What Is the Beyond Diet?

Beyond diet

Verywell / Debbie Burkhoff

At Verywell, we believe there is no one-size-fits-all approach to a healthy lifestyle. Successful eating plans need to be individualized and take the whole person into consideration. Prior to starting a new diet plan, consult with your healthcare provider or a registered dietitian, especially if you have an underlying health condition.

The Beyond Diet claims you can lose up to 10 pounds in two weeks by adopting a meal program that's lower in carbs and omits grain-based foods and sugar. The program, outlined in the 2014 book, "Beyond Diet: 3 Step Fat Loss," by certified nutritionist Isabel De Los Rios, aims to jump-start weight loss efforts through a fairly restrictive diet followed by a slightly more sustainable program.

The plan emphasizes lower-carb fruits and vegetables along with lean protein sources. It also encourages followers to eat frequently, drink plenty of water, and consume moderate amounts of fat.

Due to its restrictive nature, weight loss is possible on the Beyond Diet, especially during the first four weeks of the program. However, the plan eliminates healthy foods such as whole grains, which are considered by most nutrition experts to be part of a balanced diet. It also requires followers to buy a proprietary green protein powder from De Los Rios's company and encourages the use of other Beyond-branded products, such as an omega-3 dietary supplement.

Proponents of the Beyond Diet credit the program's online support community for their weight-loss success. In addition, additional recipes, meal plans, and exercise recommendations are available at beyonddiet.com. However, you can't access some of this content unless you pay a one-time membership fee to join the community. Learn more about the pros and cons of the Beyond Diet to determine if it's a healthy choice for you.

What Experts Say

The Beyond Diet offers several weight loss plans with recipes and an online forum. This structure and support can help users lose weight. However, experts disagree with certain off-limits foods, and past users warn there’s frequent up-selling of additional products.

Chrissy Carroll, RD, MPH

What Can You Eat?

The Beyond Diet's menu plans for its first 28 days will look familiar to anyone who's followed a diet that's lower in carbohydrates. They contain lots of fruits and vegetables, healthy, lower-fat protein sources such as chicken and fish (with some buffalo, as well), and a smattering of nuts and seeds. Coconut oil and extra virgin olive oil are encouraged, while canola oil is not allowed (despite most nutritionists agreeing that canola oil is healthy).

The diet does not include any grain-based carbohydrates in its initial 28 days. Therefore, you'll be eliminating all bread, pasta, chips, and all sweet grain-based products such as cake, muffins, and cookies. But you'll also cut out nutritious whole grain sources like brown rice and quinoa. There's also very little dairy (only a small amount of parmesan cheese and some butter), so you'll be avoiding milk, cheese, and ice cream during the diet's initial phase.

After the first 28 days, followers can begin creating their own meal plans based on the principles of the Beyond Diet outlined in De Los Rios' book.

What You Need to Know

Followers of the Beyond Diet plan will eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner, plus a morning snack and an afternoon snack. There's no recommended timing—simply eat the meals and the snacks whenever you like—but you'll probably want to spread the meals and snacks throughout your day to keep any hunger pangs at bay. Here's a closer look at the three main meals:

  • Breakfast will include a proprietary daily energy greens drink, plus protein (eggs, sausage, chicken, or bacon) and vegetables such as fresh tomatoes. You'll also have two teaspoons of unrefined virgin coconut oil every morning—you'll use it to cook the protein and vegetables.
  • Lunch will consist of a protein-based main course such as turkey chili, plus more vegetables and perhaps a piece of fruit for dessert. Morning and afternoon snacks generally consist of fruit or carrot sticks combined with nuts or nut butter.
  • Dinner is similar to lunch, with protein (in the form of turkey burgers, chicken, or fish) alongside vegetables and/or a salad.

De Los Rios asks followers of the Beyond Diet to commit to giving the program four weeks to work, although she promises that they will see results within one week and definitive results within the month.

The seventh day of every week is a "free day" (De Los Rios takes pains to distinguish it from a cheat day). On your free days, you can eat anything you want for one meal; the other two meals should be from the Beyond Diet blueprint.

Modifications

It's possible to follow the Beyond Diet if you have food allergies or preferences. However, some people with certain food restrictions may find it difficult.

  • Dairy-free: It's simple to follow a dairy-free diet as part of the Beyond Diet—you'll just need to omit the parmesan cheese-based salad dressing (try olive oil instead, with herbs for seasoning), and cook with coconut oil instead of butter.
  • Vegetarian/vegan: People following a vegetarian diet or a vegan diet will find it tricky to adhere to the Beyond Diet's blueprint since most meals center around animal protein. In addition, common vegetarian sources of protein such as soy, most legumes, and grains are not allowed during the first phase of the Beyond Diet.
  • Gluten-free: Almost everything in the Beyond Diet program is naturally gluten-free, with one important exception: the proprietary daily energy greens drink powder, which contains wheatgrass. Some experts do not consider wheatgrass to be gluten-free. Wheatgrass itself does not contain gluten, but wheatgrass seed kernels do contain gluten. So there is a substantial risk for cross-contamination.

If you adhere to a gluten-free diet, you could substitute the proprietary greens drink with a gluten-free green smoothie powder that contains spirulina and raw cacao.

What to Eat
  • Fruit (including apples, bananas, and berries)

  • Mixed greens and spinach

  • Avocado

  • Bell peppers

  • Broccoli, carrots, and cauliflower

  • Tomatoes and celery

  • Sweet potatoes

  • Bacon and sausage (natural and nitrate-free)

  • Ground buffalo, beef, and turkey

  • Chicken breast and thighs

  • Sliced turkey

  • Eggs

  • Raw almonds, macadamia nuts, pumpkin seeds, and walnuts

  • Coconut oil and butter

  • Extra virgin olive oil

  • Spices

  • Proprietary green drink

What Not to Eat
  • Sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, and other sweeteners

  • Artificial sweeteners

  • Soda and other sweetened drinks

  • Highly processed wheat

  • Processed, packaged health foods

  • Soy

Fruits and Vegetables

Fresh produce forms the core of the Beyond Diet. Every meal will include some type of fruits and vegetables—often more than one. Expect to eat lots of salads and steamed vegetables and plan on snacks such as bananas, celery, and carrots.

Meat and Seafood

The Beyond Diet encourages moderate amounts of protein at every meal. For example, breakfast might include turkey sausage sauteed with fresh bell pepper and onion, lunch could be broiled salmon, and dinner might feature turkey chili. All the recipes are included, and portions of protein tend to be small—generally 4 ounces or less of protein per meal. It should be noted that processed meats (even those that are nitrate-free) are generally not considered healthy because they typically contain ample amounts of sodium, calories, and saturated fat.

Eggs and Dairy

During the first four weeks of the Beyond Diet, you'll eat only a handful of eggs per week and practically no dairy. The only two dairy products allowed are raw organic butter for cooking (in small amounts), and parmesan cheese (as part of a recommended salad dressing recipe).

Keep in mind that the FDA does not permit the sale of raw unpasteurized milk for human consumption, or any product made from raw milk such as butter or cheese. Most, but not all states, abide by this rule.

Healthy Fats

The program recommends eating a few ounces of nuts every day as a snack, and also allows some nut butter as a snack. Recommended nuts and seeds include raw almonds, raw macadamia nuts, raw pumpkin seeds, and raw walnuts. Also note that only two types of oils are allowed on the Beyond Diet: coconut oil and extra virgin olive oil.

Proprietary Energy Drink

Each day's meal plan begins with the Beyond Diet's daily greens energy drink. To make this drink, you need to purchase De Los Rios' proprietary "Daily Energy Spring of Life" powder mix, which contains raw spirulina, wheatgrass, and raw cacao along with dozens of other ingredients.

Some herbal ingredients are associated with side effects. For example, ashwagandha is added for benefits related to stress and hormones. But the herbal ingredient is associated with side effects including nasal congestion, constipation, cough and cold, drowsiness, and decreased appetite.

The product is available on Amazon or directly from the Beyond Diet website. In order to buy this product directly from the Beyond Diet website, you must sign up for recurring shipments (the fine print states that you can cancel at any time, but you have to opt-out or you'll continue to be billed). Wherever you purchase it, you will pay around $80 for one month's supply.

Making the daily greens energy drink is simple: add one scoop of the powder mix to an 8-ounce glass of water and stir.

Sample Shopping List

The Beyond Diet restricts grains, added sugar, artificial sweeteners, other additives, and limits dairy products and most legumes during the first phase of the program. But it does include a wide variety of nutrient-dense foods you can still eat. Your weekly shopping list will include nearly 12 cups of mixed greens and spinach, along with a variety of whole fruits and vegetables.

The following sample shopping list offers suggestions for getting started on the plan. Note that this is not a definitive shopping list and you may find other foods that work better for you.

  • Dark leafy greens (spinach, kale, Swiss chard, bok choy)
  • Vegetables (green beans, broccoli, onions, tomatoes, bell peppers, spaghetti squash)
  • Fruits (avocado, grapefruit, oranges, berries, bananas, apples)
  • Lean animal protein sources (chicken breast, lean cuts of beef, pork tenderloin)
  • Fresh or frozen fish (halibut, cod, salmon, snapper, sea bass, shrimp)
  • Nuts (walnuts, almonds, cashews)
  • Plant-based milk alternatives (almond or coconut)
  • Parmesan cheese, butter
  • Oils (olive oil, coconut oil)
  • Seasonings (basil, parsley, black and cayenne peppers, chili powder, ground cumin, garlic powder, dried oregano, thyme, paprika, unrefined sea salt)
  • Eggs

Sample Meal Plan

When following the Beyond Diet, you'll follow specific meal plans for the first 14 days. Once you've completed the first two weeks of the program, you'll move on to another two-week-long set of recipes. The low-carb recipes are designed to cut back on sugar, unhealthy fats, processed foods.

The following three-day meal plan offers a glimpse at what a few days on this diet might look like. Note that this plan is not all-inclusive, and if you choose to follow the Beyond Diet there may be other meals, such as those that specifically appear in the book, that you prefer.

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Emphasizes fruits and vegetables

  • Eliminates sugar

  • Includes active support forum

Cons
  • Avoids healthy whole grains

  • Requires purchases of proprietary products

  • Not sustainable

As with all diets, the Beyond Diet has both its benefits and drawbacks. Review the pros and cons associated with this program to help inform your decision about trying this plan.

Pros

  • Emphasizes fruits and vegetables: Followers eat plenty of fruits and veggies at every meal during the program. Since fresh produce is the cornerstone of a healthy diet, this aspect of the Beyond Diet is a point in its favor. The program also includes various recipes that will likely encourage you to eat your vegetables.
  • Eliminates sugar: Most people would probably benefit from ditching sweetened drinks and other sources of added sugar in their diets. The Beyond Diet eliminates all products with added sugar in all forms—including high-fructose corn syrup.
  • Includes an active support forum: There's no doubt that social support helps many people to lose weight, and those following the Beyond Diet often enjoy the specific support offered by this program on its website. However, note that you'll have to pay to join the community.

Cons

  • Avoids healthy whole grains: Skipping entire food groups can make a diet difficult to follow and may make it unhealthy as well. The Beyond Diet eliminates all grain products, including healthy whole grains.
  • Requires purchase of proprietary products: Lots of diets feature homemade smoothies, but the Beyond Diet expects you to pay top dollar (close to $3 per day, in fact) for its proprietary green drink powder. That may place the program out of reach financially for many people.
  • Unsustainable for the long term: The Beyond Diet likely will help you to lose weight in the short term. But any diet that eliminates or severely limits major food groups—in this case, grain-based foods such as bread and pasta—likely won't work in the long term.

You are allowed to have bread after the initial 28 days on the Beyond Diet, but you're only limited to sprouted whole grain bread. You might also start to find the Beyond Diet meal plans monotonous since they frequently call for eating left-overs and use the same recipes repeatedly.

Is the Beyond Diet a Healthy Choice for You?

The Beyond Diet shares some similarities with other diets, including the paleo diet, the South Beach diet, and other diets that focus on reducing carbohydrate intake, especially the intake of carbs that are high on the glycemic index.

The paleo diet emphasizes animal protein and skips the grains, similar to the Beyond Diet. The South Beach Diet encourages weight loss through fresh produce and lean protein, with little or no sugar and processed carbs. The Beyond Diet echoes these tenets. Both diets skip processed grains and white potatoes in favor of a hefty serving of vegetables—and both offer proprietary products for sale.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's MyPlate nutrition tool recommends that half of your daily food intake should be from vegetables and fruits, with around one-third from grain products (whole grains are emphasized), less than one-quarter from protein sources, and just a small amount from fats and sweets. The Beyond Diet meets those recommendations for fresh produce and protein and it eliminates sugar entirely. But current dietary guidelines set forth by the USDA also advise consuming low-fat dairy products, whole grains, and legumes, which are restricted on the Beyond Diet plan.

In addition, the meal plans outlined for the first four weeks of the Beyond Diet contain fewer calories than the USDA's recommendations for adults. In the first four weeks, you'll consume around 1,200 calories per day (in some cases less, depending on your meal choices) on the Beyond Diet. But the USDA recommends around 1,6000–2,000 calories a day for adult women under 50 and 2,200–2,400 calories a day for adult men under 50. Older adults require slightly less.

For weight maintenance, De Los Rios' blueprint contains meal plans ranging from 1,400–2,400 calories per day. But keep in mind that many people would regain weight on a program that included 2,400 calories a day, especially if their activity levels were lower than average. Calorie needs can also vary depending on factors such as age, sex, weight, and height. Use this calculator to determine your personal calorie requirement to stay on track with your goals.

The Beyond Diet eliminates grains and limits legumes and dairy products, all of which are recommended by federal guidelines for a well-balanced diet. While weight loss is possible in the short term, this program is not a sustainable plan for long-term weight management.

Health Benefits

"Beyond Diet" author De Los Rios states that losing weight is easier if you stick with carbohydrate-based foods that are low glycemic. Her program features some of these foods, such as apples, sweet potatoes, and greens. Indeed, research shows that a low glycemic diet helps to regulate your blood sugar, which can be beneficial for people with diabetes.

However, the Beyond Diet excludes many nutrient-dense low-glycemic foods such as oatmeal and products derived from whole wheat, which are beneficial for overall health.

Health Risks

While there are no common health risks associated with the Beyond Diet specifically, similar low-carb diets that restrict or eliminate grains may result in nutrient deficiencies, which increases the risk of chronic illness and disease. In particular, low levels of vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin B7, chromium, and iodine have been reported in certain low-carb diet plans.

A Word from Verywell

If you choose to follow the Beyond Diet, it's likely you'll lose some weight, especially at first. The program is low in calories and relatively easy to follow in the short term. It also offers the opportunity for social support. However, long-term you may find you get better, more sustainable results with a balanced program that offers you more food options and doesn't require you to purchase expensive products.

Remember, following a long-term or short-term diet may not be necessary for you and many diets out there simply don’t work, especially long-term. While we do not endorse fad diet trends or unsustainable weight loss methods, we present the facts so you can make an informed decision that works best for your nutritional needs, genetic blueprint, budget, and goals.

If your goal is weight loss, remember that losing weight isn’t necessarily the same as being your healthiest self, and there are many other ways to pursue health. Exercise, sleep, and other lifestyle factors also play a major role in your overall health. The best diet is always the one that is balanced and fits your lifestyle.

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