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Exercise Nutrition Myths Still Exist

When it comes to exercise nutrition -- despite all the information that's available -- consumers are still misinformed, according to experts surveyed at the 13th annual Gatorade Sports Science Institute (GSSI) Conference on "The Science and Practice of Sports Nutrition" held in Chicago.

The survey, completed by athletic trainers, dietitians, sports nutritionists, exercise physiologistics, fitness trainers/instructors and other exercise science professionals, revealed the following:

Top Sports Nutrition Myths

Some myths have withstood decades, some are recycled every few years and others have just recently come into play. Exercise and nutrition experts surveyed said that the top three sports nutrition myths are:

  1. Carbohydrates make you fat.
  2. Loading up on protein builds muscles.
  3. If sports supplements work for the pros, they'll work for me.

According to Suzanne Steen, Ph.D., a sports nutritionist from the University of Washington, the popularity of diet books like "The Zone" and "Sugar Busters" have helped to fuel the most common myth about carbohydrats.

Ron Maughan, Ph.D., professor, the University of Aberdeen, agrees, "The carb/protein controversy rages, but decades of research show C and muscles insist C that carbohydrates are truly the active body's preferred source of energy."

What You Don't Know May Dehydrate You

The misinformation about sports nutrition extends to rehydration topics as well. People still don't understand the importance of staying on top of their fluid intake during exercise. The top three things people don=t know about hydration, according to the survey of experts, include:

  1. As little as 1 percent dehydration (1.5 lbs. of fluid loss for a 150 lb. person) can negatively affect the body.
  2. Thirst is not a good indicator of fluid needs.
  3. Research shows people only replace 50 percent of the fluid they've lost through sweat.

Why don't active people drink enough to fully rehydrate? According to Jackie Berning, Ph.D., a sports nutritionist from the University of Colorado and an American Dietetic Association spokesperson, people don't drink enough because thirst is actually a poor indicator of our fluid needs.

"Research shows that to help exercisers drink enough, the ideal fluid replacement beverage is flavored so that it tastes good and contains electrolytes like sodium and potassium that also encourage us to drink more. Sports drinks fit the bill in a way that water simply can not," said Berning.

Stay Healthy and (Web) Wise

If there's all this exercise nutrition misinformation, how can consumers ensure they get the most accurate advise? In addition to speaking with a certified fitness or nutrition professional, the experts surveyed recommended the following Web sites for credible information:

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