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Miscellaneous

  • Better Protein Packaging: Money in Your Pocket

    One of the biggest issues with the supplement industry comes down to the huge variations in pricing.

    Especially when it comes to protein.

    I mean, in all honesty, most whey protein supplements come from similar places.

    Yes, some companies get theirs from New Zealand, some from America, and some from here in Australia -- but in the end, the vast majority are made via the same production processes and using the same ingredients.

    It is actually for this reason that you see very little variability in the macronutrient content of different whey products -- because they are more similar than they are different.

    Which begs the question: why are some supplements so damn expensive?

    The Brand Name

    One key reason that large companies charge more for their supplements than their smaller counterparts -- and especially for their protein powders --  is because of their specific company name.

    Now, just to be clear, I am certainly not saying that larger companies have worse products or anything like that.

    But I am saying that they charge more because of who they are, and not what they sell.

    Some larger brand name supplement companies have been in this industry since day one. As such,  they have built a solid reputation amongst gym goers across the globe, allowing them to charge more for their products.

    In this situation you are not only paying for the brand but also for the assurance that you are getting a decent product -- I mean, thousands of reviews from weekend warriors, top tier bodybuilders, and athletes alike, confirm this.

    The tradeoff here is that there are plenty of supplement companies that don't charge a premium price because of their brand, and their supplements are just as good -- meaning you could be getting them cheaper.

    The Marketing

    OK, now this is where things can get a little more shady.

    There are a number of supplement companies that spend a heap of money on marketing. They advertise their supplements to the masses, with a specific focus on people who are new to the gym.

    In this manner, they attempt to make them feel like they need that supplement.

    This, in my opinion, is much worse than increasing prices because of your brand name and reputation.

    This is a strategy companies use to pry more money away from people who are not 100% certain as to what they are paying for. In essence, they sell them on unrealistic expectations and a belief that their supplement is going to take their gains to the next level.

    Now, this might sound silly coming from a supplement company, but if you think supplements are the key to unlocking your gains, then you are going to be disappointed.

    Supplements are intended to be just that -- supplements.

    If you think of your training and lifestyle as a cake, then you can think of your training and nutrition as the actual cake batter. These are the things that are going to stimulate growth and provide the nutrients required for progress to occur.

    Next up your sleep and stress make up the icing. If you get these in check, there is a genuine possibility that you will improve at a faster rate because, in doing so, you will place your body in a better position to recover between sessions.

    And then supplements make up the cherry on top of that cake.

    They can definitely help increase the results of your training, but they are going to be completely useless if the rest of the cake is not in place.

    So, if you see a supplement company promising the world, they're probably overselling it...

    The Packaging

    And lastly, we have the packaging.

    I may be a little biased here, but I would argue that packaging is the biggest factor that feeds into different protein prices.

    Some companies opt to provide their protein powder in these big heavy duty tubs with a screw on lid. Now, obviously these containers are extremely durable, but I kind of wonder what's the point?

    I mean, what are you planning to do with it?

    Personally, my protein tends to stay in the pantry with the rest of the food I eat. It doesn't get thrown around a whole lot, it doesn't get transported from place to place, and it certainly doesn't need to be in a bulletproof container that costs a lot of money to make.

    In all honesty, the best protein packaging is stand up plastic pouches.

    Not only are pouches less expensive than heavy duty tubs, but they also use much less material to make. This means that they place less burden on the environment during both the production process, and when they are broken down and disposed.

    All of which means more money in your pocket and less weight on your conscience.

    Summary

    Better protein packaging is the key to saving money on your supplements and placing less burden on the environment -- so dont be taken in by fancy packaging and ridiculous brand names.

    Keep it simple and remember more often than not the best protein comes in the simplest packages.

  • How to Know If You Are Paying Too Much for Your Supplements?

    Over the last decade we have seen gym culture really hit its peak. More and more people are heading to the gym and working out in an attempt to become the very best version of themselves.

    And for the most part, this is a very good thing.

    People are actively trying to improve their health in a big way. They are working hard to change the way they look, improve their self-esteem, and simply become stronger, more resilient human beings.

    In this manner, there is a whole lot to like.

    However, with this increased interest in training has also come an increased interest in supplements.

    And this increased interest in supplements has led to a number of companies preying on new gym goers by advertising numerous compounds that promise the word, cost quite a lot of money, but don't actually do that much.

    In short, they are making money from peoples naivety and good faith -- which is pretty despicable if you ask me.

    Which is exactly what led me to write this article.

    So, without further ado -- some key signs that you are probably paying too much for your supplements.

    They aren't evidence based

    Just to be clear, when we say “evidence-based” we don't mean some guy at your local gym swears they are effective -- we mean that they have REAL scientific evidence to support their use.

    There are a number of supplements on the market that have never been researched in any formal setting. As a result, we actually have no idea whether they are effective or not (or whether they are even safe, for that matter).

    There are also a number of unique supplements that have been researched in animals and laboratory settings (mainly in cell-based studies), but are yet to be trialled in humans.

    While this type of research can certainly give you some insight into how they work in a more mechanistic manner, they don't really provide any clear evidence that they produce real world outcomes (i.e. strength and muscle gain, or fat loss) in humans.

    With this in mind, any supplements you buy should have evidence to support their use in real people, and demonstrating real outcomes. This is obviously important from a safety perspective, but it also guarantees that you are not wasting your money.

    We would argue that any company selling supplements should be able to provide scientific references to back up their claims -- and if they don't, you should turn the other way, because you might be paying for something that at best is ineffective, and at worst, potentially dangerous.

    They have over the top marketing

    Good quality supplement companies tend to rely on two key things to promote their products:

    1. The scientific literature (which I have already touched on in detail), and
    2. A large body of positive customer reviews

    If you are looking at a supplement that obviously spends a large amount of money on marketing, then there is a good chance that the extra cost associated is getting passed directly onto you.

    Moreover, in my mind, this is typically a red flag that the company does not have one of the two (or sometimes both) things mentioned above, and they are trying to compensate for it.

    So, with this in mind, try and avoid supplements that promise a little too much, and go for those companies that let their reviews do the talking.

    They use proprietary blends

    There are times where a supplement company will provide evidence for the ingredients that they use, and then when you look at the back of the label to find the dosages, there are none listed -- and all it says is “proprietary blend”.

    This is a big red flag.

    In short, a proprietary blend describes a combination of several different ingredients that sit within a supplement.

    These are generally advertised as some sort of secret formula that the supplement company has developed to take your gains to the next level -- but nothing could be further from the truth.

    In fact, they are simply a loophole that supplement companies use to avoid listing how much of each individual ingredient is in their supplement. This makes it easier for them to use smaller doses of effective (and often costly) ingredients, while bulking it up with a larger amount of ‘filler’ ingredients.

    As I am sure you realise, this means that the supplement becomes cheaper to make, while also rendering it much less effective -- even if it does happen to include some good quality evidence-based ingredients.

    So, if you are looking at any supplement that contains a proprietary blend, take your money and go elsewhere.

    They use the word “hydrolysed”

    This sits almost entirely within the realm of protein, but it is one that really gets on my nerves.

    When it comes to protein powder, most of them are sold either as a concentrate, an isolate, or in hydrolyzed form. To keep it simple, each of these describes the level of processing that it has undergone (each becoming more expensive due to the increased production cost).

    Concentrate is less refined than isolate, which is broken down into smaller molecules that are easier to digest. As a result, isolate tends to get absorbed a little quicker than concentrate, while also containing more protein and less fat and carbs per serving.

    Then we have hydrolysed protein.

    In short, hydrolysed protein is a protein powder that has gone through an additional production process called “hydrolysis”. During this process, the protein molecules get broken down even further into a form that is more efficiently mixed with water.

    Now, supplement companies will advertise that hydrolyzed protein is optimal because it allows for the amino acids that it is composed of to be absorbed at a much higher rate compared to other protein powders.

    This is said to expedite the recovery process, increasing gains in size and strength.

    But this is not really the case...

    While it all sounds good in theory, the limiting factor for the speed of protein absorption is not the size of the proteins you consume. Instead, it is the number of amino acid transporters you have in your gut.

    With this in mind, you could consume single amino acids and they would not be absorbed any faster than a normal whey protein isolate because your stomach simply cannot absorb them any faster.

    This means that while hydrolysed protein powders are more easily absorbed into water, they are not absorbed into your body any quicker -- making them a complete waste of money.

    They have heavy duty packaging

    And lastly, we have the packaging.

    Packaging is the biggest factor that feeds into expensive supplements.

    Several companies provide their supplements in heavy duty tubs -- which are obviously going to be more expensive than the stand up plastic pouches that many smaller supplement companies provide.

    For starters, because these heavy duty tubs are more expensive to make, you end up paying more for packaging.

    But more importantly, they are pretty unnecessary. I mean, what are you doing with your supplements that they need to be stored in something that could survive an air-raid?

    Don't they sit in the cupboard like everybody else's?

    Anyway, I digress -- heavy duty packaging = heavy duty cost.

    So why not avoid it?

    Final Points

    If you are sick of paying too much for ineffective supplements, then we have got you covered -- using the tips outlined in this article you can make sure you never pay more than you need to for supplements again.

    Print them off and stick them to the fridge so you never forget.

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