How To Read Nutrition Labels And Pick Supplements
We consistently see labels highly marketed as “fast weight loss guaranteed" or “guaranteed muscle growth.” I’m calling bullshit. There is NO SUPPLEMENT that you can take that will guarantee any results for weight loss or muscle gain. What we will discuss is how supplements AID in our efforts already initiated by our diets.
What are supplements for?
Supplements literally function as their names suggest, to supplement a sustainable, flexible diet. Advantages of supplements include portability, flexibility, and rapid absorption due to its composition which most supplements come in micronized powders that allow for quick permeability through the digestive system for release to the bloodstream. Disadvantages of supplements include being marketed to replace a nutrient-dense diet, cost, decision fatigue (picking the “perfect supplement” for you), and false claims for “guaranteed results.” Ya boy has a strong affinity for combating the misleading information being consumed (no pun intended) by us individuals looking to take advantage of what supplements offer and enhance beyond our normal efforts.
How Should I Be Reading My Supplement Label?
Plenty of companies have put products out to the market utilizing anecdotal evidence (not that this type of evidence isn’t always warranted) and “proprietary blends” that claim to the next best thing in the industry. These proprietary blends can be seen to the right.
The word “Proprietary blend” is labeled here as a vitamin/mineral. How do we know? Anything under that line with a Recommended Daily Allowance (% Daily Value) is considered a vitamin or mineral. The unfortunate loophole here is that companies can throw anything they want in these proprietary blends and never show the dosage of individual ingredients. Instead they list the entire blend seen in “amount per serving.” Further, ingredients are listed in order of content. This falsely leads us to think that a supplement contains much more ingredients what is actually included. Therefore, companies can throw a few grams of the first listed ingredient and fill in the rest with sugars and unnecessary fillers to make you think you are getting packed with the best supplement on the market. Need an example? Let’s check out a comparison of two protein labels below.
Comparing Quality of Supplements
We’ll use protein because we all know protein is king due it's high functioning role in our bodies for metabolic processes, cellular growth and repair, immunological function and more. Protein supplements are also one of the most highly used supplements by all age groups from infants (think pediasure) to geriatrics.
Below we can see Projym’s Vanilla Protein Matrix (Left) versus Nutrabio’s Vanilla Protein Matrix (Right) and some considerations we should make when comparing supplements to purchase.
How do we determine protein content in a supplement? Let’s divide the total protein by the serving size. For ProJym (left) 24g protein / 36g serving size yields 67% of actual protein within this supplement. Then you look at all the extra shit in parenthesis that doesn’t even tell us the complete ingredient composition. I dare you to say any of this crap five times fast or tell me what these “ingredients” have to offer. Comparatively, Nutrabio (right) has 16.31g of whey protein isolate (fast digesting) + 13.35g casein protein (slow-digesting) = 29.66g of protein. Now divide 29.66g / 30.51 serving serving size yields a 97% protein content of the supplement. Where does the other 3% come from? The flavoring. So (16.31g +13.35g + 0.852g) = 30.51g. This total is equivalent to the total serving size, which means this is true FULL LABEL DISCLOSURE. Now this is not to bash any company or sponsor any company by any means. However, this is simply to provide the real information that I want us all to be aware. These methodologies are not just for supplements. We must consider this label reading process for all of our products. I hope everyone took away some educating material from this post! As always, #BETTERTOGETHER.