December 27, 2016

FACT: Nutritional Supplementation Proprietary Blends are not CONSUMER FRIENDLY!

Proprietary - manufactured and sold only by the owner of the patent, formula, brand name, or trademark associated with the product.  In the case of supplement manufacturers the FDA requires manufacturers to only list each individual ingredient in the blend not the amount of each ingredient. So you have the Proprietary Blend amount but not the amount of each individual ingredient.

I want you to think about the definition of Proprietary as you read through this article. LET GET STARTED!

Okay, so you’ve been working out for a year and your diet is perfect and you are killing it in the gym now you are looking for a way to increase your performance, shred more fat or build more muscle. The next step in your fitness journey might be nutritional supplementation. Whether you looking for a good pre-workout or post-workout or both of them this will require you to have an understanding of what manufacturers mean when they list “PROPRIETARY BLEND” on their supplemental facts label. 

You walk you’re your local vitamin shop and you see what is below:

For first timers this could be a little overwhelming. You pick up the bottle, look at the label, and you see what is below:

Energizing Muscle Fuel Blend? Blood Flow Amplifier Blend? Mind Control Matrix? This product is amazing! The thought of why there are so many ingredients, if they work, or how much of them are in the bottle never crosses your mind. 

You head to checkout. But wait a second……

Proprietary blends are bundled ingredients in which the amounts of all the ingredients in the blend are stated as one combined number.





Simply put – the blend Lists ingredients without the amounts.

For example….

The FDA requires that the dietary ingredients in a proprietary blend to be listed in order of predominance by weight. So in the example to the below:

Beta-Alanine is the most abundant ingredient in the blend, and Creatine is the second to least abundant ingredient in the blend. The total amount of the proprietary blend is 3,000mg.

Below is an example of a NON-proprietary mix. The exact amounts of each ingredient are listed. You know what you are getting.

The problem with Proprietary Blends:

  • It’s nearly impossible to evaluate a product’s true effectiveness when proprietary blends are used.
  • Each dietary ingredient in a supplement has an effective dose – confirmed primarily through scientific studies.
  • With a proprietary blend you don’t know if you are getting an effective dose. And…..


You have to make sure the ingredient dose used in the product replicates the dose used in scientific studies or clinical trials when the ingredient’s effectiveness was established. There is no point in taking a dietary ingredient if you’re not getting an effective dose.

Here’s another example to the right:

Now let’s say scientific studies have established that an effective dose of Betaine Anhydrous is 1.5-2.5g per day. Do you guys see the problem here? Not only are you not getting an effective dose of Betaine Anhydrous – you have no clue how much you are getting of the other ingredients. Why even put Betaine Anhydrous in the mix? Why even have this blend?

Why do Companies use Proprietary Blends?

  1. Deception and Cost-Cutting.
  • Companies will often use proprietary blends to mask ineffective mixes or make you think you are getting more than you are really paying for. They undercut on the more expensive ingredients and pump up the mix with less expensive ingredients.
  • Companies will use proprietary blends as a marketing tactic itself – giving them fancy names and state that the blend is backed by research while never actually providing supporting research or anything substantial to back their claim.
  • There is no accountability to the scientific studies or clinical trials that established the effective dose of the ingredient.
  1. Protection
  • Companies have also traditionally used proprietary blends to protect their investments. An example would be if a company spent a significant amount of money on research and clinical trials to prove that their proprietary blend was superior.
  • In these cases companies should be able to prove through research how and why their proprietary blend is better.

Why we think a shift away from away Proprietary Blends is Good

Scientific studies either confirm or deny if an ingredient at a certain dose works. If you’re going to pay your hard earned money for a supplement you should be able to verify that it works by ensuring it is dosed correctly. Although we don’t think proprietary blends will ever be completely eliminated in the industry, a shift away from them would be beneficial.

The reasons why we think this is good:

Scientific studies on dietary ingredients and their effectiveness are abundant through PubMed and other sources. Ingredient effectiveness is verifiable through science. Non-proprietary blends will hold supplement companies accountable for the products they make and sell. Consumers win.

On the surface it may seem like proprietary blends drive innovation. We think the opposite is true. True innovation is HAMPERED by proprietary blends, at least in the supplement industry. Proprietary blends give companies an excuse to NOT innovate because they aren’t held accountable. Instead of supplement companies trying to compete on the basis of providing the most effective product (and proving it) – the industry is a cluster of before and after photos, ridiculous marketing claims, and paying supposedly reputable people to say a product works a certain way when it doesn’t. Consumers lose.

As a consumer educate yourself on what constitutes an effective ingredient – and at what dose. Research studies on dietary ingredients and their effectiveness are abundant and easily obtainable through sources like PubMed. Reputable experts in the industry like Alan Aragon or Lyle McDonald take it one step further and use their knowledge to provide critical analysis of studies to further educate you. We personally feel products need to contain less of what doesn’t work and more of what does – but that’s a whole different discussion.

 At the end of the day that’s all they are – supplements. They aren’t going to replace proper training and nutrition. If you’re going to spend your hard earned money on them you better make sure you’re paying for a product that works.

 P.S. Any casual trip to your supplement retailer of choice will show you just how flooded the industry with proprietary blends. Learn what to look for if you want to avoid them.

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