What Are Proprietary Blends in Supplements?

Wondering what’s in your new supplement’s mysterious mixture? If so, you’re looking at a proprietary blend – a patented combo of ingredients that companies can hide by law. Are they bad? We’ll let you decide for yourself. 

What is a proprietary blend?

Put plainly, a proprietary blend is mixture of ingredients owned by a brand. The word proprietary literally means relating to an owner.

Proprietary can also be something that’s marketed under and protected by a registered trademark. You’ll have noticed brands like to use unique names for their blends like ShredFormula2000®, MusclePumpMatrix®, or BeastModeBlend®[1].

A blend is usually marketed for a set purpose. Looking at the made-up names above, it’s easy to see what they’re supposed to do. ShredFormula2000®, for example, gives off the impression it can help you get lean. So, you shouldn’t be shocked if you see something similar printed on the side a fat burner.

You’re probably not going to get thrown off by one of those made-up blends. Given that it’s standard practice to give a dose for the whole thing, that’d not trigger alarm bells either.

So far, not so sinister. After all, lots of companies register and trademark their inventions. It stops others stealing their hard work, doesn’t it?

Technically, yes. But blends are one of those things that are a little underhand in the supplement industry.

Why would a company use a proprietary blend?

Registering certain parts of your product can be a smart move. You have the law on your side if someone steals your formula for a start. By patenting a certain blend, you’re asserting yourself as the creator and proprietary owner.

It also stops the competition copying your strongest assets. Say you’ve found the sweet spot for the doses of two or three ingredients. Are you going to let every man and his home-brew supplement company dog see it? No. You’ll play smart and keep it in the blend.

Unfortunately, the whole thing comes with a loophole. Supplement companies don’t lawfully need to disclose what’s in their blends – or any individual amounts.

Let’s make one thing clear – not every brand that uses a proprietary blend is bad. But the good ones are few and far between.

Proprietary blends are an easy hiding place for bad formulas, fillers, and trendy add-ons. Some companies have found a way to take a well-devised legal practice, turn it on its head, and exploit it.

Why should you stay away from proprietary blends?

Staying away from proprietary blends is always in your best interest. It’s almost impossible to tell which ones are genuine without a lot of digging.

Let’s look at why it’s best to just leave blends out of your supplement routine.

Bad formulas

Far too many brands use blends to disguise their product’s unflattering formulas. Marketing execs know that certain ingredients make customers run a mile – and rightly so.

So, what can they do? Print an alarm-bell-ringing ingredient in plain sight and hope for the best?

No – not if they want to sell their new pill and all its promises. Supplement buffs are notorious for swotting up on the latest science. Marketing execs know they can expect DON’T TOUCH THIS STUFF comments spreading like social media wildfire if they do advertise a suspect ingredient.  

Instead, companies can be smart (read: sly) and hide any unsightly ingredients inside a unique blend. Fix an impressive sounding name on it, tally up the total weight, and print it on the side of the bottle. Done.

It’s obvious why you should avoid these kinds of supplements. Dangerous, disproven chemicals and unnatural ingredients could compromise your health. 

Filler ingredients

Most supplements aren’t cheap. And those that are cheap usually aren’t any good.

So, when you do bite the bullet and buy one, you want to feel like it was good value for money. One easy to work out if you’re getting a good deal is seeing how far your dollar stretched.

Some of the shadier supplement companies know this all too well. After all, if you spend $80 on a new stack, would you feel better off getting 20 scoops or 100? Ask yourself which one you’re more likely to buy on impulse too?

Proprietary blends are a great hiding place for filler. It’s far too easy to add in a few bulking agents to pad out your pills. All of a sudden, one capsule can turn into two with the right things thrown in.

Big, bulky blends making up most of the weight? You could be wasting your money on fillers.

Buzzwords, poor doses, and add-ons

Certain ingredients make customers tick – fact. There’s more than a handful buzzwords that make the industry shout take my money whenever they’re brought up.

Sometimes it’s all down to the latest biohacking craze. It could be collagen-based protein powders are on trend, or everyone wants CBD. Whenever a new study comes out on a slightly exotic ingredient, we all want it – fact.

Even the biggest cynics get the bug every now and then. Teams of marketing experts work very hard to see what words and phrases make us tick.

Now, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. After all, when something is proven to be beneficial by scientists, why not try it? Everybody takes supplements because they’re looking for a natural edge.

Problems start to creep up when companies use poor amounts of trendy ingredients as add-ons. Instead of supplying a useful dose in their full formula, their blend gets a tiny sprinkling to spice things up.

The ingredient label gets to say it contains the new best thing – but that doesn’t mean you’ll get enough to give the benefits you expect. Just because a blend says it contains boron for example, doesn’t mean you’re getting a decent dose.

Naturally, unsuspecting customers don’t know this. They’re just happy to be bagging whatever buzzy ingredient they think they need this month – cue cash register ringing.   

Unlike hiding unsavory ingredients, this isn’t too dangerous for your body. Your wallet, on the other hand, can start to take the brunt.

By disclosing certain ingredients in a blend, supplement companies can justify why they’re charging you more for their product. Technically, they aren’t lying to you either, because there will be amounts of X in there. Just don’t expect quite as much as you hoped – or enough for it to work.

Have you seen some great ingredients inside a blend recently? Ask yourself if you can pick out their individual doses. If not, why not?

What should you do instead when choosing a supplement?

It’d be way too easy to just say don’t take proprietary blends. But given their popularity, it’s not constructive advice.

Instead, it’s recommended to always look for a transparent supplement. More and more top-tier brands are offering transparency for reassurance, so you shouldn’t struggle.

When choosing a supplement, scan straight through its ingredient list. If every component is clearly labelled, along with its dose, you’re free from blends.

It doesn’t need to be complicated. In a matter of seconds, you can know if you’re risking it with a blend or not.

But what if you scout a fully disclosed proprietary blend? If all the warning signs are there, but the ingredients are labelled clearly with their doses, you’re good to go. Some companies use things like Green Blend to highlight parts of their formula without hiding anything. Transparent blends aren’t something you need to worry about.

Going natural should also be high on your priority list too. Natural supplements always stand above lab-created chemicals, second only to whole foods you eat.

Your body has evolved for hundreds of thousands of years to react to the world around it. So, it makes sense that it absorbs and uses natural ingredients far better than fake versions.

Cheap lab-made chemicals might be friendlier to your wallet. But mother nature always knows best for your body.

The final word

Proprietary blends make sense from a legal standpoint. But being protected by the law doesn’t always mean something’s good for you.

A proprietary blend could contain useless fillers to pad out its capsules. It might also be sprinkled with buzzword ingredients just to draw you in too. You wouldn’t be the first person enticed by trace amounts of trendy nutrients. High chance you’d not be the last to waste your money either.

But proprietary blends can do more than rip you off. Given their anonymity, they can pose a serious risk to your health too.

Well-branded proprietary blends are the perfect place to hide unsavory ingredients. Companies know that as soon as scientists start to shun something, it’s best to keep it off the label.

Out of sight – out of mind, right? Not when your body is concerned. Ask yourself – what are they really hiding?

If you’re in the market for new supplements for your stack, stay away from proprietary blends. It’s not just your bank account that will benefit – but your health.

[1] These names are entirely fictitious and in no way represent any brand, product, or registered blend.

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