"I lost 20 pounds in 2 weeks with this awesome diet!"
"10 Amazing Benefits of Coconut Oil"
"How to Burn Fat by Drinking Red Wine"
We’ve all seen headlines like these—
They bombard our Pinterest and Facebook feeds endlessly. And if you’re like me, struggling to fit into last year’s jeans despite making regular trips to the gym, you can’t help but click on them.
Because part of you wonders…do they actually work?
The hot health trends below might be based on good advice, but the promised benefits are largely overstated - and in some cases, straight up false. Don’t be fooled by alluring headlines and miraculous claims. These 4 diet trends just aren’t worth the hype.
1. Coconut Oil
Nooooo. It’s sad but true. We all thought coconut oil could make us lose weight, prevent Alzheimer’s, cure cancer—the listed benefits are endless, and the hype has tons of people (myself included), adding coconut oil to their diets by any means possible.
But dietitians and scientists aren’t so impressed. Medium-chain triglycerides—the miracle component of coconut oil—account for just 10 to 15 percent of the fat in coconut oil, and in human studies, scientists haven’t found any real correlation between this high-calorie oil and weight loss, or many of the other miraculous claims. This means: Slathering your food with the stuff isn’t doing your body any major favors (but it is adding a whole lot of calories.)
It still has some hydration perks for your skin, but you can definitely hold off adding it to your morning coffee.
2. Juice Cleanses
This craze, which boasts celebrity figureheads and promises super-fast weight loss, requires you to consume nothing but all natural fruit and vegetable juices for some specified period of time. The idea sounds logical: you’re pumping your body full of antioxidants and nutrients most people don’t get enough of while flushing harmful toxins from your body. Who doesn’t like that?
In reality, you might see some immediate weight loss, but as with most crash (aka, hard on your system) diets you end up slowing your metabolism and setting yourself up for a post-cleanse binge. Besides that, experts say the whole idea behind detox diets is basically rubbish. Our bodies are already detox machines, so we don’t need extreme fasting and expensive juices to do what our liver, kidneys and intestines accomplish naturally,
3. The Paleo Diet
Otherwise known as the caveman diet, going paleo (i.e., paleolithic) means shucking the sugar, grains, and dairy and eating as our hunter-gatherer ancestors did before sophisticated agriculture sabotaged our guts. The argument goes that the human body was not designed to process modern food, and going on a strictly paleo diet will help ease modern problems like obesity, cardiovascular diseases—and even acne.
There are some agreed-upon benefits to this diet. Eating fresh, whole foods instead of sugar- and salt-loaded processed foods is a common-sense positive choice. But experts argue that eliminating entire food groups leads to unbalanced diets and, contrary to pro-paleo belief, our bodies have indeed evolved since agriculture became a thing some 10,000 years ago. It’s also excessively difficult to follow. Don’t believe me? U.S. News and World Report gave this diet an overall score 2 out of 5 and ranked it second to last on their 2016 best diets list.
4. Red Wine
Here’s one of my favorite health headlines: A glass of red wine is as good as an hour at the gym. Allegedly, drinking red wine significantly improves cognitive and cardiovascular health in the same way that hitting the treadmill regularly does. Alas, as much as I would love to believe this, it’s a clear-cut case of science being taken out of context. Here’s the fine print: the study these headlines are based on never advised people to give up exercise in lieu of merlot.
In fact, the researchers revealed to CBC News that they didn’t even use red wine in their study (which was performed on rats, not humans).
On the bright side, resveratrol, the magical ingredient in red wine, still has many benefits. So wine on, my friends—just don’t expect to start magically losing weight in the process.
The Final Word:
Deep down, we know that getting/staying in shape just isn't easy for most of us. In fact, it's pretty damn hard. Everyone's bodies are different, as are our circumstances - but the only tried and tested way to be healthy and feel good is eating nutritious food and exercising regularly.
So if you want real, lasting results, ditch the fads and make a commitment to a healthy lifestyle, not just a quick trend.
That means enjoying your glass of red wine just as much as your run. Let's drink to that.