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Dietitian Review: 75 Hard (and Soft)

Updated: 1 day ago

This post was adapted from episode 4 of the Nourished & Free podcast.

Click here to listen to the full episode.

A woman works out her back muscles after reading a 75 Hard review

Challenges are the hot thing to do right now. And the 75 Hard™ challenge is no exception. I’ve been asked a lot about the 75 Hard™ and 75 Soft challenges, so I knew it was time to do a 75 Hard™ review from a dietitian’s perspective.


I confess that up until this point I really did not know much about 75 Hard™ and 75 Soft. So, I did some digging and found out the truth, lies, and bottom line about these challenges.

As always, here is my honest and uncensored dietitian review.


Who Created 75 Hard?


To begin, I wanted to get some background information on the guy who started 75 Hard: Andy Frisella.


I couldn’t find anything anywhere that indicates Andy Frisella has an educational background in nutrition, health, fitness, or science. He owns a supplement store but has no formal education beyond high school. With all due respect to Andy, this was red flag #1 during my 75 Hard™ review.


As a side bar, the supplement industry has been known to be gimmicky, misleading, and unregulated. So… red flag #2 because this guy profits off of that industry.


Source


His 75 Hard program is a free resource that he claims will “build mental strength and discipline within you”.


I can already begin to see that this is your classic “do as I’ve done to become like me” type of program. Red flag #3. Seems appealing, but the problem is that no one is Andy Frisella besides Andy Frisella. Likewise, no one is you like you.


What worked for him and changed his life for the better is not necessarily going to work for everyone, or you.


What is the 75 Hard™ Challenge?


The 75 Hard™ Program is evidently “not a fitness program, it is a transformative mental toughness program”. As the creator himself writes, it’s “an ironman for your brain”.


This program is shouting from the rooftops about how you will be a whole new person if you can make it all the way through the 75 days without breaking a single one of the 75 Hard™ rules.


But (reality check!) this is likely to cause problems. Why? Let’s take a look.

a woman exercises with kickboxing after reading about it online

What Are the Rules for 75 Hard™?


During my 75 Hard™ review, I knew I needed to take a close look at the rules, which are really the foundation of the whole program.


There are 5 divinely-given ‘tasks’, and they are as follows:


1. Follow any nutrition plan designed for your goals, with zero alcohol and no cheat meals.

2. Complete two 45-minute workouts every day, one of which must be outside.

3. Drink a gallon of water every day.

4. Read 10 pages of an educational or self-improvement book every day.

5. Take a progress picture every day.


According to the creator of 75 Hard, if you fail to uphold all 5 tasks at any given moment within the 75 days, you have to start over.


*squirms uncomfortably in chair*


Red flag #4


Let’s dig into the reality of each task a little bit closer.


75 Hard™ Rules Breakdown


1. Follow any nutrition plan designed for your goals, with zero alcohol and no cheat meals.

Red flag #5. What if somebody chose the keto diet as their nutrition plan, and had to go 75 days straight with absolutely no cheating? Dieting is notorious for leading to binge-eating. There is a very good chance that someone engaging in this challenge will have to start over, possibly multiple times, just because of this 1st task alone.


What disappoints me the most with this task is the lack of direction on how someone is to find a nutrition plan designed for them. Since this 75 Hard™ review is being completed by a dietitian, after all, it’s the health of the challenge members that I'm most concerned about.


99.9% of individuals who follow this challenge will turn to Google for what they should eat over the course of the next 75 days. Because of that, they will likely find themselves malnourished and headed down a dangerous road for their health.


People need better direction than a simple Google search on how to eat for their needs & goals. I cannot recommend enough consulting with a Registered Dietitian (RD/RDN) anytime you want to evaluate your eating habits.


mason jars full off overnight oats and colorful fruit topping

2. Complete two 45-minute workouts every day, one of which must be outside.

Do you know anyone who can honor this for 75 days straight? Can you?


I am genuinely concerned for the health status of anyone who does this. With no rest days, the 75 Hard™ workout plan is an injury waiting to happen. Red flag #.... never mind, I lost track.


This advice is also extremely general. There’s no mention of intensity, focus area, or exercise type. Is it okay to just walk? Or does it have to be Crossfit? Again, this is an injury and/or hospitalization waiting to happen.


Last note on this in this 75 Hard™ review (and it’s nitpicky I will admit); I also hate the language of “must” be outside. I live in Nebraska and let me tell you-- I’m not going outside for 45 minutes every day during the winter OR summer here. #IYKYK


3. Drink a gallon of water every day.

I don’t have too many qualms about this, but speaking from experience of working with many clients who struggled to get even 1/3 of that in every day, I think it would be incredibly difficult for most to achieve 1 gallon/day x 75 days.


Additionally, 1 gallon/day is not backed by science. It is suggested that 74 oz/day for women and 101 oz/day for men (+ replenishing any fluids lost through exercise) is perfectly adequate. To go beyond that, there are no convincing health benefits found.


Source


water is poured from a white pitcher into a glass

4. Read 10 pages of an educational or self-improvement book every day.

I don't hate this, but I think it’s okay to work in books that are just for fun. Personally, my job requires a great deal of creative thinking. If I’m going to read something that isn’t for work, I don't want to read something educational or self-improvement-focused. I want to relax and recharge my brain. Maybe that’s just me, though. And this is certainly not the most concerning part of this 75 Hard™ review.


5. Take a progress picture every day.

This might be my biggest issue with the program. Forced body checking? Taking a progress photo every day encourages severely disordered thinking and even behaviors.


I’d be less (but still) offended by this if it were just a photo on day 1 and 75. But every day? Because of how the human body NATURALLY is, there will be days where there is more water retention, bloating, etc.


A daily progress photo is a great idea if you want to beat yourself up.


What is the Diet for 75 Hard?


There is no specific 75 Hard™ diet plan. It is up to the individual what they choose. 75 Hard gives examples of “keto, paleo, vegan, flexitarian, etc”.


All of the mentioned diets have some risk included and are not grounded in science. 75 Hard does not give any insight into what those risks are or what people need to consider while following such a laborious exercise schedule.


The lack of a 75 Hard™ challenge diet is a huge issue because, as I said before, people will turn to Google and likely end up damaging their bodies.


The only part that is clear about the 75 Hard diet is to have 1 gallon of water/day. Not only is this difficult for many, but it is not research-backed.


hands type at a computer entering Google to look for information and 75 hard reviews

What Comes After 75 Hard?


Well, nothing comes after. It’s over. You go back to your life, which is probably going to look exactly like it did before you started the program, because that was the whole point, right? Do it for 75 days… Not for the rest of your life.


Which is red flag #1,002 that I have about this: why do it if it’s only going to be for 75 Days?


Will you be more likely to exercise? Probably. In the habit of reading? Definitely. But my guess is that most people who finish this program will end up right back with their old habits within 1-5 years.


Is 75 Hard™ Worth It?


So, after reading through this 75 Hard™ review...should you do it? Here’s what I have sorted out to be the underlying messages that 75 Hard™ is teaching:


- Dieting is good

- Rest is bad


I’m not okay with either of those messages. They are not backed by science, and they are a recipe for eating disorders.


Therefore, I do not recommend it.


pink swirling clouds of color appear on a gray background

What is the 75 Soft Challenge?


To further prove my point of the 75 Hard Challenge being unrealistic, there are a variety of alternatives to 75 Hard™ popping up online. Most notably, someone came up with an easier version called the 75 Soft Challenge.


Who Started 75 Soft?


The 75 Soft came from Tiktoker @StephenGFitness. I actually know nothing about Stephen, except that he is a fitness enthusiast (and attempting to become Batman, as shown by his Tiktok).


Does he have a scientific background? Formal education on health/fitness? At this point, it’s unclear.


What Are the 75 Soft Rules?


1. Eat well and only drink on social occasions.

2. Train for 45 minutes everyday for 75 days. One day a week is to be active recovery.

3. Drink three liters of water a day.

4. Read 10 pages of any book a day.


What is the 75 Soft Meal Plan?


A positive but also downside to this version is that it is less restrictive, but still unclear - much like I found in my 75 Hard™ review. What one person considers to be ‘eating well’ can be vastly different from the next.


For example, I know many people who would consider having a gluten-free, dairy-free diet to be eating well (imagine this person does NOT have celiac disease or lactose intolerance), while another would consider not eating fast food to be eating well, and still another will consider that having a completely plant-based diet is eating well.


To guide someone to "eat well" does not necessarily prevent the possibility of a disordered eating from being triggered. Because of this, I do still have concern over the ‘diet’ of 75 Soft.


I will add, the 3 liters (about 12 glasses) of water is closer to being research-backed, but still potentially unnecessary.

An avocado sits on a pink background

75 Hard™ vs 75 Soft: What's the Difference?


Nutrition

The language of 'follow a nutrition plan' is changed to 'eat well' in 75 Soft. While 75 Hard does not allow cheat meals or alcohol, 75 Soft allows for flexibility.


Exercise

Rather than exercising 45 mins 2x/day, 75 Soft advises 45 mins only 1x/day with 1 day/week being active recovery.


Water

Both programs advise more water than is probably necessary, but 75 Soft requests only 3 liters rather than 1 gallon (which is nearly 4 liters).


Reading

Reading is encouraged in both programs, but 75 Hard requires that it be educational or self-improvement focused.


Progress Photos

Finally, there is no 5th rule about body checking with a progress picture in 75 Soft. Given that this was one of the worst findings of my 75 Hard™ review, I’m happy to see this requirement missing from 75 Soft.


Should You Do the 75 Soft Challenge?


Honestly, I don’t hate the idea of the 75 Soft. Again, there’s some vagueness to the dietary guidelines and I still think planning to do something for only 75 days is a bit illogical. However, if you’re someone who loves doing challenges, I think this would be far more realistic and not as risky as the 75 Hard Challenge.


I appreciate the change to reading any book as well as adding a rest day. Rest/relaxation is just as important for ‘mental toughness’. The 75 Soft Challenge is more suited for the average individual and could -potentially- spark some lifelong health-promoting habits.


As with any lifestyle change involving nutrition and exercise, it is important that you consult your physician and/or registered dietitian before beginning.


Final Thoughts in this 75 Hard™ Review

Is 75 Hard™ healthy? Is it worth it? Is it even possible? My answer to all three of these questions is a resounding, “not likely.” While the 75 Soft challenge does have some merit (although also still has some downsides), the 75 Hard™ challenge is simply too extreme to be healthy.

Will you form new habits? Probably, yes. But at what cost? You may finish the program with a new body and a new disordered eating situation.


What are your thoughts on these challenges? Let me know!


Looking for a sustainable solution to your lifestyle? Apply for my group coaching program today!

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