The Body Coach – A Review

Joe Wicks (aka The Body Coach) has a formula. Take a slightly overweight girl who lives on convenience foods and doesn’t know the arse end of a barbell. Introduce her to planning meals and preparing whole, often low-carb, foods; and get her in the weights section of the gym. Post the amazing changes to her physique on Instagram for the world to see with some ‘cheeky chappy’ videos (involving a lot of coconut oil) and commentary thrown in for good measure; and rake in the sponsorship deals.

It’s a winning formula that has seen him go from Insta-celebrity to a full blown health & fitness brand, with a book deal and recent Times cover to show for it. But what happens when you take a not-really overweight girl, who is an avid cook and has an established gym habit, who just wants to drop a few % on the body fat scale? Spoiler: not a lot.

There’s nothing wrong with The Body Coach plan, per se. It’s obviously doing good things for a lot of people, but as I near the end of my (slightly extended due to illness) 90 day ‘Shift, Shape, Sustain’ plan, I thought I would give you a little insight into what I found, because those Instagram transformations obviously don’t tell the whole story.

I joined the plan for a few reasons:

  • To give me the motivation to make the sustainable changes to my diet I knew I wanted to but hadn’t been able to (i.e. reduce my dependence on sugary snacks/starchy carbs & focus on whole foods)
  • To understand more about nutrition and how to balance my macronutrient intake
  • To drop the last few % of body fat lingering after having Baby A
  • And…to feel more confident about my body

How did I fare?

A sustainable diet?

I learnt some good habits for managing my diet through the plan. Some things will stay with me – I’m a much keener food planner and recipe developer; I’ve come up with a whole host of new tactics to reduce my snacking reflex; I’m less likely to eat sugary gluten free cereals for breakfast as my tastebuds have adjusted. Binging on cake like I used to now makes me feel incredibly jittery and grotty. Positive stuff that will help me to sustain a healthier approach as I go forwards.

Low carb life - not a sustainable tactic for me.

Low carb life – not a sustainable tactic for me.

I liked the emphasis on whole foods, and for many following the plan it’s obviously something fresh and new to try, but as a keen cook, veteran coeliac and with a weekly delivery of seasonal vegetables, it wasn’t a big deal for me to prepare fresh meals from single ingredients. I actually found the nutrition plan to be too prescriptive for my liking. It ditched whole foods I have in the past frequently eaten for their healthy properties (fruit, pulses, wholegrains); and included in vast quantities things I would have eaten in moderation before  such as artificial sweeteners in supplements, saturated fats (mostly coconut oil), huge amounts of dairy products, eggs & a lot of out of season vegetables I’m not that keen on! If I ever see another red pepper I might scream…

The plan uses a variety of tricks to encourage your body to drop fat – a mixture of a low carb/high fat diet with HIIT (high intensity interval training) in the first cycle; carb cycling with lots of weights in the second; and finally yet more low carb dieting with more weights in the third ‘sustain’ cycle. Are any of these something I can keep up? Probably not. (Limited) further research on my part suggests they aren’t even necessarily clinically proven methods.

I got ill. A lot. Whilst I was on the plan I was plagued by ill health: 4 successive stomach bugs, 2 bouts of ‘flu’, a chest infection, conjunctivitis, and to top it all, an ambulance to A&E after a suspected ‘gall bladder attack’ (which is thought to be caused by a fatty diet among other things!). I’m not saying that the plan made me ill, I’m dealing with a nursery-going germ-infested toddler and the word ‘rest’ is never an option; but the plan certainly caused me to push my body in directions it was perhaps retrospectively telling me it didn’t want to go. I was already fit and healthy but trying to cram in the vast amount of food prep, the 4x weekly workouts on top of a job, parenthood, personal life and blog was probably an unrealistic standard to hold myself to. So when I failed, I failed HARD.

One of the many off-plan occasions which made this an unsustainable way to eat

One of the many off-plan occasions

I also failed because of birthdays, anniversaries, occasions when friends had invited us over and specially bought gluten free treats. Because of beer o’clock on a Friday at the end of a stressful week, cookery workshops and gluten free events. In short I failed because… life. And that’s the key for me – I’m not going to go through life living on hard boiled eggs and green tea, because there are too many delicious things and too much joy in the world to miss out on. What this plan didn’t show me, by it’s insistence not to count the calories and macros for myself, is how to balance these things with the healthier stuff as I go forwards. Which brings me on to…

Understanding more about nutrition

Aside from the personal problems I had with sticking to the plan, I wasn’t too impressed with the quality of the nutritional advice given in some places. When I’ve queried certain parts of the plan and asked for more information, I’ve been told “don’t worry about it” and “you’ll get some macros at the end of the plan”, “just substitute any veg except carrots”. Unfortunately my brain needs the ‘why’, not just the ‘what’ to make change.

Low point: in hospital with a gallbladder attack!

Low point: in hospital after a gallbladder attack!

Overall, I’ve been struck with the impression that the coaches don’t seem to have a thorough grounding in nutrition. In fact, half way through the plan as The Body Coach empire expanded, I went from getting personal advice from Joe (who at least has a qualification in nutrition although isn’t a dietitian), to on of his ‘support coaches’ who I understand who’s only qualification was that they’d been through the plan themselves. Now I did a Maths G.C.S.E – that makes me in no way qualified to teach maths. That’s not to knock their enthusiasm and supportive qualities, but I didn’t get what I wanted from the plan and their ‘copy paste’ email responses. For example:

Despite them asking for dietary requirements and specifically stating I had coeliac disease and a low dairy diet, gluten ingredients kept popping up in my plan (including the recommended supplements). When I asked for alternatives, the answer came “just use a gluten free bagel,” “you can substitute for soya yogurt” when I know these do not have the same nutritional profile as the normal equivalents. For such a prescriptive plan (‘39g of avocado’, ‘23g of nuts’) this doesn’t make sense. Why was sugary granola ok on low carb days, but plain porridge oats not? Odd.

So no, I didn’t learn what I wanted about nutrition and how to fuel myself in support of my gym work.

The stubborn body fat %

Every week I have a dreaded calliper check with my PT to measure my body fat %. It didn’t shift one millimetre over the course of the 9 months. There have been some changes to my body – my posture is better, I have lost a few cm around my thighs and chest (neither of which were where I wanted to lose them); I am also fitter than I have been in a long time, but on my key measure – zip.

A little more toned, maybe, but certainly no dramatic change

A little more toned, maybe, but certainly no dramatic change

As I didn’t stick to the plan 100%, I can’t of course know how much of that is down to me, and how much the plan, but with others claiming to ‘cheat’ liberally and still shed inches, I can’t help but feel a little frustrated. The eminently sensible Gluten Eating Husband kept telling me what I probably knew – that everyone else you see on the plan has a very different starting point; but it’s hard to ignore.

The root cause is perhaps because this is a standard (albeit personalised in terms of calories etc.) ‘plan’, not a tailored approach based on a thorough consultation, that it was only ever going to do so much.

Body Confidence

I feel stronger, and fitter, without a doubt. I had been hoping to get to the end of my 90 days and be confident enough to show you some before and after shots, displaying my lean(er) body, hopefully with a few more toned muscles on display, and ideally with a few less bags under my eyes! Sadly, I’m not there yet.

In fact, in some senses my confidence has decreased. The Body Coach call to ‘stay off the sad step’ was replaced by a tape measure, side-shot selfies in swimwear, and an all-too-frequent grabbing handfuls of stomach fat/skin in despair (sometimes mid-plank). The ‘I want to give up’ moments were made worse by the frequent stream of people on social media ‘smashing’ their workouts, posting endless pictures of sorry-looking food, and reshaping their bodies in a matter of weeks on Instagram.

And it’s here I worry a little about The Body Coach zeitgeist. Occasionally he will post a picture of someone who looks fit, healthy & fantastic, with a tale about how they have used this plan to beat an eating disorder or an unhealthy relationship with food. Whilst encouraging people in this situation to eat plentiful, healthy foods is a positive; I am not sure weighing every last ingredient in every last meal is much more of a healthy relationship with food than weighing yourself multiple times a day. It can all too easily become an obsession, and there is yet another problem with the plan being managed by an under-qualified team.

What next?

Of course, you get what you pay for, this is a ‘personalised’ plan, not a ‘personal’ one. Numbers are probably generated in a glorified excel spreadsheet behind the scenes, and pasted into a standard format, so I was willing to forgive so much, but unfortunately when you’re dealing with health, the spreadsheet doesn’t give you a picture of the person. I was looking for a simple (and relatively inexpensive) way to achieve my goals; I achieved some of them, but sadly not my main one. It’s time for me to do what I should have done in the first place: get some specific advice and support from someone qualified, in person. But first, I’m going to have a little rest on holiday and enjoy some carrots. God I’ve missed carrots.

41 responses to “The Body Coach – A Review

  1. What an awesome blog post. I really admire your honesty and am so delighted that you see it for what it is!!! Your comments re the confidence/relationship with food elements are absolutely on the money and really astute. I hope your confidence hasn’t been dented, you’re a superwoman. Believe it. X

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  3. Really interesting post. I have been considering signing up to The Body Coach over the last few days. I am similar to you in that I go to the gym regularly and I love to cook. I just need to tone up. Your post has made me think. Thanks for your honesty and hope you enjoyed your carrots!

  4. I echo the other commenters; I have been debating about signing up for the plan too, but have wondered, more often than not, if it’s too good to be true. I love to cook and eat fruit and whole foods, too. I just want to lose some body fat (I already weight train 3x a week), so might just get myself an HIIT app and save myself some bucks. I appreciate your candour – we seem to be in a similar place. Thanks again for sharing.

    • Glad it helped! I think the view you get from success stories on social media is incredibly biased towards those who get great results. I’ve since done quite a bit of reading on nutrition and training, and some of the methods in the plan are not proven, certainly not for people who have good baseline fitness/body fat % anyway!

  5. Thanks so much for your comments and honesty. Am in similar position to you. Just a few pounds to lose to be at my preferred weight of 7st 5 ( am only 5 ft 1) and I need to tone up a lot. Am going to save my money I think after reading this as being a nutrition aware vegetarian I have never lived on convenience meals don’t drink so think like you this diet won’t do me any good.
    I think I am going to carry on with The Harcombe Diet as I’ve lost a couple pounds very easily and eaten delicious food too ( easier if you a meat eater on this though). Will spend the money on a new outfit when I am down to my weight goal!
    Thanks again

    • Good for you! From what I’ve seen it can be quite hard to do this when you are veggie- because of the large amounts of protein you need to get in. Since coming off the plan I’ve just been focusing on number of calories, getting enough protein, then being pretty flexible beyond that- not seeing dramatic results, but I am much happier!

  6. Ah I’m so happy to read this! I have been in epic shape but I fall out of it very quickly! After losing 6.5 stone I started raining for competitions with different PT’s who have had me living on ridiculous varieties of carb free diets, weighing food and cutting to get to an unrealistic shape for 4 days! I was considering the body coach as I want something sustainable for life something that doesn’t involve me feeling guilty after a meal out or a missed workout! Something that doesn’t involve me giving up brown rice and carrots for Petes sake 🙈 and yes as with you every PT I’ve worked with made me give up carrots!

    But I contacted the body coach and told them this and I got a copy and paste answer from the body coaches new minions telling me I’m uneducated on nutrition like everyone else… Which quite frankly was an awful insult! I’d lost 6 stone on my own through changing nutrition and kept it off! Now I want some help to fit in a social life!

    I think it’s scary how tempting photos on social media can be, if someone stopped me in the street and said look how slim I am I used to be big give me £146 and I can make you slim too I wouldn’t buy it so I shouldn’t be so easily bought online! So frustrating but after reading your very honest review I won’t be signing up to the body coach!

  7. Great article Carly. I’m two thirds of the way through the plan as is my boyfriend, and we’ve both been completely disheartened at how little nutritional information is available. We’ve also seen virtually no results despite sticking to the plan, and eating the ridiculous amounts of food (the veggie plan is especially dire with the amount of quorn you have to eat!)

    Thankfully, we’ve found Michael Matthews who’s written the books Thinner, Leaner, Stronger (women) and Bigger, Leaner, Stronger (men). All of his weight workout and nutrition advice is based on proven scientific studies, and has freed us both from the limitations of the body coach plan, to something knowledgeable and sustainable.

  8. Thanks a lot for your blog! Finally I found something I have been looking for. I only have done 4 days on cycle 1 of the 90daysplan! I had to consalt doctor as i have been feeling so unwell
    I am waiting for some test results now in hope no damage has been coused. I am healthy, happy, active individual . I can not remember when I last time consult GP as I did not have any reasons till I have done 4 days on the plan. May be people wno is behind tnis plan know something about nutrition but definitely know nothing about physiology. Reading on your blog how many times you were unwell on the plan made me concerned. That’s not normal despite everything you have got going in your life.

  9. I wish I had researched further instead of relying on the Facebook and Instagram posts as being gospel (Gullible I know)

    I’m on day 5 of the first month. Like said above it is not as ‘tailored’ to suit each person as made out. The recipes (I do add garlic etc where I feel needed) are lovely and I feel portion sizes are where I’ve been going wrong in the past so that has also been helpful but………… the work outs????? I stupidly assumed that like Insanity (which is cheaper) you would get all your workouts sent to you for each day and that said workouts could be carried out at home without the need for gym equipment, the demo videos you get would be great if I had a bike, rowing machine, rope or punch bag at home so I have instead been using my insanity videos, which I wanted a change from, instead. I definitely feel better and less bloated in this past 5 day and I haven’t ‘nailed’ the nutrition side as yet.

    My verdict is that if you are looking for convenience and results in the short time scale buy Shaun T’s Insanity, it gives all the same promises and more. I should of stuck to what I knew and I’d still get into my christmas dress AND be able to buy some really expensive shoes to go with it :)

    ps I’m not on commission from Beach body lol

  10. Brilliant post and one I’ve been looking for for a while now! I think people don’t understand this (90 day SSS) is just a business, just like Weight Watchers, Slimming World etc. that is making money out of peoples insecurities. I’ve been following Joe Wicks and the success of the Body Coach for over a year, and I see no real difference from it and Slimming World. The obsessive weighing of food and counting calories. The only real difference is the exercise plan along with it. I suppose healthy eating is just common sense really, eat fruit, veg and meat. Treats in moderation. Exercise 30 minutes a day. Sounds easy, but with a family and job to contend with, sometimes it’s hard to find motivation when you’re exhausted. Hope you are feeling better!

  11. Thank you so much for your blog! I wish I read this a month ago, before I purchased the plan. (I am currently waiting for my C2 plan). Like you, I eat healthy meals but signed up to become educated on nutrition pre- and post- workouts, become fitter, tone up and gain body confidence. I had just finished training/running a half marathon and thought the Body Coach would be a good next step in my fitness journey. While I didn’t adhere to the plan 100%, I gained 7lbs, 3 inches on my waist alone and feel incredibly unfit – progress I achieved while running has quickly become undone. It seems reasonable to conclude that these results were due to a massive increase in food consumption and a decrease in exercise; however, I was told that everyone is different, my body may need time to adjust and I may see results in C2 or C3. I HOPE this is the case but being encouraged to “believe in the plan” without a scientific, physiological or nutritional explanation to support the belief makes me concerned: did I “drink the Kool-Aid”?

    Your honest evaluation of the plan was helpful and I’m grateful you took the time to share it with us. How are you doing currently?

    • Thanks for your honesty! Doing well since, finding my own balance and doing exercise and eating food I enjoy! I have decided to set fitness goals rather than fat loss ones, focussing on increasing my strength at the moment with weight training, and cardio with spinning too because it makes me buzz :)

      I’ve been listening to lots of evidence-based nutrition podcasts like Real Nutrition Radio and Shredded by Science to educate myself about nutrition. I’m trying to be sensible but not obsessed with the way I eat- roughly tracking calories & protein intake in the week, being flexible on carb/fat ratios depending on what my body wants, and having fun at the weekends/special occasions. Meal planning/prep definitely helps stick to a healthy diet, but it’s still a learning curve.

      From the things I’ve read since doing the plan, many of the tricks and nuances on the Body Coach plan are more to do with body building folklore than actual science. Maybe if you’re an elite athlete some of the premises would be useful, but the simple idea needs to be calories in <calories out, not too drastic a deficit or your body might think it's starving, keep your protein intake up to stay satiated and maintain muscle, and if you're going low-carb you'll loose water weight, but it'll come back straight away (and personally I felt so low in energy and hangry on the ultra low carb days!)

    • Hi Alicia,

      I had exactly the same result as you from cycle one, which I have just finished. I am also a healthy eater and keen runner and joined for the same reasons. My results from cycle one were also 7lbs gain and an inch gain all over and some places more. I too feel very sluggish and not as fit as I was previously and raised my concerns to my support coach who informed me the same, that everyone is different and I should give my body time to adjust to the increase in food which will eventually speed up my metabolism.

      I very much appreciate your post and have found your honesty a great help to know.

      As your post was now a few months ago, I wondered if you could let me know how your cycle two and three went and whether you saw positive results? I have now received cycle two and I do not know whether to go ahead with it as I simply can’t gain anymore weight, I can’t afford more new clothes a size bigger!

      Thank you!

  12. So I signed up to Joe’s 14 days “get lean” guide, I can honestly say that although his daily titbits in my inbox made perfect sense – I was already doing all of those things anyway. I go to the gym 4 to 6 days per week and alternate moderate cardio with resistance training and throw in an occasional hot bikram yoga session. I rarely eat processed sugar, and even less processed food and other than eating out 2/3 times a month (when I make sensible choices) all of my meals are low in fat, high protein and cooked from scratch. I also drink about once a month and never in excess. So at the end of the 14 days (today) I also received a £20 off the 90 day sss plan. I thought “great.” Except like you I’m wondering what else could he teach me that I didn’t already know?

    I am very tempted by the wave of success stories. Just a few hours ago I tweeted that I was signing up! Then I came across this. You’ve hit the nail on the head. This works for those who are utterly clueless about nutrition and never understood what “you are what you eat” is all about. I have a good friend who lost her entire current weight on a sensible balanced diet and exercise – but then used her success and before/after pics to sell juice plus capsules which she said in her own words: nutrition for lazy people! Those that do sign up are obviously not lazy, but there’s a lateral comparison here I think. I like to decide for myself what to eat. I’m well informed enough to know that grilled chicken is better for me than a fried chicken burger!

    I digress… In short, after reading this very frank post and others’ contributions to this page, I’d rather buy a new dress!

    And I’ve deleted my tweet!

  13. Thank you so much for writing this review! I completed the plan in September and I saw next to no results (except for maybe an improvement in my fitness levels). When I finished the plan I felt really downhearted, I had spent 90 days basically not enjoying food and waiting to do boring workouts so that I could actually eat carbs! I’m only 8 and a half stone but I simply wanted to tone up and lose a few more pounds, and even this didn’t happen!

    I also found it really strange how fruit was basically cut out of the plan? How can eating a rice cake be more nutritionally valued than having fruit? I found myself feeling guilting for wanting to eat an apple or putting some fruit on my granola in the mornings.

    Before the plan I had quite a healthy relationship with food and I never felt guilty for treating myself. But by the end of the plan, I was miserable, constantly having to weigh every bit of food (even taking 1 gram out when j went over) and viewing things like fruit as unhealthy!

    So thank you for doing this review, I now realise I’m not the only one that was not satisfied with the plan!

  14. Thanks for your honest review, I have been thinking about this, but there are a few things I wanted clarifying, and you have done that for me. Hope you are feeling better. Wouldn’t have expected you to get so ill.

    • I’m good thanks! Learnt to keep to a training & eating plan that fits in with my life, rather than the other way around :)

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  16. Really interesting reading – thank you for posting this. I recently bought the Lean in 15 book and liked the ‘eat real food’ mantra of it. I eat healthy, fresh made food anyway and workout regularly, but I’ve gained a few pounds recently and have to say I’ve been curious about the 90 day SSS plan.

    There’s certainly a lot on Instagram that seems to show amazing results, but when I dug a little deeper, I saw things that didn’t quite ring true with the ‘real food’ message. I noticed people posting that they could have diet soft drinks and rice cakes? Neither of those have any real nutritional value and the artificial sweeteners in diet coke etc are something I try to stay away from.

    I notice Joe has a partnership with too, which to be honest dented his credibility a little for me – in my opinion, there are much better quality, ‘cleaner’ protein powders available that have far shorter ingredients and less ‘filler.’ I’ve also seen Instagram posts of MyProtein crisps as part of the plan – come on, whether they’ve got added protein or not, they’re still crisps! Again, it doesn’t ring true with the supposed ‘real food’ mantra.

    Anyway, it was refreshing to read your post because I wondered if I was the only one being sceptical about it.

  17. Hi there, i found the plan impossible to incorporate into a busy family life with a young family, i was so busy prepping and preparing food for myself i had no time to feed them healthily which i felt really guilty about, it was not sustainable for me although i did have pretty good results. I am now about to try another plan which is aimed specifically at busy mums and working women. Really interested to see if the food is less intricate from the example plan i’ve seen it looks easier in that respect. Let me know if you are interested in finding out more about this plan which is just about to be launch in the UK over the next few months.

  18. Great review. I thought it was just me who was disappointed with the plan.

    I too asked for a gluten free plan & was told to sub accordingly but couldn’t have the build up bagel.

    I didn’t complete the plan, in fact I didn’t even make it to cycle 3. I started getting pains that turned out to be gallbladder related. I stopped the plan & gradually the pains stopped. I’m not an expert in nutrition or biology but to me it was clear something wasn’t working for me.

    If I hadn’t had the gallbladder issues I think I would have struggled to see it through to completion. I went from enjoying food (good & bad) to it occupying my every minute and I hated having to plan my life around prepping & cooking.

    • Sorry to hear you struggled too, your experience sounds very similar to mine. I’m currently taking a nutrition course and looking back at the plan I would say it certainly didn’t have enough of a calorie deficit for me to lose fat, and nutritionally was far too high in fat to suit me. Whether that caused my gall bladder issues I don’t know.

  19. I loved reading this post – Thank you so much! I’ve been following Joe for a while and have joined one of the support groups on facebook but never signed up. I am a typical yoyo and since being married have been lazy, greedy and enjoying marital bliss – however, time to face the mirror and was looking for the kick up the backside. Ive chosen today to go back to what I know and tried to remind myself there is no answer besides hardwork and wholesome, healthy foods. So, I’m here after my first exercise class at the gym – feeling like ive just started a good plan of my own :) Hope everyone else gets the motivation they need to make change and the results they are looking for <3. The Hemsley & Hemsley books are super good for new food ideas and I do love a gym class as once I'm there I'm too stubborn to stop! :)

    • Good for you- I think what I’m learning is that sadly there’s no rocket science or secret to dropping the fat- move more, eat less, try and meet all your nutritional needs within your calorie limit, do it in a way you can sustain and means life is not a total misery! Lots of luck with your approach. Incidentally did someone post this blog on a fb group? Been getting tonnes of views today!

      • Yes it was posted to the support group which is from where I found your blog.

  20. This is very interesting… I’ve been “spying” on the plan FB groups and things for a bit and come to similar conclusions to yours. It looks a lot like the people who get the brilliant results are generally (and not at all surprisingly), people who didn’t cook/eat vegetables beforehand (this has been a bit of an eye opener for me – I had NO IDEA that there were so many actual adult veggie abstainers out there) and who often did little or no effective exercise. It’s obviously great that it works for them, but it definitely seems that anyone already cooking, eating greens and with a reasonable level of fitness probably isn’t going to see any spectacular changes.
    I get the impression that the plan probably won’t do much harm (other than wallet wise) to most people, though the illness levels are a bit of a worry – I suspect overtraining is the most likely culprit.

    • Yes overtraining, perhaps, and maybe the low carb/high fat approach doesn’t suit people. For me I think it was partly the stress of it all! Nutritionally it probably gives most people what they need but I’m pretty concerned that it wouldn’t be suitable for someone with special health or dietary needs and not clear to me how the unqualified coaches would deal with that.

  21. I too did the whole 90 days and stuck to it 95% my birthday and Xmas did occur I’m sorry that I drank a few G&Ts. I however gained weight and size. It did nothing for me but ruin my confidence and left me depressed. I now also have developed an intolerance to foods from the sheer amount of them that I was putting into my body. This is not a plan I would ever follow or suggest to anyone to follow without giving it serious consideration. In fact I would NEVER do it again.

  22. Thank you for the review. I too was thinking about signing up for the plan. I don’t have more than a few spare pounds but was looking to start some form of weight training to help maintain muscle mass. I have been following the Facebook group for a while. I had started following the basic principles of the plan and have loved the Hiit, feel fitter and I think i have more energy the majority of the time. As for the food, confused, whole groups of vegetables seem to be shunned and a fair few not so clean ingredients going on. You have helped me decide, finally, that I will give it a miss and do so more research to find an alternative that suits me.

  23. Great post. I’m just starting my second week following the Lean in 15 book with Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred rather than signing up the actual Body Coach plan. I have to say, it’s been a mixed bag in week one and I’m rather disheartened. Reading your post and the comments have confirmed my concerns about the plan.

    My partner and I have followed it to the T. We have spent hours upon hours making meal plans, shopping, cooking and bickering over food. It’s practically taken over every thought and conversation and gets stressful. I love to cook and like having a set meal plan so I don’t stray or eat junk, but this has been an extreme amount of time devoted to it. The expense has been huge, even shopping at Lidl and buying cheap ingredients where possible.

    Some of the recipes he gives are either downright wrong or disgusting. For example, 250ml of almond milk in the overnight oats gives you unappetising slush and probably needs half that amount. The low carb oats cook up to an inedible tasteless wodge of gloop even with tons of extra cinnamon and milk. An entire lime per portion of the Thai beef makes it taste like nothing but citrus noodles. The tuna nicoise was honestly one of the worst things I’ve ever tasted. The cooked snacks such as the tuna fritters and mackerel pate are so expensive and time consuming for an okay result that they’re not worth it. All of the recipes need a ton of seasoning that’s never mentioned and the curries need extra spice. We’re both pretty good cooks and it’s apparent that Joe is not the most natural of chefs when it comes to flavour over protein quantity.

    The amount of pasta and noodles in the carb refuel meals is so extreme you get bored halfway through eating it. I like to enjoy my food, not shovel it in to hit goals. Last night we had the low carb creamy steak and spinach – I only managed to eat half before I gave up because I was fatigued by eating a huge piece of meat and little else. I would much rather have halved the size of the steak, cut the cream and added a couple of new potatoes and veggies instead. The calories would probably have been lower and whereas the amount of protein would have been reduced, it would still be sufficient.

    To top it off, we both had substantial weight gains at the end of the first week. We’re both naturally athletic people. The weight we want to lose has been previously gained due to takeaways, a bit too much chocolate and relying on empty calorie snack foods rather than an overall bad diet, but following this plan has given us the same results. I feel the dinners we usually cook are healthier and much tastier than his. I know from experience that the 30 Day Shred workout works well and can only assume the massive amount of fat and huge portions are hindering all our hard work.

    We’ve shopped and prepped for this week already, so will see it through until the weekend and check our progress, although I’m starting to lean towards this not being for me either. I would take some of the ideas though, as I do enjoy having the low carb breakfasts and lunches ready to go.

  24. Have been reading this thread with interest. I just signed up for the 90 day SSS plan a week ago and was very disappointed with the plan that was sent to me. It’s poorly written and riddled with spelling mistakes which gives such a bad first impression. The ‘copy and paste’ style of emails from my ‘support coach’ feels really budget and also a bit dishonest – like they are trying to give the impression of everything being really tailored but actually it’s all very generic. I mentioned my gluten intolerance and hypothyroidism in my questionnaire on signing up but the advice I was given in response was unhelpful and irrelevant. My biggest gripe of all however is with the lack of info on the HIIT exercises.

    The plan emphasises the importance of HIIT workouts and this, along with nutrition, is the cornerstone of the plan for which you’re charged the hefty sum of £147. However, there is NO information provided in the plan on how to actually do a HIIT workout. Only 3 at home HIIT exercises are demonstrated in the plan — the rest all involve gym equipment despite claims you definitely don’t need to join a gym to do the 90 day SSS plan. There are no instructions at all in my plan on how to complete a full 20 min HIIT workout despite the plan instructing me to do HIIT workouts 4-5 times a week. My plan also instructs me to do a warm up and cool down before every HIIT workout, but again no instructions are given for how to do this. A link is provided to an external website not affiliated with The Body Coach where you can apparently find out more about exercise. So I am left baffled as to what the £147 fee is for exactly if all the instructional videos and info I need to do the exercises in the plan are actually available for free online to anyone.

    The whole plan is sold as being very personal, tailored, supportive and suitable to anyone regardless of knowledge of fitness and exercise. I would strongly dispute these claims based on the materials I have been sent so far. The plan I received is completely generic and the only thing in it that seems remotely ‘tailored’ to me are weights and measurements of food in the recipes which, in my view, is not worth anything close to £147.

    So if you haven’t already signed up I would strongly advise you not to waste your money. I have signed up for a much better plan via a company called Fit for a Princess who do online fitness and healthy eating coaching programmes for women run by passionate and qualified trainers. (I am in no way affiliated with this org. just been a long time fan!).

  25. Fantastic post, thank you, and it’s satisfying reading to read the comments above. I’ve been furiously wanting to write a review since starting the second cycle, I’m so glad I’m not alone in feeling this way – and have paid handsomely for the privilege to do so!

    I’m currently midway through the first week of the second cycle and like you was sick for a good portion of the first and had to extend it.

    I found the first cycle (once I was able to get over the giant fatty portions) great, food wise. Leaving off sugar and carbohydrates was actually a blessing I wasn’t expecting – my energy levels soared, menstrual cycle was 90% easier on me. So for me, my issues are most likely a combination of a high sugar (inc. fructose) diet, and probably a bit of gluten intolerance (not allergy, by any means). Thank the gods for the smoothies and the low carb oatmeal as they were time savers. I didn’t touch the granola as I thought the same – conflicting advice on sugary granola vs weighing every skerrick of “macro nutrient”.

    So, even with that, you and I differ in what our requirements are, and what results we’ll get – so it can’t possibly be a tailored program. It doesn’t take into consideration blood sugar levels, how well your liver enzymes work, or if you have pancreatic issues (I have none of these problems but I’m thinking back to the questionnaire at the beginning, which doesn’t address what may be underlying, even if symptoms aren’t presenting in that moment. A blood test can clarify that.

    I had a few misgiving with the woeful and frequent grammatical and spelling errors in the plan – ok, not that it matters to overall health and fitness, but if you’re paying £147 for the plan, I’d like to see that someone’s been paid to proofread it before it comes to me! It’s about overall quality (see below for my comment on the swap app).

    The second cycle so far is a nightmare, even with gluten free carbs: nausea, gas, bloating, growling stomach. I don’t take protein supplements or use anything processed (ie: nothing I couldn’t make for myself at home). There is the protein pancake recipe – perfect for those mornings when you just can’t face another serving of cow – but I got a whole dish of conflicting advice about egg whites being fatty, and not to follow the recipe ideas along with the pick and mix as they’re another thing altogether – so, why put that in as an example??

    The whole “support” idea has become a bit of a farce in this cycle, the scant advice given two days later isn’t even addressing the questions I’m asking, and I’m often directed to the swap app (I live in central Italy, I’m yet to see a sweet potato or sour cream here), and the app more often than not doesn’t work.

    And “prep like a boss”…FFS…I have the tiniest freezer in the world, and no microwave. That often means 40 minutes in the kitchen to prep for the day. If I have to weigh another 127g portion of spinach then wilt it with capsicum, or attempt to eat 98g of red or white onion, I’ll scream. Sad step aside, if this doesn’t create a new batch of eating fanaticism I don’t know what will.

    Having said all that, the exercise in the second cycle is perfect for me. If anything, so far I’ve learnt that more protein, less carb and sugar, plus weights work for me, and that it was likely I was a bit nutritionally starved to begin with. But I paid a lot of money to find that out, and then do the legwork myself!

  26. Pingback: 7 things I had wrong about nutrition | Windsor B·

  27. Have just read all the above comments with great interest. One thing is for sure, I won’t be parting with my cash. Thank you all for your honesty.

  28. A great revue firstly, with lots of humour, but more importantly, some serious points for people who are thinking about embarking on this diet.
    I am on day 7 of the first cycle, and yesterday evening I felt so zoned out, trippy almost, that in the end I had a small glass of lager, because I felt completely out of it. Unsurprisingly, after a few mouthfuls I felt slightly better. I didnt have any more than that, so it wasnt alcohol withdrawal! But, it got me thinking and I realised that the last time I felt this bad was when I tried the Atkins Diet. And, I would say ever-so-slightly that this diet in cycle one, is similar ish. When I looked closely at the food groups being eaten, it was, as you all say, protein, fats and occasional carbs. There was pretty much no sugar whatsoever; hence no fruit! Which to be honest, I love. I could not work out why the old trusted banana was not there. And even the carbs are only for exercise days.
    I was concerned to hear you say that some of you had put weight on after a cycle! I am guessing, and it is only a guess, that it is because that like me, most of you eat healthily most of the time – and probably not as much food as advised by the body coach. I found that the first few days I was either starving at night, or then in contrast the last few days I could not face food at all! I am eating more than I usually eat and I dont see how this will help me lose weight, sugar free or otherwise.

    I also spend too much time in the kitchen with my new friend Salter scales, measuring food like a mad scientist. Hence I dont eat with the rest of my family. A real bore.
    Too much time wasted. Apparently the advice is to prep, prep, prep – but this is not the way I work! I dont like frozen food much and my fridge is not huge. I have already forked out lots of money on quirky foods that I have had to go to Waitrose for or order online.

    I found that my hero is reactive not proactive, in as much as he only gets back to me if I email him first. Other than that there is no help. And when I asked about alcohol – his advice was that he drinks Gin and Tonic if he drinks at all because it is lower in calories. Seriously? Advising anyone to drink spirits regardless of calories cannot be good, right?

    The exercise advise is minimal really. I only kind of get it because I used to work out a lot. There are only a few demonstrations of how to do a HIIT, so if you have not been active for a long time, then you might struggle.
    I have tried doing the HIITs on YouTube but I spent more time craning my head trying to watch Joe, than doing the exercises.
    For £147 where were a few personal videos for me? They would surely not cost much to do?

    The diets are supposed to be tailor made, but in reality I read on a blog that a daughter and her mum both signed up. The girl, obviously younger got the same grams for food as her Mum, despite her age, weight and the fact she was pregnant – and her mum was 56! The 31g thing and the 29g thing, seem to me to be a devious attempt to make us think that the menus are personal. In fact, the reality is that a teaspoon here and a tablespoon there would work just as well, but then who would pay £147 for that!
    After headaches all week, mood swings and energy levels low, I have decided to do my own thing. I now have a rough idea of what I can eat and I will continue to limit my intake. I will work out 4 times a week.

    The menus are actually pretty repetitive, lots of stir fries, which I actually could not face right now. If I see any more asparagus I will cry. There seems to be a lot of advertising going on, ie promoting MyProtein and Amazon.
    The breakfast options are limited, smoothies or oaty things, and the overnight oats look disgusting in the morning.

    I am disappointed with what I signed up for and also may I point out, that the information is downloaded – which is all very well and good, but not as good as a booklet! I ended up printing it all out, so that I could put the menus into folders. I got bored scrolling through everything.

    A waste of money as far as I am concerned and another crazy way of eating which is not sustainable.

  29. Vegan Body Coach is one of the most unique and revolutionary in its approach, it teaches students and professionals how to efficiently work with the most common and compelling eating challenges of our times – weight, body image, overeating, binge eating, emotional eating, endless dieting, digestion, fatigue, immunity, mood and much more.

  30. I wanted to reply to this for a while. Firstly, this is a great thread and kinda wish I’d seen it a while ago. My goal was simple, I’ve been relatively fit for a while. I do 3x Barry’s Bootcamp classes a week and I wanted abs. I was a bit unsure of what to do, but spurred on by all the transofrmations I kept seeing on Instagram I gave it a go.

    My plan was riddled with spelling errors and most of the coaches seem to have no genuine qualification. I kept a food diary which was a mixture of things from outside and stuff from the plan and received zero help from my coach because all the meals weren’t off the plan. I laughed pretty hard when I saw that the HIIT exercises were basically left upto yourself. I ended up using the free HIIT workouts on YouTube (that you really didn’t need to pay £147 for).

    It’s an admirable thing Joe Wicks is trying to do, but you see what he eats and you think it’s easy to copy. But it really isn’t. He’s working out non stop all day every day (I’m fairly certain he does a lot more than 1x 30 min HIIT session every day), and a lot of his meals are just too heavy on the calorie side.

    The other thing I wanted to say was if you follow all these heavy lifters and “fit” people on Instagram watching how they eat mountains of protein pancakes with 3 creme eggs, etc etc all over it. Tons of chocolate every day. STOP FOLLOWING THEM. Seeing this really messed with my head, and I got it into my system that I could eat whatever I want and still get abs, etc. These are people who literally spend 4+ hours a day in the gym. If you work a normal job etc it’s simply impossible to do this.

    As my final attempt I’ve started to track macros, and doing this made me realise my “healthy” diet from before was anything but. Good luck to everyone out there and genuinely hope everyone reaches their goals.

    • Goodness yes, Wicks didn’t get those calves and biceps from HIIT! There’s a man who lifts a lot and regularly. Glad you are finding the right balance now x

  31. Hi all, I joined 90 Day SSS a week last Monday. As with most of you I’m struggling with the large portion sizes – meal times were previously something to look forwards to but now its become a chore. I too am doubtful that the weights/measures in the recipes have been specifically set for me. Here is an example for Scrambled eggs with tomato and cheese:
    10g butter,4 eggs,2 egg whites,110g tomatoes, 70g Feta cheese,150g greens.
    Now, I’m 5’6″ tall and weigh 88kgs. Does anyone else have the same weights/measures recipe recommendation but but differ in their own height & weight?

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