Su­per­food Or Fad?

It’s hard to ig­nore trendy foods, but are they re­ally all they’re cracked up to be?

Runner's World (UK) - - Contents -

The truth be­hind the hype. Are these trendy foods the real deal or a tri­umph of savvy mar­ket­ing?

Co­conut oil CLAIM TO FAME Boosts weight loss

Some re­search has sug­gested that the oil’s lev­els of medium-chain triglyc­erides (MCTS) may be eas­ier to burn off than to store as body fat. Not so fast. ‘Co­conut oil con­tains much lower MCT lev­els than what has been used in re­search to in­crease me­tab­o­lism and weight­loss, so you can’t as­sume it will have the same im­pact,’

says sport di­eti­tian Marni Sum­bal. Di­eters also claim co­conut oil boosts feel­ings of sati­ety, mak­ing you eat less. But a 2017 study in the Euro­pean Jour­nal of

Nu­tri­tion found it did a worse job at tam­ing hunger than olive oil and had no im­pact on fat­burn­ing me­tab­o­lism.

VERDICT HYPE ‘Sim­ply adding calo­rie-dense co­conut oil to your diet without trim­ming calo­ries else­where will lead to weight gain,’ says Sum­bal. In­stead, in­crease your miles and fo­cus on what you eat. Mod­est amounts of co­conut oil, in sal­ads or cook­ing, can play a part.

Bone broth CLAIM TO FAME Im­proves joint health

Made from roasted an­i­mal bones and con­nec­tive tis­sues, bone broth is touted as a source of col­la­gen, a pro­tein that helps build bones, ten­dons, lig­a­ments and skin. ‘The be­lief that any col­la­gen in bone broth would boost col­la­gen for­ma­tion [and di­rectly im­pact joint health] is wish­ful think­ing,’ says Dr Wil­liam H Percy of the Univer­sity of South Dakota, US. ’Our di­ges­tive sys­tems break down col­la­gen in bone broth into in­di­vid­ual amino acids, and these will be used wher­ever they’re needed.’ And be­cause it’s not a reg­u­lated food, the nu­tri­tional con­tent can vary, mak­ing it im­pos­si­ble to know how much col­la­gen you’re get­ting.

VERDICT HYPE But while bone broth isn’t a cure-all drink, it is high in pro­tein and elec­trolytes, mak­ing it good for re­cov­ery.

Sprouted grains CLAIM TO FAME Value-added carbs

The new trend: mak­ing nor­mal foods – such as gra­nola, tor­tilla chips and flours – with sprouted grains, which means the grains have ger­mi­nated. This process can boost the food’s an­tiox­i­dant, pro­tein, fo­late and vi­ta­min C lev­els, ac­cord­ing to di­eti­tian Molly Kim­ball. It’s still un­clear if sprouted grains can boost athletic per­for­mance, but be­cause only whole­grains can be sprouted (ver­sus re­fined), you’re likely to be eat­ing health­ier.

HERO Re­search VERDICT shows sprouted breads may keep your en­ergy lev­els sta­ble and could be eas­ier on your stom­ach.

Nu­tri­ent wa­ters CLAIM TO FAME Smarter hy­dra­tion

Cac­tus, wa­ter­melon and maple wa­ters (to name a few) are hy­drat­ing, but most of the other ‘perks’ are thanks to mar­ket­ing. ‘Yes, many of these drinks may sup­ply nu­tri­ents like cal­cium or vi­ta­min C, but the lev­els are so low that run­ners who eat a bal­anced diet get enough of them any­way,’ says Kim­ball. And don’t let the word ‘wa­ter’ fool you into think­ing they’re not calorific, says Kim­ball. ‘If you’re drink­ing a few bot­tles a day, those ex­tra calo­ries add up,’ she says.

VERDICT HYPE Stick with wa­ter and use a sports drink if you need ex­tra calo­ries or elec­trolytes for hot runs that last 60 min­utes or more.

Grass-fed meat and dairy CLAIM TO FAME Omega-3 power

Re­search has shown grass-fed cows have lower lev­els of sat­u­rated fat and in­flam­ma­tion-in­duc­ing omega-6 fats, and higher lev­els of vi­ta­min E and heart-healthy omega-3s. When it comes to meat or dairy, grass-fed is the way to go, says nu­tri­tion­ist Bon­nie Taub-dix.

VERDICT HERO Make the most of your postrun burger and cho­co­late milk by buy­ing the pricier stuff.

SHELL OUT? Some fash­ion­able foods are worth the money. But oth­ers…

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