When you look at the ingredients list of most sports nutrition supplements you've probably seen a few nutrition labels that may say, proprietary blend, muscle pump matrix, or energy complex. Sounds harmless right? But, have you ever stopped to think about what these marketing statements actually mean, or what ingredients your supplement really contains? We’re going to find out what a proprietary blend is and why you should avoid products that contain proprietary blends at all costs.
What Is A Proprietary Blend?
The textbook definition of proprietary; of relating to ownership of something. In regards to supplements, it applies to the ownership of a specific mixture of ingredients in a product, (a proprietary blend).
Proprietary blends only list the combined amount of all the ingredients used in the blend; they don't disclose how much of each ingredient the product contains.
A large majority of supplement companies and manufacturers typically use proprietary blends for several reasons
- Most companies claim, that they use proprietary blends to prevent the competition from learning the precise amounts and ratios of each ingredient, to protect their product.
- To trick consumers and hide the fact that their product contains only trace amounts of the active ingredients listed on the nutrition label, and are instead composed mostly of fillers, additives, or the ingredients you don’t really want.
- It creates hype! By marketing something different such as ‘new and improved formulas or ingredients’, supplement companies can use marketing tactics to drive more revenue.
- Production costs are minimized while profit is maximized. The expensive and important ingredients are still listed, but because the ‘Proprietary Blend’ does not reveal the exact amount, less than 1% of the supplement could be made up with the beneficial ingredients while the rest are just ‘fillers’. In layman terms, your supplement is filled with crap and you think you're getting gold.
According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the FDA requires all supplement manufacturers to list all of the ingredients in a product, on its label along with the appropriate amount of each in terms of weight. BUT! If the ingredients are part of a proprietary blend – the specific amount of each individual ingredient in the proprietary blend does not have to be listed, only the total [R]
By law, supplement manufacturers do not have to tell you individual weights of specific ingredients.
Proprietary blends give supplement companies the right to dump whatever amount of ingredients they want, without having to tell you how much of that ingredient the product actually consists of. Therefore you never truly know, exactly what ingredients you're getting in a product. Your pre-workout could contain trace amounts of the proven ingredients you really need, since those ingredients are typically much more expensive. That's what proprietary blends really mean.
Let’s take a quick look at the example below, FNX Fit’s PreWorkout RECHARGE, which contains not just one proprietary blend, but
Proprietary Blend 1: FNX Pump And Shred Complex (8,100mg)
- Agmatime Sulfate
- Betaine HCL
- Acetly L Carnitine HCL
- Arginine Alpha KetoGluterate
- Higenamine HCL
- Beet Juice Powder
Proprietary Blend 2: Natures Energy Surge Complex (450 mg)
- Green Tea Exctract
- L-Dopa (Mucuna Pruriens)
- Yerba Mate Extract
- Guarana Extract
Proprietary Blend 3: Peak O2 (250 mg)
- Cordyceps militaris
- pleurotus eryngii
- lentula edodes
- hericium erinaceus
- Turkey Tail
Notice that in each of these proprietary blends, the ingredients are listed, however, the specific amounts of each ingredient are not. Therefore you really have no idea what the product contains or if that specific ingredient is even in the product at all. Immediately some questions come to mind.
- How do you trust a company that doesn’t tell you what is in the product?
- How much of each ingredient does this product contain?
- How do these ingredients react together and in the human body?
- How do I know what I’m actually taking?
- Is there any scientific evidence that these ingredients actually work to improve my performance?
- Am I really getting my money's worth with this product?
As a consumer, you have the right to know exactly what you’re putting into your body. FNX Fits ReCharge contains three proprietary blends, not to mention the 'other ingredients'.
5 Reasons Why You Should Stay Away From Supplements With Proprietary Blends
1. The Ingredients Are Not Proven
Ever noticed that there's an asterisk next to all the claims on supplement products. It's because the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) hasn't approved the claims to be a proven fact. In order to make a claim, without providing an asterisk symbol, the FDA has to validate those claims in accordance with scientific clinical research, indicating that those claims are in fact true. This process could take years, and the FDA isn’t really that concerned with validating any claims.
Hype marketing claims with supplements that contain proprietary blends are created to entice you with the latest and greatest ingredients, as something new and attractive. Do your own research on the clinical benefits of the specific product you're looking for in support of their marketing claims. Just because an athlete, or ‘Instagram Expert’ uses a product, doesn't mean they achieved their results because of the supplement their taking. Seriously, you’re smarter than that.
Every supplement brand and company have to use asterisks on their claims, but there is a huge difference between using a product that has clinical evidence behind the ingredients and using a product that has a list of ingredients in a proprietary blend you can’t pronounce.
The FDA regulates supplements like food products, not pharmaceuticals. Pharmaceutical drugs are subject to scrupulous rules and regulations and require extensive research and human clinical trials to prove outcomes and efficacy. Food much like supplements can make general claims, without having clinical research to support their claims. That's why it's more important than ever to only use products that use proven ingredients, clinically dosed according to what research says will improve performance outcomes.
2. The Mechanism of Action Is Unknown
Without knowing the specific amounts of each ingredient used in a supplement, it’s impossible to identify the specific mechanism of action or biochemical reaction, in which that supplement has within the human body. Several ingredients within proprietary blends are chemically manipulated or modified, which classifies them not as herbal supplements, but synthetic ingredients. It’s important to know, the biochemical reaction within the body from a certain substance. Without knowing the specific ingredients and the doses, it’s literally impossible to identify the effects.
3. Proprietary Blends Are Not Clinically Dosed
Overdosing with vitamins is a real thing and can be extremely detrimental to your health, as an excess of nutrients and vitamins can potentially cause toxicities within your body. On the other hand, underdosing ingredients, will not help you get any closer to your health and fitness goals. For example, FNX Fits Recharge, contains 250mg of the Peak O2 proprietary blend.
In a double-blind, controlled study, 28 participants were examined to determine the effects of a mushroom blend containing cordyceps militaris on high-intensity exercise. The participants were either administered 1.3 grams of Peak O2 or a placebo. The results showed that one week of supplementation with a cordyceps militaris containing mushroom blend had minimal benefits to high intensity aerobic and anaerobic exercise [R]
It’s important to use supplements that are clinically dosed and use evidence-based ingredients. FNX Fits Recharge only used 250mg ( equal to 0.25 g ) of Peak O2 when the clinical study used 1.3 grams. That means you would need 5 servings before it was correctly dosed, with only a minimal effect. Note that the study concluded that Peak O2 had minimal benefits to high-intensity exercise. Research products and ingredients before you use them.
RELATED ARTICLE The Truth About Pre-Workout Supplements
Even worse, the FNX pump and shred complex only contains 8,100 mg ( 8.1 grams ), with ingredients such as Beta-Alanine, Citrulline, and Arginine. The clinical dose according to numerous studies, is 5 grams per ingredient. Since the FNX proprietary blend only contains 8,100 mg, you don’t get anywhere near what you need in order to significantly influence your athletic performance. And, you don’t even know how much of each ingredient is in the product since it uses a proprietary blend.
4. You Can’t Accurately Track Your Progress
Supplements with proprietary blends make it impossible to track what you're ingesting, which makes it increasingly difficult to truly know the effects it has on your body. If you can’t accurately track your progress how are you supposed to know what works and what doesn’t? With a proprietary blend, you will never know what you’re taking, and therefore never know how your body reacts to specific ingredients.
5. You Can’t Trust Companies With Proprietary Blends
How do you trust a brand that hides what they put in their products? It’s easy to fall into the psychological trap of marketing. Do you know why the companies that use proprietary blends don’t tell you how much of each ingredient is in your products? It’s because you would be devastatingly disappointed to know how little of each key ingredient the product actually contains. I mean, if you were to know that information, then you probably wouldn’t even buy the product. Right? Companies that use proprietary blends have to sell a product unless they wouldn’t be profitable. How do I know this? I own a supplement company. I’ve seen first hand, how much of each ingredient these blends have in them and I’ll be the first to tell you, it’s literally trace amounts. That’s why Swolverine products, don’t use proprietary blends. We use clinically dosed and proven ingredients.
How To Choose The Best Supplements To Fuel Your Performance
Look for supplements that provide you with complete transparency, and brands that divulge information about what each supplement contains, and how much of each ingredient is established within the product. All Swolverine products use complete transparency - what you see is what you get. Unlike most companies, we don't hide behind "proprietary blends" so you know exactly what comes in your products.
Take a look at our products PLANTPRO5 and CLEAN CARBS
Unlike nearly all plant protein and carbohydrate supplements, you can see the exact amounts of each ingredient disclosed on the label, so you know exactly what you're getting with our products.
✔️Hemp 4.37g per serving
✔️Quinoa 4.37g per serving
✔️Sacha Inchi 1.75g per serving
✔️Pumpkin Seed 1.75g per serving
Look for supplements that use the correct dose of ingredients to actually effect and power your performance. Proprietary blends give supplement manufacturers the ability to use fillers and cheaper ingredients, instead of giving you the clinical dose with evidence-backed results so they can make more money. At Swolverine we don't just add a sprinkle of the ingredients you need, we give you the full dose of the cleanest high-quality ingredients to power your performance.
Clinically Proven Ingredients
Don’t give into the marketing hype, you’re smarter than that. Just because an Instagram influencer uses a product, does not mean it’s proven to work. Use products that are clinically proven with scientific evidence. most brands use hype marketing claims, with ingredients you've never heard of and nothing to back their claims. We use ingredients that are proven time and time again through clinical research.
No Proprietary Blends
Don’t buy into the gimmicky marketing taglines and buy products with proprietary blends. Conduct more research into the products you’re thinking of purchasing and make sure the ingredients and doses of those ingredients are listed with their associated health benefits. You're taking supplements to become healthier right? Don’t compromise on your supplements. If you take your health and fitness seriously, then don’t cut corners. You wouldn’t do that with your diet.
Supplements With Proprietary Blends: The Takeaway
Stay away from supplements with proprietary blends. Supplements with proprietary blends make it impossible to know exactly what you are ingesting and eliminate your ability to pinpoint how effective specific ingredients are within your body. Most, if not all supplements with proprietary blends, underdose the actual ingredients you need to improve your performance, to save money. So instead of getting stronger, optimizing recovery, or improving endurance, you're really just wasting your money, since you're not getting enough of the ingredients you actually need to make a difference. But, if you fit into the majority of consumers, you’re not looking at the ingredient list, you’re looking at what you think is a great product, because it contains an energy deriving complex, filled to the brim with, for lack of a better word, shit!
The bottom line is, don't be most people. You should care about what’s in the supplements you’re taking because you wouldn’t be looking at taking nutritional supplements in the first place if you didn’t genuinely care about yourself, and your well-being. How you do anything, is how you do everything. Take the extra time, do the extra research, to make sure your products are transparent, clinically dosed, and made with proven ingredients with no blends. It’s worth it.
Looking for supplements that you can trust without proprietary blends? You’ve come to the right place
At SWOLVERINE we believe that everyone can optimize not only their athletic performance but their human potential. The way we believe we can optimize performance is through transparency, clinically effective doses, and clinically proven ingredients with evidence-based outcomes. We provide the nutrients you need to power your active lifestyle.
Find Which Product(s) Are Right For You
SWOLVERINE is an endurance athlete and active lifestyle brand. Made for the elite athlete, and the strong-willed our products were designed to fuel your athletic performance. We perform when you perform.
We believe that everyone can optimize not only their athletic performance but their human potential. The way we believe we can optimize performance is through transparency, clinically effective doses, and clinically proven ingredients with evidence-based outcomes. We provide the nutrients you need to power your active lifestyle.
Hirsch, Katie R. et al. “Cordyceps Militaris Improves Tolerance to High Intensity Exercise after Acute and Chronic Supplementation.” Journal of dietary supplements (2016): 1–13. PMC. Web. 14 June 2018.
Food & Drug Administration Regulatory Guidelines