It is nearly impossible these days to pick up any weight loss or pre-workout supplement without seeing the words in bold letters, “proprietary blend.”

Proprietary Blends, Performance stack, Mind Control Matrix, Energy Complex.

You have probably seen some of these catchy marketing phrases in the ingredient list of most sports nutrition supplements, specifically designed to trick the consumer into believing that they are better than a competing product. Have you ever stopped to think what these phrases really mean, or the amount of ingredients your supplement actually contains?


Proprietary blends are bundled ingredients in which the amounts of all the ingredients in the blend are stated as one combined number. Simply put – the blend lists ingredients without the amount of each ingredient.

The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) 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. Yes, you read that correctly, the manufacturer does not have to disclose to you the consumer just how much of each actual ingredient is in the product you are about to consume.

Supplement companies typically use proprietary blends for several reasons:

To prevent their competitors from learning the precise amounts and ratios of each ingredient, to protect their product.

To trick consumers and hide the fact that their product contains very little of the active ingredients listed and are instead composed mostly of fillers and additives.

By using proprietary blends, nutrition and supplement companies set themselves apart from the competition. By marketing something different, it gives them a comparative advantage, in owning a “propriety” or custom formula, hindering others from copying their specific ratio of ingredients.

Production costs are minimized while profit is maximized. The expensive and important ingredients are still listed, but because the ‘Proprietary Blend’ does not reveal the exact amount, less than 1% of the supplement could be made up with the beneficial ingredients while the rest are just ‘fillers’. In layman terms, your supplement is filled with junk and you think you’re getting Gold. But it’s really just fake gold.

In reality, proprietary blends (Commonly referred to as “label decoration” by industry insiders) means that the company does not want you to know how little of each ingredient they put in their formula. Instead of listing the dose of each ingredient so that you can be sure they are in efficacious doses, they hide the insignificant dose behind the term “proprietary blend” in the hopes that no one is the wiser. This allows them to cut corners and make more profit while you, the consumer, wastes money on a sub-par product that produces little actual results.

Proprietary blend label example layout

All active ingredients listed under 15g serving not indicating the exact amounts of each ingredient.


Overdosing with vitamins/nutrients is a real thing and can be extremely detrimental to your health, as an excess of nutrients and vitamins can potentially cause toxicities within your body. Without knowing the specific amounts of ingredients you’re ingesting, supplements with proprietary blends will leave you vulnerable. People who take vitamins in amounts over the established upper limits of the recommended daily intake can harm bodily function, and tissues in which those vitamins are stored. Everyone’s anatomy is different, which means that everyone’s daily-recommended intake of certain vitamins and minerals are also different. Therefore, it is vital to know, the correct amounts of each ingredient you’re taking, especially if you’re trying to reach specific fitness and nutrition goals.


Surprisingly, most people involved in the health and fitness industry are unaware of what a proprietary blend is and what it actually means.

Consumers are led to believe that proprietary blends are the company’s way of protecting their formula but in reality, any accredited laboratory can figure out how much of each ingredient is in the product.

It may seem like proprietary blends drive innovation. However, the opposite is true. True innovation is hampered by proprietary blends, at least in the supplement industry. Proprietary blends give companies an excuse to NOT innovate because they are not held accountable. Instead of supplement companies trying to compete on the basis of providing the most effective product, the industry is a cluster of fairy-tale marketing claims with quantity over quality.


The good news is that many companies are now stepping up and being more transparent with their formulas. This allows you to ensure that a product is providing you with the proper doses of every ingredient. And if it’s not, you can choose a better product or add other supplements in the proper doses to enhance that product. So be a savvy supplement user and think twice before using products with proprietary blends. Do your homework and learn what the correct doses are for each ingredient you consume.

At the end of the day, that is all they are – supplements. They are not going to replace proper training and nutrition. If you are going to spend your hard-earned money on them, you had better make sure you are paying for a quality product that works.