If you already have a lot of experience in the world of supplements, perhaps it won’t take you by surprise, but if you still don’t know what the title of the post refers to, we invite you to come find out some of the fraudulent techniques that some manufacturers use when making their products.
- 1. What is Amino Spiking?
- 2. How do the Manufacturers take advantage?
- 3. Why is Amino Spiking done?
- 4. Is Amino Spiking legal?
- 5. What’s the problem with Amino Spiking?
- 6. Taurine, glycine, glutamine, peptides, creatine… What are they doing in my protein shake?
- 7. How to identify Amino Spiking?
- 8. Learning to read the labels
- 9. Conclusions
- 10. Sources
- 11. Related Entries
What is Amino Spiking?
Also known as “Protein Spiking”, this is a technique that consists of adding (manipulating) a series of low-cost amino acids to the protein formula to increase the total nitrogen value.
Or in other words: increasing the amount of protein by lowering costs, and “cheating the customer”.
How do the Manufacturers take advantage?
The amount of protein is measured as a function of the nitrogen content.
Just as protein contains amino acids, so too with nitrogen, and the tests that are used to check the content of this nutrient based on this principle.
However, the test seeks to measure Complete Proteins, or so it is assumed when entering the sample.
The result? A protein per service value that will be a mixture of the amino acids present in the protein + “cheap amino acids”, including amino acids that are not used for protein synthesis (not proteinogenic).
Why is Amino Spiking done?
The mechanisms and procedures for obtaining the protein, including its packaging, transport and marketing campaign, are costs that the manufacturer must assume.
Therefore, if he can reduce the total investment, in a fraudulent way, as in this case, they will save a good amount of money.
There’s no other justification.
Is Amino Spiking legal?
The short answer is yes (if the amino acid content is indicated on the label).
The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) is in charge of the regulation. And, it seems, by subjecting any protein to an analysis, such as the Kjeldahl Method, which detects nitrogenous substances, the result will be interpreted as protein.
Thus, you might find the label of a protein indicating that it provides 22g of it, but if it has been treated by these false techniques, you will be ingesting its protein and the extra amino acids.
Obviously, nobody wants this.
What’s the problem with Amino Spiking?
Well, we could talk about bad practice on the part of the company that manufactures the products, and from the customer’s point of view, a deception.
Unfortunately, many people are playing with the lack of knowledge of many people, who place their trust in these companies, but in the end what interests these companies the least is precisely the customer who buys from them.
Another point to note: we might think that if amino acids are added to the formula, it will be strengthened. But the truth is that this is not completely true. The only thing that’s achieved, depending on which amino acid is added, is to increase the nitrogen content, without any other benefit.
Lastly, remember that these added amino acids are not proteogenic, that’s to say, they are not directly used as building elements.
Creatine is a supplement that helps improve physical performance, and its contribution, in terms of the service you are looking for from a protein, is not the right one.
If we want creatine, we can always buy the supplement and add it as we see fit
Taurine, glycine, glutamine, peptides, creatine… What are they doing in my protein shake?
Due to the FDA’s very loose definition of the term ‘protein’, this practice is technically legal if indicated on the label.
Furthermore, the lack of regulation at European level doesn’t help much to clarify the issue.
80% whey protein concentrate (WPC 80%) and whey protein isolate (WPI) are proteins that have been shown to be particularly effective in contributing to muscle mass gain. Glutamine, glycine and taurine, however, are simply not as effective.
How to identify Amino Spiking?
We’ll have to check the
labelling or nutrition factsheet provided by the manufacturer
On its labelling, information regarding the composition must be included. Therefore, if there is “amino spiking”, its easily detectable on the label.
What do we have to look for on the label?
- As we already know, the list of ingredients appears ordered from highest to lowest content, therefore, if there are elements at the beginning of the description, they may have been added
- If among these we find: strong>creatine, glycine, taurine… when what we have is a pot of proteins, it’s another weighty reason to reconsider whether we really are interested in that product.
- Search . Among these we can mention: cGMP certification and Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP).
- We must know that each flavour produces a deviation in the total of proteins. Generally, the chocolate flavour has less % of proteins due to its cocoa content.
- Lack of information, such as the aminogram. Many manufacturers attach the corresponding amino acid profile to the raw material, but not the one we actually get when we buy the product, once it’s been processed, the flavour’s been added…
Learning to read the labels
The images below compare a 100% Premium Whey Protein Plus from Muscletech with Evowhey 2.0 from HSN where differences in composition can be seen due to the addition of ingredients, a priori unnecessary in a protein.
The Clean Label (i.e. make it as simple as possible) is a very important factor and therefore take great care when reading the label.
In this sense, a good example of how to present the information would be one that includes
- A product image.
- Certification stamps on those that have them (key aspect).
- Purpose of use of the supplement in question in sport.
- Nutritional information of macronutrients and micronutrients per 100 grams and per recommended consumption dose.
- Flavours available, size and mode of presentation of the product.
- Complete aminogram (products with proteins and amino acids) and additional ingredients (e.g. sweeteners or emulsifiers).
- Bruno, G. (2014). Do your proteins meet label claims
- European Commission. (2014). Food Supplements
- European Food Safety Commission
- Finete, VL.; Gouvêa, MM.; Marques, FF.; & Netto, AD. (2013). Is it possible to screen for milk or whey protein adulteration with melamine, urea and ammonium sulphate, combining Kjeldahl and classical spectrophotometric methods?. Food chemistry, 141(4), 3649-3655.
- Food and Drug Administration
- Protein Analysis: What methods are used, Reliability and Quality
- Get to know how to buy the best protein for you with this comparison