by Matt Weik
Every year brands try and “one-up” products in a category by coming out with something new. The creatine category is a great example. Back in the day, we started with creatine monohydrate. While it didn’t work for everyone, it was a viable option for most of the population. Then came things like CEE, creatine HCl, creatine nitrate, micronized creatine, liquid creatine, creatine citrate, etc. Even though many people tried these various forms, most ended up going back to the tried and true creatine monohydrate. It’s the most researched form of creatine and deemed one of the best and most affordable options. So, this begs the question of, are the basics the best form of supplements?
The best of the best
This article is my opinion based off of research and my own personal experiences. For me personally, I’ve found that the basics seem to work just fine for me. I don’t need the 5.0 version of a product to get good results from the gym. Plain creatine monohydrate has always worked for me. Whey protein concentrate has worked well for me. Etc.
When I started getting into proprietary formulas with the kitchen sink added into them, I found I wasn’t getting the same results as when I used the basics. That’s not to say that the other products I used weren’t decent or that someone else could have better results than what I saw personally, but it’s what I’ve noticed. Too many proprietary blends I’m finding are fairy dusted.
I’m a supplement junkie and like trying out new products just for the sake of being able to talk about what I liked and didn’t like when people ask me what I recommend. They are somewhat surprised when I recommend some of the most basic forms of products rather than the super-hyped ninja assassin 6.0 version of something. In fact, I’ve had more side effects from products that have the kitchen sink in them than any other product – most of which have me running for the nearest bathroom as if I took a bottle of colon blow.
The Supplement Industry is Extremely Competitive
We see supplement brands starting up all the time. In fact, it’s like they are coming out of the woodwork. Some decide to be an e-commerce brand, while others want to be on the shelves of every retailer in America.
In an effort to differentiate themselves from their competition, they are always trying to innovate and come to market with something new and exciting (regardless if it has any science behind it or not).
I’m not saying this is wrong, personally, I just think it’s slightly deceptive the way they market the product without having any solid research behind the ingredients found in the product. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a research Nazi. There are plenty of products that came to market before the research came out that were great. But, when a brand continues to push a product where research has deemed it worthless, they should be forced to remove the product from the market for being deceptive and false.
The same thing has happened to many brands in the past when they found out there actually was no such thing as an ingredient they touted was in a product. This particular brand got sued and was forced to pull a good portion of their products from the shelves to reformulate them.
I might be the minority, but I’m glad the FDA is stepping into our industry (with at least one foot at this point). Brands are going to hate me for saying this, but I would like to see the industry regulated to prevent companies from coming to market with products and certain ingredients that are a complete waste of money. These products cause consumers to lose trust and loyalty and in the end, it only hurts our industry as a whole.
What Do I Recommend?
Personally, I like whey protein, fish oil, and a multivitamin. Those are the big three that I would recommend everyone use. With all the brands out there, find one you believe in and that suits your individual needs.
I don’t even truly care if my whey protein is a concentrate, isolate, blend, etc. I’m more than ok with whey concentrate. And I refused to invest in all of those mass gainers and meal replacements. If I can make it myself, that’s what I’m doing. I can take a plain whey protein and add my own ingredients to meet the macros I’m looking for. I can add a banana, natural peanut butter, and spinach to completely change not only the macronutrients but the micronutrients as well.
Am I telling you not to spend your money on all the top secret-squirrel products that are the craze in gyms across the nation today? Nope, be my guest. But be aware of the risk-reward when it comes to what you gain from the product based on how much money you spent on it. Just because there’s a ton of marketing behind a product and people talking about it, doesn’t mean it’s a great product. The power of placebo has fooled many people in the past. Just make sure if you cross that bridge, you come out the other end with something learned.