Today myself and Roger Lawson have an awesome guest post for you today from the founders of Citadel Nutrition. Fact is we were introduced to these guys by Alan Aragon and after a good chat, we decided to do a podcast with them (make sure you see the end of this post for the links) and to have them guest post here.
As you know, I don’t stand for any of the BS that seems to plague our industry and I rarely ever talk about supplements in my articles. It’s mainly because I hate the idea of proprietary blends and you never really know what you’re getting sometimes. That’s different with these guys. They’re doing something you never see in the supplement industry. There’s no crazy, hyped up marketing and don’t worry – there’s no affiliate links – so I’m not just promoting them to make a buck – I’m simply really supportive of their cause.
Oh and we’re giving away 3 tubs of Tier 1 – all you have to do is one of the following to qualify:
- Leave a comment
- ‘Like’ this article on Facebook
- Tweet this article
We’ll draw the winners and announce them Wednesday June 27th on Facebook. I’ll email you if you’re one of the blog comment winners to get your address.
Note from JC: I have nothing to gain from having these guys write here – I get no kickback and no monies for this post – it’s super rare you see guys promoting a supplement without traditional bodybuilder ads, half-naked women, proprietary blends and annoying sales copy.
—on with the article—
The idea for Citadel Nutrition started about two years ago while we were sitting around mixing our own pre-workout supplement. We purchased bulk ingredients from a couple different places and had to go through the hassle of mixing it ourselves. It was a pain but it was the only way to ensure that we were getting what we wanted and in the amount we wanted.
So we’re sitting there scooping the powders and mixing them together and the question comes up – “why isn’t there a company that sells a preworkout, much less a line of supplements that we could get behind?”
It seemed like everywhere we turned, products were filled with fancy sounding names for their “secret” blends and at the end of the day you had no idea what you were getting.
This question came up over and over and we started doing some research into what it would take to start a sports nutrition company. We knew from the get go that we wanted to do things very differently than the status quo.
We started to learn about things like GMP standards, contract manufacturing, and third-party testing. A lot of people in the industry we talked with, like manufacturers or lawyers, told us point blank that the direction we wanted to go would not be profitable. We told them that we wanted to create supplements for a more informed target market and it was recommended that we target 16-21 year-olds and do what many other companies were doing: hyping up products with empty promises.
We were not down with that approach.
Although there were not significant barriers to entry in the traditional sense, the market was flooded with supplement companies and we knew it would be an uphill battle to stand out. The one thing we felt like we had was a different way of doing things and also one overriding principle: to create quality supplements that we’d take ourselves.
We feel that the easiest way to create a great product is to make something that you’d want to use yourself. You know the problem and the value of the solution intimately. There’s no substitute for that and its part of the reason why we love Tier 1 so much. So our story is very much a classic case of “scratching our own itch”. And here we are today.
We see supplements as separated into three main categories:
- General Use Supplements
- Performance Supplements
- everything else.
We’d like to credit Lyle McDonald since his views on this helped shape our own. His website and articles on supplements can be found here.
General Use Supplements are those that act as nutritional insurance or essential nutrients. In simple terms, they support overall health and daily nutritional requirements. We would place these at the top of the hierarchy in terms of relative importance in regards to overall supplementation. Examples include fish oil, multivitamins, magnesium, zinc, calcium, and Vitamin D.
Performance Supplements on the other hand, focus on creating a direct impact on human athletic performance. It is very important that the ingredients that fall into this category are supported by solid research. Examples include creatine, beta-alanine, or joint supplements.. This category is of great interest to us.
In the “Everything Else” category are the hundreds of supplements you see come and go without much ado. These are the supplements that try to capitalize on the newest ingredient of the month or use some crazy marketing scheme to boost sales in the short term to make a quick buck. I think you guys all know which supplements fall into this category – you’ll often see them pop up as Facebook ads on the right hand side of your screen.
At Citadel Nutrition our goal is to focus on the first two categories and provide solid, staple supplements of the highest quality. At the end of the day, supplements are MARGINAL at best if your nutrition/training aren’t t in order so we really like to advocate sticking to the basics when it comes to supplementation.
We don’t see ourselves as having more than a handful of supplements in each of the General Use and Performance categories. We’ll never be one of those companies with forty or fifty products because we simply don’t feel there are that many effective mixes or ingredients out there to warrant it.
The Supplement Industry
Wow. Where to begin here. I think we all have a pretty good idea of what the industry is known for. From voodoo marketing to straight up untruthful claims, there’s a whole lot of BS out there. We talk about this on the podcast but humans have a tendency to seek out the path of least resistance. It’s in our nature to go from point A to point B as quickly and with the least amount of effort as possible.
Where it all goes wrong is that supplement companies notoriously capitalize on this and promise the magic pill or miracle powder to help you reach your goals. We’ve all heard it before. 5 lbs of muscle in 5 days. 20 lbs of muscle in 2 weeks. All while losing fat. Repartition diet coke into insulin. But only if you stack it with three of our other products. The fact is that achieving your fitness goals in almost all cases requires hard work, effort, and a properly balanced nutrition and training plan. We feel that supplements may help an individual train optimally or get the extra push to reach their goals, but it will never be the cornerstone of any program.
So how to combat this?
- Better supplement companies. Companies that use ingredients with lots of solid research. Non-proprietary blends. Effective doses. Ingredient sourcing. You get the point.
- Education. Learning what constitutes an effective supplement or learning how to effectively build supplements into a sound diet/nutrition program. Reading and learning from guys like Alan Aragon, slayer of all things BS in the sports nutrition world, or this very website right here.
One thing you can do to help ensure that you pick effective supplements is to seek out products without proprietary blends. What are proprietary blends?
- 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 amounts.
What’s the problem with proprietary blends? The problem is that it’s nearly impossible to evaluate a product’s true effectiveness when proprietary blends are used. Each ingredient has an effective dose confirmed primarily through studies. When proprietary blends are used you don’t know if you are getting that dose or not.
A lot of companies will say that proprietary blends are necessary because it’s the only way to ensure a competitor doesn’t copy their mix. Think about that statement. Who loses in this scenario? The consumer does. With a proprietary blend you CANNOT verify that you are getting what you pay for.
We don’t buy into the excuse that you need to “protect” your blend because in our eyes there are so many other things for a supplement company to compete on such as reputation, customer service, marketing, taste, price, or <drum roll> who has the most effective formulation. Companies would need to start competing on the basis of providing the best quality products instead of voodoo marketing. Companies would also be held accountable for their products. Consumers win.
For a more detailed discussion on proprietary blends check out this blog post on the topic.
All pre-workout products should provide “energy” but here’s why we love Tier 1 so much:
- We tell you exactly what’s in the bottle. No proprietary blends.
- Ingredients and doses with scientific backing.
- We provide third-party test results. Trust through verification.
- We worked hard to find the best quality ingredients to include in the mix.
So what’s in the bottle?
- Caffeine – stimulant that will wake you up and give you a boost of energy.
- Tyrosine – enhances the effects of caffeine.
- Creatine – increases strength and power performance. Hundreds of studies showing positive performance benefit.
- Beta-Alanine – Helps reduce fatigue, improve muscular endurance, and helps with strength/power when paired with creatine.
- B-Vitamins – for those that may be deficient such as vegetarians or those that have absorption issues. Not needed if eating a balanced diet.
For an in depth analysis of our ingredients/doses check out our blog here.
Who needs it?
With Tier 1 we are not trying to get people “crazed” and stimmed out of their mind nor do we advocate that. Tier 1 is for people that want a boost of energy before they train plus two ingredients proven to increase their performance.
What’s it comparable to?
Although there are some decent pre-workout products out there, we don’t feel any of them are comparable to Tier 1. We wanted to make a strong statement when creating Tier 1 and really champion simplicity and effectiveness. The term “underdoing the competition” comes to mind in that we sought to buck the conventional wisdom of adding ingredient after ingredient into mixes and everybody trying to one-up each other.
We get a lot of questions from people asking us why we didn’t include their pet ingredient or some other ingredient that has shown promise. They express displeasure that our product does “less” than some of the others. But we are just as proud of what our product doesn’t do as we are of what it does do. We formulated Tier 1 to be as simple as possible because we felt that the majority of supplements were too complex. Too many ingredients, too many blends, too much BS. We wanted to go the opposite direction.
Okay so initially when we were putting the outline together for the podcast we were trying to troll JC and recommended adding the following topic (JC NOTE: and I thought it was so funny, I decided to leave it in):
How to engage in MLM marketing
- MLM marketing strategies
- Maybe a guest interview with [name removed]
- Engaging, training, and motivating the people that work under you in an MLM.
- How to use infographics effectively in MLM campaigns
The trolling started as a result of some lady hitting him up on Facebook about the merits of MLM marketing. Well, this trolling actually led to a semi-serious discussion on the serious flaws of the MLM model and the shady business practices that surround it.
Although we didn’t plan it that way it definitely seemed relevant after discussing some of the practices used in the supplement industry. In fact many bogus supplements are pushed via MLM marketing and it was quite comical that anyone but someone at the very top of a MLM chain would even try to defend it.
The reason we’re bringing this up is that BS doesn’t just exist within the supplement industry. It surrounds us on a daily basis and we all need to push ourselves to become educated and seek out information to become as informed as possible.
Whether it be supplements, diet, training, or anything else we are passionate about, it is difficult to open your eyes to new knowledge and challenge preconceived notions. But that is exactly what we must be doing all the time.
About The Founders
John saw a need for a reputable supplement company that also seeks to educate people on proper nutrition and sports supplementation. Following the mantra of “creating supplements we’d take ourselves”, Citadel Nutrition was born. People that have positively impacted John in this journey include Alan Aragon, Landon Evans, Lyle McDonald, and Martin Berkhan. When he is not reading technical reviews or in the gym John enjoys spending time with his family, bass fishing, and watching college football. He has a B.S from the Univesity of Tennessee and a M.S. from Georgia Tech. He lives in Atlanta, GA with his wife and two sons. Read more about John.
From poring over every single page of Alan Aragon’s research review to late night debates on which ingredients were actually worthwhile, what started out as a personal experiment developed into a full blown obsession. From that point on Daniel and John decided to share their passion with others through Citadel Nutrition. In his free time Daniel trains for triathlons year round and enjoys lifting weights. He will be representing Citadel Nutrition in the Callaway Gardens and Lake Lanier triathlons later this year. He lives in Atlanta, GA with his wife and holds a B.S and M.S from Georgia Tech. Read more about Daniel.
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