For any regular Gym goer, professional or amateur bodybuilder, or athlete living in India, one of the foremost question is of the supplements (and also of to identify fake supplement). Unlike western world, Indian market is still in its diapers when it comes to quality nutritional supplements like Protein, Creatine, Glutamine, fat burners and even multi-vitamins for that matter. These are just a few that I named here which are considered as necessary supplements for anyone who is slightly serious about getting that 6 pack muscular body that we all adore but the list of supplements is of course endless. We now have a huge market for these supplements in India but unfortunately do not have one well established or reliable company that manufactures onshore. Because we all want to buy a quality product that would give faster results, we end up buying and importing the products from mostly American companies.
Now there are two ways to buy a Western product. Either you buy online from an American website and have them ship which will result in you paying more than double the price due to the shipping charges and import duties involved. Or you buy from an Indian reseller who will offer you the same product at a slightly lesser cost. If you bought your supplement from a reputed American website like Bodybuilding.Com, you can be rest assured that you received a genuine product even though you paid quite a cost for it but what if you bought from a local reseller? The first question that arises in everyone’s mind is how do you know if the product is genuine?
First of all, it is important to know how these resellers offer you the supplement at a lesser price than a reputed online website. I spoke to a few resellers about this and the answer to this question is actually simple. They somehow either manage to slip the shipment past customs without paying any import duties or they manage to pay a lesser than required duty. This is how they sell it in the market at lower rate and whatever duties they did not pay becomes their profits. This of course applies to someone selling the actual product. Others just manufacture a similar powder like substance and sell it in the packaging of a well reputed supplement company. Believe it or not, there is a huge amount of fake supplements available in Indian market today. Some of these are manufactured within the country and some in China. They do a quite a great job at packaging and you won’t be able to tell the different by just one look. So how do you know if the supplement you bought is genuine or fake? How can you tell the difference between a genuine or fake supplement? Where do you look to confirm the genuinity of the supplement in front of you? How do you identify a fake supplement before you buy it? Or how do you identify and stop using a fake supplement after you have bought it?
Unfortunately, there is no sure shot way of telling this before buying. With pre-work out supplements, you can tell after you started to use it. If there is a boost in energy as the product promised, you can the deal was real but if there isn’t, you would know you have a fake supplement in hand. But with other supplements like Protein, you cannot even tell while you are still using it. After you have used it for a while and did not see any gains, then only you would come to know that someone sold you a fake product and you have no idea what you had been drinking for past couple of months. There is however a few things that you can look at before buying or within first weeks of usage that can help you determine whether the supplement is genuine or not.
1. The Packing says it all: Believe it or not, if you are careful enough you can catch a fake product before buying it just by reading the label carefully. Main aim of fake supplements is to make maximum profits and they also tend to cut the cost using low quality labels. No matter how well they do it, there will always remain a difference in the packing. What exactly should you be looking for? First of all, look for the quality of the print. If you have bought the same product before that was genuine, refer to that. Try to match the two together and you will notice that the label on the fake product would look like someone just printed it in their backyard. Take a look at the following image for example.
Someone faked this BSN True Mass but while they were printing the labels, they misspelled “Purest” and it read “Puest Mass Gains”. On another fake whey protein supplement that I came across, the ingredient was spelled as “Whey Cincentrate”.
Another thing to look for is how well the label was glued to the box. Sounds a little ridiculous but it is true. I have seen at least 10 different samples of fake supplements and on all of them, the label started to come off within a week. In the case of the following image, the box is still sealed pack and the label is coming off.
The above pictures are from a fake supplement. A genuine BSN True Mass looks like this.
As soon as you open up the Jar, look at the seal closely. If there is no seal, it is fake. If there is in fact a seal but loosely placed, it is fake again. If it is genuine, seal on the bottle would have proper edges and uniformly attached. If it is open or loose from any side, it is fake.
Look for the hologram and logo and you will easily be able to tell the difference. Look at the MRP sticker. Popular brands have a detailed MRP sticker on them whereas the fake ones would just put a sticky with price on it. Other things to look for is the quality of graphics of the packaging and its clarity. Fake products usually have low quality container, graphics , labels and text.
2. Taste will be too sweet: This can be a little hard specially if you are using that particular supplement for the first time. A quick reference should be the sugar levels in the supplement. If it is fake, it is bound to taste a little too sweet. How? In the example of the fake mass that I reference in the image above, I found out that it was not a supplement at all. Within the BSN packing, they were selling a powder for Vanilla Shake. There was no whey protein at all so they were bound to sweeten it up a little to dodge the taste.
3. Will not dissolve completely: If your supplement was for real, it would dissolve quite smoothly but if it was fake, you will have a tough time dissolving it. Even after shaking for a while, there will still be a few clumps left to chew on in the end.
4. Too eager to sell: If the person you are buying from is too eager to sell and is ready to dip the price to what you are quoting, dump him. The product is fake again. There is no way that he can keep reducing the price if he has imported a genuine supplement.
5. MRP Sticker: Another way to identify a fake supplement. Take a closer look and see if it looks like someone just glued it to the package.
6. Poor Quality Jar: The container will be of poor quality, made of cheap plastic.
7. Density: These fake protein powders are usually Soy powders because of which the supplement would feel really thick for a Whey protein.
5. Unknown things in the powder: Sounds stupid? It is not. I once looked at a fake ON Whey Protein and within the powder, I found pieces of plastic like substance, had no clue what it was. Hell, I even found small gravels in it. In a fake BSN supplement, I found this wooden piece as in the image below.
6. Lot No: This may not be applicable of all but several popular brands have a lot number printed on the package that you can go online and verify. Below is an example of a fake lot number that I found.
Now the big question is, what is it that you will find in fake supplements? What are they made of? Well that is a tough one to answer. I have seen supplements that read “Whey” but actually contained highly sweetened Soya flour. Another one that promised a gain in strength was just glucose powder. A BSN True Mass was in fact a Vanilla Shake powder. Honestly, expect anything but yeah, this anything can actually be dangerous and give undesired results like sudden gain in fat or worse.
So how do you buy a genuine product? Sure shot way is to buy from a reputed and trusted store that is ready to give you an official TAX PAID BILL in which the TIN# AND VAT# of the seller is clearly printed. If you want further assurance, go to the VAT department website (it is different for each state so just Google it) and put in the TIN# in search field and you would instantly know whether the TIN# printed on the bill was a fake or genuine.
Click on the links below to read my reviews on some of they whey proteins I have used.
I hope this information was useful. If anyone has any questions or need suggestions when it comes to buying supplements, please feel free to comment.