by Nathan Charpentier

Don’t Believe the Hype

The fitness and health industries are bombarded with larger-than-life cures and wonderfully marketed magic medicament for just about anything you can think of, from 50” waist lines to six pack abs in days to almost instant six hundred-pound back squats for the first time gym-goer. One can easily get lost in this mix of media, with magazines, movie stars and athletic superhumans glamorizing the latest pills, potions, goofy gear and bizarre devices that will get you healthy and in shape in seconds flat. We have all seen the photos of people, just like you and me, losing hundreds of pounds by a pill or some special drink. These products are lined up in your local health clubs, pharmacies, grocery stores, gas station convenience counters, TV commercials and health magazine. Many people look to these extras and supplements for an easy and quick way to get healthier, but what they’re shying away from is the foundation of health: sleep, nutrition and exercise. If you consistently attain 8+ hours of sleep per night and have clean nutrition, you have done 95% of the work towards sustainable health. The frilly pills and the supplements are only the 5%.

Truth is, the supplements market takes in billions of dollars a year and most of them are not even regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. A majority of those costs go into marketing the products in infomercials and magazine ads. I have personally seen people taking over twenty different supplements for health-related issues (migraines, high blood pressure and diabetes) and performance enhancement reasons (boosting testosterone, oxygen to muscles, energy generation and fat burning).  Granted, some supplements have legitimate evidence backing their claims and are even recommended by health professionals over prescription meds; however, the vast majority are backed by minimal, if any, evidence for their endorsements.

Ironically, many of the big-name athletes promoting these products achieved their status through hard work, dedication, good nutrition and healthy sleep routines. Supplements and other radical strategies for enhancing health and performance may have their place, but they encompass a fraction of the facts and fundamentals, hence the supplemental 5%.  If you have a diet of nutrient-dense foods, are getting eight or more hours of sleep a night, and have a sound training plan for your health and fitness, you have done 95% of the work. The additional supplements, super creams, body baths, diet detoxes and the like may be warranted from time to time in special circumstances, but do little in comparison to the foundation of having a consistently good nutrition and sleep schedule, as well as an action plan.

Slump on things like sleep and supper and there is a good chance you won’t get to your goals, or at least not as easily and safely as you would otherwise.

Nevertheless, people try to resist the rest and repair good sleep and sound diet provide. It is very frustrating, since marketing for all the wrong things is constantly surrounding and bombarding us and our kids. We just need to listen to our gut instinct. I don’t make any guarantees, I just make observations. The vast majority of the people who I have seen succeed don’t take sleeping or nutrition lightly; it is their second job. Unfortunately, too much misinformation masks the authentic truths. If you’re finding yourself spending 95% of your health efforts on the supplemental 5%, it’s time to switch those numbers around and focus on what will genuinely keep you healthy. Bottom line: eat, sleep and train.


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