Fads are everywhere, people are often like sheep – latching onto ideologies and techniques that others use, even when they’re unsure of the benefits.
In the fitness industry there’s many, many fads, but 5 particular fads are apparent every single day everywhere I look.
Before changing anything related to your current regime – be it diet, supplementation or training related I recommend doing your own research and trialling it. Don’t be so quick to make big changes, especially when what you’re implementing doesn’t match your end state goal.
If you want to be a power lifter and set records in your town you’re shooting yourself in the foot and limiting your results if you jump on the low carbohydrate bandwagon.
The technique (or in this case, fad) doesn’t align with your end state goal. If it doesn’t align why would you follow it?
Does low carbohydrate dieting actually work? Have you found any proof before jumping straight into it?
Don’t adopt the herd or groupthink mentality like the majority of people when they see others performing an exercise or style of regime in the gym.
Are you following any of these 5 fitness fads?
1. Following A Low Carb Diet
Fats used to be seen as evil, ‘eat fat and you’ll get fat!’ luckily enough this ridiculous myth is no longer preached (now we know that excess fat is due to a caloric surplus, which can be induced by any macronutrient group – be it protein, carbohydrates or fat).
Now carbohydrates are seen as pure evil.
“follow a low or no carbohydrate diet and you’ll find yourself losing 5kg in a week!”
Yep, that claim isn’t necessarily false – you’ll lose weight fast during your first week or so when following a low or no carb diet because water molecules bind to carbohydrates – by dropping your carbs you’re going to be storing less water, you’d be surprised at how much water your physique is holding if you’re used to consuming carbs upon carbs.
This drop is short lived, after a week or so you’ll be losing weight at a steadier pace.
So if a low carb diet reduces stored water weight and has you dropping it fast why shouldn’t you follow a low or no carb diet?
Performance and energy.
If you’re constantly sedentary sure, you can probably get away with little to no carbohydrates because you’re not expending energy.
On the other hand if you’re trying to build a physique carved of granite, perform a top level in your chosen sport or increase your cardio conditioning your performance is going to go down the drain without carbohydrates.
If fast weight loss is all you’re after then low carb may be for you.
If you value your performance, don’t want to lose muscle mass and want stable energy levels I recommend keeping your carbs and forgetting the low/no carb fad diet that plagues fitness magazines and weight loss TV shows.
2. Eating Gluten Free When You’re Not Gluten Intolerant
There’s ‘Gluten free’ or ‘GF’ labels all throughout the supermarkets and restaurants these days – with people fighting over who’s going to be buying the last loaf of gluten free bread.
There’s a major misconception here.
Eating gluten free foods has literally no benefit if you’re able to tolerate gluten as normal.
If you’re gluten intolerant, not a problem.
“SJ, why shouldn’t we go out of our way to eat gluten free foods?”
For a comprehensive overview of gluten free foods, who’re they’re for and why you shouldn’t be eating them I recommend checking out Mike Matthews’ blog post here.
In short, gluten free foods for those who are not gluten intolerant is a fad and is detremental to your health and your wallet because:
Gluten free foods are often more expensive
Supply and demand, with lots of hype around gluten free versions of common foods the gluten free version of the food in question always commands a premium price.
Gluten free foods often have a poor nutrient profile
Gluten free versions of common food often contain a larger number of carbohydrates and fats while containing less protein – far from ideal when compared to their gluten containing counterparts.
When performing compound exercises like the squat, deadlift or even more advanced Olympic lifts such as the snatch it is essential that correct form is being utilized – CrossFit coaches NEED to teach all newbies the proper form and ensure they use it.
Individuals are encouraged to push A LOT more weight than they really should be during their WODs which leads to a compromise in form, resulting in a highly increased risk of injury.
Check out my comprehensive post on ‘5 Reasons Why CrossFit Sucks’ here.
In short, CrossFit is a fad and should be avoided because…
Workouts, referred to as ‘WODs’ can be downright dangerous when combing heavy lifting with high intensity cardio in a race against the clock
There’s far too much reliance on momentum and kipping to complete exercises and sets, eliminating any tension on the muscle (which is required for both size and strength gains)
Emphasis is placed on saving time, 12 minute workouts and the like will get you no-where (intensity isn’t everything, volume is required too!)
You won’t be able to build an aesthetic physique solely relying on CrossFit, although many coaches and gyms will promise you that you indeed can
It’s a big cash business, every gym must pay hefty fees to utilize the CrossFit name – bodybuilding, HIIT, plyometrics and cardio aren’t trademarked business names…
4. Eating Religiously Every 2 Hours
Eating every few hours is said to boost your metabolism, resulting in increased fat loss.
This fad is preached time and time again by fitness magazines and personal trainers…
“Eating small regular meals boosts your metabolism!” they say, however it’s not until you look at the research that you see how trivial meal timing really is.
The small spike in your metabolism that’s apparent when eating small, regular meals is not enough to induce any further fat loss.
When comparing the spike of a small meal vs. a large meal the large meal spikes the metabolism higher, albeit this only occurs once, not 4 or so times as if you were eating every couple of hours.
They cancel each other out, there’s no difference.
There is a difference in how you feel though.Since abandoning the meal timing matters fad a few years ago I’ve had great success with an intermittent fasting style of diet.
Eating every couple of hours means you’re going to be constantly digesting food, when you’re constantly digesting food you’ll find yourself feeling lethargic, lacking the energy and focus to get shit done.
Ditch the meal timing fad, experiment and find what works best for you,
As long as you’re hitting your caloric and macronutrient goals on a consistent 24 hour basis you won’t find any difference at all in body composition – it merely becomes a matter of personal preference.
5. Never Performing The Same Workout Twice
I’m sure you’ve heard it before, whether it was on a forum, from a personal trainer (don’t get me started) from your training buddy or even in an article on a popular fitness website.“You need to change up your routine every week to keep your muscles guessing”
“Shock the body and switch up your exercises often”
“You’ll stop making gains because the body will get used to the exercises you’re doing”
That my friends, for lack of a better word is a load of crap.
I’m not entirely sure how this myth came to fruition although I do suspect it was initially pushed out by fitness magazines, in an attempt to keep their readers coming back month after month to get new workouts so they can keep progressing… supposedly.
Last time I checked our muscles don’t have cognitive abilities…
Your body doesn’t know if you’re doing an incline dumbbell press or an incline barbell press, so why would it refuse to grow?
Because you’re not progressing…
Your muscles are forced to adapt (read: grow, become stronger) as the tension on the muscle increases. In order to increase tension on the muscle we need to apply progressive overload. Progressive overload can be achieved in a variety of ways including increasing the amount of reps you are performing, the weight you are lifting or the volume you are doing per workout.
If you’re performing different exercises on a weekly basis you won’t be able to track progression, are you applying the same tension to the muscle now that you are performing concentration curls as you were when you were performing preacher curls?
Thus progressive overload cannot be applied.
Ditch the muscle confusion myth with switching workout routines and focus on gaining size and strength via the no BS, time-tested progressive overload technique.
What’s your take on these five fitness fads? Let me know In the comments below!
I’m SJ. I’m a fitness enthusiast and published author.
I transformed my body from a skinny fat 135lbs with 18% body fat to a solid 192lbs at 8% body fat. I became qualified in a field I was passionate about.
I founded several online businesses that allow me to pursue ideas and projects in my life that I am passionate about without having to constantly worry about money.
I published several eBooks explaining the training and dieting techniques I used to achieve the body I have today.
I learnt a plethora of new information on dieting and fitness by reading and applying what I read, to find out what does work and what doesn’t work, because as I’m sure you’ve noticed the health and fitness industry is full of non-sense claims and BS. I found out what was true and what worked for me and applied that knowledge.
And you bet I had fun during the whole process.