Food and Behaviour Research

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Mythbusting sports and exercise products

Carl Heneghan, clinical reader in evidence based medicine, Peter Gill, DPhil candidate, Braden O'Neill, DPhil candidate , Dan Lasserson, clinical lecturer , Miriam Thake, visiting research assistant, Matthew Thompson, clinical reader , Jeremy Howick, research fellow  (2012) BMJ 2012;345:e4848    

Web URL: Read the full article on the BMJ website here


Carl Heneghan and colleagues examine the evidence behind the claims made for sports and exercise products.

There is no doubt that sport and exercise are beneficial for health and wellbeing. Yet, one might be fooled into thinking it is more important to heed correct nutrition and hydration advice than to actually exercise. In our analysis of the evidence of sports products1 there were six claims that were so pertinent in terms of performance that we wanted to answer them with evidence. To find the evidence we searched PubMed Clinical Queries using systematic reviews and randomised controlled trial filters.

In terms of hydration we wanted to know if the colour of urine accurately reflects hydration and whether you should hydrate before exercise or just when you feel thirsty? For nutrition, we wanted to know whether carbohydrate-protein combinations and branched chain amino acids improve performance or recovery after exercise. Finally, we wanted to determine the benefits of caffeine ingestion and analyse whether wearing compression garments helps improve overall performance?