Years ago, before we started working to become more informed on nutrition and supplements, we relied pretty heavily on what others were saying and how many “stars” the product had on whatever website was selling it. We’d also check out the company website and would run into something like this:
We’d think…..holy sh%^. This product has got to be be amazing. Five stars on the website? CHECK. Scientists that can also make “product ingredient molecular structure modifications”? CHECK.
So here’s the thing. Product reviews are necessary and useful. Especially if they look at products from an objective/scientific perspective. What we’ve realized over time and what people we greatly respect in the nutrition industry have told us is that…….when it comes to supplements….. more than product reviews, star ratings, or marketing copy, you need to make sure the
Ingredient profile is solid.
After taking the time to read and educate ourselves on supplements we had one of these types of moments:
And then whenever we looked at the overwhelming majority of supplement labels we would:
Supplement reviews are pervasive in the industry. These types of reviews are useful but once you factor in all the bogus or uninformed reviews (i.e. This test booster blew my mind) and reviews posted by company reps, you find yourself in a situation very susceptible to throwing your money away for an over hyped product. Earlier on, we personally changed products every couple months due to the flavor of the month (no filler, ultra-concentrated, hyper dosed, amazing new stim, goat cheese extract, etc.)
So what to do?
The label will tell you the majority of information you need to help you decide whether a product is any good or not.
Example. Here is the label of a new preworkout product that we were chatting with a friend about. He is also knowledgeable out nutrition, training, and supplements and I very much respect his opinion.
Anecdotally, he told us the product was very solid and provided great sustained energy.
When we looked at this label the first thoughts that jumped into our heads were:
Has Arginine. Not backed by scientific research.
Has L-Citrulline. Not substantiated through human performance research in this form.
An undisclosed amount of Caffeine in a 182mg or 364mg proprietary blend depending on scoops.
“Super Performance System” and “Contractile Performance System”. Yeah.
Some supposed stimulants we have never heard of. One of them is trademarked. I can understand the position some companies take by pushing the hype train for the newest and unknown ingredient on the block but that is a philosophy we are not down with.
Without considering anything else about the mix – these factors alone would make us not purchase this product. And the decision was made about 7 seconds after looking at the label.
Thing is…. we didn’t need to try the product to make the snap decision in our minds if we would purchase it or not. Furthermore, we think this product will have lots of glowing reviews and five star ratings, all supported by a very large marketing budget. Many people will read those reviews. And then you know what happens next.
So we’ve identified a problem. How are we going to help solve it? We’ve working on an Effective Doses Ingredient Reference List that consumers can reference for dietary supplement ingredients. That way when you examine labels you can compare ingredients to their actual clinical doses. It is a work in progress and we will add ingredients as we go. In addition, we plan to write a supplement guide blog post series that pinpoints key factors to look for when selecting sports supplements.
I think the following dialogue below from Brandon Campbell of Campbell Fitness sums it up nicely. He has been consistently putting out solid videos on nutrition, training, and supplements with a scientific and no-BS approach. He showed a little interest in what we were doing and wanted to try Tier 1 for himself and do a review. Check out his Youtube channel here.
At the end of the day, one of our ultimate goals is a more educated consumer. We live in an information age where we hold the entirety of the world’s information in our pockets, and we believe that people will seek to make more informed decisions. Eventually, consumers will be able to look at a supplement label and decide immediately whether the product is worth taking or not.
Really, all that matters after that is making sure you like the way it tastes.
The first knee-jerk criticism of some people that are already making their own homemade mix is that they can mix the ingredients significantly cheaper in bulk. That's what we did personally for a long time, and that's what we still tell people to do if Tier 1 isn't right for them.
A big pet peeve of ours is the over the top marketing and supposed benefits of using different “types” of creatine. Many of these special forms of creatine are alsoexpensive and in our opinion take advantage of the consumer.