Instagram health and wellness terms explained

Common Instagram health, fitness and wellness terms explained. Piyo, kombucha, macros, probiotics, HIIT etc - find out what they mean.

Instagram is an amazing social media tool for the health, fitness and wellbeing space. Although it might not be 100 percent realistic (yay filters), it can be super motivating. Whether it be relatable memes, motivating quotes, healthy food or a beautiful meal prep, IG is a one stop shop for inspiration. It’s also much more acceptable to post a food snap on Insta compared to Facebook and Twitter, which can only be a good thing. 
I began using Instagram for motivation at the beginning of my healthy lifestyle journey. I’m a visual person, so platforms like Instagram and Pinterest are right up my alley. By crafting a profile that only followed positive, healthy and motivating pages, I began turning to IG for a little hit of motivation whenever I needed it.
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But when I first began using Instagram, I had no idea what people were talking about half the time. With all the speak of macros and HIIT and EVOO and microbiome, I was completely confused. I wasn’t even sure if the words were English!
Instagram, along with most parts of the internet, is filled with jargon, abbreviations and nicknames for health terms. This can leave people at the beginning of their journey clueless about what a photo caption is talking about. To help you out in this tough situation, I’ve compiled this list of popular health and wellbeing terms used on social media and their meanings. 
Here are 31 popular Instagram health and wellness terms + abbreviations and their meanings: 


Antioxidants are compounds that are found in plant and animal foods that are believed to fight free radicals – the nasties that are believed to cause damage, ageing and cancer. These nutritional gems are found in large amounts in many fruits and vegetables.

Clean Eating

A general term that applies to eating foods that are natural and unprocessed, as opposed to many modern foods that have been processed. Although, the term is quite vague and not often used by medical professionals or practitioners. 


This stands for Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. DOMS is the pain, stiffness and soreness felt in muscles a few hours after intense exercise


Certain nutrients, usually minerals, present in the body that help it to function. Among the most common are calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium. These can be lost through sweat during intense exercise. 


Extra virgin olive oil – a great source of phytochemicals and unsaturated fats. Find out how to save money on olive oil by reading Have you been wasting money on Extra Virgin Olive Oil.  


The part of plant foods the body can’t digest. It can be soluble, insoluble or resistant starch. Read more about fibre and healthy carbohydrates in The Complete Guide to Healthy Carbohydrates


A certain protein found in most grains such as wheat, rye and barley. People suffering from Coeliac disease are sensitive to gluten and often follow a gluten-free diet. 

Gut microbiota (or microbiome)

The colony of bacteria in the digestive system that’s necessary for life. Gut bacteria are also responsible for aiding in the production of some vitamins. Recent research has shown possible links between gut microbiota and health – especially for diseases like obesity. 


High-density lipoprotein, or “good” cholesterol. 


This stands for high-intensity interval training. HIIT is an exercise routine that cycles between bursts of intense exercise and intervals of less-intense movement or rest time. 

Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting is an eating style of cycling between periods of fasting and eating. As opposed to traditional diets that focus on what you eat, Intermittent Fasting focuses on when you eat. Read more in The Beginner’s Guide to Intermittent Fasting.  


A metabolic state that results from extremely low consumption of carbohydrates. The body begins to burn fat as it’s the main form of energy instead of glucose. It results in the presence of acids called ketones in the body. Find more about ketosis in The Complete Guide to Healthy Carbohydrates.


Kombucha is an ancient Chinese fermented tea drink. As a result of the fermentation process, this trendy beverage is a source of probiotics. The tea is fermented with a SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast), which produces bubbles in the end product. 


Low-density lipoprotein, or “bad” cholesterol. 


Short for macronutrients. Macros are the main food groups that contain energy: protein, fat and carbohydrates. Lots of people like to tailor their macronutrient intake to their health and fitness goals. This is usually called IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros) or macro counting. Find out more in the article An Interview with a Macro Counter


Scientifically, metabolism describes all the chemical reactions the body undergoes to stay alive. In a weight loss context, the word metabolism is actually describing metabolic rate. 

Metabolic rate

Also known as the basal metabolic rate. Metabolic rate is the amount of energy (or calories) your body burns just to function at rest (e.g. not moving at all). This magic number is affected by age, gender, muscle mass etc.
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Metabolic disease (or syndrome)

Metabolic disease is a general term for a group of risk factors that increase the risk of Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. The main factors are obesity, high blood pressure, elevated bad cholesterol and insulin resistance. To have Metabolic disease you would need to have more than one of the aforementioned risk factors. 


Short for micronutrients, the opposite of macronutrients. As result, these nutrients are needed in the body in small amounts to function. Micronutrients are usually referred to as vitamins and minerals. 


A micronutrient necessary for health in small amounts. In the human body, these include minerals like iron, calcium, magnesium and sodium. For example, the human body uses calcium in the formation of bones and teeth. 


Also known as smart drugs. Nootropics are supplements that are believed to improve brain function and capabilities. Although once considered fringe, nootropics have been gaining popularity in the health and wellbeing world. 


A Pescatarian follows a vegetarian diet but still eat some fish and seafood products. The choice to follow this type of diet can be for health, ethical and environmental reasons.  


Paleo is an eating style that is supposedly in line with what humans ate in the Palaeolithic era. Many people see Palei as a more natural way to eat. Read more in the article Is Paleo Actually Healthy? 


An exercise style that’s a fusion between pilates and yoga. Piyo is great for toning and stretching. 


These are beneficial nutrients that are found naturally in plants. In contrast, antioxidants can be found in both animal and plant food sources. 


The dreaded period of difficulty losing weight after a significant fat loss. It’s caused by the slower metabolic rate that is inevitable after weight loss. Read more about the hormones that can affect this in Cheat Meals for Weight Loss


Short for plyometrics which are exercises that involve exerting muscles to maximum force for short intervals. Think jump squats, toe taps and box jumps. 


This stands for Resting metabolic rate, similar to basal metabolic rate. RMR is usually what people are talking about when they say “metabolism.” It’s basically how much energy the body burns to stay alive. 


The name is German for sour cabbage. Sauerkraut is a popular condiment that comes from chopped cabbage leaves that have been fermented. As a result, the end product is a great source of probiotics.


Another popular Instagram term, veganism is an eating style and lifestyle that involves consuming zero animal products. That means vegans don’t eat meat or any products from animals. This includes honey and dairy. Many also opt for beauty and clothing options that don’t come from or test on animals. This can be for ethical and environmental reasons


A type of micronutrient. Vitamins are organic compounds that are crucial for many of the body’s functions. For example, vitamin K is needed by the body for blood clotting. 
Let’s chat below! Did you know what all these terms mean? What other terms have you seen on social media that you don’t know the meaning of? 
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