Proprietary Blends – Why You Should Avoid Them and What You Should Be Taking Instead
We’d be lying if we said that the biggest problem facing the supplement market is proprietary blends, that’s simply not true. What is true, however, is that proprietary blends are a concern because they tend to hide so much from the consumer and, as such, can be used for nefarious purposes.
The irony is that the problem of proprietary blends is one that could be easily solved. If everyone just stopped using them.
Why should companies stop using them? Why should you be wary of taking supplements that use them? Just how easy is this problem to solve?
We’ll answer these questions and more below!
The Problem with Proprietary Blends
A lot of people don’t have an issue with proprietary blends. Some see them as a great way to be nutritionally efficient and pack a lot of benefits in to one blended ingredient.
Sure, this might be true. But our question is: why are they any better than listing the ingredients individually, with doses clearly stated?
Why would a company choose to bundle ingredients together and only quote the total blended volume of ingredients, rather than the exact makeup? What are they trying to hide?
Some companies will tell you they want to keep their formula secret from competitors, but they’re also keeping it secret from consumers too – and you should know what is going into your body at all times to stay safe.
Approved 3rd Party Blends versus Proprietary Blends
Let’s be clear on something before we go on…
There is a big difference between using a 3rd party blend that is approved and very clear on how individual ingredients break down within the overall formula, and a supplement company coming up with their own, completely unregulated and ambiguous blend and dumping it into one or more of their own products.
Take Performance Lab ‘Pre’, for example – the pre-workout that is part of their SPORT range.
Performance Lab Pre uses a few selected 3rd party components, one of which is the Setria® Performance Blend – a mix of L-Citrulline and Setria® Glutathione. Not only are these ingredients supported by significant scientific evidence, the Performance Blend product is very widely respected and pending an official patent. Everything is up front and honest.
That’s a very different story to a supplement company throwing a bunch of ingredients together and calling it a ‘proprietary blend’. The word ‘proprietary’ basically means that while the list of ingredients is public, the exact ratios of these ingredients is known only to the manufacturer.
If we had to choose between a product that lists individual ingredients (or a blend that states exact ingredients and doses) vs one that relies on prop blends with hidden dosages, we’d go for the individual ingredients every time because we know exactly what we’re getting.
- To learn more about Performance Lab Pre, visit: www.performancelab.com
The Dangers of Proprietary Blends
The most important reasons to be wary of these proprietary blends are;
- They could be mainly made up of the less effective and cheaper ingredients, with a couple of well-known ingredients sprinkled on top to make the overall formula look appealing, when in fact the main bulk of it is useless
- There is no way of knowing whether ingredients are dosed safely or not – this is a big problem when you have stimulants in the formula such as caffeine, and it’s an even bigger problem in the case of more controversial ingredients like synephrine or yohimbe
We might be a bit more forgiving towards proprietary blends if they offered some benefits to outweigh the negatives, but they don’t. It’s far from impossible to create an amazing product without proprietary blends, it just requires a little more thought and finesse.
The Best Pre-Workout without Proprietary Blends
We mentioned a product earlier that deserves a little more consideration and space – SPORT Pre-workout from Performance Lab.
Not only does Performance Lab manage to create a very effective pre-workout that doesn’t rely on proprietary blends, they manage to do this without resorting to using any stimulants at all.
This makes it one of the safest pre-workout supplements on the market that doesn’t require you to compromise on results.
The main USP with all the Performance Lab products is that they’re designed to complement the way your body works naturally.
Stimulant-based products might have you stomping around the gym feeling like you could throw some dumbbells through the ceiling if you weren’t so concerned about having to pay to repair the gym roof, and perhaps that’s what you’re in to, but it’s not the only way to maximize your workout.
SPORT Pre will give you focus and a gentle lift in energy that may leave you feeling like you’ve been conned until you realize you’re on your 8th set of pull ups and feeling like it might be time to smash some PBs on the bar.
How have they managed this? A quick look down the ingredients list gives us the answer, and would you look at that – all the serving sizes are right there as well!
Performance Lab SPORT Pre-Workout Ingredients
*To buy or learn more, visit: www.performancelab.com
Creatine (Creapure® pH10) 1250mg
A true hall-of-famer in the supplement world, the effectiveness of creatine is beyond doubt. The sheer volume of studies that have been conducted to examine how much it can boost performance is massive, and pretty much all of them say the same thing – it works.
In fact, if you were only going to take one supplement to improve muscle mass and strength, you might think protein is the natural choice but no, science says you should pick creatine. Creatine provides the fuel for your muscles to produce energy, which makes it the ideal pre-workout choice.
Creapure® is a leading source of creatine and the go-to for supplement companies only looking for the best.
Setria® Performance Blend 2200mg
As we mentioned earlier, Setria® Performance Blend is not a ‘proprietary blend’ but is an approved and patent-pending product. It is a blend of 200mg of Setria® Glutathione and 2g of L-Citrulline.
It functions as a NO (nitric oxide) booster which helps maintain strong blood flow to your muscles during exercise. L-citrulline boosts NO while also helping your body to synthesize creatine. Glutathione is an antioxidant that helps prevent damage to your muscles during exercise and speeds up recovery time.
Combining the two together has been proven to boost NO markers more effectively than either ingredient alone.
Another 3rd party ingredient, but not a blend, CarnoSyn® is a form of carnosine, a beta-alanine that helps prevent lactic acid building up in your muscles, allowing them to do more work before giving out.
This effect perfectly complements the effects of the creatine (providing more energy for your muscles) and the Setria® Performance Blend (keeping muscles oxygenated and protected).
Studies show that carnosine also helps protect your muscles from damage during exercise and that its effectiveness increases dramatically when taken alongside creatine.
Himalayan Pink Salt 350mg
A rich source of minerals and electrolytes, Himalayan Pink Salt helps to replace what you lose as you inevitably sweat more than normal due to the higher work rate you’ll be hitting.
Its inclusion is a neat move from Performance Lab® and it’s clear that a lot of thought went in to making sure that SPORT Pre is as safe as possible on a daily basis.
Maritime Pine Bark Ext. (standardized to 95% Proanthocyanidins) 100mg
“What the heck is a proanthocyanidin?” you may be asking. Well, they’re natural pigments found in a variety of food items. They serve to make things like grapes, cranberries and blackcurrants look delicious, but also act as a plentiful source of antioxidants with NO-boosting potential.
Further reassurance that SPORT Pre will have you powering through your workouts in the safest and most sustainable way possible.
Without iron your red blood cell count drops, and if your red blood cell count drops your body will be starved of oxygen with no way of transporting enough of it to important bits like your brain and muscles.
Iron deficiency is typically characterized by a lack of energy, so Performance Lab want to make sure your levels are topped up as you go into a workout, allowing you to make the most of the rest of the formula’s benefits too.
So, you see it’s clearly possible to create a pre-workout supplement without using confusing proprietary blends. Performance Lab show us how, but more than that they show us that consideration and high levels of synergy between ingredients is better than what you get from most stimulant-based products and completely trumps proprietary blends.
As an added benefit – and another reason why we rate this product so highly – all Performance Lab products are made in an FDA-approved, cGMP compliant lab (meaning made to the highest quality). They are also free from GMO, soy, gluten and other allergens, as well as artificial ingredients, and are 100% vegan friendly.
- To buy Performance Lab Pre, visit: www.performancelab.com
The Bottom Line on Proprietary Blends: Avoid Them
One final problem with prop blends is that if they were to become the norm there is a risk that the rate of innovation in the market would slow down, or even stop altogether.
Think about it – if every pre-workout supplement was a prop blend, comparison between them would become very difficult.
Customers would have less information than they do now. Companies would have less incentive to push the boundaries of what is possible without compromising the safety of their customers.
If all we had to choose from were prop blends, how would we decide which is the right supplement for us?
Do we choose which packaging we like best? The one with the coolest name? And how would we know whether what we’re buying is safe, other than checking the product reviews every so often to make sure no one’s had a heart attack or worse from taking it?
Transparent and evidence-based formulas are crucial for a supplement company to maintain its reputation and the trust of their customers.
Performance Lab and other companies that don’t resort to proprietary blends show us that they’re not really needed.
We can get by fine without them, so if there’s no benefit to using them then all they’re doing is creating confusion. Or allowing unscrupulous and/ or inferior manufacturers to hide their shortcomings.
If we were able to get rid of them completely then companies would have to be completely open about what is in their products. This would make supplements safer overall and force companies to innovate more, which ultimately benefits them and us, the customers.
After testing dozens of pre-workouts that don’t contain proprietary blends, our favorite is Performance Lab Pre.