top of page

Sports Nutrition Supplements to Avoid

There are a few bad apples in every barrel and the supplement industry is no different, especially when it comes to sports nutrition supplements.  There have been reports on the dangers of weight loss and sports nutrition supplements containing the amphetamine-like compounds DMAA  and DEPA .

The DMAA story was a real scandal.  Not only did sports nutrition supplements containing DMAA kill people, but the FDA actually had to raid the warehouses of a major nutrition retailer to force them to stop selling it. 

Unfortunately, some companies are far more interested in their profit margin than they are in the safety of their customers.  Amphetamine-like ingredients burn off calories and give athletes an artificial energy boost.  Those results sell products.

The fact that those same ingedients also kill people is of little concern to unscrupulous manufacturers.  In fact, as soon as one amphetamine-like ingredient is banned, they just reformulate by adding another amphetamine-like ingredient to their product.

Sports Nutrition Supplements to Avoid


The unscrupulous manufacturers are at it again.  A recent report by a group of scientists in the United States and the Netherlands (Cohen et al., Drug Testing and Analysis, 2014: DOI 10.1002/dta.1735) reported that DMBA, another amphetamine-like ingredient that is a close analog of DMAA, was found in at least 12 products marketed to improve athletic performance, increase weight loss and enhance brain function.

DMBA is a synthetic compound that has never been tested for safety in humans, something that the FDA is supposed to require for every new dietary ingredient added to a supplement.  Because DMBA is chemically similar to DMAA, the scientists conducting the study suspected that manufacturers may have started adding it to their products.

The scientists surveyed the listed ingredients on all supplements distributed in the United States for any ingredient name that might be a synonym for DMBA.  They identified 14 supplements that fit that criteria and analyzed them for the presence of DMBA–12 tested positive for DMBA.

Sports Nutrition Supplements Identified as Containing DMBA


  • Contraband

  • Redline White Heat

  • Evol

  • MD2 Meltdown

  • Oxyphen XR AMP’D

  • OxyTHERM Pro

  • Oxyfit Extreme

  • Synetherm

  • AMPitropin

  • Decimate Amplified

  • AMPilean

  • Frenzy

  • And they warned that there could be many more out there that they didn’t identify


The scientists of the study stressed that DMBA is a synthetic pharmaceutical ingredient, has the potential to cause the same health risks as DMAA, and has never been tested in humans.

This story is all too familiar.  The unscrupulous manufacturers won’t remove unsafe ingredients until they are forced to, and the FDA is far too slow to act.  Often the FDA doesn’t act until the product actually kills people, as was the case for products containing DMAA.

Label Deception


If you are like me, you are probably outraged that manufacturers would even consider selling products like these.  None of the labels actually list DMBA as an ingredient.  That’s probably because DMBA looks enough like DMAA that intelligent consumers might be scared off.

Instead, they list the ingredient as AMP citrate.  They can do that because they are using AMP to stand for 4-amino-2-methylpentane.  But that is not the common usage for AMP.

To any biochemist, and probably most high school biology students, AMP stands for 5’-adenosylmonophosphate – a normal and harmless cellular metabolite.  Citrate is also a normal cellular metabolite.

In short, the manufacturers are purposely masquerading a synthetic and potentially dangerous stimulant under a pseudonym that looks like naturally occurring cellular metabolites. That is shameful!


Lack of Quality Control


But wait, it gets even worse.  The scientists analyzed 14 products that had AMP citrate on the label and the amount of DMBA ranged from 0 to 120 mg.  Apparently these manufacturers have no quality control process either.  That is a huge concern because this ingredient has never been tested for safety in humans.  We have no idea how much it takes to harm people!

The highest, and potentially most dangerous, levels of DMBA were found in:

• AMPilean, a fat burner from Lecheek Nutrition
• Frenzy, a pre-workout powder from Driven Sports
• MD2 Meltdown, a weight loss product from VPX Sports
• AMPitrophin, a brain enhancer sold by Lecheek Nutrition


What You Can Do & What to Avoid


Every time you read something like this, you might be tempted to avoid all sports nutrition supplements.  However, these unsafe ingredients represent a very small part of the industry.  You just need to be an informed consumer so that you are aware of sports nutrition supplements to avoid.  For example:

  • Be skeptical of flamboyant claims.  For example, some of the claims made by the products listed in this article are “The ultimate stimulant experience”, “Fat incinerator”, “Rapid energy surge”.  When you see claims like that run the other direction.

  • Research the manufacturer.  Only choose companies with a long track record of integrity and product quality.

  • Insist on published clinical studies showing that the product is both safe and effective.


We hope you’ve found this article helpful for your health and training.  We have added Steve Chaney, PhD, as an author here to add more value to you!  Dr. Chaney is a recently-retired Professor from University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, where he taught Nutrition and Biochemistry to medical and dental students for over 40 years.  He is also on the Shaklee Scientific Research Team.  His knowledge of sports nutrition is extensive and he is dedicated to helping athletes.

Please feel free to comment on this subject via my inquiry form - click here

bottom of page