Before we get into any nutritional concepts, I want to clarify some general information about nutritional advice.
Firstly, I want to direct some attention to the books and social media accounts that provide nutrition and exercise advice. With so much advice out there nowadays it can be difficult to tell what is reliable. There are countless blogs, books and social media accounts dedicated to providing motivation and advice on how to achieve “healthy”. Although it is commendable that so many people want to provide this help, many are not qualified to do so. Unfortunately, this means that a lot of what you read is not necessarily helpful for you. There are countless diets and exercise regimes that claim to be effective, easy and work for everyone, but that is just not possible!
Anyone can write and publish a book or start a social media account and they are free to give their own opinion (as I am now doing!), however this means they require no qualification or training. That means it is up to you, as consumers, to be savvy. Check the bio for qualifications, check where or if they studied nutrition or dietetics or sports science etc. If they are accredited or affiliated with the governing body in their field, like the UKVRN (UK Voluntary Register of Nutritionists), BDA (British Dietetic Association) or REP (Register of Exercise Professionals), they should be advertising it. When a professional joins the register they are bound by a code of ethics and standards, this protects you by ensuring the professional is qualified to provide you with advice. So keep an eye out for registration and choose professionals who are sufficiently qualified to advise you!
I know what you’re thinking- you don’t have to be accredited to provide accurate advice, and yes this is true in some cases. However, if someone is qualified to provide a service why would they not affiliate themselves with an association? But I’m getting off topic!
Another issue with social media bloggers is that the advice they are providing is based on their personal experiences. Many bloggers advice is based on diets or training regimes they follow themselves- like paleo, vegan or fruitarian bloggers. Of course they believe the lifestyle they lead is the best and the diet they follow is the healthiest. Similarly with blogs advertising specific training programmes, they are certain their exercise plan will work for everyone. The reality is however, that many diets advertised are inappropriate and unsustainable for large amounts of the population and exercise programmes designed by a fit 20-something are not ideal for an overweight 50-something who hasn’t worked out in 5 years!
All things considered, blogs, books and social media accounts providing “health” advice are great at encouraging people to start on a healthier path and motivating them to stick with it, and anyone who shares their health and fitness journey in the hope of helping others should be applauded. But, people must be aware that advice from unsupported resources has the potential to cause harm, so follow with caution.
An affiliation or accreditation from the governing body of their professional field- they may have letters after their name like RNutr/ANutr/MSc/BSc/Dr/RD etc.
Check whether they have a degree or qualification and check where it’s from.
References from scientific journals in their posts indicates they've read up on the topic and chances are they know what they’re talking about.