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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.
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.
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.
Whenever I order curry for takeout, I’ll always add beans to it
Little bean tacos is a fun way to mix up how I normally eat my beans
Beans truly make salads more and enjoyable and more satisfying
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.
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