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:
- 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:
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.
1. 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.
2. 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 Bodybuilding.com.
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.