I think we all can agree that we’ve made a dumb purchase at some point in our lives. It was something that we didn’t need, didn’t use, it didn’t work, or it simply wasn’t worth the cost. I’ve been there.
And the industry that has deceived me the most is the fitness industry. I’ve been scammed a few too many times by fitness products that never lived up to their claims.
For example, a couple years ago, I bought a box of protein bars that averaged out to a couple dollars each simply because my friend recommended them and swore they were worth the cost to help you build lean muscle.
But the thing is, they alone weren’t going to do anything for me until I started lifting weights regularly.
And even then, I didn’t need a special pricy nutrition bar to get enough protein in my diet and build muscle. In fact, I figured out how to eat a healthy, balanced diet on as little as $25 a week.
Even so, it can be tempting to fall for the fitness industry’s ploys to make more money. And what’s worse is that some of them are disguised as advice to sell more products, so we don’t even realize that we’re being taken advantage of in the moment.
Thus, here are five lies the fitness industry tells you that you should be aware of to avoid spending unnecessary cash on products that don’t work or following advice that just isn’t true.
1. You shouldn’t eat big meals.
In recent years, it has become incredibly common to hear the recommendation that you should eat smaller meals throughout the day, and supplement with snacks in order to avoid weight gain.
Really, this is just a cover so fitness companies can sell you a bunch of snack bars, drinks, and other meal substitutes to make more money.
Whether you eat three large meals a day or six small meals isn’t nearly as important as what you’re eating. And I can tell you that consuming highly processed granola bars for every meal is going to leave you tired, hungry, cranky, and malnourished.
When I was in college, I was always rushing to class, cross-country practice, or other obligations.
I ate three larger meals, because I didn’t have time to stop and eat extra meals. Now, I work from home, and I can (and do) eat all throughout the day. The actual food I eat hasn’t changed much, and my weight hasn’t changed either, which goes to show that six meals a day isn’t necessarily superior.
So, don’t fall into this trap. Save your money and focus on what and how much you’re putting into your body, not when you’re doing it. Try to eat healthy, balanced meals, like this delicious chickpea sweet potato tofu bowl.
2. You have to drink a protein shake after you workout.
The protein shake has become the holy grail product advertised by many fitness companies as the only way to properly recover after a weight session and build muscle. And it’s just not true.
Yes, protein powders and shakes can be a good way to supplement protein if the ingredients are clean and you truly need that extra protein. But most of them aren’t healthy.
A lot of the protein powders on the market today are highly processed and packed with sugar.
They’re also incredibly expensive. No wonder these companies act like drinking their shakes will instantly give you arms like Popeye. They are a gold mine.
I bought into this trend years ago, stocking up on a couple different flavors of supposedly healthy protein shakes. It turns out, they each contained as much sugar as a can of soda. I was drinking sugar disguised as a health product and didn’t even know it.
Now, I use a healthier vegan protein powder with more natural ingredients and very low sugar, and I don’t treat it as a meal.
3. You need a personal trainer to get fit.
A personal trainer is a huge expense, which is exactly why fitness influencers are constantly telling you to get one.
No one needs a personal trainer to stay healthy and fit. You simply have to eat well and move your body in ways that feel good. If you think not having a personal trainer is what’s holding you back from a healthy lifestyle, that’s probably not the case.
Does this mean no one should get a personal trainer? Not exactly. If you have specific goals you want to achieve, or don’t have a lot of health and fitness experience, a knowledgeable trainer might be incredibly helpful for you.
Even so, you should never feel pressured to have a trainer in order to be serious enough to workout at the gym. So, walk in there with confidence, be ready to work, and act like you own the place.
4. You can drop 10 pounds in 5 days.
Or a week. Or two weeks.
All of the slogans are similar. I’m sure you’ve seen them — “eat this to lose x pounds in x days”. But here’s the hard truth.
It takes about a 3,500 calorie deficit to lose a single pound.
This means that you’d have to burn 35,000 calories to drop the 10 pounds that companies claim you will in a single week. And that’s excluding other variables that might affect your weight. This approach isn’t realistic, nor is it healthy.
Crash dieting is one of the quickest ways to set yourself up for failure, because it’s not maintainable. You’re bound to crack eventually, and when you do, you’ll lose any progress you made.
But, the fitness industry loves it.
Because the more desperate you become, the more willing you are to try one of their products in hopes that it will be the one that works. That’s how they rope you in.
I’ve been guilty of trying out diet products in the past. I used an overpriced sugar free syrup on my pancakes because the fitness industry told me to avoid all sugar like the plague.
The syrup was filled with chemicals, tasted disgusting, and it was a huge waste of my hard earned money.
So, instead of going down this rabbit hole, take the slow and steady approach. If your goal is to lose weight, all you need is a small caloric deficit and a lot of patience. This will help you achieve results that actually last.
5. Being skinny equates to healthy.
The fitness industry profits off of peoples’ body insecurities. And the easiest way for them to do that is by advertising people whose looks are incredibly difficult to obtain.
Take, for example, an Olympic athlete. They might have popping muscles and not an ounce of body fat, but they also workout rigorously for hours every day.
Their diets and bodies are fine tuned to perform at the most optimal level in their sport because it’s their job.
Therefore, their physiques are not realistically obtainable for most people. Just because you aren’t skinny or don’t have shredded abs doesn’t mean you’re unhealthy.
So, the next time you’re feeling bad about your body, remind yourself to appreciate it for all that it does for you. Don’t let the fitness industry profit off of making you feel insecure.
While there certainly are honest brands out there trying to help you achieve your happiest and healthiest self, there are plenty of others who are only trying to scam you out of your hard earned money.
Remember that no single product will instantly give you the results you seek. Instead, you have to put in the work, day after day, and trust in the process. If you can do that, you’ll become healthy and fit without spending a dime.