Should You Follow TikTok Nutrition Trends? Experts Weigh In
TikTok is great for some things — say, watching one video of the wall handstand challenge after another because it’s oddly satisfying. But it’s not so great for other things — say, diet advice. Nutrition trends are going viral on the platform, which begs the question: Should you follow them?
“I think many of these trends are popular because the videos often show people with abs or the ‘ideal body’ that we typically see as healthy so people will gravitate towards them,” says Patricia Kolesa, MS RDN, clinical dietitian at Hackensack Meridian Health. “As much as we would love for them to be true — myself included — many times these flashy nutrition tips are not backed by science,” adds Nicole Lindel, RD and Everlywell advisor.
Since being an influencer with washboard abs doesn’t automatically qualify you as a nutrition expert, we asked Kolesa and Lindel to weigh in on TikTok nutrition trends and whether any of them are helpful.
Useless or Potentially Problematic TikTok Nutrition Trends
Some viral nutrition tips can be straight-up dangerous. Others may just be a waste of your time and money.
Wondering what on earth is frozen honey? It involves freezing honey in a bottle, then squeezing it out and eating it. Seems innocent and tasty, but there are some concerns with this food trend, according to Lindel. First, consuming high amounts of honey can ruin your teeth. Second, it can lead to weight gain. Third, fructose, the type of sugar that is in honey, is metabolized by the liver, which can be problematic if you suffer from liver issues.
You may have seen TikTokers putting liquid chlorophyll in water and promoting it as a health wonder. Lindel says those drops are not dangerous but are a “complete waste of money.” She recommends stocking up on greens as an alternative, since they are rich in folate, lutein, fiber, and vitamin K — all nutrients that promote good health.
Ginger shots are all the rage on TikTok right now, and influencers boast about the gut health benefits of taking them. However, Lindel says many of these claims are not science-based. Even worse, ginger shots are not for everyone. While they are harmless for most, pregnant women should not take them.
Lemon coffee is a mix of, you guessed it, lemon juice and coffee. It’s been very trendy on TikTok and influencers say it can help you lose weight. But there is no science to support this, according to Lindel. Spare yourself the taste and focus on eating a balanced diet and exercising to lose weight instead.
Nature’s cereal is a booming nutrition trend on TikTok, featuring a combination of coconut water, pomegranate seeds, blackberries, and blueberries. All these foods are nutritional powerhouses, of course, and they might help your digestion due to their fiber content while offering vitamins, antioxidants and minerals. There are caveats though — blackberries and pomegranate seeds are high in specific sugars that can aggravate irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). As for coconut water, it’s packed with electrolytes and can help you hydrate, but it can also lead to diarrhea in some cases.
Helpful TikTok Nutrition Trends
All that being said, a couple of TikTok nutrition trends may be worth trying depending on your situation.
“I think that ‘what I eat in a day’ can be helpful for meal and recipe inspiration but shouldn’t be followed religiously because people’s needs differ on a daily basis and one person’s meals may not be realistic for someone else. The high-protein recipes can also be helpful for someone trying to get more protein into their diet,” says Kolesa.
Lindel says that TikTokers are mixing baking soda with water to help with bloating, and that it can be a helpful and safe indigestion remedy for short-term use for most adults — not for young children or pregnant women, though. Adults shouldn’t use it for more than two weeks though, and it’s always best to check in with your healthcare provider before taking a home remedy.
Red Flags to Be Mindful Of
Finally, you should also be mindful of who you take diet advice from. There are actual dietitians on TikTok that you can follow and some pieces of content are higher-quality than others. Be wary of any accounts that tell you to avoid or stay away from certain foods, says Kolesa. “Often the people directing these videos are not dietitians and will tell you to avoid certain foods/food groups which may cause someone to remove vital nutrients from their diet,” she says. “Many of the RDs I follow on Tik Tok will not tell their followers to avoid foods and will create a welcoming environment around food and nutrition. Some of my favorite Tik Tok dietitians include @nutritionalsarah, @nutritionbykylie, @stephgrassodietitian, and @abbeyskitchen.”
Keep in mind that not all nutrition experts are created equal — a nutritionist and a dietitian are not the same thing. “ Anyone can call themselves a nutritionist, while a registered dietitian has extensive schooling and is required to sit for an exam to become credentialed,” says Lindel.
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