The Unveiled Reality of Bodybuilding Supplements Summary

  • The study analyzed the accuracy of bodybuilding supplement labels and the potential risks associated with consuming sports supplements containing ingredients: Rauwolfia vomitoria, methylliberine, turkesterone, halostachine, or octopamine.
  • A staggering 89% of the labels misrepresented the ingredients present in the products.
  • 12% of the products contained FDA-prohibited ingredients, raising significant health concerns.
  • The study raises concerns about the supplement industry’s lack of regulation and manufacturing standards.

The dietary supplement industry has seen exponential growth over the past few decades. As of 2021, the global market for dietary supplements has a value at over $140 billion. With such vast sums of money at stake, the incentive for companies to cut corners or engage in deceptive practices becomes evident. The allure of quick profits can sometimes overshadow the ethical responsibility to provide safe and genuine products.

For fitness enthusiasts and bodybuilders, bodybuilding supplements have become almost indispensable. They promise enhanced performance, rapid recovery, and impressive muscle gains. But how many of these claims are genuine? A recent study published in JAMA Network Open delves deep into this subject, shedding light on the accuracy of dietary supplement labels and the potential presence of FDA-prohibited ingredients.

The Shift to Botanical Ingredients in BodyBuilding Supplemets

Since the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned ephedra from dietary supplements in 2004, manufacturers have been searching for the next big thing. The regulation of dietary supplements in the USA is governed by the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA). (Pawar & Grundel, 2016)

a white lighter with red and white objects on it

This act gave the FDA the authority to establish Good Manufacturing Practices for dietary supplements and required manufacturers to provide information supporting the safety of the ingredients. Dietary supplement producers don’t have an obligation to carry out prospective safety studies, as noted by Ryan et al., 2019. Yet, the occurrence of adverse events linked to dietary supplements is comparatively minor when set against FDA-approved prescription medications, as highlighted by Ryan et al., 2019.

Enter botanical compounds – natural ingredients from plants that promise the same, if not better, results than their synthetic counterparts. Some bodybuilding supplements now frequently feature extracts of Rauwolfia vomitoria containing α-yohimbine, the caffeine-like compound methylliberine, the partial β2-agonist halostachine, the plant steroid turkesterone, and norepinephrine-like octopamine have all been promoted for their purported stimulant or anabolic effects. They are commonly found in pre-workouts and testosterone boosters.

Rauwolfia vomitoria

α-Yohimbine, a compound found in Rauwolfia vomitoria, is believed to have stimulant properties. It’s often compared to yohimbine, a well-known stimulant and fat-burning agent. Preliminary research suggests that α-yohimbine might offer similar benefits, making it a sought-after ingredient in pre-workout bodybuilding supplements. (Tam et al., 2001)

Extracts of Rauwolfia vomitoria are sometimes included in sports supplements for their potential performance-enhancing properties. However, the safety and efficacy of these supplements have not been well-established, and some of the alkaloids found in Rauwolfia vomitoria may have harmful side effects.


Methylliberine is a caffeine-like compound that promises the energy-boosting effects of caffeine.(Goutam et al., 2022) Methylliberine is also known as 2-methyl-1,3,7-trimethylxanthine or Dynamine. As more individuals look for alternatives to traditional stimulants, methylliberine popularity is on the rise.


red and white plastic bottle

Halostachine is a compound structurally similar to ephedrine and is sometimes included in bodybuilding supplements for its purported stimulant and thermogenic effects. (Fleming et al., 2012)


Turkesterone is a plant steroid that has been promoted for its potential anabolic effects.(Mercader et al., 2011) While research is still in its infancy, early indications suggest that turkesterone might support muscle growth and recovery.(Syrov & Kurmukov, 1976) However, new research has shown that there is not much research to support the efficacy of turkesterone.(Bucci, 2000; Mercader et al., 2011)


Octopamine, is known for its effects similar to norepinephrine, is thought to provide stimulant and fat-burning benefits, which is why it’s commonly found in numerous fat-burners and bodybuilding supplements.(Mercader et al., 2011)

The Discrepancy in Labeling

A recent study, “Presence and Quantity of Botanical Ingredients with Purported Performance-Enhancing Properties in Sports Supplements,” revealed alarming discrepancies. The study focused on dietary supplement products labeled as containing one of the following ingredients: R vomitoria, methylliberine, turkesterone, halostachine, or octopamine. These products were found online and went through an analysis for the presence and quantity of the mentioned ingredients and any FDA-prohibited ingredients.

Key Findings:

 The study found that 89% of dietary supplement labels did not accurately declare the product ingredients. This means you might consume something you didn’t sign up for nine out of ten times. Only 11% of the products contained a quantity of the ingredient within 10% of the labeled quantity. Alarmingly, 12% of the products were found to contain at least one FDA-prohibited ingredient. These prohibited compounds included 1,4-dimethylamylamine, deterenol, octodrine, oxilofrine, and omberacetam.

yellow medication pill on persons hand

The study reveals a concerning lack of accuracy in dietary supplement labels. These findings underscore the need for consumers to exercise caution when purchasing and consuming sports supplements. Clinicians must emphasize to consumers the significant health risks tied to mislabeled supplements and the presence of unauthorized ingredients. They should also caution that supplements claiming to contain botanical components might not be accurately labeled, potentially including drugs that the FDA has banned.

Other Studies Highlighting Supplement Inaccuracies

The issue of mislabeling isn’t limited to just botanical ingredients. Other studies have found discrepancies in the labeling of various supplements. For instance, a survey of the caffeine content of sports supplements found inconsistencies between the labeled and actual content. (Cohen et al., 2021)

The Silent Dangers of Unlisted Ingredients

Beyond the financial implications, the health risks of consuming unlisted ingredients can be severe. To illustrate, consider the risks associated with consuming prohibited stimulants. Such intake can pave the way for a host of cardiovascular issues. This includes, but is not limited to, an increase in heart rate, eblood pressure, and, in dire situations, even cardiac arrest. In the same vein, overindulgence or unanticipated consumption of caffeine presents its own set of challenges. It can be the culprit behind sleep disturbances, heightened anxiety levels, and a range of digestive complications.

Empowering the Consumer: Steps to Ensure Product Authenticity

Given the challenges in navigating the supplement market, consumers must be proactive. Here are some steps to ensure you’re getting what you paid for:

  • Research the Brand: Conduct a thorough background check on the brand before purchasing. Look for any red flags, such as past lawsuits or recalls.
  • Check for Third-Party Testing: Brands confident in their product’s authenticity often have third-party testing to verify their claims.
  • Listen to Your Body: If you experience unexpected side effects after consuming a supplement, it might indicate something is amiss. 


The right bodybuilding supplement can seem like a magic potion in the fitness realm, where gains are often hard-fought. However, it’s essential to approach these products with a healthy dose of skepticism. As fitness enthusiasts and bodybuilders, our health and well-being should always be the top priority. It’s crucial to stay informed, research, and, most importantly, listen to our bodies.

Bodybuilding supplements can be a valuable addition to a comprehensive fitness routine. Consumers should approach these supplements with caution and skepticism, understanding their limitations and potential risks. It is crucial to consult with professionals and conduct thorough research to make informed decisions about supplementation. However, it is important to remember that the key to achieving fitness goals lies in a balanced diet, regular exercise, and proper rest. By incorporating these principles, individuals can optimize their fitness journey and attain long-term success.


Bucci, L. R. (2000). Selected herbals and human exercise performance. Am J Clin Nutr, 72(2 Suppl), 624s-636s.

Cohen, P. A., Travis, J. C., Vanhee, C., Ohana, D., & Venhuis, B. J. (2021). Nine prohibited stimulants found in sports and weight loss supplements: deterenol, phenpromethamine (Vonedrine), oxilofrine, octodrine, beta-methylphenylethylamine (BMPEA), 1,3-dimethylamylamine (1,3-DMAA), 1,4-dimethylamylamine (1,4-DMAA), 1,3-dimethylbutylamine (1,3-DMBA) and higenamine. Clin Toxicol (Phila), 59(11), 975-981.

Fleming, H. L., Ranaivo, P. L., & Simone, P. S. (2012). Analysis and Confirmation of 1,3-DMAA and 1,4-DMAA in Geranium Plants Using High Performance Liquid Chromatography with Tandem Mass Spectrometry at ng/g Concentrations. Anal Chem Insights, 7, 59-78.

Goutam, M., Yan-Hong, W., ZaChara, C., Matthew, B., Richard, J. B., & Charles, R. Y. (2022). Caffeine and Methylliberine: A Human Pharmacokinetic Interaction Study. medRxiv, 2021.2001.2005.21249234.


Mercader, J., Wanecq, E., Chen, J., & Carpéné, C. (2011). Isopropylnorsynephrine is a stronger lipolytic agent in human adipocytes than synephrine and other amines present in Citrus aurantium. J Physiol Biochem, 67(3), 443-452.

Pawar, R. S., & Grundel, E. (2016). Overview of Regulation of Dietary Supplements in the USA and Issues of Adulteration With Phenethylamines (PEAs). Drug Testing and Analysis.

Ryan, J. D., Hanes, D., Corroon, J., Taylor, J., & Bradley, R. (2019). Prospective Safety Evaluation of a Cardiovascular Health Dietary Supplement in Adults With Prehypertension and Stage I Hypertension. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.

Syrov, V. N., & Kurmukov, A. G. (1976). [Anabolic activity of phytoecdysone-ecdysterone isolated from Rhaponticum carthamoides (Willd.) Iljin]. Farmakol Toksikol, 39(6), 690-693. (Ob anabolicheskoĭ aktivnosti fitoékdizona-ékdisterona, vydelennogo iz Rhaponticum carthamoides (Willd.) Iljin.)

Tam, S. W., Worcel, M., & Wyllie, M. (2001). Yohimbine: a clinical review. Pharmacol Ther, 91(3), 215-243.

Which bodybuilding supplements are the most effective for muscle gain?

Whey protein, creatine, and essential amino acids (BCAAs) are among the most effective bodybuilding supplements for muscle gain. These supplements support muscle growth, enhance performance, and improve recovery after intense workouts.

Additional Information:

In the realm of nutrition, the debate around bodybuilding supplements has always been fervent. With countless options available on platforms like Amazon, it’s essential to understand the science behind these supplements to make informed decisions.

Protein Powders: Whey and Casein for Bodybuilders

One of the best supplements for building muscle is protein powders, if you care not getting adequate protein. They provide the necessary grams of protein required to boost muscle protein synthesis. This process is crucial post resistance training as it aids in repairing and growing skeletal muscle. According to a study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, consuming protein in the range of 1.2 to 2.2 grams per pound of body weight can significantly enhance muscle mass and strength, especially when combined with strength training.

Creatine Supplementation

Creatine supplementation has been extensively studied for its role in improving exercise capacity and increasing muscle strength. Typically, around 5 grams of creatine daily can aid in replenishing glycogen stores, enhancing muscle strength, and promoting muscle protein synthesis. The Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition highlighted the effects of creatine supplementation on muscular strength, showing greater gains in individuals who supplemented with creatine compared to those who didn’t.

Beta-Alanine and Exercise Performance

In recent years, Beta-alanine has emerged as a notable contender in the supplement spotlight, especially within the realm of sports medicine. Functioning as a key player, it actively helps buffer the pH levels in muscles. As a result, this buffering action plays a pivotal role in delaying fatigue, which in turn, significantly enhances a lifter’s performance during resistance training sessions.

Leucine and Branched-Chain Amino Acids

Leucine, a branched-chain amino acid, plays a pivotal role in initiating protein synthesis. Ingesting a good essential amino acid supplement is better than a BCAA supplement.

Other Noteworthy Supplements

Fish oil contains fatty acids that can help reduce inflammation and improve muscle protein synthesis.

Casein, a slow-digesting protein, provides a steady release of amino acids, making it an excellent choice for nighttime ingestion.

Ensuring the Best Price and Customer Experience

When purchasing supplements, it’s essential to ensure you’re getting the best price. Many platforms, including Amazon, offer a price match guarantee product. If you find a qualifying lower-priced product on a competitor’s website, platforms with a loyalty program often provide a price match. Always check for typographical errors and ensure you’re comparing with genuine products and not Amazon marketplace vendors. For any discrepancies, use live chat to speak with a customer experience agent to get the approved price and enhance your customer experience.


In the realm of fitness, supplements often emerge as a tempting proposition for those looking to enhance their performance. However, as a lifter, it’s paramount to tread with caution. While supplements can indeed be a valuable addition to one’s regimen, it’s absolutely crucial to base one’s choices on solid scientific evidence rather than flashy marketing claims. By delving deeper into understanding the specific role and benefits of each supplement, and furthermore, ensuring that you’re sourcing them at the best price from a reputable online retailer, you position yourself to truly optimize your gains and bolster your overall health.

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