The internet is awesome. It’s filled with tons of information on any topic you could think of. Unfortunately, the internet also sucks sometimes. There’s probably a greater amount of bad information out there than good. These statements apply for really all kinds of topics, but especially for health/fitness related information. How does one look for good information? What even is good information? How do I know whether what I’m reading is bs or legitimate? These are questions that are huge challenges faced by today’s society as we are submerged in the wealth of information the internet has to offer. The goal of this post is not to answer all these questions, since completion of this task tremendously exceeds the scope of a single blog post. Rather, in addition to providing practical information in response to these questions, the goal of this post is too widen your perspective on these issues and serve as a stepping stone to become better at finding the health information which is best for your desired health outcome(s).
Some background on the origins of “bad” information…
Let’s begin with a seemingly crazy statement. MOST INFORMATION OUT THERE IS NOT 100% WRONG. So, what does that even mean? Let’s use a previously talked about subject as an example, “does eating more meals boost your metabolism”? We concluded that that the statement was indeed false; regardless of frequency, the amount of energy burned by food consumption stays the same. So what’s up with the all-caps/bolded statement above? Well here comes the tricky part. People who support the claim of increased meal frequency may have some evidence proving their point to be true. So how do we know if their information if reliable or not? Science and studies, that’s how.
Through the science and studies, for the most part, we are most precisely able to determine a reasonable and accurate conclusion on a question. This process can become complicated when the science isn’t totally clear and the studies done on the subject matter come up with mixed results. To continue our previous example, the answer to the question of meal frequency is actually not at all complicated. There are a lot more information/studies supporting the fact that meal frequency does NOT make any significant effect on your metabolism. The basic physiological science behind the premise of the lack of difference on meal frequency is pretty clear, as well. So how does “bad” information like “you must eat 6 small meals to gain muscle and lose weight” come about in the first place?
Well, there are a multitude of ways bad information gets started and spread around. It usually begins with someone having their own unique agenda (usually the selling of some kind of product) hidden behind the desire to provide some kind of innovative health discovery. They will prove the legitimacy of their claim through inaccurate, manipulative, and/or subjective information which is not properly supported by science, BUT they will be good at pretending like it is. For example, they’ll find a single poorly designed study that came to the conclusion they supported. In addition, there might be a ton of other studies going against the results they found. Is the person with the hidden agenda going to tell you about these factors? Of course not. If that wasn’t manipulative enough, they might even add some really good sounding but inaccurate science behind their statement. For example: “every time you eat, your metabolism becomes kick-started from the food”. That totally doesn’t sound unreasonable, but we know from majority of studies and proper science that it is.
After bad information gets surfaced, it becomes really easy to spread through today’s different media outlets. Often times, the propagators innocently believe that what they are saying is correct and may be genuine in trying to spread good information. Unfortunately, they were victim to the inaccurate yet highly convincing information.
Here’s a real life example of everything I’m talking about. Let’s say there was one study that slightly supported 2-Chainz’ claim that unicorns can fly. Fine, technically he wasn’t’ 100% wrong, but common sense and the other 100 studies which have disproved unicorns trumps his findings. This is how most information isn’t always 100% wrong, but still kind of wrong. Also, before you go googling 2-Chainz and unicorns, that was a made up example. To date, there is no evidence to support the existence of unicorns or the rapping skills of 2-chainz.
So how do you find good information?
If only there was an easy answer to this question. First and foremost, the best way to find good information is to read a lot. The more you read, the better you will become at filtering good and bad information. Naturally, as you become a more proficient reader, you will know what kind of information to avoid and what are the good sources of information. Unfortunately, most of us don’t have time to sort through tons of information. We want to be efficient and find good helpful information right away. Lucky for you I’ve done the hard work for you and went through tons of bad information in the last several years. I will provide you with reliable sources of information on health from well respected people in the health industry. But, first there are some basic guidelines you should have in the back of your head when looking through information on health:
- Look out for the hidden agenda. As we spoke about before, many times the purpose of what you’re reading is not beneficial information to your health but, rather, a sales promotion. Youtube sensation and creater of “Six Pack Shortcuts”, Mike Chang, is a great example. Not to call the guy out or anything, but he’s a great source of information to go to if you like wasting your time. The first quarter of his videos are him promoting some product followed with some stupid exercise with a towel that’s allegedly going to get you “ripped”. Garbage.
*Note: If someone is trying to sell you something or is promoting something that does NOT mean you should turn your head or that they’re doing something wrong. Many great sources of information may be promoting their product or advertising something. There’s ABSOLUTELY NOTHING wrong with that; heck, if Bose headphones wants me to advertise their products on here, I’m totally down. But, when the excessive promotion of an item is followed up by something as ridiculous as a towel exercise claiming to get you ripped in 7 days, that’s a red flag. Learn more about the ways of the towel to get a great laugh here.
- There’s no such thing as a secret pill or formula to get you ripped in a week. There are great programs out there to give you fast results. There are great sources of information to follow to help you lose weight at a faster rate than which you were previously. But, again, there are no magic pills out there, trust me I’ve looked.
- Check the references section. Ideally, the more claims being made in any kind of article, the more references it should have to support those claims. Those references should be from legitimate sources too. If the source has those advertisements of an unusually large man with the caption “use this one trick to get ripped”, it’s probably not too reliable.
- The good information ripple effect. When you start following people who provide good information, they will give you more sources of good information. Before you know it you’ll have your own favorites folder of “no bullshit health information” (led off with FNDfitness, of course).
5 Great sources of information (with links to their resepective Facebook page)
*in no specific order*
- Layne Norton
A PhD body-builder, power-lifter, and scientist who is as smart as he is strong (he’s really really strong by the way). A fantastic source of information who uses science and personal experience to back up his claims.
- Alan Aragon
One of the most popular figures in the “non bs” sector of the health industry. He literally sciences all over the place when speaking about different health topics. Yes, he can even turn sciences into an adjective. For those who possess above average skills in health literacy, a $10/month subscription to his monthly research review would be a really great decision on your part to stay up to date with the latest health information.
- Omar Isuf
This one hits home. Omar Isuf is one of the first people I started following on my road to good health/fitness information. I remember the first time I came across his youtube account, I went through literally every single one of his videos. If you have a Youtube account, you need to subscribe to him as soon as possible. He was able to present information in such an educated yet simplified manner. For all those lifters out there, he has incredible videos on technique and other relevant weight lifting tips. In addition, he also has great videos on nutrition and supplements. Here’s his Youtube link. Dude is also hilarious and has great hair. Not sure if this was a love letter or bio.
- Brad Schoenfeld
Brad Schoenfeld, Ph.D, C.S.C.S., is an internationally renowned fitness expert and widely regarded as one of the leading authorities on body composition training (muscle development and fat loss). He is a lifetime drug-free bodybuilder, and has won numerous natural bodybuilding titles. I totally copy-pasted this from his website. Anyway, his bio speaks for itself.
- Monica Reinagel aka The Nutrition Diva
Monica Reinagel is really smart. If you have an iPhone, go to your “Podcasts” app and search “Nutrition Diva”. Subscribe, download, and listen. She covers so many different topics and manages to educate you about it in 5 minutes using science and research.
- BONUS: www.examine.com
An unbiased source on nutrition using investigational science on studies to provide rationale. Have a question on a certain supplement or question about something you heard? This website contains easy to read answers that are laid out in a reader friendly fashion to help you. The topics in examine are very in-depth and scientifically supported.
This whole issue of finding good information and avoiding bad information is a really complicated issue. There are so many different factors to address about the subject and as previously mentioned, beyond the scope of a single blog post. To receive some immediate practical benefit from this article I suggest you follow each of the 5 people mentioned above. Read the information on their websites, follow them on Facebook, search their names on youtube, and immediately you will have exposed yourself to good information. The information presented in this post is mostly background information. To be honest, it’s relatively incomplete only because this discussion is so vast. Even though I have exposed myself to so much bad information in the past that, it’s that experience that helps me now better differentiate good information from the bad. This is still a skill that I am working on and am far from being any kind of expert at. Hopefully with my experience and continuing education, we can eliminate garbage information from our search history. Speaking of search history, don’t forget to clear your search history unless you can explain “2 chainz unicorns” to your parents or kids…or both.