Each year, we learn more about health. Researchers make medical advances and, in our personal lives, we try new workout routines, new diets and new ways of making our lifestyles healthier and easier to maintain. We might not always succeed, but on balance there is an undeniable progress. But that doesn't mean we want to hold on to every health trend from the previous year. Here's a list of 10 health and fitness phenomena we'd rather leave behind at the stroke of midnight on January 1.
Did you try any of these in 2012?
Raspberry ketones, a very popular supplement, were featured on no less than Dr. Oz's show as a healthful fat-buster. The problem? There's no clinical evidence that suggests that ketones -- an aromatic compound found in red raspberries -- <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/29/raspberry-ketone-dr-oz_n_1388258.html">will have their intended effect in humans</a>. All research has been conducted in cell cultures, making any extrapolation for people purely theoretical. In 2013, let's stick to known fat-loss methods, like aerobic exercise and a balanced diet.
Feeding Tube Diet
Also known as the K-E Diet (short for Ketogenic Enteral Nutrition), this short-lived trend diet reached a fever pitch in 2012 after the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/18/k-e-diet-does-it-work_n_1432790.html">New York Times profiled several women who used a nasogastric feeding tube</a> -- developed to feed the gravely ill or injured -- in order to lose weight. The diet, which is only available at one Florida clinic, works by slowly feeding the dieter with a fat- and protein-based solution, accounting for 800-calories per day over a 24-hour period. The developer of the diet, Dr. Oliver R. Di Pietro, allows patients to eat nothing else besides water, unsweetened tea and black coffee. He claims that a person can lose 20 pounds or 10 percent of their weight. In 2013, let's avoid quick weight-loss schemes and instead make undramatic, but lasting changes to our diets, using real food that enters through our mouths.
Don't get us wrong -- isolated muscle contractions aren't <em>bad</em> for you. But they also aren't going to get you a ballet dancer's physique, as many isometric-based "barre" classes promise. And that tell-tale "shake," that barre classes advertise? That doesn't mean you're getting stronger, necessarily -- <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/15/muscle-shaking-causes_n_2140397.html?utm_hp_ref=health-problems">just that your muscles are fatigued</a>. In 2013, let's get the most out of our workouts with a combination of cardio and resistance training. And for any meaningful weight loss, diet is just as important as exercise.
In September, a Stanford University study released data suggesting that <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/14/is-organic-food-healthy_n_1881046.html?utm_hp_ref=health-problems">conventionally-grown food was just as nutritious as organically-grown food. </a> But before you ditch the pesticide-free veggies in your grocery aisle, consider several of the complicating factors that rendered the study inconclusive: other studies <a href="http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/07352689.2011.554417?journalCode=bpts20#tabModule">found different results</a>; many nutrients that other studies found to be more prevalent in organic food than in conventional <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/13/stanford-organics-study-public-health_n_1880441.html?utm_hp_ref=health-news&ir=Health%20News">weren't even included in the study</a>; and other health concerns beside nutrition -- like pesticide-load -- are much less prevalent in organics. In 2013, let's continue to reduce our exposure to pesticides, agricultural hormones and other toxicants in the food supply.
Passing On Vacation
A recent vacation survey found that <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2012/11/15/travel/vacation-deprivation-study/index.html">Americans are getting fewer vacation days</a> -- just 12, compared to last year's 14 -- and are taking fewer as well. In 2012, the average person will take just 10 days. And that's not healthy. Vacation, with its opportunity to unplug and recharge, is an important tool for stress management. In 2013, let's take all of our vacation days -- and use them to focus on our and our family's wellbeing.
Sensa sprinkles are tiny crystals made with maltodextrin, tricalcium phosphate and silica, and flavored to taste like a number of unhealthy comfort foods like cheddar cheese, ranch dressing, cocoa and malt. The maker of Sensa, a popular diet supplement this year, purports that its product works by tricking the brain into believing it is eating these unhealthful foods. <a href="http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/truth-about-sensa">Unfortunately, there is no scientific evidence to support that claim</a>.
Juice Fasts For Weight Loss
Many celebrities <a href="http://ht.ly/ggkpv">and supermodels</a> swore by the weight-shedding powers of juice cleanses this year. These diets involve consuming nothing but juice, water and sometimes tea for anywhere from three to 14 days. And research shows that while they may cause temporary weight loss -- and even temporary drops in <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/08/are-juice-cleanses-safe_n_1264051.html">LDL "bad" cholesterol and triglyceride levels</a> -- everything returns to normal after returning to food. In 2013, we'll drink juice because it can be a nutrient powerhouse and a great supplement, but not because it will help us lose weight.
Gluten-Free Eating For Weight Loss
Celiac sufferers and those with non-Celiac gluten sensitivity need to avoid the wheat protein for their health. But when Miley Cyrus said earlier this year that she'd lost weight because of a gluten-free diet, she fell into a common misconception about gluten-free eating. If you already have a healthy diet, <a href="http://health.usnews.com/health-news/articles/2012/04/11/is-a-gluten-free-diet-smart-for-weight-loss">gluten-free diets will not aid weight loss</a>. For those who subsist mostly on pasta, pizza and other gluten-filled foods, a change to gluten-free lean proteins and veggies will obviously lead to weight loss -- though it won't be the lack of gluten that's shedding the pounds. In 2013, let's eliminate whole nutrients and food groups only when medically necessary.
Forcing High-Intensity Circuit Training
P90X continued its surge in popularity, thanks to celebrity endorsements and one very publicly pro-P90X Vice Presidential candidate. Offshoots like the DVD program Insanity and in-gym systems that use the same philosophy of high-intensity circuits -- like Crossfit -- <a href="http://if-fit.com/why-is-crossfit-exploding-in-popularity/">also saw increased popularity</a>. And while interval training is a healthy, efficient way to condition, it isn't the only way and it isn't appropriate for everyone. In 2013, let's mix our fitness program with some lifestyle changes that promote activity all day long -- not just at the gym or in front of a fitness DVD, but out in the world too. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/18/low-impact-exercises_n_1434616.html">Even low-impact activities can do wonders</a>.
Diagnosing Via Phone App
Smartphone apps can help us keep track of our workouts, maintain our food diaries, track fertility cycles, remind us to quit smoking and even help monitor our sleep. But that doesn't mean the full knowledge of a medical education has been crammed into the sleek, rectangular machine. And new research suggests that, on balance, those apps spread a great deal of misinformation. For example, one investigation found that one in five <a href="http://www.protectpatientsblog.com/2012/11/want_bad_health_advice_theres_1.html">health and medical apps that were on the market since mid-2011 claimed to cure or treat an actual medical condition</a>. Those claims remained unregulated. In 2013, let's use our cell phones to play great workout mixes and keep track of our running routes and meals. But let's leave the diagnosing to the professionals.