Having worked in the supplements industry for close to 10 years, I have been asked by LA Muscle to address the issue of why the supplements industry is so damn' confusing! After reading this article you will never look at adverts in a magazine the same way. I don't blame you for getting confused, but if you want to get "really" confused, just grab a US muscle-building magazine! The US magazines are almost 4 times the size of the UK ones and they have literally hundreds of companies advertising supplements. In the US, you get 4-5 new companies popping up every month! They all claim to have the "latest secret supplement" for you to start looking like Arnold. Fortunately in the UK, the Advertising Standards Authorities are tougher and don't allow too much nonesense. Those who are in charge of advertisements, such as the people at Muscle & Fitness etc are also quite diligent and don't allow advertisers to get too carried away with their imaginations. Despite this, why is it that you are still getting confused? Let's try and analyse this. Hopefully by The end of this article, you will have a better idea of how you can go about choosing the products that suit your needs.
This means that not every company that you see in the magazines is a big-player. In real terms, you may (and often do) get someone importing a generic product from anywhere in the world (e.g. China/ Korea), putting their own "super-effective" name on it and touting it as a novel new product. You can usually spot these people, as they will have either a PO box address or they will have a limited range of products; usually no more than 3 or 4. Their adverts are tacky, cheap and they don't advertise very often due to budget restrictions. Only they know where their product comes from and very often, they themselves don't "really" know what's in their product! It is quite scary to think that these people can sell what they want and not offer any sort of safety certification as to what they are selling you.
Think about it: If all supplements were the same, why is it that you get really good results from some and absolutely none from others? The fact is that not every company has access to high tech production plants or quality raw materials. On top of this, not every company has the budget to invest heavily in producing high-quality supplements.
Many companies start out with good products and good intentions, but rising costs, more competitors and falling profits will mean they have to do something to survive. It usually starts from raising prices, but as this becomes competitively impossible, they will start cutting into the raw materials of their business i.e. the raw materials which make up the supplements. As an example, 90% pure GABA is almost 50% cheaper than 98% GABA; that's a big difference. Unfortunately there's also a big difference in the results too! So as a guideline, if something is too cheap or sounds too good to be true, then don't buy it. You will end up compromising on results and in "real terms" you don't get value for money.
This is a simple fact. Many companies only have access to a limited number of products or they can only produce a few products. Therefore they will have to do the best marketing they can to compete with all the "real big boys" with the BIG products and try and make similar claims. This is the main reason behind all the confusing products and adverts.
Here is an example: Company A can only produce Ribose; it may even be good Ribose, but at the end of the day it is just Ribose. Those in the know are aware that Ribose on its own does not do much. It needs other ingredients to get it going or vice versa. So Company A can tell you the truth, i.e. "This is just Ribose and on its own it doesn't really do much, but take it with Glutamate and Creatine and you will get good results". Or Company A, can try and compete with others selling much better products (e.g. 19-Nor) and does a "hype job" i.e. "New Super-Ribose gives you 7 lbs of muscle in 5 days, nothing else like it..." The conclusion is that you end up reading similar adverts, all claiming the same and really not knowing who is telling the truth. The lucky ones end up buying the 19-Nor on its own and the unlucky ones buy just Ribose.
I am going to give you a rough guide as to what are the "most effective" products, in order of strength and power and speed of giving results:
I recommend a good pure Whey Protein powder as a base for muscle growth all year round.
GIMMICK PRODUCTS = These are off-shoots of well-known products. For example you have Creatine Monohydrate which is strong and works well. Then you start getting clever marketers (and that's all they are) bringing you Creatine Citrate, Phosphate, Liquid, Fizzy, Candy Creatine, Endurance drink + Creatine and so on. If you work hard for your money and you don't want to "risk" it, stick to the original or an "update" on the original, not gimmicks.
TIME RELEASED = Time released products may work very well initially. Unfortunately they have a nasty tendency of making your own body lazy, so when you come off them, you start losing size and that's the last thing you want! Be careful. I am not saying that all timed-release supplements are evil, but that most people report a serious loss of mass (even below their previous level) after they discontinued use.
CHEAP PRODUCTS = If a seller compares their cheap product to an expensive one, then they inevitably have a "weak angle". The many cheap imitations of Coke may have the same appearance as Coke and a similar taste, but the people who know Coke and love Coke will tell you that they are just not the same. The cheaper South East Asian automobiles which compare themselves to more expensive Japanese cars are not of the same build quality. These are facts. A cheap fatburner is not going to contain the same-strength ingredients/scientific combination as a more expensive one.
"What?", I hear you ask. "Logic, you know, that thing which makes you make sensible decisions!." Here's an example: creatine tablets may sound like a fantastic idea, but let's look at what you get for your money. Each tablet will have fillers to bind it together. In real terms, you have to ingest at least 40-50 tablets to get results which come anywhere close to Creatine Powder. So logically, that small tub of Creatine tablet which you pay thirty quid for will only give you 3 days' worth of bad quality Creatine. Where's the value there? Can anyone blame you for not getting any results?
I hope I have managed to help you understand the supplements industry a little better.
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