Before I unveil my list of the most overrated exercise and diet trends, I feel a disclaimer or two is in order:
- I’m in favor of anything that helps people become healthy or fit. The word “overrated” needs to be taken into context and is certainly open to interpretation.
- Just because I deem something to be overrated does not mean I don’t think it has merit. I may feel something is “overrated” simply due to the amount of hype it gets or to the degree that its proponents revere it.
With those 2 things in mind, let’s get going.
1. Balls, BOSU’s, Balance Boards, Oh My!
Walk into any gym facility and you are bound to see trainers and other gym goers alike performing squats, pushups and other circus-like maneuvers on balance implements.
The truth is, plain old squats are far more functional and effective for the vast majority of people. These tools should really be used sparingly.
2. Acai Berry Juice
You may have had some salesperson tell you of the magical powers possessed by this exotic berry. When tested for polyphenol content, Acai rates below concord grapes, red wine and blueberries.
Stick with a variety of fruits and veggies here and save your cash.
I usually get ripped for this one but there is a geographical influence here. See where I live, Yoga reigns supreme and don’t try and tell anyone differently.
The truth is, Yoga can be helpful for many, but indiscriminate flexibility is not always the ideal prescription for everyone. If you have time left after weights, cardio and specific mobility work – or you are training for something that requires being in one spot for an hour – knock yourself out!
Especially when taken as supplements, vitamins C, E and Beta Carotene have proven utterly disappointing for preventing disease. It seems the whole, nutrient dense foods win out again.
5. Detox and Cleansing
I can’t see any justification for it – especially the more extreme ones. Eat healthily most of the time and there is no need to “cleanse” away your dietary sins.
If you haven’t been eating healthily, start eating healthily instead of subsisting on spiked water.
CrossFit is a very intense training method that combines Olympic lifting, body weight and gymnastics-type exercise with little to no rest. Barbells, boxes, gymnastics rings, big lifts, no machines…love it.
Arbitrary and extreme programming, no concept of progression, flimsy certification process, inadequate screening and rhabdomyolysis… not so good. Go with a coach/system that addresses the aforementioned.
7. Nitric Oxide Supplements
When browsing a supplement store last week I noticed a lot of shelf space dedicated to Nitric Oxide and other blood flow enhancers.
Many bodybuilding sites and other supplement gurus tout its benefits, but when put to clinical trials, NO has no effect compared to a placebo on body composition, insulin, carbohydrate uptake or muscle strength. Most rely on the workout supplement’s high caffeine content to invoke the illusion of helping. (See CaffeineInformer.com for the caffeine content of workout supplements.)
8. The Biggest Loser
The fact that the reality (let’s call it “unscripted”) show is in its umpteenth season tells me that it is more popular than it should be. You could make the argument that people will be inspired by the show, but I would argue that it sets people up for unrealistic expectations.
The premise of the show is completely flawed – promoting a “lose scale weight at all costs” mentality. Did they keep off the weight?
Which exercise and/or diet trends do you think are overrated?
Robinson et al. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 2003.