1 Year on the Bean Protocol

It’s been exactly one year since I started the bean protocol! If you’re wondering WTF I’m talking about and WTF the bean protocol is, click here to read my blog post from last year about my first 3 months on the protocol. Since that post, I haven’t really shared an update so I wanted to break down the other 9 months in this post since some things changed after the first 3.

The bean protocol can be used for many different underlying health issues (I’ve even heard from multiple women, who were told they would never get pregnant, getting pregnant all thanks to the bean protocol), but I used it for my acne issues. I’ve had acne since I was 13 and it’s been a bit of an up and down rollercoaster depending on what my hormones are doing at that time in my life. So when I was doing CrossFit all.the.time, my acne was an its absolute worst. It also got pretty bad after Jackson almost died last year and my stress was at an all time high. Luckily my friend Jess told me about the bean protocol, I started doing some research that same day, and then I dove right in. I’m impatient and I’m impulsive so I rarely wait on anything, including a diet change.

The first 3 months of the bean protocol I stayed VERY strict. No caffeine (decaf included), no sugar, no alcohol, no processed meats, no dairy, no gluten, and no processed foods. I stuck to beans 6x/day or more to ensure that I was getting enough soluble fiber in throughout the day so my excess hormones could bind to it and I could excrete them. But after 3 months, my skin had made a massive improvement, but I was feeling a bit too restricted and was getting close to going the complete other direction and binging on foods that wouldn’t do me any good. So I came up with a plan – I would still have beans 5-6x/day, but I wouldn’t stress as much about eating “perfect” every single day. That meant I would have a little sugar from time to time, not stress about having some fats with my meals when having beans (for acne, you want you space out your fat and beans because the fats will bind with the soluble fiber instead of the excess hormones), and test out how my body did with some decaf added back in.

Well here are some of the things I figured out throughout the past 9 months of finding a protocol that worked for me and my own acne issues:

  • My face acne cleared up faster than my back. For some people, body acne clears faster than face, but I’m the opposite. I still have some issues with cystic acne on my back, especially around my period, but my face is almost completely clear most of the time!
  • I can get away with 1 decaf coffee per week that includes some heavy cream and maple syrup. If I do multiple times, my skin acts up pretty bad.
  • I can have small amounts of sugar from time to time without issues UNLESS it’s near my period. But after the first 3 months of cutting out all caffeine and sugar, I rarely ever crave sugar, which is awesome since it’s so damn bad for my acne and it just feeds the inflammaiton. I’ll have a bite of something then be able to move on from it without caring. If I do get a sweets craving, I’ll normally just have some peanut butter to satiate and then I’m good to go!
  • When I’m not near or on my period, I can mix my beans with fat and still see benefits from the beans.
  • A few days before my period, I have to up my bean intake to help deal with the excess hormones that are kicking up.
  • My hair and nails are EXTREMELY stronger than before.
  • The tone and texture of my skin on my face has improved.

These days I have things that have some sugar in them, like protein powder or when I make my peanut butter protein oats that are topped with delicious granola. And I’ll have a cocktail sometimes when I go out. But 85-90% of the time, I stick with more of a “clean” diet, meaning protein, beans, veggies, and a little bit of dip/fat. I find that the “cleaner” I eat, the better my skin looks, so it helps me stick with the plan because I really prefer to NOT have acne.

Something I also noticed is that every 3 months I experienced a big step forward in progress. I would feel like things weren’t improving and I was still having breakouts then BOOM, the 3 month or 6 month or 9 month mark all showed a new improvement with my skin. Proof that consistency is KEY with anything. The more consistent you are with the protocol, the more successful you will be. There is no getting around it. If you try the protocol, but you will eat sugar or drink coffee or decaf every day then say the protocol doesn’t work for you, well you’re just lying to yourself. You gotta go ALL IN to see what is truly possible.

Below are some side-by-side photos to see the progress. The first photo came from my first blog post – at the start of the bean protocol and at the 3 month mark.

PaleOMG One Year Bean Protocol Update

Now this side-by-side is 1 year apart – 3 months of strict and 9 months of more lenient. This year photo is when I’m NOT on my period or leading up to it. I still normally get some small breakouts on my face around that time, but I’ve noticed that they are normally small whiteheads that go away quite quickly.

PaleOMG One Year Bean Protocol Update

Now I talked about gas in the previous blog post, but let me reiterate. If you were paleo like me before, gas is inevitable on the bean protocol. Your body goes through a fermentation stage with beans, which is what causes the gas. But once I hit the 2 month mark, that issue reduced tremendously. By 3 months, I had no gas whatsoever…that being said, I have to stick with beans that work best with my body. From what I’ve been told, the more you stick with the bean protocol, the less issues you have with different types of beans. For me, the simple beans such as black beans (my favorite, which you’ll see in most photos below), pinto beans, butter beans, and cannellini beans are the beans that work best for my system. If I throw in some lentils or garbanzo beans, it ain’t pretty. So I just stick with the beans that cause me no issue for now and I’ll continue to test different beans as I move forward.

Below I wanted to show you what most meals look like for me as I stick with my own version of the protocol. You’ll see some fat mixed in with my meals (which I didn’t do much of for the first 3 months), and some breakfasts with a bit of sugar. When I eat out at a restaurant, if they have something with beans in it or they have a side of beans, I’ll get it. If that’s not an option, I usually eat a couple tablespoons of beans before I leave and once I get home. I also blend beans into my post-workout protein shakes to ensure I’m getting in protein AND soluble fiber during those snacks. And speaking of snacks, my snacks are most beans. If I want something crunchy, I’ll turn to Badabean snacks (which I also keep in the car for emergencies) or Beanitos chips! But eating simply beans for snacks is not only satisfying and satiating, but it’s great for the body, so I stick with that most of the time.

PaleOMG One Year Bean Protocol Update

This is my peanut butter oats, which includes beans in it, topped with my snickerdoodle granola

PaleOMG One Year Bean Protocol Update

Whenever I order curry for takeout, I’ll always add beans to it

PaleOMG One Year Bean Protocol Update

PaleOMG One Year Bean Protocol Update

Little bean tacos is a fun way to mix up how I normally eat my beans

PaleOMG One Year Bean Protocol Update

PaleOMG One Year Bean Protocol Update

PaleOMG One Year Bean Protocol Update

Beans truly make salads more and enjoyable and more satisfying

PaleOMG One Year Bean Protocol Update

PaleOMG One Year Bean Protocol Update

PaleOMG One Year Bean Protocol Update

PaleOMG One Year Bean Protocol Update

PaleOMG One Year Bean Protocol Update

PaleOMG One Year Bean Protocol Update

A question I see a lot is, “So how long will you have to be on the protocol? Is this forever? Only a certain amount of time?” And for me, someone who is quite unlucky when it comes to my skin, my hormones, and whatever else may be going on in my body to cause these issues – eating beans is a forever thing for me, as far as I know now. If I would have been eating beans back in 2014, I would have never had to go on accutane. And sure, accutane “solved” my acne for about a year, but then I just had to go on spironolactone and put yet another bandaid on top of the real issue. And the real issue for me is hormones. I don’t know if I simply have overactive hormones or my exercise choices simply enhance those hormones even more, but those hormones are still going strong so I plan to stick with eating beans at least 5x/day to help them get out of my body. Also, soluble fiber is EXTREMELY important in our diet and most of us aren’t getting enough of it. To me, beans are the easiest way to get enough fiber in to help the body function properly.

The bean protocol has completely changed my health, my skin, and even my life. Not only do I FEEL better and have clear skin WITHOUT being on medication, but I’m able to keep a more level head, which I think has to do partly with staying away from sugar and caffeine. Beans have completely changed my life for the better and I’m not turning back. Beans will definitely be part of my life on a daily basis until I find out about something better in the future. I thought paleo was the end-all-be-all when I found it 10+ years ago, but turns out something was missing and my body was literally screaming at me to make a change…who knows what I may learn in the future that may lead me down an even healthier path.

I hope this information/update is helpful. If you’re trying to navigate the bean protocol, I highly recommend you reach out to Unique Hammond. She was my guiding light through all of this and helped me so much along the way. And if you have any questions that weren’t answered here (I was trying to think through all the different questions I’ve seen on IG throughout the past year), please leave them in the comments below!!

Oh, Hi! I’m Juli.

I’m a food hoarder. And a really bad dancer. If you don’t know me well, you will probably not understand my humor. Therefore, I apologize ahead of time. Thanks for listening to my ramblings of my ever-changing life and trusting my kitchen mishaps. Your trust in me is appreciated.


49 thoughts on “1 Year on the Bean Protocol”

  1. I think I remember you mentioning psyllium husk at some point but don’t reference it now. Do you ever add it to anything for additional soluble fiber?

  2. I am SO thankful you have shared your experience with the bean protocol, because of you I found unique and booked a call with her to start my own protocol and it has helped me tremendously! I have struggled with gut and constipation issues since I was in 8th grade and have tried everything to heal my body and now at 35 I have finally found something that works! So thank you for sharing your experiences you have been a lifesaver for me as well!

  3. Started paleo because of you…started the bean protocol because of you (accutane was the next step for me, one I didn’t want to take) – been a whole 3 weeks and I’m already seeing more clear skin. Some days I’m thankful for that celiac diagnosis I got 10 years ago that led me to cool people like you!

  4. I’m so obsessed with fillo’s beans because of you! Love them so damn much… but I’ve noticed there is olive oil in the ingredients and I thought they were supposed to be eaten without fat to bind to the hormones???

    Thanks for sharing your life, love your pod, you are awesome !

    1. yeah, that’s why i didn’t eat those the first three months of the protocol. i only ate canned, unsalted beans when i was being strict on the protocol

        1. If you have a Trader Joe’s around you they sell Cuban black beans that don’t have any added oils/fat and they are pretty good.

  5. Thank you so much for sharing! I have always struggled with acne myself! Mine is not as bad as yours, but has recently gotten worse due to stress and hormones. When you started removing caffeine, did you quit cold Turkey or over time? I love my coffee with nutpods creamer and vital proteins in the morning!

  6. I’ve been on a modified bean protocol for a couple months and I think it’s time I kick things up a notch as I have had a couple bad flare ups with my acne assuredly due to overdoing certain things (like a bad nonfat dairy episode). My biggest issue is fruit. I love fruit and I don’t think I’m ready to give it up; hoping for improvements while still incorporating it. Did you struggle with giving up fruit? I kind of get the sense that you’ve never been a big fruit eater.

    1. i didn’t, but i haven’t ate much fruit in years. and i really stay away from it since the sugar can cause inflammation aka more acne for me. i would just rather eat a real dessert than fruit most of the time haha!

    2. Where are the recipes to the pictures of meals you used as examples of what most of your meals look like. I’m turning 55 in April and am having a terrible time with weight gain as well as a lot of other health issues like asthma, fibromyalgia, degenerative disc disease from osteoporosis. My daughter who is 17 is also having trouble with weight gain. Never in my life have I ever had this much trouble loosing weight. We’ve tried going vegan a few times. My daughter and I both need to loose 15 lbs. We’ve been trying to count our calories, but have been unsuccessful in loosing any weight or feeling any better. I started the bean protocol, but struggled with meal ideas, soon after dropping out of the protocol. It’s so challenging when you have someone in the house who is an encourager of eating sweets or bad carbs or fast food and who doesn’t struggle with so many health problems. He has no problem with weight either. I love the look of the meals shown here that you used as examples of what your meals generally look like. Where can I find these recipes? My daughter graduates this May and would very much love to feel and look great at her graduation and for when she heads to college right after she graduates. I would very much like to feel and look great for her graduation and hopefully along the way heal my asthma. She and I both cannot fit in to our clothes anymore nor do we enjoy clothes shopping. We would greatly appreciate your help. I really just want to keep meals simple. The pictures of your example meals look yummy and simple. Thank you.

  7. I’m glad you have found something that’s so helpful for you, your skin is GLOWING!

    Would you consider a post where you round up all your favorite bean snacks that you’ve found? For example, the black bean dip? Thanks!

    1. sure thing, but i don’t have a ton. here are mine right now –
      badabean sneaks
      beanitos chips
      oasis fat free black bean dip

  8. Thanks for the update. I had great results eating beans 3 X day for 2 months but then started getting horrendous cluster headaches. I cut the beans and the headaches went away but the breakouts came back. It’s been 2 months off the beans and I’m slowly adding them back in to see how many and what type I can get away with, without being hit by the headache truck. Fats used sparingly with beans did not pose an issue for me.

  9. Did you find that adding beans affected your weight at all? Trying to follow paleo, I’m always hesitant to eat too many beans b/c of the lectins, and starch. Did adding so many beans have any other negative affects, despite it being great for your skin (you look great!)?

    1. Soaking and pressure cooking reduces the lectins. Also Eden brand brand and Jovial brand beans are pressure cooked, again reducing lectin. Wonder if you would tolerate pressure cooked beans better?

  10. Beans are life. I hope other paleo and keto folk see your posts, especially ones that struggle with skin issues. People afraid of carbs should re-think beans, they’re lower carb than you think (especially net carbs). I’ll take clear skin over being in ‘ketosis’ any day of the week.

  11. What do you flavor your beans with if they are a side of your meal? They don’t look dry. Would love more recipes from your pics. Thanks!!

  12. Really so great that you are doing so much better with all the beans and so grateful that you keep sharing with all of us!! Do you find it makes any difference with soluble fiber if you blend the beans and also will you be sharing any of these amazing recipes from these photos above any time soon? Thank you!!

    1. nope, it’s the same!! and what recipes are you talking about from this post? i can always add things to my list based off requests!!

  13. Thanks so much for sharing your experience. I am currently making your Cuban Instant Pot beans because I am like you and very impulsive with things like diet changes. I am sure you are overwhelmed with suggestions and supplements but I wanted to share this one that has absolutely changed my skin, I can’t live without it and it’s $6. I have to buy two of them at all times because I am worried one day they won’t make it. Thanks for all your great content.

  14. do green beans and/or peas count as beans on this diet? i know we avoid them with the paleo diet because they are legumes, but i haven’t seen anyone on bean protocol talking about them yet!

    also thank you so much for sharing this experience and being so open about everything! i am gearing up to try out the bean protocol right now for my own skin issues!

  15. Juli,
    I was interested in doing the bean protocol for hormonal balance. I have been doing crossfit for 10 years and eat very clean already; however, I am 35 and have noticed hormonal changes over the past few years. Did you feel worse at first? I felt so terrible I had to stop after 2 days. Intense stomach pain, extreme bloating, terrible gas. I guess I am just wondering if it would be worth trying again and pushing through? Thank you!


  16. Hello, thank you so much for the year update!! It’s been the decider for me to start. Just wondered about how you incorporated the fat especially at the beginning, did you eat the recommended 1.5 cups of nuts a day? Or did you vary the fat type with avocado etc? Thanks so much in advance!!

  17. Good for you for being so committed! Your skin looks great. I too am a big believer in beans – Blue Zone approved!

  18. This is amazing! Thank you so much for sharing your story – it’s definitely inspired me to do it to balance my hormones (irregular periods) – How did you exercise while on the bean protocol?

  19. Just curious if you gained any weight during this diet? I’m doing low carb right now, not only to lose some unwanted weight, but also because i was just recently diagnosed as pre-diabetic (Type 2 diabetes runs in my family and so far I’ve kept it at bay so far). Just wondering if this type diet would work for me. I also have multiple autoimmune diseases so always looking for something to help with inflammation. Thanks, and that’s amazing what it’s done for your skin!!

    1. weight gain doesn’t come from low carb or low fat diet, it comes from the person not being in a caloric deficit, which can happen when someone goes lower carb or lower fat than what they were eating before simply because they are consuming less calories than they previously were eating. so no, i didn’t gain any weight on the bean protocol, i actually lost weight because i was no longer eating some of the excess calories that i had been before. I would talk to your doctor about if this protocol is right for you!

  20. Hi Juli, I tend to carry weight around my middle and I’ve always assumed it was because my liver wasn’t functioning up to par. I know you’ve had a tiny waist for ages, but did you notice any changes to specifically belly fat? Or did that mostly stay the same? I know sometimes belly fat can be hormonal too…

  21. Did you notice a change in energy at the 3/6/9 month mark or have any energy issues before you started the protocol? I’m about a month in and that’s a big reason why I started it.

    1. I did not have energy issues before the protocol. I remember having a dip in energy the first couple weeks with taking coffee out and my liver detoxing, but I don’t remember any other energy changes other than just feeling better overall

  22. The bean protocol is a total game changer, especially because of no sugar, flour, alcohol, caffeine, processed foods. I’m on day 4 of no sugar, flour and 6 months no alcohol, but doing a vegan version of bean protocol, mostly, just because animal protein makes me super insulin resistant (for now). I can’t believe but I went from a monster who couldn’t stop eating sugar to 4 days later not craving it AT ALL. I wouldn’t have believed it if I wasn’t experiencing it. It’s giving me a new life. HOWEVER, my brain chemistry has a way to go to rebalance; sleep is really bad the last 3 nights, I feel wired and sleep sporadically. I’m pretty tired because of that. Hopefully that will normalize soon. Love the beans!

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