Friday, March 4, 2011

Why I don’t write about company sponsored studies

A major complaint often voiced about various food supplements is that there are few, if any, studies published that back up the often grandiose advertising claims made by many supplement companies. You’ve seen these ads. “Raises testosterone by 1,000%,”Lose a pound of fat each week.”Add 20 pounds of muscle in a month and look like Mr.Olympia.” On the surface, it would seem like only a mentally challenged person would fall prey to such fallacious ad claims, even if they are accompanied by photos of gargantuan bodybuilding champions–who are being generously paid for their endorsement of the various products. While such champs my actually use these supplements, the odds that the supps produced the finished result shown by these athletes is more than remote. But a more recent trend involves the use of “science” in the ads. Such ads often feature endorsements by medical professionals, which means nothing since  similarly to the athletes in the ads, these are paid endorsements with no scientific credulity regardless of the professional touting product benefits.

Some of the more expensive products often list various esoteric ingredients on the label. Most frequently, the precise amount of these exotic ingredients aren’t listed, but rather are bunched together as a “proprietary formula.” Ostensibly, this is done to protect against copycat companies that would attempt to duplicate the product. In reality, the actual primary purpose of so-called proprietary formulas is to justify the often inflated cost of the product. Many such products have tremendous markups between the cost of production and the retail price. This is so because only minuscule levels of proprietary ingredients are present in the product. The placebo effect also enters the picture, since if you have enough faith in the efficacy of any particular product, it will probably promote some degree of muscle and fat gain. A more insidious effect is in adding active substances to products that aren’t shown on the label. This can produce effects ranging from being busted during drug tests to serious health consequences.

Some companies have reacted to the criticism of lack of proof of efficacy for their products by sponsoring studies. While this would appear to be a good trend, the problem is that such sponsored studies usually don’t compare the sponsored product to similar products. In addition, such studies can easily be manipulated to produce desired results. What makes more sense are independent studies of products, where no one in particular stands to gain financially. Unfortunately, such studies are rare. I don’t write about company sponsored studies because of the previously mentioned reasons. In short, I don’t trust most of them. And neither should you.

If you want to learn the unvarnished truth about supplements, check my e-book, Natural Anabolics at I’m not selling you anything but the truth.