3 Super Popular Supplements That Don’t Work

by admin on August 27, 2013

by Sol Orwell of Examine.com

Everywhere you look, you’ll see ads telling you how taking their supplements will make you bigger, stronger, faster. Do any of them work? We decided to ask the guys at Examine.com,who have built up a reputation on giving you the honest lowdown on supplementation. We asked them – “what are three super popular supplements that don’t work?”

Tribulus Terrestris

There are a large number of herbs from Indian medicine (aka ayurvedic medicine) that are recommended for male vitality and virility. There are a ton of these herbs on the market, but the big kahuna of them is Tribulus terrestris. It was the first one “herbal testosterone booster” on the market, and it increases your libido.

Unfortunately, a lot of people think higher libido means higher testosterone. While higher testosterone does mean higher libido, a higher libido does not mean higher testosterone. In fact, this has been tested over and over, and found that trib did nothing for increase your testosterone levels.

That being said, although trib is useless for boosting T, it’s actually a pretty healthy herb, and has health benefits (more than just increasing your libido). But for testosteroneboosting? Useless.


  • Saudan C, et al. Short term impact of Tribulus terrestris intake on doping control analysis of endogenous steroids. Forensic Sci Int. (2008)
  • Rogerson S, et al. The effect of five weeks of Tribulus terrestris supplementation on muscle strength and body composition during preseason training in elite rugby league players. J Strength Cond Res. (2007)
  • Neychev VK, Mitev VI. The aphrodisiac herb Tribulus terrestris does not influence the androgen production in young men. J Ethnopharmacol. (2005)


Glutamine is big business. Big business. Almost every single supplement company sells it as this magical muscle builder that will make you bigger and stronger than ever.  What is glutamine? It’s an amino acid that you find in muscle tissues. It was originally used in clinical settings where giving glutamine to burn victims accelerated wound healing and preserved lean mass.

Here’s the thing – it only works if you are actually deficient. Unless you are getting the bare minimum of protein, you have enough glutamine. All that extra glutamine you are taking? Your intestines love it, and don’t let any of it get to your muscles.

So – just like trib, glutamine has its uses (good for intestinal health), but as a muscle builder? Useless.


  • Windle EM. Glutamine supplementation in critical illness: evidence, recommendations, and implications for clinical practice in burn care. J Burn Care Res. (2006)


Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) is popular among the paleo-crowd, and is a mixture of fatty acids that are supposed to burn fat and increase lean mass.  How did this start? Some obese adults took CLA, and there was a bit of muscle mass gained. But – when the studies were repeated, the overall finding was no gain in muscle mass.

The same thing applies to fat loss. A few studies show it worked, but the majority showed that it was ineffective.

Overall, CLA is about as unreliable as a fat burner as you can get. Something like ephedrine is far more potent (which isn’t saying much) and far more reliable. CLA as a fat burner? Useless.

So there you have it. 3 super popular supplements that don’t work. What’s amazing is that these are really well-researched supplements, and it’s well-established how they just don’t work.


  • Steck SE, et al. Conjugated linoleic acid supplementation for twelve weeks increases lean body mass in obese humans. J Nutr. (2007)
  • Gaullier JM, et al. Supplementation with conjugated linoleic acid for 24 months is well tolerated by and reduces body fat mass in healthy, overweight humans. J Nutr. (2005)
  • Blankson H, et al. Conjugated linoleic acid reduces body fat mass in overweight and obese humans. J Nutr. (2000)
  • Norris LE, et al. Comparison of dietary conjugated linoleic acid with safflower oil on body composition in obese postmenopausal women with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Am J Clin Nutr. (2009)
  • Chen SC, et al. Effect of conjugated linoleic acid supplementation on weight loss and body fat composition in a Chinese population. Nutrition. (2012)
  • Lambert EV, et al. Conjugated linoleic acid versus high-oleic acid sunflower oil: effects on energy metabolism, glucose tolerance, blood lipids, appetite and body composition in regularly exercising individuals. Br J Nutr. (2007)
  • Pfeuffer M, et al. CLA does not impair endothelial function and decreases body weight as compared with safflower oil in overweight and obese male subjects. J Am Coll Nutr. (2011)

All of the scientific research presented in the Supplement-Goals Reference Guide (over 2000 references) is human studies. While they factor in animal studies and in vitro studies while building up their knowledge on topics, they do not include them in their conclusions.

Supplementation is interesting field. Some people rely too much on supplements while others totally dismiss them as useless. This non-biased guide will help you decide for yourself.I bought a copy for everyone on my staff to reference.

If you have questions about supplements – Click Here as This Resource Guide Will Help.

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