Back in May, I was taking a walk with my friend Jess with my daily iced coffee in hand. On our walk I was complaining about my skin going absolutely nuts ever since Jackson got back from the vet. If you’re new around here – my dog Jackson had neck surgery in late February then had post-surgery complications and almost died. After 16 days at 2 different vet facilities, he was finally able to come back home. But then a pandemic began, quarantine was put into effect, and every day I was worried something might go wrong with him. All this to say – I was stressed AF and the stress hormones had obviously taken a toll of my body and skin. And I didn’t know where to turn. Everyone on instagram was saying I should take a ton of supplements, different products were recommended, and it all felt like this same hamster wheel I had been on for most of my life dealing with different bouts of cystic acne. Then my friend Jess told me about the Bean Protocol, which she had just found out about on episode 83 of the Expanded Podcast. So she sent me the podcast and I listened that day.
In this episode Unique Hammond shares her experience with Crohn’s disease and her body that was deteriorating with each day. She felt like nothing would ever help her and was at a loss…until she tried the Bean Protocol. After a year and a half on the Bean Protocol, she was in remission from her Crohn’s and finally had her life back. It’s such an inspiring story that you need to hear. But something that intrigued me even more was her conversation about the Bean Protocol clearing up acne (selfish, I know). Since I’ve eaten mostly paleo for almost 10 years, I never understood why I had skin issues, and I definitely never ate beans. So this concept was pretty foreign to me. But I thought – what do I have to lose?? It’s simply eating real food…why not try it? So I jumped in that next day!
- I’m going to give you my own simple breakdown of the Bean Protocol, but I’ll be sure to share links so you can get even more information on it!
With the Bean Protocol, you’re simply adding beans into your daily routine because the beans contain soluble (and insoluble) fiber, which clings to toxins in the body so you can excrete them and get rid of them. When you have toxins/excess hormones in your body, but you aren’t getting enough soluble fiber, the body simply recycles those toxins instead of excreting them. Example – I have excess stress hormones in my body, but before the Bean Protocol I wasn’t eating enough soluble fiber so my body continued to recycle them and the body would purge those toxins through the skin – aka acne.
When you’re following the Bean Protocol, you’ll want to consume lots of legumes, leafy greens, onions, garlic, cabbage, and more – these foods help your body detox the toxins out. And you’ll obviously still eat lots of your normal veggies, animal based protein, and healthy fats. But you’ll also want to remove the foods/drinks in your life that cause a hormonal or histamine response. That means removing –
- Sugar & sugar substitutes
- Processed foods
- Factory farmed meats
When I started the Bean Protocol, I went balls to the wall and removed everything at once. I stopped drinking coffee cold turkey, I removed all sugar and alcohol which luckily wasn’t hard because I don’t eat or drink either very often, I stopped eating any processed meats like prosciutto or pepperoni, etc., and cut out all dairy (another one that wasn’t hard). I don’t eat gluten so that was fine. But cutting out caffeine cold turkey was BRUTAL. And that was so surprising to me because I normally only had 1 or sometimes 2 coffees a day. I never felt addicted, I just thought that I liked my routine. But turns out, I was DEFINITELY ADDICTED. Within a day, I was having withdrawal and detox symptoms. I had a constant headache for at least 3 days, I had full body aches for 5 days, and my abdominal area around my liver ached for almost a week. I couldn’t really work out and I could barely get off the couch for a few days. I never understood alcohol or drug addiction until this experience. It was no fucking joke. And now I understand why people go back to caffeine when they start to feel this way. It was really tough, but after a week I was already feeling better.
For 2 months of the Bean Protocol, I was SUPER strict. No sugar, no caffeine (no, not even decaf), no alcohol, no nothing. I ate my beans, my protein, and my veggies. And with each month, I continued to see results. It’s fucking bananas. I understand that people will say that it’s just from cutting out caffeine or cutting out sugar, and I promise you – it’s not. I’ve cut out caffeine in the past to no avail. I’ve cut out sugar many many times to no avail. And that’s because I have excess hormones in my body that need to be excreted, but I wasn’t getting enough insoluble fiber to help my body get them out. By simply adding beans to my diet, I’m able to finally get rid of those toxins/hormones. Yes, cutting out those things helps so much, but the beans are what have really changed my skin. Please don’t try to act like you know more about my body or my experience. You know who you are out there, you judgy judgers.
Now before I get into my experience with each month, I wanted to show what some of my meals look like. I honestly didn’t change a whole lot other than simply adding beans to my normal meal. The thing I found the hardest at first was removing fat from my meals with beans. Fat clings to soluble fiber and then hormones/toxins can’t cling to the fiber, so you’ll want to consume your beans without fat. I’ll add about 1 tablespoon of olive oil to cook a large amount of veggies in (and broth, if needed) and I eat leaner sources of protein. Fat is in all the delicious sauces and it makes meals tastier, so that was a little hard to leave behind at first. Then it wasn’t hard anymore after a couple weeks because I just stopped worrying about it. Things always feel like a big deal in the beginning.
Here’s a little breakdown of what my days look like on the Bean Protocol –
- Breakfast with resistant starch, animal based proteins, and beans
- Snack 1 – beans
- Lunch with resistant starch, animal based proteins, and beans
- Snack 2 – beans
- Snack 3 – beans
- Dinner with resistant starch, animal based proteins, and beans
- If I’m still hungry after dinner, I’ll sometimes have some sort of fat like a couple tablespoons of peanut butter
Below is what my breakfast often looks like – aka what every meal looks like throughout my days. I’ll normally have some sort of resistant starch like oats or rice, animal based protein, veggies, and then beans! Before my days of eating paleo, I thought breakfast HAD to be sweet, but these days I just want something that’s fast and easy, which means I eat a lot of leftovers.
And below are photos of what I eat for lunch and dinner. Taco Pasta Salad, Lentil Tabbouleh, Turmeric Rice & Beans, and Stewed Beans are some of the recipes I made at home and then shared on the blog. You’ll see me use mostly black beans, pinto beans, and lentils because those work best for my body at this time. And you’ll see lentil pasta used from time to time when I’m just over eating normal beans. Lentil pasta was definitely my saving grace when it came to not going completely crazy or feeling too restricted every day.
Now let’s get in to my experience throughout the last 3 months! Below is a photo I took the day before starting the Bean Protocol. My skin was breaking out with small white heads and big cystic zits throughout my face and neck. It was brutal. Not only was I in pain, but I was feeling completely lost and depressed every single day. I felt like I was doing everything right with my skincare…but as I know now, that really isn’t as important.
Then this photo below is just one month on the Bean Protocol. After the first week of my brutal detox experience, I felt surprisingly good! I did experience a purging stage where my skin actually got worse, probably 2 weeks in, but it got better as the month went on.
Next is 2 months on the Bean Protocol. I stayed really strict through month 2 and my skin continued to get better and better. At this point, almost all the cystic zits had cleared up and I even found that my melasma and other dark spots got better.
But I don’t want to act like this healing process was completely linear. It’s definitely been up and down throughout each month. Something I’ve found incredibly important on this protocol is tracking my period and ovulation. I ALWAYS break out around both and by tracking my period and ovulation, I know exactly when that is going to happen so I can begin to up my bean intake 2-3 days before my period and before ovulation. When I up my bean intake, I will eat 2 tablespoons of beans every hour. This helps deal with the influx of hormones and getting rid of them. Below is a photo I took during month 2 and the breakouts I experienced around my period when I didn’t up my beans.
And below is a photo of 3 months on the Bean Protocol. Month 3 was really hard for me, honestly. Because I have a history with eating disorder behaviors, telling myself I can’t have something makes me go a little crazy. And after 2 months of saying ‘I can’t have that’ I found myself binging by month 3. And I haven’t binged in YEARS. Years ago I found that my personality type doesn’t do well with extremes – you tell me I can’t have something, I want it 10x more. I’m very childlike. So telling myself I couldn’t have sugar or caffeine or really anything fun for 2 months led me to get a little crazy by month 3. I found myself binging on granola, sweetened popcorn, and really anything that I wasn’t supposed to have. Since my skin was improving, I decided that it would be best for my longterm health to back off some of the strict parts so I could have more of a balance. That just meant if I really wanted a decaf latte, I would have it. If I really wanted a smoothie bowl, I would have it. If I really wanted a spicy margarita, I would have it. Then the other times, I would eat my normal bean meals. Telling myself I could have anything I wanted made me feel less restricted and less obsessive, which meant I was back on track pretty quickly. Just a little food for thought, in case you have a personality type like mine.
There are two HUGE things I didn’t expect to experience while on the Bean Protocol. First, I saw a massive improvement in my period symptoms. Ever since I started following the Bean Protocol, I have had NO CRAMPS whatsoever. My mood also feels more balanced during my period and I don’t get cravings liked I used to. I’ve also been told that the length of my period will begin to shorten with time. I haven’t experienced that yet, but I am hopeful! And the second things is sex drive!! I got off birth control over a year ago for a multitude of reasons, one being sex drive. It improved somewhat after getting off birth control, but the Bean Protocol has improved it drastically. No joke. These beans are fucking awesome!!
Now I want to talk about the things I don’t normally talk about on here – poop. And farts. But that’s a really important piece of the Bean Protocol and it’s the question I get the most. When I cut out coffee, I was pretty scared I wouldn’t be regular anymore, but luckily that wasn’t a problem WHATSOEVER. With the amount of fiber you’re consuming on the Bean Protocol, you are regular AF. I’m clearing out those toxins multiple times a day, if you get my drift. Now for the farts – if you’re not used to consuming beans, get ready to blow the place up. I’ve never had gas issues in the past while eating paleo and these beans LIT ME UP. It was bad. At first, you really need to figure out the beans that work best for you. Like I said before, black beans, pinto beans, and lentils work best for me. Garbanzo beans? Hard no. But now that I’m 3 months in, I have no gas whatsoever. It’s completely gone. And now I’ve been able to start adding in a small amount of garbanzo beans with no issue. It’s all about finding what works best for you and getting through the fermentation process at the beginning.
Over the past 10 years of eating paleo and gluten free, I’ve always feared beans. I’ve always been warned about lectins and the harm they can do to the body. Soaking beans overnight and rinsing them reduces that, just FYI. But at the end of the day, veggies have phytates and leafy greens have oxalates, and we continue to eat those things because the benefits outweigh the negatives. Beans are a part of many different cultures and diets, they are even a main food group in blue zone areas (areas of the world where people live much longer). I don’t think I’m an expert in this stuff in any capacity, but I do believe that we continue to learn more about the body and I think it’s small minded to not be open to different ways of eating. I hope to live a long life and I know I’ll continue to try new things along the way in hopes of making that life as healthy as possible.
So…would I recommend the Bean Protocol to others? Short answer – FUCK YES. Does it suck cutting out caffeine? Absolutely. Is it worth it? 100%. I will definitely still have decaf coffees from time to time, but I try to stay away from it as much as possible now. After experiencing those withdrawals, it really makes me wonder if caffeine will be one of those things that we look back on in the future, wondering how people consumed coffee every single day. Almost like smoking. I’m trying to look at caffeine more like sugar now – it’s something I’ll have from time to time, but it won’t be something I have daily.
If you want to learn more about the Bean Protocol, here are the resources I used:
- Episode 83 of the Expanded Podcast with Unique Hammond
- Episode 75 of the Expanded Podcast with Karen Hurd
- Unique Hammond Bean Protocol Ecourse – use code PALEOMG to get $30 off!
- I really loved this Ecourse and it has SO MUCH more information in it than this post. She includes so much background about what the body needs and doesn’t need, a meal plan, meal prep video, and you can even book phone calls with her. I’ve chatted on the phone with Unique twice so far and it’s so nice to have someone to answer your questions throughout so you know you’re on the right path.
- Karen Hurd Acne Ecourse
I shared a HUGE question and answer instagram story on IG – you can find a full recap in the Bean Protocol Highlight.
I track my periods with this ovulation tracker. I LOVE it! Highly recommend it for so many reasons, but especially if you suffer from acne.
But just FYI – the Bean Protocol doesn’t just help with acne, it helps with SO FREAKING MUCH!! Acne, eczema, arthritis, fibromyalgia, lyme disease, menopause, anxiety, asthma, hashimotos, toxic mold, infertility, diabetes, depression, and more. It’s all about getting toxins out of the body so your body can thrive. In 3 short months, my skin is better, I sleep better, my PMS symptoms are gone, my sex drive is up – if that’s not proof of the body liking beans, I don’t know what is!! I hope this post helps you and let me know if you have any questions I might be able to answer or lead you in the right direction!