I started my blog, not with the intention of reviewing supplements. But my search for the best greens powder led me to try over 40 different supplements in all, most of which was greens and nootropics supplements.
After checking out a number of brands I was shocked at how poor some of the marketing BS.
Delving into the ingredients didn’t get any better, with many supplements underdosing and yet making some incredible claims.
I put together my supplement review guideline in order to simply researching the products I was interested in. I am sharing my process for transparency purposes so you can see exactly what I look at, and the reasons why.
Since developing my supplement brand I have REAL INSIGHT into this business, alongside my Sports Science degree where I specialized in sports performance and nutrition.
Let’s start by looking at my supplement review criteria.
How do I review Supplements?
I want to provide a fair and balanced review of the products that I research on my blog. At the end of the day though this is my personal opinion.
If you disagree that’s fine and I welcome all sensible feedback, which you can provide in the comments section of the review.
Here are the main criteria that I use and I will flesh out more on each of these points below.
Here is what I look at when reviewing supplements
- Choice of ingredients – Jumping on a “trend” or contains rock-solid ingredients that have REAL science supporting their claims
- Taste – Very subjective but we all know the importance of taste
- Cost per serving – You get what you pay for but is it value for money?
- Transparent ingredient and full disclosure labeling – Ingredients in the right dosages? Are all ingredient amounts revealed or hidden in proprietary blends?
- Refund policy / Money-back guarantee – Does the company stand behind their brand and offer a money-back policy to let you try before committing lots of money
- Customer reviews – What do people say about the brand?
Choice of ingredients
I aim to understand the selection of the ingredients and the intended purpose for them in the formula. So, I ask whether the ingredient is there for a particular purpose or there just for window dressing.
I regularly find ingredients thrown into the formula because it makes the brand look better, taking the “more is better” approach.
To the best of my ability, I analyze the quality of the ingredients and the dosages used.
For supplements that are mixed with drinks or food, then taste has a huge influence as to whether the supplement is a good choice.
Struggling to consume a supplement means that you will soon avoid taking it making it a waste of time and money.
Of course, the taste is hugely subjective and so I always try to provide my personal opinion and compare this will other feedback from consumers of the brand.
Cost per serving
The saying you get what you pay for can certainly be true here.
That said, supplements need to be affordable and there is no reason why the daily cost (or per serving cost) needs to be cost-prohibitive.
Knowing the trust cost though is important, and often this is not immediately obvious by just looking at the product cost.
I take into account any “hidden” costs by ensuring the daily or per serving cost includes sufficient dosages to be effective.
For example, if a product suggests taking up to 3 times per day and yet only includes 30-servings in the bottle, this can mean the supplement may cost 3-times more than what you first thought.
And so, brands with small serving sizes that require multiple daily servings or where the product contains less than 30-days’ supply, will make them more expensive than first appears.
Shipping costs, for example, can also easily add 10-15% to the product cost without you realizing it.
Transparent ingredient and full disclosure labeling
I like to know exactly what I am taking for a very good reason – to know it’s going to work!
It’s simple really, without the MINIMUM EFFECTIVE dosages of each ingredient then they simply won’t work.
Hiding the ingredient weights within a proprietary formula means you don’t get to know the proper ingredient dosages.
Companies will often use the excuse of protecting their formula from copycats, but this is an excuse in most cases because you can reverse engineer a supplement if you so wish.
If a formula is not revealed, then I am immediately skeptical of the efficacy of the supplement.
Refund policy / Money-back guarantee
Any company selling in-store or online by law is required to have a returns policy.
As supplements are perishable goods then often the returns policy applies to only unopened tubs.
This makes sense, right?
Some supplement companies do offer the chance for customers to try their brand risk-free though, charging just a nominal re-stocking fee or sometimes no charge at all for returns.
You need to delve into the returns policy and understand what they mean as there will often be conditions attached to it. To be fair, these are in place to protect both the consumer and the seller.
Companies that truly believe in their product should have a solid refund policy or a money-back guarantee that allows you to try the product with little to no risk.
Social proof is a big influencer when making a buying decision and so we can’t underestimate the impact positive customer reviews can have for a product.
With this mind, I take a look at feedback from customers from the official website and where possible from other third-party sources.
Although not necessarily foolproof, I do try to use Amazon to check third-party customer reviews.
I like to pull out a balance of both positive and negative reviews to give a balanced opinion.
Common questions I get asked about my reviews
Since I began my supplement reviews I get frequently asked questions that would be great to address in place. These are the common questions that I receive, if you have more, please do comment below.
What are Lifehacker Guy’s credentials?
A great question, just why should you listen to a word I have said?
There is a point of view that you shouldn’t and that instead do your own research. Ideally, I believe this is the best approach but it takes a lot of time, and so not for everyone.
My background as a competitive triathlete some 25-years ago before I got Chronic Fatigue Syndrome that put stop to my ability to compete.
I then studied Sports Science with a focus on exercise physiology, with nutrition playing a key role.
Even though I couldn’t exercise as I did previously, my passion for learning about sports performance meant that I graduated with a First Class honors degree, only five students achieved this grade during that year.
My career took me in the direction of computer programming and eventually working with some supplement companies for both developing their e-Commerce presence to marketing.
Can you review a supplement without trying it?
This question has been asked a few times and so I want to address this very valid point here.
I do try to buy and actually take each supplement that I review, but in some cases, this isn’t possible.
Sometimes it’s very difficult for me to buy supplements online to be delivered to Malaysia where I live.
Another reason I may not purchase a supplement to review is that it’s not a brand that I would consume, either because I believe the brand to be rubbish or simply to difficult to order.
That said, you can review a supplement without trying it. The caveat is of course in terms of taste for those supplements that come in drink or powder format.
A key aspect of whether a supplement works is down to the ingredients, which you can objectively review by using credited resources online (you can see my list of go-to resources below).
The review is not inaccurate and just plain wrong!
I am keen to be as accurate and as transparent as possible in my review process.
Sometimes though I may miss something or even get something wrong, which can either be an oversight on my part or that the product in question has changed (manufacturers often update the ingredients and branding).
And so, if you spot anything that you believe is inaccurate then please do get in touch by either commenting on the review or by using my contact page.
I read every single comment and where possible reply to messages sent to me.
My Go-to Supplement Resources
There are some excellent resources online that can help when you want to tease out the correct information.
I use a number of online resources when reviewing products, these include:
It should go without saying that there are also lots of misinformation online too, and so it’s best to always fact check information found from one source with another.
Alternatively, use the resources above as they tend to be peer-reviewed and give the current opinion based on the science out there.
Like me to review a supplement?
Since I started getting visitors interested in my thoughts, I get a lot of requests to take a look at supplement brands.
This is flattering and whilst I cannot guarantee that I can review the brand but I will certainly get in touch with you.
So, if you have seen a product you would like me to look at then please contact me using my contact page.
Please provide as much information as possible, such as the brand name, website URL, how you first came across this product, whether you or anyone you know has taken it.
What first attracted me first to taking a greens supplement was the convenience of taking a bunch of ingredients in a good serving size in one go.
Taking a good supplement can replace deficiencies in your diet where it’s difficult to either find that particular nutrient or
It’s important to keep in mind that supplements are just that – supplements. They are there to use alongside a healthy balanced diet, and will never (at the moment) replace it.
I hope my criteria can serve you well too when researching supplements online and help you to understand whether a certain brand will be suitable, and importantly, work for you.