Just when we thought our collective obsession with all things wellness had peaked, 2017 decided we weren't even close. In fact, it might be more accurate to say 2016 dictated this unstoppable uptick—last year battered our psyches in way too many ways, so it's only natural that we feel the urge to treat ourselves with extra care.
With this in mind, it's already shaping up to be a banner year for health and fitness, especially as we note a shift from fad to real substance: Unsustainable (and unhealthy) strategies like juice fasts and punishing detoxes seem to be on the way out as subtle but effective practices like journaling and mindful eating make their way to the forefront. But that's just our general overview on what we can expect—for specifics, it only made sense to turn it over to an array of knowledgeable experts with various backgrounds.
Below, you'll find wellness trend predictions from fitness gurus, nutritionists, healthy food bloggers, and more.
1. Protein powder gets a plant-based makeover.
It's time to look beyond whey. "The focus on getting in sufficient protein is nothing new, but people are now opting toward plant protein, which can serve as a cleaner way to refuel after a gym sesh or to take with you on the go," explains Keri Glassman, author, nutritionist, and founder of The Nutrition School. Brown rice, hemp, and pea are all popular bases for plant-based protein powders.
2. Broccoli rabe is the new kale.
"This green is popping up on Pinterest recipe boards everywhere," says Glassman. "It's loaded with enough vitamins and minerals that support your health to make even kale jealous this year." It's true that gram for gram, broccoli rabe has the nutritional advantage over the superfood poster child: about six times the vitamin A and vitamin C content, for starters, and more calcium, too. "Roast with garlic and sea salt, blend into an easy veggie pesto, or sauté to top a crostini," suggests Glassman.
3. Infrared saunas heat up.
Just a year or two ago, specialized saunas were the weird new wellness treatment to try—but experts are predicting they'll officially enter the mainstream this year. "It's actually been around for many years, but it's gaining popularity alongside other detoxification and cleansing trends," notes Sarah Britton, creator of healthy recipe site My New Roots and Gourmet Print Shop. "Infrared red light penetrates various layers of our skin without warming the surrounding air, causing you to sweat and remove toxins, impurities, and bacteria without feeling particularly hot."
"The benefits are incredible," adds Amanda Kloots, founder of dance cardio workout The Rope. In addition to boosting your immune system and heart function, you'll "detoxify your body, purify your skin, and increase your metabolism to burn calories for weight loss."
4. We start seriously scrutinizing our sugar intake—even fruit.
It seems like we hear about new research vilifying sugar on a near-weekly basis: As of now, scientists have all but confirmed that it's the single most important thing to limit in your diet if you're hoping to maintain your weight, prevent serious health issues, and even curb skin aging. It's also majorly addictive—to the point that scientists compare it to the likes of cocaine.
As experts continue to warn against the effects of sugar, the public is starting to be proactive about limiting intake. Sara Springborn, the senior manager of audience development for Furthermore (Equinox's online magazine), notes that articles on sugar and fruit are among the site's most viewed pages. Yes, you read that right: Since the foods are naturally high in sugar, it's time to reconsider how much fruit you're eating as well.
5. Breakfast goes savory.
As we collectively cut sugar, our go-to morning meals are taking a different trajectory. "For so long we've been programmed to have fruit, cereal, smoothies, and juices first thing in the morning," says celebrity wellness expert Latham Thomas. "We've moved in the right direction with avocado toast. The next wave in healthy breakfasts will be the savory one-pot meal. Dishes like miso vegetable bowls topped with avocado and kelp noodles, veggie frittatas, beans, and three grains, plus steamed veggies—hearty-healthy, nutrient-dense meals that help stabilize blood sugar and load the body with minerals." Get inspired by these model-approved options.
6. Better skin becomes a dietary goal.
It's not news that great skin starts with a clean diet, but expect that to become more of an emphasis this year—especially as lose-weight-fast schemes fall by the wayside in favor of truly holistic self-care. Springborn notes that this is another highly trafficked topic on Furthermore. "We also noticed that in Google Trends, many of the related queries for diet and skincare were very specific to a particular diet program or skincare program."
Dermatologists agree—in fact, many skin experts we polled touted ingestible beauty and probiotics as growing trends to supplement a complexion-friendly diet.
7. Gluten-free flour goes mainstream.
Thought the gluten-phobic bubble had popped? Think again. "More and more recipes are straying from the regular ole AP flour," says Glassman. "Interesting flour alternatives are sometimes harder to find in stores, but people are going the extra mile to leave gluten out of the ingredient list." Alternatives include chickpea flour, brown rice flour, and amaranth flour—all of which contain more protein, fiber, and beneficial nutrients than white flour to boot.
8. Fitness goes back to basics.
Sure, hip-hop yoga and stand-up paddleboarding make for great novelty (and an even better workout), but it might be time to reconsider highly effective and easy-to-learn activities like bodyweight exercises—especially if your budget doesn't allow for ultra-trendy boutique classes. "Now that fitness has been the zeitgeist for a while, people are realizing you can get more results out of traditional programs by getting creative with them, like creative takes on the plank, a new way to lunge, and how to improve a vertical jump," says Springborn. (Speaking from experience, hacking your traditional push-up can get you toned arms in no time at all.)
Add jump-roping to that list, too. "Boxers do it, Victoria's Secret models do it, you should do it," says Kloots. "The rope torches calories and is a quick and effective workout that can be done anywhere."
9. Sea vegetables aren't just for sushi.
"Seaweed offers high-quality plant-based protein, nourishing minerals, and antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, so I think we will start seeing more sea vegetables in restaurants and recipes next year," says Britton. That's not to mention that "sea vegetables are a renewable food resource, sustainably produced, and actually improve the state of the environment where it is grown," she adds.
10. Wellness retreats are the new cool-girl getaway.
Whether it's a weekend trip to a holistic spa or a weeklong yoga retreat, you can expect your Instagram feed to be filled with snaps from wellness-geared vacations. Trainer and fitness guru Nicole Winhoffer predicts that as more health-minded destinations open their doors, many people won't stray too far from home to give their bodies some R&R. "More and more people will flock to nearby retreats for just a couple of days at a time to ease their mind, calm their senses, and relax the body," she says.
11. "Finding balance" takes on a whole new meaning.
If you really want to fine-tune your mind, body, and soul, it might be worth taking an even deeper look inward. "Chakras are bundles of energy," explains Winhoffer. "If they are blocked or imbalanced, our bodies and brains are too. For example, if we have a blockage in the fifth chakra, the throat chakra, communication, we can't express our thoughts and feelings." Activities like meditation, acupuncture, and yoga (as well as Winhoffer's NW Method) can help you find alignment.
Next up, check out the skincare trends dermatologists predict will take center stage this year.