Proprietary Blend AKA “not really telling you what’s in here”

After my pre-workout hack bit, there were a few messages from people asking me what about ‘this & that’ pre-workout and ‘this & that’ test booster, etc.

I’m no supplement expert here, but I have learned a few lessons that I figured I could pass along your way to make sure you don’t run into the same expensive mistakes I did with crappy supplements.

When you are dealing with supplements that make larger than life claims, remember my “orgasms on the gym floor” claim from the last blog & you’ll want to take a look at the label to see the ingredients and nutrition information.

You’ll see a bunch of words that you most likely have no idea what they mean. So with that said, my first piece of advice is to take a cell phone shot of the label, wait till you go home and look up the ingredients. Seriously, I wish I had someone tell me that years ago. Why put anything in your body that you’re not quite sure what it is in the first place, but I digress.

Proprietary Blend

Some of the more savvy supplement companies will have a term on the back of the label called “Proprietary Blend.”

Let me give you a rundown of what that is:

The term “Proprietary Blend” is a list of ingredients that are part of a product formula specific to that manufacturer. FDA requires manufacturers/supplement companies to list ALL of the ingredients in a product on its label, along with the amount of each (in terms of weight).

UNLESS (& here is the kicker) the ingredients are part of a proprietary blend—then the specific amount of each individual ingredient in the blend does not have to be listed, only the total.

Supplement companies do this so they don’t have to reveal their “secret” sauce for fear that other companies will copy.

There is a downside to this: YOU, the consumer, are not sure how much of what ingredient is in the supplement you are taking.

Here is the REAL kicker (yes there’s more), since you are not sure how much of what ingredient you are getting, you are not sure if you are even getting enough of the “special selling ingredient” of said supplement.

I’ll give you an example:

I was reviewing a fat burner today that was selling for $60 for a month-long supply. Unfortunately, I can’t list the exact brand because the supplement companies do NOT like this and get fussy with lawsuits about this stuff. Hmmm…I wonder why.

The Proprietary Blend’s ingredients were 550mg in total of:

  • Caffeine – Stimulate
  • L-Tyrosine – Nootropic (brain stimulant) used for stress
  • Citrus Extract – Honestly that ingredient is so vague I’m not sure specifically which ingredient is being addressed on that label
  • Methyltyramine – Possible fat burner but not enough research has been conducted to see if it actually works and how much to take.
  • Taurine – Amino acid that is has been used to reduce cramping caused by fat burners.
  • Cambogia – Fruit that has been claimed to work as a fat burner but no studies have really ever supported that statement in humans (maybe there a few shredded lab rats out there)
  • Glucuronolactone – A byproduct from when glucose is converted in the liver thought to help filter out toxins during a hard work but honestly not enough studies have ever been verified to even say if it works
  • Rauwolscine – Similar to Yohimbine (fat burner), a stimulant with some mood enhancing effects.
  • Green Coffee Extract – Stimulant/fat burner

There are 9 total ingredients in this blend of 550mg

Here is a little bit of math so bear with me: if you were to divide the dosages evenly (just making the math easy there is no reason to believe that supplement companies evenly divide dosages) each ingredient would be: 550/9 = 61mg per ingredient; pretty safe to say that is an average amount for each ingredient.

The Punch in The Stomach

Here is the catch, when it comes to the dosages of some of the ingredients, to have any active benefit in the body, it requires more than that proprietary blend’s total.

Did I just lose you? Let me break it down a bit more with some examples:

  • L-Tyrosine dosages are measured in GRAMS not milligrams (mg). Most standard dosages for exercise are 7-13g. More than 10 times the proprietary blend.
  • Taurine – 500mg-2g to even START being active, four times the proprietary blend total.
  • Caffeine– Green Tea has 50mg per serving and Starbucks Grande Blonde Roast has 330mg of Caffeine in it.
  • Cambogia – 500mg 3xday is the recommend dosage; three times the proprietary blend.

Again, in this case, the supplement’s proprietary blend total is 550mg but the majority of these supplements listed above require dosages MORE than the proprietary blend total.

Something else to consider when talking about a proprietary blend is that the first ingredient in the blend is typically the one with the highest dosage and in this fat burners case, it was caffeine.

More than likely this fat burner was predominately caffeine and with some “pixy dusting” (again, remember the last blog) of the other stuff.

I hope that you can see that there is NO WAY this supplement carries any effective dosage of any of these ingredients, minus caffeine. So the long and short of it is this bottle is just a very expensive Venti Coffee from Starbucks, or better yet, any of you that drink two cups of Folgers a day would be better off sticking with that instead of this stuff.

So if you ever see the term “Proprietary Blend” and then a bunch of ingredients, take a few minutes to do the math and look at the ingredients.  You’ll see that most of these supplements are not even worth you taking nor are you even going to get enough to really see any effects.

Final Thought

Not all submit companies are bad; they’re not all out to cheat you in any way. There are quite a few great companies out there, but unfortunately, some crappy companies have given almost all of them a bad name. This makes it a lot harder for those great supplement companies that really do deliver a great product to get discovered.

Without FDA regulation, unfortunately, this is a wild west type of business where anything goes and honestly, I think it will be quite sometime before a unified governing body gains control.

I don’t want my previous blogs to make you guys think that I hate supplements.  Actually, I still LOVE them; I just learned how to be smarter about my choices. In my next blog I will share with you the supplements stacks that I have used and have recommended to clients.


In Health and Awesomeness,

Travis Merritt, BS, CPT, (and other letters behind the name) is the Owner of Rowlett Transformation Center in Rowlett, TX.

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