For many young people, TikTok has become their go-to source of information, much of which they don’t verify because they tend to take what their favourite content creators share as fact or truth. This is also unfortunately true when it comes to recommendations around diet, nutrition and fitness. More often than not, those sharing information on these subject matters, don’t have the expertise in that area. What they share is their personal opinion, not science-based, some of which can be dangerous for one’s health.
Here are some of those trends:
1. “What I Eat In A Day”
Due to the fact that we live in a society that encourages diet culture, it’s easy to see how people can be drawn to content that promises quick fixes – like easy ways to lose weight or ways to achieve the so-called ideal body types that our favourite influencers and celebrities have. The ‘what I eat in a day’ trend can mislead people to think that the answer to achieving what they want, can all come down to copying what those they follow say they eat daily. This can especially appeal to impressionable young people who want to be just like the people they follow and even adults who have done yo-yo diets most of their lives.
Thus in many cases, this type of content comes from public figures with no background in nutrition, so their recommendations don’t always encourage a healthy eating pattern. Some of the meals don’t always adhere to a balanced diet, nor are they realistic enough (like only drinking coffee or replacing meals with shakes) to maintain in the long term.
Also, it’s easy to get attracted to these videos and images under this trend because they always showcase aesthetically pleasing meals, displaying what they eat (or drink) for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. So people tend to see that and take it that it can also work for them as a diet plan, especially if the person posting appears to be fit or healthy-ish looking. In reality, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to diet and nutrition.
This trend doesn’t take into account the fact that, genetically, everyone has different nutritional requirements, and our bodies don’t respond the same way to certain diets and foods – like how we respond to low carb diets, caffeine or food high in fat. We all need to meet unique dietary needs that the influencer might not be posting about. Those gaps can lead us to develop deficiencies (like calcium or iron deficiency) caused by the fact that we are simply following someone else’s diet, without understanding what our own body’s nutritional and mineral needs are. There are also factors like calorie intake and nutritional needs that are also based on one’s height, body weight, activity levels, age, gender etc, and these are highly individual. Simply copying and pasting a diet prescribed by someone else doesn’t take those factors into account.
2. Spot reducing body fat
Many of us work hard to exercise daily with the intent to lose as much weight as possible, especially trying to focus on our so-called “problem areas” in different parts of our bodies. We set our fitness goals aiming to tackle the parts of ourselves we think we can stand to shed a bit of fat from, anything from achieving that six-pack we’ve been dreaming of, growing our calves or losing the infamous “love handles”. So when one sees content that claims that we can actually spot-reduce fat on parts of our bodies we are especially self-conscious about, who wouldn’t pay attention? But, there is simply not enough evidence to prove that what TikTokers are saying can bring you the results you want.
This trend remains just that, a CLAIM. The idea that there are specific exercises that we can do to reduce fat only in that part of the body has been proven to be a myth. According to experts, if you want to lose fat in certain areas of your body, a comprehensive approach that addresses physical activity and nutrition is likely to be more effective. Science tells us that the body doesn’t only draw energy from the cells in the area you’re working. It gets energy from the body as a whole, which means that sit-ups and Russian twists alone won’t do much for removing fat from your core. However, exercising your core can train your abdominal muscles to engage for extended periods, contract against resistance, and help you lift weights. This kind of targeted core training can help improve stability and support, less about power and weight loss. Losing fat works differently from toning muscles, losing fat requires that you start with burning more calories than you consume.
Focus on working out your entire body, managing your stress levels, sleeping better and eating a more balanced and nutritious diet.
3. Dry scooping pre-workout powders
Let’s be clear, pre-workout supplements aka powders are not a new phenomenon. They’ve been around decades before TikTok was even an idea. Many people use them to boost their energy levels before they start training.
The main ingredient in most of them is caffeine. These supplements often come in pill or powder form. Some of the ingredients in certain pre-workouts can be good for your health and your workouts, but some of them can also cause negative side effects. Generally, these powders are mixed with water and then consumed gradually. Depending on the individual, they tend to take up to sixty to ninety minutes after drinking for the effects to set in, but TikTokers now believe that dry scooping can help remove the waiting process. They’ve been recommending that people dry scoop the powder to get immediate results and receive an accelerated energy boost. This fact has been proven by professionals, therefore could have unknown health effects in the long term. As things stand, pre-workout powders are lacking long-term research in general (even when used appropriately) — not only for efficacy but also for safety. They’re unregulated and can even contain banned substances, such as anabolic steroids and harmful stimulants or hormones (1,3-dimethylamylamine, or DMAA, which can lead to heart attacks, is one of the most widely publicized). It is for this reason that you should always use a third-party tested supplement to avoid hidden nasty ingredients.
Regardless of the brand, dry scooping itself also is dangerous. Experts warn that consuming the powder dry can lead to unintended consequences like choking or inhalation, which can cause aspiration pneumonia, and ingesting large doses of caffeine rapidly (which most of them contain) can potentially trigger an increase in blood pressure, and heart rate, anxiety, tremors, and may even be fatal for those with underlying heart abnormalities. There have been some known cases of people who landed in hospitals due to this trend.
All in all, dry scooping pre-workout powders may be dangerous and strongly discouraged by healthcare professionals. We recommend that you stick to the prescribed instructions provided on the label by the manufacturer.
We just recommend that you do thorough research, interrogate the information they share and speak to an expert before trying the fitness and nutritional trends you’ve seen online. Even if the trend isn’t dangerous for your health, it doesn’t mean it’s going to be effective for what you’re trying to achieve. Trying to “hack” your way into a certain aspect of your life (like training and diet) to get the “quickest results” isn’t always going to give you favourable results. It’s always best to tailor-make those areas based on personalised and informed scientific results and expertise. Focus on long-term health and holistic wellness, not trends.