From his Lean in 15 recipes to his hugely popular books, Joe Wicks aka The Body Coach has become one of the most popular players in the weight loss game. With nearly 2 million followers on Instagram, the title of 2016’s bestselling non-fiction author and ‘before and afters’ that speak for themselves, his formula for shedding and keeping the pounds off has earned him the most devout of fan bases.
So what’s his recipe for success? Whether you’re on the 90 Day SSS Plan , want to tone up or just want to gain a better insight into what he’s advocating, we’ve picked the PT’s key takeaways that we can all benefit from.
1. Prep ‘like a boss’
Life gets manic sometimes and the temptation to pick up something fast and fried on the way home from work can prove pretty hard to resist. So to stop mid-week stresses from throwing you off course, Joe recommends ‘prepping like a boss’ when it comes to both meals and workouts. Whether it’s batch cooking at the weekend or scheduling in time for your HIIT sessions, Joe regards this as an essential first step towards success.
2. Cooking doesn’t have to be complicated
Or cost the earth either. “Life is stressful enough and we simply don’t have the time to spend hours in the kitchen every day,” says Joe. Plus in our experience, the harder it is to recreate a plan’s recipe portfolio, the less sustainable it is. Self-taught, Joe’s approach towards cooking is immensely relatable, hence why his #LeanIn15 meals have amassed such a huge following. With uncomplicated shopping lists, all of their ingredients can be easily found in supermarkets. Plus, his videos are always entertaining to watch, resulting in meals that are both filling to eat and fun to make too.
3. Fat isn’t the enemy
In fact, the subject is a lot more complicated than what we’ve previously been led to believe. For Joe, fats, carbs and protein are each vital pieces in the weight loss puzzle, a fact evident from his emphasis on macronutrient ratios in his eating plan. Not all fats are the same and certain ones can be useful for energy and satiety as well as blood sugar levels and heart health. Highlighting hydrogenated trans-fats found in sugary sweets, pastries and fast foods as the ones to avoid and encouraging exercising extra caution where low fat diet products are concerned, he advises making your meals from scratch where you can to keep the chance of encountering hidden nasties to a minimum.
4. Carbs don’t make you fat
“What actually makes us gain fat is when we eat over and above our bodies’ energy demands,” says Joe in his first book, and his approach towards using the macronutrient to its maximum potential is tied into his training plan. According to Joe, the body mostly uses fats for energy during low intensity activity and stored carbs for energy for high intensity activities. Therefore on non-training/rest days, he advises eating three main meals from a reduced carb menu (which are rich in healthy fats and protein) and two snacks to encourage the body to use fat for its fuel.
On training days, he advises eating two reduced carb meals and one meal from the post-workout carb refuel menu (which is high in carbs and protein), plus two snacks to help restore depleted glycogen stores in the liver and muscles after exercise. It’s all about eating in line with your energy requirements and helping the body use the correct fuel source at the right time - a system he’s found hugely effective for both himself and his clients when combined with a suitable workout regime.
5. Quality is more important than calorie-counting
“You can’t out-train a poor diet,” says Joe - and we agree. Fitness and nutrition need to walk hand in hand in order to lead to long-term change. However before studying nutrition after uni, Joe to his own admission didn’t take his diet as seriously as he did his training. As a result, he felt tired and sluggish and saw that his body wasn’t changing that much despite the amount of time he was putting into his workouts. Times soon changed though and after seeing the impact the right food had on his own body, he applied the same knowledge with his clients and saw equally impressive results.
As his social media following grew, Joe couldn’t help but be struck by the number of messages he was receiving by people who were overtraining and undereating by drastically cutting out calories. Low-calorie crash diets are a fast track to unhappiness in Joe’s book (as well as being a contributory factor to many of the body image issues we’re seeing today). As a result, Joe firmly recommends sticking to a three meal a day program (skipping meals is a no-no), with the focus being more on quality rather than calorie counting to best suit his ‘food for fuel’ approach for training and rest days.
6. Fitness can be fast
HIIT features heavily in Joe’s plan and ranges from cardio to bodyweight exercises. Involving short bursts of maximal effort followed by recovery periods or rest, it’s been shown to increase the amount of calories that you burn afterwards. A different variation of it features at each stage of Joe’s plan: fat-burning HIIT cardio in the Shift phase, lean muscle-building German Volume Training and HIIT in the Shape phase and the more intense Pyramid Resistance HIIT in the Sustain phase. Each session is designed to last no longer than 20 minutes but they are challenging - especially in the last phase. However, Joe takes a commonsensical approach towards it - if you’re a beginner, he advises starting with his videos on YouTube and building up to more intense levels gradually, advocates incorporating other modes of training into your routine (such as yoga), as well as checking in with your doctor first if you've had previous health concerns.
7. It’s okay to fall of the wagon
Even The Body Coach himself has lost his diet and fitness motivation on occasion and not only is that perfectly normal, but it's also an inevitable part of the process. Often posting pictures of himself eating out and enjoying treats on his Instagram, saying goodbye to guilt is as much of a requirement of his ethos as is the next piece of advice.
8. Screw the ‘sad step’
Aka the bathroom scales. In Joe’s opinion, there are much better and motivating markers to measure your success against. “You stand on them every day, and then feel sad when the numbers aren’t moving in the right direction,” says Joe. For him, progress pics and how you feel are much better indicators. When a set has been designed to take into account confidence, sense of achievement, strength and fitness and energy levels, we might consider jumping back on.
Looking for some working week cooking inspo? Check out these fast and filling Joe Wicks recipes .
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