Navigating the murky waters of the supplement industry means wading through advertising hype and avoiding expensive and even dangerous scams. The sale of supplements represents such a huge profit potential ($14 billion+ annually) that new products appear daily, only to be gone within months.
The average product life cycle is just 18 months, short enough to often stay ahead of regulation. “New” formulas come out regularly, which may or may not be improvements. Watering down existing products to cut costs is standard operating procedure for many companies.
To further complicate things, most of the “articles” in bodybuilding magazines are written by representatives of supplement companies. Readers think they are getting actionable information and an education, when in reality, they’re just seeing repackaged advertising.
The material is catered to meet the aspirations of vulnerable customers. The writers know exactly what to say to plug into the dreams and ambitions of men and women of all ages who want improved physiques.
As you begin to explore the supplement “stack” or combination you want to use to meet your goals, remember three things:
- If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
- Less is usually more.
- Nothing takes the place of doing the work.
Accurate information is your best protection. By schooling yourself in the fundamentals, you can make good choices to support your muscle strength and size and to meet all of your goals whether you’re bulking or cutting.
You don’t have to break the bank, and you don’t have to endanger your health. Remember, however, that supplements are not magic formulas.
If you combine their use with sound nutritional planning, it is possible to supercharge your results, but all of the pieces of this puzzle work together. Leave one out, and your program is incomplete.
The primary goal of this guide is to give you a firm foundation in the basics of supplementation so you can evaluate products more accurately.
The Biggest Scams
Although it’s impossible to identify all the scams out there on the market (or all of the ones that will be), there are two categories of products that can be really exploitive: detox/cleanses and protein powders.
Detox / Cleanses
The idea of detoxing plays into the reasonable belief that we all have toxins in our bodies that shouldn’t be there. Given the deplorable state of our food supply, it’s a hard point to argue. Chemical preservatives in processed food and insecticides used on produce definitely have a negative effect on our health.
It’s unrealistic, however, to think that you are going to take a product for 24 or 48 hours and get all of that out of your system. The body has its own natural detoxification methods that are supported by diet and exercise. Detox shortcuts don’t work.
Most of these products contain an ingredient called bentonite clay. When the clay moves through the digestive system and is passed through the bowels, it turns a sickly green.
People think the color indicates the presence of poison leaving their bodies, when all they are seeing is the natural effects of digestion. No matter how much you see bentonite touted, it has no healing properties.