In the world of athletics and sports nutrition, there is a massive amount of misinformation shared every day. With all of this information overload, it’s hard to know what’s true and what’s false. You might hear that one thing is the key to torching calories the first day, and the next see something that says to avoid it entirely.

While we can’t go over all of the sports nutrition myths that you may encounter while trying to find out what’s best for you and your lifestyle, in this article we’re going to go over four myths that we think are important to be aware of.

Myth #1: Carb-Loading is Necessary Before a Race

Some fitness enthusiasts fall victim to the belief that eliminating all carbohydrates from their diet is the way to go when it comes to eating healthier—and that certainly isn’t true for high-performing athletes. But while carbs are an essential piece to a healthy diet that will keep you energized throughout the day, that doesn’t mean you need to overdo it on the days leading up to a race or sporting event.

There are numerous strategies to effectively provide your body with the energy you’ll need—but as always, it’s best to engage in moderation. A balanced, healthy diet with complex carbohydrates can help support your metabolic regulation, heart health, and energy levels. Bulking up on carbs isn’t necessarily going to make you perform better—it might just make you sick. And it completely depends on the event, length of duration, and your health history.

Myth #2: You Should Eat as Much Protein as Possible

Protein is vital to muscle gain and recovery for athletes who are trying to take their game to the next level, but consuming too much protein can lead to imbalances or gut issues depending on the source of protein, which could set you back. Different people will require different amounts of protein based on what they are trying to achieve, and yes, although many people do not get adequate protein, there is not a one-size-fits-all answer to “How much protein should I consume?” It is not always recommended to push more and more protein, especially in the form of supplements.

Athletes should strive for a balanced diet of mostly whole foods that includes the appropriate amount of protein, healthy fats, fiber, and complex carbs. If you’re wondering what the best protein ratio for you is, you should consider nutritional counseling.

Speaking with a professional to gain insight on how you can best reach your goals is a great way to get a solid, science-backed plan that works for you.

Myth #3: Fasting Before a Workout Burns More Fat

Athletes are often looking to maximize muscle gains while minimizing any accrued fat. There are a variety of different myths surrounding spot-reduction and other means to rapidly gain muscle without fat.

One of these myths is that exercising on an empty stomach will burn more fat, without impacting your muscle, cardio, and performance benefits.

While there are optimal times to eat and fast, the reality is that if you work out after a significant fast, you won’t do anything but hinder your performance. In fact, you may even put yourself at risk of injury, especially if you find yourself feeling lightheaded or weak entering your workout.

You don’t necessarily need to carb-load before a workout, and you don’t need to fast. A simple snack with some carbs and protein is usually a good choice. A piece of fruit with low-fat cheese or, or a slice of bread with some peanut butter and a banana are all a good choice. Your body will thank you afterward.

Myth #4: Plant-Based Diets are Suboptimal

If you don’t eat meat for personal, health, or religious reasons, you may have heard that eating a plant-based diet will be a roadblock in achieving your fitness goals. While it may take a bit more planning and preparation, there is no reason why an athlete following a plant-based diet will not be able to achieve the same results as someone who consumes meat. Though there are differences between animal and plant proteins, soy foods, beans, nut butters, seeds, and quality supplements are all great sources that can help fuel your muscle gains and performance.

Again, speaking to a Registered Dietitian is a great idea if you don’t eat meat and want to build a plan for how you can reach your goals. They’ll be able to point you in the right direction and give you a solid base of knowledge that will keep you fueled for all of the hard work you’re putting in!

Tired of Sports Nutrition Myths? Give Chain Effect a Call

If you’re tired of the buzz and want the facts, the Registered Dietitians at Chain Effect develop a personalized plan for you that takes all aspects of your health into account. Our RDs have spent years becoming experts by studying the best ways to fuel your body so that you’re performing and recovering as efficiently as possible.

For those who aren’t in Raleigh, Chain Effect also offers virtual Nutrition Counseling services nationwide! Head over to our appointment booking tool to set up a consultation.

We look forward to meeting you and helping you start your journey to a healthier, happier you!