The one thing Instagram’s most influential fitness star, 26-year-old Kayla Itsines, will never consume

Kayla Itsines, the Insta-famous Australian fitness trainer, has 9 million followers hanging on her every post. While the 26-year-old first started garnering followers thanks to her popular 28-minute Bikini Body Guide (BBG) program (which offered incredible before-and-after photos), she is now a full-fledged wellness icon with a workout app called Sweat, e-books, and coveted branded gear. Itsines was named by Forbes as the most influential fitness star in the world in 2017.

Kayla Itsines has a cult fitness following that won’t be slowing down anytime soon. (Photo: Kayla Itsines via Facebook)

“We have the largest female community in the whole world,” Itsines tells Yahoo Lifestyle about her BBG fitness community. “The reason that it’s been most effective is because it’s about the community and showcases the success of others.”

That’s exactly what’s happening on Friday when I join up with roughly 70 other women at Westfield World Trade Center in New York City for a special “Beauty and Balance” workout event hosted by Itsines. Itsines led the group through her effective seven-minute workout and made Sweat believers of us all.

Itsines certainly practices the methods she preaches. “Without sounding too promo, I do my own program,” she says. “I have to do my own program, because I have to test it and now I’m way ahead of everyone. Now, I’m at week 19. I’m doing BBG Stronger which is a new program that incorporates weights. The first BBG was minimal equipment and high intensity, whereas BBG Stronger incorporates machines from the gym into your workouts.”

Itsines is also all about doing what works best for you, explaining that everyone has their own preferred workout time. Hers is 2 p.m. “I get up in the morning and have breakfast and a snack, then I have my lunch, so by 2 p.m. I’ve had about three meals, I feel good, and I’ve got a bit of energy,” she says. “I can’t work out at night and I can’t work out first thing in the morning. I have to have food in me. People go the gym at 5 a.m. in the morning, and that’s cool if it works for you, but not for me.” 

As far as diet goes, Itsines says she’s more about listening to her body than she is about omission. “In the morning, I get up and have toast, tomatoes, some olives and anchovies,” she says, walking us through a day of typical meals. “Then, I’ll have some fruit or dip with cut up vegetables. Sometimes, I’ll have seasonal fruit. Right now, my grandma is growing figs. At lunch, I have things like sushi or stuffed vegetables, pasta with red sauce, meats, salads, and bread. I always try to have protein, carbs, fats. I try to include everything in my diet. I wouldn’t just eat like a tuna salad. I need a tuna salad and bread.

“The only things I stay away from, because I’m lactose intolerant, are things like cheeses and milks,” she says. “I’ll still eat them, but not the original versions. For dinner it’s the same thing, pastas and vegetables. I have a very Mediterranean diet.” There’s one thing she avoids: Itsines doesn’t drink alcohol.

While she’s out there hustling as an influencer and workout guru, Itsines has a front row seat to a lot of wellness fads that she says she wishes people would just forget about. “People cutting out carbs thinking it’s going to change anything, extreme diets, and excluding food groups,” Itsines notes as some of her biggest wellness pet peeves. “Or when people say they are going gluten-free and they don’t need to. There’s no such thing as a weight loss gluten-free diet. I wish women would focus more on how they feel rather than how they look. They have to be more realistic. When it’s more realistic, you are more likely to stick to it. It’s all about balance and keeping yourself sane.”

“I try not to make everything so hard on myself,” Itsines says about how she keeps herself motivated. “If you get up every day with a mindset where you feel like you need to eat healthy and you need to look a certain way, it can eventually be hard to stay motivated. I get up every day thinking, ‘I need food. I need water. I need to work out.” I have the most realistic lifestyle, and I don’t feel bad about my food choices ever.”

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