America has never been more diet- and body-conscious, yet obesity rates are at an all-time high. Part of the problem? Bad advice from well-meaning friends and family members. "Every foursome has a guy who's found a way to drop a significant amount of weight and is all-too quick to share his insights," says Amy Bragg, a dietitian with the University of Alabama. "Often this advice is based on personal experience, not any legitimate expertise."
Worse yet, armchair advice probably doesn't fit your goals and lifestyle, making it unsustainable. "What works for one person won't always work for others," Bragg says. She points to three recent fads: fat-burning supplements, meal plans and gluten-free diets. These options are more hype than hope, she says, and they won't help you win the lifelong battle of the bulge. "Most fat burners are simply bundles of stimulants, including caffeine, in pill or powder form, which can make you feel jittery and mess with your focus on key shots," Bragg says. "And do you really think your work and home life allow you to follow a regimented plan, especially if it's not written with your habits and likes in mind?"
Most experts agree that the gluten-free route is a viable path to a slimmer pair of Sansabelts, but not the best for lowering scores. "It gets tricky once you reach your target weight using a gluten-free diet, because a steady intake of carbs is vital for athletic performance," she says.
One way around it? To supplement your gluten-free plan, eat high-quality, complex carbs and proteins as performance-boosting snacks—Greek yogurt, blueberries and a sprinkle of granola, for example. "Whatever the case, speak with an expert," advises Bragg. "Make sure whatever diet you choose makes you healthier, not simply slimmer." As for your buddy-turned-diet-guru, simply say "thanks" and congratulate him on his weight loss. "Good for them," Bragg says. "Now, go find your own way.”