Here is the article I promised the in Supplements & Your Hard Earned Dollar, it is all pretty straight forward, what you shouldn’t bother with and why. You likely won’t remember all of these off the top of your head so, when in doubt, assume that it simply isn’t worth your time. Some of these are complete wastes of money and even harmful, whereas others may have benefits, but are overhyped.
Phenylethylamine– Endogenous phenylethylamine levels have been correlated with depression, ADHD, and a variety of other mental conditions. It has been dubbed the brain’s endogenous amphetamine, causing release of norepinephrine and dopamine, as well as acting as a neurotransmitter in and of itself. All this is great, but what supplements don’t tell you is that any PEA you ingest orally is going to be rapidly and completely degraded by the enzyme monoamine oxidase. This is the same enzyme that some pharmaceuticals inhibit in an effort to treat depression. So unless you’re taking PEA with an MAOI, it’s not worth your time. It’s worth noting that it will produce a rather short lived effect but this is accompanied by a massive crash for some users.
Mucuna Pruriens– This product is extracted for L-Dopa. L-dopa is a precursor to dopamine in the brain, which provides greater dopamine levels for a limited period after ingestion. L-dopa is actually used for parkinsonian patients (who suffer from low dopamine levels) to alleviate their symptoms. Dopamine will suppress prolactin in the hypothalamus which in turn suppresses growth hormone. So L-Dopa indirectly boosts growth hormone. Part of the issue is that dopamine is neurotoxic in itself, and so the drug only works for a period of time before it makes the symptoms worse. I’m pretty sure the neurotoxicity is not as serious as it sounds in non-parkinsonian patients, but the drug seems somewhat pointless.
Amino Acids as Growth Hormone Secretagogues– In short, they boost growth hormone, but not nearly enough to convey any sort of meaningful benefit as far as performance or body composition is concerned.
Arginine AKG– Has actually been proven to NOT be ergogenic at all, as seen in a previous article. Almost no strength or lean mass gain over time. It’s certainly not harmful, but as far as pump products go, theres a lot of shit that could do a lot more for you.
Milk Thistle– This herb is pretty much the main ingredient in any liver support supplement you will find on the market. It’s important to note that liver support supplements really only became popular with pro-hormones, as they have a deleterious effect on the liver. This really hasn’t been shown to do much in the way of “detoxifying” your liver (which is not a scientific term), and could potentially even antagonize the androgen receptor.
Green Tea Extract– Ok, to be honest, this one almost didn’t make the list. Reason being that it does actually have some effect on caloric expenditure and weight control. Green tea extract has actually been shown to do some pretty cool shit. But make no mistake, this is not ephedrine, green tea will never get you shredded, and as far as fat burners go it is, at best, an add on.
HydroxyCitric Acid– So, you might know hydroxycitric acid as the main ingredient in HydroxyCut (although the main effective ingredient in the original HydroxyCut was ephedra). Well, it never was very good at anything except minor blood sugar control, and now someone claims it ruined their liver. So, its probably best to just stay away.
L-Glutamine– Glutamine is not very helpful as far as muscle growth goes. How can that be when so much of skeletal muscle is composed of glutamine? Well, there’s the crucial difference between glutamine in your blood and glutamine in your gut. Put simply, orally ingested glutamine just does not get into your blood very well. L-alanyl-L-Glutamine (under the trademark Sustamine) has claimed to solve this problem, but only time will tell. If glutamine can actually get into your blood efficiently, the results could be very promising.
Multivitamins- Assuming you’re not a malnourished 3rd world citizen, you receive almost all the vitamins and minerals you need in your food. Additionally the types of vitamins found in your food are more bioavailable than the kinds found in a pill. This is not even including issue of absorption when they are all ingested at once. Long story short, with the exception of a few vitamins (notably D) you are wasting your money.
CLA– Was supposed to be the king of fat burning when it hit the market in the late 90’s. Research has never shown anything amazing, it appears to work best in the obese.
Kre-Alkalyn/Creatine Ethyl Ester- Kre-alkalyn is under-dosed creatine monohydrate, the stablility of creatine mono is much better than supplement companies would have you believe. Creatine ethyl ester on the other hand has been proven to be less effective than creatine monohydrate. So, at least there’s some science behind it.
Hoodia Gordonii– It was supposed to be an ephedra replacement, like so many before and after it. A pharmaceutical company was even working on developing the active chemical. Then everything fell through, I’m guessing it has something to do with the fact that it just isn’t that effective.
Vanadyl Sulfate– Functionally this does nothing for anybody but a diabetic. But wait, here’s the kicker, it’s toxic! Vanadium is poisonous. So stay away from this one for sure.
Chitosan– Supposed to be a carb blocking supplement. Go ahead and just avoid anything that claims to be a carb blocking supplement. Will it hurt you? No. Will it do absolutely nothing but leech your money? Yes.
Gingko Biloba– Has some positive effects in disease states. Some have claimed it to be a cognitive enhancer and improve cardiovascular health. Well, if you’re elderly or have some kind of cerebral ischemia then it will help you. But if you are an everyday person you can go ahead and save your money.
Licorice– It has an anti-cortisol effect, but it also has an anti-androgen effect. So, you’re sort of putting the horse before the carriage.
Synephrine– Another “ephedrine replacement.” This one is just about as effective as the rest. It is a beta agonist which might get you all excited because so are potent thermogenics like ephedrine and clenbuterol. But you shouldn’t get so excited because as it turns out its really only good at agonizing beta 3, which is not such an important receptor in human energy homeostasis (weight control). Methylsynephrine may be of some interest though, as N-methylation makes it more potent.
White Willow– The plant is extracted for salicylic acid, which is a sort of natural precedent for aspirin. Aspirin was at one point a part of the holy ECA trinity. As it turns out, aspirin is not necessary and does not actually increase fat burning any more than EC alone. What it does do is reduce inflammation, which can be a bad thing for muscle building. For whatever reason, even without ephedra on the market, fat burners will still pop up with this little guy in it. Avoid them.
So these are just the very worst offenders that I could think of, some of which actually posing you overt harm. If you can remember to be a skeptic at all times and think critically, you will save yourself A LOT of money in the supplement world.