Why expect science?

A funny question coming from a scientist, but it’s a question that I am asked all the time. Can companies really prove all the things that they claim? Isn’t it too hard and too expensive to do research?

What I ask myself when companies make claims but don’t have any published research data to back them up is: don’t they want to know if their product works? Or improve it so it works better?

So many people really care about what kinds of foods and beverages they consume. They want organic and well-raised foods that are transparent with their ingredients and processing. But when it comes to supplements they will buy without the same kinds of expectations. The most common explanation for this is that they didn’t even think about what could be in their supplements and didn’t question whether they meet their marketing claims.

You probably buy supplements to boost your food plan with a targeted expectation of what the supplement will do for you. If the supplement can’t show you that it delivers on its promise, why spend your money on it? Spend your money on food.

Only one in one thousand sports supplement products have research conducted on that particular product. Most companies, if they cite research at all, use research done on one or more ingredients used in the product, but no research done on the product itself. This “borrowed” science doesn’t prove that the product works. They could be using a different form of the ingredient not used in the studies that performs differently, and when ingredients are blended they can have antagonistic effects on each other. There is no way to know that the product works unless scientists have studied that product itself.

Research is not that hard nor that expensive. Tiny little start-up companies have research on their products, when often the largest companies fail to conduct any scientific investigations to prove that their products work. It takes an ethic of honesty, integrity and responsibility on the part of the company to its customers to put research dollars ahead of the bottom line.

If you are buying a product to improve physical performance, then it should be able to tell you that it actually improves performance. Just because blood levels of a compound go up or down doesn’t prove that it will enhance performance. If performance is your goal, then expect performance data.

When it comes to Vitargo, we are an evidence-based company and we have all the university lab peer-reviewed published studies to back up every claim that we make, including enhancing performance. Vitargo is a high molecular weight starch, and the properties that make it the fastest fuel for sport and recovery with no stomach upset are somewhat due to its very high molecular weight. In fact, Vitargo is the highest molecular weight carbohydrate fuel available. I shake my head when I see that other brands claim to be better than us based on our own data, claiming that their molecular weight (though much lighter than Vitargo) makes them the best. Most have no data to support their claims at all, and some of the data from products prove that they are nowhere near as fast as Vitargo for any of the claims. Claims without data are weightless.

Beware that just because there is a study posted on a website, it may still not support the claims being made about the product. Brands often count on the fact that many consumers will not read the study but will be impressed to see it. It’s an unbelievable practice but believe me, it happens.

You also deserve to know what you are buying and consuming. Transparency in ingredients, meaning we have no secret formulas, usually listed as “proprietary blends” in the list of ingredients, so you can see exactly what is in the product. Listing all ingredients does not expose the manufacturer to any loss of their patents or formulations. It just keeps you from knowing what’s in the product. Why would a brand want to do that? Your guess is as good as mine. We are completely transparent with all our ingredients, and we test for purity so that you know you are getting everything that is on the label, and there is nothing in the product that is not on the label. (I’ll discuss testing in detail in another blog post.)

Expect science. You will always get a better value, and better results.

Keep going strong!

Dr. Sue

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