WHY “PROPRIETARY BLENDS” IN FITNESS SUPPLEMENTS ARE A SCAM
If you truly want to get the most bang for your buck when it comes to your supplementation plan, you need to do your research and choose very carefully.
Fitness supplements are a multi-billion dollar industry, and there are far, far more low quality, over-priced products lining the shelves than there are legitimately effective ones.
It’s basically become like the Wild West out there, with supplement companies adopting all kinds of misleading, deceptive tactics to get their hands on your money and maximize their profit margins.
The use of “proprietary blends” is one of the most common of these practices, and it’s something you definitely need to be aware of and understand…
What Is A Proprietary Blend?
A proprietary blend is essentially a mixture of ingredients in which the total amount of all ingredients combined is listed on the label, but NOT the specific amounts of each ingredient on their own.
For example, a particular product may contain a “proprietary blend” of waxy maize, creatine monohydrate, l-leucine and caffeine for a total of 7 grams. You’d know which ingredients are included, the gram amount of the blend as a whole, but you’d have no idea as to how much of each individual compound is present.
The FDA requires that the ingredients in a proprietary blend be listed in order of weight, so in this case you would know that waxy maize is the most abundant ingredient while caffeine is the least abundant.
What Is A Proprietary Blend Supposed To Be Used For?
In theory, the idea behind a proprietary blend from a supplement company’s point of view is this…
“We have this super effective, never-before-seen blend of ingredients, and we don’t want our competitors to get their hands on our amazing formula. Therefore, we must hide the specific ingredient amounts behind a proprietary blend so that our breakthrough concoction remains a secret forever”.
What Do Supplement Companies Actually Use Proprietary Blends For?
Here’s the reality…
Any supplement company that actually wanted to find out what was in their competitor’s product could do so very easily. All it would take is a simple lab analysis, and they’d instantly have the complete breakdown of ingredients right in front of them.
In most cases they’ll never do this, since there really are no “top secret” formulas, and there are only a very small handful of supplement compounds out there that are even worth using in the first place.
So, what’s the real reason that supplement companies use proprietary blends in the vast majority of cases?
The first is to cut costs. By simply pumping their proprietary blend with the cheapest ingredients first (and under-dosing the stuff that costs more but actually works), their production costs are minimized and profit is maximized. Since most average customers have no idea about proper supplement dosing, it’s very easy to get away with this.
The second is for marketing purposes. When a company sprinkles 15+ ingredients into a proprietary blend and then gives it a fancy, high-tech sounding name such as the “rapid muscle growth super matrix” or “acute energy neuro-modulation system”, the average customer really thinks they’re getting something special.
Why You Should Avoid Proprietary Blends In Almost All Cases
Think about it… if a supplement company truly had a properly dosed, worthwhile formula to sell, why in the world would they want to hide that from their customers?
They’d be far better off listing the exact ingredients in the exact amounts for everyone to see.
For that reason, a supplement company that hides its core ingredients behind a proprietary blend almost always has something that they don’t want you to see.
And if that’s the case, why would you invest your money there when there are plenty of other options available? Why would you trust a company that uses a deceptive tactic like this?
Furthermore, why would you put something into your body when you don’t even know what it really contains?
When it comes to muscle building and fat loss supplementation, dosing is critical.
Simply consuming a research-backed ingredient on its own is NOT enough. It also must be consumed in the proper study-validated dose if you want to see real benefits. Otherwise, it may be totally useless for you and have no positive effects at all.
With a very high percentage of supplements that use proprietary blends, you’re NOT getting nearly enough of each ingredient to truly experience measurable benefits.
For example, if a proprietary blend totaled 5 grams and included creatine, beta alanine and citrulline malate, you would immediately know you were getting ripped off. The study dose for creatine is between 3-5 grams, beta alanine should be between 3.2-6.4 grams, and citrulline malate should be between 6-8 grams.
For that reason, the 5 gram total of the blend wouldn’t be anywhere near enough to ensure that you were getting enough of each individual ingredient.
The Bottom Line On Proprietary Blends
Avoid them. Plain and simple.
If you don’t know what a particular supplement contains, there is no good reason at all to purchase it.
Instead, stick to products with fully transparent labels, or just buy the ingredients you want separately on their own.
In the case where a particular supplement puts only a portion of its ingredients behind a proprietary blend but does list the rest, it really comes down to a judgement call.
Is it the core ingredients that are hidden, or just a few smaller ones on the side? What percentage is listed and what percentage is hidden?
Making the right decision here really just comes down to doing the proper supplement research first (the supplementation section of this website contains a ton of useful information) and knowing how to read labels.
If there’s a specific product you’re wondering about, feel free to ask me about it and I’ll help out.
You can also get a complete rundown of my specific recommendations by downloading my Complete Fitness Supplementation Guide.
If you found this article helpful, make sure to take my physique quiz below to discover the very best training and nutrition program for your specific body type, goals and experience level...