Nutrition on the Internet

Is it for real?

Confused woman seeking nutrition information


Even though the changing of the calendar to 2021 isn’t exactly making our lives turn back to normal from pre-pandemic times, it still feels good to turn that page to a new year with the hope for a better one to come.  That said, know that you can’t always rely on nutrition on the internet. 

For many, the new year brings the goal of a new ‘self’ with better nutrition, increased fitness, and more mindful eating behavior. With the plethora of nutrition goals that people make for the new year comes even more nutrition articles and information on how to shed 20 pounds in 20 days, turn that belly fat into muscle, or ‘eat this, not that’ for weight loss. There are a lot of fitness guides and nutrition information on the internet, including diets, cleanses, eating plans, and fitness articles are thrown at us. While it is nice to believe that most of the advice is true and people have our best interests at heart, it is usually not the case.

Guidelines to determine if nutrition advice on the internet is reliable

How do you tell if nutrition information on the internet and fitness advice is accurate and current? Knowledge is power. Use the guidelines below(1) to determine for yourself if there is credible nutrition information on the internet: 

  • Who is the author? Do they have reputable credentials to write the article? ie) is it an accountant writing about nutrition? Is it fact-checked by a professional in the field? 
  • Is there a legit date for the article? Most credible nutrition information should have been written within the last five years. 
  • What is the purpose of the website? Is it informational? Are they trying to sell a nutrition product? Are they trying to persuade you? Is it general nutrition information?
    • What is the domain of the website?  .edu means an educational site
    •  .org indicates a non-profit 
    •  .gov indicates a government site 
    • anyone can get a .com site.  
    • It can be even harder nowadays too, because I have seen website domains for sale that end in (.org). In that case, use some of these other criteria to evaluate the other information in the article as well. If you are questioning the site, try and determine what the main purpose of the website is (see above). 
  • Are there sources cited in the article?  You will frequently see articles that state a fact, but there are no sources to say where that nutrition information is from.  

So, what does a ‘good’ versus ‘bad’ article look like? Read on.

Bad Article

Here is a fitness article a client found on the internet recently, questioning its validity: A New Meta Analysis Has Found the Best Exercise for Fat Loss

  • The author says she is an athlete, writer and psychology Masters student.  But, there are no links to what her ‘titles’ mean.  Why is a psychology student writing about fitness?  What kind of an athlete is she?
  • The date of the article is current. 
  • The purpose of the article is unclear.  It appears to be informational and the author wants you to ‘follow’ her on social media.  I am assuming she is trying to catch our attention (which it does, who doesn’t want to exercise for only two minutes a day for the best results in exercise!).
  • The domain of the website is a .com.  Anyone can have a .com site.  Make sure some of the other criteria above have been met before truly believing the article. 
  • Lastly,  the information sounds fantastic, but there are no sources or journal articles to substantiate her claims.  How do I know the claim is true?  There is no information to refer back too and learn more.  It also does not say who the study participants were that found these fitness routines useful. 

Summary: There are more questions than answers. I would not change my fitness routine to fit the parameters of this article.  The validity of the fitness information found in this article is questionable. 

Good Article

Here is another article to validate titled “Read Nutrition Labels for Weight Loss.”

  • The author’s credentials can be validated with an available link and a fact-checker. While the author is not a dietitian, she is in the health field, and the article was fact-checked by a registered dietitian. 
  • The date of the article is current. 
  • The purpose of the article is informational. It appears to be strictly general information.  
  • The domain of the website is a .com. Anyone can have a .com site. Make sure some of the other criteria above have been met before truly believing the article. 
  • There are several sources cited for the information presented in the article (indicated by the superscript numbers throughout the article). In the end, there is an icon you can click on so that you can go back to the source and find the information for yourself. 

Summary: This article is a reliable source of nutrition information found on the internet because it passes all of the criteria above.  


In summary, I do not think that you should do this for all the nutrition articles you read on the internet. But, if you are considering a major overhaul to your exercise or nutrition regimen based on an article you found online, use the information above to help you determine if the article is worth believing or not. Lastly, for women, if you are considering a ‘diet’ trend of 2021, refer back to my guide on diet trends for women.

Share an article for review

Feel free to email me if you have found a nutrition article and are wondering if it is legit or not. Or if you just want to share a really great source of nutrition information or a really bad source. I will be sure and post to my blog useful and non-useful sites so that we can all save time.  

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