Consumers don't know everything about supplements- they just buy them. This allows manufacturers to sacrifice integrity for income. 60 billion dollars every year is spent this way in our little U.S. of A. And that's fine, but a good chunk of this goes strait to ex-convicts. Steroid dealers released from federal prison, turned legal. Not ethical- don't read that wrong- just legal. Legal in the most loose sense of the word. That said, we'll take a little gander into the history of supplementation, and why I'll be hugely disappointed if you purchase one.
Originally the entire industry started with two guys. Joe Weider you probably know of, and Bob Hoffman you probably don't. To sum it up, Weider took the marketing rout- and by now you should know the power of marketing. He gathered up everyone who looked good, gave them free supplements, and created their testimonials: "I owe everything to this product."
"This product" was vitamins and soy. But it was all sold as weight gainers, meal replacements, strength enhancers, weight loss formulas, and whatever else that would sell. Soy and vitamins. That's all it was. Soy, vitamins, and heavy marketing. Weider and Hoffman were selling the exact same thing. Hoffman spent more on the product however, whereas Weirderís spending was used up in the marketing. Lo and behold nobody knows who Hoffman is. And it doesnít even matter that he spent more on his products because they donít do anything. Weider's marketing would suggest otherwise, but seriously, the bodybuilders were taking steroids. They weren't taking a mixture of vitamin B, soy, sugar, and guar gum. That should be horrendously obvious.
Then came along Irwin Johnson, better known as Rheo Blair. He changed his name to carry a little more market appeal. His idea was better quality protein, cream, and no fruit. The cream for hormone levels, and the fruit ban to prevent carbs tacking on any fat. Sound a little bit like the Atkins diet? It's what the Atkins diet spawned from. In 1972, Robert Atkins came up with his little ketogenic thing. It really began to gain popularity around 1997 primarily from the growing obesity percentage. But the popularity basically has come from word of mouth, as the effects of the diet become apparent almost immediately. The immediate effects aren't really fat loss, but it doesn't matter- because by the time the diet is no longer effective, or healthy, the person doing it has already given their testimonial to dozen people about its colossal effects. It grows popular pretty rapidly in those circumstances.
I say this because it's the market strategy built the entire supplement industry. But in supplements, it goes way past just being misleading, and into the realm of shameless sin. Most new companies would establish themselves by lacing their protein powders, weight gainers, etc with steroids. Their first batch would produce phenomenal results- obviously- D-bol is a little more effective than soy. Once the rumor gets out, everyone buys it. By the time suspicion catches up, every container with steroids was already sold, it tests clean, and the popularity gained would keep the sales high for just long enough to make a girthy fortune. Tricky. More deceitful than tricky, perhaps, but it's just business.
And it helps that the FDA doesn't monitor supplements really at all, look on some labels. There's little stars by every claim that says "Statement not evaluated by the FDA." They can fundamentally release anything with no boundaries to their marketing as long as they're clean when the massive popularity causes it to be tested. Or in the case of Hot Stuff, make sure your steroids can't be detected in testing- which at the time was methyltestosterone.
This form of marketing started in the early 80's with the government's illegalizing steroids. Before that, it was a tossup which cost more, steroids or vitamins- then the supply-demand curve shifts a little when they're made illegal. The price reflects the soaring demand with the minimal supply. So a new market was created in its place. I'm sure you've seen these today. Para-Deca, Testovar, and all of these supplements that could be confused with your average anabolic steroid, but these on the other hand, are legal. Not always effective, but if you believe you're on something that's fundamentally steroids, the placebo effect in itself is going to give you enough of a kick to trust it.
So to compete with this market, which was gaining popularity pretty quick, your natural supplements had to come back with some sort of a counter. So companies start kicking in stimulants so the consumer will "feel the supplement working". Sort of a scam, but it certainly sold well. Then the stimulant kick in itself catches on and Ultimate Orange comes out, a lot of you have probably heard of this. Ephedra and caffeine stacked together. Yes you will feel that. Will it cause some strokes? Perhaps. Deaths? Yeah, I think 12, but I don't remember the exact number. It could have been more. But it'll certainly bring in quite a bundle of profit before then.
Then the other marketing technique is reflective of how it all began. Just market your product effectively. "Effectively" in this instance being interchangeable with the word "immorally". Hype your supplements as if they're using incredible new medical advancements, or something of that nature, when in reality, it's the same old crap with a new company name. Bill Phillips made this work. Crap supplements? Yes. But phenomenal profits all the same. You're probably familiar with Met-Rx. Scott Connelly develops this company, Bill Phillips and James Bradshaw come along and promote it ten times beyond what it's worth, they add something along the lines of Clenbuterol to the first batch, and sell it exclusively until its effects create a huge popularity and their normal, cheap, non-drugged version can be distributed to every store in the United States.
Phillips and Bradshaw, Bradshaw being one of histories biggest steroid dealers, both go their own way. Phillips creates EAS (Experimental and Applied Sciences) and Bradshaw goes to SoCal. A good bundle of other companies have used the same method of attracting popularity to their line of supplements as well. Atlas Labs, Next Nutrition, a lot of big companies. They're run by retired steroid dealers who aren't just going to give up all their connections. Rather, they'll utilize them differently.
So when Bill Phillips started up EAS, he set somewhat of a new standard for the industry. The mainstream marketing. The marketing he utilized at Met-Rx was pretty much his driving philosophy in running EAS. But over time he aimed it so mainstream that he releases supplements that would benefit a very select group of people, advertising it as heavily beneficial to everyone who breathes air. The main one he's known for is his marketing of Beta-hydroxy beta-methylbutyrate (HMB). It's basically Leucine, an amino acid. Eat some protein and youíre eating it. Suddenly through his "tactical" marketing it gains popularity as this wonder pill, primarily through his use of phrases like "clinical research".
This is pretty funny because these little phrases worked so well that now everybody uses them for anything they're trying to promote. But really what it comes down to, is that I could perform these "clinical tests" myself and come up with any conclusion I felt like. You've probably heard of the term "GIGO" used in relation with computers before. Garbage in, garbage out. If the information you're putting into your research is trash, your end product is trash. Your entire conclusion is garbage. For example: I'm going to prove the effectiveness of the substance "indehiscent pepo" in increasing your body's ability to recruit more motor units, thus increasing your muscle's capacity to work, and therefore allowing adaptations for overall muscle volume. Eleven men were given indehiscent pepo in each meal during the course of the day for a 4 week period of time. The opposing group of eleven men were given a placebo. Each participant consumed 6 meals per day and performed a moderate resistance weight program.
What you hear as the conclusion is that "due to the heavy abundance of indehiscent pepo naturally occurring in the curcubits consumed in this double blind study, the positively tested group's average bodyweight went up 48% more than the plecebo group and their bodyfat percent had a 21% greater decline.
This really sounds awesome. You'd see some bar graph showing these drastic percentage differences, and it looks amazing. It would help to have a name like Norandrosteine-7 or Mesobolin, but the product itself could be marketed to be the single most effective supplement on the market today. Personal trainers everywhere would recommend it as it is "naturally occurring in specific foods" and clinically tested in a double blind study with proof of drastic effectiveness. It would flood the magazines, stock the shelves at every supplement store, and really all it is, is pickles.
Here's why the study works. First off, don't the words that you don't quite understand and the percentages of both bodyweight gained and bodyfat lost make it sound awesome? These two tactics are in every effective advertisement today. All I was giving was scientific names dealing with pickles. Get an encyclopedia and anyone can do it. Then I explained the results of the weight gain previously in half-scientific lingo. The results didn't come from that explanation, but it didn't have to, because the numbers were there, and that was more understandable and therefore more fascinating. Pickles have tons of sodium. Sodium makes you store more water. The more water you store, the more you weigh. The more you weigh, the less bodyfat percent you have. Percent being the key word. It's a ratio of total weight of bodyfat to total bodyweight. So really all you've done by eating mass amounts of pickles, is tacked on a pound or two of water. In a four week study, a couple pounds related to one pound, is a huge difference in terms of percentages. So in all reality, the study proves nothing. Garbage in, garbage out. But it sells, and that's the only goal of the producer. They don't see you as a human being, they see you as a consumer. And as a consumer, you're the key to a larger paycheck. So what new innovative marketing tactics can they employ to catch your attention? That becomes the main focus.
So I always get this question: "But there are some effective supplements right? I see those before and after pictures all the time. Something has to work to get them from the one picture to the next." Yes, I realize this, and maybe
there are effective supplements. But the pictures don't show that. Generally the pictures are taken only a matter of hours apart, showing the two extremes one person can resemble in the span of a day. It's mostly done with lighting, tan cream, a razor, positioning, an airbrush, and a smile. The farther you pull your shoulders back and stick your gut out in the first picture, the greater the effect of the advertisement.
Then on the rare, clever occasion, the pictures won't even show you how someone went from one picture to the next, rather only how they went from one picture to the previous. It's a little way of twisting reality that most people aren't clever enough to think of. Save old newspapers and you can do the same thing. It's especially easy for bodybuilders. But really, in everyone's case, it's easier to gain fat than lose it. But bodybuilders have already spent all those years building up the muscle base. They go into their cut phase for a contest, diet twelve weeks, drop off the waterweight, do the show, then take a couple pictures holding that day's newspaper. A week and a half and a dozen cheesecakes later, the body packs on all the fat that it normally has, and completely swells up with water. So they go from looking amazing, to a week and a half later hitting their normal bodyfat percent, massively bloated with water. So at this point, their tan cream has worn off, they go a couple days without shaving, mess up their hair, grab an old newspaper, poke the gut out, pull the shoulders back and start clicking the "before" photos. The magazines use these to promote products that the people pictured hadn't used, and sign a check to put words in their mouth. So don't rely on them.
But effective supplements do kind of exist. They're just tainted by the fact that for every good supplement, there's a good 3,000 worthless ones. And you can't trust "clinical research", studies, or the graphs. You can't trust photos or published testimonials. You obviously can't trust advertisements. And you can't trust a good number of books do to the fact that they'll recommend the products where sponsorship provides their income. Most everything with relation to supplementation follows money. That's what's most profitable, therefore that's how it's run. And generally the more money spent on promotion and marketing, the worse the supplement is. The more spent on promotion, the less invested into the actual product- and so it becomes excessively popular garbage. It might as well be capsules of dirt. I could market that to sell millions.
My suggestion? Donít take supplements at all. If you want to go against my suggestion, youíre more than welcome, but I will laugh at you. A lot.