If you follow weight loss and fitness accounts on social media, you might have noticed an uptick in posts about a buzzy program called 80 Day Obsession. Created in 2018 by Beachbody trainer Autumn Calabrese, it’s an 80-day program that relies on customized meals and workouts to help you burn fat and achieve a leaner, more toned shape.
What are the guidelines, and why is 80 Day Obession suddenly so popular? (And why 80 days, exactly?) We took a closer look at this plan and asked a nutritionist to help us break down what it’s about, whether it can lead to lasting weight loss, and if it’s healthy.
How do you follow 80 Day Obsession?
Like the name suggests, 80 Day Obsession is designed to last 80 days, or a little less than three months. (Eighty is the number of days it takes your body to create a healthy “foundation for fitness,” Calabrese recently told Today.com.) Sign up for the program, and you receive 80 different workouts that last from 30 to 60 minutes each. The idea is to do a different routine every day, with each routine building on the previous one so you continue to challenge yourself.
80 Day Obsession also relies on something called “timed nutrition,” as the plan’s website calls it, or “eating the right foods…at the right times” to fuel your daily workouts and speed your metabolism. Instead of counting calories, you consume small meals that include protein, carbs, and fat every two to three hours. Also on the diet’s menu are the brand’s meal replacement shakes. To make sure you’re eating the right amount of food, followers use 80 Day Obsession’s color-coded portion control containers.
One thing that makes this diet different from keto and other trendy plans is that membership is required; it runs $99/year. You could also buy a package that includes workout streaming, a month supply of Shakeology (the meal replacement shake), plus pre- and post-workout supplements, the portion control containers, and a few small pieces of equipment (like sliders and bands) for $240.
What are the benefits—and drawbacks?
If you’re shelling out that kind of dough at the outset, you need to know what you’re getting yourself into. True to the plan’s name, it’s supposed to become an obsession with fitness and nutrition that lasts 13 weeks. Already, that’s not a great start.
“When it comes to overall health and weight loss, having an obsession with anything can be too much,” says Tracy Lockwood Beckerman, MS, RD. An extreme focus on working out, pushing yourself, and what you eat can drive disordered eating behaviors or overexercising, no matter how honest your intentions were at the start, she points out.
In terms of the diet’s nutrition component, Beckerman sees a few potential snags. While “there is a benefit” to eating smaller meals more frequently because it can help metabolism and keeps your system fueled, Beckerman is not on board with the meal replacement shake and portion control containers. “This plan doesn’t seem to be individualized for people. Everyone’s body needs a different amount of nutrition, making it hard to say if the portion-control containers are appropriate for everyone,” she explains. The shakes may not give your body the nutrition it needs.
Also, “the food portion of this wasn’t created by a registered dietitian, which makes me wary of the idea. RDs have extensive scientific research-based backgrounds in nutrition and go through many years of schooling,” says Beckerman. “It’s important to find out where you’re getting your nutrition knowledge from.”
The emphasis on physical transformation is troubling to Beckerman, because the overall message is about making your body smaller, not to become healthier or more fit. “When someone just focuses on their body, they lose sight of other important things in life—if this is the case, workouts can start taking priority over loved ones, work, and one’s own personal values,” she says.
Finally, consider what happens after the 80 days are up. Maybe you lost weight and your abs are more defined. But Beckerman has her doubts about the chance at long-term success, especially considering the obsessive focus the plan endorses. “When individuals see a time limit on something, they are more likely to do it for that length of time and go back to their old habits because when it comes to weight loss, most people want a quick fix,” she says.
The bottom line
While 80 Day Obsession may result in weight loss and help you achieve a stronger body, the results can be hard to maintain because it’s more of a short-term diet, not a healthy lifestyle change, says Beckerman. If you hate counting calories and love working out, and you like the idea of following rigid guidelines, it could be worth a try. Yet the obsessive focus required to stick to the workouts and eating plan can be tricky for many people to sustain.