If you’re an athlete, the optimal sports nutrition is probably a critical consideration for you. You do your homework, doing extensive reading and research. One problem. There’s a lot of poor information out there on the internet. The content you’re taking as advice could be one of the harmful sports nutrition myths.
Today, we are here to dispel a few of those inaccurate bits of information you may have read at one point or another. Our goal? To help you make smart and well-informed decisions when it comes to fueling your body for maximum performance.
1 – You Should Consume Heavy Carbs the Night Before Competing
You might have been told that your body needs an extra boost of energy that it can only get from carbohydrates. Therefore, you fill up on pasta or rice the day before a game. That advice to eat carbs might be accurate…or it might not. It all depends on your sport.
For endurance athletes—marathon runners or cyclists—the reserved energy from those carbs will push them through for the long haul. However, if you compete in shorter games or events, say two hours or less, you are better off skipping the heavy meal. It will leave you feeling sluggish. Instead, opt to fuel yourself for competition with a light protein-based meal the night ahead supplemented by PurAthlete Endurance during your game.
The Verdict: Carb-loading is beneficial for endurance athletes; others probably don’t benefit.
2 – Water Alone is the Best Performance Booster
Another bit of information you’ve been told time and again? That water alone is the best performance booster. Again, there’s a kernel of truth. Yes, water is vital while you are competing. Without it, your body could not sustain itself and perform at its best. And, yes, without it, you face dire health consequences. So, we are not disputing the need for water. That’s backed by science. But we do suggest that you choose a drink that replaces both water and electrolytes. During practice or competition, your body loses more than only water. It loses valuable electrolytes through perspiration, and you need to replace those so that you remain well-hydrated.
Read here for more information on how dehydration impacts your performance.
The Verdict: Water supplemented with electrolytes delivers longer-lasting hydration.
3 – Coffee Improves Athletic Performance
The use of coffee as a performance enhancer is another myth that’s seeded in a little nugget of truth. Yes, caffeine is proven to give you a surge of energy. But the story ends there. The burst you feel after drinking coffee or coffee shots lasts only a short time. After that, you might actually feel poorly. That caffeine surge often ends with a crash leading to a headache or a fuzzy-headed feeling. In addition, caffeine is also well-document to increase your need to urinate. And that fluid loss is the last thing that you need before heading off to the locker room to get ready to play.
The Verdict: Coffee and coffee shot drinks can lead to dehydration, headaches, and a sluggish performance.
4 – Only Use Whey Protein Sourced from Grass-fed Cows
Like so many myths, this one sounds slightly like an ultimatum, thanks to the word “only” inserted at the beginning of the phrase. While whey protein from grass-fed cows might (as in maybe, still being studied) be better than that of other cows, it doesn’t seem to make one bit of difference from a sports nutrition standpoint.
In fact, the most significant difference between cows who eat grass is a little higher level of Omega-3 fatty acids. There is no conclusive evidence that grass-fed cows vs. cows who feed on a conventional grain diet has any impact at all on an athlete’s nutrition.
The Verdict: The grass-fed cows appreciate their business. However, it’s not likely that their whey protein increases your athletic prowess.
5 – Coaches Know Everything About Nutrition
Here’s another nutrition myth—that coaches are an athlete’s best resource when they need guidance on their dietary needs. So, your coaches are awesome people, and you both respect and look up to them. But here’s the truth. While they are equipped to help you reach your performance goals, and the know your sport inside and out, they are not specialists in nutrition. Yes, they have had some education on general nutritional guidelines. And they weigh and measure you and share some tips with you. However, most coaches have not received the in-depth education that will help you take it to the next level. Who what’s a better resource you may have available? Your athletic trainer or sports medicine provider.
The Verdict: Coaches have volumes of general knowledge. When it comes to fine-tuning your nutrition, they might not be the best guide.
6 – You Can Never Drink Too Much Water
Because water is so necessary to keep our bodies hydrated, some mistake that and take it too far. The fact is that your body can take in too much water. When you drink too much water, here’s what happens. You dilute your electrolytes, leading to an imbalance. This condition, hyponatremia, results in a dangerous lowering of your blood sodium. It’s a perilous situation.
The Verdict: Overloading on water can lead to a dangerous electrolyte imbalance that benches you—or lands you in the hospital.
7 – The Ketogenic Diet is Ideal for Athletes
The Keto Diet rages on in popularity, and many athletes are told that it will enhance their performance. However, a 2017 study of two groups of athletes—one on a keto diet, and one on a more balanced diet—suggests otherwise. Presumably because of the ultra-low carbs of the ketogenic diet, the athletes in the keto group during the study became fatigued faster than the second group.
The Verdict: As an athlete, you need the fuel provided by complex carbs during events. Keto won’t cut it.
Because you’re an athlete, you work hard day in and day out. From early morning cardio workouts to evening strength training sessions, you give it all you’ve got. After all that your body does for you, don’t let it down by buying into these sports nutrition myths.