The Rise and Rise of ‘Faux Food’ for Fitness

Does this look like food?

Last Friday afternoon, we scootered our way to the Fitness & Health Expo 2011 at Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre.

We went on ‘trade day’, so the three halls dedicated to the expo were full of fitness and health professionals. Apparently there were over 300 exhibitors, as well as various stages with industry people talking, dancing, lifting weights and doing all sorts of fitness challenges.

As we entered the huge exhibition the loud, pumping music hit us immediately. “That must be a show”, I thought to myself. But, no, it was the background music for just one of the stores offering a wide variety of protein and other performance-enhancing supplements. About one third of the whole exhibition was filled with similar stores offering similar products. Bright, shiny packaging. Complex, scientific names that tell us we’ll grow muscles quicker, recover better, work harder, lift heavier, lean up instantly, lose weight easily…these huge tubs of powder and bars of compressed chemicals can do it all for us.

The next two days were going to be inundated with the general public. As they walked in, they’ll have been hit with the same big sounds, bright lights and shiny packages that we were. And many of them will think that this is what fitness professionals believe is what’s needed to get your ideal body and get to your ideal weight.

Protein powders and supplements have their place, I know that. But at this expo they didn’t have a ‘place’, they had centre stage.

During the course of a few hours we scoured the entire expo and found TWO…yes, two…small stores that were offering ‘real’ or ‘natural’ food, as well as progurt (which would have done so much better if someone there had been demonstrating how the whole thing works). Both Natural High and The Muesli gave me hope that more companies might offer wholesome, natural solutions to gym goers and fitness fanatics in the future.

‘Faux food’ in gyms seems to be on the rise. I believe it’s a disturbing trend. Whereas two years ago a gym I go to used to have a naturopath on site and practitioner-only supplements, it’s now been replaced with rows and rows of artificial protein powders, protein bars, sports drinks and…protein-enhanced potato chips (yes, I know…crazy).

This CBS article is just one example of the health concerns of consuming too many protein shakes. Supplements used to be the domain of bodybuilders but not anymore. Men, women, too thin, too fat…there’s now a tub for every occasion. With busy lifestyles and crazy schedules, it’s going to be all too tempting for many to grab a tub of powder or a meal-in-a-bar rather than eat real, wholesome food.

What’s your opinion on protein powders and bars?


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2 thoughts on “The Rise and Rise of ‘Faux Food’ for Fitness

  1. wow, this is scarey, thanks for reporting on it. This is so important. It’s almost unbelievable until you look in people’s shopping trolleys. Mostly processed food when they actually have a choice for fresh food. Seems to be a dangerous trend. Thanks for putting a spotlight on it.

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