4 of Our Favorite Gen Z Fitness Coaches Give Us Their Best Dieting/Exercise Advice

By: Malak Atwa

Disclaimer: these interviews were conducted pre-quarantine, so apply all outdoors-y/gym tips after we’re let out OR check out these coaches’ Instagrams for at home workouts.

It’s amazing how many people from our generation have kickstarted their careers earlier than most, some of my favorites have to be the coaches – their resilience, strength, and drive are admirable. I had a wonderful opportunity to chat with some of your favorite Gen-Z health and fitness coaches and I – of course – went for it. I asked them questions about their diets, exercise regimen, and their own health and fitness journies, it was fantastic. Here’s what they had to say!

Ahd Islam, 20 @ahdagram

Ahd Islam has an athletic background, she was a short distance professional swimmer, but then she later quit. However, she couldn’t live without sports as she finds it extremely therapeutic, so she later started her fitness journey by doing crossfit and then performance training. Now, she coaches and personally trains at @move.egypt while studying Integrated Marketing Communications at AUC.

‘The most important thing and what we’re lacking the most nowadays is consistency. If you have consistency, you have everything! You’re never going to keep working on something and see no results because with hard work always comes a reward. It requires discipline and it’s in all aspects of life so make sure you don’t follow a lifestyle that is extremely different from yours. Start by minor alterations until they become major ones. As for the diets, I just believe that people should follow an intuitive diet, meaning that what works best for a person is not necessarily what works best for another. I follow an intermittent fasting method most of the time. I think people should eat mindfully. I would recommend adding a celery juice to any meal plan because it has great benefits and has drastically improved my immunity!’.

‘I would advise people to walk as much as you can, always take the stairs, drink tons of water, have enough sleep, rack your food (either calories or keep a food journal), find someone who encourages you to workout, find a type of workout that you enjoy (functional training, strength, boxing, calisthenics, pole etc.). There are the dedicated athletes who give their 100%, there are the competitive ones, the funny ones, and the ones who slack off. They can start playing a sport! Like tennis, squash, soccer etc. That’d be nice. I would say what – workout – fits them best, either start with home workouts like those t-25 and insanity, or start personal training to get the basics and then kickoff their fitness journey from there. Food is 70% of the equation, so if you don’t control what you’re eating you won’t see results as much. But most importantly, embrace your imperfections’.

Karim Refaat, 23 @karim_k_refaat

Karim Refaat was a handball player in 2008, played in clubs such as: Gezeira, Zamalek and El geish. He made it to many championships and in early 2013 the idea of him becoming a health and fitness coach popped into his head. He soon realized that that was a good path and started training solo first for 4 years, then he, later on, went to Ahmed Ismail and trained with him @move.egypt , while studying Law at Ain Shams University, and it’s been almost a year since.

‘For anyone that wants to take a step and start exercising and working out, it all depends on their body. For example, if he/she is trying to lose weight; there are certain foods that he is just forbidden to have such as fast food because that’ll cause a series of health problems. Food and exercising go hand in hand in weight loss, it’s 70% food, and 30% exercising. With food, you need to have portion control, you can eat everything, that’s how God intended it to be – that’s why I personally don’t recommend keto diet or intermittent fasting – unless with certain portions. You need to incorporate lots of vegetables, protein, and certain types of fruit in your diet. If you workout every day, then go home and order Mcdonalds, you’re basically throwing all of your hard work away. Instead, you can have, chicken breasts, they are more affordable and more beneficial for you, because it’ll go straight to your muscles. Like I said; you need to eat everything just in certain portions. Something to be aware of is that: results take time. There are results that show in 10 days, there are ones that show in 20 days, and some that can take up to a year. Most people go into this expecting to see results right after the first day, but it takes a lot of hard work, effort, and consistency. It’s all about progress’.

‘Most people aren’t well educated on exercise, so, they need to venture deeper into it. It’s all about trial and error. You need to know about fitness and listen to your own body to figure out what works best for you. Try going to the gym, try crossfit, try as much as you can. Don’t procrastinate, if you get a gym membership you’re basically making a deal with yourself to better yourself, your lifestyle and your body, and by procrastinating your’re essentially betraying yourself. Prioritize yourself and workout, stop putting it off and just do it. Be committed and stay committed.’

‘My advice to people would be to fix your sleeping schedule, it’s very important and affects you a lot. Why sleep late and wake up late when you can sleep early and get a good night’s rest and wake up early to start your day early. You’ll have a lot more time to do so many things and work out too. Don’t be lazy and procrastinate, you can start by very little things like running or signing up with a coach at the gym to learn basic movements, that’s the best start, even though you don’t get to see the results right away, it’s a much better start than crossfit. Be patient with the results. And the most important one: don’t smoke. It ruins every aspect of your life especially your health’.

Zeina Khaled, 21 @zeinaakhaledd

Zeina Khaled was a tennis player for 14 years. During the last few years of school she decided to quit and started gaining weight ever since. She stayed for years losing and gaining a couple of kilos, visiting various nutritionists but it was never continuous or sustained throughout the years. She then started training at @befit.360 and reading more about fitness and nutrition until she decided to get certified in 2019 from a personal training academy from abroad called AFPT.

‘Park your car as far as you can as it allows you to walk for longer distances. Drink 2 large water bottles a day. Strength train 3 times a week. Cut all processed food and drinks. Eat anything that has a face (Fish, Meat, Chicken) or comes from the ground (vegetables and fruits). Focus on the progress rather than what you still haven’t achieved. The more you focus on the negative the higher the possibility of faster burnout. Sleep an average of 8 hours per day at night (it’s no good to sleep 8 hours during day time). Always have someone who is your support system and someone you feel comfortable sharing your progress with. Whenever you feel that you’re hungry go for a green salad with light dressings such as a vinaigrette or balsamic vinegar). Acknowledge whenever you’re having a setback and know that this is a natural process. We don’t always stay on track, it’s perfectly fine to deviate every now and then.’

‘Girls, you need to eat for hormonal purposes. I know detox diets and military diets sound fancy but they’re not sustainable or good for you. Take your time while you’re eating. Stay seated, take breaths between bites, and don’t fill yourself up with sodas during your mealtimes. Something to always remember: PROTEIN PROTEIN PROTEIN! Very important. I know I stressed on protein, but you also need carbs and fats for energy so you cannot eliminate them completely. Buy yourself a pair of pants that’s one or two sizes smaller to be able to physically compare your progress. Stop obsessing over how many grams of rice you ate or how many calories are in an iced latte from Starbucks. Over tracking can be very stressful for us and can actually make us overeat and binge during the weekend. There’s way more to life than counting calories, we over-analyze what we eat when we’re trying to lose or gain weight that we become obsessed with the idea and lose track of other highlights during the day’.

‘ I love training kids and children in general but I also come across a lot of people who aim at losing weight and building strength. You need to have patience, whatever your goal is, it needs patience, consistency, and perseverance, always remember that’.

Yousef Soudan, 20 @yousefsoudan

Yousef Soudan comes from 2 completely polar opposite families. One of them is very into fitness and is very well built, while the other isn’t really into fitness and are genetically prone to gaining weight fast. He started training when he was 15 years old to lose weight and to be more fit. He played squash, tennis, and swimming, and later he fell in love with the gym. He went to the gym for 2 years and applied for @befit.360 in 2018 and got his certification in fitness training. He’s been training for 5 years and consistently training for around 3 years. He personally coaches at BeFit while trying to declare a Business major at AUC.

‘I’m not an extremist, and you’ll see that if you take a look at my social media. I eat out practically every single day. I spoil myself if I want to eat something sweet, I will. I’m always at Starbucks or Espresso lab. I eat out with my friends and family. And because I’m not an extremist, that has helped me continue to live with this lifestyle. I’m not a firm believer in following a specific diet. I have followed a lot of diets and yes, they do work, but I think what people need to understand is that it’s not the diet, it’s the strategy or the basis behind it. Which is basic caloric intake. Calories is the measurement of energy. Caloric maintenance is how many calories your body needs to maintain its current size as well as weight. Caloric surplus is any amount of calories that you eat more than the caloric maintenance which will make you gain weight. And if you take less than the caloric maintenance -called deficit – you will lose weight. The only biological way to lose weight is by having your caloric intake be less than your calorie maintenance intake. This is a deficit. What people fail to comprehend is that fast food doesn’t make you fat, the difference is that its very caloric dense meaning, if you eat a double cheeseburger from Mcdonalds is equivalent to eating 2 full plates of vegetables, so it’s why people think that it makes you gain weight but in reality, it’s just very caloric dense. Another thing that I would also stress greatly is knowing what foods your body adapts well to. For example, my body doesn’t adapt well to high carb intake food because my body retains a lot of water, so it’s just a lot of testing and seeing what works best for you, but more importantly what makes you feel good.’

How to calculate your caloric intake?

22 x (your current body weight in KG) x (your activity factor) 

Activity factor ranges from 1.4 to 2.1. 

1.4 being not active or lightly active and 2.1 being extremely active.

‘My training philosophy is I online train with our coach in Katameya Hills, Ahmed Bayoumi, an amazing guy. But, my training philosophy is always strength/hypertrophy training, meaning; muscle gain. I train to build strength, become stronger, and at the same time, I try to be lean, as I have an adequate amount of muscle, but a small amount of fat, so it is aesthetically pleasing. Most clients, around 35%, want to lose weight, but what they don’t understand is that weight loss has nothing to do with the gym. The gym is for building strength, muscle or even a skill, losing weight is 100% nutrition, but we do work with these clients and do lots of conditioning because it exerts a lot of energy, therefore, it burns a lot more calories so technically it gives the sensation of weight loss, however at the end of the day, weight loss is 100% nutrition. Its calories in versus calories out, it’s a numbers game. I don’t believe in giving straight on diet tips, I’m very flexible when it comes to this, you need to understand the basis behind how you lose and gain weight, therefore, you’ll be able to live your life right. So for example, if I know I’ll be eating steak or sushi at night I’ll lower my caloric intake in the morning so I can fit the calories later that day, or if I have training and college one day then I’ll work out the day before so I’m not totally exhausted. Flexibility is key’.

‘For beginners, you’ve spent years not training, so it’ll be difficult for your body to adapt to the lifestyle if you train 6 times a week. Be logical. Don’t push yourself, yes pushing yourself is good but to an extent, you don’t want to break. Be in the middle like me two to four times a week, two being minimum and 4 being maximum. When it comes to exercising I firmly believe that doing little things consistency is the key. New years resolutions of going to the gym every day, that’s just not sustainable. It’s better to go 3 times a week for 10 months than every single day for a few months. Try to adopt a diet or nutrition plan or flexible dieting, and try to adapt your workout into your daily life. Involve your friends and be involved in your gym’s community. You need to sustain being good, looking good, and most importantly feeling good. You need to make it very sustainable and a part of your daily routine, so that you’ll truly love it’.

You know what’s amazing about this list? Everyone on it is active on social media, with public accounts, and extremely down to earth. If you’ve got questions – all you gotta do is hop into their DMs. You’re welcome, in advance.


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