What to Look For?
Last week we covered ways to spot misinformation and clickbait in the health and fitness world. As a refresher, 4 ways that usually scream BS are:
Promising results that seem too good to be true
All you see are fitness models, not real people
Heavy media influence
Results seem too good to be true
So now that you have those in your back pocket, you should be able to go through an article, blog post, media video, or any other source and at least be able to get a general idea on whether it is credible. If you’re still having trouble, then use the resources I provide today as a fallback and go to for reliable, objective information.
The main issue with a lot of information you find out on the web or mainstream media is that there is a usually a heavy bias toward the information presented. Don’t get me wrong, bias will always be present, but when it comes to reliable and trustworthy information, you want to remove as much of it as you can. The more ‘middle ground’ the information is, then the better your decision making skills can come into play without being persuaded to the extremes.
A big piece of the puzzle is whether or not the information is backed by science and is evidence based. And not just labeled as such, but rather has actually been through the rigorous process of being vetted by other professionals. If it hasn't’ then it’s tough to say it’s reliable and valid. Now I’m not saying that each blog post your read or article you find should be peer reviewed and formatted as a body of research, that would be silly, but are the concepts and thoughts of the writer backed by well known scientific principles and information....that should be the main concern.
So this poses the question about WHO is presenting the information. Heres a checklist that I think is important:
They should be well versed in up to date research in the field
Have an objective viewpoint (as reasonable as possible..remember there will always be bias)
Be able to interpret all of their knowledge for you, the consumer, in a simplistic way so that you’re able to take action right away (aka really good at communicating).
This allows you, the reader/consumer, to be confident in the information presented and know that it is the most up to date thoughts/theories/practices in the industry (plus you’ll be able to utilize that info right away). Unfortunately not every source will have these characteristics...be very wary of mainstream media, remember they are trying to get clicks, views, ratings, and become more popular. Unfortunately science based, objective viewpoints can sometimes be boring and don’t cause controversy because there isn’t a stance. And if there is, it’s usually in middle. Not great for ratings. People love to debate, state their opinion, be the ‘expert’, and mansplain/womansplain at any chance they get, especially on the internet. So the more that happens on a topic written by a news outlet the better. That means the information presented is usually extreme in one direction (aka heavily biased) and if there is research referenced, it’s usually taken out of context to feed the agenda. Here is my one tip about research:
***It is never an absolute or ‘the end’** That one piece of research (if it is done well) controls many variables and presents some data. This data is then interpreted and explained, usually in reference to the hypothesis at the beginning of the study. This is only one sliver of the bigger pie.
But what does the media do? Uses it as doctrine and that there will never be any other way or method. This is why you see such a back and forth on health topics in mainstream media. (Eggs anyone?) So my biggest tip to you, the consumer is to take the main media articles with a grain of salt. If they are speaking in absolutes, it usually is to stir up controversy and the research presented is taken out of context.
What are Some Trusted Resources?
Now, where do you find the legit information? Like I was saying before, science based and objective, plus great communicators. Below are some of my favorite resources:
Precision Nutrition (Health, Nutrition, and Exercise): https://www.precisionnutrition.com/blog
ThePTDC weekly articles: https://www.theptdc.com/category/best-fitness-articles
EXRX.net (Exercise Specific): https://www.exrx.net/
Stronger by Science (Exercise Based): https://www.strongerbyscience.com/category/articles/
Alan Aragon (Nutrition and Supplementation)...also follow his social media: https://alanaragon.com/articles/
And this just scratches the surface. I’m in the camp that more information usually isn’t the issue, so I don’t want to overwhelm. More often times it leads to inaction, which doesn’t help. So let’s leave it at these sources for now. If you would like additional links or resources, feel free to reach out. I would love to help!
If you’re lost and need guidance…
My intention today was allow you to start building the skills to think for yourself and continue to decipher some of the bs out there. Hopefully this helps. And as always, if you’re completely lost or don’t want to think about any of this, then contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will do the thinking for you and set you up with a customized approach to improve your health and wellness in the most efficient and effective way possible.