How to detect BS in fitness (4 key things)

written by Philip Stefanov  |  SEPTEMBER 19, 2023

It’s no secret that the fitness industry is saturated with all sorts of products––supplements, exercise equipment, tech devices, etc. Things are likely to get even worse as time passes, given the market's projected growth in the upcoming years.

Because of that, it’s in our best interest to recognize and avoid BS early on. The question is, how do you do that?

In general, there are several red flags to watch out for, so let’s dive in to explore each and see what that means for you.

1. Influencer Marketing

I’m not saying all influencers promote crap products just to make money because that isn’t true. However, it’s something to keep in mind because brand deals and sponsored posts can be incredibly lucrative for influencers, even those with fewer followers.

I’m especially wary when an influencer promotes a supplement or sports drink. It’s easier to mislead people with false promises (more on that in a bit) and deceptive tactics.

That said, it’s always best to fact-check for yourself and scrutinize products before purchasing, regardless of how you come across them.

2. Unreasonable Promises

Promises that sound too good to be true are another red flag that usually indicates a product is little more than a scam. With supplements, the promises can be:

  • "Lose 10 pounds in just 3 days!"
  • "Gain muscle mass in just a week without exercise!"
  • "Flush out all toxins from your body overnight!"
  • "Achieve your dream body without any workouts!"

With other types of products, promises can be along the lines of:

  • "Get six-pack abs in just 10 minutes a day!"
  • “Suitable for all ages, body types, and fitness levels!"
  • "No need for a gym membership, this one equipment does it all!"
  • "Burn calories while sitting or sleeping!"
  • "Achieve results without breaking a sweat!"

Put simply, if a product promises to get you everything you’ve ever wanted, plus a million dollars cash for the low-low price of just $39.99, it’s probably just a cash grab.

3. Endorsed by Celebrities or Athletes

You’d think famous people would be more careful about what they promote, but that sadly doesn’t seem to be the case. Just because a superstar promotes something doesn’t mean that something isn’t complete garbage.

Plenty of products have been endorsed by celebrities and athletes over the years, most of which have turned out to be nothing special. Sometimes celebrities and athletes create products and push them to the public, often making bold and unrealistic promises.

The problem is that people inherently trust celebrities and athletes and see them as authorities in fields where they don’t know more than your average Joe.

Just because an actor has built a chiseled physique for a movie doesn’t mean they know much about fitness. In most cases, these people work with a personal trainer, a nutritionist, and a chef to make it all work, often not having to think about anything.

As with influencers, this doesn’t mean all famous people are sleazebags. However, it’s crucial always to be mindful and avoid buying anything just because someone you like promotes it.

4. Based On Shaky Or Non-Existent Science

Ah, this is another big one that’s particularly widespread in the supplements industry. Products are often based on shaky scientific data that doesn’t apply to us for one of three primary reasons:

  • There is some research, but it’s not done with human subjects
  • There isn’t a plausible mechanism behind a compound’s claimed effects
  • The compound has some research and a plausible mechanism, but it’s underdosed

For example, there might be some studies on a specific compound, but those could be done in vitro or on animals. As such, we have to take any positive effects found by the researchers with a grain of salt.

Similarly, the compounds might not even have a single plausible mechanism by which they could deliver the promised benefits.

Finally, we have the issue of underdosing. While some compounds are shown to be effective, they could be underdosed, making them less (or not at all) beneficial.

An example that comes to mind is citrulline malate. It has been shown to work, but only in larger doses of at least six grams. Pre-workouts often include citrulline, but typically in the 1.5 to 3-gram range.

In the worst-case scenario, supplement companies try to sell us products full of trendy ingredients without scientific backing.

Red flags to watch out for include:

  • Lack of a detailed nutritional label
  • The use of a proprietary blend (bundling active ingredients together and not disclosing their amounts)
  • The use of ‘trendy’ compounds everyone is talking about at the moment

The best thing you can do is look at the individual ingredients on the label one by one (assuming each comes with its respective quantity per serving) and check them out on

This website does an excellent job of breaking down the usefulness and effectiveness of individual compounds.

Thanks for sticking around. I'll catch you next week!


P.S. What did you think of this week’s newsletter?

It was good! | I didn’t like it!

Either way, let me know!


Sign Up Today

Thank you for taking the time to read my weekly newsletter. Each week, I share one insightful and actionable piece of content like the one above. Over 10,000 people receive it every week. Sign up below to join the community.

No spam. Enjoy the content for free and unsubscribe any time.