The truth about supplements

May 9, 2013

Supplements are anything used to “supplement” your current diet. They can range from a simple OTC Vitamin to sports drinks (Gatorades and Powerades) to the designer proteins, fat loss products, libido enhancers and energy boosters.

The supplement industry is there to make money plain and simple. From proprietary blends to the lack of regulation it is possible to spend money thinking you are getting something of tremendous value when in reality you get rice flour, powder sugar, talc or something that could be truly harmful. There are a handful of companies that concern themselves with quality and provide a good product, but most of the manufacturers don’t, or are so secretive about their products that it makes you wonder. “Proprietary blend” is a term companies are able to hide behind. It suggests that there is a highly effective (“miracle”) ingredient combination in the product which justifies the high price, but the reality could very well be different.

The 2008 documentary Bigger Faster Stronger explored and exposed the supplement industry and America’s draw to it. If you do not mind subtitles here is a link to watch the entire documentary on youtube: . This documentary shows just how easy and cheap it can be to make supplements and the attitudes of those that produce, market and endorse them. If you are inclined to know what you are putting in your body there are a number of individuals who show you how you can make your own and the ingredients can be purchased fairly cheaply online in their pure form.

One hot type of supplement is the pre-workout. The idea behind a pre-workout is that it provides you with the energy and stimulation to get through a tough workout. They are supposed to boost strength, endurance, increase the “pump” and size of the muscles and improve your focus throughout the workout.

One particular well selling item has a long laundry list of ingredients with in its proprietary blend and it provides 30 servings for $49.99. If you knew what everything on its label was and were okay with it and its price go for it. The supplement facts are below. Remember that because the industry is not regulated the supplement facts may not be accurate. The name of the product or anything suggesting the name has been replaced with Xs.


Serving Size: 1 Scoop (22.5 g)‡

Servings Per Container: 30

Amount Per Serving %Daily Value

Calories 40

Total Carbohydrate 10g 3%†

Sugars 1g **

Vitamin B6 (as Pyridoxine HCL) 20mg 1000%

Folate (Folic Acid) 300mcg 75%

Vitamin B12 (as Cyanocobalamin) 120mcg 2000%

Calcium 65mg 7%

Phosphorus 235mg 18%

Magnesium 55mg 14%

Sodium 350mg 15%

Potassium 85mg 2%


Advanced Strength & Performance Matrix*† **

Modified Glucose Polymers (Maltodextrin), Beta-Alanine (CarnoSyn®), Di-Creatine-Malic Acid Interfusion, Betaine HCL, Sodium Bicarbonate, Creatine-Sodium Phosphate Matrix, Creatinol-O-Phosphate, Creatine Ethyl Ester HCL, Malic Acid, Glycocyamine, Guanidino Propionic Acid, Cinnamon Extract (Bark) (Cinnulin PF®), Ketoisocaproate Potassium, Creatine-Alpha-Aminobutyric Acid Matrix (Creatine AAB™)

Ener-Tropic XXXXXXX **

L-Tyrosine, Taurine, Glucuronolactone, Methylxanthine (Caffeine), L-Tyrosine-Alpha Ketoglutaric Acid, MCT’s (Medium Chain Triglycerides), Lesser Periwinkle (Whole Plant) (95% Vinpocetine, 98% Vincamine, 98% Vinburnine)

XXXX Meta-Fusion **

L-Arginine-Alpha Ketoglutaric Acid, L-Citrulline-Malic Acid Interfusion, L-Citrulline-Alpha Ketoglutaric Acid, L-Histidine-Alpha Ketoglutaric Acid, NAD (Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide), Gynostemma (Leaves & Stem) (90% Gypenosides)

Phospho-Electrolyte Composite **

Di-Calcium Phosphate, Di-Potassium Phosphate, Di-Sodium Phosphate

Glycerol Polymer Complex **

Potassium Glycerophosphate, Magnesium Glycerophosphate, Glycerol Stearate

†Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. **Daily Value Not Established.

Other Ingredients: Natural & Artificial Flavors, Citric Acid, Potassium Citrate, Sucralose, Calcium Silicate, Acesulfame Potassium and FD&C Blue #1.

ALLERGEN INFORMATION: Contains Milk, Coconut and Soy (Lecithin) ingredients.

Allergen Warning: Manufactured on equipment which processes products containing milk, egg, soybeans, shellfish, fish oil, tree nuts and peanut flavor.

For a simpler and cheaper pre-workout you can mix 1 teaspoon of creatine (~$12 for 100 servings) with 1-2 cups of gatorade (not sugar free) or other sports drink and take a vivarin (caffeine) (~$4 for 90) with it. To make it even cheaper you can make your own sports drink.

Homemade Sports drink recipe:

1 package favorite koolaid powder

1 cup of sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt.

Mix all together in either an airtight container or ziplock bag. To drink add 1 tablespoon of ix to 12oz (11/2c) of water and stir. This provides roughly the same amount of sugar as the original gatorade recipe per fluid ounce and electrolytes. The elctrolyte profile is not the same as gatorade, but you will still be replacing elctrolytes lost through sweat if you use this recipe post exercise. As a pre-workout the sugar is important as it enables creatine to enter the muscle cells. This recipe makes roughly 24 servings of sports drink for less than a dollar.


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