Junk or Gem?

Posted by

We’ve partnered up with the TriDoc, Jeff Sankoff, physician and host of The Tri Doc Podcast to get the skinny on the many endurance products and fads on the market.

Since December 2018, The TriDoc podcast has been a resource for triathletes in need of evidence to help them sort out reality from the hype that manufacturers and advertisers will use to market their wares to unsuspecting consumers.

Dr. Jeff Sankoff

The TriDoc is quite simply a physician on a mission, to help triathletes understand what it means when a product claims to be ‘scientifically proven’ to improve their ability to swim, bike, run or even recover better than their competitors.

While IronmanHacks is all about finding the quickest and best tips to a faster race, none of them includes miracle products that promise unreal gains overnight. You still have to put in the hard training over weeks, months, and years.

A note from Dr. Sankoff to the casual user: All of the reviews listed here are based on the best available evidence in the scientific literature. In some cases that evidence is robust and in some it is not.

The summary below is intended only as a start point. If you want to learn more about the product and especially about the science that was used to come up with the determination of benefit, please listen to the associated podcast episode.

One last thing; if a product that you use and have found to be beneficial is listed as not having benefit this does not mean that you should stop using it.

My conclusions are made based on population evidence but the experiences of any one individual can be different than for the population as a whole.

So just because my conclusion differs from yours does not mean that you should stop using something that you like.

I would just remind you that one person’s experience (anecdote) is not evidence of effects for a population (evidence).

SubjectVerdictNotesTriDoc Episode
Acetaminophen / NSAIDS (Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs)MixedAcetaminophen does not confer any benefits but is not harmful. NSAIDS need to be used with caution as they can impair benefits of training. NSAIDS are useful for acute injury.Episode 1
CBDNo benefitVery little evidence. Theoretical benefits but nothing yet proven.Episode 2
Pneumatic compression garmentsNo benefitPsychological benefits but no physiological benefits.Episode 3
Inside TrackerNo benefitPotentially detrimental.Episode 4
Intermittent fastingSome benefitVERY difficult to do well and requires significant modification to lifestyle and training but may result in some benefits including weight loss.Episode 5
Creatine supplementationNo benefitLots of hype but really very little evidence unless you want to build mass as a weight lifter.Episode 11
Beta-alanine supplementationNo benefitTheoretical benefits don’t translate in to real world effects.Episode 12
IV hydrationNo benefitOnly benefit is when hydration cannot be accomplished by oral means.Episode 13
Training with HRVUnclearThis is evolving. Not the revolution that it is claimed to be by many but likely does have some utility just not clear how much and how best to use it.Episode 19
Dry needlingNo benefitLots of pain without the gain. PT’s continue to love this but no proof it does anything.Episode 21
Cold water therapyLikely detrimentalPsychological benefits sometimes. Some evidence it harms performance.Episode 22
AirofitNo benefitSave your money.Episode 24
GO2No benefitComplete rubbish.Episode 25
Branched chain amino acid supplementationNo benefitDoesn’t do much.Episode 26
AlcoholNo benefitLikely harmful.Episode 27
Compression clothingNo benefitPsychological benefits but zero performance gains.Episode 28
Stamina ProNo benefitCOMPLETE rubbish.Episode 29
Halo SportUnclearIf any true benefit likely not worth the cost of the device.Episode 30
TENS (transdermal electrical neurostimulation devices)No benefitSo much hype, so little evidence.Episode 31
Red light therapyNo benefitThe latest high tech pseudoscience.Episode 32
Beetroot juiceSmall benefitsBenefits are small but real but do require following a protocol.Episode 33
Liquid I.V. Hydration brand productsNo benefitCOMPLETE rubbish. VERY expensive for no benefit.Episode 34
Hot Shots for crampsIt’s complicatedWorks for some.Episode 39
AMP HumanNo benefitGreat advertising. That’s what you are paying for.Episode 42
Epsom saltsNo benefitPsychological benefits. No harm.Episode 46
KinesiotapeNo benefitJust don’t do it.Episode 47
Vitamin DNo benefit unless you have deficiencyCan be toxic if you take too much.Episode 52
LumenQuestionableDifficult to validate.Episode 53
Bicarbonate supplementationNo benefit Theoretical benefit but does not get reflected in any real world benefit.Episode 58
Continuous glucose monitoringNo benefit DEFINITE benefit to diabetics. No proof of benefit to anyone else.Episode 59
CaffeineBenefitAround 2% performance benefit. No evidence of tolerance nor addiction.Episode 60
Keto dietNo benefit Harmful to performance for high performing endurance athletes. No health benefits.Episode 61
Gluten free dietNo benefit Gluten ‘intolerance’ has no basis in science or medicine. Potentially harmful for women.Episode 65
Massage therapyMixedNo physical benefit but definite psychological benefits. Potentially detrimental if done close to events.Episode 66
Massage gunsMixedNo physical benefit but definite psychological benefits.Episode 70
Steroid injections for injuryHarmfulFor the most part should be avoided because of the potential for long term harm. Some exceptions.Episode 71
Platelet Rich PlasmaNo benefit May be useful for tennis elbow. Possible value for plantar fasciitis but unclear. No benefit for anything else.Episode 72
Low level laser therapyNo benefit Possibly useful for chronic Achilles injury but not useful for anything else.Episode 74
Blood flow restrictionNo benefit May be a role in injury rehabilitation.Episode 77
Anti-gravity runningMixedExpense of Lever/AlterG far above what can be expected in return. Water running just as good and free.Episode 78
Genetic testing No benefitA complete waste of money.Episode 82

Leave a Reply