Fitness trainer debunks popular myths about diet and training on TikTok: ‘It can actually have a negative effect’


In January, at the height of New Year’s resolutions, fitness coach Hannah Barry decided to share a behind-the-scenes look at her former life as a truly toxic fitness influencer. Because it was the start of the year, she knew people were looking for miracle weight loss routines and diets, and she wanted to nip the misinformation she knew they would find in the bud.

But the problem is, the misinformation and volume of research into diets and workouts doesn’t stop in January. It’s an ongoing problem that’s especially prevalent on platforms like TikTok, where millions of young users are exposed to it every day.

Ben Carpenter did something similar to Barry for his 660,000 followers. He’s been a personal trainer for 17 years and began increasing his social media presence in 2009 after clients came to him full of misinformation about dieting and weight loss. There is apparently no panacea or cleanse that he hasn’t heard of before, especially with the rise of fitness influencers.

In a recent clip, he responded to another creator, named Mariya, who was talking about food cravings.


If you crave baked goods or gluten, Mariya said, usually what you crave is your father’s energy.

In response, Carpenter closed his eyes, responded with What? and then got up from the chair.

While her commenters laughed at the video and joked comparing their fathers to various baked goods, Mariya actually has a sizable following on TikTok. She describes herself as an intuitive eater and energy alchemist, and her original TikTok on food cravings has over 947,000 views and has been saved by over 7,000 users.

Mariya has a 12-minute YouTube video that expands on the idea that gluten cravings are related to your father. Unlike the comments on Carpenter’s video response, her fans wrote that they found the video spot on and thought it made a lot of sense. One commenter specifically requested a chart to show which cravings go with which emotions.

In fact, when it comes to craving carbohydrates or gluten, it’s because consuming those foods releases serotonin in the brain. This can contribute to the fact that some people are unable to control how many carbohydrate or sugary foods they eat in one sitting because eating carbohydrates can make you crave more. This also explains why people suffering from stress, anxiety or depression may turn to these things as comfort food. There is no scientific evidence that it has anything to do with your father.

Diet misinformation is rampant on TikTok, and it’s nothing new. Recently, experts have tried to address the growing misconception that the berberine supplement is Ozempic in nature. Dr. Idrees Mughal, who calls himself Dr. Idz on social media, is, like Carpenter, trying to use his platform to help educate and combat misinformation from so-called wellness gurus.

Dr. Idz made an interesting point to In The Know during a conversation in November 2022: Diet, exercise and wellness are the only areas of science where this type of misinformation occurs repeatedly and is being spread by unlicensed creators.


This is really only applicable to the wellness industry, and that’s because you won’t find it in any other subject, whether it’s science or geography or anything else, you won’t find it, she said. You won’t find anyone but an engineer making a video about, oh, this is the best way to build a skyscraper.

In another video, Carpenter addressed the treadmill fads that have become popular on TikTok, especially the Hot Girl Walk trend. In the original video, a creator claims that walking on the treadmill at 12-15 speeds 3.2 builds muscle and burns fat faster than jogging or running.

This is a myth, Carpenter said. There is no secret treadmill formula that works significantly better for fat loss and muscle growth.

Carpenter pointed out that this is a recurring trend among TikTok people who film themselves walking on treadmills, selecting a random incline and speed, and then pairing it with a trending TikTok sound so it goes viral. Some examples she showed have amassed 20 million views.

It has also entered the debate between high and low intensity exercise. A study he provided that compared those intensities found that for fat loss and muscle growth, the difference it makes was barely a smoke above all else (that quote is Carpenters, not the studies).


REAL professional advice. There is no magic treadmill formula for better fat loss and muscle retention. These treadmill spikes have spread like wildfire and I’ve been tagged in them countless times. Just to lolz, let me show you why they spread like wildfire. It turns out they’re just a lazy excuse to try to get your attention by trying to provide you with a magical solution. No. It doesn’t have to be a 3.2 speed. No, it doesn’t need to have an incline of 12-15. No, it doesn’t have to be 5 times a week for 30 minutes. Exercise is great, and I’m all for encouraging people to move more. But these are literally just copy and paste attempts to show you what some creators are trying to do. They are not trying to actually give you detailed advice that can help you. They are just trying to go viral with as little effort as possible. This shows you the direction in which fitness content creation is going. If someone can go viral with a nonsensical clickbait video that takes 30 seconds to film, why would anyone spend more time making detailed videos that get less traction? We need to prioritize fitness educators who are actually trying to help you, not just people trying to go viral lol. PS My new book Everything Fat Loss is currently on sale on at an additional 19% discount in Canada, 10% in America and 7% in the UK. Feel free to grab it before the price goes up (link on my profile page). #treadmill #cardio #aerobic #fittok #gymtok #gym #fitness #exercise #weight loss #fatloss #calories #calories #caloric deficit #fit #fat #bodyfat #fatlosstips #weightlosstips #fatlossmyths #nutrition #diet #foryou #fyp #fyp

original sound Ben Carpenter

One video that garnered a lot of fan attention was of Carpenter explaining why he no longer posts shirtless selfies. After years of aspiring to be a fitness model and nearly two decades of working as a personal trainer, she admits that she initially used her body as her business card.


While that kind of inspirational content is motivational for a subset of people, for many of you, it can actually have a negative effect on mental health, she said. The problem? Most fitness influencers know that showing some skin is great for clicks. I could get a lot more video views if I made all the videos without tops, but I hate the idea that this content could be bad for some of them. You.

Studies have shown that there is a correlation between online fitspiration or thinspiration tendencies and poor mental health. Body checking the act of posting pictures of your body in the hope that someone will comment on it is on the rise especially on TikTok.

My gut is that the fitness industry would be a healthier place for you if there was more emphasis on just trying to improve your physical and mental well-being and less obsessing over what fitness influencers look like in their top. Carpenter concluded.

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