Fitness Fads You Shouldn't Even Bother with in 2018
From the ridiculous to the completely dangerous
People on-the-go will likely look up at the mention of something they can get in an instant—abs in 7 minutes, great arms in 5 anyone? It’s not necessarily because people are lazy; they just like the prospect of a practical option that works with jam-packed calendars (because we like things that work as hard as we do).
It’s easy to fall for empty promises when these fitness and weight loss fads come in enticing packaging and are marketed as the “hot new thing everyone is doing.” But anything that promises impressive, noticeable results in a short amount of time should raise a red flag. If something is too good to be true, it most likely is. From the ridiculous to the completely dangerous, save yourself the frustration and skip these fitness fads altogether:
Clinic-Based Slimming Treatments
Makers of these vibrating platform machines claim to do the work for you.
“Do you want to lose weight or tone and strengthen your body but don't have access to a gym, want to save time on workouts, or maybe normal exercise injures and strains your body? Then [these machines] are for you!” one YouTube infomercial points out. “Experience the incredible effects of whole body vibration technology in just minutes as the [machine] oscillates, causing vibrations through the body. This activates muscles in the body to contract and relax dozens of times per second. The full body workout causes the same reaction that occurs during normal exercise, only at a much faster rate.
Impressive stuff, right? Step on the platform and you’re good to go. These claims, however, are exaggerated. The vibrations that cause the body’s muscles to contract and stretch can only do so much to enhance the appearance of the body even after continued use.
Electronic Ab Belts
This one is easier to fall for. When you see the muscles of the (chiseled) model in the infomercial jerk and contract with this ab-inducing belt on, it does appear to be an effective product. Electronic ab belts transmit electrical currents to stimulate the muscles, causing your muscles to contract enough to complete your 100 crunches for the day.
You feel it work, but does it really? Unfortunately, the answer is no. Electronic ab belts do stimulate the muscles, but not enough to get you six-pack abs. So it’s definitely not enough to shred fat as some manufacturers of these belts claim.
Taking on a teatox is the weight loss craze that proved two things: just how effect Instagram influencers are at marketing and just how alarming it is that dangerous fads can get mainstream attention.
Tea is the latest health drink to be marketed as a detox. Brands carrying these 14-day and 28-day detox teas even have before and after pictures plastered on their Instagram as proof of how effective the teatox is. “150 pounds to 110,” “a 28-inch waist now down to 25” are indeed impressive success stories. But here, a certified nutritionist to bring us all back down to earth: “The weight loss [from detox teas] is primarily, and probably all, water weight,” nutrition therapist Dr. Karin Kratina told Teen Vogue. “If true weight loss occurs, it is because a caloric deficit also occurred from a change in eating habits.”
In some cases, participants of the teatox experienced diarrhea, headaches, vomiting, dizziness and severe cramping. Some even missed their periods. “The stimulants in detox tea could tax the body, causing more cortisol and adrenaline, the 'fight or flight' stress hormones,” said Dr. Kratina. “Sex hormones can take a back seat to stress hormones when the body is going through a difficulty.”
The Shake Weight
Expectations: a “special pulsating dumbbell for shaping and toning upper body” featuring Dynamic Inertia technology that ignites muscles in arms, shoulders, and chest. The Shake Weight increases upper body muscle activity by 300 percent compared to regular weights.
Reality: a funny little anecdote for anyone with an active adult imagination; even the guys at Saturday Night Live couldn’t resist creating a parody.
via Nick Saglimbeni
Fads aren’t only risky when it comes to your health; they can hurt your wallet, too.
It’s perfectly fine to want to invest in clothes for the gym, subscribe to fitness apps and experiment with the latest in sportswear. Go the full monty, by all means, but remember: buyer beware.
In 2012, buyers of Skechers’ Shape-ups had to learn this the hard way. They were led on by celebrity endorsements and some pretty outrageous promises (Skechers claimed that Shape-ups can help people lose weight and tone areas like the buttocks and legs). To make matters worse, the brand was also founded to have supported these claims with doctored medical studies. Skechers had to pay $40 million in order to settle a class action lawsuit.
The cabbage-only diet, the soup-only diet, the green-juice-only diet: these are forms of extreme dieting masked as simple, easy-to-follow weight loss solutions. True enough, limiting diets like these will help you shed off pounds and very happy standing on that weighing scale, but be warned: the rebound effect is real. What you lose rapidly, you gain back just as fast.
Be wary of diets formatted this way: they limit your options, but allow you to eat unlimited quantities of the only food allowed or require you to eat very specific food combinations. These monotonous meal plans and rigid menus not only deprive the body of nutrients but also take the joy out of dieting. It’s easy to overindulge in a post-diet celebration, where you help yourself to all the amazing, delectable food you missed out on—rendering your diet moot.
Effective diets are marked by routine, consistency and sustainability (if you feel you can’t keep up a diet for more than two months, don’t even bother).
Pushing Yourself to the Limit During Spin Class
Taking on a spin class is not the issue. It’s the “no pain, no gain” mentality. We’ve all heard this line before. There’s been a long-standing association between intense workouts and getting the most out of your fitness class or weight loss journey (the more it hurts, the better). We’re certain though you don’t want your long and winding road to fitness to be rerouted to rehab.
Without a doubt spin class makes it to the list of top three workouts with the highest intensity. Considered “the optimal cardio workout,” it can increase fitness levels even in trained athletes. “In every study we’ve done, we’ve seen increases in heart and lung capacity,” Jinger Gottschall, an associate professor of kinesiology at Penn State University, told TIME. “You can get all the intensity of a treadmill or stair-climber without the impact when you take a spin class.”
The risk here is contracting Rhabdomyolysis. It’s what happens when muscles are overworked and deteriorate (it’s essentially the death of muscle tissue). The toxic muscle protein Myoglobin is released into the bloodstream ultimately damages—poisons—the kidney, causing renal failure. It manifests as shaky, wobbly, aching pains,
Save the “power through!” mantra and “go big or go home” mentality for another workout. Dr. Maureen Brogan, an assistant professor of medicine at New York Medical College who conducted extensive research on spinning warns: “If you’re not used to vigorous exercise or to exercising the large lower-body muscles involved in spinning, you can overdo it. People have swollen legs or trouble walking, and sometimes they take aspirin or NSAIDs for the muscle pain, which is the last thing they should do because those can also damage the kidneys.”
No matter how pumped up your instructor is at getting everyone on the same level, no matter how fast the girl next to you is spinning, listen to your body and recognize your limits.
The CICO Diet
Photo: Nina Gonzales / Thrillist
“Calories in, calories out” is the name of the game—rather, the extremely flawed principle. A new spin on calorie-counting, the CICO diet’s only rule is you have to burn off more calories than you take in. Fixated on merely counting their calories, folks on the diet prioritize the quantities of food they eat and forget about the quality.
“If we simply look at calories in versus calories out, we forget about some of the complexities of weight loss, nutrition and our relationships with food,” Aisling Pigott-Jones of the British Dietetic Association told International Business Times UK. “Because your body will then be ‘under-nourished,’ not from an energy point of view, but from a nutritional point of view, any exercise or fitness activities you engage in, will contribute to the negative energy balance. But you won't become fitter, stronger or have any impact on your long-term metabolism.”
In this case, it’s the old school way of doing things that never fails. When it comes to weight loss and keeping fit, regular exercise, smart food choices and opting for a healthier lifestyle are still the way to go.