Supplement companies do all sorts of tricks to boost profit margin and trick the customer. When you are looking for a good supplement to assist with your training it’s important to do some research on which brands are the best. A quick checklists of things I recommend people look for are below.
- Is the brand Australian? And are the products actually made in Australia?
- Who owns the company? Is it a massive multinational brand? Or is it some dodgy gym guy that buys in bulk from China or India and just puts a label on? Or is it a knowledgeable dietitian or sports scientist that works regularly with athletes and has a reputation to uphold? Call the company and ask to talk to the owner and find out!
- Are the ingredients sourced from the highest quality sources such as Australia, New Zealand, America and Japan?
- Is the cost of the product too good to be true? Really cheap products use lots of fillers and low-quality ingredients. If it’s sold in a supermarket it is most likely not a great supplement.
- Are the supplements 3rd party tested for quality and banned substance?
- Ask others who have used the products before to get some real feedback.
The next thing is being able to spot the tricks supplement brands use on their labels and in their marketing. Have a read of the below and compare with your supplement label.
Trick one: Protein Blends
It’s common place for protein supplements to use protein blends to fatten up their profit margin and deceive customers. They do this by using 3 or more different types of protein such as WPI, WPC, Rice protein and hydrolysed whey protein. They will use 95% of the cheap stuff and only a small amount of the highest quality proteins.
They then advertise and promote the product as using the highest quality hydrolysed protein without stating that they use the cheaper proteins to fill the majority of the product.
Some companies will state that it’s a multi-stage release protein blend which is just a fancy way of saying we are putting different types of protein in and ripping you off.
This is what a poor ingredients list looks like
Ingredients: Whey Protein Blend (Whey protein isolate, Whey protein concentrate, Rice protein, hydrolysed whey protein, Sodium Caseinate)
And this is what it should look like
Ingredients: Hydrolysed whey protein, Leucine, BCAA (2:1:1) etc.
Note: The only exception to this rule is with vegan proteins that need are a variety of protein sources to make a complete amino acid profile.
Trick two: Propriety blends
Propriety blends are supposed to be used to keep the amount of each ingredient used in the blend a secret. However, they are just used to mask the fact that the active and most expensive ingredients are used in low amounts. The cheapest ingredients make up the majority of the supplement. Beware of any company that has the words “Propriety Blend” on the ingredients list.
Trick three: Amino acid spiking
Amino acid spiking is common across some of the most well-known brands who are currently going through lawsuits. One company advertising they had 27grams of protein per serve was found to only have 19grams after an independent analysis. Another company claimed 50grams only ending up having 19grams!! They do this by adding in low-cost ingredients like taurine, valine and glycine which deceptively increase the amount of protein advertised on the label without adding any benefit to your recovery. These added ingredients used to spike the protein amount can cost less than $2 per kilogram to buy and can come from sources such as animal fur and feathers in China.
Trick four: Fillers
Just as with some food products, protein companies use fillers to boost profit. Look for gluten, dextrin’s and maltodextrin on the ingredients list as fillers. If they say the maltodextrin is carbohydrates for recovery I wouldn’t believe it as they are regularly used as fillers. Carbohydrates are so easily sourced in real food in a variety of forms with many added benefits of vitamins and minerals.
Trick five: Poorly dosed ingredients
Adding ingredients into their products in small amounts so they can use the fact the supplement contains the ingredient as marketing material when the researched dosage is much much smaller.
For example, An ingredient I use in my hydration/endurance formula called Sustamine has a researched effective dosage of around 2000mg. When I did an analysis of other supplement companies hydration products that use Sustamine, the most I could find was 1000mg and most supplements were as low as 500mg!
Trick six: Deceptive sourcing
Almost every ingredient can be purchased from India or China at a very low coast however they are not the same. The way they produce the ingredients and how they source their raw products can be very dodgy. Ask any company exactly how and where they get their ingredients.
Trick seven: No ingredients false claims!!!?
Some brands have been found to contain zero of the ingredients on the label. It’s hard to find out which brands have been caught doing this as regulation of sports supplements is pretty much non-existence so it’s easy to be taken advantage of….
Trick eight: Nobody is kept accountable.
The industry is not regulated well at all. You can pretty much buy what you want from China, slap a label on it claiming whatever you like and sell it in stores. The chances of it actually being checked for quality are extremely low.
Trick nine: Weight loss ingredients
They don’t work. The vast majority of ingredients have very poor research results if any. Train. Eat clean and train again.
About The Author – Jarah Breese
Working with my athletes as a Sports Scientist and wanting to cut out the crap that’s out there is why I started a supplement company. They have access to nothing but the very best which I am very proud of. Feel free to pass this information on to anyone you think would benefit.
If you have any questions contact me anytime.
Jarah Breese BAppSc (Ex&SpS) MSc High Performance Science
Facebook: Jarah Breese High Performance