By Jeff Steinberg (copyright IFM Media)
Eeny, meeny, miny, moe … Do you ever feel like that’s your “strategic” approach to shopping for sports nutrition supplements? How else are you supposed to choose between the sheer volume of options?
Then there are the fancy graphics; they can get ya every time! Yet, a wise shopper knows to always look beyond the pretty packaging to see what’s really in the product; let’s face it, you’re consuming these supplements and your body deserves the best nutrition possible, and in our humble opinion, that doesn’t include artificial ingredients.
With that said, here are three artificial ingredients you should steer clear of …
- Artificial flavours
Artificial flavours are created in a lab, rather than isolated from natural food ingredients. When developed, the chemical compounds responsible for flavour are synthetically produced. Artificial flavours can also be indicators of lower-quality, processed foods. They are simply there to add flavour, not to provide any nutritional value by delivering vitamins, minerals, or other good stuff.
While artificial flavour makers are pretty decent at mimicking natural flavours, the taste profile just isn’t as complex. As for the health risks of consuming too many artificial flavours, research is inconclusive, however, consuming large amounts has been linked with lung disease. The safest option is to simply scan the label of your favourite supplements and look for the guarantee of “no artificial flavours” instead.
- Artificial colours
Colour is proven to be a huge driver in the way we shop. It triggers different sensory reactions and emotions, leading us to reach for one brand versus another. The same holds true for the food we eat. We associate different items with certain colours (i.e. yellow for banana-flavoured products, multi-coloured for fun breakfast cereals, etc.) and generally find clear-coloured food less appealing. For this reason, food manufacturers often use synthetic dyes to artificially produce a wide array of colours for mass production.
It might sound harmless, but consumer watchdog CSPI (the Center for Science in the Public Interest) says food dyes can cause everything from hyperactivity and allergic reactions to cancer. Furthermore, many food colourings haven’t been adequately tested to determine their long-range health effects. Yes, we like our favourite food, drinks, and supplements to look good … but at what cost?
- Artificial sweeteners
In recent years, sugar has become the new evil. In many ways, it earns its dubious title. Too much sugar consumption can lead to weight gain, energy crashes, and more serious health conditions like diabetes, heart disease, heart attacks, and strokes. For all these reasons, many people have turned to artificial sweeteners as a “healthier” option.
But beware. Artificial sweeteners are just as addictive and up to 600 times sweeter than sugar. According to a January 2020 article in Harvard Health Publishing, “People who routinely use artificial sweeteners may start to find less intensely sweet foods, such as fruit, less appealing and unsweet foods, such as vegetables, downright unpalatable.” This can promote a long-term habit of reaching for sugary, processed foods just to get that quick sweet fix.
Swapping sugar for sweetener is also reminiscent of the whole margarine craze in the ‘90s. People were convinced that butter was the enemy and margarine its healthier, angelic counterpart, but research has since shown the dangers of hydrogenated oils.
Worried about your weight and overall health? Artificial sweeteners can also slow your metabolism and have been known to cause their own set of health issues – from minor headaches and dizziness, to cancer.
So, what’s the alternative?
After all the time you spend in the gym, you want to replenish your body with the good stuff. We’re talking about healthy whole foods (like lean cuts of meat, whole grains, good fats, and fruit and vegetables) and clean supplementation (like protein powders, post-workout aids, keto-friendly snacks, and more).
The word “clean” gets used a lot, but in the case of your supplements, it means choosing options with natural vs. artificial ingredients. Many brands are filled with the three culprits listed above, but with products from companys such as NutraPhase natural ingredients are the foundation. These companies take the time to ensure that their products are completely free of artificial flavours, colours and sweetners - and most are vegan-friendly.
Your fitness goals might be different from the next person’s, but there’s one thing we can all agree on: proper nutrition is crucial. You can visit company websites, to see all the ways you can feed your hard-working body with natural, delicious supplements that won’t ever leave you playing the eeny-meeny-miny-moe game again!