The health and fitness trends to watch in 2021

From fake meat to air fryers and feel-good fitness, 2021 is shaping as the year we take nutrition and wellbeing to new levels.

After a torrid year, experts believe nourishing both body and soul will be a key trend of health and fitness for 2021.

Here’s their predicted must-haves and must-dos.

Mock meat

Plant-based proteins look set to leave the food-fad category to become a 2021 pantry staple, with nearly 2.5 million Australians now enjoying diets that are all, or almost all, vegetarian.

Vegetarian and vegan alternatives come in many forms, such as Quorn (a microprotein made from fungus), tofu, lentils and vegetables.

According to product identification company Matthews Intelligent Identification, the fake-meat sector is forecast to contribute $3 billion to the economy by 2030.1

The Fit Foodie blogger Sally O’Neil predicts 2021 will bring a health focus into our kitchens.

“We’ll see more high-protein, low-calorie food products flood the market. Think Konjac-based fake meats and seafood,” the food stylist says.

Konjac is a plant grown in parts of Asia, from which the starchy root is used as a gelatine substitute to thicken foods.

flour alternatives
Flour alternatives are set to be big business in 2021.

Monk fruit

Look out for the small green melon (lo han guo) native to southern China and named after the monks who first cultivated it centuries ago.

“Low-calorie, naturally sweetened products using stevia and monk fruit will soar as we all try to cut back on our sugar and artificial sweetener intake,” says Sally.

Monk fruit extract is 150-250 times sweeter than table sugar and is promoted as having zero calories or carbs, and with no unhealthy impact on blood glucose levels.

Alternative flours

Made from the pods of the mesquite tree, mesquite flour has been dubbed nature’s caramel.

It is used to add a caramel, cocoa-type flavour to breads, cakes and biscuits and can be used in smoothies.

As more people adopt wheat-free or gluten-free eating, alternative flours are tipped to become even more popular, and diverse, with mesquite set to shine.

Chickpea, rice, almond or buckwheat and high-protein nut flours are also among the growing band of non-traditional flours.

“Almond will be one of my pantry staples in 2021,” says Sally.

“I love the taste. It’s packed with protein. When water is added it makes a delicious butter, is delicious in smoothies, on top of oats, in baking, and thickens sauces and soups.”

air fryers
The air fryer… the must-have gadget this Christmas.

Air fryers

The egg-shaped appliance has been around for 10 years but Sally foresees its coming of age next year, with its convenience and health factor making it the must-have kitchen gadget of 2021.

“Even though most of us have more time in the kitchen, convenience is key,” she says.

In 2010, Philips introduced the new kitchen appliance – which fires with super-hot air instead of oil – at a consumer electronics fair in Berlin.

According to Allied Market Research the air fryer market was valued at $894.3 million in 2018, and is expected to reach $1.4 billion by 2026.

Feel-good fitness

Instagram fitness guru Madalin Giorgetta foresees a constructive attitude to exercise.

“Thinking optimistically, I’d say in 2021 people will begin to unlink fitness from weight loss and aesthetics to pursue it as a means to feel good in their bodies, not to simply create a physical change,” says Madalin.

The personal trainer says more and more people are changing how they engage in fitness.

“There are so many benefits, such as reduced stress levels, increased endorphins, improved concentration, to name but a few. We can move beyond the focus of aesthetics,” she says.

“Although a body may look ‘healthy’ according to societal standards, – i.e. thin – the individual might not feel their best internally, because their mental health is not taken into consideration.”

All-body health and fitness

Think self-care and compassion, and a meditative approach to fitness.

Pilates instructor Duncan Ragheb says the “mind-body connection will be a trend of 2021 fitness”.

“Our wellbeing is nourished not just with exercise but mindfulness,” says the director of Reformed: Active Urban Life in Melbourne.

He also anticipates a 2021 revival of group exercise, with a move away from home-based iso training.

“Socialising keeps us accountable and engaged,” Duncan says.

“Boutique fitness will be trending. Smaller groups have post-pandemic appeal, while keeping you connected socially.”

Written by Donna Carton.