131 Method Book Review – Turning The Idea Of “Diet” On Its Head

I have always been a huge believer in healthy eating and NOT dieting. When my youngest daughter was born with Down Syndrome, I began a journey of researching ways to help my daughter’s immune system naturally. All of this research eventually got me to wanting to help MY immune system as well.

Finding the 131 Method Book was a mixture of years of looking at the gut brain connection and from listening to the Chalene Show podcast.

When I heard that Chalene had written a book about how to help heal the gut and balance hormones naturally through diet, I was intrigued!

Heads up! When you click on the links on this page to make a purchase, I may get a small commission, and you may get a steal of a deal. It’s a win-win situation! Click here for full disclosure, and here for The Gut Nerd’s medical disclaimer.

Who Is Chalene Johnson?

Book Review

Chalene Johnson is the author of the 131 Method book and the co-creator of the online 131 Method program. She is a well-known fitness trainer and has also created many, many fitness DVDs and has been featured as a star trainer in the BeachBody company.

I used to (and still do) work out to many of her DVDs! I always loved how she taught the classes and her vibe and videos were always very motivating and fun!

As social media took off, I found Chalene on Snapchat and then Instagram and finally I started listening to her podcast The Chalene Show. Go and listen, if you haven’t already. This podcast contains all sorts of great content! She covers it all: business, relationships and The Chalene Show Podcastlifestyle.

One episode, she was talking in detail about a health scare she had that made her reassess everything she thought she knew about healthy eating and wellness.

This aha moment took her on a journey of re-learning about food and how what you put in your body can positively or negatively affect your entire digestive system and brain.

With the help of registered dietitians and integrative doctors, Chalene came up with a way of eating that healed her body and reversed the damage that was done to her brain. If you go to her IG account, you can find pictures of her brain “before and after”. It really is amazing to see how the brain changed…. And this was all done with food!

Chalene was so excited with her findings that she continued to work with her team of professionals to create an online program. She wanted to use what she had learned to help others.

The online program took 3 years of creating, researching and beta testing before it was ready to go out to the masses. Once that was done, Chalene decided to write the 131 Method Book. When I heard about the book I went and preordered it immediately.

Why The 131 Method Book and Not the 131 Method Online Program

When I found out Chalene had written a book about the 131 Method, I wanted to read that first before trying the online program. I figured I knew enough about nutrition that I could follow the details of the book instead of doing the online course.

Once I started reading the book, I quickly came to realize that this “method” was a mindset and whole lifestyle. It was NOT a “get skinny quick” diet.131 Ambassador Quote

What Is the 131 Method?

The idea behind the 131 method is diet phasing. It’s not “Keto” or “Paleo” or “Whole 30” or any of that. It is 12 weeks of phasing foods along with intermittent fasting. The basics behind it is that you change up the food that you put in your body and your body responds by making your metabolism flexible (metabolic flexibility).

The book goes into detail about how each phase works and the reason for each phase.


131 Method Book Breakdown

Introduction – Heartfelt Apology

The 131 Method book starts off with Chalene talking to the reader in a most heartfelt and sincere manner. She apologizes for misleading others over the years as a health and fitness expert. She then goes on to state that she is making it her mission to debunk all the misguided information out there regarding how to lose weight and what being healthy really is. (It’s not having six pack abs, let me tell you!)Piyo Dvd Chalene Johnson

Chalene continues on in the introduction to tell the reader in detail how her journey in the fitness industry and her own health scare, led her to do a complete 180 in how she viewed health and wellness. Chalene has made it her mission to undo the damage she has done in passing on incorrect information about diet, health and wellness. This book is part of how she wants to help.

She is committed to sharing her discoveries which has been the catalyst for the 131 Method.

To quote from the 131 Method book: “131 Method isn’t a book about getting skinny. 131 Method is about being smart and getting healthy.”

These were my two main reasons for reading this book.

  • I didn’t want to CRAVE sugar anymore.
  • I wanted to make sure I knew how to get my hormones in balance so that when menopause came around, I’d have the tools and be ready for it.

Could this book help me? All I knew was that I was willing to read the book, do the work and give it a go!


Part 1 – Erasing False Beliefs and Understanding Your Biology

Chapter 1:

Here is where Chalene breaks down how messed up the fitness industry has become in sending out false messages of what it means to be healthy and fit. She goes into detail about her experiences in filming exercise DVD’s and the pressure to look a certain way for those DVD’s and how that affected how she viewed what she ate and how she looked.

Looking A Certain Way

She goes on to give diet facts. Such as “95% of people who go on a diet gain all the weight back, and then some”. Or how about “diet disrupts gut health and hormone balance”.

Weight Gain


At the end of this chapter she provides you with a guideline to refer back to when you start to question the process of the 131 Method as a lot of information in the book goes against everything we have been led to believe about diets, health and wellness.

Chapter 2:

How The 131 Method Works

This chapter goes into detail about how the 131 Method works.

Here is the framework:

  • 1 health objective for each phase
  • 3 weeks of diet phasing
  • 1 week to fast and refuel


In this part of the book you learn:

  • How your metabolism works
  • How your food impacts your hormones
  • What it takes to speed up your metabolism
  • How to improve gut health
  • How to use stored fat as fuel

I know this all sounds very scientific and boring, but let me tell you, Chalene makes it easy to understand and not boring at all!

Briefly discussed are the three phases of the 131 Method.

Phase 1: Ignite

Phase 2: Nourish

Phase 3: Renew

Chalene goes into detail about these phases in Chapters 6, 7 and 8.

Before she even starts discussing these phases, she discusses so many more important things that you need to know, before you can even begin to start phasing your diet.

Chapter 3

The Drivers Manual

This chapter discusses why the 131 Method uses phases when it comes to eating. The basic idea is that the universe runs on cycles, seasons or phases. The body experiences similar cycles and seasons. For example, ovulation cycles, sleep patterns and even breathing patterns.

Diet phasing is the main component of the 131 Method.

Chalene will break down for you why diet phasing works. You will learn about homeostasis, the Krebs cycle, and Ketosis, all in easy to understand language.

It really is a very informative chapter and you will start to understand why it’s so important to rethink about what we put in our body as it directly affects our gut!

Chapter 4



Before any meal plans or recipes are given, Chalene helps us to learn the most important stuff – Mind-Set. In order to stop the endless cycle of dieting, you need to learn how your body works. Chalene helps you make that mind shift in this chapter.

You will learn how to prepare yourself for success in this chapter.

Why do you want to change? Your why, is what will motivate you to change your habits and eating.

You will be encouraged to shift out of a dieter’s mentality (the all or nothing thinking.)

Drink Water

Drink Water

Hydration is a key component of the 131 Method, especially in the Ignite Phase. You will be given tips to help you drink more water.

Get Some ZZZZs


Let’s not forget sleep! Chalene covers the need for adequete sleep and tips for a better sleep. One tip that I aim to follow every day is “avoiding screen time one to two hours before bed”. This is still a work in progress for me.

Move Your Body

Move Your Body

In this section, you are encouraged to move your body every day for at least 30 minutes. Again, lots of information on WHY you need to move your body and how it can benefit your body…..and it isn’t just about getting a flat stomach.

Are You Hungry?


Healthy Eating

Sometimes its hard to tell if you are hungry or just think you are hungry. Chalene has a great questionnaire in this part of the book to ask yourself if the hunger you are feeling is “True Hunger or Emotional Eating”.

I use this questionnaire often and I find it so helpful!

Now To the Meal Planning!

Here is where you will be encouraged to plan your meals and buy those things from your list that you don’t already have at home. You will be given some great tips on how to plan meals and make a shopping list around those meals.

Yes, the meal planning part can seem overwhelming, but if you take it just one teeny tiny step at a time, it gets easier. I feel ya!

Food tracking will be talked about to help you figure out if any of the foods you are eating are causing you gut inflammation.

Recording Your Starting Point

Ahhhhhh! Noooo!

Taking pictures and measurements of yourself is not something many people like to do, but it is a GREAT tool to use so that you can visually and on paper, see how much your body has changed.

I only took photos, and the changes I saw after the 12 weeks were noticeable!


Before and After
This is my before and after photo.







This chapter was chock-full of great information to help get mentally and physically ready to do the 131 Method!

Chapter 5




Chalene goes into great detail about the benefits of intermittent fasting and the science behind it. Farther in the chapter she writes about the 4 different types of fasts that are practiced on the 131 Method.

The best part of this chapter? You are encouraged to fast, but it’s not something that you HAVE to do! So if the first time around you don’t want to fast…. YOU DON’T HAVE TO!

The joy of the 131 Method is that YOU are in charge and you get to decide what you do and do not want to do. If at some point, during your phases, you decide that you are ready to give fasting a try, then you can!!


You Get To Decide





So NOW Chalene has told you about everything you need to be ready for the phases of the 131 Method. Chapters 6, 7 and 8 are all about the 3 phases.

Chapter 6

Phase One Ignite Phase


The primary goal of the Ignite Phase is to recalibrate your hormones.

Here is Ignite at a glance:

“Your goals for Ignite will be:

  • Become a fat burner by tracking your macro nutrient ratio.
  • Ideal macro nutrient ratio for Ketosis is to keep the calories in these ranges: 70 to 80 percent fats, 10 to 20 percent protein, and 5 to 10 percent carbohydrates
  • Practice eating within an 8 hour window (intermittent fasting)
  • Eliminate or cut back on as many inflammatory foods as possible
  • Increase your daily water intake to 75 ounces or more” (pg.132)

The above is quoted almost 100% directly from the book (hence the quotation marks). The rest of the chapter goes into more detail about the above information.

Chapter 7


Phase Two Nourish
salad with quail eggs, pepper, olives, tomatoes and sesame seeds


Nourish phase builds on the work you have done in the Ignite Phase. This chapter focuses on quality fuel intake to enhance the performance of your body.

Here is Nourish at a glance:

“Your goals for Nourish will be:

  • Intuitively track macro nutrient
  • Eat more plant-based foods rich in micro nutrients
  • Cut back on animal protein
  • Prioritize quality ingredients and micro nutrients”(pg.150)

This phase I found the most challenging, just in finding high quality ingredients that didn’t cost an arm and a leg!

Chapter 8


Phase Three Renew
131 Method Book


main objective of the Renew Phase is to reintroduce your relationship with carbs!!!


The work you did in the previous two chapters will have prepared your body for this chapter.

Here is Renew at a glance:

“Your goals for Renew will be:

  • Master intuitive intermittent fasting
  • Increase your metabolic flexibility through macrophasing
  • 2 days of Lean Green
  • 2 days of Carb Charge
  • 3 days of Fat Burning”

After you’ve completed three weeks of each phase, you will be given the opportunity to do a longer fast. Again this will be all your choice and up to you. There is even “pre-fast self assesment checklist” (pg.177) in the book to help you guage whether you are ready to do a fast.

Chapter 9

The Lifestyle Phase
131 Method Book

This Isn’t Goodbye

This chapter congratulates you on completing all three phases of the 131 Method. The hope, by this point, is that you have ditched the dieter’s mentality, that you have gained some fantastic knowledge about how your body works, and that you will continue on and do the 3 phases again.

This is now a lifestyle for you!


After this chapter, Chalene has put a ton of recipes all organized for the phase you are in!


I know I went into quite a lot of detail about this book, but I wanted to give you a really good in-depth overview so that you could see just how informative this book is and how it can help you live a better life.


Go! Change Your Life!

Read the book and see if it can help you! I’m glad I took the chance! Next….. the 131 Method ONLINE program!






5 thoughts on “131 Method Book Review – Turning The Idea Of “Diet” On Its Head”

  1. It seems this is a revolution system for dieting and health, cause it uses new tech in mindset and correct our understanding about health, weights and food.
    Actually i was using fasting some days during the year to balance my metabolism, but i don’t know that is actually effective system and mentioned on 131 book! This book i should give it a try and implement the phases. seems useful plan.
    Thanks for sharing.

    • Hi Basil, Thank you for your comment! Yes, intermittent fasting can help to balance insulin and help with healing the gut. I definitely would recommend you purchase the 131 Method book and give it a try. If you find that it was helpful and is something you can see being a part of your life, I would recommend you try the online 131 Method program. If you do buy the book, please contact me! I have a private facebook group that I run for those reading the book or doing the online 131 Method program.

    • Hi Basil,
      Thank you for your comment. I am glad this post was useful to you! I hope that you buy the 131 Method book as it helped me a lot! Let me know if you do buy the book as I have a private facebook group that I would love to add you to! It’s a group for those reading the 131 Method book or who are doing the 131 Method online program. We share recipes, we share our victories and challenges and we support one another.

  2. I have the book but cannot seem to figure out what the macro percentages should be for the nourish phase. I want to know exactly how much animal protein is allowed. Thanks!

    • Hi Canasia, For the Nourish Phase, the macro count is similar to the Ignite Phase. The Carbohydrate Macro is from 10 – 30 percent instead of 5 – 15% in the Ignite Phase. In the Nourish Phase you are encouraged to intuitively track your macros. I usually go between tracking and intuitively tracking. The goal of the nourish phase is to cut back on animal protein and to eat more plant based foods rich in micronutrients. There is no set amount of animal protein that you are “allowed” to eat. You are encouraged to keep your animal protein to 3x a week. So keep your carbs macro between 10 – 30%, your fat macro will still be high so 50-60% and Protein macro will stay moderate around 20%. I hope this clears things up! The online 131 Method program goes into more detail of each phase and is a great program to do if you need more clarification!

      Take care,


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