When it comes to researching health, fitness and diet tips, the Internet can be a minefield. Here’s some tips on how to spot who’s for real, and who’s not.
We’ve all seen them: those enticing promises; “Believe and achieve health and fitness ” , “change your life in 10 days” “choose to believe healthy” “drop that weight in 5 days” “believe yourself healthy” and so on. Google has made our lives much easier, in that the answer to our questions is at our fingertips, within less than a second’s worth of search time on a browser. But with that ease also comes a whole load of information that is poorly researched – or even, in some cases, completely wrong.
How do you work out which sites you can trust and which you can’t? As a former journalist, I’m well versed in sifting through sources and working out which are genuine and which aren’t. This are three quick ways to work out if you’re getting good advice from a site or not:
- Is the article writer a medical professional or expert in the field they’re writing about? If the answer is no, how have they gained their knowledge? Yes, there are fitness experts out there who have learned a huge amount through their own training and diet plans, who can be trusted. I sometimes give advice that isn’t quoted from a health journal, the NHS or another trustworthy site, based on my own experience. However, I want to make it clear – and anyone sharing their own experiences should do the same – that my experiences are not fact or scientific proof and should not be treated as such. Unless the article writer has some sort of medical, diet or sports science qualification, I would research everything they say to make sure it is legitimate before following any advice of theirs. This is NOT to say that you shouldn’t try someone’s advice unless they have qualifications – just make sure you double-check their advice before following it.
- Is the advice or plan they’re suggesting making you feel uncomfortable? By all means, try something radical like the 5:2 diet, but get medical advice before doing anything like fasting for a day. If a site is suggesting something very unusual or extreme, like doing 5 HIIT sessions a week when you’re currently sedentary, speak to a medical professional and don’t change your exercise or diet radically until you’ve got the green light to.
- Are they trying to sell anything? Don’t believe health gurus who promise a one-fix-all solution or substance of any kind. Just don’t do it. Why should you trust someone who’s trying to sell you a product, unless there’s clear unbiased evidence elsewhere that their claim is true? Always check out any promises via a third-party, neutral source, like reviews, health magazines, health websites, or your doctor.