True or false? 10 nutrition myths in sports under the microscope
10 nutrition myths under the microscope
Running without breakfast helps lose weight and promotes fat metabolism
Robert Gorgos, nutritionist and longtime nutritionist in elite sports: “You can’t make that sweeping statement about whether it’s right or wrong. Because, as is often the case, there are some factors to consider.
It starts with whether you are a man or a woman. In fact, it has been shown that fasting exercise is not very beneficial for women due to hormonal factors. For men, on the other hand, it can be very helpful in some circumstances.
The prerequisite for this, however, is that you adhere to certain rules.
It is very important that during the fasting run you actually move in an area where the fat metabolism is boosted. How fast you have to run for this varies from person to person, of course.
In addition, do not overdo it with the duration!
That is, fasting runs should ideally last 30-40 minutes. Running longer than 60 minutes should be avoided at all costs.
Also, keep an eye on the intensity. Under no circumstances should intense sessions, such as interval training, be completed sober.
However, these rules are at odds with the often-heard statement that sober runs are the optimal way to lose weight.
If I run quietly for 40-50 minutes, I don’t expend a lot of energy and therefore don’t burn very high amounts of fat.
So if you like to lose weight, you can certainly find more efficient methods than fasting runs.
On the other hand, if someone wants to stimulate fat metabolism, 1-2 fasting runs (for men) a week are perfectly fine.
How you can train your fat metabolism even as a woman, or without fasting runs, you will learn HERE .
It’s also worth noting that sober runs can’t replace steady base training sessions of longer duration.”
It is not possible to avoid energy deficit during exercise
Robert Gorgos: “One always speaks of an energy deficit when more energy is consumed than is supplied. However, the fact that athletes must fall into an energy deficit every time they train is not absolutely necessary in order to achieve a training stimulus.
Basically, you can avoid a too large energy deficit with subsequent long recovery time during training by an adequate energy supply, e.g. by sport-specific carbohydrate drinks.
Of course, the optimal energy supply depends on the training stimulus, because the intensity and duration of the training significantly influences the energy consumption.
If a casual – moderate run of a duration up to 2 hours is on the program, the energy deficit can be reduced by the intake of approx. 30-60g carbohydrates/hour.
If, on the other hand, an ultra-marathon or very intensive training is completed, for example, a larger energy deficit will hardly be avoided. Nevertheless, care should be taken to keep the deficit as low as possible through an adequate energy supply.
Carbohydrate drinks such as our POWER CARBfrom Ministry of Nutrition are a good way to compensate for an emerging energy deficit in the best possible way.
Through our POWER CARB, up to 80g of carbohydrates per hour can be easily absorbed. This way you can keep your energy deficit low even during intense competitions/training sessions, continue to be supplied with plenty of power and avoid catabolic metabolic states with subsequent long recovery time.
You can find many tips for proper care during training in our KNOWLEDGE CENTER.
Energy gels hit the stomach
Robert Gorgos: “To basically label this statement as right or wrong is not possible.
Of course, an energy gel can hit your stomach. Especially if it is not well tolerated due to certain ingredients or athletes try unknown gels in competition for the first time.
However, energy gels can also be a good source of energy. The prerequisite for this, however, is that they have a high level of tolerance, e.g. through natural ingredients, and that the use of the gels is practiced during training.
It is important to practice energy intake during any intense workout. This increases performance in the long term and optimizes training adaptation.
Additionally, you’ll find out if gels work for you as an energy source, or if a carbohydrate drink is a better option for you.”
After the workout I need to eat something immediately
Robert Gorgos: “This statement is basically not a nutrition myth. However, the individual interpretation of each athlete may be somewhat incorrect.
Many think they need to eat a really big meal right after a workout. This is not quite correct. We provide some clarity:
It is very important to supply energy within an hour after exercise. During this time (also called open window) your body is particularly receptive to the nutrients you take in and can process them well.
This supports the regeneration process and the training stimulus can be better processed. It has been shown several times in studies that this simple trick can significantly improve performance in follow-up training.
But to achieve this, you don’t have to force yourself to eat a big meal right after your workout.
The best way to support your body is to consume easily digestible carbohydrates and proteins. For example, in the combination of 0.8g carbohydrates with 0.2-0.4g proteins per kilogram of body weight.
So for a 50kg athlete that would be: 40g of carbs and 10-20g of protein. It doesn’t take a monster meal to get to these quantities.
High amounts of fat, on the other hand, should be avoided. This is because it slows down the absorption of the other nutrients.
A good solution that many top athletes rely on daily is the RECOVERY SHAKE from Ministry of Nutrition. This contains high-quality proteins that support your muscle regeneration and your immune system.
In addition, RECOVERY SHAKE contains easily digestible carbohydrates to fill your carbohydrate stores and natural protectants from the organic cocoa it contains.”
Apple spritzer & non-alcoholic beer are optimal regeneration drinks
Robert Gorgos: “Based on current scientific data, this statement must generally be considered a myth. And this is because the combination of proteins and carbohydrates just mentioned is considered a regeneration turbo.
Both apple spritzer and non-alcoholic beer contain only carbohydrates. They therefore provide energy as well as liquid – but no proteins.
Of course, energy intake after exercise is very important, so consuming apple juice is better than nothing. If, for example, we only run for 40 minutes and the next day is a rest day, an apple spritzer can be sufficient as a “regeneration drink”.
If, on the other hand, you need to recover from an intense training stimulus and train efficiently again later/the next day, an apple spritzer contains too little energy and, for example, no amino acids such as glutamine or leucine!
In such a case, a regeneration shake is clearly preferable. For a fast regeneration after muscularly particularly strenuous units would be e.g. also our RECOVERY 8 would be a good choice.
This contains both carbohydrates and all 8 essential amino acids that promote rapid muscle recovery after particularly hard training stimuli.”
Magnesium deficiency causes muscle cramps
Robert Gorgos: “Neither completely right nor completely wrong. While magnesium deficiency can be partly responsible for muscle cramps, most cramps are due to other factors.
So what really triggers a muscle spasm?
In the first sense, a spasm can be understood as a stop signal. Your body is most likely not ready to handle a certain unfamiliar stimulus over a long period of time. The muscular misuse and/or overuse eventually triggers a muscle spasm.
The second point to mention is fluid loss. Drinking too little promotes muscle cramps.
Specifically, it has been shown that from a loss of 2% of body weight, the likelihood of muscle spasm increases significantly. Apart from that, such a high sweat loss also decreases the performance.
So good hydration measures are a crucial point to avoid muscle cramps.
Those who resort to a carbohydrate drink in the course of hydration take double precautions. This is because empty glycogen stores can also cause a muscle cramp.
When your muscle glycogen – the carbohydrates stored in your muscles – is nearing its end, your body tries to send you a signal by causing a muscle spasm.
Last but not least, the electrolytes lost through sweat – such as magnesium – also play a role.
However, not only magnesium is lost through sweat. In fact, magnesium is only the fourth most lost electrolyte.
Sodium is lost in the highest amounts, followed by potassium and calcium.
For this reason, when a cramp occurs or is prevented, it also makes much more sense to supply an electrolyte mix than isolated megadoses of magnesium.
Various sports drinks are fortified with sodium and thus serve to prevent muscle cramps. For example, our POWERCARB HEAT.
In general, individual factors of the athlete also play an important role. Sodium loss in g sodium/l sweat varies from individual to individual and depends, among other things, on diet and current fitness level.
Spinach is full of iron and therefore important for athletes
Robert Gorgos: “It is undoubtedly true that iron is important for athletes. Endurance athletes – especially women – are often affected by iron deficiency. An iron deficiency can severely affect performance and should, of course, be avoided.
Spinach is healthy and has many positive properties – but a high iron content is not one of them. This nutrition myth persists, but it is due to a comma error, on the basis of which Popeye was probably founded.
Iron is found in spinach, but not in particularly high amounts. On the contrary, spinach even contains substances such as oxalic acid, which inhibit iron absorption.
In addition, the body usually absorbs iron from plant products more heavily than from animal foods.
To fill your iron stores as an athlete*, there are clearly better foods than spinach.”
Veganism leads to an increase in performance
Robert Gorgos: “The diet of each individual is a decision that must be respected in principle and that everyone must make for themselves.
From a purely scientific point of view, however, there is not ample data to confirm a performance-enhancing effect of the vegan diet. The best diet for this purpose seems to be a mixed plant-based diet.
This is the easiest way to circumvent various nutrient deficiencies and ensure high nutrient density.
But, of course, it always depends on the implementation. After all, there are vegans as well as mixed foodists who eat an unhealthy diet.
In the end, the focus is on a healthy, nutrient-rich diet that meets the specific needs of an athlete. We will go into more detail on the topic of veganism in sports. HERE in detail.
That is why our products are vegan: We place particular emphasis on excellent gastric tolerance in the manufacture of our products. It is our goal that athletes can eat the best possible food without risking gastrointestinal problems. We also want to offer athletes* with various food allergies high-quality sports products.”
Coffee has a dehydrating effect
Robert Gorgos: “If we base the answer to this question on the average amount of coffee consumed by the population, the answer is no.
However, caffeine can have a diuretic effect. However, this requires quantities of over 500mg. As a comparison, a cup of coffee contains an average of 80mg.
In these quantities, i.e. even with several cups, coffee does not have a dehydrating effect and can be counted as part of the general fluid intake.
Besides caffeine, coffee also contains other substances that bring health benefits. For example, there are plenty of antioxidants in coffee. Antioxidants are substances that help your body neutralize free radicals.
Free radicals are highly reactive molecules and are produced in stress reactions such as those caused by physical exertion or, for example, cigarette smoke. They develop a number of harmful properties for our body and must therefore be neutralized by antioxidants.
Antioxidants are found not only in coffee, but also especially in fruits and vegetables.
So if you don’t overdo it with your daily coffee consumption, coffee won’t negatively affect your water balance – and will even bring you health benefits.”
Toast with honey is the optimal breakfast before the competition
Robert Gorgos: “Here it is similar to the question with the gels: The most important thing is testing in training.
Basically, toast (white bread) with honey is a good breakfast before a run. This breakfast provides you with fast, easily digestible carbohydrates, low fats and low proteins.
Fat and protein should be avoided immediately before an intense run, as these nutrients take longer to digest.
Nevertheless, you have to find out your personal, optimal breakfast yourself. Just because toast with honey works well in theory doesn’t mean it has to be your best choice.
You can only find this out by testing out different breakfast variations and finding your favorite.
Also, the length of the race affects the optimal composition of the breakfast. If the competition is long, a porridge can also turn out to be an optimal breakfast.
The porridge provides you with additional liquid and long-lasting energy through the oat flakes.
You can find out some alternative breakfast suggestions for race day and more about proper nutrition for runners HERE.”