Are you looking for sports nutrition products that truly enhance performance without horrible side effects you only find out about years later? That's the trick, isn't it? The problem is, the market is saturated with sports products that either don't work or have big health risks. It is easy to get overwhelmed because you don't know if you can trust the claims of the manufacturer.
Lots of us make decisions based on classic marketing techniques or big buck advertising. Don't feel ashamed if you've made this mistake. I've done it too! You shouldn't have to worry that you're sacrificing your health to possibly improve your workout performance...maybe...if the product is actually effective. That's why I went digging into the research data, and here I'm sharing the 5 main items to avoid when shopping sports nutrition. Let's begin with the top offender.
1. High-Stimulant Sports Nutrition Pre-Workout
If it doesn’t make you taste sounds, it must not work! Well, no. The main reason I recommend a pre-workout drink is not for the stimulant factor. Your best pre-workout supplements will prioritize focus, blood flow, and stamina.
“Well, uh, caffeine, bro. Duh?”
The truth is caffeine can be one of the worst things to take before most any exercise session. In fact, caffeine can lead to increases in cortisol production. Especially when used long term and in high doses. We all know that “one scoop” serving will wear out and we will have to jump to 2...or 3...or well, you get the picture. Don’t misunderstand me. Without cortisol we couldn’t burn fat. But, too much of a good thing is a fat thing. When overstimulated, digestion decreases and neurological function becomes compromised. That super-awesome-ultra-expensive-west-coast-protein-shake isn’t worth much if it runs right through you. Which, it will because you’ll be stuck in a sympathetic (fight or flight) state. Instead, select a pre-workout sports supplement that contains high quality ingredients. Look for good amounts of ingredients such as: Choline, Beta Alanine, Theanine, Huperzine, Citrulline, Arginine, Beet Root, Betaine, Electrolytes or Coconut Oil Powder, and Mushrooms like Lion’s Mane and Cordyceps. There are many more ingredients worthy of mention. But, if your pre-workout has the ingredients mentioned, above, I am confident they will have a full load of the others.
2. Artificial Colors
This one’s a doozy. It’s hard to find sports nutrition products without artificial colors. And, there are many! But, for this post, we'll go easy and say let’s do our best to avoid just one. Red 40. Here’s the problem; it’s in everything! Well, almost everything.
“So, what’s so bad about it?” I’m glad you asked.
Red 40 received “known carcinogen” status in California years ago. And, the expectation is it will receive the same elsewhere soon. Its potential for causing cancer is one of its many dangers. It's also linked to hyperactivity disorders, immune suppression, and is a known allergen. Also, it is petroleum based. Many companies are seeking alternatives to this hazardous ingredient in the form of beetroot coloring. Red 40 is always listed in the “other ingredients” section. There are other artificial ingredients in most of the sports supplements out there. But, like sweeteners and flavors, the dangers of those has yet to match the potential dangers of Red 40.
This particular ingredient is invasive in the sports nutrition supplement market. It isn’t a particularly “dangerous” ingredient. But, it serves little purpose beyond acting as a cheap filler masquerading as a “low-glycemic” carbohydrate source. The biggest problem with maltodextrin is not the effect as a nutrient, but more the probable toxic load. Maltodextrin derives from corn. And is, in most cases, genetically modified or GMO corn. 40% is sprayed by pesticides. 80% of the "Roundup" or glyphosate antibiotic sprayed in the US is on corn, soybeans and cotton. For all these reasons, it would make sense to try and avoid the yielded materials of these crops.
4. Proprietary Blends
Secrets don’t make friends, and neither do proprietary blends. To me, this is the most aggravating attribute a sports nutrition product can have. Now, just because a product has a proprietary blend does not mean that it is wholly a “bad product.” But, in my professional opinion, it is a shady and dishonest approach to ingredient labeling. A proprietary label enables a company to sprinkle bits and pieces of high quality, well known, or otherwise popular ingredients into a product in, “less than effective” doses. Then, they fill up the remaining space with cheaper, or less effective ingredients. But, many ingredients used in the sports market are not cheap. And that is reflected in the average cost of these products to consumers.
The problem comes when one company leverages itself as having the “best ingredients” vs. another when the other may have more of 1 or 2 of the “best” ingredients in effective doses and the former company has 5 “top ingredients” in less (and in many cases far less) than effective dosages. Oh, and they are also the same price. So, the average consumer is going to go for the best bang for their buck, as they should. This causes them to get cheated out of a better product because of dishonest marketing. I see this far more often than I should. And the best advice I can give is to always approach a proprietary blend with caution and doubt. If the company is afraid or unwilling to tell you exactly how much of what is in their product, ask yourself, “why?”
5. Celebrity Endorsements
Not even kidding. Working in this industry for almost a decade, I have heard all sorts of reasons from people about why they want to try a particular workout supplement. Of the hundreds I have heard, the classic, "fill-in-the-blank-actor or bodybuilder or singer, etc. uses this one and says that’s how they got in such great shape.” In the world of competitive supplement marketing it is all about name recognition. Most folks don’t sit at home or at work and research every little detail and ingredient in every supplement they take/want to take. And, that is fine. What is troubling, albeit understandable, is how difficult it is to dissuade a potential customer from making a huge quality (and often financial) mistake by investing in whatever company the celebrity of your choice is endorsing. So, allow me to set the record straight. Most of these celebrities don’t know anything about, nor have they likely ever taken, the product they are endorsing. They get paid a lot of money to hold a product (or they don’t and have their name illegally attached to a marketing scheme) in a picture and have it plastered all over social media and magazines. I mean, who doesn’t want to look like The Rock?
If nothing else hits home, I hope at least this will. Just because it has a big name behind it, doesn’t mean it is any good. Remember, doctors used to get paid to endorse their favorite cigarettes.
Sports Nutrition at Nutrition World
Now that we've talked about the top 5 items to avoid when shopping Sports Nutrition, you might be wondering which products are right for you. Not to worry. Nutrition World has you covered. We only carry the most high quality, safe, and effective products on the market.
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Disclaimer: The information on this website and the topics discussed have not been evaluated by the FDA or anyone of the medical profession, and is not aimed to replace any advice you may receive from your medical practitioner. Nutrition World assumes no responsibility or liability whatsoever on the behalf of any purchaser or reader of any of these materials. Nutrition World is not a doctor, nor does it claim to be, please consult your physician before beginning any health regimen. If you are being treated for any medical illness, check with your medical professional before starting any protocol.