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Protein Supplement Buyer Beware

Have you ever sat back and thought about how to tell if your sports supplement purchase was a good buy, or just a good bye to your hard earned cash.

Its a tough one to figure out isn't it?

In my 30 year involvement with supplements, I've come across many really well educated guys, very knowledgeable about nutrition, very savvy on what to look for in a good protein powder, and yet still they bought a product I knew was below par. Yes that's right I knew.

Today I'm going to share two secrets with you that are known to people on the inside, but are things you wouldn't even guess at even if you where really really well up on your protein supplements.And I'll pretty much guarantee that by the end of this article you'll be grabbing your protein to see if there are any tell tale signs that your protein isnt all its cracked up to be.

Firstly, here's a little trick based around labelling regulations. If a protein powder says it has 80% protein, ie 80g of protein per 100g of powder, then how much do you expect it to have? Well 80% of course, ok maybe 79-81% just to allow a little margin for error. Sound reasonable.

What if I told you that it only had 75% protein. Feeling a bit cheated yet? Well at 72% trading standards wont even bat an eye, legally its fine. A full 10% less protein than you paid for and its perfectly fine.

It doesn't even stop there. At 64% protein you can still get special exemption to sell the stock through. A full 20% less than you paid for and its still legal to sell it to you without having to tell you its not even close to 80% protein.

The reason for this is that as a food you have to allow for a little variation. However for supplements you can hit your percentage target to a remarkable level of accuracy. This allows manufacturers to design a protein with 72% protein and market it and label it as an 80% protein.

During my years in the market, I can tell yu that I haven't seen this once, or even twice, but dozens of times.

So here is the bottom line. What the label says counts for little. You're on your own. It all comes down to trust and reputation. Always apply a little common sense. If it sounds too good to be true, you can be sure it is!

Secondly, there is a big difference between what we measure as protein and what we expect to be buying. Did I say big, I meant HUGE.

For labelling purposes, the amount of protein in a product is determined by measuring its nitrogen content. For demonstration  purposes, I'm going to use some made up figures that are easy to handle just for understanding.

Lets say that if a 100g of whey powder contains 40g of nitrogen it is considered for labelling purposes to be 80% protein. Lets also say that we get some cheap none muscle tissue amino acids mixed in a filler and this also has 40g or nitrogen per 100g of powder. It too can claim to be 80% protein.

Heres a particularly interesting one. Creatine has twice as much nitrogen per 100g than whey protein. This means that if I start with 100g of 80% whey protein and take out 10g of powder leaving 90g. I then add 5g of creatine and 5g of filler.

The resultant mix still registers 40g of nitrogen ber 100g of powder. I can then take a further 10g of whey powder out and replace it with my cheap amino acid mix. We still have 40g of Nitrogen

Hope I've not lost you with this one, we're pretty much there now.

I've now got 100g of powder measuring at 40g of nitrogen. I can therefore still make the label claim that it is 80% protein. However I've taken 20g of expensive whey protein powder out and replaced it with some very inexpensive creatine and a cheap amino acid blend, saving a fair bit of money.

Now for the label claim. Whey protein concentrate. 80% protein with added creatine and amino acid blend..

Now if you're like me, you would be thinking you've got an 80% protein from whey, and in addition to this there are some added amino acids and some creatine. The reality is you have something that is probably closer to 50% usable protein

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