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Some Dietary Supplement Manufacturers Make Misleading Protein Powder Claims

Jun 21, 2014

Are you getting what you paid for in a protein powder? Reportedly, some brands of protein supplements do not contain as much protein as claimed on the label. Instead, these manufacturers add extra ingredients to spike their protein test results.

In the April 10, 2014 issue of Natural Products Insider, dietary supplement scientist Gene Bruno discusses how “protein spiking” is utilized by dishonest manufacturers to make supplements appear to have more protein than they actually do. The Kjeldahl method is used to determine protein content based on the amount of nitrogen. This test is conducted by freeing reduced nitrogen as ammonia and measuring the ammonia. If a product contains a non-protein substance that has nitrogen, then the Kjeldahl test can give an inaccurate measure of whole protein.  

Consumers can look at a product’s label to see whether or not protein spiking has occurred. According to Tim Ziegenfuss, CEO of the Center for Applied Health Sciences, protein products that contain arginine, creatine, glycine or taurine may suggest protein spiking. General Nutrition Centers, Inc. (GNC) states that these ingredients should be subtracted from the total amount of protein.

The following products contain ingredients that may suggest protein spiking:

  • Body Fortress: Glycine, creatine, and taurine
  • ProSupps: Glycine and taurine  
  • MusclePharm Arnold Series: Glycine and taurine
  • 4 Dimension Nutrition: Creatine
  • Mutant Nutrition: Taurine and glycine
  • Gaspari Nutrition: Glycine
  • Giant Sports Nutrition: Taurine and creatine
  • Infinite Labs: Glycine and taurine
  • Beast Sports Nutrition

New tests and methods are being developed by industry leaders in an effort to avoid protein spiking. The American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) suggests that the industry can use a defined standard of what substances should be included in measuring nitrogen content. “AHPA’s Sports Nutrition Committee has been discussing the issue of labeling of protein in protein products with an intention to ensure clarity for consumers. The AHPA board recommended a voluntary industry standard. Ultimately, the objective is to work with other industry groups to obtain a consensus on that standard.” said AHPA president Michael McGuffin. These standards include defining protein as “a chain of amino acids connected by peptide bonds” and calculating proteins based on this definition; “non-protein nitrogen-containing substances” should be excluded.

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