Body Coach review

Another in our series of mainstream diet reviews, looking at the benefits and pitfalls of popular diets and talking about how fitnaturally's approach differs.
The Body Coach background
The Body Coach is essentially Joe Wicks but is the name of his UK diet and fitness programme. Wicks was originally a teaching assistant but went on to become a personal trainer and then to study sports science at university. He’s now a millionaire TV presenter, author and fitness coach.

He set up Body Coach social media accounts in 2014 to get quick and easy recipes and fitness ideas out to the world, and soon had a following of over a million people, further bolstered by his book Lean in 15, which was a UK bestseller in 2015.

300 people sign up to his Shape, Shift and Sustain plan, or the ‘SSS Plan’, every day. Its big attraction is the idea that you can ‘eat more and move less’ and still lose weight.

Lose weight the calmer way with fitnaturally

How does the Body Coach work?
When you sign up you fill in a lifestyle questionnaire and send in your weight and body measurements along with photos of yourself in your pants. You’re assigned a ‘support hero’ who you can email with queries, and a few days later you’re sent ‘Cycle one’ of three, of a personal eating and exercise plan. It’s a 50+ page document of instructions including a glossary explaining such words and abbreviations as ‘Ketogenesis’ and ‘BCAAs’.

The notes say:

“Cycle one is all about igniting a new fat burning with intense cardio”

The eating plan gives written instructions for several meal options, without pictures, for three main meals and two snacks each day, with one carbohydrate meal timed close to exercise. You’re allowed one ‘diet drink’ each day although Wicks explains that they aren’t the best dietary option. Breakfasts are based around protein such as salmon, meat, eggs or yoghurt in order to keep blood sugar steady.

Additionally Wicks recommends MyProtein supplements (soy, emulsifier, sweetener) along with multivitamin pills, Omega 3 pills and vitamin C pills.

Alongside the meal options the plan tells you to train at maximum heart rate for around 25 minutes 4 to 5 times a week, to help ‘melt fat away’ and raise metabolism. It recommends that you do this fasted, in the morning although you’re free to do it at any time you like. It gives youtube links to suggested workouts. After each workout you’re encouraged to have a protein shake made by MyProtein.

Cycle two is the muscle building phase. There are considerably more carbs and the focus is on weight training combined with the preceding HIIT workouts. There are four 1-hour workouts a week with intense amounts of lunges and squats. Rest days are carb-free and you make up your own meals closely following amounts given for protein, fat and carbs, there are no recipes.

“Cycle two is all about shaping the body.”

Cycle three gets more hardcore with harder HIIT sessions combined with more intense training and a reduction of fat in the diet as well as a reduction in carbs, you’re only allowed them after a workout.

“Cycle three is about sustaining your new body shape.”

At the end of the three months you send in your ‘in-pants’ photos to illustrate your transformation and are sent a graduation certificate. And there it ends unless you sign up to the rolling Shape and Shift plan, which gives you 20 recipes, 1 new workout, supplement advice and continued access to the facebook group.

The diet and exercise are highly linked and reliant on each other.
How do you access the Body Coach?
You sign up online and are sent your three plans one at a time, once a month. There is a facebook group where you can join other Body Coachees on the journey.
Price
The 90 day cycle is just under £100. The rolling Shape and Shift plan for people who have completed the 90 days is £19.99 a month.
Maintain your new body for life with a simple weekly plan full of easy real food. Just £20 a month by qualified nutritionists.
Benefits
Wicks doesn’t believe in calorie counting, has some great recipes (in fact nearly every ex-Body-Coachee I asked said "I tried it but now I just use the recipes"), encourages cooking from scratch and recommends three meals a day with two snacks, albeit only with carbs after training. I like the way Wicks takes a fairly serious stance on alcohol, it's allowed but discouraged, just like at fitnaturally.

He doesn’t promote the diet as a quick fix and is open and honest about you needing to put the work in. HIIT workouts are a time-efficient way of exercising, although risky, and there’s flexibility around when you do them. If you follow the plan it works, like most diet regimes.
Drawbacks
It can be daunting. There’s reams of written information, not very clearly set out. It’s fairly demanding and prescriptive too. It may not suit people with very busy lives as there’s a fair bit of planning involved, and the meal options might not suit partners or family.

Ingredients can work out expensive with the diet coming out as the most expensive to follow on ITV’s ‘Save Money, Lose Weight’, although that was disputed by lots of the diet's followers. Although before I wrote this I asked some fitnat clients who had done Body Coach about the cost and they confirmed it was more expensive and much harder to follow than fitnaturally.

HIIT is not the safest form of exercise for unfit people, pushing the body to the max 4-5 days a week is pretty risky unless you're already used to exercise and have built up a solid base of fitness.

One of our clients said:

“Meals – loved a lot of the recipes and again, still use them today. However, I ended up repeating the same meals in the same week – you chose meals depending on what exercise you did and when during the day you did it. This, coupled with the supplements, was very overwhelming for me.”

And another:
"I've had friends have to give up on body coach as they get injured and can't exercise. The food and exercise are so closely linked."

HOW FITNATURALLY DIFFERS FROM BODY COACH

fitnaturally is simpler and less intense
Of all the mainstream diets Body Coach is probably the most similar to fitnaturally in that it’s based on real food (albeit fitnat does not push supplements or protein shakes). But fitnaturally is calmer, it’s about change for life and happy healthy eating without talk about macros, amino acids and so on. It’s about loving food and learning how to eat the right amount naturally, by tuning in to your instincts. fitnaturally encourages people to use the outdoors for health and fitness, promoting walking, learning to run, and cycling in the fresh air, both for their physical and mental health benefits, and convenience.
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fitnaturally is health focused
Its ethos is based on great nutrition and health, weight loss is the by-product. fitnaturally focuses not directly on body weight but on achieving a healthy level of body fat and maintaining it for life with real and tasty food, healthy joyous eating and regular enjoyable activity. fitnaturally promotes whole foods, not supplements; just whole and delicious foods in the right amount to achieve great health. fitnaturally doesn’t believe in surrounding eating with numbers of macros, it believes in eating by healthy instinct, and nurturing that instinct in its clients by working closely with them.

There are no intense exercise regimes, instead people are encouraged to be generally more active and to get their heart rate up a few times a week in the outdoors by fast walking, cycling or running. fitnaturally writes safe personal running plans for anyone who wants to take up running or improve.
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fitnaturally is calm and natural
It supports eating three good meals a day and discourages snacking, so that people are nicely hungry for meals and can live their lives in-between.

fitnaturally helps people to reconnect with their kitchens and to rediscover the love for choosing quality (not necessarily expensive) ingredients and to use cooking as relaxing downtime. It encourages families to eat together at the table and benefit from the shared love of good food and conversation.
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Eat three gorgeous meals every single day and live your life in-between with a weekly eatnaturally plan from just £5 a week.
fitnaturally continually educates and supports
fitnaturally educates people about correct portion sizes, timing of meals and how to get all the nutrients they need. It reconnects them with natural hunger and fullness feelings so they learn instinctively what their body actually needs. It works closely with people to overcome emotional eating and other types of disordered eating so they can break free from that burden and enjoy food without connecting it to feelings.

People are encouraged to make and cook easy healthy and quick meals and to make meal times special and, if possible, sociable. Rather than seeing food as something that causes weight gain or loss it’s seen as something that nourishes, satisfies and brings people together.

Its clients are encouraged to ask questions about healthy eating and nutrition and in 2018 there will be a fitnaturally Graduate scheme whereby people can reach a certain level of recognition for their progress, nutrition knowledge and healthy behaviours.
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fitnaturally is tailored
As well as its eatnaturally for everyone generic meal plans fitnaturally provides fully bespoke nutrition tailored to the individual’s lifestyle and goals. You get a weekly plan with the foods you love and none that you don’t. We help you choose from restaurant menus, juggle food around your work and social life, plan your children’s meals, fuel your exercise and sport or help you recover from illness. Our bespoke plans are best sellers.
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fitnaturally suits a huge range of people
fitnaturally works for single people to couples to families, it’s not something that’s done in isolation but a way of life for everyone, from all walks of life. There are also specialist plans for diabetics, sportspeople, couples trying to conceive, pregnant women, students and families, as well as variations for vegetarians and vegetarian/fish eaters within all those plan types.

Its plans are used right across the world from Australia to New York to Colorado to Italy to Thailand to New Zealand, as well as across the UK.
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fitnaturally is highly sustainable
It’s a change of lifestyle, for always, rather than being a defined time period of intense focus. Therefore it has to be enjoyable, inspirational and something the person will eventually be able to do without thinking. fitnat is how people used to eat when most people were slim and didn’t even know about macros, but it’s better because it’s more varied and exciting!
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fitnaturally is amazing value for money
With fitnaturally, people get meal plans written by qualified nutritionists, and continual support from the same. They can email, call, Skype or text their nutritionist and they get free nutritionist advice in the client-only facebook support group as well as support and encouragement from peers. Plans start from just £20 a month with no joining fee. People tell us they save lots of money on their grocery bills.
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fitnaturally gives qualified and safe fitness advice  
fitnaturally is fully qualified to advise on and deliver exercise and fitness training and provides online plans to suit individuals, with safe and effective exercise and activity. It also encourages people to be generally more active by taking just ten minutes here and there during the day to walk or move however they can, with no huge expectations beyond good health. People learn to love being outdoors; stepping outside brings easy health benefits and is free! 
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So, finally, does the Body Coach work?
It helps people to lose weight, get fitter and to break away from calorie counting. It encourages eating food cooked from scratch and yes it absolutely works if the plan is followed, like all diets.

fitnaturally’s diet works in the short and long term because it addresses all aspects of health and healthy eating and educates people about great nutrition, enjoyment of good food, and activity, as well as encouraging good sleep and reduction of stress.

It suits everyone, not just the dieter, because it’s good old fashioned healthy eating and the food is gorgeous, with loads of choice. It’s similarly priced but offers far more long term value and simplicity.
Focus on health and enjoyment, and weight loss will come naturally, with an eatnaturally plan.
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