Eating right is vitally important, especially if you’re a fitness buff, but if you reference many popular fitness resources, you’ll find they’re packed with information on complicated supplements like pre-workout and protein powders and creatinine. Many also recommend complicated diet plans that they suggest will help you build muscle faster – but is any of this really true?
As with so much other marketing, most of these products are entirely unnecessary, but it can be hard to separate fact from fiction, especially if you’re new to working out. As you get started, keep an eye out for these 5 common but misleading nutrition statements and you’ll soon find you’re making savvy, fitness friendly food choices.
Myth: You need to consume sports drinks to stay hydrated.
Fact: It’s vital that you stay properly hydrated when working out, but you don’t need sports drinks to do that. That’s because, despite their widespread popularity, most sports drinks are high in sugar and the average person doesn’t lose enough electrolytes while working out to warrant added intake. You’ll be fine as long as you drink plenty of water and eat a balanced diet. It’s that simple.
Myth: If you’re not seeing progress, it’s because you’re not taking the right supplements.
Fact: If you’re not seeing progress – however you’re measuring that – there’s most likely a shortcoming in your training program. It may not be specific enough, you may be expecting to see improvement too quickly, or there may be some other gap. Whatever the problem, though, consuming more protein or an excess of caffeine to energize before your workout won’t help.
Myth: Your muscles can’t recover without post-workout supplements.
Fact: Whether someone is trying to sell you a protein powder or another after workout supplement like a “recovery” powder, there’s nothing there that you can’t get directly from food. For example, most post-workout protein powders are nothing more than whey and sugar, so you might as well have a glass of chocolate milk – and many athletes actually swear by this simple hack. Ultimately, whatever food combinations you turn to, whole foods are better for you, cheaper, and much less likely to contain harmful additives.
Myth: Supplements can help you burn more fat.
Fact: This is one of the most popular supplement claims because even non-athletes want to burn fat, but the fact is that any supplement that promises to reconfigure your metabolism to help you burn fat is nothing more than snake oil. The only way to burn fat is by using more energy than is immediately available as glucose, thereby forcing your body to move on to your fat stores.
Myth: Supplements are harmless, even if they don’t help.
Fact: Supplements are not closely regulated, and even if you’re lucky enough to only buy products that are free of major contaminants, taking in too many of certain vitamins and minerals can be distinctly harmful.
While some vitamins are simply excreted without any ill-effects, others can put strain on your organs or be stored in the body resulting in toxicity. This is highly unlikely to happen when getting nutrients from whole food sources, but it’s easy to overdo it on the concentrated nutrients in supplement products.
The fitness supplement industry can be a minefield to the uninitiated, but there’s a simple way to look at the issue: you don’t need any of them. By opting out of this market and instead fueling your fitness naturally, you can protect your health and your wallet, all without missing out on anything you really need.