I see it all the time. Someone posting about a brand new health trend that's supposed to be the fix to all your problems! Need to lose weight? Just start juicing! Wanna build muscle? Eat TONS of protein. Flabby arms? Target your fat burn! And when these trends ultimately fail our bodies, they leave us feeling like something is inherently wrong with us.
Say it with me, "Just because it's trending, doesn't mean it's healthy!" Let's debunk the top 11 "health" trends that I see my clients fall for.
1. Cutting out entire food groups or macronutrients
Can you say Keto? Now, before I dive into this topic I must preface: if a diet is working for you, and you know you can stay on it long term, then by all means keep it up! However, for 98 percent of the population, your diet will fail. Why? They all generally revolve around deprivation.
Our bodies need all three macronutrients. Too little or too much of any of them can wreak havoc. Each has a very important role in our bodies. Now, certain diets like Keto do work for some people long term. And when I say some people, I mean mostly men. MOST Keto studies have been performed on men. The few studies that have been performed on women show that many end up with hormonal problems after following a Keto diet. I can vouch for this. It wasn't until I started listening to my body's needs and quit cutting carbs that my hormones finally balanced out. This is important for women because hormones are KEY to a healthy body!
Simply eating a well-rounded diet is MUCH easier than deprivation. Actively listening to your body and compassionately responding is a much more sustainable and holistic approach to health. Cutting carbs or fat? Not so much.
2. Eating tons of protein
Carbs get demonized. Fats get demonized. And protein gets put on a pedestal as the best macronutrient to ever exist. However, too much of anything is bad...especially protein. Americans eat far too much protein, which can increase your risk for certain diseases like cancer. Excess protein also doesn't do any favors for your kidneys.
So how much is too much? Well if you want to get technical, anything above 2.2 grams/kilogram of body mass doesn't seem to show any benefits. Which is far less than what most body building websites will tell you (2 grams per POUND of body weight? Yikes). And trust me, protein has be studied...A LOT! Think about how much money goes into athletics. Trainers and dietitians need to know the BEST macronutrient ratios for their athletes. Study after study seems to agree that even for top athletes, there are no additional benefits after consuming about 2.2 g of protein per kg of body mass. What does that mean? Most people are consuming far too much protein, and it's actually HURTING their health. The average person only needs about .7 to 1.2 g of protein per kg of body mass. That mean that as a 150 pounds person, you only need around 80 grams MAX of protein. Which is very easy to get without spending money on protein shakes.
3. Detox pills/trends
Your body is detoxing right now. It's constantly getting rid of things that it doesn't want. Now you can absolutely support your body's detoxification process. For instant, making sure you're getting adequate fiber is essential for proper detoxification. I'm also not opposed to taking certain, specific supplements to aid in the detox process. However, it must start at a lifestyle level before you start spending money on "detox pills." If you're not supporting your body through diet, physical activity, and proper sleep, detox pills aren't going to get you far. Not only that, many detox pills are a scam. Especially if you want to detox on a cellular level, which is an extremely intricate process that researchers don't even fully understand. However, we do know that if you want to detox on a cellular level, you need to be in a calorie deficit.
If you want to truly detox your body, start with your lifestyle. Not with supplements.
4. Eating all raw foods
Again, too much of anything is not good. Raw foods do come with their benefits. Certain nutrients aren't oxidized during the cooking process, and less carcinogens are produced (carcinogens are produced when anything is cooked at too high of temperatures). However, certain nutrients are released via the cooking process. Meaning you could be missing out on key nutrients when consuming foods raw. In addition, consuming only raw fruits and vegetables can eventually take a toll on your digestive system-especially if you already have a digestive problem like IBS. Raw food is harder to break down than cooked. Therefore, it's better to consumer moderate amounts of both raw and cooked foods.
5. Fasted cardio is better
Let me be clear. Fasted cardio received fame in the same way Keto did. When you're in a fasted state, your body must burn something other than carbohydrates for energy. Most people believe that fat is then burned in place of carbs. However, what many don't know is protein is also used in place of carbs, which is one of the last things you want to burn for energy.
In addition, just because you're burning fat for energy, doesn't mean you're burning more overall calories, and it doesn't mean you're reaching your goals any faster. So what's the solution? Stop trying to "hack" exercise and just start moving in a way that feels good for your body! You will start to CRAVE movement and your health will improve!
6: You should monitor and control everything you eat
Unless you're trying to become a professional body builder or a professional athlete, you don't need to monitor and control everything you eat!
If you are just trying to feel better and more confident, you should AVOID counting how many calories you eat and burn. It's restrictive, unsustainable, and can actually lead to eating disorders.
Your body is the most powerful, least expensive and BEST dietary experimentation lab in existence, and is has innate wisdom beyond any diet out there. It is constantly telling you what you need to be healthy. You can actually make healthy a habit by getting in tune with your body! You must actively listen to your body, accurately interpret its message, and compassionately respond! Then you will naturally eat and do what your body needs to find your healthy set-point weight.
7: You can target fat burn
You can't target fat loss. The way your body loses fat is based on genetics and lifestyle...not because you did pushups to burn arm fat. You CAN target muscle growth, which can make certain body parts appear more toned. BUT if you aren't putting in other healthy practices to lose fat, you likely won't get the results you want.
8. Load up on juices, smoothies, and protein shakes
We've already talked about how too much protein is a bad thing. And you're likely wasting money on that protein shake. Not to mention many plant protein powders have toxic levels of heavy metals.
But smoothies and juices can be a bad choice for a different reason: TOO MUCH SUGAR! Most smoothies and juices I see on the market today are LOADED with sugar. Like, more sugar than a can of soda! Not to mention, by the time you buy that pre-made smoothie in the grocery store, it's lost the majority of its nutrients to oxidation.
So what should you do instead? Make your own! Focus on veggies rather than tons of fruit.
9. pH drinks alter your blood's pH
Your body's blood pH is one of the most highly monitored systems in your body. Why? Because if your blood pH dips out of homeostasis (which is a VERY small window), you could die! If your blood pH could change so easily, people would be dropping dead left to right by eating lemons.
10. You can lose weight with "X" supplement
If your supplement promises amazing weight loss results, don't buy it. And even if it DOES work to help you lose weight, as soon as you stop the supplement you will gain all the weight right back because you didn't make any behavior changes. If supplements truly helped people lose weight, Elon Musk would not be the richest man in the world. The richest person in the world would be the one who invented a weight loss pill that actually works long-term...and everybody would be using that supplement.
Supplements CAN be used in a targeted way to help reach certain goals or manage certain symptoms, but they should never be used as a replacement for lifestyle choices. Supplements have the potential to help you when used in the right way + when you work with a professional, but they cannot cure you.
11: "Natural" means healthier
Natural doesn't mean anything. The regulations on what the word "natural" means on products are extremely poor. You have no idea if "natural" flavors are better than "artificial," because companies aren't required to say what those "natural" ingredients are.
Natural just means it came from the earth. It doesn't mean that it isn't highly processed. Ethanol, the thing we put in gas, comes from corn. But you wouldn't drink ethanol just because it's "natural."
I honestly avoid things that say "natural flavors" or "natural colors." And just because a package says "natural" doesn't mean I assume it's healthy.
Remember, just because it's trending, doesn't mean it's healthy!