Like me, you've probably thought about wanting to hit the gym more often. But between labs, writing for Spoon, finding time for friends and family, and maybe sleeping more than 7 hours, I'm lucky if there's time to actually sit down and have a proper meal. Sound familiar? If so, you've likely heard of the life-changing Bikini Body Guide developed by Australian personal Trainer Kayla Itsines. While the BBG workouts themselves get most of the hype, Kayla Itsines has also developed another guide in collaboration with bodybuilder and Fresh Fitness CEO Tobi Pearce. HELP, or the Healthy Eating & Lifestyle Plan suggests what your BBG diet should look like. 

What Makes BBG Unique?

The common belief is that achieving your "dream body" is 20% training and 80% diet. Another approach is to eat whatever you want, but train at 120%. Itsines states in her BBG guide that "...I firmly believe that neither of those are the answer. My answer is being 100% committed to your healthy lifestyle...a well-rounded, healthy lifestyle can be far more flexible, beneficial, and enjoyable."

Whether you're looking to lose weight, build muscle, or develop healthier habits, the BBG is one of the better options in my opinion because it focuses on formulating sustainable and practical lifestyle habits. The workouts are a mixture of high intensity interval training (HIIT), circuit training, and low intensity steady state (LISS) training that take less than half an hour to complete. Despite their short length, both the HIIT and circuits elevate your heart rate and make for a killer workout.

What Is the BBG Diet Approach?

Unlike fad-diets, which focus on eliminating entire food groups or losing a ridiculous amount of weight in a short amount of time, Itsines' BBG diet promotes meal planning based on the Australian Food Guidelines for Healthy Eating. She also notes the importance of water and the inclusion of unsaturated fats for optimal health. 

Itsines recommends eating every 2 1/2 to 3 hours in order to meet your nutrient requirements for the day. Multivitamins and supplements are not necessary; the only scenario in which they would be appropriate is if someone were consistently unable to meet the serving goals recommended by their country's food guide. 

While the guide itself doesn't explicitly accommodate for allergies, food intolerances, or dietary preferences in its sample meal plans, its "All-Foods-Fit" mentality makes it incredibly flexible. Therefore, vegans and carnivores alike can follow the same serving size alternatives chart included with the guide. Itsine's biggest warning: be careful when swapping meals as they may have different macronutrient distributions.

The BBG Diet is designed specifically for females ages 16-25. For this category, the minimum number of recommended servings per day for each of the food groups is: 6 for grain products, 5 for vegetables and legumes, 2 for fruits, 2 1/2 for dairy, 2 1/2 for lean meat and poultry, fish, eggs, and alternatives, 2 for healthy fats, and 8 for fluids. 

#SpoonTip: Most countries have developed their own food guides. Therefore, the number of servings will be different as well as what constitutes a food group.

What to Avoid

juice, alcohol, lemon, liquor, ice, beer, ginger ale, citrus, lime cordial
Melissa Miller

1. Cheat Days

While Itsine's isn't against the idea of a cheat meal if it helps a client make healthier choices during the week, she warns against letting a planned cheat meal, which she defines as a 30-45 minute window, turn into an entire cheat day. 

2. Excessive Alcohol Consumption

Although alcohol is also a macronutrient, offering 7 kcal/gram, it isn't metabolized and the energy is not stored in the same way that carbohydrates, lipids, and proteins are. Additionally, alcohol is often combined with flavoured mixes that contribute empty calories from the sugar.

3. Restaurant Meals that Stray From Your Goals

Eating out is part of life. However, restaurant meals are often super sized and filled with excess calories from sauces. When ordering, stick to dishes that fit your normal macronutrient distribution. This principle also applies when eating at a friend's house. 

HELP-Approved Recipes

Some recipes that deserve honourable mentions include these Raspberry Brownies, this recipe for Mediterranean Chickpea Burgers, and this Sesame-Crusted Tofu and Salad recipe. As you can see, the BBG diet focuses on incorporating whole foods as opposed to restricting or demonizing any one food group.

The second half of the HELP Guide is dedicated to educating you about macronutrients—carbohydrates, lipids, and proteins—and how to choose quality sources. The guide concludes with a Q&A segment with answers from Itsines and her partner Pearce. 

I applaud Itsines and the BBG diet for moving away from strict calorie and macronutrient counting and towards practical habits that can be implemented into the busy lives of university and college students. The most important thing to remember with the BBG diet is that you are aiming for the recommended number of servings per day, as stated by the Food Guide. Itsine's believes that this is the best way to ensure your body will function at an optimal level.