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Myth Busting: The Sports Nutrition Facts You Should Know

Many top Olympians work with Registered Dietitians who know that what they eat impacts their activity, but recreational exercisers may not know the same. From what to drink during a workout to what to eat afterwards, nutrition certainly can impact health and performance. However, myths what to eat and drink during exercise are plentiful. Here are the most common myths I hear about sports nutrition – and some facts to set the record straight.

Fact: Sports drinks contain fluid and electrolytes including sodium, calcium, magnesium, and potassium to replace what is lost through sweat during exercise. They also contain carbohydrates (namely, sugar) to help provide fuel for long workouts. But if you’re exercising for less than an hour, water is likely all you need.1

Fact: Exercising does not and should not give you a free pass to eat poor quality food. Exercise puts additional stress on the body and you will need to mend and take care of your body because of that.  Foods rich in antioxidants – like organic vegetables and fruits – help avoid damage due to oxidative stress during training.2 Snack on radishes with hummus, add grilled asparagus to dinner, or blend in some kale to your morning smoothie.  

Fact: It’s true, the “afterburn” (or EPOC, Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption) does indeed increase your metabolism after exercise.3 However, that extra calorie burn is not enough to warrant that additional slice of pizza or scoop of ice cream each time you exercise. Instead, refuel and rebuild after exercise with balance of carbohydrates (to replenish glycogen, aka stored carbohydrates, used during exercise) and protein (to repair and rebuild muscle). If you do want to indulge after exercise, keep your treat to a healthy, respectful portion.

Fact: It’s not. You can inexpensively fit exercise in by going on a walk or a run outside, heading to the park and using the monkey bars for pull ups, or by doing a set of pushups, sit ups, and jumping jacks in your home. Eat budget-friendly foods like bananas, beans, and oats more often. Include foods like celery with peanut butter, steamed broccoli with olive oil and slivered almonds, or sautéed mustard greens with hemp seeds for a meal or snack for better nutrition bite by bite.

Want more nutrition myth busting? Follow me on Facebook @YESNutritionLLC and ask me your questions!


1. Exercise and Fluid Replacement. American College of Sports Medicine. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 2007 Feb; 39(2):337-390.

2. Pingitore, A. et al. Exercise and oxidative stress: potential effects of antioxidant dietary strategies in sports. Nutrition. 2015 Jul-Aug;31(7-8):916-22.

3. LaForgia, J., Withers, R.T., Gore, C.J.. Effects of exercise intensity and duration on the excess post-exercise oxygen consumption. J Sports Sci. 2006 Dec;24(12):1247-64.

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