I’m a big advocate of scientifically backed supplements, but, sadly, 95% of supplements sold and purchased in this industry are a straight-up waste of time and money.
This article breakdowns the worst of the worst, which will provide you with nothing more than a reduction in your bank balance. Here we go…
1. Fat Burners
Although there are some great fat loss supplements that can double weight loss and enhance fat oxidation rates, they rarely ever occur in most commercial fat burners. I use several synergistic supplements in my coaching and the 90 Day Bikini Transformation plan; however, these are all research proven core ingredients in a DIY fashion to create a strong and safe fat burner.
Sadly 99% of fat burners are just expensive caffeine. While the research shows caffeine to be a fantastic all round supplement, why pay $30, $40 or even $50 per month when you could just drink some coffee or buy pure caffeine tablets for $5?
Supplement companies will trick you with clever and unethical marketing. This includes hiring a fitness model who has NEVER used their product, fancy labeling and ridiculous claims, often based on one single rat study when another 15 human studies show it’s totally useless.
When you actually investigate under the hood, you will see 99% of fat burners are just caffeine and a combination of hard to pronounce herbs and other random ingredients, often with zero scientific evidence or are under-dosed, rendering them totally ineffective.
But it’s not your fault; I’ve researched sports supplements first hand and investigated this for close to a decade. It’s a minefield out there for the average trainer or fitness enthusiast.
Out of all the fat burners on the market the only one I recommend as part of my 90 Day Bikini Transformation plan is KAGED MUSCLE’s CLEANBURN. This, combined with my other advanced fat loss protocols, can really enhance results, once the foundations are in place, of course.
BCAA are one of the world’s most popular supplements. While I personally love them for taste and as a form of habit, they really provide little benefit WHEN you eat very large amounts of protein.
For this reason, I would class them as conditionally essential.
This is an extremely important point. In the average person who consumes a “normal” (i.e. low) amount of protein BCAA could actually be beneficial. However, if you are sipping down BCAA all day while eating chicken breasts and drinking whey shakes every 3-4 hours then those BCAA are virtually expensive water.
If you eat 30g or more of high quality protein per meal (meat, fish, whey etc.) and at least 1.4g + grams of protein per KG bodyweight per day, BCAA are probably useless.
You may ask why I personally take them; for the most part it’s purely for taste and to fortify a meal or snack that may be lower in protein, e.g. a protein bar. In addition, I get supplements for free – if I were on a tight budget and had to pay for BCAA, they certainly wouldn’t be on my list.
Rather than wasting your money on excessive amounts of BCAA, pick a complete Whey Protein (which is cheaper per serving!) and take it pre workout and/or post workout. Whey Protein will stimulate Muscle Protein Synthesis to a much greater extent than BCAA can while staying in your body for several hours to avoid any catabolism you may fear during a training session.
My favorite chocolate flavored Whey is ON Gold Standard. I also recommend Kaged Muscle RE-KAGED for a complete post workout mix.
Unlike the other supplements in this article, I must note BCAA can be beneficial in specific situations, including:
- If you don’t eat crazy amounts of protein, you may consider BCAA,
- If you are going long periods without food,
- If you are training on an empty stomach,
- If you don’t eat a meal with meat, fish or eggs (which have key, essential amino acids that other protein sources don’t contain in a high amount).
- In your workout if you are doing an extend session lasting 90 minutes or more,
My favorite flavored and low-cost BCAA is Muscle Pharm BCAA.
CLA is a popular fat burner but sadly lacks strong clinical research. While the “odd” study has shown benefit, a large percentage shows none. For most, even if CLA did work, the high cost would make you question if it’s worth $40 per month for the very small benefit.
In other words, would you pay $40 to lose an extra 0.2lb of fat, which probably equates to one single gym session. Personally, I would sooner just add in 1 extra gym session per month and get all the other benefits for my health and muscle, while saving $40.
CLA may have some other health benefits, however, for fat loss it likely mays no or very very little difference that would not be noticeable in the mirror or on the scales.
(Related: Learn about 5 of the best fat burning supplements, that actually work in THIS article).
4. Raspberry Ketones (RK)
Promoted by the mainstream media and fake “health experts”, Raspberry Ketones are one of the worst supplements on this list. When you breakdown the research on RK you will quickly see they are a waste of time.
It’s quite simple: there are no human studies even supporting the use of RK. While there is positive animal data, these results do not apply or cross over into humans.
Like other supplements, they have just been heavily promoted in the media and by fake “experts” and are now wrongly accepted as a “fat burner”. There’s really nothing more to say here as all the studies are terrible, showing no benefit. Quite simply, RK are a waste of time and money!
(Related: Learn about 5 of the best fat burning supplements, that actually work in THIS article).
Before I breakdown the issue with pre-workouts I must be clear that certain ingredients can work wonders pre-workout. An advanced and research-proven pre-workout stack can actually enhance pretty much every aspect of performance, from the time till exhaustion, 1 rep max, amount of reps per set, fat loss, focus, energy and more.
So, why is Pre-Workouts on the list?
Well, the major issue is 99% of people take useless pre-workout blends. Much like fat burners, there are some great ingredients; however, these rarely ever make it into commercial pre-workout blends that you are using right now.
On the rare occasion that these commercially available pre-workouts do use the right ingredients they NEVER dose them effectively. Either way you look at it, they are wasting your money and providing no benefit.
Before we go on, I need you to go and get your tub of pre-workout or pull up a common pre-workout on the internet (don’t worry, I’ll wait)…
Now you have it, take a look at the serving size on the back of the label.
I’ve calculated the effective ingredients needed to make a complete and effective blend: as a minimum, it would need to be 20g per serving. At present, I only know of 2 companies (out of 1000s) that actually have a pre-workout with more than 20g per serving. What does yours have? I’m guessing it’s less than 10 -15 grams!
When working with clients or people in the 90 Day Bikini Transformation we will use pre-workout ingredients to enhance their training and results; however, I provide a breakdown of all the ingredients and have them mix their own blends. This ensures quality, the right ingredients and most importantly, the right DOSE!
Here’s the best combo to make your own pre-workout cocktail, which uses all the research proven doses and ingredients:
- 1 Scoop of MuscleTech Anarchy (200mg Caffeine) or,
- 2 Scoops of ON Platinum Pre (400mg Caffeine – be warned!)
- Add 7 grams of Creatine to either of the above.
6. Multi Ingredient or Propriety Blends
As you’ve seen so far, 99% of the blends out there are a waste of time and money.
Pretty much every blended or multi ingredient product falls short for 2 reasons:
- They use unsupported ingredients that provide no benefit.
- They use the research-proven ingredient in a stupidly low dose to save money and scam you, meaning you actually get no benefit.
I always tell people to look at it this way; it’s like your boss giving you a pay rise of $1 per year. Although it’s a pay rise in theory, it would have no significant impact on your life or finances.
This is basically what a supplement company does when it lists a quality ingredient like “creatine”. They will happily promote the ingredient to boost sales; however, they use a crazily low dose which renders it useless inside the body. In other words, the body doesn’t even know you are ingesting that ingredient and it provides zero benefit to your health, performance or fat loss efforts.
This is why I advise people to avoid propriety blends like the plague. While many people see propriety blends as “secret sauce”, it’s nothing more than a marketing loophole to hide their poorly formulated and scantily dosed supplement.
If you think about it logically, if a supplement company were using all the right ingredients in the correct doses, would they not list these individually to promote their efforts? Of course they would, there would be no point hiding the fact unless they are under dosing the ingredient and just including it so they can slap the name on the label.
There is no secret dose; all the proven doses are discovered in a research setting by people like me. These results are then published for the whole world to see; there is no secret underground lab that makes a company or blend unique. Within 5 minutes you could go online and find the research-proven dose for most ingredients. It’s literally that easy if you know where to look and how to read research journals.
Propriety blends are basically a shot in the dark. It’s like you blindfolding yourself and taking random scoops out of ingredient bags and then throwing it all into your shaker cup. Stick with single ingredient products and make your own blends or mixes, based on the research.
If you want a “done-for-you” supplement blend, again, Kaged Muscle is pretty much the only brand I personally recommend to my clients, friends and family.
Instead of wasting your next $20 on a supplement, why don’t you purchase one of the world’s leading female transformations programs. You can now join the 90 Day Bikini Transformation program for only $19, giving you over $400 of advanced training plans, supplement protocols, diet plans and videos for less than a meal out.
When buying supplements, always stick with the proven ingredients at the proven dose and remember, supplements are only effective as an “add-on” when the fundamentals are in place!