Let’s be honest: Basically anything Beyoncé touches instantly turns to gold. We all know it, but maybe no one knows it better than her personal trainer, Marco Borges.
Earlier this year, Borges released a book about his method of plant-based eating called The Greenprint: Plant-Based Diet, Best Body, Better World—and it received Beyonce’s coveted stamp of approval. She not only challenged her Instagram followers to take up the eating plan (enticing them with a sweepstakes contest to win a lifetime of concert tickets!), but she also wrote the introduction to the book, alongside hubby Jay Z.
Now The Greenprint is a bestseller, and the diet is wildly popular among Queen Bey’s hordes of fans and other celebs. But what the heck is the Greenprint diet? And more importantly, can us mere mortals handle it?
If you would do almost anything to live your best Beyoncé life, here’s what you need to know about the diet she went all in to promote.
What is the Greenprint diet all about?
It’s a plant-based diet with a focus on healthy eating and saving the planet. Most people follow plant-based diets purely for their own benefit, but the Greenprint diet emphasizes that eating this way will not only improve your health but also reduce your carbon footprint (so it’s a win-win).
The book features a manifesto of sorts called the “22 Laws of Plants,” which is essentially the Greenprint diet tips or rules for living a cleaner, healthier life. It encourages readers to listen to their bodies, love their food, practice fasting, take care of their mind and heart, and consider the health of the planet when considering what to eat every day. It also promises that you can overhaul your lifestyle in just 22 days, which is based on the theory that it takes 21 days to create a new habit. (One note: The 21-day habit theory has been mostly debunked.)
Still, going green with your diet—however long it takes—can be a *great* way to improve your health. “Increasing your intake of plant-based foods has been linked with a lower body weight and a reduced risk of diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers,” says registered dietitian Erin Palinski-Wade, author of 2 Day Diabetes Diet. The health benefits of plant-based foods have been studied through clinical trials of the Mediterranean diet, which is largely plant-based, according to Harvard Health.
Who is the author, and how are Beyoncé and Jay Z involved?
Exercise physiologist Marco Borges, a Miami-based lifestyle coach and Beyoncé’s personal trainer, created the nutrition plan The Greenprint book is based around. Beyoncé followed it when she wanted to get into shape before Coachella, promoting it with a short video featured on her website. (It’s not the only time she’s credited a vegan diet with helping her shed pounds.)
But more than simply following a diet to lose weight, Bey and Jay have taken up the plant-based cause as a full-fledged lifestyle—one they want to share with anyone who is concerned about the health of their body and the planet at large.
They explained their mission in the introduction to Borges’ book: “The world won’t change itself. We need to change it...We want to challenge you, as we challenge ourselves, to move toward plant-based foods. We all have a responsibility to stand up for our health and the health of our planet.”
How does the diet actually work?
The 22 days of the diet are split up into tiers, allowing you to adjust slowly to the new way of eating. So rather than give up all non-compliant foods at once, you eat one plant-based meal for the first 11 days and two plant-based meals for the next 11 days; by day 22, you’re in theory ready to give up animal products completely.
As for what you can eat on the diet? Once you’ve fully transitioned through the 22-day plan, you’ll be dining exclusively on whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, and fresh herbs.
If this sounds intimidating, rest assured that in addition to Borges’ Greenprint book, there are tons of other resources to help you stick with your new way of eating. The 22 Days Nutrition web site offers a customizable meal planner that functions like an app, support from food coaches, daily added recipes, and even grocery deliveries (if you live in an area where Amazon Fresh, Instacart, or Peapod is available).
One thing to note: Plant-based eating is similar to—but not the same as—veganism. Many traditional vegans eat things that would be off-plan on the Greenprint diet. From the 22 Days Nutrition website: “A plant-based diet and a vegan diet are similar in that both diets avoid all animal products. But a plant-based diet, a term we prefer to use, is a diet that is based on nutritious, whole food plant-based options like whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds. A plant-based diet does not include processed foods like soy burgers, fake ‘meats,’ chips, cookies, and so on.”
So, it’s kind of like veganism on steroids, which Barbie Boules, RDN, of Barbie Boules Longevity Nutrition, says means you’ll have to be hyper-aware of your nutrient intake. “I've always been a believer that a well-designed vegan food philosophy is a disease-fighting, health-promoting way to eat,” she asserts. “But the keyword is ‘well-designed,’ because you need to ensure adequate quality protein, B12, calcium, and omega 3s. It’s doable, but requires thought.”
How do nutrition experts feel about the diet?
The gradual approach with the 22-day format and tiers is one of the best features of the diet, according to Palinski-Wade: “With any lifestyle change, adjusting gradually over time increases the chances of being successful; if you try to make too many dietary changes at once, you risk burnout and going right back to old habits.”
However, sticking to the Greenprint diet for 22 days may not cure you of all your bacon cheeseburger cravings. “I see hundreds of clients a year, and the 21 days, 30 days, 60 days to change a habit thing...makes people feel like failures when they can't follow that construct,” advises Boules. “You change a habit effectively when you are able to identify the reason you want to change it, plan your course of action in a way that truly fits into your life, and find a satisfying replacement for that habit.” So, keep in mind that 22 days is really just a framework for the diet—not a “make it or break it” kind of thing.
The biggest thing to remember with plant-based diets is finding a balance between compliance and nutrition. It would be easy for someone following the Greenprint diet to become deficient in a few essential nutrients (like protein and B12) or start overlooking some other key aspects of healthy eating. “A vegan diet doesn’t always mean a ‘healthier’ diet,” says Palinski-Wade. “Plenty of plant-based processed foods can still be rich in added sugars and refined carbohydrates that can have a negative impact on health.”
Boules—a self-described former “happy vegan” for 18 years—also notes that a strict change in dietary habits can sometimes evolve into orthorexia or unnecessary restrictive eating. “As a passionate intuitive and mindful eating practitioner, I don't believe you need to be vegan (or have any strict food rules) to be healthy—in fact I don't believe the word ‘rules’ belongs in the same sentence as food,” she explains.
That said, Boules does think vegan or plant-based diets can be rich in fiber, hydration, vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and pro- and prebiotics. So if plant-based eating is your jam, go ahead and channel your inner Beyoncé, queen. Just make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons.
What do the reviews say about The Greenprint book?
The book has mostly positive reviews on Amazon, with readers praising the easy-to-follow layout and loving how well it digs into the science of food and plant-based eating.
One reviewer wrote that the book is “easy to understand, offers many ideas, and [is] a realistic framework for incorporating plant-based meals,” and another described it as “inspiring,” with “simple and delicious” recipes.
The less complimentary reviews take issue with the lack of recipes overall (it’s definitely not a cookbook...more like a “textbook”) and the fact that many of the diet’s recommendations are based on common sense: “Drink water to prevent dehydration. Drink while exercising due to the loss of fluid by sweating. Everyone knows this,” writes one reviewer.
The celebrity response has been loudly favorable. TV talk show host Steve Harvey credited the diet with helping him lose 15 pounds, while professional boxer and Miss Swimsuit USA International 2014, Avril Mathie, praised the recipes and educational info in the book (and she’s not even vegan!).
Wait, is it really good for the environment to eat this way?
The 22 Days Nutrition site claims that eating more plant-based meals helps to conserve water, reduce carbon emissions, and reduce the number of harmful gases in the air (there’s a pretty nifty interactive feature online, if you’re curious).
Some of that may be true: Palinski-Wade says that reducing animal proteins and increasing plants in your diet has been shown to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, especially in high income countries...but it comes with a potential downside of increasing fresh water usage. (FYI, she’s referring to a 2018 analysis by The Lancet Planetary Health, which examined the health and environmental impacts of three different diet scenarios.)
Palinski-Wade also worries about long-term compliance to a completely vegan diet, which can be challenging to stick with over time (reducing the impact of your environmental efforts). “A more favorable and realistic approach may be to follow a flexitarian diet, which can help to offset greenhouse emissions and place a smaller demand on freshwater usage while still offering improved health outcomes,” she explains.
The bottom line: If plant-based eating is your jam, go ahead and channel your inner Beyoncé, queen. This diet can certainly improve your health and help the environment, if you think it's sustainable for you. Just make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons.
You Might Also Like