The database rates two areas: ingredients and products. Supplement ingredients, such as creatine, tyrosine, and amino acids, are used to form supplement products such as pre-, intra-, and post-workouts. This article describes the methodology used to rate supplement products.
Seven Rated Areas
All products are rated in seven areas; a product is given a thumbs up/down in each area. Based on these thumbs up and down ratings, products are also given an overall up or down recommendation.
The seven rated areas are effectiveness, nutrition label transparency, ingredient makeup, claim makeup, research rating, ingredient dosing, and ranking within a product’s category.
1. Effectiveness Rating
The effectiveness rating is one of the most important areas. It deals with how effective its ingredients are. Supplement products are made up of two or more ingredients.
Ingredients are rated is on a three-point scale: 3 means an ingredient performs very well, 2 means it performs well in certain circumstances, 1 means it does not perform well. These ratings come from peer-reviewed research articles.
A product’s effectiveness rating comes from its ingredients. The effectiveness ratings of all its ingredients are combined to form the product’s overall effectiveness rating. The effectiveness rating is a gauge on whether or not a product works.
Products must receive an effective rating of at least 1.5 out of 3 to earn a thumbs up in this area.
2. Nutrition Label Transparency
Manufacturers are not required to disclose ingredient amounts on product labels. Knowing the amount of an ingredient found in a product gives you a better idea of its overall effectiveness.
Studies use ingredient amounts to gauge effectiveness. An ingredient such as creatine monohydrate may be more or less effective at various doses. When manufacturers hide ingredient amounts, rating the product becomes more difficult. Manufacturers leave this information off labels to underdose ingredients, save costs, and increase profits.
Products must disclose 100% of ingredient amounts to earn a thumbs up in this area.
3. Ingredient Makeup
A supplement product is made up of two or more ingredients. A high-quality product is made mostly of effective ingredients. To receive a thumbs up in this area, at least 75% of a product’s ingredients must be rated as moderately or extremely effective.
4. Claim Makeup
A claim is anything an ingredient has been tested on (increasing strength, decreasing body fat, improving athletic performance). A product is graded on all of the claims that its ingredients have been tested on. A product likely has more than one ingredient that has been tested to increase strength. Each of these ingredients’ effectiveness ratings is combined to give the product a rating for each claim. Some products might be effective at increasing strength while also being ineffective and improving running performance.
A high-quality product is made up of ingredients that have been found effective on a variety of claims. To receive a thumbs up in this area, at least 75% of a product’s claims must earn a moderately or extremely effective rating.
5. Research Rating
The database rates ingredients based on peer-reviewed research articles. Ideally, you want to look at more than one article when evaluating whether an ingredient works. One study showing that creatine monohydrate increases strength is probably not enough to prove it’s true. Five or six studies coming to the same conclusion is a different story.
Products should only include ingredients that have been thoroughly studied. The research rating is a measure of how much research has gone into studying a product’s ingredients. Lower numbers mean the product has ingredients that have not been properly vetted. This may happen if a product includes one or more ingredient that has little to no research backing.
A product must have a research rating of 60 or above to earn a thumbs up in this area.
6. Ingredient Dosing
Including effective ingredients is the one step in making a high-quality product; ensuring ingredients are properly dosed is another. Studies use a range of doses to test ingredient effectiveness. Great ingredients that are under-dosed are not necessarily being utilized effectively.
Each ingredient has an effective dose established from peer-reviewed research. Products must have at least 75% of their ingredient doses within the effective range to earn a thumbs up in this area.
7. Ranking Within Category
The Supplement Database rates a lot of products! This rating shows you how well a product rates relative to its competition. The database ranks products in order from those receiving a 7/7 thumbs up down to those receiving 0/7 thumbs up. Products must place in the top 2/3 of all products within the category to earn a thumbs up in this area.