Some recommendations are based on sounds scientific research that could improve your performance whilst other ‘advice’ is sadly lacking and could hamper it. Here are some common nutritional myths which, if followed could affect your health, your wealth and your performance.
Protein Shakes are Necessary for Muscle Gain
It is a common misconception that the more protein you eat, the more you can bulk up your muscles. It is true that many athletes have higher protein requirements than sedentary individuals and protein intake post exercise can help to promote muscle repair and synthesis. However, reaching straight for protein shake may not be the answer. In the vast majority of cases, athletes are consuming sufficient protein to meet their requirements without the need for additional supplements. When it comes to protein more is not necessarily better, our bodies can only utilise so much, high intakes could lead to an insufficient carbohydrate intake. Focus on including lean protein sources including fish, poultry, eggs and low fat dairy products at each meal to meet your requirements. Try the smoothie recipe below as a great alternative to protein shakes post workout.
1 small banana
Small handful of fresh or frozen blackberries
1 tbsp clear honey
100ml low fat Greek yogurt
150ml skimmed milk
- Peel the banana, pick over the blackberries to check for stems
- Put all the ingredients into a blender and blitz them together
- Serve in a tall glass or have it on the go after training
High Dose Vitamin C Supplements Help Prevent Against Cold
Unfortunately this commonly held belief is in fact a myth. There is a wealth of studies investigating the effect of vitamin C on the common cold, but we now know that large doses of vitamin C taken by individuals with an adequate amount in their diet will not prevent the virus. There is a small amount of evidence to suggest that vitamin C’s role in immune function may reduce the duration of a cold. The safest way to keep your immune system strong is to eat a balanced diet with adequate calories, carbohydrate, vitamins and minerals, avoiding supplements unless recommended by your Doctor or qualified sports Nutritionist.
Athletes Need a Body Fat Percentage of Around 5% to Improve Performance
Body composition is important for sporting performance, however ‘optimal’ levels of body fat will depend on sex, sport and the time of year. It is difficult to maintain a low body fat all year round given different levels of training. Losing weight too quickly without maintaining a good nutritional balance is likely to lead to muscle loss, impacting on training and increasing your risk of stress fractures and illness.
Nutrition Supplements Are Needed to Maximise Performance
With up to 85% of athletes taking nutritional supplements it often seems as though it is the key to sporting performance. The vast array of products on the market claiming to reduce fat, improve performance and boost immunity fuel this assumption helping to promote a market known to be worth over £3billion-per-year. It is true that athletes with busy training and competition schedules often have increased requirements for micronutrients including B vitamins, antioxidants and iron. Nutritional deficiencies tend to occur in athletes tightly restricting their diet; increased requirements can usually be addressed through diet. In fact, supplementation of some nutrients (including large doses of antioxidants) could potentially impair your performance, health and leave you at risk of positive doping tests.
If you find that you are regularly fatigued and believe you may be at risk of vitamin and mineral deficiencies and please speak with your Doctor, Sports Nutritionist or check out our Physical Performance Nutrition Passport here.
This feature is courtesy of our friends Kelly, Louise and Veronica, all registered dietitians from EatandThink.co.uk – EatandThink offer sound nutritional advice for all stages of life with a no-fads philosophy and common sense approach to wellbeing. Find out more and register for their weekly meal plans at EatandThink.co.uk