About 18 months ago, the world was buzzing about Jay Z and Beyoncé doing a joint 22-day vegan challenge. It also was around this time that the power couple partnered with Marco Borges, their trainer and life coach, on vegan meal delivery service 22 Days Nutrition.
Named for the theory that it takes 21 days to form a new habit (more on that debatable theory later), 22 Days Nutrition offers a variety of protein bars and powders. Now Borges has released a book, The 22-Day Revolution, with a foreword written by Beyoncé. In the book, he details his plant-based diet, including recipes, tips and ideas.
We chatted with the health expert, whose client list also includes Jennifer Lopez, Pharrell Williams, Gloria Estefan and Shakira, to find out more about going vegan, his personal health habits and how involved Jay Z and Beyoncé really are in their vegan venture.
theFashionSpot: Can you tell us a little bit about your background and how you ended up working in nutrition?
Marco Borges: My background is in exercise physiology and biology. Nutrition has been a part of my life from the very beginning. As an athlete growing up, I learned that exercise without proper nutrition was incomplete, so I’ve always been fascinated by the synergistic effects of the two working in harmony.
tFS: Why go the vegan route? Is it something you think is a personal choice or do you think it’s the optimal one for everyone?
MB: Yes, I do think it’s very much a personal choice as much as it is optimal for everyone. Studies have shown that a plant-based diet can reduce, stop and even reverse heart disease in addition to reducing the risk of diabetes, stroke, dementia and certain cancers. Knowing that these are the top causes of death in our country and many others around the world, you can’t help but be somewhat curious about the remarkable benefits and how you too may be able to adopt them.
tFS: Does that include athletes or very active people? Any tips for them going vegan?
MB: One of the biggest challenges athletes face is excess inflammation. There’s no better diet for reducing inflammation than a plant-based diet. Reduced inflammation lowers risk of injury (overuse included) in addition to speeding recovery time.
tFS: The title of your book refers to the notion that it takes 21 days to form a habit, but that is actually, by most accounts, not true. Do you still find it to be a useful tool?
MB: Yes!! The 22-Day Revolution is based on two principles: One, the power of habit and two, the remarkable benefits of plant-based nutrition. Science has proven without a shadow of a doubt the positive effects of a plant-based diet, however, it is habit formation which has been quite elusive. Habits are formed through deliberate practice and while not everyone is wired the same, automaticity becomes much easier when a certain comfort level is reached. The 22-Day Revolution was designed to create comfort by providing all the tools needed (daily routines, meal plans, recipes, etc.) to find success in a very short period of time and hence why the results have been absolutely breathtaking.
Habit formation might not be as easy or as simple as we may wish and this is why The 22-Day Revolution does not end on the 22nd day, but rather starts on the 23rd by continuously reinforcing the deliberate practice that makes it possible for everyone to find success. My goal has always been to spark a thought that leads to positive change. If that change comes in one day or 100 days is ultimately up to the individual and his or her application. Our spark has created a beautiful conversation around plant-based living and that is the ultimate goal because if habit formation is ever to be possible, a certain comfort level must be reached and positive reinforcement makes this much easier.
Additionally, while the research you cited above was done with 96 participants, we’re into the thousands now that have used this program (with much success), so again, yes, I do find this to be a very useful tool for behavior modification.
tFS: How did your meal service come along? Is there a long-term plan to expand your offering?
MB: They say necessity is the mother of invention and so it was. All of our friends kept asking us to make our delicious recipes for them and at a certain point it was too many people asking simultaneously, so we decided it would be an exciting opportunity and a wonderful tool to continue to empower people with optimum wellness.
tFS: How did you connect with Beyoncé and Jay Z?
MB: We met through mutual friends years ago and have been friends ever since.
tFS: How involved are they with 22 Days Nutrition? What are they most focused on?
MB: Very and since they’re true foodies, it’s all about the taste for them.
tFS: Is the meal plan you outline in the book the one Beyoncé and Jay Z followed?
MB: Similar, but many new recipes and a lot more detail are found in the book. For example, The 22-Day Revolution has over 65 delicious recipes and over 38 different examples of plant-based proteins. In addition, we included a ton of science and practical steps to get the reader through the 22 days with ease, while having fun and learning an incredible amount about the benefits of plant-based living and optimum health. It’s a step-by-step approach, so it doesn’t overwhelm, but rather encourages.
tFS: So let’s say someone has completed their 21 days, what do you think is the key to avoiding yo-yo dieting thereafter?
MB: Forming new habits and learning about the benefits of plant-based eating. Once you know food can taste good and also be good for you at the same time, it’s tough not to make healthier choices.
tFS: What does a typical day food-wise look like for you?
MB: Hmm…it varies greatly, but I’ll give you a few examples. Breakfast may be raw oats with cold almond milk (I make my own sometimes) topped with raw walnuts, sunflower seeds and fresh blueberries. Or avocado toast topped with cherry tomatoes and micro greens. Lunch may be a quinoa bowl with lentils, seeds and sprouts or a sweet potato with greens and beans. Dinner may be raw walnut tacos or a veggie curry or a raw veggie salad with tahini dressing. I love to cook and so does my wife, so we’re constantly experimenting with dishes!
tFS: What does a typical day exercise-wise look like for you?
MB: I start my day with a three to five mile run (some days more) and follow it up with some body weight exercises (pullups, pushups, burpees, dips, etc.) and some days I add some weights as well. I finish my workout with a great stretch and a few minutes of meditation. On the weekends, my boys all join me for this!