In the world of nutrition and fitness, there are a lot of facts out there that get mistaken for myths. And even more myths that get mistaken for facts.

As exercise and dietary professionals that are dedicated to helping each and every one of our clients reach their individual fitness goals, it’s important that we know the difference between sports nutrition facts and myths.

And as someone interested in improving their body’s fitness and health, you owe it to yourself to know the difference as well.

That’s why we’ve gathered up some of the most common sports nutrition facts and myths below. With this knowledge, you’ll be able to get fitter, healthier, and stronger even faster.

1. What is Sports Nutrition?

In the most basic sense of the word, a sports nutritionist is a specialist dedicated to improving the health and performance of professional and amateur athletes as well as sports enthusiasts.

They may offer meal plans, dietary advice, and even suggestions of which supplements to take, all in an effort to increase their physical fitness and boost their performance.

As nutrition plays a key role in how your body heals itself from injury, they may also be instrumental in proper recovery as well.

And when you combine the experience and knowledge of a sports nutritionist with the myriad of benefits associated with a personal trainer, you know you’ve got one heck of a winning combination.

2. Nutritionists vs. Dietitians: Not the Same

While a lot of people use these two terms interchangeably, the truth is that a sports nutritionist and a dietitian aren’t necessarily one in the same. Here’s why.

A dietitian is a career that’s generally a bit more regulated than a nutritionist. A lot of them have to actually become certified and licensed before practicing and these restrictions vary state by state.

Beyond that, a dietitian will more often than not need a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university as well, typically in a field like nutrition science.

A sports nutritionist, on the other hand, isn’t as tightly regulated. But don’t be confused: just because a sports nutritionist isn’t tethered down by federal regulation doesn’t mean they don’t know what they’re doing.

In fact, many sports nutritionists may have a graduate degree, or even a PhD. What’s more, there are a variety of certification boards that have just as stringent of testing and qualification measures as dietitians.

And best of all, a sports nutritionist works with athletes. They’re intimately familiar with the particular requirements and struggles of more active individuals and, as such, are many times more qualified to help them than a dietician.

3. Sports Nutrition Supplements: Yay or Nay?

As anyone in the fitness field knows, there’s a lot of uncertainty around whether supplements are actually helpful in training and, if they are, which ones are both safe and effective.

And it’s time to put this question to rest for good: do supplements really and truly help you reach your fitness goals?

… well, maybe…

The truth is there are so many different kinds out there that there is no good answer here. Some have been scientifically proven to work wonders, and others can end up seriously harming your body.

So, the short answer is some can end up helping you, and others might do the opposite. The best steps you can take to ensure you get the former are to do your research and seek out supplement advice from trained professionals.

4. Do You HAVE TO Eat Protein Right After a Workout?

This one is still a bit fuzzy: some claim it’s absolutely essential to consume a hefty portion of protein right after any workout session. Others say it’s unnecessary.

And to make matters even more confusing, both sides have the scientific studies to back up their arguments.

But ultimately, they both seem to be right on at least some level.

How does that work? Well, it turns out that the single most important part of protein intake is that you’re getting it, and you’re getting enough in a day.

So if you consume less protein than you need to build muscle, but you’re consuming them right after a workout, you still won’t see results.

If you’re, say, training for a bodybuilding competition, doing so might really help you keep on a schedule and get as much protein as you need to reach your especially high goals.

And while there is some merit to the post-workout protein craze, the biggest contributor is overall consumption by far.

5. The More Protein You Eat, The Better… Right?

True, protein is crucial when it comes to building muscle.

But that simply doesn’t mean you can have as much of it as you want. Just like anything else in this world, consuming too much of this particular macronutrient might actually lead to a host of health problems down the line.

In fact, some of those health problems might actually include kidney and gastrointestinal problems.

Beyond that, taking in more protein than your body can process will also turn these valuable building blocks into that most aggravating of storage cells: fat.

The takeaway here is that while it’s important to get enough protein, going overboard can both damage your health and slow progress towards your fitness goals.

Like other myths in the world of exercise and nutrition, all it takes to eradicate this one is a quick look at the real science behind muscle growth.

6. Sugar as A Part of Nutrition for Athletic Performance

Sugar’s earned itself a pretty bad name lately.

Much of the general public attributes the growing problem of obesity to this enticing molecule and, when you look at the fact that it’s in almost everything we eat, you can’t blame them.

But when it comes to the world of sports nutrition, sugar can actually play a pretty important role in keeping your muscles working and giving you the energy to push on even further.

You see, during strenuous exercise, the body uses up glycogen stored in the liver as a source of energy. Once that glycogen is used up, you begin to feel tired, like you really want to give up.

With sugar added into the mix, specifically glucose and fructose, that liver glycogen is actually replenished, letting you keep on keeping on.

In fact, some studies have shown that incorporating sugar into your workout may actually help improve performance, especially for particularly active athletes.

So while it might go against everything you’ve heard, if you’re an athlete, you may actually benefit from incorporating a bit of sweetness into your workout.

7. Alcohol: Not Part of a Proper Sports Nutrition Diet Plan

Alcohol has become incredibly ingrained into modern life. A beer after work, a glass of wine or two with dinner, a nightcap before heading off to bed…

And as much as a drink can help you relax after a hard day at work, it certainly isn’t doing you any favors when it comes to reaching your overall fitness goals.

There are a fair amount of myths surrounding drinking and what it can mean for exercise and weight loss. A lot of people cling to the idea that if they only drink liquor, they’re dodging enough calories to stay on track.

Or that as long as they stay away from beer then they won’t end up negating hours of work put in at the gym.

This type of thinking is dangerous for anyone seriously looking to lose weight and increase their fitness.

Research has shown that the standard alcoholic drink is around 15 grams of ethyl alcohol. And when each gram is around 7 calories a piece, that adds up to at least 105 calories in a single drink.

And if you end up having 10 drinks over the course of a week, that means you’ve ingested at least 1050 extra calories!

What’s more, alcohol has also been shown to have a detrimental effect on muscle recovery as well.

It all adds up to this: cut the booze to cut the fat!

Knowledge Is Power

Achieving your fitness goals can admittedly be pretty grueling. It takes hard work, dedication, motivation, and a whole lot of sweat. And in the end, it really does pay off.

But the more you know about the facts behind sports nutrition and the better able you are to identify and avoid the myths, the easier it’ll be.

And if you need a little bit of help along the way, well, you know where to look.