What Is the BBG Diet?

Healthy lunch consisting of sandwich, veggies and fruit

Westend61/Getty Images

 

In This Article

Kayla Itsines is a well-known fitness trainer from Australia. Her workout program, Bikini Body Guide (BBG), has taken off on Instagram and aims to help people all over the world adopt a more active lifestyle.

Her program was met with positive reception from her millions of loyal followers on social media. However, one question remained: How should BBG followers adjust their eating patterns to maximize the benefits of the workout plan?

To answer questions about diet and nutrition, Kayla created the corresponding BBG diet. It’s a nutrition guide called the Healthy Eating & Lifestyle Plan (H.E.L.P). 

On this diet, BBG followers eat five meals a day that focus on nutrition to achieve weight loss and improved health. This isn’t your ordinary diet plan, however. There are very few restrictions on the BBG diet because Kayla believes in balance rather than deprivation.

What Experts Say

"The BBG diet is the nutrition component of a popular workout plan. It promotes a variety of nutrient-dense, portion-controlled foods to support weight loss. With no eliminated food groups and an emphasis on overall wellness, experts agree this can be a nutritious eating plan."

Chrissy Carroll, RD, MPH

Background

Kayla Itsines is a former personal trainer and world-famous fitness star. In 2014, she founded her fitness company and partnered with her fiancé, Tobi Pearce. Together, they launched the original 12-week Bikini Body Guide. The BBG diet followed shortly after.

The BBG diet plan takes the form of a 90-page e-book. Followers of the diet can purchase and download the nutrition guide, which goes by the name “H.E.L.P. Nutrition Guide” on the official Kayla Itsines website.

The nutrition guide was created specifically for women aged 16-25 following the corresponding BBG workout plan. As a personal trainer, Kayla’s clients were exclusively women. It was a natural transition for her to focus her international presence on helping women reach their fitness and health goals. 

Throughout the years, Kayla has offered nutrition advice on her social media and blog, but the H.E.L.P. Nutrition Guide is where all information about the BBG diet is compiled into one place.

How It Works

The BBG diet is known for being flexible and non-restrictive. Regardless of your dietary restrictions, the BBG diet can be adjusted to meet your needs. 

The original H.E.L.P. Nutrition Guide contains recipes that include all the major food groups, but a vegetarian version was released to accommodate meatless diets. The e-book contains information on foods to eat, foods to avoid, nutrition education, cooking tips and a 14-day meal plan.

The BBG diet incorporates five of the main food groups: grains, vegetables, fruit, dairy and meat. Animal products can be swapped out for plant-based alternatives if needed.

The day is divided into five meals: Breakfast, snack #1, lunch, snack #2 and dinner. Kayla recommends spacing out the main meals approximately 2.5-3 hours apart.

Since the BBG diet was designed for women aged 16-25, the serving sizes are specific to that demographic. Serving size information in the guide is based on The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating and other Australian Government sources. She recommends that women from other countries refer to their government’s dietary guidelines.

What to Eat

Compliant Foods

  • Vegetables and legumes

  • Fruit

  • Grains

  • Dairy and non-dairy alternatives

  • Meat and meatless alternatives

  • Healthy sources of fat

  • Herbs and spices

  • Lots of fluids

Non-Compliant Foods

  • Alcohol

  • Fast food

  • Animal fat

  • Added sugar

  • Fried and processed food

Compliant

Vegetables and legumes

The BBG diet puts vegetables and legumes in the same category. Followers of this diet are expected to have five servings of this food group per day. The guide mentions salads and stir fries as a good way to fill up on non-starchy vegetables, while canned beans and steamed potatoes can meet your requirement for starches.

Fruit

Any and all fruit is allowed on the BBG diet. You can even enjoy fruit juice on this diet, but make sure it’s fresh. Fresh fruit is also preferred to dried fruit, which usually has added sugar. You can have two servings of fruit per day on this diet.

Grains

Out of all the food groups on this diet, you’re expected to eat the most servings of grains — six servings to be exact. However, the serving sizes are smaller than some of the other groups. For example, ¼ cup of cooked rice is considered one serving of grains, while ½ cup of cooked pasta is another serving. You can also have whole grain bread, cereal and quick oats on the BBG diet.

Dairy and Non-dairy Alternatives

Some of the criticism Kayla’s received on her BBG meal plan is the abundance of recipes that use dairy products. While you can swap out dairy products for non-dairy alternatives, Kayla herself recommends 2.5 servings of yogurt, low-fat cheese and low-fat milk per day.

Meat and Meatless Alternatives

Like dairy, the nutrition guide recommends 2.5 servings of “lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs and alternatives.” Followers can swap out animal products for tofu or legumes. The vegetarian version of the meal plan has even more suggestions and alternatives.

Healthy Sources of Fat

Kayla places a special emphasis on healthy fats. The guide differentiates between sources of fat that have health benefits from those that have health risks. Some healthy fats include avocado, nuts, seeds and olive oil. 

Herbs and Spices

To make food more enjoyable, Kayla recommends adding herbs and spices. She mainly focuses on the herbs and spices that make animal protein taste better, but she also includes a recipe on how to season rice and quinoa.

Lots of Fluids

An important aspect of the BBG diet is staying hydrated. Kayla urges followers of this diet to consume at least 8 cups of water per day. Other fluids, including herbal tea and coffee, are also allowed. Coffee should be consumed in moderation and without heavy cream, however.

Non-Compliant

Alcohol

There’s an extensive education section in the nutrition guide, and one section explains why alcohol consumption should be limited or avoided altogether. Essentially, alcohol is high in calories and has severe side effects that can hinder the progress of your health goals. Kayla never recommends any quantity of alcohol to her clients or followers.

Fast Food

While on the BBG diet, you should avoid fast food entirely. If possible, avoid restaurant food as well. Take-out food is usually higher in calories, and it can be difficult to know what’s actually in your meal. The guide recommends against ordering food but offers some suggestions on what to order in case you can’t avoid this.

Animal Fat

In the guide, animal fat is explicitly listed as an unhealthy source of fat. Instead, lean animal products are recommended.

Added Sugar

When buying packaged food, check the ingredients list for added sugar. The BBG diet doesn’t include foods that contain white sugar, though some of the recipes call for brown sugar. Refined sugar is associated with many health risks, so Kayla recommends satisfying your sweet tooth with fruit and natural sweeteners.

Fried and Processed Food

Deep-fried foods are non-compliant on the BBG diet. Similarly, processed foods like pastries, muffins, candy and so on should be avoided. These foods are usually low in vitamins and minerals, so they likely won’t help you get closer to achieving your health and fitness goals.

Recommended Timing

Followers of the BBG diet can expect to eat five times throughout the day. There are three main meals—breakfast, lunch and dinner—and two snacks.

It’s recommended that you space out your three main meals by 2.5-3 hours and consume plenty of fluids in-between.

Resources and Tips

While Kayla’s e-book provides two weeks worth of recipes and meal ideas, you can get creative with your meals as long as you consume the recommended servings of the five main food groups.

Some BBG-friendly recipes include:

Kayla Itsines also has a fitness blog where she shares even more exercises, tips and recipes.

Her app SWEAT is another resource created by Kayla. Both the workout guide and meal plan can be found on the app.

Modifications

The BBG diet is commonly praised for its flexibility. The original guide isn’t designed with allergies or dietary restrictions (i.e. vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, etc.), but the meals can easily be customized. The vegetarian version of the meal plan is even more allergen-friendly.

The nutrition guide is designed so that no supplements are required. However, a multivitamin is recommended for people who have difficulty meeting all of their food group requirements. If you think you’re at risk of nutritional deficiency (usually for under-eating), you can take a daily multivitamin.

Protein powder is also optional but not required.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Balanced macronutrients

  • Vegetarian- and allergen-friendly

  • Large variety of compliant foods

Cons

  • Designed for women aged 16-25

  • Relies on recommended serving sizes

  • Not reviewed by a health professional

Pros

Balanced Macronutrients

Many diets promote focusing on one core macronutrient. The keto diet, for example, is well-known for its emphasis on high-fat, low-carb meals. The BBG diet offers a balanced intake of all three macronutrients. It also includes the major food groups. Having a healthy relationship with food is important to founder Kayla Itsines, so she encourages her followers to eat a well-rounded diet.

Vegetarian- and Allergen-friendly

By default, the BBG diet isn’t plant-based or allergen-free. However, the nutrition guide offers many substitutions and alternatives to foods that some people may not consume. For example, meat can be swapped for tofu or beans. Another example is swapping cow’s milk for almond milk. There are also alternatives for people who are gluten-intolerant.

Large Variety of Compliant Foods

If you were to make a list of every single food allowed on the BBG diet, it would be extremely long. Because there are so many foods to choose from, the diet is very easy to adopt.

Cons

Designed for Women Aged 16-25

The BBG diet isn’t for everyone. Kayla Itsines’ followers are usually aged 16-25. Therefore, it made sense to her to design the nutrition guide with that demographic in mind. However, this excludes the majority of the population, including men and women over 25. 

Relies on Recommended Serving Sizes

The meal plan specifically relies on serving sizes recommended by the Australian government. It can be difficult to know how many servings you’re consuming without diligent planning and tracking. The serving sizes may also be too much or too little depending on your dietary needs.

Not Reviewed by a Health Professional

BBG materials are written by Kayla Itsines and often her fiancé, Tobi Pearce. Both studied personal training, but neither are registered dieticians. All advice given in the BBG diet come from Kayla’s personal experience. However, her recommendations are in line with Australian government dietary guidelines.

How It Compares

The BBG diet is balanced and varied. Though it started in Australia, it’s comparable to current USDA dietary recommendations. While many diets focus on macronutrient ratios, the BBG diet also prioritizes micronutrients.

USDA Recommendations

Since the BBG diet originated in Australia, Kayla recommends that her international followers refer to their government’s dietary guidelines. For Americans, that means comparing the BBG diet to the 2015-2020 USDA Dietary Guidelines

Age-Sex Group Recommendations

The BBG diet caters to women aged 16-25. The recommendations in the meal plan are intended to apply to all women in that age range. However, the USDA guidelines don’t consider the needs of a 16-year-old female to be the same as a 25-year-old female.

The daily calorie and nutritional goals for women around this age range are divided into two categories in the USDA guidelines: females aged 14-18 and females aged 19-30. Per USDA recommendations, the younger group requires less protein, fiber and overall calories. However, they require more fat, calcium and iron.

Calories

Since the meal plan is tailored for weight loss, Kayla recommends subtracting 500 calories from your daily maintenance calories. She says the average woman in her age range requires approximately 2,100 calories to maintain. To lose weight, this would put her followers at 1,600 daily calories.

The USDA guidelines have different recommendations based on age and sex. They recommend 1,800 calories for females aged 14-18 and 2,000 calories for females aged 19-30. These calorie recommendations are lower than the BBG diet. The USDA recommends 1,500 calories for women trying to lose weight. That’s also lower than what the BBG diet recommends.

Similar Diets

The BBG diet is based on Kayla Itsines’ personal diet as well as what she recommends for people following her workout plans. It aims to improve overall health and encourage followers to reach their fitness goals. Similar health-oriented diets include:

  • Flexitarian diet: Like the BBG diet, a flexitarian diet is known for being flexible and versatile. It also recommends against excessive added sugar and refined carbs. Both followers of the BBG diet and flexitarian diet have the flexibility of getting protein from plant-based or animal sources.
  • Engine 2 Diet: The Engine 2 Diet and BBG diet share many of the same compliant foods. However, Engine 2 is stricter. Animal products are strictly forbidden as well as vegetable oils. Some plant-based recipes are compliant for both diets.
  • Tom Brady diet: Like Kayla Itsines, the Tom Brady diet is based on the athlete’s actual regimen. There are more non-compliant foods than compliant foods, however. This diet is approximately 80 percent vegetables, whole grains and beans, all of which are consumed on the BBG diet. However, dairy is not permitted on the Tom Brady diet.

A Word From Verywell

The BBG diet has been well-received by Kayla Itsines’ followers not only because it’s not restrictive, but also because of the strong sense of community. If you’re looking for a sustainable diet with a support consider, consider the BBG diet.
Overall, the BBG diet encourages balanced eating, regular exercise, getting plenty of sleep and drinking enough water. These are all factors that align with a healthy lifestyle.

Was this page helpful?