Not all sports supplements are created equal, and you are ultimately responsible for assuring that what you put in your body is safe, untainted and effective.
A lot of people assume that sports nutrition products have been thoroughly screened by the FDA or some other watchdog agency for safety and efficacy before they reach store shelves. Not the case. According to Kunz, many manufacturers rely on NSF (a global public health and safety organization) to conduct product testing, but all they do is look at the very end product for banned substances. “Ultimately it doesn’t give a complete guarantee; it only guarantees that the ingredients that they’re looking for aren’t there,” says Kunz. “There’s the possibility that there’s a banned substance in there that they didn’t test for. Most people don’t understand that. Those tests don’t look at purity or cleanliness, so we’ve taken a different approach.”
First Endurance has complete control over every single thing that goes into every one of their products. “We own all the intellectual property and formulas, we verify that each of our suppliers does not broker or supply any banned substances. Even before anything comes into our facility, there’s no chance of cross-contamination. Most dietary supplement formulas are owned by the manufacturer and they typically source the least expensive ingredients they can find, and that might be cross-contaminated because the broker is also delivering other banned substances. So that’s a significant difference.”
First Endurance includes a certificate of analysis with its products, a third party confirmation of its purity. “We want to work with the best endurance athletes in the world,” says Kunz. “They put a lot of confidence in us, and we want to make absolutely certain that they don’t ever test positive for anything we’ve done, so we take these steps so that they can be sure of an absolutely pure product.”
To a guy like Cameron Dye, that commitment carries a lot of weight. “I’d never really gotten into supplements before because I didn’t have any background in it, and it seemed like one of those sketchy things that was going to get you busted in a drug test,” he says. “I think that’s what I value most about First Endurance — their No. 1 concern is the cleanliness and standardization of their products. This is my livelihood — you don’t want to accidentally take a supplement that gets you banned for years.”
“The onus is on you to judge whether a supplement is safe,” adds Antonucci. “Anything on a shelf has not necessarily been proven safe or effective. It is your job to decide — or get help deciding — if it’s safe and worth taking.”