Are Proprietary Blends In Pre-workout Supplements Misleading You?

Extravagant and attention catching names are finding their way onto many pre-workout supplement brands ingredients list. Current regulations specify that all ingredients should be labelled on a supplements ingredients list as well as their relative amounts…but this is not the case for proprietary blends! So if a company doesn't want to specify the exact quantities of each ingredient within the blend, then guess what, they don’t have to! So where does this leave you as the consumer, and what should you be thinking when it comes to buying a pre-workout that contains a proprietary blend.

What impression do proprietary blends give?

Well, mixed impressions and uncertainty in the supplement world is not really a good thing. Are the supplement companies withholding this information because they don’t want the consumer or indeed any competitors to know the specific ratios of active ingredients, or are they simply wanting to hide inadequate quantities of each active ingredient!? I’ll leave that in contention, but what is clear is that many pre-workout supplements that contain a proprietary blend can, and do still deliver excellent ergogenic effects i.e. improve exercise capability.

Proprietary Blends can still work for you

A great example of a supplement that has a proprietary blend yet still delivers the goods for many is MusclePharm Assault. The blend is broad, and many will argue that it might not contain adequate amounts of each ingredient, but what many can’t deny is that this stuff works! Sometimes proprietary blends fall short, other times you’ve just got to give it a try and see. If it’s a reputable brand and the products are well established, why not give it a try and see if it works for you?

What if I don’t want to take the risk on a proprietary blend?

What is clear is that a supplement with clearly listed quantities is more assuring than one with none. When making your choice, do check out my video on proprietary blends on our Nutritube Youtube channel in order to consolidate the points discussed here, I talk around what to look for in a pre- workout supplement and how to sift out some of the crap. I discuss the ins and outs of these blends and how you can make an informed choice the next time you come to buy a pre-workout supplement.

So what should I look out for?

A telltale sign that a proprietary blend isn’t a particularly good one is a long list of ingredients with a low blend total weight! Many of the key players in a pre- workout are Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs), Beta-alanine and quite often creatine, so the question you’ve got to ask yourself is this…are they going to be able to fit in the requisite amounts of each active ingredient in a blend that only contains 5g total? Well, the answer to this question is a resounding NO!

Consider this if you will… an effective amount of BCAAs is approx 5-10g per serving, whilst a minimum of 1.5-2g of Beta-alanine is desirable to induce an effect, so that’s potentially 7-12g of active ingredients already, add the recommended 5g of creatine on top and you’re looking at a proprietary blend that is at least 12-17g! Now compare this to the proprietary blend total weight and see how this weighs up…you want to be sure that the blend is at least 12g in this instance!

About the Author

Job Role Qualified Dietitian and Sports Nutritionist Qualifications BSc (Hons) Sports Science | BSc (Hons) Dietetics Tom has always participated in sport both recreationally and competitively which led to an unquenchable thirst for information on anything health, nutrition and fitness. After leaving school Tom went on to play for a football academy during which time he studied Sport and Exercise Science. From here he went on to study a BSc (Hons) Sport Science at UEA followed by his second BSc (Hons) degree, this time at the University of Hertfordshire studying Dietetics. Tom has worked in the fitness, educational and clinical nutrition industry starting out at David Lloyd Health and Leisure Clubs. He then went on to work as a Dietitian (RD) in the NHS, during which time he conducted clinics for healthy eating, weight loss and weight gain, as well as specialised consultations on Diabetes, IBS and Coeliac disease to name a few. He has vast amounts of experience at devising diet plans and supplement regimens, as well as working in the community with schools and competitive athletes. As Head Nutritionist and Supplement expert at Discount Supplements Tom is here to provide current and evidence based health and nutrition information to help you reach your health and fitness goals!
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