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Meal Prep + Kayla Itsines 2-Week Vegetarian Meal Guide Review

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Three days after Christmas I’m sitting around my boyfriend’s parents’ house waiting for the others to wake up. My laptop is dead because I forgot the charger so I’m trolling through the Instagram explore page, feeling the after effects of a week without exercise (and with many, many Rolo pretzels), and trying to numb the searing pain of extra Christmas cash burning a hole in my pocket. It’s a dangerous trifecta–a perfect storm for an irrational online purchase.

In my scrolling I come across Kayla Itsines (pronounced it-SEEN-us, I just learned), an Australian Instagram fitness celebrity with nearly 2 million followers. TWO MILLION. That’s almost two-and-a-half times the size of Charlotte. Who is this girl? I dig a little deeper and discover she’s a personal trainer who started uploading before and after transformation photos of her clients (not to mention selfies starring her sick abs) and gained a massive following of girls who want to train with her (and look like her). Not surprisingly, she buoyed it into a business and now sells online workout and meal plans for instant download.

And so that’s how I landed myself a copy of the Bikini Body Guide (BBG) Exercise Training Plan and Healthy Eating and Lifestyle (HEALTH) for Vegetarians on that fateful morning of seemingly innocent Instagram scrolling.

I’ll tell you guys about the workout plan but want to wait until I’m done (10 more weeks). For now, I’ll just recap the two-week meal guide (which I just finished yesterday).

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Let’s just cut straight to the chase: I LOVE IT. This plan is so abundant and straightforward and free from the bullshit you see from a lot of trainers that eat diets consisting of nothing but egg whites and steamed vegetables. You will eat bread and pasta and cheese. The trick is it’s all reasonably portioned. (How novel!)

Despite being just 1,600 calories, I find this meal to be really generous–not just in quantity but in frequency. Your day is made up of three meals and two snacks so you’re really eating like every few hours. I can get down with that.

There’s no secret here–no “bad” foods to avoid, no “magic” superfoods to inhale. There also aren’t any gross weird sugar-free desserts or anything. It’s just whole grains, healthy fats, lean protein and plenty of fresh produce.

A negative for me (that was no problem to work around) was that this guide includes fish for the first few days. I just made swaps for beans, tofu, tempeh, nuts, etc. whenever I needed to. Not the end of the world.

So how is this any different than how I was already eating if I already maintain an arguably healthy vegetarian diet? Several things:

  1. I don’t measure out food or count calories. That kind of portion control has never been my thing, but with this exercise the last two weeks I’ve seen that I was actually over calculating quantities on important things like nuts and other proteins (thinking I was eating plenty when I wasn’t) and toooootally underestimating quantities of produce (eating entirely too much). This, I think, had me eating WAY too much fiber (namely entire bags of broccoli and brussels sprouts usually drowning in olive oil) and not nearly enough proteins and grains. I know I always say you can never have too many fruits/veggies, but I didn’t realize how uncomfortably bloated I was from all that fiber until I reigned it in with this plan. It’s actually really easy to get all your servings in (and then some) without eating the whole bag of broccoli in one sitting. Noted.
  2. I don’t eat this frequently. I snack sometimes but not consistently or strategically. Like clockwork, this plan plops the right snack in your hand at just the right time. When you start to think, “Hm I’m kind of hungry…”, boom–eat a snack.
  3. I don’t eat so many different things. This is a pro and a con with this plan. Pro because it’s awesome to not eat the same batch of lentils lunch and dinner for five days straight BUT it’s also nice to not have to prep a million different things. None of Kayla’s recipes ever repeats itself and it’s designed for everything to be consumed in one meal (some dinners are made for two) with no leftovers the next day. This took some getting used to (making a tiny batch of rice for one meal, for example, instead of enough for 7 days), but I’ve gotten into a good rhythm with Sunday meal prep and I LOVE having different stuff to eat all week.
  4. I LOVE DESSERT. Unlike some others I’ve seen, this plan doesn’t work in desserts or bother trying to “healthify” any desserts for you. You just don’t get them. Had I not just come off of No Sugar November, this may have come as a shock but I was pretty ok with it.

SO… without giving away any of her secret sauce, the following list of food (though not pulled from an actual day) is not unlike what you’d eat on a day on the plan:

Meal 1: eggs and toast

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Snack 1: green smoothie

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Meal 3: tofu hummus wrap

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Snack 2: yogurt and berries

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Meal 3: lentil burger and cucumber salad

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Given that I did study nutrition, you are perhaps thinking, “Shouldn’t this not be news to you?” And it’s really not. BUT… knowing and doing are two different things. Like anybody (I think?) I sometimes go through cycles of hot and cold with my own health and at the time of purchasing this guide was in a bit of a rut. I wouldn’t call it unhealthy necessarily but I’d call my food boring and repetitive and borderline depressing. That’s what has been so refreshing about having a plan to follow. It was a great return to what I love, which is cooking and eating and trying new things.

So that’s it. I’ll be back to eating on my own again but I’ll definitely hold on to a lot of the principles of this guide, including the strategic snack, the smarter portioning and definitely the food prep.

So about that meal prep…

It takes me 2-3 hours on Sunday to get all my food together. This is a luxury for some and a burden for others, I know. I am lucky to have the time and I love it because being in the kitchen is my hands down favorite thing. At a minimum I like to get my five lunches together for the week and prep any produce for easy snacking. If there are some complicated (or longer cooking time) dinners, I’ll get them going, but I usually have plenty of time in the evenings to make them the day of.

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That’s it! Ugh. I dread sharing stuff like this because people are so opinionated, but I love it and it has been positive for me and I think others would also benefit from it. Let me know if you have questions!

I’ll fill you in on the workouts in a couple months…

Larabar Giveaway Winner

The winner of the Larabar Giveaway was Jenna! I’ll email you!

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38 Comments

  1. Emma Emma

    As a naturally curious (nosy) person I love when people share stuff like this.

    Thank you!

  2. Stephanie Stephanie

    I also find my health journey progressing in a nonlinear way–I often feel like it’s two steps forward, one step back. Thanks for the bit of info about this plan. I might want to explore it since I sometimes get in food ruts; glad it’s working out for you!

  3. Ali Ali

    I finished the first 12 week exercise plan and am planning to start the second 12-week guide this week. I definitely saw a difference in my physique (especially more definition in my abs) but did not follow the meal plan while I went through the first guide. Now I’m thinking I’ll incorporate it into the second guide – thanks for sharing!

  4. I love this review! I bought the BBG and original omnivore diet plan back in July. I injured my wrist doing a burpee with too much of a carefree spirit and hurt my wrist which sidelined me for awhile. But now I’m back doing the updated version with the pretraining weeks and really enjoying it. I only made it to week 5, but I felt like a whole new person. Can’t wait to see your review on the workouts in 10 weeks!!

  5. 1600 seems kind of low… for anyone who is more than completely sedentary and I know her plan has some intense cardio in it.
    are you trying to lose weight?
    Or…if that is too personal to answer, I guess what I am aiming at it how does the plan incorporate a client’s personal lifestyle/weight/goals to determine their calorie needs? Or is it just a one plan fit’s all thing.

    Mentioning this in a future review would be great!

    • Katie Katie

      The plan was designed for weight loss based on an average caloric requirement for women 16-25 exercising 3-5x a week at 2100 calories. To lose an average 1 pound/week at that same activity level, she created the food plan at a 500 calorie deficit–or 1600 calories. 1600 calories is not an uncommon average level for a weight loss plan, but I’d really never recommend going below that (barring extreme case-by-case circumstances). In terms of what we learned in school, this is approach spot on. And while I was always very opposed to calorie counting and lower-calorie plans, this one has been eye-opening for me.

      Everyone is different and no one meal plan works for every body and lifestyle, which is what makes any sort of nutrition advice that’s not delivered one-to-one very difficult. If you didn’t need/want to lose weight, you could simply add greater quantities of the foods laid out in the plan, or add a couple more snacks to hit a different calorie level. But that of course requires at least some base knowledge of nutrition, which I have which is why this is not an issue for me.

      Personally no, I did not set out to lose weight and I didn’t. (I set out to “get fit” which is this elusive thing people say when they want to “tone up” and “gain muscle”.) It could be because I don’t follow it exactly (for example, I have a latte every afternoon and handfuls of assorted other snacks throughout the day when I’m cooking and things like that, which would land me around 1800-1900) or because I don’t consider the workouts to be strenuous. They are only about 30 minutes each, which is significantly less than I am used to working out. (Something about the way they are designed and laid out throughout the week, though, has proven very effective for me.)

      Another thing that I think contributes to satiety with me on this plan has less to do with the calories and more to do with what I’m eating and when. This plan has reintroduced eggs and dairy for me much more regularly than what I would normally eat, and I think that plays a big role. It is also timed for smaller meals more frequently, which I think also keeps me feeling satisfied.

      I did not feel hungry or deprived once, but that is only my experience. Hope that helps!

  6. I was going to say something similar to Missy- 1600 calories seems really low and that is without doing the exercise portion! no wonder the transformation photos are so dramatic (and most of them are a bit scary- none of the women/girls seemed to need to lose weight in the first place!) I probably have a big appetite already but i would be gnawing my arm off on that many calories.

    • Ellis Ellis

      I am curious about this and Missy’s comment too! Since you have a nutrition degree I am interested to know your thoughts.

      • Katie Katie

        Thanks for the question! You can see the response to Missy!

    • Katie Katie

      Thanks for the question. You can see the response to Missy!

  7. JennyV JennyV

    I like it – simple and effective! Appreciate the review

  8. I just started week 5 of her workouts and they are awesome!!! I have looked at buying her nutrition guide and keep going back and forth on it. I feel like I have a pretty good handle on what I should and shouldn’t eat…but like you said, knowing and doing are two different things! Thanks for sharing your thoughts on it!! I think I may go for it.

  9. Love the review! I follow Kayla and her insane body on IG and have considered buying the BBG. How does it compare to TIU?

  10. Anja Anja

    Hi, i was wondering, since i am a vegetarian as well.. Are there a lot of meals with beans and lentils in the food guide? I would really want to start the 12 week program, but a little scared i can’t follow the complete menu because of my food intolerance for these products. Are the beans and lentils on the menu on a daily basis?

    • Katie Katie

      Hi Anja! There are definitely lots of beans and lentils in here (not necessarily daily), but I’m thinking you could probably make swaps based on your restrictions. Out of the 70 meals + snacks, I think there are 7 meals with lentils and 5 meals with beans. (That was on a quick count so sorry if I missed any.)

  11. Kirsten Kirsten

    Hey Love!

    Thanks for the review, just curious on if there really are Vegan options for each meal in her guide? I know i read somewhere about there being Vegan options, but just curious to know from someone who owns its already!

    Thanks,
    Kirsten

    • Emma Emma

      Hey Kirsten,

      I have the vegetarian meal guide and there are four completely vegan days. Kayla has also included a table which shows you how to swap ingredients say cows milk or cheese out for vegan options which means you can easily make each meal vegan.

      • Katie Katie

        Thanks, Emma! Ditto this…

    • Katie Katie

      To follow up on the other answer… I was super frustrated to see fish in this guide, but on the other hand there are also full vegetarian days and also full vegan days. I’ve always had to sub things in and out of recipes to make them vegetarian or vegan so in the end I didn’t find it difficult to make the swaps. I’m thinking about pulling together full month meal plans that follow this “strategic snacking” style but make it all vegetarian with vegan options so I’ll keep you posted!

  12. Anna Anna

    I’m about to buy the workout and nutrition plan so I really appreciate your review! Just one question that’s nagging me, were the food measurements in metric or American? I’m not sure my brain can handle converting from metric for every meal!

    • Katie Katie

      HA valid concern… Metric but she usually has the American measurement right next to it. Like: 60g rolled oats (1/2 cup)

  13. courtney courtney

    Great post. Something about her workout just seems accessible, no nonsense, and achievable. I’m excited. Also concerned about buying the meal guide. My main concern is grocery shopping, though. Is there a shopping guide? Do you end up having to buy more than you can use? Can you please speak to this?

    Thanks!

  14. Liz Liz

    I heard that the nutrition plan only gives you seven days, is that worth the 60? I tried emailing them asking about the meal plan but have yet to hear a response. Thanks!

    • Katie Katie

      It’s a 14-day meal plan with 3 meals and two snacks each day (so 70 “meals” total). Not every meal is complex and in need of a recipe (for example, a yogurt + berries snack doesn’t need a recipe), but she does have 20 of the more involved original lunch/dinner recipes at the end.

      I think the value of it depends on whether or not you feel like you need/want any guidance with food. For me, none of it was shocking news but having it all laid out was a really nice change of pace from my routine. And while I’m not still following the guide a month later, I have absolutely held onto the 3 meals + 2 snacks frequency model and it has had a huge impact on my energy level. That alone has been very worth it to me. But if you feel like you have a strong enough food/nutrition background that you can just hear me say eat “3 meals + 2 snacks” and then felt comfortable mapping out your own meals, then no, you definitely don’t need to purchase the guide. (Although there are some great recipes in there I wouldn’t have thought of myself!)

      Hope that helps!

  15. nadine nadine

    Nice Review! So I’m not a vegetarian or vegan, but I try not to eat too much meat, I often go days without it. I have been thinking it would probably be easier to do the vegetarian guide and add in meat as I felt like it… but I’m not a fan of tofu or fake meat. I know you didn’t do the regular guide, but can anyone give any thoughts on this? Is there a lot of tempeh, or is it mostly beans, fish, etc?

    Thank you!

  16. Is it possible to also substitute the egg in the recipes? I’m a vegetarian but I don’t eat fish or eggs, so being able to substitute both of those would be quite helpful for me. If I could substitute could you give me some suggestions as to what I could use instead?

  17. Ram Grewal Ram Grewal

    What would you suggest once I have finiahes Kayla’s two week meal plan– can i repeat the plan again :3 i really wouldnt know how to make my own plan

    • Katie Katie

      You could definitely repeat the plan, but it might get boring. Personally, I’ve just maintained the schedule of breakfast, snack 1, lunch, snack 2, dinner that Kayla laid out in her plan but with my own foods. Maybe I’ll make some meal plans you can use! 😉

  18. Heidi Heidi

    Hello! I’m considering buying the workout plan and am wondering from a real perspective (yours!) if you found it effective. The before and after pictures on Kayla’s Instagram look so amazing I sometimes wonder if that’s everyone’s experience or if she posts only the best pictures … I’m wondering what your take is?

  19. Rose Rose

    Hi Katie,
    First of all I really like your blog 😉
    I Was wondering, after a few months of the HELP vegetarian menu guide, what do you think of it? Did it help you loose some weight?
    Thank you 🙂

    Rose

  20. DJ DJ

    Whats the actual macro count on this meal plan?

  21. Lou Lou

    Hey there!
    First of all, great Review! But i have a tiny question concerning the meal prep! Did you really prep the entire meals for the whole week? Did the meals still taste good? I never did any mealprep, so I cant really wrap my head around the idea of cooking a meal on sunday and eating it on friday. But I would really like to try, since I do not have the time to cook every Meal on Kaylas Plan fresh. Thanks!

  22. Lindsey Lindsey

    How did you convert the measurements to American for the first 14 day meal plan? I just bought the plan and was curious if there was an easier way to convert. Thanks!

    • Katie Katie

      Hey Lindsey! Whenever I have recipes in metric I just type the conversion into Google and it’ll calculate it for you. Kind of tedious but that’s how I do it.

  23. Nina Nina

    Hey:) thank you for the review:)

    When you followed the 14 days of meals, did you find that there was a lot of food waste in the 14 days? For example: You should eat 25 g avocado on day one, but you won’t get to use the rest of it before day 5. I really want to follow it, but I don’t want to waste a lot of food and I don’t have the money to buy a lot of different foods that won’t get used

    Hope you can help:)

    • Carol Carol

      I was also wondering this as well! I think there is a typo in the guide that I have, as it says “25 avocado”. Maybe I’m just not cooking-smart, but I was a bit confused as to what this meant at first..

  24. Emma Emma

    Simply wonferful! Thanks for sharing – I have been looking for a glimpse into the veg plan before I buy. This pretty much tips the scales for me!

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