In a previous post, I discussed the use of chemical nomenclature on supplement labels vs. common names.  For whatever reason, some people are more impressed by stuff they don’t understand, so – from a supplement marketing perspective – the more complex you can make it, the more “high tech” and “cutting edge” it will look.  3′,5,7-Trihydroxy-4′-Methoxyflavanone looks waaaay kewler than “hesperitin,” though they’re the exact, same thing.
To put it another way, just because “Science = Complicated,” doesn’t mean the reverse, “Complicated = Science,” is also true.  In science, things are no more complex than they need to be. K.I.S.S. is standard operating procedure, even if it’s expressed in technical terms that most people aren’t familiar with.
This brings us to yet another supplement marketing tactic: labels with a long, loooonnnng list of ingredients. This adds needless complexity – sometimes to an extreme degree.  Anyone catch the label for Muscletech’s Anabolic Halo, for example?  Count ’em yourself: there are 74 different compounds/extracts listed (not including the artificial sweeteners and other additives).  
This is a laughably ridiculous number of ingredients.  Do you seriously think this is the simplest configuration for achieving the desired anabolic effects?  If so, please give me a call!!! There’s a bridge I’d like to sell you… 😀
To provide a simpler example, let’s take Muscletech’s classic supp, Cell-Tech.  Whereas the original Cell-Tech contained creatine monohydrate (boooooorrrrring!!!), the newer “Hardcore” version contains a blend of 7 different creatines:
Creatine Monohydrate (Featuring Nano-Diffuse™ Technology)
Creatine Anhydrous
Creatine Malate
Creatine Alpha-Ketoglutarate
CREAKIC™ (Creatine-6,8-Thioctic Acid-Ketoisocaproic Acid Calcium)
Creatine Pyroglutamate
Tri-Creatine HCA
Think about it: how are 7 creatines better than one?  Do any of the alternate forms work better than creatine monohydrate?  If not, then why are they in the formula?  If so, then why is creatine monohydrate still in the formula?  Where is the science that shows that a combo of even two different forms works better than one?  Why seven, and not three or five…or eleven, for that matter? 
But all them creatines shore do look purdy though…don’t they?   Plain old creatine monohydrate is so…so…plain.  It’s so yesterday, even dressing it up with “Nano-Diffuse™ Technology” doesn’t cut it.
Now, this isn’t to pick specifically on Muscletech (as amusing as this can sometimes be) – Cell-Tech is just an obvious example that many people are familiar with.  As far as I can tell, it works well enough, although no better than competing, simpler products.
The take-home lesson is that a long list of ingredients doesn’t make a supplement somehow superior to one with only a few (hopefully) well-chosen ingredients.  In addition to adding needless complexity, it also increases the odds that you’re buying a lot of “label decoration” (although that’s a topic for another post). To make a long story short, more isn’t better.

  1. Ben 15 years ago

    Heard any info on Stemulite? I’ve seen more posts on the net and advertising for this thing? Reads like a steroid made of natural stuff. Sounds like the next enzyte if you ask me.

  2. Dave 15 years ago

    Yet more marketing BS from Muscletech, thanks Elissa.

  3. Elissa 15 years ago

    Ben: I covered Stemulite on the “Bodybuilding Revealed” forum…people who are members can request reviews for supps they’re curious about. A small sample:
    “This last statement should be stressed: when a supp company makes claims, the burden of proof is on THEM. They are asking for your trust, in the form of your dollars. It’s up to them to prove that they’re worthy of that trust. The above points should make you very wary: there are several obvious lies and distortions, all packed into one single paragraph.”
    IMHO, mediocre, overhyped, overpriced.

  4. nick 15 years ago

    I don’t go for any of that supp marketing hype,my post workout drink is plain and simple WPI absolutely no additives, just pure whey protein with 1 tea spoon of creatine monohydrate in a big glass of fruit juice.At night I take 2 scoops of calcium casseinate pure and plain with 1 tea spoon of L-glutamine in a glass of skim milk.
    I’m 44 years old and I could not be happier with my strength and my gains,I often show up guys half my age.

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