Saturday, April 12, 2014

Tricks of the Supplement Industry. By Veeraj Goyaram

Some Tricks of the supplement industry to watch out for

You've been warned
Pas dire pane dire!

By Veeraj Goyaram

While there are some really decent companies in the supplements business, there is also a sizeable number of m0ronic players whose aim is to make profit while shoving their products down your throat. They will sell you shitty products with hefty pricetags. Their main target is the newbies and dumb folks, the same crowd who would invest in penis enlargement tablets. What I am going to do in this article is write about some of the dirty little tricks that some scumbag companies use. For them it's all about making money. 

Dirty Little Trick #1: Faking with performance enhancing drugs. 
In a previous article I wrote about how supplements can be faked with performance enhancing drugs. Numerous supplements have been shown to contain ‘classic’ anabolic steroids like metandienone (Dianabol), stanozolol (Winstrol), oxandrolone (Anavar) etc. This intentional "faking" of products is done in order to provide an "instant gratification" to consumers, as in "Dude I can feel this shit working already!", as a means to generate sales. Besides steroids, other classified compounds like Sibutramine and Clenbuterol have been found in weight loss drugs. One more time, please read my article for an in-depth treatment of the topic. 

Dirty Little Trick #2: Boosting protein content with cheap stuff.
(a.k.a. "Spiking").

Protein is getting expensive. With the Chinese and Russians buying huge amounts of whey protein for use in baby formulas and beverage multinationals bringing out protein RTDs, little is left for the supplement industry. Prices go up and you the consumer pay for it. Unscrupulous companies rip you off as follows:

a. Say a protein powder is supposed to contain 22g of protein per serving.

b. The company can use as little as 10g whey protein.

c. The rest of the "protein" is from cheap amino acids like Glycine, Taurine and even Creatine Monohydrate. Creatine is dirt cheap nowadays.  These amino acid or amino-acic based additives boost the Nitrogen content of the products so that they pass as protein when tested. This is a less shitty way of boosting nitrogen content than what the Chinese were doing during the "Melamine in milk" episode. 
We never know how much of the protein is from whey protein and how
much is from cheap amino acids.
The above label is downright infuriating because they are using cheap aminos to pass as protein. They could have used some BCAAs because there is some evidence that a low protein beverage when supplemented with the BCAA Leucine (6.25g whey + 5g Leucine) can have the same muscle building benefits as a high protein beverage (25g) (Churchward-Venne et al., 2014). 

Dirty Little Trick #3: Proprietary blends
A lot has already been said about proprietary blends. More often than not supplement companies will use proprietary blends as a means to hide their secret mix of ingredients from imitators and competitors. Truth be told, 90% of the time it is simply to hide the fact that their proprietary blend contains very little of the active/costly ingredients listed. Here is a label below of a preworkout supplement. Let us analyse it.

a. It means that you are getting more Arginine Alpha-ketoglutarate than any other ingredient in the blend, as ingredients are listed in order of amount. 

b. How much of each ingredient are you getting? What tells you that there isn't 4000 mg of Arginine and 145 mg of everything else?

c. Why isn't the amount of Caffeine listed? Stimulant-sensitive individuals can benefit from this information. Luckily some companies are disclosing the stimulant content inspite of using proprietary blends. 
Example of a proprietary blend
Below is an example of a label with full ingredient disclosure. It is from the company NutraBio. Shout out to them!

That's all for today. There are many more dirty little tricks but these three are the ones that usually stand out. Should you be in doubt about any supplement, don't hesitate to drop me a line.

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My Bio: I am a Mauritian originally from Roche Bois, Port Louis and now based in Cape Town, South Africa where I am busy with my postgraduate studies in molecular biology of exercise. My research, supervised by Prof. Edward Ojuka and Dr. Tertius Kohn, looks at the influence of nutrition and exercise in gene expression in muscle, research which is relevant and applicable to exercising individuals, sports persons and diabetic individuals. The knowledge that I share with you stems from my 18 years of experience in bodybuilding and 8 years (and counting) of university education in the field. I have also published work in the American Journal of Physiology: Endocrinology and Metabolism (2012, 2014), International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism (2013) and co-authored two book chapters on exercise and diabetes. I also presented my research work at the 2012 International Sports and Exercise Nutrition Conference (UK). I am grateful to each and everyone at the UCT Research Unit for Exercise Science and Sports Medicine. "Knowledge without sharing is worth nothing"
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