| Article Summary:
The Real Deal Or An Impostor?
How To Tell If Your Product Is Legit Or Just Garbage.
Picking out a dietary supplement can prove to be a tougher task than passing some college exams. Facing a wall full of capsules, powders and bars, how do you know which one will work the best for you?
Somewhere between the glossy ads and inflated marketing claims or testimonials lies the truth. Few dietary supplements have scientific studies behind their particular product, with many companies inaccurately "borrowing" or "pirating" science from other companies to make claims about their own products. Think about this for a minute.
Would a pharmaceutical company ever market a product, without ever testing its efficacy, by relying on another opposing company's clinical trials on a different product intended for the same application?
Picture This Scenario:
A well known pharmaceutical company, we'll call this Company Legit, spends hundreds of millions of dollars on clinical trials to prove their medication works only to have another company, Company Imposter, pop up, attempt to create a similar product and claim their product works because of Company Legit's research? Of course not...
They'd get their butts burned and end up facing more lawyers than Britney Spears in her child custody battle. And, with their reputation now smeared, Company Imposter is doomed to a stock market tank that rivals the tech crash of 2000-2002.
This tactic not only spells of poor ethics, but, just because one product goes through all of the research to show that it does work, this doesn't mean a somewhat similar product works as well (without going through the rigors of testing). Ineffective until proven effective...
How Can You Tell?
So, how can you tell if you are getting the real thing? Because, let's face it, if I'm suffering from some kind of health issue, I don't want to waste my time with some product that hasn't been tested and may or may not work. I want the same brand that was used or the brand used in other sound clinical trials indicating that it is efficacious.
Follow these steps and you are less likely to be fooled in the future by spending your hard-earned cash on products in the WOM (waste of money) category.
1. Look For Research:
If you are considering purchasing something in the fat burning category for instance, check out the company's website (no website? Move on).
Does this product have references for studies that have been conducted on the actual product itself? Or are there references of general studies on some of its ingredients such as green tea and caffeine (not on the product as a whole)?
If you can't distinguish between the two, email or call the company. I did this recently in fact. I called a prominent company that markets a waxy maize carbohydrate product with a list of claims that were too good to be true considering the lack of research references. Among other things this product supposedly rapidly increases glycogen storage and transports vital nutrients directly to your muscle tissue.
- Over 2 times faster gastric emptying.1
- Insulin spike within 10 minutes, with insulin being the most potent initial anti-proteolytic signal in muscle.2
- About 80% faster glycogen repletion, approaching the glycogen resynthesis rate of INTRAVENOUS glucose.3
- An average of 10% greater maximal endurance performance (UP TO 23%) after exhaustive, muscle glycogen depleting exercise, with a 100 gram dose taken immediately after exercise2.
This product intrigued me due to the very specific claims it made, yet there were no references. So I did a little more searching and found out that this particular company took the research done on another product called Vitargo.
Based on three clinical trials examining Vitargo against isocaloric (equal calorie) amounts of the most commonly used mix of carbohydrates in sports nutrition products: maltodextrin + sugars found that Vitargo is:
2. Consider The Company:
Have you heard of it before? Do you recognize the names of any of the personnel working there? Do they have a good track record at other sports nutrition companies? Have you tried their products previously and been pleased?
Just because a company is small or new, does not mean that their products are not based on sound, scientific research but, if you have the choice between something you are familiar with and something you are not, stick with familiarity. Otherwise, call or email the company.
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Do the representatives sound like they know what they are talking about or are they giving you inflated claims and promises? Do they skirt around your questions?
In an effort to track down products that may help with joint health, I recently had the pleasure of talking to a small company in the northeast that produces cherry juice.
The president of the company answered the phone, told me the story behind the company and then directed me to research that the company has sponsored to show their product may be beneficial[...]4, but they also have ongoing studies examining muscle damage in thoroughbred race horses and [more]5.
Yes, it is important to load up on fruits and veggies often and it seems as if a cherry would be a cherry would be a cherry. However, as scientists delve into each compound found in fruits and veggies (there are tons of them), they are starting to find that certain batches of the same fruit have more bioavailable antioxidants than others due to their attachment to glucose molecules6.
Related Antioxidant Articles:
That's right, it seems as if every time you sit down to eat cranberries, for instance, your body absorbs a different total amount of antioxidants depending upon their availability (the antioxidant anthocyanin when bound to glucose molecules is more absorbable then when bound to the sugars galactose and arabinose.).
3. Consider Price, For What You Are Getting:
Sure, we all have to watch our dollars, especially as food costs sky rocket and the stock market seems a bit shaky here in 2008. But, I'll pay more for quality than for something I'm not totally positive about. And, if it is a protein powder, I'm likely to get a packet before I buy a whole tub only to give it away if it has a displeasing taste.
4. Professional Trust:
Do you rely on the opinions of certain professionals around you? If you think they provide sound advice, consider what they are saying about various products (especially if they are the type to tell you when they just don't know or have never heard of something). There are so many products popping up these days that there is no way every professional has heard of every company, line, or product.
5. What Ingredients And How Much?
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So, let's say you pick up a product with no research behind it but you are bound and determined to try it. If this is the case, do a little homework (at least) and look at the effective doses used in trials.
Take creatine for example. Most studies have indicated that 5 grams/day is an effective dose. Therefore, you want a product with that amount per dose.
Related Creatine Articles:
If something contains a mere 1 gram/dose you'll have to take five times the serving size. And, let's be honest, though it's easy to mix in more of a powder supplement, taking an absorbent amount of pills or capsules is a pain in the...
- Leiper JB, Aulin KP, Soderlund K. Improved gastric emptying rate in humans of a unique glucose polymer with gel-forming properties. Scand J Gastroenterol 2000;35:1143-1149.
- Stephens FB, Roig M, Armstrong G, Greenhaff PL. Post-exercise ingestion of a unique, high molecular weight glucose polymer solution improves performance during a subsequent bout of cycling exercise. J Sports Sci 2007:1-6.
- Aulin KP, Soderlund K, Hultman F. Muscle glycogen resynthesis rate in humans after supplementation of drinks containing carbohydrates with low and high molecular masses. Eur J Appl Physiol 2000;81:346-351.
- Connolly DAJ, McHugh MP, Padilla-Zakour OI. Efficacy of a tart cherry juice blend in preventing the symptoms of muscle damage. Br J Sports Med 2006;40:679-83.
- Bliss R. New cranberry hybrid high in antioxidants. USDA Agricultural Research Magazine: http://www.ars.usda.gov