A while ago there was a big yellow ad which caused tons of body shaming hoopla.
As a tanned, skinny blonde with a better-than-you look on her face stared down at us mere mortals in disgust, the immortal line “Are you beach body ready?” jumped out of the page like an uppercut to your self confidence.
And rightly so.
After all, if you feel like shit as you trudge to work on a cold Wednesday morning, you probably wouldn’t appreciate a big sign pointing out the fact that you also look like shit too.
But it gets worse.
This ad was used to advertise weight loss products, with Protein World going on to present themselves as the solution to the bad mood which they had just fucking put you in!
The fuss which the ad kicked up is precisely what they wanted.
Because rather than being lost in the mix of average supplements on the market (I’ll explain why it’s average below), suddenly they were on the 10 O’ Clock News and in The Telegraph.
Any publicity is good publicity, right?
Even when Campaign Live named it the worst advert of the year.
But earlier this week, the same supplement manufacturer (Protein World) got their comeuppance, as it was caught out for lying on their nutrition labels.
More on that later.
Protein World Slender Blend Review
A product with such a “Use this because you’re fucking fat!” approach must be great, right? It must be the elite?
Otherwise, why would it be so bold and brash?
It’s clear to see why this company adopts shock tactics with it’s advertisements.
Because once you get past that big yellow ad, things look very bland indeed. If anything, Slender Blend is overpriced nonsense you could get in far better quality from much more established supplement manufacturers (without the insults).
Under the hood, it just looks like any other run-of-the-mill “diet whey”.
There are thousands of these available on the market.
Before the nutrition label scandal occurred, the ingredients of Slender Blend were said to be as follows:
- 24g protein
- 1.5g fat
- 8.2g carbohydrates
Like I said, pretty bland. Nothing special.
And at £58 for a 2kg sack (?!) it is among the most expensive whey protein shakes on the market today, despite it’s relatively average macronutrient breakdown and the fact that the main source of protein is just plain old whey concentrate.
As a general rule of thumb, a good whey protein supplement should yield an 80% protein-per-serving ratio. Today’s product gives us just 60% protein-per-serving. Yep, only 24 grams out of a 40 gram serving is actually protein.
For a whey protein aimed at the weight loss category, the carbohydrates-per-serving are pretty substantial at 8.2g per shake. At almost 10 grams per shake, this will mount up quickly and, to top it off, it’s all sugar.
Added to the mixture are green tea extract and guarana extract, both in inadequate dosages to give any of the performance benefits associated with either.
All of this makes the elevated price seem even more unrelated to the actual quality of the product.
For instance, you could pick up (at least) 5KG of this whey protein supplement for the same price, despite the fact that it offers a vastly superior nutritional breakdown.
Slender Blend hides behind it’s marketing, to give the impression of being “cleaner” (hate this terminology) than other supplements, when in fact it’s loaded with more sugar than many of it’s competitors.
The Nutrition Lie
Now for the interesting discovery about the nutrition label.
In a report published by The Sun, Slender Blend was found to contain 17x more carbohydrates than advertised.
Protein World are not the first to do this, and they certainly won’t be the last. The supplement industry is riddled with sub-par products and misleading labels.
I recently wrote about several products which were taken down by the U.S. Department of Justice for misleading consumers with their ingredient list. Among them were CSN 100 Pro Whey Standard and a whole bunch of preworkout supplements.
Now there’s another name added to the list – Protein World Slender Blend.
Protein World are now being investigated by Trading Standards, who say:
“The company is committed to complying with legal ingredient, health claim and labeling standards.
Should Protein World fail to do so, we will seriously consider all legal enforcement options.”
The Bigger Problem
Taking all of this into account:
- the average supplement
- the expensive price
- the nutrition label lie
I have one question to answer – why is it currently so popular?
To answer that, we need to get into the bigger problem in front of us.
First of all, body shaming is everywhere.
The heroics of Jess Ennis-Hill and Team GB at the 2012 London Olympics did a fantastic job of instilling a sense of belief and power in women all over the country. Suddenly, women were focusing on trying to get strong and, for the first time in a long time, common sense was winning in the fitness world.
But Protein World’s approach to advertising painted them as a company with little social conscience.
It’s the same “you can’t sit with us” bullshit mentality that bullies women into trying to get a thigh gap, where women are alienated if they don’t conform to the age-old stereotype of being skinny and dumb as fuck.
Basically, this represents the whey protein equivalent of Mean Girls.
Secondly, celebrity endorsement shouldn’t stand for shit.
But, sadly, it continues to go a long way to helping a product succeed.
Or how about some Juice Plus, or the latest special detoxifying mud Gwyneth Paltrow is telling us to rub into our face?
In Protein World’s case, they simply targeted their product at a genre of entertainment which shares the self absorbed nature of it’s own ads:
Take a look at any reality TV show and you’ll usually notice a Protein World advert plastered in the break, with it’s images of stick thin (not fit) girls splashing in a pool and duck-pouting while holding this tub of whey or some “toning capsules” (kill me now).
It’s a world where science bears no relevance. A place where how many social media likes you get determines how happy you are inside. I don’t like it here.
It’s a fashion statement, less about quality nutrition, and more about trying to fit in on Instagram.
But if there’s one thing time has taught the human race, it’s that celebrity endorsement means absolutely dick when it comes to quality.
Khloe Kardashian, the same Kardashian whose TV coach recommended putting butter in your coffee (an awful fitness trend which needs to die), posted a picture with Protein World Slender Blend?
If anything, that should be a fucking deterrent.
But Bono advertised credit cards. Oprah recommended James Frey’s autobiography, which was later found to be fake. Celebrity chef Rachael Ray endorsed Dunkin’ Donuts. Hulk Hogan released a grill.
The list goes on and on.
Last year, Arnold Schwarzenegger put his name on a line of bodybuilding supplements which absolutely sucked.
Arnold fucking Schwarzenegger. Bodybuilding supplements. Sucked.
The point is, don’t read too much into celebrity endorsements.
It’s just money.
While I’m On One…
I guess my biggest issue is that these products are aimed at youngsters.
Or people who are new to the fitness industry and not really sure what to look for.
It’s misleading as fuck, and one look at the company website tells you all you need to know.
With phrases like “detox” and “bums and tums” being used more often than a Bench Press station on a Monday morning.
First of all, here’s a quick guide on how to detox:
In case you were wondering, a standard Protein World Bums And Tums Stack consists of whey protein concentrate, some fat burning pills and some “toner” (?) capsules.
At a mighty £22, the primary drivers inside the fat burner (known as Fat Metabolizer) are simply green tea extract and caffeine.
You could pick these up separetly for far cheaper, but there’s a bigger issue at hand here.
While you’ll surely feel awake as a motherfucker, any actual fat burning effects as a result of caffeine and/or green tea extract are minimal.
You see, your daily calorie intake determines your weight loss results. Not a pill, people.
And once the body has adapted to your caffeine intake, which typically takes three weeks, you won’t even feel the energy kick either.
“Toner” capsules are basically creatine monohydrate (dosed at under half the recommended effective daily dosage for performance benefits), a bunch of B vitamins and alpha lipoic acid, which is again underdosed. It proudly boasts of being gluten free.
Gluten free creatine and vitamins?
Gluten free oxygen?
The harsh truth is that despite the fact it claims to give you “a firmer bum, slimmer tum and leaner thighs” (yes, it actually claims this on the website), it isn’t going to do anything unless you start watching your diet and going to the gym on a regular basis.
This is misleading advertising from a company who have a history of misleading advertising.
As such, we get more of the bullshit nutrition advice which leads people down a dark path of starvation, frustration and eating disorders.
Example (taken from Protein World’s own website):
“The Slender Blend is a high protein, low fat and low carb meal replacement drink.”
I’ve already shown that it’s not particularly low in carbs, nor is it high in protein at just 60% protein-per-serving.
“Non-GMO and replacing two meals a day can attribute to a healthy loss of up to four pounds per week.”
The moment we start replacing meals with shakes, we’ve gone too far.
Shakes were meant to supplement food, not replace it.
But replacing two meals per day with shakes?
Depending on how many meals you are eating, this type of advice could see you fall well below 1000 calories a day, which is a lifestyle I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.
No shit, you’d lose weight! You’re starving!
Protein World Slender Blend Review – Final Thoughts
When I was a youngster trying to get into training I bought Arnold Schwarzenegger’s New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding.
I don’t know where I’d be now if I didn’t read that book.
Nowadays, our teenagers are looking up to some yo-yo dieting reality TV star who releases a January DVD claiming you can achieve rock hard abs in three minutes per day?
Then in June is featured in gossip magazines showing a bulging belly, only to do it all again for next year’s release.
It’s a sad state of affairs.
Protein World Slender Blend is aimed at this market, and the market that goes to the gym and to do more selfies than reps. My advice is to stick with trusted brands and qualified sources of information.
So the next time you see an orange z-list celebrity push this nonsense, feel free to slap them with some science.
So, to finish my Protein World Slender Blend review – you could be forgiven for forgetting this was a review, given my double-barreled rant – how did this supplement do on my deliberately harsh supplement rating system?
In it’s original formula (before the revelations of misleading nutrition information), I would have given it 1 star out of 5.
It’s an average whey protein supplement, with quite a high carbohydrate content to be classed as a strong runner in the Diet Whey category, a very low protein-per-serving ratio, and it’s really costly considering the ingredients are so basic and easily obtainable in superior products on the market.
In light of the nutrition label scandal, however, it didn’t stand a fucking chance.
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