Interpreting fitness trends

It used to be, the only people interested in health studies were scientists and fitness nerds (like me). But now there’s a new fitness trend every week with and everyone seems to care what the research says. This heightened awareness has spurred a barrage of headlines for products with impressive sounding, “science-backed” claims.


Naturally, my clients (and probably you) want to know which of these claims they should follow and which to ignore. They want to know my take on the newest trends with “all new evidence” and why my advice is more believable than Dr. So-and-so or that social media superstar.

“Is a plant-based diet the only way to be healthy”
“Do I need to go Keto”
“Aren’t eggs bad for you?”
“Won’t fruit make me fat?”
“Doesn’t microwaving destroy the nutrients?”

(A whole lot of no.)


It can be hard to slog through all of the information available, but that doesn’t mean its not important to investigate for yourself and come to well-informed conclusions. The more you can do that, the more you’ll be able to:

  • Identify false claims

  • Evaluate the merits of new research

  • Make evidence-based choices

Know what counts as research


Be careful when you hear or say “I just read a study”. There are lots of sites, podcasts, and other media outlets that provide summaries of studies, and it’s perfectly fine to refer to second-hand sources for health and fitness information. For most things, you don’t need to know all the statistics and in-depth information and an overview of the information will suffice. Just be careful not to take a summary as fact or a true representation of a study and to dig deeper when you have questions. Use this chart to help screen what you hear.



Media tends to publish "new" and "Breakthroughs"


Publications have no interest in distributing information that confirms what we already know. It’s not going to get clicks like an article with new and controversial claims. They also have biases and push research that aligns with their agenda. This can affect not only what gets published, but the research itself, as the funding for research has to come from somewhere. Because of this, it’s important to review multiple cases and examine each within the context of the whole. Know that a study rarely comes to a conclusion that is 100 percent true for all people, all of the time. When a claim is made, the average is reported, but there are outliers on either side, and it’s important to find what works for you.


Experience, research, and expertise


When providing advice for clients, I use a 3-pronged, evidence-based approach. I examine what the research says, what my experience tells me from working with other clients, and what my own knowledge and education has taught me.


You can use this same approach to interpret data, trends, and studies and apply them to your own life.

  • Look at what the research says.

  • Examine multiple studies and read their findings.

  • Use what has worked for you in the past and what you know about your own body.

  • Figure out what you hope to achieve by by implementing this information.

  • Track your results to continue to expand your knowledge of what works for you.


To get the most from impact in your own life from scientific research, it's more important to view the sum total rather than the individual parts. You can get a lot of motivation from new research and experimenting with it to improve your nutrition, fitness, and overall health routines. But before making any big changes, be sure it’s because it makes sense for you, not just because it’s the Next Big Thing. Pay attention to the changes that occur in your own body and if something isn't working for you, don't be afraid to stop.


Research and science is an invaluable tool, and the health and fitness field continues to grow. Take what you learn from research alone with a grain of salt, and if you consider yourself a person who wants to use evidence-based methods to get healthier, remember that personal experiences and preferences matter, too.



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