The Nitty-Gritty Underground World of Supplement Ingredients, Sports Nutrition Frankenfuels, Illegally Laced Compounds & More.

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Podcast, Supplements

Click here for the full written transcript of this podcast episode.

My guest in today's podcast, Shawn Wells, MPH, RD, CISSN, has probably forgotten more about supplements than most people will ever know. His brain contains an extremely unique blend of time spent in the science trenches and a formal education in the fields of performance nutrition and supplementation.

Shawn attended UNC-Chapel Hill, earning a Master’s degree in Nutrition and minor in Exercise Science. His education also includes credentials of Registered Dietitian, Certified Sport Nutritionist (CISSN), and board member of the ISSN. His role as CEO of Zone Halo Research, a consulting group for supplement formulations, and CSO of Biotrust, along with extensive experience in formulating supplements for big companies (likely some of the ones you’ve tried in the past few years) distinguish him as an expert in sports nutrition and supplementation.

If you’re into supplements, you will love this interview with Shawn Wells. We discuss:

-How Shawn went from being a practicing Chief Clinical Dietitian to being in the thick of the supplement industry, and some of the most helpful books he read along the way…

-The most important factors that differentiate a high-quality supplement manufacturer from a low-quality one…

-The deceptive practice of “fairy-dusting” and why many, many supplement manufacturers do it…

-How to know if taking different supplements together (e.g. stacking) can be dangerous, or on the flipside, more efficacious than taking one at a time…

-Why a supplement can rapidly degrade as soon as you put it into your refrigerator or pantry…

-Why everything from solubility to flavor additives can make or break the absorption and efficacy of supplements like whey protein…

-Why you could be getting 600mg of caffeine (6 cups of coffee!) in an average “energy” supplement that says it only has 100mg…

-The surprising development that Shawn things is the next big thing in the world of supplements and nutrition…

-And much more!

Resources we discuss during this episode:

-Book “Optimum Sports Nutrition by Dr. Michael Colgan

-Book “The Four Agreements

The Examine Research Digest

Behind The Scenes Of How A Supplement Is Made

My podcast interview with the folks at LabDoor “The Crazy, True & Scary Facts About The Supplements Industry”

BioTrust supplements

Do you have questions, comments or feedback about how to know supplement ingredients or anything else Shawn and I discuss? Leave your thoughts below.

Ask Ben a Podcast Question

6 thoughts on “The Nitty-Gritty Underground World of Supplement Ingredients, Sports Nutrition Frankenfuels, Illegally Laced Compounds & More.

  1. Carol says:

    Hi Ben and Shawn,

    Thank you for an interesting and informative interview. My question for you is what is the best way for a consumer to research a supplement without spending hours looking at each website? LabDoor looks great but has limited information at the moment. Is Consumer Labs worth joining? Or are there other websites or organizations you recommend?

    Thank you

    1. For researching legality, I like For researching stacks/latest research, I like consumer labs is not bad, and also and…

  2. javimei says:

    This is Eric Thomas, the Hip Hop preacher.

    He'd make a great podcast guest!!!

  3. koraysaritas says:

    The passion and enthusiasm while Shawn was talking about what ingredients work together in pre-workout supplements reminded me Jean Baptiste Grenouille in Süskind's book Perfume.

  4. coopdog4545 says:

    Curious as to Mr. Wells' (and your) opinion on the new-to-the-market exogenous ketones. Essentially Beta-hydroxybutyrate in a powdered drink form. I've seen a couple of different MLM companies gearing up to launch this type of product to the public. Thoughts on supplementing ketones to create therapeutic ketone level to reap health benefits? Things we should be looking for on labels, ingredients, sourcing, testing, etc? Thanks and excellent interview. Passionate people are always the most interesting!

    1. From Shawn: I am doing EXTENSIVE work in this area, They are not GRAS, despite what the MLM companies say…and those "companies" (one leveraging it in a really over the top way) is using Dr. Dom D'Augustino's work with the Navy and some SEALs in the video, as far as I know without his permission or acknowledgement…or the Navy's. Further, saying 1 pound of weight loss a day, has yet to be shown in humans. Cognitive enhancement has been shown. It has promise in cancer models, of which Dom has done research on and my friends Dr. Jacob Wilson and Ryan Lowery are doing more research on ketones for performance and body composition.

      Ketone esters and salts are not naturally occuring, nor GRAS, while ketones themselves are naturally occurring we're not there yet. I think they could get self-affirmed GRAS quickly since they are safe and the ketones are occuring endogenously…and its a simple salt or ester difference. Which some of the preliminary data the MLM uses is from ketones in the ester form, which has a different half life and potentially different pharmacokinetics than the salts…or MCTs that promote endogenous ketones (which hte product also has in it)

      I think medium chain triglycerides/fatty acids (MCTs/MCFAs) and supplemental ketones have much potential and MANY companies are looking at them, but for now they're not compliant and the video being discussed takes MANY liberties with the data. They need more data to be sure…elucidating differences with endogenous vs. exogenous ketones, degree of ketosis (a potential huge difference between 0.5mmol and 5.0mmol of 10 fold, we would expect to be the same outcomes though both are "ketosis"), CKDs vs. TKDs vs. straight KDs, how long you're keto-adapted, etc.

      I'm a massive ketogenic proponent and discuss weekly on the national radio show I am on…One Life Radio often. That and the gut microbiome (and SCFAs) are my two passions right now. So I believe in their potential, I am just disappointed with the execution of the MLM company being discussed. Too much hype, too little science. They're making enough money they could fund studies on their products and get finished goods data to back up those claims, of which the FDA wants to see.

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