If you live a healthy lifestyle, you know there are a lot of pretty convincing fitness, wellness, and weight loss trends out there. The thing is, not all trends are worth your time—especially the ones that tout “fast” and “easy” weight loss.
It’s hard to resist a supposed shortcut to the body you want, but anything that promises results without much effort on your part is probably a sham, says Diana Mitrea, C.P.T., founder of Stronger With Time. “It took years to look the way you do today, and it’s going to take time to change that,” she says.
The best road to weight loss is a holistic approach that involves a diet based in whole foods, regular exercise, and a healthy mindset, says Mitrea. So forget quick fix-claiming trends—like the five fads we rounded up here:
Trend #1: Going Gluten-Free
Gluten-free menus, recipes, and products have been popping up like crazy over the past few years, and many people are eliminating this protein (which is found in grains such as wheat, barley, and rye) hoping it will help them lose weight.
But here’s the truth: Gluten itself isn’t an issue unless you have certain health conditions, like celiac disease, in which gluten causes inflammation in your small intestine, says Melissa Rifkin, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.N. And let’s be real: A gluten-free cookie is still a cookie, and a gluten-free diet can still be unhealthy if it’s highly processed.
For most people, ditching gluten is not only an ineffective weight-loss strategy. Actually, it can hinder overall nutrition, since gluten-containing grains contain micronutrients (like fiber and calcium) our bodies need for daily function, Rifkin says.
While going gluten-free won’t directly lead to weight loss, cutting back on processed wheat products like pasta and bread can support your efforts. “Reducing your wheat consumption and replacing those foods with whole foods like fruits and vegetables can reduce your overall calorie intake,” Rifkin says. (A cup of zucchini noodles contains more than 100 fewer calories than a cup of regular pasta, after all.) And cutting back on calories is a huge factor in dropping pounds.
Trend #2: Botox Injections
People are no longer using Botox just to smooth wrinkles—some have gotten injections of it in an attempt to lose weight.
The theory is that injecting Botox into the stomach can slow digestion and increase feelings of fullness. And while an initial study suggested it might be effective, a recent study published in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology found that 24 weeks of gastric Botox injections did not affect weight loss in obese participants, even though it did delay the emptying of their stomachs after eating. In an American Gastroenterological Association press release, the study’s lead author Mark Topazian, M.D., recommended against using Botox for weight-loss purposes—so this trend is out.
Trend #3: Crystals
Could rubbing your lucky crystals each night help you wake up a few pounds lighter? Some folks—particularly those interested in new-age spirituality—are turning to these rock formations to power up and rejuvenate their bodies for better focus, motivation, and even weight loss.
For example, amethyst has been said to help its users overcome bad habits or addictions, like overeating, while apatite has been said to help—yep, you guessed it—suppress your appetite. Some crystal therapy experts recommend carrying the stones around with you, holding them for a moment before each meal, and placing them over your belly after eating.
While using a crystal as a symbol of willpower, self-reflection, and intention may be powerful for some people, there’s no scientific research to support the idea that crystals can help you slim down. “At the end of the day, weight loss is about creating a calorie deficit,” says Rifkin. It’s all about eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise.
Trend #4: The Sirtfood Diet
The diet is all about eating foods high in certain plant compounds (called polyphenols) that activate genes known as sirtuins, which may support anti-aging, increase metabolism, and boost fat loss, according to research out of MIT. While many of these sirtuin-activating foods are nutrient-dense—such as green apples, parsley, and kale—the Sirtfood Diet gets a little loopy by claiming you can lose seven pounds in seven days by eating them (and only them).
“People are intrigued by the sirtfood diet because of its scientific sound, and though there is science behind sirtuins, be wary of getting swept away by the diet trend,” says Rifkin. Because of their high nutrient content and cell-protecting properties, many ‘sirtfoods’ have a place in a healthy diet and can aid in weight loss, says Rifkin. But instead of eating all sirtuins all the time, focus on incorporating them into a healthy diet that also includes non-‘sirt’ (but still nutritious) foods like whole grains and lean protein.
Trend #5: Cryotherapy
Would you step into a freezing cold chamber to drop a few pounds? Cryotherapy, a three-minute treatment that involves standing in a chamber ranging from -200 to -300 degrees, has been touted for its sport and fitness-related recovery benefits—but it’s recently taken on a new M.O.
Now people are flocking to these ice chambers to “chill off” the weight—and understandably so, considering some cryotherapy providers claim the treatment revs your metabolism, reduces cellulite, and can help you lose inches from your waist.
Cold stimulation is an effective recovery method for athletes, according to a study published in Sports Medicine. The research on cryotherapy and weight loss, though? Lacking. According to the FDA, the effects cold temperatures have on metabolism, blood pressure, and heart rate are simply unknown. So while you may benefit from cryotherapy if you’re dealing with minor pain or swelling from exercise, there’s little evidence to support the treatment as a solution for weight management, says Mitrea.