. The problem is that these foods are so different in their macronutrient content that it’s folly to group them together. I’m particularly puzzled with the inclusion of starches in this group, as they are typically higher in carbs than other protein-laden food sources in this group.

Third, I don’t understand why protein liquids like milk and almond milk, are a “sometimes” food. I can understand why fruit juices, which are loaded with fructose, are on the “sometimes” list. I use unsweetened almond milk as the base for my protein shakes as it’s low in calories and tastes great.

Finally, there’s still a lot of counting involved. Was it 11 almonds or 17? Do olives go in the orange container or the blue container? Without toting the book around — or keeping a cheatsheet in your pocket — it’s difficult to track your food this way. This reminds me a lot of how Weight Watchers had entire pocket-sized books to know how many points were in certain foods.

The breakdown of nutrients in the 21-Day Fix is as follows:

21-Day Fix

Breakdown of the food components of the 21-Day Fix program.

It’s a good breakdown, and high on the protein as I like to see in any diet plan that combines muscle toning with weight loss.

So the nutrition side of things has a solid foundation, but it’s not without issues. What about the exercise portion of this program?


The 21-Day Fix comes with a two-DVD set of exercises and an accompanying workout schedule.

The exercises break down as follows:

Workout What it Works Out
Total Body Cardio Fix High-intensity cardio
Upper Body Fix Resistance training for upper body: chest, back, arms, shoulders
Lower Body Fix Resistance training for lower body: glutes, quads, hamstrings
Pilates Fix Core training
Dirty 30 Overall upper, lower, and core training
Yoga Fix Balance and flexibility
10 Minute Fix for Abs Core

I’ve done most of the above workouts. They’re tough – but to be honest, they’re kind of boring. I think this is a result of the way sets are structured, and the fact that Autumn Calabrese is trying a little too hard to be the next Jillian Michaels makes me grit my teeth praying for the torture to be over soon.

Most Beachbody workouts are rather intriguing – I really like Body Beast and Chalean Extreme, because they’re engaging and funny. 21-Day Fix is neither of the above, so if you’re not a fan of exercise videos then the 21-Day Fix isn’t going to turn you on to working out.

Doing it on Your Own

You can do the 21-Day Fix on your own without any of the videos, books, or containers. Here’s how.

Cultivate your portions and plan accordingly.

You don’t need specific-sized containers. You can get by with the following guidelines for an average 150-lb woman:

  • 3 cups per day of salad-type veggies
  • 2 cups per day of fruit
  • 2 cups per day of lean protein
  • 0.67 cups per day of legumes, starchy root vegetables or bread products
  • 0.5 cups per day of fat-containing food like cheese, nuts and seeds
  • 2 tsp of dense fats like oils and unsweetened nut butters

For every 25 lbs you are above 150, increase the veggies and fruits by one cup each, the protein by 0.5 cups, the legumes or starches by 0.33 cups, and the oils and nut butters by one teaspoon. I’d also suggest that you can throw in 1 or 2 cups of protein-based liquids like skim milk or almond milk without a huge hit to the calorie budget.

I didn’t provide ounces of protein here. The 21-Day Fix is based on portion control, not weighing food. Stick to the above sizes and you’ll be OK. If you plateau, try reducing the high-GI foods first like the starchy carbs to see if that makes a difference before you decrease the portions of fats and proteins.

Stick to a varying workout with a rotating schedule.

I think that if you want to stick to a program, it has to mix things up a little. Find a great online source of free exercise videos; I like FitnessBlender on YouTube or the free plans offered on

Create a schedule of workouts that contain the following:

  • one day of core
  • one day of plyometrics
  • one day of steady-state cardio
  • one day of upper body resistance training
  • one day of lower body resistance training
  • …and tack a 5 to 10 minute ab workout on to the end of each of your workouts except for the core workout.

Rotate through those five basic workouts through the week and throw in some “easy” days here and there, such as going for a walk or doing gentle yoga to avoid workout burnout. That’s it.

The Bottom Line

Meh. I didn’t find that the program really knocked my socks off. However, if you did want to try it yourself and don’t want to go through a Beachbody coach, then you can always grab the The 21-Day Fix Complete workout from Amazon.

P.S. – Autumn Calabrese drives me insane – there’s only one Jillian Michaels in the world and that’s enough.


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  1. Thank you for your frank and honest review! I can’t wait for you to review Piyo – that’s one of the ones I’m debating trying right now. Off to explore your blog to see which others you’ve written about! :) I found you by searching “not a beachbody coach” LOL I’m so sick of reading sales pitches!

    • Chris

      2014-07-15 at 10:18 am

      Hey Shannan – thanks for stopping by!

      I’m a huge skeptic, and I’m fully aware that Beachbody is a huge MLM scheme, just like Avon or Tupperware. I’m even more incensed that they are getting people hooked on Shakeology. BUT, I do think they have solid workouts. P90X is awesome, along with Body Beast, T25, and anything by Chalene Johnson.

      I’m in my second week of PiYo right now and loving it – it’s the first thing I do when I roll out of bed in the morning and it gets me revved up for the day. Expect a review soon!

      • Just because I’m curious and you seem to know what you are talking about..

        How exactly is Beachbody a huge MLM scheme?
        I would love to know the details and understand.
        Thanks! :)

        • Chris

          2014-08-05 at 9:45 pm

          Hey Candyce!

          Any MLM program (“scheme” sounds so dirty, LOL) like Avon, Tupperware, or Beachbody Coaches involves a head organization that encourages people to join as freelance salespeople who work on commission. There’s usually promises of making a lot of money or plans for big conferences that only top-level coaches can attend. However, in most MLM companies, those dreams are seldom realized – and the pool of salespeople is continually growing, meaning that the pool of potential customers is constantly being cannibalized by new coaches. MLM companies rely on their salespeople to do a lot of word-of-mouth selling – that’s why you can see hundreds of online webpages with OMG THIS PROGRAM IS THE BOMB CLICK TO BUY HERE reviews of Beachbody programs. They’re all Beachbody coaches desperate to sell a bag of Shakeology or two and to sign people up for monthly challenges and promote the programs even further. It’s not terrible – I just feel bad for coaches who get sucked in with lots of promises to find out that making money with MLM products takes a LOT of work.

  2. Thanks for the review! I was on the fence about this or PiYo I think I’ll go with PiYo. I have shoulder trouble & think it will be better for me. How could you adapt the eating plan if you weigh 125? I need help figuring out how much to eat & of what each day. Thanks for the great review.

    • Chris

      2014-08-05 at 6:05 am

      Hey Lori!

      If you weigh 125 then you’re looking at 1,175 calories/day which you should round up to 1,200 as per the program booklet. You’d be eating at the low end of the range. If you find that just doesn’t seem like enough food then either bulk it up with vegetables, low-calorie broths or a little more fruit.

  3. I wish I had read this before trying the 21 day fix. My friend became a Beachbody coach and convinced me to buy it. This review is spot-on. I still occasionally use the videos (I like several of them), but Autumn is becoming more and more annoying. The 21 day fix isn’t a program designed for long-term use.

    (Also, the 21-day fix diet allows for 1/4 cup of healthy fat per day, not 1/2 cup.)

  4. I love the honesty! So hard to find reviews of Beachbody programs that aren’t from BB coaches. I’m a fan!

  5. Erica Sallier

    2014-08-04 at 1:58 pm

    Different strokes. I just finished 21 day fix and really enjoyed it. I lost 9lbs. I did follow the eating plan exactly, using the containers and even did the 3 day fix at the end of the program. I enjoyed the workouts and didn’t find Autumn annoying at all. It is funny that you are the second non Beachbody affiliated reviewer to say they didn’t enjoy the program. The other called Autumn flat out boring. Anyway, I stumbled upon this while researching PiYO. I still want to loose about 10lbs. I’m thinking of combining PiYO with Chalean Extreme. Do you think this, along with clean eating, will get 10lbs off?

    • Chris

      2014-08-05 at 6:19 am

      Hey Erica!

      Different strokes for sure. If you’re shooting for 10 lbs, then Chalean Extreme along with a clean diet will take the weight off for sure. If you want to throw in PiYo as well, you’ll get there a little faster and have more flexibility than with Extreme alone. Thanks!

  6. Like other commenters, thank you for posting reviews that are unbiased (aka not from a Beachbody coach!). I very much enjoyed your review of Piyo, it was helpful in deciding whether or not to purchase.

    However, I must say that I disagree with your review of the 21-Day Fix workouts. I agree with your points on the eating plan completely. But I love the workouts. I am on my 4th round of 21 Day Fix and I’m still not tired of the workouts. I love how everyday is something a little different, the workouts vary. I love the structure of one minute per exercise, I find that helps me stay motivated and keep going during tough moves (i.e. burpees!). I also really like Autumn and think she is nothing like Jillian Michaels – she is much more positive and encouraging! I have tried several Jillian Michaels workouts and I can’t stand her – she talks at you like you’re a wuss and tries to sound so mean! Autumn is not like that at all. I understand it’s not for everyone, but just wanted to add another person’s perspective!

    Thanks again for the reviews! :-)

    • Chris

      2014-08-05 at 6:21 am

      Hey Jen!

      If you can stand Autumn for four rounds of 21 then you are a much more tolerant and patient person than I am! :)
      You know, I will say that the 21-Day Fix workouts are KILLER – they are really well-designed and pack a great punch into a limited amount of time.
      Thanks for stopping by!

    • I’m glad to see some positive reviews because I just purchased 21 day fix and got worried with the not so great reviews! I only bought the basic package because I think Shakeology is sort of a scam. Most whey proteins can give you what you need at a fraction of the price. I do appreciate an honest review! Thank you!

    • Nice review Chris, thank you. I too agree with Jen about the workouts. Love Amber and the workout program, she is nothing like Jillian. I don’t like the container program though and plan to follow a clean/calorie program instead.

  7. Hey Chris-

    For the 21 Day Fix you said weight loss would be a steady .7 lbs per week or so. Could one reduce calories/containers to speed up weight loss? The Beach Body Coach I signed up under said that was not a good idea… Just wanting another opinion. Thank you!

    • Chris

      2014-08-07 at 11:06 am

      Hey Courtney!
      Your coach is right. My math is based on pure caloric requirements and the average human body (which doesn’t really exist). The 21-Day Fix eating plan is pretty skinny as-is. You’ll probably find that you drop a pound or two (or maybe more) the first week, but after the weight loss will slow down. You need to eat to lose – so don’t cut back on the servings until you drop the weight. It’s an odd strategy, but it works. Case in point: I was part of a weight loss challenge at work this spring, and I was eating about 3500 calories a day. And I still lost a lot of weight. Why? Because I was doing a half hour run at 7mph and 4% incline followed by 45 minutes of lifting heavy weights for my daily workout. Eat to the plan first. Once you have a few week’s worth of data on how your body responds to the calorie intake vs. exercise, THEN tweak the plan accordingly. Good luck!

  8. I have been on this plan since Febuary and I love it! It really taught me portion control and healthy eating which us what I have struggled with my whole life. I didn’t think that Autumn is at all trying to be like Jillian. I do think after awhile the workouts may get a tad boring but other than that I have lost 100 pounds in 5 months so it works

    • 100 in 5 months is impressive. I will be starting this in a couple of days and am concerned that the amount if calories I came up with is just too much!! What did you start out at weight wise and how many calories??

      • I started off at 366 and was in the highest bracket when it came to the calories I should have been eating. Try not to be so concerned with all the calories instead just focus on the containers. You don’t have to eat all of them in a day( I never once did) but try to get in as much as you can. Good Luck!!

  9. Chris, do you not think the Shakeology shakes are worth the price? I signed up as a BB Discount coach because I purchase 2 bags per month. Not sure if there is anything out there that is comparable. Can you offer any insight?

    • Chris

      2014-09-19 at 11:22 pm

      Hi Tami!
      The long and short of it is, I don’t think Shakeology is worth the price – even as a coach. Have a read through my Shakeology Alternative article and then see if you still have the same opinion afterward. If you’re paying up to $5 per shake and you’re okay with that, then go ahead. But if you want the same benefits at a much reduced cost, you might consider what I suggest in my Shakeology shakedown. :) Thanks for stopping by and thanks for your comments!

  10. Hello Chris & thank you for writing & sharing this because I was thinking the exact same thing. I find this to be very extremely helpful & this is something what others who are thinking about getting involved with needs to read & get informed before choosing to get involved or not. I am happy to have found someone who thinks & have been saying the same thing as I have all along. I’ve always said for people to do their own version of the 21 Day Fix. I have a friend who was selling it to me. She is a Beach Body Coach & is doing the 21 Day Fix. The cost of the program plus the Shakeology Shakes are almost close to $200 and also after receiving the first shipment you get charged I believe $120 for the second shipment of Shakeology Shakes but I think that’s if you choose to stay with the program. Honestly I am happy I didn’t go through with that because it was going to cost me a fortune every month for 1 bag of shakes alone. I think it’s ridiculous for them to charge so much money for something that you can just do at home for less money. Why waste hundreds & even thousands of dollars for something that is so simple to do at home & still get the same results or better yet you can save tons of money. I do my own thing. I make my green juices & smoothies & eat lean meats & vegetables. I also take & use Garcinia Cambogia combined with Green Coffee Weight Loss Supplements & exercise 5-6 days a week for 4 hours each day & I am already seeing/getting great results with it already. I am happy with what I am doing. I wish some people would stop getting sucked into these MLM Pyramid Scheme Scams. I’m very happy & will keep continuing on what I’m already currently doing now. :-)

    • Chris

      2014-09-22 at 8:40 am

      Christina – thanks for your comments! It’s clear you’ve found an independent path that works for you – sounds like you’ll see some great results! Good luck!

  11. Ha! The first time I did 21 day fix I was like she is entirely too much like Jillian michaels and what did she do; google workout motivation before she started the video? None of the motivating things she says are hers…I will say the workouts are great workouts, and autumn is a workout machine!

    • Chris

      2014-10-17 at 9:46 am

      Ha! So I’m not crazy thinking she’s trying to be like Jillian! I will admit, the workouts are tough – it’s really Autumn that drives me batty.

  12. I love this program and am not a beach body coach. I bought it from some random lady in my same town.
    The work outs are fun, the food plan is simple to follow. I have never done anything like this in my life but am pretty lazy when it comes to food but this program has 100% motivated me and changed me after 21 Days. No more pop cravings, no more sugar cravings. I did it without weights and without shakeology and lost 9 pounds (148 to 137) This second round I’m going to use weights and I’m going to attempt Shakeology (so far can’t make one that tastes good so we will see)
    My best friend is also doing it but without purchasing the program (pretty much everything you need is on Pinterest) and she is having trouble and not staying motivated. Unsure if it’s not owning it or just her
    The work outs are hard, after 21 days there are still some things I have to still modify so I probably won’t be using the weights for every work out when I start again Thursday
    I 100% agree this can be done without purchasing the program but for me it was the motivation I needed

    • Chris

      2014-11-12 at 4:22 pm

      Hey Kristen – thanks for your comments! You did really well on 21 Day Fix – 9 pounds is a fantastic result! Getting rid of empty calorie foods like pop is a huge step and the best thing you can do for your eating. As to your friend – it’s hard to say why some people don’t “buy-in” to a particular program. My wife liked 21-Day Fix and was really keen on the container-based portion control, but I just couldn’t dig it. Conversely, I really liked PiYo, but my wife didn’t. I think the amount of money people are willing to spend on a program reflects their commitment and willingness to “dig in” and stick to their workouts. I think a lot of people try to do things for free because in their heart they don’t expect to succeed – and don’t want to beat themselves up if they’ve shelled out hundreds of dollars on equipment or workout programs. As you mentioned, trading money for motivation is a powerful force for some people – it’s the core strategy of Weight Watchers. Good luck with your next round!

  13. I just actually finished the Total Body Cardio Fix and I would say it definitley works even though when you first start you will be in alooooot of pain because its alot to do and its very hard but after maybe like 2-3 weeks you will get used to it like me because today i was able to do every excerscise at the same pace as the trainor or the people who are doing it with the Trainor. The best part is you get a 20 second break and she lets you get water which i love that and i love how you have to repeat the same excersice twice. This has helped me lose 10 pounds even without the containors but im only on week 2. So anyone who is debating BUY THIS TAPE! It is well worth it and you burn ALOT of calories with just one workout! :]

  14. I really enjoyed this article but mainly the comment section. I’m actually a fan of MLM in general. The Slight edge is a very good read. I think it definitely gets a bad rap from its representatives. I think its dangerous to call people coaches. They begin to believe they are qualified to give advice on things best left to real professions like dietitians. Anyway. Also loved the shakeology alternatives article. Great sources of info.

    • Chris

      2015-01-28 at 1:16 pm

      Rachel – thanks for the comments! I’ll have to read through The Slight Edge to see what I think. Are you taking part in the 12-week challenge? Hats off to you, my friend. Good luck – I’d love it if you came back to share your story with us!

  15. Hey Chris I also am confused why they say you can only have almond milk 2x a week do you have any clue as to why what’s wrong with it

    • Chris

      2015-03-05 at 8:05 pm

      Hey Regina. I don’t know why they limit almond milk on this diet – unsweetened almond milk has fewer calories per serving than regular cow’s milk and is a source of Vitamin A and calcium. Lots of people use it in their workout or meal replacement shakes, so as long as you account for it calorie-wise in your daily nutrition, I see no reason not to have it everyday.

  16. So some of the alterations aside, is this a program you would recommend for someone who hasn’t worked out in a while and wanted to focus on weight loss over muscle building and toning to start off? I found your side through some Shakeology skeptism I was having while researching the 21 Day Fix and really like what I read there. I haven’t flipped through the site really deeply yet, but if there are other programs you’e reviewed that you think work better for beginner’s weight loss and someone new to dieting advice/changes, I would love further insight.

    • Chris

      2015-03-05 at 8:33 pm

      Robert – I think the 21-Day fix program is a good place to start for weight loss. It’s quite calorie restricted, requires a minimum of equipment and incorporates a lot of cardio and core workouts that will help you shed a bit of weight in as little as three weeks. That being said, I think there are better programs out there. If you want to go the distance and want to join a gym, or have a lot of equipment at home already then Lee Labrada’s 12 Week Lean Body Trainer is a great place to start. If you don’t want to join a gym, and want to invest in a little bit of equipment for the home, try ChaLean Extreme, also from BeachBody. I really enjoyed that program and Chalene Johnson, the host, is really engaging and positive. If you don’t have any equipment, or want to be able to work out anytime, anywhere, then you might enjoy You Are Your Own Gym by Mark Lauren. Although it doesn’t impose a particular diet plan, you can follow some weight loss programs such as Hunter Labrada’s Weight Loss Guides for guidelines and methods to properly manage your caloric deficit. And if you have questions feel free to come back here, or email me at chris (at) Best of luck with your goals!

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