Note to readers: Anything said in this post is my opinion. Other people may have different opinions. As with any diet or exercise program, it’s important to do your own research and determine what works for you. Sections 29- 29.2 of the Canadian Copyright Act provide the statutory framework for fair dealing and identifies certain types of purposes—such as criticism and review, news reporting, research, private study, and education—that may qualify as fair dealing. Under section 107 of the US Copyright Act, there is similar protection for “fair use”.
Beachbody is one of the most popular nutrition MLM companies. A conglomerate of sorts that includes the nutrition plans Portion Fix, 2B Mindset, Shakeology, and a bunch of different supplements that go hand in hand with their plans.
Aside from their nutrition plans, Beachbody has all sorts of workouts that are available online to subscribers.
I can’t really comment on the Beachbody workouts, because that’s not my wheelhouse. But I can comment on Beachbody’s nutrition programs, and that’s what this Beachbody review is all about.
Since I last reviewed Beachbody, they’ve added in some new supplements. I also have some new thoughts about their trainers, which we’re going to talk about.
But first, let’s review some of the more popular Beachbody programs:
Portion Fix, which used to be the 21 Day Fix, has been around for a while. It’s led by trainer Autumn Calabrese, and involves using portion containers to measure your food out. Ostensibly this leads to weight loss, since you’re limited to a certain number of servings of each food every day. But Portion Fix is sold as a ‘healthy lifestyle’ program that teaches good habits.
There’s no calorie counting in Portion Fix, which is supposed to be a good thing.
But what they don’t tell you, is that you ARE counting calories: you’re just counting them in a different way.
Portion Fix also comes with a meal plan ‘for all calorie brackets,’ and a logbook to track everything you eat.
This is going to be my overarching message throughout this post:
THIS. IS. ALL. A. DIET.
It’s the new trend, selling nutrition programs by saying that they aren’t diets, or that they don’t involve ‘diet’ behavior.
Portion Fix is one of the most successful weight-loss programs at Beachbody®. This video-based program from creator and Beachbody Super Trainer Autumn Calabrese uses color-coded containers to take the guesswork out of eating delicious, perfectly sized meals, every time. Applying knowledge learned from years of proven success, the program has been improved and expanded to teach you how to feed your whole family healthy meals, eat for performance, and help beat sugar addiction, so it’s easier than ever to meet your goals.
When you’re counting, measuring, or tracking anything, it’s a diet.
When you’re following a meal plan for weight loss, it’s a diet.
When the primary outcome measure of success is weight loss, it’s a diet.
Why is this bad?
First of all, selling a diet under the guise of something else is disingenuous.
Portion Fix is a low-calorie diet. Period.
Second of all, as you all know, diets don’t work, at least not in the long-term.
Are you going to put your food into little containers forever and ever?
What do tracking and little portion containers do for your relationship with food? Do they get down to the real reason why you eat the way you do?
They don’t. And if you don’t tackle the psychological stuff first, all of the other things won’t matter. You’re likely to keep coming back to diets again and again because you haven’t fixed the reasons behind why you’re struggling with food.
Of course, there’s an upsell with Portion Fix – you can add supplements or Shakeology to it, as well as Autumn’s book about her life (which I’m sure is bestseller material), a cookbook with the unfortunate but relevant name ‘Fixate,’ which is something I’m sure you’ll be doing on food, because DIET.
Beachbody 80 Day Obsession.
I have very little to say about this program, because I think the images that a follower and ex-80 Day Obsession dieter sent me, say it all. These are her calculations to figure out her meal plan:
Talk about obsession…this looks completely disordered to me. Food is not numbers, and any time you need to do a Stephen Hawking-like calculation to figure out what you can and can’t put into your mouth, that’s a huge red flag.
Beachbody Ultimate Reset
Like pretty much every nutrition MLM out there, Beachbody has its own cleanse.
The Beachbody Ultimate Reset is a ’no starvation’ cleanse using a 21-day kit comprised of Shakeology (you can also buy the cleanse without the shakes), plus six supplements that are pretty much the usual suspects:
A probiotic containing only one type of bacteria, 2 caps three times a day
A greens powder. Eh, big deal.
Digestive enzymes that your body makes anyhow, six caplets a day
Pink Himalayan salt that you take four times a day to ‘mineralize’ your body, even though all of us eat enough sodium and there’s nothing special about pink salt AT ALL
A ‘detox’ blend containing milk thistle and other unproven ‘liver detox’ ingredients, taken three times a day
An aloe vera capsule – 2 caps taken before the evening meal (so you don’t poop your pants during the day, aloe vera is a laxative, FYI).
The first week eliminates meat and dairy, because they ‘stress the digestive system,’ except that doesn’t make much sense, physiologically, for most healthy people.
The second week is a vegan plan.
The third week is mostly fruits and vegetables. I’m getting dizzy.
What’s that line about this being a ‘no starvation’ cleanse?
When a company sells a cleanse, especially one that’s really complicated like this, it completely changes my view of them.
Telling people that it’s ‘healthy’ to do a low-calorie regimen that involves laxatives, liver detox BS, Himalayan salt that’s always useless, and handfuls upon handfuls of supplements, is gross and opportunistic.
Cleanses are shams. Any weight that you lose on Ultimate Reset will probably come right back on, but your money will be gone. So sad.
Autumn Calabrese’s Gut Protocol
I’ve done a separate post on this program, but Autumn and the other trainers are pushing it like crazy on their feeds. I know this because I get sent Autumn’s posts a lot by followers of mine who believe that her messaging is toxic and harmful.
Autumn claims to have struggled with her gut health, and because she has fixed herself, she feels the need to teach everyone else about gut health. I see influencers do this a lot.
Personal experience is not a replacement for proper evidence-based healthcare for anything, much less gut health, which is a specialty and highly individualized between people.
Do not use MLM programs as a replacement for a doctor. An MLM program is NOT proper healthcare.
The Gut Protocol is a four week elimination diet that uses the Portion Fix containers. Because Beachbody cross-promotion and UPSELL! Classic.
Autumn is promoting this program to help people with gut issues find foods that cause ‘digestive sensitivities,’ but then turns around and recommends it for everybody. Beachbody makes a big deal of saying that nothing is one-size-fits-all, but then they say their programs are for everybody?
Workouts during the 4 weeks of the protocol are ‘non-taxing,’ which suggests that the program may be low in calories. “While exercise is recommended when you take on 4 Week Gut Protocol, it shouldn’t be so rigorous that it interferes with your body’s work in helping your gut.”
What does this even mean? Normal exercise is unlikely to do anything bad to your gut.
Autumn recommends Beachbody supplements during the Protocol: digestive enzymes (which most people do NOT need), vegan Shakeology (of course), and Beachbody Revitalize for pre-and probiotics. Again, there’s always an upsell. Red flag.
Needless to say, if you have gut issues, see a qualified professional, not a Beachbody coach.
2B Mindset is run by Registered Dietitian Ilana Muhlstein, RD.
2B Mindset comes across as a program that takes a gentler approach to weight loss. Ilana uses her 100 pound weight loss as a selling point for this program (and pretty much seems to talk about it at every opportunity), which might convince some people to try it.
The focus of 2B Mindset is presumably shifting your mindset around food and eating, learning how to manage emotional triggers, and learning how to portion out your food.
That’s not really how things go on Ilana’s social, though. We’ll talk more about that in a second.
Ilana says that you don’t have to exercise on 2B Mindset, which I find objectionable and suspicious and a total red flag. How can a person talk about good nutrition and wellness, but then tell their followers that they don’t need to be active? It’s absurd.
The basic premise of 2B Mindset sounds holistic and wonderful, except that just like the Portion Fix, 2B Mindset is a diet.
You need to track what you eat. DIET
You start meals with 16oz of water to ‘fill your stomach.’ DIET
The primary goal is weight loss. DIET
There are meal plans. DIET
I’m curious if there’s anyone on the planet who has actually gained a healthy relationship with their body by doing the above things.
Although Ilana seems as though she likes to promote a healthy mindset around food and eating, here is something about her upcoming program for pregnant women:
As a nutrition professional, I find this to be pretty atrocious, to be honest.
Sure, it’s helpful to have tips for pregnancy nausea and cravings, and to know how to eat well for you and your baby.
But when it’s framed as a program to ‘help manage weight gain,’ and then to ‘get back on track’ after you have the baby, that’s yuck.
Programs like these seem to want to net potential long-term customers by appealing to them in one stage of their life, and then getting them on the bandwagon forever.
In my professional opinion, Ilana’s posts about sugar and cheese send the wrong message. Sugar isn’t addictive, as I wrote above, and cheese may light up the pleasure centre of our brain, but so does anything enjoyable, like sex, shopping, getting nice comments on a post (hint)…you know what I mean. Just the association of a food with opiates is, in my opinion, misleading. Things like that scare people unnecessarily.
Beachbody Super Trainers.
You all know how I feel about MLM salespeople and coaches.
But the Beachbody Super Trainers are in a class all by themselves, which isn’t necessarily a good thing.
I suppose that the Beachbody Super Trainers are supposed to be the embodiment of the Beachbody brand, whatever that means. It’s like an aspirational thing for a lot of people, except that there’s a distinct lack of size and ethnic diversity, especially in the female trainer group. They literally all look the same.
Looking at the social posts of some of the Super Trainers, I see tiny meals. I see restrictive practices. I also see them doing live workouts at least twice a day. None of it looks the least bit sustainable, at least not if you want to have a happy, healthy, well-rounded life.
I couldn’t care less about what the Super Trainers do to themselves, but when they’re spitting out content to a devoted following who aspires to look and be like them, that’s a whole other ball of wax.
For all of the Super Trainers’ ‘holistic,’ healthy weight loss messaging, they often turn around and host weight loss for money challenges. Please do not tell me that you’re not promoting a diet mindset when part of your brand is hosting DietBets.
For all of their ‘it’s a lifestyle change!’ talk about their programs, there’s a whole heck of a lot of diet behaviour that they’re teaching.
For all of their, ‘it’s not about weight loss!’ promises, there’s a far too many before and after shots in their social feeds.
And last but not least, please don’t say that your diet program is ‘Intuitive Eating,’ because it’s not. Yes, this did happen.
There are a bunch of Beachbody Super Trainers, and I’ve seen terrible messaging from many of them. But a couple of the trainers really stand out to me, and Autumn Calabrese is one of them.
From alternative health procedures like plasma injections and IV vitamin drips – both of which aren’t recommended for anyone who is healthy, to before and after bikini shots of herself, and privileged posts that seem to scream, ‘I’m just like you…but actually not, I’m better!,’ Autumn’s messaging is like one giant F-U:
‘Follow me, do as a I say, and you can be like me. It’s easy! Aren’t I SO approachable? And HEY! Look at me in my bikini, don’t I look 2 ounces thinner today?’
Like I said, toxic.
Here’s a lovely post by Autumn that echoes the ‘we all have the same 24 hours in a day’ BS that I wrote about the other day. Someone might have to speak to Autumn about the social determinants of health:
Here’s a post she did on Instagram, talking about the dangers of diet culture, then selling her DietBet.
In. The. Same. Post.
Why. Why. Why. Why.
Ilana Muhlstein is another Super Trainer who’s not technically a trainer, but if I don’t call her a Super Trainer, I’m not sure what else to call her.
As an RD colleague, Ilana’s social media has had some posts that make me cringe. In fact, I feel that because she’s an RD, she has an even greater obligation to post content with messaging that’s consistent, evidence-based, and not potentially harmful.
Here are some of the most problematic posts I’ve seen in her feed:
The Shakeology protein powder ‘dessert’ hacks seem to be a thing with Ilana and other trainers (see the photo below). If you’re depriving yourself so thoroughly that a cup of protein powder diarrhea ‘Snikkers’ glop is like dessert to you, please check yourself and your diet.
Despite professing that she wants people to have a good relationship with food, Ilana has a saying about ‘junk food’ that she seems to repeat often: ‘it’s better in the waste than on your waist!’
Sometimes it’s cute to make little rhyme-y phrases, but when these phrases seem to imply that we should throw perfectly good food into the garbage because it’s ‘bad’ and ‘fattening,’ they aren’t so funny. They’re privileged and careless.
Ilana also does DietBets, which in my opinion, completely negates her ‘positive’ messaging around food.
And then there’s this gem:
Telling people that the way to avoid eating what they crave or ‘shouldn’t eat’ (which is, well…diet) is to focus on what they want to be eating is not only nonsensical, but also restrictive and absurd – especially for the creator of ‘2B Mindset.’
My problem with many coaches and trainers in general – not just Beachbody trainers – giving nutrition advice and selling programs is that many (or most) of them aren’t well-versed enough in nutrition to actually create nutrition plans. Many of them have only a short course on nutrition that covers just the basics.
They’ll often use their own anecdotal evidence to develop different programs, which are sold to unsuspecting people whose situations may not be the same (and therefore, won’t get the same results.)
Many coaches and trainers seem to have their own food issues, which they spread to their followers under the guise of ‘eating healthy.’ It seems like they often have very little insight into when they’re doing this, and the harm it can cause.
The fitness industry in general seems like a cesspool of disordered eating and lifestyles that get amplified by high-profile trainers and influencers who everyone think look so great, but are probably not as happy and healthy as they appear to be on the outside.
I’m aware that this is also a problem with some dietitians and nutrition professionals, but I expect (maybe wrongly) that those people would maybe have more insight into the way their disorder impacts their messaging. Maybe not.
Beachbody in short:
Beachbody’s nutrition programs are all diets.
Diets work, at least in the short-term. But then they don’t. And what often ends up happening is that you find yourself back to square one, with even more damaged physical and emotional health that can take years to correct. Far longer than the diet lasted, most definitely.
That’s why I never recommend them, and why I always want you to know how to spot programs that are marketed like ‘lifestyle changes,’ but are really diets in disguise.
Oh hey, Beachbody!
If you’re constantly trying to be ‘on plan,’ YOU ARE ON A DIET. This hurts, not helps, your relationship with food and your body.
If you’re following a fitness coach who says they’re against diets but then puts before and after shots on their feed – especially of themselves – unfollow them.
Do you want to be either ‘on plan’ or ‘off plan’ for the rest of your life? It’s dizzying.
I’m sure the Beachbody workouts are great, but their nutrition programs, as well as their diet messaging and supplement upsells, are the same old MLM business.
UPDATE: after publishing this post, I got a couple completely unhinged, angry DMs from a male Beachbody trainer. I actually had to block him because he seemed to be threatening me. Beachbody should really keep an eye on their people.