After writing an article on Caroline Girvan’s EPIC program, I’ve received DMs and questions from people about other YouTube workout plans and whether or not the health and fitness influencers behind them are worth their salt.
Below, I’ve compiled some of the science-based health and fitness influencers and YouTubers that I’ve personally watched, and have evaluated some of their content.
Please note that these are my opinions of their content, not them as human beings. I’m just here to promote good science and call out BS where I see it.
Science-Based Health and Fitness Influencers
I’ve followed Natacha Oceane forever. She’s probably my favorite science-based health and fitness influencer because she’s real and funny.
When I first started watching her, she was a biophysics master’s student who had a lot more running-related content. Some of her earlier videos contain “cheat day” content and other things that don’t really align with best practices for overall health and fitness, BUT she has since spoken about these videos and explained how she has grown and learned since then (we love to see it!).
She’s used her large following to debunk Tik-Tok health and fitness myths, and publicly stated that she dropped a Gymshark contract earlier this year because she wasn’t happy with the amount of pseudoscience being promoted through their channels.
The YouTube workout plans she offers for free are excellent, especially if you want some no-equipment workouts that will kick your butt! I completed her (for purchase) CUT program in 2019, and I loved the variety of the workouts as well as the fact that the nutrition guide was created by an RD and didn’t contain any weird food advice/calorie counting.
I started watching Abby’s channel a long time ago— she’s a personal trainer with an engineering background, and used to focus a bit more on heavy lifting.
Since then, she has moved to a more “functional fitness” approach. This isn’t a bad thing but some of the exercises she shows on her channel and Instagram require a lot of stability and flexibility (and caution!) to complete without getting injured. She also has occasionally fallen into the trap of creating workouts for “upper booty” or “lower booty”, which is a pet peeve of mine, since that’s not really how gluteal anatomy works.
She talked about going on the low FODMAP diet (which is clinically validated- I’ve talked about it here!) to fix bloating and IBS symptoms, and as far as I’ve seen, doesn’t promote any kind of weird diets or supplements. Overall, I like that she is trying to balance running content with weights, and her approach to using research to back up her videos is solid.
Meg is such a lovely dose of reality in the health and fitness sphere. She’s a certified personal trainer and powerlifting coach, and has many, many videos on form. I’ve learned a lot about injury prevention and proper lifting form from her videos, and her chattier videos are fun to listen to.
In her last video, she brought up probably the most common misunderstood point in the health and fitness industry — “diets” work because calories in are fewer than calories out. She’s currently pregnant and has continued working out, which is FANTASTIC to see, as it’s not frequently talked about but good for both mom and baby.
She doesn’t BS, she doesn’t do pseudoscience, and her focus is always on getting strong. Also, she sells these socks, which I WANT.
Stephanie has a PhD (and a patent!) for her research on ovarian cancer. She’s clearly smart and capable of reading/understanding the scientific literature out there. In her older YouTube videos, she does an excellent job of breaking this down.
In the past few years, she went “all-in” (eating to the point of satiety every time), because her hunger cues were out of sync from years of extreme dieting as a fitness competitor. She gained quite a bit of weight, and lost it as she settled into a “set weight”.
Since then, she does things like “physique checks” almost daily on her Instagram. While I don’t know her relationship with food, I don’t love this kind of content because I think it puts too much focus on aesthetics. I understand that the pressure to be fit and have a certain physique is massive in health and fitness circles, but I personally don’t like to follow this content on the reg, as it doesn’t align with my personal goals for fitness.
Stefi is BADASS. Originally from Venezuela, she was a member of the national soccer team before switching to powerlifting, where she’s racked up 11 world records. Stefi ALSO has a doctorate in physical therapy.
As far as the science, her training is spot on. She has a ton of form videos on her YouTube channel, and great tips to improve your form. I wouldn’t expect any less from a physical therapist! On her website, her nutrition plans focus on eating what you want/when you want, and a flexible approach. As this is the most sustainable way to lose/gain/maintain weight, this also has a good scientific basis. She also focuses on the emotional side of eating and the mindset people have around food (a much bigger factor than many of us give credit to).
Her fitness content on YouTube is awesome. She cites her sources in her videos, and she debunks myths about spot-reduction and other unhelpful.
I recently watched a video of hers where she contested the “abs are made in the kitchen” claim— abs are muscles, and they grow like all other muscles. If you work them through hypertrophy, you can grow them, and they can become more visible. No need to get down to an unhealthy body fat percentage.
She does have some clickbaity titles (which I get, because of algorithms), and makes some videos on things like hormone balancing diets. While these diets may have some validity, there’s not a lot of evidence-based information on these types of diets unless you have PCOS or another medical condition. There are a lot of causes of perceived hormonal imbalances. Best to go to a doctor and sort this out, rather than shell out a bunch of money on “testing” and cut a bunch of things out of your diet unnecessarily.
Overall, I think she interprets the articles she cites well, and her content is at least a good step towards making people cite their sources for health and fitness claims. However, as I’ve talked about before, there are ways to analyze the scientific validity of something beyond just using good sources.
This girl LIFTS. She has good form, doesn’t seem to do anything wild, and lifts really freaking heavy. Most of the videos on her Instagram are straight and to the point.
She’s promoted some CBD products blended with adaptogens (which I’ve addressed here) that make dubious claims to promote mental clarity and energy. CBD’s therapeutic potential has a relatively limited scientific basis, although there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence of its effect.
She also sells a pre-workout drink, (also, limited scientific basis because most of these studies have only been done on men), but this isn’t necessarily “bad” health advice so much as not science-based.
Sydney Cummings is right next to Caroline Girvan for excellent YouTube workout plans. She posts a new (free!) video every day, and
It seems like she eats actual food (no weird diets) and her focus is mainly on exercise. On her Instagram, the only thing I’ve seen her promote is protein powder which is probably the only supplement I tend to find pretty beneficial in my life.
Mr. and Mrs. Muscle are a couple who post regular, minimal-equipment workout videos . Similar to Caroline Girvan, their workouts don’t involve lots of talking, and depend on HIIT training (short intervals of exercise followed by short intervals of rest.
Per their YouTube channel, Mrs. Muscle (Viv) holds a BSc Hons Degree in Sports Science, an AIQ Level 3 Diploma in Fitness Instructing and Personal Training, and a Level 5 Advanced Sports and Exercise Nutritional Advisor. Mr. Muscle (Mike) holds an AIQ Level 3 Diploma in Fitness Instructing and Personal Training.
Their workouts are solid, they have excellent form, and they don’t waste a lot of time talking about weird health tips. The only “downside” I see is the number of clickbaity and unscientific titles on their YouTube channel, things like “lose belly fat” or workouts for “back fat and bra bulge”. While I’m sure they use these titles because people search for them, spot reducing fat is not possible, so no matter how much you “tone” part of your body, you won’t get rid of the fat there.
Other people I like:
I don’t know if these folks necessarily fall into the category of science-based health and fitness influencers, but they are definitely great educators!
Briannah Jewel– Dietetics student and personal trainer who reviews MLM workout schemes, weird supplements, and other pseudoscience.
Amanda Howell– Public Health educator who does a lot of debunking and explanations on current health topics.
Team ForNever Lean– Goes into more depth to review YouTube workout plans and call out bad information where he sees it.
Maxine Ali– Calling out diet culture and wellness misinformation with more self-care oriented information.
Erik Bustillo– Myth-busting from a Registered Dietitian.
Let me know if there are any other science-based health and fitness influencers you’d like me to check out! I’m always looking for new workouts and new people to follow.