A Bodybuilder Is Born: Episode 14 - Supplements Are Not Magic!

Stop falling for media hype! Most magazine ads are full of false claims. Learn the truth and what supplements work!

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Article Summary:
  • Randy falls vicitim to fancy marketing and grand claims from products.
  • Ron has to pull him back to reality and show him the truth.
  • Randy learns that the supplements he's taking now are tried and true.
  • Look at this one! Randy was going through the phase where he was wowed by the marketing techniques used in supplement ads. These are designed to downplay the importance of hard training and eating frequent nutritious meals - which can't possibly have much of an impact in your results compared to the latest wonder product.

    These Ads Are Designed To Downplay The Importance Of Training And Nutrition In Favor Of The Latest Wonder Product.
    + Click To Enlarge.
    These Ads Are Designed To Downplay The Importance Of
    Training And Nutrition In Favor Of The Latest Wonder Product.

    "See? This one turns into Dianabol when you take it." He pointed to the product, called something very similar like D-ball 2500, which appeared right next to a bottle of actual Dianabol tablets. The ad had several of these sound-a-like products paired with their real steroid counterparts to really entice those afraid to use illegal drugs but who would buy them in heartbeat if they were legal.

    "This one is test, that one is Equipoise, this one is GH..." Randy was getting so excited I thought he was going to have an orgasm, and I didn't want to be around for that. It was time to nip this chicanery in the bud before Junior's mind got warped any further.


    Back To Reality

    "Get real, Randy," I said. "Anyone who has ever used steroids would try these things and demand their money back for false advertising. If these stupid things really worked like steroids, the FDA would have been on them like Kobe Bryant on a hot hotel desk clerk."

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    "But there's a legal loophole, they convert in the body to steroids!" I could tell my protégé had fallen for the bullshit hook, line, and sinker. I sighed.

    "More like your money and all the money from the other suckers is going to be converted to a shiny red Ferrari for the crook who sells this junk. Probably the real cool one Demi Moore drives in Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle, that costs 700 grand. Use your head, Randy. If these things really were just like steroids, why would so many people risk getting fake steroids, getting ripped off, and getting arrested to still buy steroids?" That one had my boy stumped. He flipped through a few more pages.

    "What about this one? These before and after pictures are pretty amazing." I glanced, having seen this company's ads about ten thousand times before.

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    "If the stuff works so great for making you gain muscle and lose fat, riddle me this," I said. "Why is everyone pale, hairy, slumped, totally relaxed and looking miserable in the before photo, like their girlfriend just left them for the Rock (my wife happens to drool over the Rock)?

    Then in the after shot they have a tan, the hair is shaved off, they are flexing, and have a big goofy smile like they just had a steamy one-night stand with J-Lo while she was in town without Ben (I do more than drool over J-Lo)? And why does it say at the bottom of every single after photo, so and so's results not typical? If the stuff is so great how come we can't expect to get results like any of the guys and girls in the ad?" Randy was silent, he was obviously seeing my point.


    A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

    "Look," I told him. "Bodybuilders are so desperate to get an endorsement contract and their pictures in the magazines they will do just about anything it takes. I have actually known guys who would stop training, stop using steroids, and eat a bunch of crap to take a before picture where they looked like absolute dog shit. Then they would train hard and eat well, get back on all the juice, and take the after pictures. You know what they would do with those pictures?"

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    Randy shrugged.

    "They would make many copies, and send them along with a letter to ten or twenty different supplement companies, telling them about the incredible results they experienced with their product - which in most cases they had never even tried - and inquire about the possibility of endorsing it or appearing in their ads. Most of the time they would just take the before pictures when they started their diets for a contest and then shoot the after shot once they were in top condition."

    Randy wasn't giving up just yet. He had one more ad. "Okay, check this out. You know how a lot of guys today are injecting Synthol into their arms?"

    "Yes," I said, ready to spit some sarcasm. "And it usually looks so realistic that none of us suspect their ridiculously out-of-proportion lumpy arms and shoulders are full of coagulated MCT oil." (And no, John Parrillo does NOT recommend Cap-Tri ever be injected into your body in case any of you had this bright idea!)

    It Looks So Realistic That None Of Us Suspect Their Arms And Shoulders Are Full Of Coagulated MCT Oil.
    + Click To Enlarge.
    It Looks So Realistic That None Of Us Suspect Their
    Arms And Shoulders Are Full Of Coagulated MCT Oil.

    "This stuff does the same thing, site enhancement, but you just rub it on. Look at the guy's arm before and after." I shook my head. Randy wasn't this stupid. I knew he wasn't. I put up my arm and relaxed it, just like the guy's arm was in the first picture.

    "Before," I said slowly. I flexed the arm.

    "After. That's all he's doing in the two pictures, except it also looks like he stopped training for a couple months before he took the first picture. Who knows? It might not even be the same person's arm."

    Randy frowned and started shuffling the pages again.

    "Look," I thundered, "if you show me an ad for pills to make your Mr. Happy grow, I am going to roll that magazine up and beat you over the head with it like a dog that pees on the rug." He put the magazine down.


    Is It All A Lie?

    "I used to fall for these ads too, believe me," I confessed. "I don't know how much hard-earned cash I blew on bogus supplements with slick ads, but it had to be a few thousand bucks all told. I wanted to think that some pill or powder was going to suddenly make this huge difference and have me looking like Arnold in no time."

    "So none of these things work?" Randy was crestfallen. It was like I had just told him all at once that Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny weren't real, and that Martha Stewart wasn't really as nice and sweet as she appeared to be on her TV show.

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    "I am sure a lot of them have some effect, but nothing like what they want you to believe." This next part was going to sound like a big sales pitch or a testimonial, but it needed to be said.

    "You know what I like about the Parrillo Performance line of supplements?" I asked. Randy shrugged.

    "He has been in business over twenty years and not once has come out with an ad hyping up his products with outrageous claims and wild promises. And he is the only man I know who sells supplements that will tell you bluntly that unless you are eating well, not to even bother buying supplements. He carries a limited amount of products that have all stood the test of time, like MCT oil, creatine monohydrate, and whey protein. Years ago I used to suggest to him that he come out with his version of the latest item everyone was excited about, and he always said he wasn't interested.

    At the time I thought he was being stubborn and missing out on a lot of potential profits, but now I see most of the things I suggested he come out with have either disappeared from the market because consumers figured out they were ineffective, or they are now about to be banned by the US government. So many companies have come and gone since I started buying supplements in the late 1980's, but John is still in business and has maintained his integrity. Not everyone will sell their soul for some fast profits."

    "So what, I shouldn't use supplements?" Randy asked sullenly. "You use a lot of supplements. That time I was at your house your kitchen looked like a Bodybuilding.com franchise."

    That Time I Was At Your House Your Kitchen Looked Like A Bodybuilding.com Franchise.
    + Click To Enlarge.
    That Time I Was At Your House Your Kitchen
    Looked Like A Bodybuilding.com Franchise.

    "Of course you should use supplements, but only as a supplement to good eating and hard training. Nobody wants to admit for a minute that maybe the reason they aren't getting the results they want is simply because they don't train hard enough or eat right. That would be too painful and they would have to assume some actual responsibility. Instead, they keep on looking for some magic supplement to fill in the gaps and catapult their bodies into what they see in the magazines. Show me a guy who trains his ass off and eats six nutritious meals a day with no supplements, and then show me a guy who trains like a wuss and eats a couple junk food meals a day but uses a lot of supplements. The first guy will have a better physique than the second guy, every single time."


    So What Should You Take?

    "So what supplements are good to buy?"

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    "The stuff you use now is really all you need. You use protein powders to give you extra protein in your diet, MCT oil to provide energy and extra calories to gain on, protein bars for when you have to miss solid meals out on the run, creatine, liver aminos, the essential vitamin, minerals, advanced lipotropic, and a couple other basic items. That's all you really need as long as you are busting your ass with the weights and making a dedicated effort to eat several clean, nutritious meals a day as you do now."

    I could see Randy was convinced I was right, which I was on this matter. The amount of deceitful and misleading ads from supplement companies has always been a pet peeve of mine. Randy looked around. We were in the gym, and he lowered his voice so the new front-desk girl, who was either Filipino or Japanese with a deep tan, couldn't hear him. She looked like she weighed about eighty pounds.

    "Those pills that make your, you know, grow?"

    I thought for a minute. He had been warned explicitly. I calmly reached down and picked up the magazine off the floor next to Randy's weight belt.

    "What are you doing?" he whined. I rolled it up into a hard tube and whacked him just once over his head.

    "Bad Randy!" I yelled.

    He yelped. Some dogs are slow to learn and you have to be firm.