A little over a year ago, Beyoncé and Jay Z embarked on the 22 Days Nutrition Vegan Challenge, the creation of Beyoncé’s trainer, exercise physiologist and vegan Marco Borges. (The challenge takes its name from the concept that it takes 21 days to firmly establish a new habit or break an old one—by Day 22, it’s second nature.)
The experience clearly made a positive impression, as the superstar twosome recently announced they’re partnering with Borges to launch a vegan food delivery service called 22-Day Nutrition. (Get a week’s worth of Beyoncé-approved meals for around $200 US.) You don’t need to splash out on vegan delivery, however, to eat like Beyoncé. Borges’s original 22-day vegan nutrition challenge recipe book is online here if you’re looking for inspiration.
Toronto-based dietitian Christy Brissette evaluated Borges’ Vegan Challenge, isolating the pros and cons for Flare.com.
One pro: it’s low, low, low in calories. “Some of the days I looked at were about 1,200 calories,” says Brissette.
If you want to lose weight—and rapidly—the Vegan Challenge seems like a fairly compelling option for doing just that. But it’s extreme, says Brissette. “It would be very difficult to stick with it because you’d wind up being quite hungry.”
It’s that deprivation that, in Brissette’s opinion anyway, undermines the goal of the challenge itself. “The whole premise behind the diet is that it takes 21 days to form a new habit,” she says. But the serious caloric restriction makes it unlikely for people to adopt it as a long-term plan.
Brissette is also concerned about the nutritional balance of the meals presented in the recipe book. Her biggest issue is that many of the meals don’t have a sufficient balance of protein to complex carbs, both of which offer a feeling of satiety and therefore curb excessive eating.
“Some of these meals really lacked staying power,” she says. “They didn’t have protein or more complex carbohydrates in them. For example, having a mango, kale, avocado salad for lunch—I don’t know how satisfying that would be.”
The importance of protein can’t be underestimated. Brissette tells her clients to make sure that they eat protein with every meal. For vegans, that means adding things like lentils, tofu and beans to salads and veggies.
That imbalance appears to have been addressed in the new business venture, however. The site says all meals will offer the right balance of protein, complex carbs and fat.
Veganism has many health benefits—vegans often have a reduced risk of heart disease, are leaner and enjoy greater life expectancy–but if you’re looking for a healthy balanced vegan eating plan that will help you make the switch to eating a more plant-based diet over the long term, you’d be wise to vet celeb-endorsed fads with a qualified dietitian, says Brissette.