Updated on October 26, 2018
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If you take a look on most weight loss, bodybuilding, sports nutrition, and hangover supplements, you’ll quickly find out that they all have one thing in common. Their ingredients label says “Proprietary Blend”.
Under this term, you’ll see a list of ingredients all hidden behind a “detox blend”. To you, supplements with proprietary blends may seem pretty harmless and normal. As long as the supplements contains all the necessary ingredients, there is absolutely nothing to worry about. Right?
Before you go ahead and buy a supplement that uses a proprietary blend, you should probably know proprietary blends are not what they seem to be.
What is a Proprietary Blend?
A proprietary blend is basically a group of ingredients that may show the ingredients in a supplement, but not the exact amount.
What does this mean?
It means that because the manufacturer does not disclose the specific amount of ingredients, it’s hard to know how much value you’re getting. And that’s where the problem comes in.
The biggest problem with proprietary blends is that they permit manufacturers and companies to withhold important information about what’s really in a product.
Hard to digest, right?
Well, here is an example to help you understand this whole concept.
So let’s say a certain supplements company includes a proprietary blend in one of their hangover supplements. In that proprietary blend, they decide to include a total of 3000mg of different ingredients in their supposed “detox blend”.
Let’s say this list includes Milk Thistle, Dihydromyricetin and Gigner extract in the proprietary blend in this hangover supplement. So if the total amount of ingredients is 3000mg, how much of each are you getting?
are you getting 500mg of Milk Thistle or just 5mg?
This means if you’re in the dark about how much of each individual ingredient is there, how will you know if the supplement is effective or not?
And that’s the sad thing about supplements that use proprietary blends.
What’s FDA’s Stance on Proprietary Blends?
The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) requires companies and manufacturers to list all their product ingredients on its label, including the exact amount of each ingredient (in terms of weight)…
Unless the ingredients are part of a proprietary blend
This means that the manufacturer does not have to include the exact amount of individual ingredients in a proprietary blend-only the total.
Yes, you read that right.
The FDA approves the use of proprietary blends as long as the manufacturer includes the overall amount of the ingredients.
And that’s how unscrupulous manufacturers are able to get away with substandard, under-dosed ingredients. They use this trick to hide the fact that their product contains tiny amounts of the active ingredients listed, and instead contain fillers and additives.
What’s the Real Reasons Why Manufacturers Use Proprietary Blends?
Other than the fact that the FDA approves the use of proprietary blends, some manufacturers use them for the following reasons:
• To Cut Production Costs and Maximize Profits
Cutting production costs to maximize on profits is one of the major reasons why manufacturers use proprietary blends. The manufacturer includes all the important and expensive ingredients because they know consumers often check the supplement’s ingredients content.
However, because all these ingredients are stuffed up in a proprietary blend which doesn’t reveal the exact amount, it’s quite possible that only 5 percent of the supplement actually contains the beneficial ingredients. The rest could just be a bunch of fillers and additives. By doing so, they are able to reduce production costs to a great extent and their profit is maximized. As a consumer, you stand to lose a great deal because you end up wasting your money on substandard products
• To Protect their “Secret Ingredients Recipe”
Most companies and manufacturer’s claim that the only reason they use proprietary blends is to avoid their competitors from stealing their “secret ingredients formula.” Now this may seem like a genuine excuse. Sadly, it’s not. If a competitor wants to find out what’s in the supplement’s company’s product, why not just do a simple lab analysis and obtain a complete breakdown of the ingredients?
• For Marketing Purposes
When a supplements company includes over 20 ingredients with tiny doses in a proprietary blend and then gives it a fancy name like “Ultimate Hangover Formula” or “Rapid Muscle Growth Blend”, consumers are made to believe that the product is really powerful. So the manufacturer ends up getting high profits from sales made to unsuspecting consumers
We understand that there are transparent manufacturers out there who avoid using deceptive tactics like proprietary blends. These are companies that actually value their consumers and their reputation. If you find a product that uses a proprietary blend, avoid it at all cost. You’re better off without them.
Why Should You Avoid Proprietary Blends?
As we stated earlier, nothing good comes out of proprietary blends. Unless the product has been proven to be quite effective, it’s advisable to stay away from it.
Still not convinced? Well, here are some of the major reasons to avoid products that use proprietary blends:
1. Proprietary Blends Might be Underdosed or Overdosed
Chances of the active ingredients in a supplement being underdosed are high in proprietary blends.
Why is that?
Because if the exact amount of ingredients is not available, how will you determine if they are underdosed or overdosed?
The problem with underdosed ingredients is that they might not have any significant effect on what you’re trying to achieve. On the other hand, if the ingredients are overdosed, you stand a risk of developing health complications.
In fact, one study published on the Journal of Medicine & Science sheds some light on the effectiveness of proprietary blends.
In the study, 17 cyclists took part in 2 cycling tests. The subjects took an 800mg herbal proprietary blend consisting of various ingredients in the second test.
The results indicated that there was no significant difference in time to exhaustion, peak oxygen levels, heart rate, or power output between the 2 tests, even after ingesting the proprietary blend. In other words, the supplement didn’t do anything, which means that it was possibly extremely underdosed.
In some cases, most supplements will include a bunch of fillers and additives and a little amount of ingredients. So as a consumer, you’ll buy the supplement thinking it will work wonders. Sadly, that will not be the case.
All the more reason to avoid products that use proprietary blends.
2. Possibility of Contamination
Since proprietary blends are basically a bunch of ingredients mixed up together, chances are that they contain fake ingredients and other harmful substances. In fact, a review study published in the Journal of Mass Spectrometry found that in over 630 sports nutritional supplements, 15% of them were contaminated with anabolic-androgenic steroids and prohormones.
This means that you could possibly endanger your life by taking supplements with proprietary blends.
3. It’s Hard to Trust Manufacturers that Use Proprietary Blends
If a manufacturer has the guts to hide the actual amount of ingredients in their product, how can you possibly trust them? Clearly, such manufacturers are not only untrustworthy, but they are also hideous. You’re better off with manufacturers that are completely transparent with what their supplements contain.
4. You Risk Wasting Your Money Over Substandard Products
As we stated earlier, some manufacturers use proprietary blends to cut production costs and maximize their profits. They use tiny doses of bioactive ingredients and the rest is contains fillers and additives.
As a consumer, you end up spending your hard-earned money on these supplements thinking you’re buying a premium product.
Don’t get us wrong though:
It doesn’t mean that all supplements that use proprietary blends are bad. The problem is that it’s pretty hard to distinguish the good from the bad.
Stay away from proprietary blends.
5. They Try to Exploit FDA Loopholes
The fact that FDA allows the use of proprietary blends allows manufacturers to get away with their deceptive tactic. Because the FDA approves the use of proprietary blends, the manufacturer’s are able to get away with this mischief.
Why Do Consumers Keep Buying Supplements That Use Proprietary Blends?
The answer is pretty simple…
They have no idea what proprietary blends or how they work.
As a matter of fact, most consumers believe the manufacturer’s claim that they are simply protecting their “secret ingredients” from competitors.
Don’t fall for this trap. After reading this post, you’re wiser now. If you can, only purchase products that do not use proprietary blends. Also, choose brands that are reputable to avoid wasting your money on substandard supplements.
Proprietary Blends- Bottom Line
We’ve heard sports nutrition experts advising athletes against using supplements that use proprietary blends. As you can see, it’s for all the right reasons.
Proprietary blends are not to be trusted. The likelihood is you’ll get a supplement that can talk the talk but cant walk the walk.
Don’t be deceived. Proprietary blends are there to make more of a profit. So make the right choice and choose a supplement that lays out all its active ingredients in the clear. Proprietary blends are clearly a no-go zone!