We are lucky enough to have access to amazing, credible, and FREE information through the www – but finding the reputable stuff can be a challenge. Who should you believe, and who should you ignore?
Who are you talking to on forums?
While it’s nice to have a space to ask a question and receive answers, you need to keep in mind WHO is answering you. It’s far too easy to pose as an expert through your computer, or not even try to pose as an expert yet still offer advice. You might not want to take diet advice from Joe Schmo who’s sitting on his couch eating a bag of chips as he types… just saying. If you have a question, seek someone reputable to ask in person, especially if it concerns your health in any way.
Reading between the lines and the by-line
If the author is pulling stats or results from a study, but then says “more work needs to be done” is a sneaky way of saying the data was weak, or that the participant pool was small – therefore hard to draw any firm conclusions from. So, don’t go changing your behaviours based on a single cited study. Do a little more digging and see if more stats back up the info – and remember that nutrition information is different for everyone and people will excel in different training styles, nothing is truly one size fits all!
If you’re looking at research, meta analyses are your best bet as they’re a compilation of all the work done in the area – giving a really broad picture of the subject. These are often hard to come by as they take a lot of time and man-power – things many researchers don’t have. It’s great to read about studies, but don’t take them at face value right off the bat, shop around and look for consistent results.
One of the first things I do when reading info online is check the author’s credentials (or lack thereof – if this is the case, I move on). If the website is a compilation of work from different people, there should be a space at the bottom of the article which includes background info on the author. Or, if they have degrees, the program initials should follow their name in the by-line under the title. To me, education is king, but if they have a lot of great experience behind them, that’s the next best thing. I’ve very leery when authors aren’t listed at all.
Some good sites:
bodybuilding.com is a great source for exercise and nutrition plans – but keep in mind that food quantities in published plans may not be right for YOU. Diets can’t be generalized like. For women looking to change their body composition, I really like Jamie Eason’s Live Fit training & nutrition plan available through this site.
livestrong.com is hit or miss in my opinion. The majority of the information is decent, but I find a lot of articles only skim the surface of the topic. It’s not the first place I go.
prevention.com is a decent site for general health information. It’s a little more “PG-13” and covers a wide variety of topics. Again, some of the articles don’t go into enough detail for my liking, but maybe I’m a snob. I don’t like the lack of author information provided, or the way articles are set up as slideshows – for some reason this feature annoys me. Prevention is also a subscription-based magazine in the US, but available to Canadians too. They’re published by the same group who publish Men’s Health and Women’s Health.
Health.com pretty similar to Prevention in all aspects. They’re published by a lifestyle group, but this is their only health magazine.
Finally, for general health and wellness, you can’t go wrong with anything posted by a government agency. Looking to your national health agency (Health Canada), or your local public health unit is always safe. Also, the Mayo Clinic is reputable. While Wikipedia may seem like a good first choice as it pops up on Google instantly – be warned. Anyone can post info to Wiki, so take it all with a grain of salt. While most of it is valid, you’ll come across warnings on some pages about the info needing references or further support. Be a critical consumer online!
Lately, many magazines are launching online versions in order to keep up with technology. This is a huge bonus for everyone as these (often) free resources can be viewed as credible. Many times the editors seek out experts in certain fields to keep their material up to date and reliable. Here’s a list of some great magazines which may be lesser known (compared to Oxygen which has been on newsstands forever).
trainingandfitnessmag.com This Canadian-based online magazine is growing rapidly. With a great writing staff, and frequent expert guest writers, the material covers a wide variety of topics. Workouts, nutrition, health, and info on a variety of fitness topics such as obstacle course race training and fitness apps make it well-rounded to appeal to everyone. I also enjoy the spotlights they do on different athletes.
muscleinsider.com Is Canada’s #1 bodybuilding magazine and does a great job covering all the competitions – both professional and amateur. Also, within their Features tab are pages of great articles covering everything in health and fitness, even some pop culture. Their contributing authors’ page is full of great names in the industry, too.
Strongfitnessmag.com Another Canadian-based magazine, available both in print and online. They also offer a digital training guide through subscription.
muscleandfitness.com An American-based entertainment group runs this magazine (along with Muscle and Fitness For Her and Flex).
There’s a lot of great information out there to be found, both for practical uses and entertainment. As with anything online, just be cautious and critical of what you read and believe. Have a great weekend, happy reading!!