What is Pharmaceutical Grade? The FDA has three grades which it uses for determining the purity of a product intended for consumption. These are:
Pharmaceutical Grade – the highest in purity (it must be bioavailable and have 99.1% purity)
Food Grade – over 10% purity
Feed Grade – intended for agriculture
A Pharmaceutical Grade supplement must have ZERO % of fillers and binders in it’s ingredients. Which theoretically would make it a good supplement. No binders and no fillers is the first thing I look for (silicon dioxide is a classic example, as is magnesium stearate – both used to help lubricate the machines, improving binding of the pill, and speed up production).
A Pharmaceutical Grade supplement must be bioavailable – in other words it has to be easily absorbed by the body (intravenous administration is an example of 100% bioavailable).
Usually, Pharmaceutical Grade supplements are sold by medical professionals and are rarely found in the supermarket. Unfortunately the FDA does not regulate the supplement industry in the same way it regulates the Pharmaceutical Industry. Supplements can’t have any ingredients that the FDA have banned but they can contain pretty much anything else. Currently there is not anything in place where a supplement company cannot claim that their product is pharmaceutical grade – scary huh?
So, if the number one nutrition company tell you their product is Pharmaceutical Grade, then ask for a list of their ingredients (all of which are found in their marketing material once you take a sample or buy it, but rarely are they published online). If their ingredients contain fillers, lubricants, and binders, then they are just lying.
How are they lying you ask? The term Pharmaceutical Grade only applies to the individual ingredient itself. This means a supplement can contain both pharmaceutical grade, food grade, and a whole bunch of FDA approved fillers and binders. This therefore allows that particular supplement to label itself as Pharmaceutical Grade, as it contains a pharmaceutical grade ingredient. The FDA do not regulate the final products that supplement companies make – they only ensure that these products meet legal requirements and do not use banned ingredients.
This is a deceptive practice that occurs in the supplement industry – using ingredients that meet pharmaceutical standards, but do not deliver the same high quality in the finished dietary supplement.
They’ll probably tell you that they adhere to GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice), which is great if they do, but this doesn’t stop them from adding fillers, binders, and lubricants to their products.
So what does this mean for us? Well you simply have to choose your supplements wisely. Don’t fall for marketing hype and deceptive terminology. Don’t self medicate (you may not even need that supplement). If you are going to supplement your diet, then go for something that is just what want. If you want protein, then buy protein (I’m a personal fan of Pulsin and Sunwarrior but just to it make clear I do not get paid by them and I am not obliged to mention them – they’re just good value for money, clean and honest products which I personally like).
If you’re in doubt then remember, Pharmaceutical Grade is defined as a standard which is suitable for Medicine. Medicine is defined as the diagnosis, practice, and treatment of disease. Supplements are not allowed to claim that they can cure or prevent ill health or disease – by definition alone, a supplement which calls itself Pharmaceutical Grade is going against it’s own legal definition.
and if you really want to know about what is and is not regulated, then go here:
It just made me wonder. Are supplement companies just feeding us these drinks and pills without informing us what is in them? Even worse, are we just taking them without questioning or researching into what these ingredients are? Last week I spoke about how artificial sweeteners can worsen our sugar cravings, and I recently wrote a blog post titled “All Killer, No Filler” where I rant on further about supplements and why I only take supplements suitable and acceptable for Raw Vegans.
Anyway, fat burning myths! Fat is an excellent energy source and good fats are incredibly healthy for you. Sugar (carbs) are good in moderation and like fats are also needed for fuel. But the main difference between sugar and fat is that sugar really has one purpose – to provide fuel for energy.
Fat on the other hand is different. Fats are used by our bodies for insulation, fuel, shock absorption, protection, and form many major cellular and biochemical structures in our body. Hormones are made of fat. If we remove fat from our diet completely then we are hindering of bodies natural signalling system. Nerve tissue (neurons, specifically axons) are covered in myelin sheath, a protective layer which is made of fat. Myelin sheath provides our nerves with the insulation it needs for electrical impulses to quickly reach their destinations (our muscles). I am sure you all know this, but the point I am getting at (before I go into fat myth busters) is this – fats are essential to a healthy life style. Source healthy fats (avocado, coconut, nuts, olive oil), avoid bad fats (trans fats, saturated fats, butters, most cooking oils such as vegetable or seed oils). Keep your hormones in check and give them the nutrients they need. Same goes for the nervous system – you’ll need both systems working as efficiently as possible to help improve your health, and get the most out of your training.
Just think about how much your hormonal and nervous system will benefit from a diet that regularly receives good healthy fats.
Here are my fat burning myths:
1. The body turns off one fuel system and then turns on another
The body uses both fat and carbs at the same time, just in different ratios. Why is this important? Because this is often explained poorly by many who sell fitness programmes. The claim is that there is a fat burning zone. Whilst our bodies do switch primary fuel sources from carbs to fat, both are always at work. Our bodies also need to preserve carbs as we only have a limited supply. When the body knows it needs to preserve carbs, the ratio will change in favour of fat for energy.
2. Low-intensity exercise will burn more fat than high-intensity exercise
Again, looking at the fat to carb fuel ratio, at a low intensity your body will use more fat than carbs, but not will solely burn fat alone. At low intensity our bodies will preserve our carb stores as carbs are required for everyday bodily function. However, the question is how do you define your low-intensity exercise? Would you regard a walk as low intensity? a jog? The important thing here is that low intensity workouts will not burn many calories, high-intensity workouts will. Therefore even though low intensity favours the use of fats in the fat to carb ratio, the overall amount of fat used for fuel will be pretty low (but still more than the carbs used in the low-intensity activity) – want to burn more fat? then burn more calories and perform high-intensity workouts.
3. Exercising for longer than 15-20 minutes burns more fat
This myth boils down to the calories you are actually burning. If you go for a jog for 30-40 minutes then I will surely burn fat (and carbs!). But if I go for a run for 15-20 minutes and perform sprints as part of that workout, I will burn more calories than a 30-40 minute jog (I will most likely have to do a few good sprints though). If I am planning to make fat burning effective for my workout then I need to make sure I am burning more calories during a 20-minute workout than I would for a 40-minute workout. Not easy, but with hard work and dedication it is more than do able. This is why HIIT training and Ta-Ba-Ta training is very effective because it focuses on the calories within a short time frame, not the fuel source.
I’m not saying that we must count calories – we all know when too much is too much. What I am saying is that when it comes to our food, go for the quality of the nutrition and keep the carbs in moderation. In other words make sure the calories you are taking in are high quality calories. When we exercise let’s aim to burn a high number of calories in a shorter amount of time.