10 Supplement Ingredients To Avoid

The supplement industry is now bigger than ever, with a larger audience, more competition, and more media attention than at any point in history. In a lot of ways the supplement industry is much better regulated than ever too. But while supplements are generally safer, and there is a bigger emphasis on the clarity with labelling, there are also more useless over-hyped ingredients that you should avoid.

This article is going to name 10 supplement ingredients that you may want to avoid, that doesn’t mean that these ingredients are universally without merit. Some are completely useless, but others may only be suited for certain people, or might be really useful but have side effects that some people might be better off avoiding.

Ingredient #1 Raspberry Ketones

supplement ingredients to avoid

There are some ingredients on this list that work but aren’t suitable for everyone, then there are some that are just completely useless. Raspberry ketones belong in the latter group. They rose to prominence a few years back and were touted as a miracle fat burning compound. Sadly there is no evidence that Raspberry Ketones have any effect on humans.

While some studies on rats did find a slight fat burning effect, the dosage used was around 8x the recommended dosage for humans. As it stands there is zero evidence that raspberry ketones do anything other than burn money. Read up on Omega-7 which has been shown to aid in fat loss with other good health benefits.

Ingredient #2 Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA)

On paper, or in the lab CLA looks like a fantastic fat burning supplement. But in reality, it has never been reliably proven to make any significant difference to fat burning. It’s not that there is zero evidence to support it, just that the evidence is unreliable. Some studies will show a tiny difference (statistically insignificant) but are far outweighed by the numerous studies that found absolutely no difference.

Ingredient #3 Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)

BCAAs work, the amino acids in question are effective at building muscle, preserving muscle, and fuelling recovery. The problem is that BCAAs don’t do anything that regular protein doesn’t provide by itself. Why spend your money on BCAAs when whey protein is cheaper and more effective? There is zero harm in taking BCAAs, but there is little point. Save your money.

Ingredient #4 Green Coffee Extract

This ingredient belongs in the same bracket as raspberry ketones. Completely useless supplement ingredients that were massively overhyped by the media and are essentially scam products. It is not completely without merit, a study has shown that GCE can lower blood pressure. It’s just that it doesn’t do what the supplement industry says that it does, and it is often overpriced, overhyped, and pointless.

Ingredient #5 Yohimbine

Yohimbine is one of those rare fat burning ingredients that does seem to work, a 2006 study found a significant reduction in fat mass after taking it. However nobody is debating whether it is effective or not, the reason why Yohimbine is on this list is the effect that it has on people with anxiety.

Yohimbine works by increasing adrenaline, this is why it can burn fat. But increasing adrenaline also increases cortisol, and this can increase anxiety. Not a big problem for people who do not suffer from anxiety, but if you do it can magnify the issues. As examine.com writes “Yohimbine can cause extreme anxiety in individuals predisposed to anxiety. Yohimbine may trigger manic psychosis or suicidal episodes in people with bipolar disorder”

Ingredient #6 DMAA

DMAA is an incredibly effective pre-workout ingredient that is very similar to ephedrine. It is structurally similar to adrenaline making DMAA an even more powerful ingredient than Yohimbine. However, the side effects can be extreme. Huge increases in blood pressure, and heart rate, increased cortisol, and has been linked to at least one death. Countries such as the UK have completely banned DMAA, while it is a banned substance for athletes.

To be clear, the evidence directly linking DMAA to death is weak but this is definitely a supplement ingredient that you should consider avoiding.

Ingredient #7 Tribulus Terrestris

Tribulus Terrestris is sold as an aphrodisiac and natural testosterone booster. There is quite a lot of evidence that Tribulus Terrestris is an effective aphrodisiac, but the evidence for it being an effective testosterone booster is nonexistent. Many studies have found absolutely no increase in testosterone in healthy men who took Tribulus Terrestris.

If Tribulus Terrestris was marketed purely as an aphrodisiac then it would be a completely fine supplement. But it is almost always marketed as an incredible testosterone boosting supplement that can lead to increased muscle size and strength, reduced body fat, and improved sporting performance. There is no evidence that it can achieve any of those things. If you see a supplement that is promoting its use of Tribulus Terrestris then avoid it!

Ingredient #8 DHEA

DHEA is a hormone that is naturally produced in the body, it is a precursor to testosterone in men, and estrogen in women. The idea is that taking DHEA will lead to increased testosterone in men. The increased testosterone will increase muscle strength, burn excess body fat, and improve performance in sports and exercise.

As you can imagine, there is no evidence to support this. DHEA might do all of those things, but it has not been proven to in any study. Combine this ineffectiveness with a whole range of potential side effects and you can understand why we recommend avoiding it.

Ingredient #9 Caffeine

Caffeine is a controversial choice here, as it is one of the most well researched and effective supplement ingredients of all time. Out of all the supplements mentioned on this list, caffeine is the most powerful and effective. So why is it here?

Well, there are a few reasons, firstly caffeine has a whole host of potential side effects. Ranging from high blood pressure, insomnia, nausea, to anxiety and panic attacks. Secondly, caffeine is often taken in very high quantities throughout the day, this can quickly build up a tolerance. Once this tolerance has been raised, the effects of caffeine can become almost nonexistent.

The third reason is that a lot of supplements use high caffeine dosages to mask how poor their product is. There are quite a few pre-workouts that cost quite a lot but contain a lot of useless ingredients and a load of caffeine thrown in.

If you don’t often take caffeine and you are looking for some performance and fat loss benefits, then a high caffeine pre-workout or fat burner can be a really good idea. If you already consume quite a bit of caffeine during the day (through coffees or teas) then a high caffeine supplement will be a complete waste.

Ingredient #10 Horny Goat Weed

Just like Tribulus Terrestris, Horny Goat Weed is one of those supplements that would be perfectly fine if it wasn’t so overhyped. There seems to be good evidence that it works as an aphrodisiac, it also appears to be effective at increasing bone mineral density, and may even improve cognitive performance.

But Horny Goat Weed is constantly sold as a testosterone booster, and it most decidedly is not one of those. There is no evidence that Horny Goat Weed can increase testosterone levels in men. That means that it can’t burn body fat, build muscle, increase strength, or improve your sporting performance.

Any testosterone boosting supplement that contains Horny Goat Weed is probably best avoided because they are knowingly adding an ingredient that is scientifically unproven.


By treating the consumption of supplements like taking candy, you can run into a host of health issues. Besides supplements, most people forget that vitmains play an important part in achieving a healthy lifestyle. Learn the difference between water soluble and fat soluble vitamins which will give you a better idea of the vitamins to be taking.

That being said, there are many supplements out there that do work and help to improve your general. The next time you plan on testing out a new supplement, don’t be taken in by the fanciful packaging but make sure you understand what the active ingredients are.