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The four worst fitness fads of 2016

9Coach logo 9Coach 8/10/2016 Stuart Marsh
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When it comes to ranking fitness fads, you've got to admit that we've had a pretty good year in 2016 – there are now more people than ever eating right, sweating it up and looking after their health.

But that doesn’t mean we're totally safe from trying out wacky ideas or programs to get the body of our dreams, according to head coach and founder of Result Based Training, Travis Jones.

"There's a lot of terminology and ideas that have been invented by the fitness industry purely to sell diets and training programs," Jones tells Coach.

"At the end of the day, most people want to do one or two things – to lose fat and to build muscle mass.

"There's no secret or quick fix to achieving those, it's simply being consistent with proven training techniques and sensible, non-restrictive eating plans."

1. Clean eating

The paleo diet is now as dead as the fictional ancestors it wished to imitate. But out of the ashes of the activated almonds rises a new nutrition phoenix: and it's called eating "clean".

But according to Jones, this idea that you should only eat "clean" foods is misleading at best, and potentially dangerous at worst.

"What does clean eating even really mean? Does it mean putting on washing gloves and breaking out the detergent to clean your food?" Jones questions.

"No food is inherently good or bad – some foods have higher nutritional quality than others, but it's more about the quantity with which you consume it."

The whole premise of clean eating is that you only consume whole foods that haven't undergone excessive processing or manufacturing.

Essentially you eliminate any food that comes from a packet or a box, and while Jones says this is a great idea, it's unrealistic to expect people to totally eliminate any form of processed food out of their lives.

"By obsessing over the idea that you have to eat clean 100 percent of the time, people become susceptible to falling into a 'restrict then binge' cycle where they eat healthy for a few days and then pig out on junk food," advises Jones.

"We recommend a 90/10 split, where 90 percent of what you eat is nutritious whole foods, and 10 percent is processed food that you enjoy."

"This flexibility allows people to stick to their goals on a longer term, without telling them 'you can eat that' or 'you can't eat this'."

2. Functional fitness programs

As people become more aware of their bodies, and the role general muscle strength plays in real life, many trainers have become obsessed with only using exercises that have been deemed to be "functional".

But according to Jones, any exercise you do that improves your general health is functional, and anything greater than that is really pedantic nit-picking.

"The concept that fitness can be anything but functional is an entertaining differentiation," says Jones.

"Any strength and conditioning, aerobic, Pilates or dance-based exercise will promote greater 'functionality' (or movement) in your day-to-day activities."

Really, the idea of "functional training" being a fad comes solely down to what you describe as being "functional", and Jones warns against buying or trying programs that seem excessively gimmicky or wacky.

"Quite often functional training, for example, is sold AS these wacky exercises with bosu balls that say they improve sports performance – but when was the last time you saw a bosu ball on the football field?" says Jones.

"The idea that something is functional is highly specific to the sport or goal you're training for."

3. Detox and cleanses

Here at Coach we routinely debunk diets that promise to eliminate toxins or chemicals from your bodies. They've been around for years, but they reached prominence again this year with the Kardashians spruiking a cleansing tea called "Skinny Tea".

"You have a liver, a kidney and lungs that do a pretty good job of detoxifying your body on their own," advises Jones.

"The notion that we have these strange toxins going into our body is all based on fear. By demonising toxins, people can then sell products that claim to remove those toxins, like juice cleanses and skinny teas."

One of the reasons that these liquid-only diets take hold is that people tend to lose a lot of weight very suddenly – but this is not anything to get too excited about, says Jones.

"When people follow juice cleanses for a week or so, they tend to drop a lot of weight – but you've got to remember that they've essentially been eating absolutely nothing, and consuming very little calories," says Jones.

"Plus, the binge that follows the cleanse often undoes any imaginary fat loss results anyway."

4. Supplements

With supermarket shelves filled with products that promise to get you "ripped", "jacked" and "shredded", you can’t blame people for thinking that supplements can have a profound effect on carving out a six-pack for summer.

But according to Jones, we have the balance way off – instead of viewing supplements as the reason for losing fat, we should see them as something to add in only after we've ticked off all of the other health and fitness boxes first.

"When people say they're starting a health kick on Monday, their first stop is to go to the health food shop on a Sunday. But really they are forgetting that supplements are only to be used on top of a quality diet," says Jones.

"I recommend people try ticking off their sustainable eating and training goals for 28 days before they even think about supplements. Supplements are never the solution to fat loss."

"In reality, supplements make up (at most) five percent of how your nutrition affects your goals."

And the supplement that irks Jones the most?

"Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is: Garcinia Cambogia, I am looking at you," says Jones.

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