The Risky Diet Beyonce Used To Drop Weight Fast

The diet Beyoncé used to drop weight may appeal to you. After all, it's an incredibly quick way to shed some extra pounds. Maybe you're a busy working mom with three kids like the singer herself and you want to get in shape for an upcoming event. What's your next move?

For Beyoncé, it was a strict eating program. Mere months after giving birth to her twins, she turned to 22 Days Nutrition to get in shape to headline the Coachella music festival. Although Queen Bey has never revealed how much weight she lost for Coachella, we do know she looked fierce and performed like the fabulous pop star that she is. 

The question is, though, would this plan work for the everyday person? And is it even a safe and reasonable way to lose weight? Health Digest turned to the experts and discovered everything there is to know about the (spoiler) risky diet Beyoncé used to lose weight.

Beyoncé's diet is based on a myth

Beyoncé's go-to diet, aka the 22 Days Nutrition program, is advertised as a "100% plant-based" eating plan that is intended to radically change your eating habits for the better over a 22-day period. The number "22" comes from the commonly held notion it takes 21 days to establish a new habit or break an old one and, therefore, by the 22nd day, new behaviors should be engrained. Or at least that's how it's marketed.

You see, scientists have debunked the 21-day rule. "This myth appears to have originated from anecdotal evidence of patients who had received plastic surgery treatment and typically adjusted psychologically to their new appearance within 21 days," a 2012 review in the British Journal of General Practice revealed. As the experts revealed, it could actually take as long as 10 weeks — if not longer — to firmly establish a new habit. Even then, backsliding is still a risk.

Beyoncé's diet is labeled a 100% plant-based eating plan

Although 22 Days Nutrition is advertised as a "100% plant-based" diet, it's misleading to call this diet plant-based. In a promotional video for the diet, 22 Days Nutrition founder Marco Borges said he started off using the term "vegan," but found it had a "negative connotation." Thus, 22 Days Nutrition was born.

However, "vegan" and "plant-based" are not interchangeable terms, according to Harvard Health. The publication pointed out a significant difference: Plant-based diets include all food sources (including meat, eggs, and dairy) but emphasize plant-derived foods. Vegan diets, on the other hand, exclude all animal products. Foods like salmon, omelettes, and yogurt fit into plant-based eating plans, whereas such foods are off limits in vegan diets. Vegan diets also exclude some foods you might not expect, like honey and gelatin, as they are both derived from animals.

Harvard Health suggests that if you're interested in trying a plant-based diet, you can start by filling up half of your plate with vegetables at lunch and dinner, cooking a vegetarian meal at least one night a week, and eating fruit for dessert. 

Beyoncé first tried Marco Borges' diet in 2013

Back in 2009, Marco Borges founded 22 Days Nutrition and published a book to go with it, The 22 Day Revolution, which lays out a comprehensive diet strategy, including a meal plan, tips to stay on track, and over 60 vegan recipes. Leading up to the launch of 22 Days Nutrition, Borges studied psychology and biology at Florida University. Since then, he has worked as a nutritionist and personal trainer with a celebrity clientele.

"People come to me because they're tired — they're tired of being tired. They're tired of being sick. They're tired of not sleeping well. They're tired of the weight that they carry around. They're tired of all the meds that they get prescribed," Borges noted in a promotional video. Beyoncé, it seems, was one such person.

Borges mentored Beyoncé for the first time in 2013. Since then, Borges has become a personal friend of Bey, who, together with her husband, Jay-Z, have become partners with Borges in the 22 Days Nutrition business. The three went on to launch the 22 Days Nutrition Meal Planner, which is essentially an app that offers members in-app purchases of tools and home-delivered foods that support the 22 Days Nutrition plan.

These are the guidelines for the diet Beyoncé used to lose weight

As Beyoncé revealed when she was on the diet, "I'm limiting myself to no bread, no carbs, no sugar, no dairy, no meat, no fish, no alcohol." Although that meant the singer was eating pretty much just some fruits and vegetables, the diet does allow for whole grains, beans, nuts, and seeds. However, nothing processed is allowed. "If your ancestors wouldn't recognize what's on your plate, then don't eat it," Borges wrote in the 22 Day Revolution, clarifying his definition of "processed."

Borges' book further encourages readers to eat "three mindful meals" a day, which is, indeed, good advice. It also encourages you to stop eating before you've reached a point of fullness. As to what your particular meals should consist of, the book contains sample meals and recipes, which, taken together, adhere to the plan's requirement that 10 percent of your diet be in the form of protein, 10 percent in the form of fat, and 80 percent in the form of carbohydrates. 

Beyoncé doubled up on 22 Days Nutrition the second time around

When Beyoncé gave birth to her twins in 2018, she weighed 218 pounds, she told Vogue. She'd endured toxemia during her pregnancy and needed to have an emergency C-section. "During my recovery, I gave myself self-love and self-care, and I embraced being curvier," she explained. "I accepted what my body wanted to be. After six months, I started preparing for Coachella."

Having successfully lost weight in 2013 using 22 Days Nutrition, Bey went back to that same plan. But this time, she decided to do it for 44 days rather than 22. And she made the choice to do it all in the public eye. That included a Day 1 weigh-in, captured on video and posted on YouTube. "Every woman's nightmare," she joked as she stood on the scale and waited for the number, 175, to materialize. 

Although Bey remarked that this meant she had a "long way to go," it's worth noting that before Beyoncé began her 44-day plan, she had already lost nearly 45 pounds of pregnancy weight.

What does one eat on Beyoncé's endorsed diet?

According to Beyoncé's website, 22 Days Nutrition is "based on the principle of creating healthier habits by moving towards a plant-based lifestyle." As the diet is vegan, it calls for eating vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds, and certain protein powders.

The 22-Day Revolution provides sample shopping lists, which include whole fruits (like blueberries, Granny Smith apples, Asian pears, and grapes) and vegetables (like lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, spinach, onions, cucumber, and avocado), a variety of beans and legumes (like black and pinto beans, lentils, and quinoa), and nuts and nut butters and milks (like almond, flax, sesame). It also includes healthy oils (like coconut, canola, and safflower), select grains (like steel cut oats and brown rice), and a pretty wide variety of vinegars, spices, and herbs. This book as well as the accompanying cookbook provide meals and recipes to help dieters figure out what to do with all those perhaps-not-so-familiar vegan ingredients. 

Beyoncé admitted to feeling hungry while following 22 Days Nutrition

It's pretty clear that 22 Days Nutrition is more about what you cannot eat than what you can. To follow this Beyoncé'-endorsed diet, you have to give up pretty much everything that doesn't grow in or on the ground or on a tree, and even then, it had better not be processed. And alcohol is a no-go. So are sweetened drinks and diet drinks.

Even Bey had to admit that she was "hungry" once she had cut out all the Borges-banned foods from her diet. That being said, we would be remiss not to mention an Instagram post by Bey from the day she began her vegan diet journey — one which suggests perhaps Bey made at least one exception to the "what you can't eat" rules. The star shared a photo on Instagram with a caption that read," 44 days until Coachella! Vegan Time!" And the photo? It was of a gorgeous heaping portion of avocado toast. That's right, toast. 

The plant based part of Beyoncé's diet isn't bad

Marco Borges has claimed that his 22 Days Nutrition "plant-based" diet plan will give you more energy, better sleep, a better complexion, and a better overall mood. Beyoncé, it seems, is a true believer in the plan considering she's gone back to it at least twice.

Borges is right, in a way; a plant-based diet can do wonders for your health, certified personal trainer and nutritionist Jamie Hickey confirmed to Health Digest. "If done correctly, a plant based diet limits the amount of oils, synthetic sugars, and processed foods leaving you with a diet consisting of whole foods, and it's been proven that a diet high in plant based foods will decrease your chances of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity," he explained.

But what about full-on vegan diets, like 22 Days Nutrition? According to Tufts University Medical Center, "Vegan diets can come up short in essential nutrients such as protein, calcium, iron and vitamin B12. If planned and supplemented (as needed) appropriately, vegan diets can certainly be a part of a healthy lifestyle." That doesn't mean, however that, you need to go vegan to be healthy.

Beyoncé's go-to diet isn't sustainable

As Tufts University Medical Center pointed out, the decision to adopt a vegan diet is not one to be taken lightly. Like all diets that restrict specific food groups, a vegan diet can cause you to miss out on some important nutrients. Jamie Hickey, nutritionist and certified personal trainer, concurred, adding that even if we're just talking about a sub-vegan, plant-based diet, vitamin and mineral deficiencies are a risk, which can lead to adverse side effects like chronic fatigue, hair loss, and immune deficiencies.

"You have to be vigilant to make sure you're getting enough of the foods you need," he explained. In addition, Hickey told Health Digest there's a real risk that if you adopt a particularly restrictive diet, you won't be able to sustain it. "Many people don't have the discipline or fortitude to do this for an extended period of time." Although you may be able to stick to a diet for 22 days — or 44 — these kinds of crash diets often lead to future weight gain and a slowed metabolism. Yes, a very restrictive diet may well be a setup for failure.

Beyoncé's risky diet is dangerously low in calories

The guidelines for 22 Days Nutrition don't have much to do with calories. "If your focus is on eating clean plant-based meals, you will notice that you feel satisfied and nourished after your meals, and your health will likely follow," the diet claims (via Vice). This may sound like good advice, but the 22 Days Nutrition plan may actually be dangerously low in calories. 

Vice's Emily Cassel added up the calories of one of the recommended meal plans for women and found that it topped out at 1,067. According to certified personal trainer and nutritionist Jamie Hickey warned Health Digest that a diet so low in calories may well result in weight loss. But that doesn't mean it's a good thing.

"As a dietitian, I never recommend anyone go below 1,200 cals a day ... this is definitely too low, [and] could potentially decrease metabolic rate," Dana Hunnes, a senior dietitian at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center who specialized in plant-based eating, told Vice.

How did Beyoncé even exercise while on this diet?

Exercise is an "essential component" of the 22 Days Nutrition program, especially if your goal is weight loss, The 22 Day Revolution states. Specifically, the program calls for at least 30 minutes of exercise per day. We know that during the 44 days when Beyoncé was on the diet, she was learning and practicing choreography while belting out songs, all while also being a businesswoman, wife, and mother of three young children. So, clearly, Bey was doing far more than the minimum required exercise. 

It's worth noting, however, that exercise requires energy. And exercise at Bey's level requires immense energy. In no case is the roughly 1,100 calories per day, which it's estimated the 22 Days Nutrition diet allows for, is enough to sustain an adult woman, let alone an adult woman who is as active as Beyoncé. We already knew Bey's performance at Coachella was incredible, but it's hard to believe she put on such a concert while on a risky diet — one that would surely not be recommended by most experts.

Does Beyoncé's diet even help the planet, as it claims?

Something worth noting about the 22 Days Nutrition plan is that Marco Borges markets it as a way to both better yourself and the earth. The theory is that the diet's restrictions help to promote not only a healthier body but also a healthier, more sustainable planet as a whole. But as BBC explained, "The vegan diet is widely regarded to be better for the planet than those that include animal products, but not all plant-based foodstuffs have a small environmental footprint."

Nevertheless, Borges' company is committed to selling their protein powders in pouches that use 88 percent less material than traditional "protein tubs." As the site explained, "Our packaging is an example of our commitment to sustainability beyond human health." This packaging may not be enough to save the entire planet, but hey, it's better than the alternative.

Will Beyoncé's diet work for you?

It would be nice to flirt with the notion that Beyoncé is just like the rest of us. But she isn't. An anonymous insider alleged back in 2013 that Beyoncé bans all junk food backstage, and the only snacks allowed on tour are almonds and oat cakes. And those must be served on glass platters. Glass platters!

"You should never choose or assume a diet will work for you because it did for someone else, especially a celebrity," certified personal trainer and nutritionist Jamie Hickey told Health Digest. "A lot of times, when a celebrity is paid to endorse a diet plan, the celebrity hasn't even gone on the particular diet. They've simply lost weight using their own methods."

But even if you can somehow be assured that a particular celebrity has had success on a particular diet, what you can't know is how much easier it might have been for them than it will be for you simply because they have people working for them whose job description is to keep the celebrity fit and healthy. 

Experts and fans alike have criticized Beyoncé's decision to endorse the risky diet

"I'm constantly asked by my clients what I think about different fad diets," certified personal trainer and nutritionist Jamie Hickey told Health Digest. "What I tell them is that the best diet is the one that combines all of the major food groups. If any diet asks you to leave out carbs or meat, that is a red flag that you should avoid it." Beyoncé's diet is all about restricting, which is "not a healthy way to go about dieting or building healthy habits, which is what this particular diet purports to do," Hickey continued.

Nutritionist Daniel O'Shaughnessy told the BBC that the diet "could be dangerous for the average person to follow without a team of nutritionists and trainers like Beyoncé has" and that it could lead to "nutritional deficiencies." It's not just nutrition experts who are critical of Bey's diet plan, however. Disappointed fans expressed regret that Beyoncé' had missed an opportunity to promote body positivity, or, at the very least, a reasonable approach to weight loss.