The 7 Most Shocking Things I Learned Working In The Supplement Industry

1. The Majority Of Ingredients Have No Research to Back Them Up

In fact, most of them have research concluding that they are ineffective. Yet, companies continue to put these ingredients in supplements and slap a large price tag on them.

Take arginine, for example. As I dug into the research, I found study after study concluding that this popular ingredient actually has no demonstrable effect on exercise performance.

The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry. V. 20:6. (2009).

The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry. V. 20:6. (2009).

Yet, most products are still including it in their formulas and charging you for it. When this happens, you end up paying a hefty fee for these "fillers" (ingredients that don't actually do anything but are included to make you think the supplement is effective). 

2. Even the effective ingredients are included in ineffective doses

There are some VIP ingredients that, as I dug through years of peer-reviewed research, I realized have a long, steady track record of producing results. However, most supplements included these ingredients at less than half of the recommended dose.

Take Beta-Alanine, for example. Nearly all studies concluded that a dose around 5 grams is most effective to produce results. 

International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism. V. 24:6. (2014).

International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism. V. 24:6. (2014).

 Yet, most supplements contain less than half the recommended dose while still charging full price.

That's a pretty heft price tag for such an ineffective dose.  

3. The profit margins of supplements are astronomical.

 Even the supplements based on 100% solid research are being sold for around 10 times what they are worth. Most supplement companies are manufacturing their supplements in bulk and spending only around $2 - $5 per bottle, yet they're charging around $40 - $80. Frustrated that there was no way around this, I came up with my own solution.


4. Most supplement formulas are identical. 

 As I reviewed and researched hundreds of supplements before they were put on the shelves, I was always surprised to see that an $80 bottle of protein powder had the same exact formula as a $40 bottle of protein powder.


These formulas are essentially identical. Sure, Six Star protein has slightly more cholesterol and fat - but that's because you get 5 grams more protein per serving. 

 So why the price difference? Mostly it comes down to a fancier label, better branding, and higher marketing costs. If they can get you to pay double the price for the same exact formula with a slightly better label and branding - why wouldn’t they? Don’t fall for it. That $40 bottle of protein will work just as well, and save you $40 to spend on a new pair of sneakers or better headphones.

5. The current supplement industry is pretty sketch. 

 Companies will go a long ways to convince you to buy their products. Fake reviews, fake blog posts, fake research, fake before and after pictures - you name it. 

 Take this picture for example. 

before after weight loss.png

Same girl, same photo, but used across a multitude of product sites claiming that her success was due to their product. Scam, scam, scammy scamming. 

They will even go so far as to set up entire fake review sites that promise you their products are awesome. I’m not saying that they’re always lying - sometimes a product really is awesome, and these blog posts simply serve as a useful way to provide additional information. But for the most part, anyone can put anything on the internet, and supplement companies use this to their advantage. Don’t believe everything you read.


6. Most supplement manufacturers have no idea if their product is safe or not. 

As part of my previous position in the supplement industry, I was routinely asked to put in the FAQ section that a product was 100% safe - but there is little research to guarantee it. In fact, some popular ingredients being used regularly today are suggested to be harmful. 

For example, the use of "natural" ingredients such as Maca, Horny Goat Weed, Yohimbine, and Ginkgo Biloba has been on the rise. Companies sell them with claims that they will enhance cognitive processing (mental capacity), burn fat, enhance athletic performance, and boost testosterone.  

Yet these same compounds have been found to cause hallucinations, changes in mood, addictive behaviors, and even hypogonadism (chronically low testosterone levels).

On my website, I keep a running list of the few ingredients that have a long track record of being both safe and effective. Remember that science is an imperfect, slow, and steady process. The information I provide on my website is based on current available information. This is constantly being updated to accurately reflect the latest advances in nutrition discovery. 

7. You can save a lot of time and money by building your own custom supplement.

Not only does buying ingredients individually save you a significant amount of time and money, it also allows you to avoid putting fillers and potentially dangerous ingredients in your body. Your body is a fine-tuned engine trained for peak human performance, after all. Why would you risk putting harmful compounds in it? Buying the ingredients you want individually and combining them in the supplement formula of your choice puts you in complete control of what you get out of every serving. Learn more on how to do this here. Don't sacrifice your health and performance for unsafe, ineffective supplements. 


Be safe out there athletes! 

Haley FieldsComment