Facility Location: Burlington, North Carolina, USA
Founder/CEO: Mike McCandless
In operation since: 2004
Glutamine Product of The Year (Scivation Xtend): 2007 & 2008
Recovery Supplement of the Year (Scivation Xtend): 2009, 2010, 2011 & 2012
Intra-Workout Supplement of the Year (Scivation Xtend): 2011 & 2012
Initial customers may be easy for a supplement company to find, but long-term loyalty is rare. It helps a lot if you can build dominance in one specific area, becoming synonymous with a certain supplement category. For many people, the ideas of "recovery" and "BCAAs" begin and end with Scivation's flagship product, Xtend.
The company followed a slow and steady approach over the last decade, keeping its lineup small and focused. CEO Mike McCandless has been there since the start, and he gave us a detailed look into the intricate processes and quality control mechanisms that separate this industry stalwart from the up-and-comers.
If you're looking for an education into the science of supplement production, look no further. Congratulations to Scivation, our Supplement Company of the Month!
In the beginning, a small team of people came together with the intention of creating a brand that was whole-heartedly committed to excellence in manufacturing, research, and results. After years of doing this—and with more than a century of combined experience—we're unwilling to settle for complacency or commonplace.
We know we're dealing with delicate and intricate biological machinery, and we know that only those products which are rigorously investigated for efficacy and relevance are worthy of putting into your body. These are the only products we think are worthy of the Scivation name.
The Scivation brand was born out of the need for something pure. After having been around the industry in one capacity or another for a handful of years, I came to see a real need for a back-to-basics sort of brand. Scivation combines the best of that effort with the right amounts of science and innovation to bring the consumer a product that will help achieve their goals, whatever they may be.
I began by working for GNC corporate in 1998 before moving on to manage franchise stores for the popular chain. I was never one to be content while working for someone else, so with that in mind, I opened my own brick-and-mortar supplement store in 2001, called Unlimited Nutrition.
Later that year, I went down the rabbit hole of a popular supplement and training online forum. After a few months and several hundred posts, I began to build a really solid reputation among my fellow forum posters. In 2002 I launched www.1fast400.com. The name was my handle on the forum, and a nod to my best event when I competed in track and field at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Soon after, I launched www.bulknutrition.com, which would grow at a phenomenal rate, surpassing my previous online venture.
In 2004, we created Scivation. A few people who shared my vision and I were able to promote the brand through my website. The rest is pretty much history.
XTEND: BCAAs in the proven and well-documented 2:1:1 ratio; plus glutamine, citrulline and electrolytes; zero sugar and zero carbs. This is our original intra-workout product, and it's still the category leader, with six unparalleled flavors. It's sold in both 90- and 30-serving containers, and is also available in single-serve variety stick packs in a countertop display.
Scivation WHEY: Delicious low-carb, low-lactose protein consisting of fast-absorbing whey protein concentrate, whey protein isolate, and low-molecular weight bioactive protein fractions from extensively hydrolyzed whey; 21 grams of protein per serving. It comes in two awesome flavors, sold in 2-pound and 5-pound containers.
NOVEM: Nervous system stimulating, muscle potentiating and protecting formula providing maximal energy and intensity. Charge through the most extreme workouts, and rapidly resynthesize ATP, buffer ions and reset muscle firing to increase workout volume and maximize muscle overload. Sold in two stimulating flavors, in 40-serving containers and single-serve variety stick packs.
MASS GAINER: Designed to promote quality lean muscle mass through a 50:30:20 ratio of carbs-to-protein-to-fat. Premium milk protein isolate, brown rice and fractionated rice oligodextrins, betaine, and more than 1200 mg of MCTs, Omega-3s, EPA, DHA, and ALA essential fatty acids. Two dessert-inspired flavors.
Scivation has an elite team of Sponsored Athletes, and they're way more than just group of pretty faces. We hand-picked our team to meet our strict standards. Our team members possess some of the most outstanding physiques in their respective sports, but it is their high moral character that sets them apart from the rest.
Our sponsored athletes define the Scivation brand; they are living, breathing representations of what our brand embodies. A number of years ago, even before Scivation was financially able to provide sponsorship opportunities to athletes, we knew how we wanted to formulate our team. We wanted to assemble a team of athletes with a high level of experience with our products prior to gaining a sponsorship with our brand.
We could never ask anyone to endorse anything that they wholeheartedly couldn't get behind themselves. A little touch like this made all the difference in the world and set our team of athletes apart.
If I had to pick just one, it would be Scivation Xtend. For close to 10 years, Xtend has retained that rare combination of simplicity and effectiveness. Xtend is a recovery product, and I can't think of many other products that would benefit a beginner more than a product that will assist in increasing their recovery time.
In both 8-week and 10-week clinical trials, XTEND has significantly outperformed simple whey protein, carbohydrates, and a 4:1 (carb-to-protein) sports beverage on measures of lean body mass, body fat, upper- and lower-body muscular endurance, and upper- and lower-body strength.
No other product on the market even comes close! Competitive products are either under-dosed, contain irrelevant ingredients that are included for label effect rather than any physiological reason, or are so ignorantly formulated as to make one wonder what species of animal the company believes is consuming its product.
I can expound on the benefits of this product, but I will let our consumers do the talking. Check out the review section of Bodybuilding.com. Xtend is often the first supplement people try. It is and always will be carbohydrate and stimulant-free, which makes it a supplement that will assist with almost everyone's goal.
At the end of the day, it doesn't matter how effective a product is if you can't stand to consume it because of the taste. Xtend achieved its elite status in part due to its amazing taste. We now offer seven amazing flavors, so I'm sure there is one out there that you will absolutely fall in love with.
My time in and around this industry has taught me many things. I have seen both the good and the bad, and fortunately, I believe there is so much more positive to be found here than there is negative.
The best of this industry can be found among the thousands of articles right here on Bodybuilding.com. Look at the pages and pages of knowledge that can be found right here on this website. Some of that information is among the most cutting edge and sophisticated nutritional and training information anywhere. The amount of valid science that this industry has a large hand in creating is pretty astounding and it makes me proud to be a part of it.
As far as any negative things that I have come to see about the industry, they all seem to have to do with how we as brands portray our products to the consumer. The amount of truth-stretching some brands choose to participate in has become a bit much for my liking. This industry has produced some really top-notch, novel products over the years.
Brands should let products stand on their own and realize that some of the lengths they are currently going to are not necessary. The consumers deserve the truth and that is what Scivation has chosen to bring to them, time and time again.
Much of what makes Scivation stand apart from many other brands within the industry is what occurs behind the scenes.
The product development teams architect research and ingredient substantiation, as well as work to compile structure-function documentation and ingredient dossiers. Meanwhile, the Scivation QA/QC departments engage in the unsung work of external and internal auditing, testing protocol, and documenting to ensure the entire product development process is done with the utmost care and regulatory control.
To ensure potency and purity of all the finished products, we determine analytic procedures to assess label claims through a 2-year minimum expiration. The procedures are crafted to ensure the integrity of product purity and potency while certifying that compound identities and formulation characteristics can be properly measured.
Scivation supports its product line with a national online digital campaign as well as coverage in relevant print titles. Our reach touches the heavy user and beginner alike. With visibility at the top consumer shows, the message of Scivation will be constantly in front of an ever-increasing number of supplement-buying consumers.
Scivation has roots in the digital world. With a heritage built from podcasts, forums, and blog entries, Scivation is strongly linked to all things digital. Our recently overhauled website is full of nutritional, training, and supplement advice. Consumers will feel completely connected to Scivation through our web communications, Facebook updates, continuous blog posts and forum entries. And retailers will see and hear from Scivation on all the major and up-and-coming web properties, including those visited by the heaviest product users.
Scivation is committed to not only the consumers, that army of loyal followers and the legions of new converts, but there is also an unwavering commitment our contingent of retailers that make cement those valuable consumer connections. Scivation is constantly creating, assembling and disseminating information designed with one goal: to help retailers sell product.
From "pull" messages targeting end users to "push" supports helping retailers sell, Scivation is holistically committed to being the well-rounded sports nutrition brand that can be relied upon to deliver excellent and relevant products as well as the tools and support to sell those products.
The R&D process at Scivation employs a wide array of moving parts. From concept to completion, we are continually challenging and pushing our own ideas and the input of others, to create the best performance nutritional products possible.
Of course, every company touts their expertise and their scientific acumen, and why not? It makes little to no sense to adopt the position of being ignorant to the biological and chemical intricacies that make up the very core of the mission statement of a sports nutrition company. But the sad reality is that there are only a handful of companies deeply rooted in the science, steeped in the regulations, and committed to the consumers. The rest are, for the most part, snake-oil salesmen or knock-off artists.
Below are brief details of the Scivation process. Hopefully this cursory peek into the inner scientific sanctum of Scivation will give you a better understanding and a genuine appreciation of the processes used in creating products worthy of the Scivation name; worthy of putting into your body.
Q: How long have you been sponsored/involved with Scivation? What made you join the team?
Ryan: I've been sponsored for two-and-a-half years and originally started out in our Team Scivation program four years ago. Scivation offers free training and nutrition for anyone looking to compete. I stuck with it and rose to success in the industry and kept loyal to Scivation. It was only natural to become a sponsored athlete by the company who has been by my side since day one.
When training, what is your favorite Scivation supplement? How do you use it?
Scivation Xtend is by far my favorite supplement. During periods of intense training it literally takes a close second to water as my favorite drink! It is rare to find a supplement that taste as good as Xtend. It's even more rare to find a supplement that tastes good and actually has studies that show it really works.
- 1-2 servings a day between meals
- 2-3 servings intra workout
I find that supplementing with Xtend between meals curbs off hunger and bad irrational decisions to eat or pick at foods when it isn't time for a meal. The energy I feel from using Xtend during my training is more of a sustainable energy. I feel longevity in my workouts due to the electrolytes and increases in ATP that Xtend gives me.
This isn't a boost or surge of energy similar to that of caffeine. It is a clean and stable energy that keeps the duration of my intensity higher over the course of my workout.
Do you feel Scivation treats its customers well? If you weren't its sponsored athlete, would you still buy its products?
Absolutely yes. Without a question of doubt I would still use their products. What a lot of people don't know about Scivation is that we never do print ads. We can get away with that because our customer loyalty is some of the highest in the industry. This has been forged through the relationship we have between our executive management, sponsored athletes, and customers.
Between those people Scivation has a large amount of transparency in the forums and what we see is honesty and genuine care in each of those relationships. The customer has true power in this industry and Scivation has given them exactly that. The formula is simple: we are a company run by athletes and real people, for athletes and real people.
The supplement industry is rife with ineffective products. How do you know Scivation's products work?
Even since the inception of Scivation our research and development team contained experience in the industry and PhDs with their dissertation or research directly related to the products we sell.
We don't have a very large product line because we only sell products in which we are confident our research has supported and we would take ourselves. The moral and ethical dilemma of selling garbage to your fellow athlete is too much of a burden for us to even imagine being a part of.
Has your performance in the gym improved using Scivation's supplements?
Since I have been with Scivation since day one I give them credit for my performance in the gym. I got my natural pro card within two years of competing, partially because I was fortunate to never go through the "trial and error" period of supplementing. Scivation gave me a solid foundation of products that simply work.
Is there anything else you care to share about Scivation?
Scivation feels like an extended family to me. I don't know too many sponsored athletes that don't feel bound by obligation and tedious requirements in their contracts. Everything I do for Scivation stems from the same loyalty and commitment that I would have for a family member.
The Scientific Affairs Department at Scivation does not claim to have all the answers, but what we do have is a team of committed and credentialed scientists in an array of disciplines who come together to form the R&D process at Scivation. These are not just chemists and not just exercise physiologists, but rather a team of material scientists, biologists, food scientists, flavor engineers—and, yes, physiologist and chemists—to fully integrate and work on specific aspects of the product development process.
Our raw material partners explore synthesis pathways, fermentation processes, and extraction and purification processes. A constant dialogue is essential with our manufacturing relationships as we articulate production guidelines that will preserve the integrity and elegance of the original prototype. Our lines of communication with testing facilities, universities, and independent researchers are open while formulating and developing Scivation products.
Scivation product ideas are spawned from an unmet need, an unfulfilled category, a marketplace opportunity, a new or novel compound needing a home, or emerging trends behind theoretical framework. Our preference is for simplistic, elegant, yet efficacious product design. A kitchen-sink creation that employs every popular ingredient with the sole purpose of parading them on the label is ignorant at best and irresponsible at worst.
Rather, Scivation investigates the product proposition, its intended use, intake timing and dosage and delivery system, and then we formulate around the metabolic machinery that most effectively supports the intended purpose. Our inception isn't a cram session or molecular mayhem; it is thoughtful preparation of a product with deliberant intent.
As one might expect, a product is only as good as its ingredients. But there is more to an ingredient that just its chemical construction. Molecules are molecules—that is, until you need to use them in a product. After purity is achieved and guaranteed, we become concerned with the physical and sometimes sensory (organoleptic) properties of the compounds and ingredients.
Things like particle size and shape (morphology), porosity and density, current moisture content and the propensity to take on moisture (hygroscopicity), may not sound intriguing to most people, but they are sexy as hell to us. Without an understanding and a fervent zeal to manage these seemingly benign attributes, products become more difficult and expensive to manufacture, and oftentimes, they fall far short of expectations. That leaves the consumer to wrestle with an ill-performing, clumpy or poor-tasting products, all of which are, to borrow a scientific term, crappy.
After our sourced materials are scrutinized or modified for the necessary physical properties, they are assigned a dosage method and a delivery system. Some products are better suited for powder delivery, and some are better in a solid dose (tablets and two-piece capsules), and still others are ideal candidates for liquid delivery.
While an ingredient's physical and costing parameters are ironed out, bench-top work is in motion, testing the rigor of our concepts. Do the ingredients mix as desired? Do they taste as predicted? Will they perform as originally modeled? Theoretical formulas have to eventually become real formulas, so it is at this step where an armchair "guru" gets crushed. Doing novel work oftentimes demands iteration after iteration, and only the seasoned veterans come out on top with an acceptable viable product.
At the point where we have a semi-finished formula, we run another lab batch to get samples out to key team members and associates to "beta-test" efficacy and consumer compliance (e.g., taste, perceived/non-scientific effects, etc.). For a powdered product, this is the juncture where we fine-tune flavor systems and other organoleptic properties with the singular purpose of maximizing consumer acceptance. Bottom line: If the product doesn't taste good, people are a lot less likely to use it.
When Scivation develops a new active ingredient, or when support is needed to substantiate our marketing claims, we architect studies to assess both safety and efficacy. If we are interested in the physiological behaviors of a single active ingredient, our work begins at the in-vitro stage. Here we gather insight into dosing and possible mechanisms being activated, thereby birthing a better-designed in vivo study. If we are investigating a specific multi-ingredient array, we'll assess in vivo rodent model to determine dosing, toxicology, and efficacy.
After in vivo rodent model testing to assess safety and efficacy, and after final formulation nuances (such as flavor and mouth feel) are refined, a human trial is developed and performed to support human-use efficacy and safety of the final formulation.
While the product development teams are architecting research and ingredient substantiation, as well as working to compile structure-function documentation and ingredient dossiers, our QA/QC departments are engaged in the unsung work of external and internal auditing, testing protocol and documentation, to ensure the entire product development process is done with the utmost care and regulatory control.
To guarantee potency and purity of all the finished products, we determine analytic procedures to assess label claims for a 2-year minimum expiration. The procedures are crafted to ensure the integrity of the product while certifying that compound identities and formulation organoleptics can be properly measured.
Doing things right takes a herculean effort. The formulating, creating and testing of performance nutritional products can be an arduous task, but it's a process we love. And this is a job we do not take lightly; we understand that we are tinkering with one of your most precious possessions: your body. Our commitment to the inner workings of this intimate prospect—to help you change your physique forever—is the hallmark of Scivation
I'd like to thank Bodybuilding.com for always being a great partner to our brand. From the Scivation side of things, there are a handful of unsung heroes that keep that engine running day in and day out.
We have built a pretty awesome Team at Scivation, all with the goal of bringing our consumers the best, most effective products out on the market today. In the coming months, Scivation will push the envelope unlike it has ever done before. With Xtend as the anchor, we will be bringing some of the most unique and innovative products to our loyal consumers, so be sure to look for them right here on Bodybuilding.com.