Logo NHC

Sports Nutrition – The Big Problem With Many Popular Products


You work hard to keep your body in top shape. Whether you do it simply to maintain good health, or to get a competitive edge, staying fit is certainly a worthwhile endeavor.

As a health-conscious person with a dedication to fitness, you only want what’s best for you body. Right?

Then why are so many people using sports nutrition products that could actually be doing more harm than good?

Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why you should avoid some of those best-sellers. Plus, we’ll also tell you about some products you can trust.

Sports Drinks

13555935473_ec3efd032a_mEver looked at the label on your favorite hydrating sports drink like Gatorade or Powerade? One of, if not the first ingredient will be high fructose corn syrup.

Do you know how much sugar is in the typical sports drink? Around two-thirds as much as a sugary soda. Hopefully, you wouldn’t down a Mountain Dew right before you exercise, but drinking many sports drinks isn’t much healthier.

Now, it is true that your muscles can use that fructose and glucose for energy, which might help you perform better in the short term. But most Americans are already getting way too much HFCS in their diets. In fact, the average person consumes 60 pounds per year. That’s why Princeton researchers say high-fructose corn syrup is partly to blame for America’s obesity issues. It’s in almost everything we get at the grocery store.

Water is still by far the best option for staying hydrated when you exercise. You may have heard that water can’t do as much for you because it doesn’t contain the electrolytes that sports drinks like Gatorade do. But according to an article from Harvard Health Publications, a team with the British Medical Journal claims major sports drink makers have spent a lot of money on media campaigns to promote misinformation.

A Better Way

Replacing electrolytes is important, but there are healthier ways to replenish those minerals and micronutrients. For instance, a product like ConcenTrace Drops from Trace Minerals allows you to add electrolytes to regular water. That way you can avoid the sugar – not to mention the artificial flavors and colors.

Protein Powders

3618445818_452dc0f5f9_mAthletes need more protein than people who live more average, sedentary lifestyles. And different types of athletes need different amounts of protein.

For instance, a body builder might need more protein than a marathon runner, but both need more than your typical couch potato.

It’s best to get the protein you need from a healthy diet, but athletes will often turn to other products to help support their needs, especially if they are looking to build muscle mass.

One of the big problems with sports nutrition products like protein powders is that they can sometimes contain potentially harmful ingredients. A 2010 Consumer Reports investigation into 15 popular protein products found samples in all of them that contained at least one dangerous ingredient like heavy metals.

“All drinks in our tests had at least one sample containing one or more of the following contaminants: arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury. Those metals can have toxic effects on several organs in the body.”

Sometimes people will use protein shakes as a way to help them lose weight. They drink the shake as a meal replacement thinking they are consuming fewer calories. But if that protein shake gives you more protein than your body requires, you may gain weight instead of lose it. A nutritionist that Consumer Reports talked to during its investigation said, in most situations, the body can only use 5 to 9 grams of protein per hour.

“Any excess that is not burned for energy is converted to fat or excreted, so it’s a ridiculous waste to be recommending so much more than you really need,” explained nutritionist and athletic trainer Kathleen Laquale. (Find out more about protein needs from Kerri in the video below.)

A Better Way

Once you understand how much protein  your body needs, it is possible to find protein products that are free of contaminants. You’ll find some great, all-natural protein powder options at Natural Healthy Concepts.

The source of the protein can make a difference too. While we offer some whey protein products, like those from Tera’s Whey, you’ll also find dairy-free and soy-free options. That includes pea protein powder like the vegetarian-friendly Pea Protein from NOW Foods.

Energy Bars

3733205331_2d01ab475c_mWhen it comes to quick and easy sports nutrition, energy bars are the go-to product for many athletes. But does your favorite energy bar offer any more nutrition than a candy bar?

Some nutrition experts would say no. In this video from ABC’s Good Morning America, a reporter spoke with a nutritionist who compared popular Kind Bars and Cliff Bars to the fat, sugar and protein content in Kit Kats and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. The makers of the energy bars responded by stating that their products were made with better ingredients, and that in many cases they were intended to be conveniently used by athletes for fuel – and not as a snack.

Interestingly, the energy bars we see all over the place were first developed for astronauts in the space program. It was a way to pack the calories and contents of an entire meal into a a form that was easier to eat in zero gravity.

So you have to ask yourself, why you are eating an energy bar? Are you having it in place of a meal? Do you need energy for a race or because you’ll be hiking all day long? If you’re eating it because it’s yummy and you already ate lunch but now you’re craving sometime sort of sweet – well, it might be a bad idea.

A Better Way

If convenience is what you’re after, there are options other than energy bars. For instance, some people call the banana “nature’s energy bar.” Fruit distributor Dole even sponsored research testing bananas against sports drinks by giving one or the other to long-distance bicyclists.

Of course, some athletes really can benefit from a product like energy bars. But if you’re concerned about what your bars are made of, you should check out the selections on our site. Some of our most popular sports nutrition products come from Vega. They make vegan-friendly Vega One bars in flavors like Chocolate Coconut Cashew. Those bars are essentially meal replacements, but you can also find Vega snack bars for something lighter.

Special Supplements

To meet their unique nutritional needs or to get the physical results they want, some of the most hardcore athletes will take special sports nutrition supplements.

Many of those products will make outlandish marketing claims about how they will help you miraculously lose weight, bulk up with huge muscles or give you amazing energy and stamina. Those marketers and manufacturers are playing off your drive to improve your athletic performance. Plus, they also ruin the reputations of honest supplement makers.

Some athletes will take supplements that provide amino acids – the building blocks of protein. Others may try supplements that are supposedly formulated to impact hormone production in order to enhance performance. It’s also important to keep in mind that certain supplements may be banned substances within different sports organizations. Some products being marketed as dietary supplements may actually be considered to be performance enhancing drugs (PEDs).

A Better Way

Everyone’s body and nutritional needs are different. That’s even more true when it comes to athletes. Many people spend a lot of time developing a routine that includes a diet of healthy food, a regular training schedule and supplementation that helps fill nutrient gaps. You need to determine what’s best for you, your sport of choice and your body.

Athletes definitely have special dietary needs. At Natural Healthy Concepts, you’ll find categories for Pre-Workout Supplements as well as Post-Workout Recovery. It may be wise to discuss any special supplements you choose to take with a healthcare professional, or get some advice from your personal trainer.

Enter Our Pick Your Favorite Sport Contest for a Chance to Win!


This week at Natural Healthy Concepts, we’re holding a contest to find out what sport our customers like the best.

Visit our Facebook Page to cast your vote! Enter your email for a chance to win an awesome prize package from Klean Athlete. We’re giving away their Train & Compete bundle, which is valued at $166. Klean Athlete is an official partner of the Major League Baseball Player’s Association, so there’s yet another natural healthy brand you know you can trust!

What kind of sports nutrition products do you use? Leave us a comment below and let’s continue the conversation.