Supplement Scams Expose
Mike Westerdal Interviews Rick Gray for the WMBEIS
MW: We've got a full audience today, hear that applause going. This is Mike
Westerdal from CriticalBench.com and I'm happy to have Rick Gray on the phone. Rick
has the website AnabolicSecrets.com and he's the owner of the supplement company
called AS Research. I don't have Rick on the line today to sell you guys something, I'm
actually trying to find out some scams and some of the behind-the-scenes info about the
supplement industry. We all know that a lot of us waste a lot of money and get conned
and we just want to dig into some of the details of this 24 billion dollar industry, the
supplement industry. So, we've got Rick on the phone and Rick, welcome.
Thanks, Mike. I appreciate you inviting me.
MW: Sure thing. Starting things off, let's talk about the FDA. Everyone knows it's the
Food and Drug Administration. What is their role in the supplement industry?
Well, the FDA...I'm glad you brought this up. This is something a lot of people
are mistaken about. The FDA, like you said, is the Food and Drug Administration. They
basically are the agency that deals with...you're going to find this hard to believe, but
food and drugs, hence the name. But, basically, it's a national standard. They enforce
the national standard that all the food manufacturers and drug manufacturers must
So, you want to get into something... This is a question I get a lot. If you want
me to get into this now. People are always asking, well, is this supplement and that
supplement FDA approved? Do you want me to address that?
MW: Yeah, that's what I'm kind of wondering. Does the FDA regulate supplements?
Well, since supplements are not really a conventional food, the FDA regulates
them differently. I'll say this for the disclaimer, I'm not an attorney, but I've studies this
stuff, obviously, and I've spoken with attorneys about it. Let me read something from
the FDA website.
It says, "The FDA regulates dietary supplements under a different set of
regulations than those covering conventional foods and drug products." Which, the
drug products that the FDA regulates, and that includes prescription and over-the-
counter drugs. That was my commentary. Back to the FDA website. "Under the
Dietary Supplement, Health and Education Act of 1994, the dietary supplement
manufacturer is responsible for ensuring that a dietary supplement is safe before it is
marketed." I'll reread that in case you missed it. "The dietary supplement manufacturer
is responsible for ensuring that a dietary supplement is safe before it is marketed."
MW: That's interesting right there.
Yeah. We're going to talk about that. "The FDA is responsible for taking action
against any unsafe dietary supplement product after it reaches the market." After it
reaches the market. "Generally, manufacturers do not need to register their products
with the FDA, nor get FDA approval before producing or selling dietary supplements.
Manufacturers must make sure that product label information is truthful and not
misleading. FDA's post-marketing responsibilities include monitoring safety, E.G.
voluntary dietary supplement adverse event reporting, and product information such as
labeling, claims, package inserts and accompanying literature. The Federal Trade
Commission regulates dietary supplement advertising."
So, basically, what that's saying is, the manufacturer of the supplements is
responsible for making sure they're safe, making sure they contain what they're
claiming on the label, and the FDA is not going to get involved unless they start getting
complaints, people have having adverse reactions to supplements. That's my
MW: Yeah, I mean, based on responsibility, meaning that it's their own responsibility
to make sure they're doing it correctly. No one is regulating them. So, they let the
supplements out on the market and the it's not until there's a problem or until the FDA
wants to look into it that they even come into the picture at all, which I don't know if a lot
of people knew that. I mean, you think FDA, food and drug, wouldn't a supplement be
one fo those two? It seems to fall into this gray area right in the middle where it's not an
over-the-counter drug, but it's also not a food. There seems to be like a little loophole
Exactly. That's exactly what it is.
MW: So, basically, it's up to the FDA to stop them if something's wrong. But, they
don't test them before they're ready, to clarify.
Yeah, exactly. Unlike drugs, which need to go through extensive FDA testing
and approval, that's not the case. I don't know if you've seen this, Mike, but you ever
seen the video clip on YouTube from the movie "Bigger, Stronger, Faster" where that
guy started his own supplement company one day?
MW: Yeah, I mean, I actually saw the movie. It was a really great movie, but I
specifically remember that scene. It's crazy. Why don't you tell everybody about it in
case someone missed it?
Well, first of all, I think everybody should rent that movie. That's an awesome
movie. But, if you just want to see the part about how that guy set up like in one day, he
set up his own supplement company, the clip is up on YouTube. I think if you just
Google or go to YouTube and punch in "Bigger, Stronger, Faster", you can pull up that
But, basically, this guy hired a bunch of illegal aliens, shows him driving up in his
truck and picking these guys up while they're standing on the street corner waiting for
work. He takes them back to his house, they fill up a bunch of capsules with rice flour,
like a real trace amount of the actual supplement they're claiming to make and sell,
and... I don't know if you remember this scene, one of the guys... They're sitting at the
kitchen table with capsules in their hands, putting these ingredients in the capsules and
the one guy sneezes and the producer of the video's like, "Hey, don't sneeze on the
supplements." Do you remember that?
MW: Yeah, don't sneeze on the supplements. Oh, well, no one will know.
Yeah. And you know, so basically that's what he did.
MW: It's kind of disturbing, too, at the same time.
Extremely disturbing. First of all, there's a tiny, tiny bit of actual, real product in
the supplement. Most of it is rice flour. And here they are in unsanitary conditions, and
had a real nice looking label. If you remember that? They put the capsules that they
stuffed with crap in the bottle, had a real nice looking label, shrink-wrapped it with a hair
drier and that was extremely interesting and disturbing, like you said.
MW: Yeah, I mean, talking about the labels, no one's even regulating the labels. It's
not like that's a separate thing. The labels aren't regulated, so I mean, does the
supplement company have to tell the truth about what they put in the product? Or, is
there anything they...what do a lot of supplement companies do to kind of hide the
Well, actually, they don't even have to lie about it. Like this guy, with a tiny trace
amount of product ingredient, I don't remember what product it was specifically, but like
99% of that was rice flour with a 1%...let's say it's 1% of...let's just for example say
vitamin C. Well, he doesn't even have to lie about it. He just puts on the label vitamin C
proprietary blend, which proprietary means that you're not actually sharing the ratio of
ingredients because you don't want some other company to knock-off your product or to
make a similar product.
MW: But at the same time, the consumer doesn't know how much of anything is in it.
No, you have no idea.
MW: Proprietary blend is ridiculous to put on a label. I wouldn't buy anything that has
Again, in that instance, from the "Bigger, Stronger, Faster" movie, 1% actual real
product ingredient and 99% rice flour, which is just a filler. So, they put proprietary
blend on the label and that's how they get around the label claims.
AS Research had never done that. Our label claims we have all the products
tested by an independent laboratory. We've got what they call certificate of analysis for
each product. It shows that we actually meet or exceed label claims. That's just
a...excuse the French, but like we were talking about, that's just a bullshit way of selling
a completely bogus product and hiding that fact on the label.
MW: I mean, eventually, if it's something harmful, they're going to get caught. But, I
mean, if it's some harmless ingredient and no one's getting sick or hurt from it, the FDA
probably wouldn't even investigate.
No, they'd never...exactly. That's exactly right.
MW: That's scary. I mean, those lab results and those certificated, I mean, that's
something I've never really thought about when buying things. You kind of just go by
the advertising and word of mouth. So, that's a huge tip, I think, for everybody out
While we're on topic with the "Bigger, Stronger, Faster" movie, there was another
video clip along the same lines. It came to the next step after they had the supplement
bottled up and everything. They went on and air brushed the pictures. They did like
some crazy stuff with the before and after pics. Did you see that video clip, too?
Yeah, it was sickening. You know, and me being in the supplement business,
I've been... I've been in this business since...directly as an owner since '94. And then
in other ways, like as a consultant since... I'm sorry, I've had this business since 2004
and I've been involved in this business as a consultant in other ways since '95 or '96. I
can't remember. But, you know, me being in the supplement business, I was actually
completely floored and sickened by this.
It showed how they do these before and after photos. The photographers
admitted they do this all the time. They take these before and after photos in the exact
same day. They use the same person and they have this guy or girl, whatever it is,
pale, no sun tan, hairy, basically sticking their stomachs out. they tell them to think
really terrible thoughts, which affects your whole body physically. It makes you look
completely different and affects the look on your face. It just takes a horrible picture.
Then, they shave them, oil them up, they do a bunch of editing and Photo Shop,
just make them look nice and tan and cut and trim and bigger, muscular. It's all done in
MW: Like air brushing in some abs and stuff?
Absolutely. It's all a complete farce and scam. And you have these tremendous
transformation before and after photos. It's just sickening.
For me, it sucks to compete against these companies that use these kind of
deceitful tactics to sell supplements. You know, these companies are big, huge
multimillion dollar companies, and just raking in the bucks by deceiving people with
these fake before and after photos. I decided years ago I'd rather make less money
and help people achieve their health and fitness goals honestly than to engage in these
kind of practices. Like I said, they're making tens or hundreds of millions of dollars, but
there's no way I could look myself in the mirror every day if I resorted to doing that kind
MW: Did you see that other... I got an article on CriticalBench by Pete Cisco where
he was talking about the fake before and after pictures. I don't know how to say it, it's
acai berry, some new popular berry supplement or something like that.
You know, that's funny. I don't know how to pronounce it either. All I know is
that it is like the hottest thing in the weight loss market. There's a ton of sites. Go to
Google, just go to Google's main page there's like a million ads.
MW: I mean, is it a good supplement? While I've got a supplement owner on the line?
I'll be honest with you, I haven't... I don't know and I haven't looked into it
because I'm not the least bit interested in that, because here's something I know about
the weight loss industry, and I know a lot of guys that are in the weight loss industry,
and this is what I call the product du jour. In the weight loss industry, there's one thing
that's hot for a while. This month it may be one thing, the next month it's another.
MW: Yeah, well like a year ago there was something that was so popular. I can't even
think of it off hand right now.
I'm trying to remember it. It was the...the main ingredient came from the African
bush in the Bushman tribe and... I can't remember. It was something that those guys
apparently ate that would kill their hunger pangs for days and weeks so they could go
for weeks on a hunt. I forget. I can't remember the name, but it was the hottest thing,
man, and it was the same thing back then. There were sites all over the internet selling
that product. Now, it's this acai berry and yeah, I've seen that article on your site and
I've seen the before and after photos.
MW: Yeah, I mean, in that article they even put up fake blogs where they put fake
comments by people, just making it look like social proof, like everybody was having
great results with it. And then, they go to these stock photography sites and just buy
pictures and then Photo Shop those. They're not even real testimonials. They're stock
photos that anybody can buy and then they use those as testimonials on the websites.
And then you'll see them on several different sites and stuff. It's just crazy.
If you want, you can check that out on CriticalBench, just use the Google search
or go to Pete Cisco's author page and you can find the article. But, kind of getting off
topic here talking about fake advertising and everything, too. But, that's definitely a
huge thing to look out for when you're buying supplements.
I remember in college, actually, one of the first times I realized that, man, they
can really say anything they want in the advertising. I think it was...who is the guy's
name, a huge bodybuilder at the time. He's retired now. This was ten years ago. I was
in college and I remember reading an interview, Mike Matarazzo, is he a bodybuilder?
Does that sound familiar?
Yeah. I remember him.
MW: I was reading in an interview with him... Well, first I saw an ad. It was a full page
advertisement with him on it saying that he takes vitamin C, which you don't see
advertised as much anymore, but it was a huge ad, him saying he takes vitamin C.
Then, later in that same magazine, somebody interviewed him and I read the interview
and they asked him what supplements he takes. Someone even asked him if he takes
vitamin C and he said no, absolutely not, it doesn't work. I'm like, how can you say you
don't take it and then three pages ago there's full page ad of him taking it. Not to call
him out, but I doubt he's on the phone. I just was like, wow. That's crazy.
Well, we've talked a lot about labels and some of the before and after photos,
what are some other...moving onto the labels, what are some other terms or verbiage,
things that you see on the bottles that...maybe explain some of the terminology means
or maybe some things to look out for when you are looking at these labels.
Well, we already talked about the proprietary blend thing. I mean, what if a
product has ten ingredients. They list ten ingredients...it says proprietary blend, and it
just has a tiny, tiny amount of each. If you're buying a creatine product, don't you want
to know how much creatine you're getting? You really should. So, that should be on
I see a lot of ads claiming a supplement is clinically proven. It's usually up near
the top, clinically proven product X, or whatever. If it's really clinically proven, shouldn't
they tell you what clinic and when it was done and what the actual clinical trial was?
How can it be clinically proven when they don't give you access to the actual research?
When that stuff is clinically tested, it's a carefully controlled thing and then it's reported
on afterwards and that information is public knowledge that you can refer people to.
So, AS Research, my company...I forgot to mention that, I apologize. My
website is AnabolicSecrets.com, but my company name is AS Research. So, we
always list a research on our reports so you can look up the facts yourself. So,
stamping clinically proven on an ad is another one that is another good misleading
MW: Yeah, for sure.
Stamping patented up there, the brand new patented, yada-yada, really doesn't
mean anything. All that means is that the US Patent and Trademark office has granted
the company exclusive rights to sell that product under that name with that formula.
But, it doesn't mean that that office, the patent office or trademark office approves
anything or has tested it or anything like that.
MW: Yeah, I mean, they don't know if it works, they just said no one else can use this
formula. It doesn't mean that the formula is any good, right?
That's right. It doesn't mean anything. It just means that they've given...
MW: It sounds pretty good though.
Yeah, it does sound good to stamp clinically proven and patented up there, it
does... It's kind of impressive. It sounds impressive.
What are some others? Well, doctor recommended is a great one. I always see
these up at the top of the ads. They're never buried in the copy. They're always
prominently featured, doctor recommended. Well, okay, by what doctor? Is it a PhD in
history at the local university? Is it the owner's dentist or his chiropractor or whatever?
What doctor specifically and where's the contact information or the number to call of this
doctor and check on this?
MW: Yeah, like, could you call the doctor up and ask him what he thinks of the
supplement? I doubt it. You've even seen it the other way around sometimes, without
even saying doctor recommended, they imply it. Like, if you see the commercials that
the guy has a white lab coat on and like a stethoscope around his neck and they don't
even say he's a doctor, but just the fact that he's wearing that outfit is kind of making it
seem like it's a doctor recommending it even though it's just a paid actor.
That's right. Yeah, exactly. They imply that it's doctor... Or, you know when we
were talking about the before and after photos, and them using stock photos, well, you
can go grab a stock photo or a doctor in a white lab coat with a stethoscope,
distinguished looking doctor guy and stick that up on the website and imply doctor
recommended that way or the companies that are real dishonest, put doctor
recommended under that photo.
MW: I guess it's just being able to check references on everything people say,
because nobody's regulating what anybody says.
MW: So, you've got to do the research yourself.
MW: Any other terms?
Let me see. How about all natural. That's one that's thrown out a bit, definitely
used a lot in the health market, but I've seen it in the bodybuilding supplement market,
too. Yeah, that can be true, but it still doesn't mean anything. Just because something
is natural doesn't mean it's safe. Tobacco is natural, my God, heroin is natural, monkey
shit is natural, but if I put all that in my product, that doesn't necessarily mean it's safe
MW: Right. But, you really do have to remember that these claims aren't regulated.
So, if you read something on the label or an ad, it's best to check up on it somehow. It
seems like it really just comes down to a lot of trust at this point, or buying a product,
trying it out and seeing what results you get, just hoping that's not a placebo effect. But,
it seems like it has a lot to do with what companies you trust as far as the labs and stuff.
So, why should people trust your company?
Well, you're exactly right, a lot of this does come down to trust. And I'm
not...don't get me wrong, I'm not implying that all the supplement manufacturers are
pulling a fast one like this. There's a lot of reputable ones. I can tell you from
experience there's some that are not reputable.
But, you know, I guess your question, why should people trust AS Research, I
should go back to...and I'll make this brief. I should go back to my story when I first
started bodybuilding as a kid. I was a hard gainer and I was just so anxious to gain
muscle and I was having such a hard time. I started reading the muscle magazines,
which everybody does, and I started reading the ads and believing the ads and figuring,
ah, there's the key I'm missing. It's not my training and diet or the fact that I'm not
sleeping like I should be, it's I'm missing this supplement.
So, that started the whole thing, buying supplement after supplement. I've
bought so many completely bogus, crap supplements. Going back to...oh, man, there's
been so many con jobs, I can't remember them all. I remember Smilax was supposed
to be the hottest thing. This is dating me. This would be back in the early `80s. There
was a product called Musco MXT or something. I mean, just product after product that
were just complete bogus things that never worked. Just getting ripped off so many
And then, along the way, finding some really excellent supplements that did
work, too. I was a user of Rio Blair's protein back what that was still being produced.
That hasn't been produced for a long time now. So, finally deciding basically, I started
this company in a tiny one bedroom apartment when I was living in Miami, and I figured,
okay, well, here' the deal. I'm going to max out my credit card and take a cash advance
and get this thing going. Worst case scenario, if I just fail and fall flat on my face, I'm
going to have a nice inventory of supplement that I'll just use for my personal use that
will last me for a really, really long time.
So, kind of, you know, expecting the best, but preparing for the worst, I thought if
I'm not successful in selling these products, I'm going to be using them myself. So, I
developed the exact kind of products that I wanted. I've been bodybuilding and weight
training for a long time, and I'm a pretty hardcore guy. I've been studying supplements
since I was a kid, and actually reading medical journals to find out about this stuff. So, I
knew exactly what would work and what wouldn't. So, I made the best possible
supplements I could, make the kind of supplements I wanted, because I thought, well,
it's very possible I might not be able to sell these and I'll be taking them myself. So, I
better make the kind of stuff that works and I'll want to take.
That's why you can trust the AS Research products. I've been ripped off before,
too. I know what works and I know what doesn't work. On top of that, like I said, I have
a certificate of analysis from an independent laboratory verifying all my label claims, too.
MW: Well, I think we've all been in that boat, too, just buying things that don't work or
seeing false advertisements. Like you said, not all supplement companies are evil.
There are some good, stand-up companies out there. So, we don't want to make it
sounds like we're just bashing everybody here. We're just trying to let everybody get
the facts and be aware of kind of how the industry works and things to watch out for.
That's right, and I...
MW: Go ahead, sorry.
Yeah, I'm sorry to interrupt. I don't want to make this sound like a commercial for
my company, but if you go on my website, you'll see that I offer guarantee on every
product, and it's actually an extremely generous guarantee. I offer 100% money-back
guarantee and I usually give you an extensive time to try it, in most cases, up to four
MW: You don't get that at GNC, I mean, if you buy something, just bring it back if you
don't like it.
Never. I mean, check any bodybuilding website, check some of the biggest
supplement sellers online. Most of them don't offer a guarantee period, and if they do,
it's some bullshit seven day guarantee and you have to send the product back and they
charge you a restocking fee. I don't do that because I know different people respond to
different things. And in spite of the fact, I only use ingredients that I know are proven to
work and I use the highest quality in my products to meet or exceed label claims.