*The title of this post was taken from the Self song of the same name*
After 18 years floating around this industry as both consumer/client and trainer, I should know better.
Hell, I’ve spent tens of thousands of dollars on books, certifications and other avenues of continuing education to teach me better.
Yet even as the years have gone on and I’ve learned more about what does and doesn’t work in the supplement industry, every so often I manage to get duped into buying something I know won’t be as effective as I’d like.
A few months ago, I was looking through the nutrition/supplement section of a local grocery store and I saw a sale on a new line of pre-workout powder. For those of you who don’t know much about them, pre-workouts typically have some combination of creatine, amino acids, and/or stimulants in them to assist in giving you the boost you need for a better workout.
Depending on the brand, any of these ingredients could be cleverly marketed as organic, non-gmo, stimulant-free, or with faster absorption to appeal to whatever your hot buttons are. In the industry, many experts shy away from them saying that what you’re purchasing is really expensive ways to color your urine.
Truth be told, stimulants can positively affect your workout.
Want to know a great one?
And if you don’t like the taste of coffee, you can opt for a bottle of caffeine pills which will cost you a fraction of what your funny looking/smelling/tasting powder does.
Is it sexy? God no. But it’s effective.
Creatine is effective too but that’s a topic for another day.
But here I was, spending money I knew I shouldn’t have been buying a powder I was not likely to get my money’s worth from.
The thing is, there was nothing particularly wrong with the powder. There were just better ways to accomplish the same goal. Had I not buckled to the call of my impulsivity, I would have been perfectly fine with some black coffee before training.
Then I realized, that if some clever marketing can sucker me into a purchase, how does it affect the average person who doesn’t know as much about this industry and still wants to improve their physique?
As of 2015, revenue generated by the US dietary supplement industry was expected to hit an amazing $37 billion.
One of our clients confessed that he averaged $200/mo in supplements that provided little to no benefit to him before he started training with us.
And while I can attempt to do my very best at helping to educate my clients on what could work effectively to help them on their journey, everyone is susceptible and everyone is a target for the companies vying for their slice of that $37 billion dollar pie.
So, this article is simply a cautionary tale. Some of the most effective supplements you can buy are, oddly enough, some of the least expensive. And, as you might imagine, many of the ones that claim to accomplish so much generally cannot (but the placebo effect is an amazing thing.)
When I think back to my pre-workout purchase a few months ago, I knew I would be disappointed. I don’t know if I was more intrigued by the fact that it was new, on sale, or just that I hadn’t purchased anything like that in a while.
Damn, that shiny penny syndrome.
Rather than be a sucker (like I was), remember that the basics (appropriate food/water intake, good sleep habits, consistent/progressive exercise, minimal alcohol consumption) will get you to your goal.
Almost anything else will just make your wallet a little bit lighter and your pee (or poo) a little bit more colorful.
We’ll help you navigate the basics.
Oh and this is Abe. He’s down 13lbs in less than 2 months. Working the “basics.” 🙂