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Genetic Life

Amino Spiking! - What is it?

by Richard Lovatt 17 Mar 2020

Amino Spiking - What is it!!?

Whether you’re completely new to it or been involved with it for decades, everybody who knows the fitness industry knows it’s not the most honest industry out there. Jokingly or not, it’s been likened to the dishonesty of politics on numerous occasions and this article may give a perfect example of why. One sub-category of the fitness industry is the supplement industry. The most popular product to come out of this industry is whey protein. But what if I told you that the advertised “25g per serving” may only be 20g of actual protein and 5g of useless fillers is sometimes the case with some products? Deception is probably what would come to mind.

What exactly is amino spiking?

Commonly known as protein spiking, it is companies adding free form amino acids into their whey protein powder to increase the dietary protein per serving, without revealing this action on the label or the customer. This is a very common scandal throughout the supplement industry and it all comes down to the very obvious reason… Whey protein costs in comparison to free form amino acids is considerable and to save on production costs, companies are misleading customers with this technique. However, these amino acids do not come close to what whey protein offers in terms of muscle protein synthesis (the main bodily process that causes muscle recovery and growth). 

How do they get away with this?

This was my first question when I discovered this sneaky technique.  But essentially, when a company wants to test the protein content of their products they will set it to a lab to do a nitrogen content test (NCT). This is because protein has a nitrogen-based bond and therefore comes up on this test. However, free form amino acids ALSO have the same nitrogen-based bond and therefore ALSO show up on the test.  Here’s the loophole, manufacturers are not allowed to declare protein on their labels for products containing only amino acids. Therefore, because protein powders are comprised of actual protein AND free form amino acids this can be disclosed as total protein content of the powder. 

How do I know if it’s been spiked?

There are at the moment, only indicators as to whether or not your powder has been spiked, there are no concrete techniques. Although they are only indicators, they are very good ones at that:

  • Your protein powder is SIGNIFICANTLY cheaper that other similar protein powders
  • The ingredients list contains glycine and taurine (two very common free form amino acids used to protein spike)
  • The ingredients list does not list the amount of ADDED creatine in grams but the actual creatine amount is fairly high may be spiked with creatine
  • The powder reveals it contains an amino acid blend but doesn’t list the ACTUAL amino acids used

That’s it, throw everything away!

Only joking, get everything out the bin. First of all, your health is not at risk. These free form acids DO NOT cause any harm to your health and wellbeing. You can still use these same supplements we’ve mentioned but just be aware of the difference in protein per serving difference.  

You’ve probably still saved yourself a considerable amount of money. However, next time you buy your big batch of protein it would be highly recommended that you avoid deceitful companies that have attempted this spiking tactic and find yourself an honest company. 

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