The “No Proprietary Blend” Deception

What this article is all about: When you look at supplement brands that say “No Proprietary Blends”, don’t believe them straightaway. Look at their labels and especially their proteins, meal replacement shakes and mass gainers to see whether they list the quantities of each ingredient. In many cases, they don’t. I have some examples to show you!

If you’ve been using supplements for a while you’ll already know about “Proprietary blends” and what’s up with these.

For those who don’t know,  the term “Proprietary blend” is commonly used in dietary supplements to denote a blend of active ingredients. The quantity of the “blend” is given and the constituent ingredients are listed one by one. However, the precise amount of each ingredient is not given. 

A proprietary blend is often also known as a “Matrix”, “blend”, “complex”, or “proprietary formula”. An example of a proprietary blend is given below. The consumer wouldn’t know how much of each active ingredient in the GO MATRIX blend he/ she is getting. 

Why "Proprietary Blends" In Fitness Supplements Are A Scam

The “Proprietary blend” practice took a lot of flak as people gained a better understanding of their true purpose, which was to hide the dosages of the more expensive active ingredients

Like in the example above, Creatine and Glycine would most likely account for a major chunk of the “GO MATRIX” as they are inexpensive ingredients. Whereas the more expensive ingredients like Citrulline may be in minute quantities (Citrulline is required in gram quantities, by the way). Herbal stuff like the Plumbago and Psoralea are probably miniscule too because they may be pricey or taste c*&p. You’d probably throw up through your nose if most herbals were appropriately dosed in drink mixes by the way.

That is why many companies became more transparent with what went into their products by listing the actual content of each active ingredients on their labels. An example is given below:

GlycoFuse | Rapid Performance & Recovery Carbohydrate*– Gaspari Nutrition

Many companies went on to claim that their brands are “Zero Proprietary Blend” companies.

You’ll very often see fancy logos and icons designed for use on labels as well as elegant narratives on company websites or Social media pages about being “non proprietary blend” companies. 

However, when you read the labels of the products of some companies you’ll still see proprietary blends in use. Let me show you the fishes that I caught:

EXAMPLE #1: Company #1

On their website:

On their product packaging + website:

Product #1:

On the label of their “Anabolic Whey” protein product (as currently listed on takealot.com and physical in-store product):

Analysis:

  • No disclosure of the amount of whey protein concentrate, soy protein isolate as well as the added amino acids (creatine, glycine, taurine and glutamine) and their relative contributions to the Protein content of the product. 
  • No disclosure of the amount of Maltodextrin (Carbohydrate) used. 
  • No disclosure of the amount of ZMA used. Neither is the amount of Zinc given in the nutritional tables. ZMA listed on the label. Wow cool! How much Zinc is your body getting? No idea! The “No proprietary blend” company didn’t even disclose the nutritional content. So much for the cool logo they designed and apparently trademarked. 
  • What is soy doing in the ingredient list of a product named Whey, by the way? Nowhere else is soy mentioned on the front panel of the label!

Verdict: this product uses proprietary blends. the company is not really a “no proprietary blend” company,  as claimed

Same brand Product #2:

On the label of their “Platinum Whey” protein product, their “flagship” protein product which is supposed to be the real deal (as currently listed on takealot.com and physical in-store product):

Analysis:

  • No disclosure of the amount of whey protein concentrate, whey protein isolate and whey protein hydrolysate and their relative contributions to the Protein content of the product. Consumers need to know, for instance, how much “hydrolysate” is present in the product, you see.  

Verdict: this product uses proprietary blends. the company is not really a “no proprietary blend” company,  as claimed

EXAMPLE #2: Company #2

On their Instagram Profile:

On their Website:

Product #1:

On the label of their “Whey” protein product (as currently listed on their website):

Analysis:

  • No disclosure of the amount of whey protein isolate, whey protein concentrate and milk solids (milk powder) in their Origin Protein Blend.

Verdict: this product uses proprietary blends. the company is not really a “no proprietary blend” company,  as claimed

No Proprietary Blends are usually practiced for preworkout products

It is interesting to note that the above companies disclose their active ingredients in their preworkouts. They don’t use any proprietary blend in their preworkout. However, when it comes to other products like protein or mass gainer products, they use proprietary blends, as exemplified above. Thus they aren’t fully “no proprietary blend” companies. 

An example of a “no proprietary blend” product label would be as follows where you can see the amounts of various protein sources used per serving. Brand to be saluted! (Note: I am not affiliated to them in any way)

Why should you care?

You work hard for your money, make sacrifices to be able to afford that supplement. Maybe you had to forego that nice tekkies you so much want so that you are able to buy supps for solid gains. Therefore, when you drink that supplement you need to know what you are getting. Your “Anabolic Whey” should have all its protein from whey, rather than glycine, Taurine, etc. the quantities of which you don’t really know, and that too from a company that claims to be “non-proprietary blend” and had fancy logos for this. 

You also put your trust in certain brands and it is their duty to stick to what they claim to offer. 

In my opinion, a protein blend of “whey isolate, whey concentrate and whey hydrolysate” that doesn’t indicate how much of each protein source is present is indeed a proprietary blend. Please let me know what you think.

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Medical disclaimer
The information presented on this website is intended for adults 18 or over. Its aim is purely educational and does not constitute medical advice. Please consult a medical or health professional before you begin any program related to exercise, nutrition, or supplementation especially if you have a medical condition. If you consume any product mentioned on our site, you do so on your own free will, and you knowingly and voluntarily accept the risks.  © 2020. Veeraj Goyaram

About the author

Veeraj Goyaram, MSc Med (Exercise/ Nutr. Science)

My name is Veeraj Goyaram. I am a full time supplements guy and make my living in the world of nutritional supplements.

I am a nutritional product scientist by profession, meaning I create innovative nutritional supplements in the lab (food technology side) based on what I know about the human body and nutrients that affect it.

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