The more I learn about the human body, nutrition, and health the more I realize how unhealthy many seemingly “healthy” foods are. I have always said the fitness industry is not the health industry for many reasons. But if you take one minute to scroll through your fitspo profiles and photos on social media, it seems everyone is promoting a different supplement, brand name, fat burner, vitamins, etc. So how do you distinguish what’s actually healthy supplementation and what’s a bunch of hype worked in with ab selfies and seemingly unachievable physiques?
Let’s start with the basics. You buy organic to avoid pesticides and chemicals. You buy hormone-free pasture raised meats to avoid additives and artificial hormones. You eat your vegetables, drink your water, you work out regularly. And you decide to take your fitness goals to the next level by investing in supplements to help get you there. But what is actually in these supplements? Do you read the labels? How about the ingredient list? Do you know what is all comprised in the proprietary blends? (Proprietary Blends: FDA requires manufacturers to list all of the ingredients in a product on its label, along with the amount of each (in terms of weight), unless the ingredients are part of a proprietary blend—then the specific amount of each individual ingredient in the blend does not have to be listed, only the total.)
Proprietary blends also may appear on nutrition labels as ‘Compound’, ‘Matrix’ or just ‘Blend’. So, what’s the big deal? The problem is ingredients can be left out of a nutrition label when used in this manner, so really you have no idea what you’re getting/ingesting. The other problem is you don’t know the actual amounts/servings you’re receiving in proprietary blends. Many things are over-dosed with caffeine, stimulants, etc. to give you even more “energy”, but leave you with an even bigger crash. This also leads to feeling like you need this supplement for energy and you become dependent on it for just that. This cycle is damaging to your hormones and your adrenal system, and can have long-term negative consequences.
Let’s take a look at a nutrition label from a very popular and well-known women’s brand in the industry (image to the right). This brand contains many differ stimulants including green tea extract, caffeine anhydrous (a highly concentrated caffeine powder), green coffee bean and Taurine.
This “Matrix” alone is more caffeine than one should need through supplementation and can have damaging long-term side effects. Not to mention, a pregnant/breastfeeding mom should not touch a supplement such as this, as she should not consume more than 200mgs/day. If you think about the caffeine in your everyday food choices such as coffee, tea, soft drinks, sports/energy drinks, OTC and prescription medications, chocolate, herbal products such as yerba mate, etc. and then add a supplement such as this on top of your other sources, you’re not only exceeding your daily caffeine needs but you’re overdoing them to the point where you could be setting yourself up for a slew of health issues. These issues include high blood pressure, increased risk of heart attack, gout, fibrocystic breast tissue cysts, insomnia, indigestion, headaches, reduced fertility, miscarriage, increased anxiety and depression, adrenal fatigue and even death.
Let’s also look at Taurine in this matrix. Taurine is an amino acid that is naturally occurring in meat, fish and dairy. Many synthetic versions of Taurine are now used in supplements and energy drinks. This is another ingredient that you probably get enough of through eating a balanced diet and don’t need to be supplementing with more of unless meat, fish, and dairy are not a part of your everyday diet or your specific circumstances make you deficient in Taurine. With that being said, Taurine is a conditional amino acid which means it can be manufactured by the body and not an essential amino acid that must be provided through diet. In other words, these highly-dosed caffeine and Taurine blends used in supplements and energy drinks have led to more damage than good and not necessary to be implemented in your “healthy” supplementation routine.
Let’s go on to look at the following nutritional label (above). This label also contains many proprietary blends. Since we already addressed the dangers of these blends and over dosing stimulants, I want to take a closer look at the ‘other ingredients’ list on this label.
The first concerns that stand out to me are maltodextrin, sucralose, carrageenan, dextrose, and blue no 1.
Maltodextrin is a food additive and filler that is used because it is inexpensive to make. The primary side effect of maltodextrin is that it can affect your blood sugar, according to registered dietician Martha McKittrick. In fact, maltodextrin has double the glycemic index of sucrose, or table sugar, which means it has the potential to cause dramatic shifts in blood sugar. Unfortunately, maltodextrin is included in the total carbohydrate content on nutrition labels, so it’s not possible to tell how much of the starch is in foods.*
Carrageen is also a food additive used as a thickener and emulsifier. Some animal studies have linked degraded forms of carrageenan (the type not used in food) to ulcerations and cancers of the gastrointestinal tract. More worrisome, undegraded carrageenan – the type that is widely used in foods – has been associated with malignancies and other stomach problems.*
Sucralose is an artificial sweetener and like other artificial sweeteners, sucralose is highly controversial. Some claim that it is totally harmless, but new studies suggest that it may have some negative side effects on your metabolism. For some people, it may raise blood sugar and insulin levels. It may also damage the bacterial environment in the gut.
Dextrose is commonly used as a sweetener in packaged and processed foods because of its affordability and wide availability. Dextrose is added to foods to sweeten them, and also sometimes as a filler or a texturizing agent. It is considered an added sugar. Its obvious sugar is a problem in the american diet and the leading factor contributing to obesity, diabetes and other health problems. So adding it into supplements to reach your health and fitness goals should be the last thing you want to do.
FD&C Blue No 1. is a food color additive. It is a water-soluble artificial blue dye allowed by the FDA for use in foods, drugs and cosmetics. The dye is poorly absorbed from the gastro-intestinal tract and 95% of the ingested dye can be found in the feces. When applied to the tongue or shaved skin, Brilliant Blue FCF can be absorbed directly into the bloodstream. It has the capacity for inducing allergic reactions in individuals with pre-existing moderate asthma.This dye has also been linked to ADHD, allergies, and asthma. In 2003, when Brilliant Blue was used as a dye in feeding tubes, the FDA issued a public health advisory because of side effects like blue-tinged skin, urine, and feces, as well as hypotension and death.
It’s obvious the majority of the products on the market are not only not good for your health, but also detrimental in many ways to a healthier you. Not to mention these products are sold for a mass profit to companies who care less about those promoting them and using them.
Keep in mind that many of your ‘fitspos’ are being paid to promote brands. Many of these “fitness stars” have no nutritional background. And many of them look the way they do mostly due to diet and exercise and not due to the specific supplements they are preaching/promoting.
I know this because I was once that girl. It’s hard to turn down lucrative contracts with companies willing to pay great money for a few promotional posts on your page. But I found it was personally harder to want to promote something I didn’t feel great or right about promoting. Specifically, after having my son, I was much more cognitive and aware of what I would put in my body knowing I was also feeding and nourishing him through my breast milk. This awareness caused me a lot of ethical turmoil when promoting supplements that even I would not take while breastfeeding due to the ingredients and makeup of the actual supplements. I felt pressure to keep my contracts and sponsors yet felt an ethical and moral dilemma promoting
something that I did not believe in and I would not take. *I would like to clarify, I never lied or said I was currently taking the supplements I wasn’t taking during this time, but I do believe many people assume when they see products posted that you are taking them and I felt I had to mislead people to keep my sponsors happy.
I knew what I was doing didn’t feel right and I wanted to find something that I could honestly and truthfully promote, stand behind, and believe in. So this is why I did my research, and decided to align myself with AMPD Nutrition.
So my question is, do you read the labels of what’s actually in the products you consume? And if you’re putting effort into eating clean foods, why are you not putting effort into supplementing with clean products?
As someone who has been in the fitness industry for 7 years, I feel I have evolved not only as an athlete but as a person, wife, mother and more. I now lead a different lifestyle. I am more dedicated to my internal health than I am my external aesthetics. I CARE about what I put in my body and educate myself on the importance of clean, nutrient rich, truthfully HEALTHY product. Especially since I am breastfeeding. I don’t want to put anything in my body I wouldn’t feed my son.
AMPD Nutrition is designed specifically for women and encompasses all fitness and wellness needs without including harsh stimulants or artificial ingredients. I feel comfortable utilizing these products while pregnant and breastfeeding. What you see on the label is EXACTLY what you get. Nothing hidden, no proprietary blends, no special mixes, just science based ingredients at effective and appropriate doses for a WOMEN. And the best part is its AFFORDABLE with reasonable and realistic price points.
I am beyond proud to put my name on something that aligns with my true belief system to keep all that artificial crap out of your system! AMPD is non-GMO, gluten free, caffeine free, preservative free, soy free, dairy free, vegan, artificial color free and artificial flavor free.
I encourage you to read the nutritional label of the products you’re using for your HEALTH and fitness goals and educate yourself on what exactly you’re putting in your body along with what type of company you’re supporting.