The Truth About Supplement Serving Sizes

Like it or not, a lot of the success of supplement companies boils down to marketing. You read that right, the success of a brand isn’t solely dependant on the quality of their formulas, ingredients, or even pricing. It’s really about grabbing your attention through advertising.

In case you hadn’t noticed, there’s an arms race currently happening in the industry for who can make the biggest, beefiest, most robust pre workout serving size. Common thinking is that “more is better” so obviously, a brand with the largest scoop size must be the best….right?

The answer to that question is -- maybe.  

Scoop size does play a role in determining how effective a particular supplement is, but it’s not the only characteristic that determines whether it’s any good or not.

So, when is scoop size important and how can you tell whether a big serving size actually delivers


Scoop Size Basics

Before we get into whether a large scoop size is good, or even necessary, it’d probably be helpful to explain how scoop sizes are calculated. It all boils down to some basic math and an understanding of the essential ingredients you want in a pre workout. You should probably also have a rudimentary understanding of each ingredients clinically studied dose, so you can be on the lookout for pixie-dusted ingredients!


So, let’s take a look at the following formula as an example of how a scoop size is calculated:

- Caffeine - minimum dose required: 200mg
- Beta Alanine - minimum dose required: 3.2g split throughout the day for maximum absorption (So let’s say that beta alanine is split into 2-2g doses for ease of dosing.)
- Betaine - minimum dose required: 2.5g
- BCAA 2:1:1 - minimum dose required: 5g
- Citrulline Malate - minimum dose required: 6g
- Taurine - minimum dose required: 1g
- Alpha GPC - minimum dose required: 300mg
- N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine - minimum dose required: 1.5g
- Sweeteners, Flavorings, etc.: 2 - 3g
Add all of that together and you get 20.5 - 21.5g depending on how much sweeteners and flavoring are included. All things considered, that’s a fairly big scoop size by today’s standards.


Now, there are several other ingredients you could certainly include in pre workouts such as theanine, creatine, theobromine, etc, but the above example formula demonstrates when making claims about a big scoop size is good.


The formula includes efficacious doses of proven ergogenics and will do a world of good for you in your workouts. But how do you know whether a big scoop size actually delivers on its hype and isn’t just chock full of bogus ingredients?


Good Scoop vs Bad Scoop

As we’ve said before, scoop size is a key factor in determining the quality and effectiveness of a product, but it’s not the only factor you should consider when deciding which supplement to purchase. The above formula is an example when claims of a big scoop size deliver. But there are instances when a given pre workout may claim to have a 20g+ serving size, but be complete rubbish.


The way you determine this is by looking at the ingredients panel on the supplement you are considering to purchase. If when reading the supplement facts panel you see a transparently dosed product using the full clinically-studied doses of all the ingredients included, you’ve got a winner on your hands!


However, as you peruse the ingredients label and you start to see ingredients like L-Arginine or Arginine AKG showing up, or you notice that the vast majority of the ingredients in the product are underdosed, yet it still has a 20g+ serving size….LEAVE IT ON THE SHELF! You’ve just stumbled upon a pre workout with a big scoop size that is poorly formulated and will not deliver on its advertised claims!


Knowing whether a big scoop size matters or not ultimately boils down to two key factors:


1. Are the ingredients included in the product proven effective in research
2. Are those ingredients including in the product in their clinically backed doses


In other words, if a product uses ingredients that aren’t proven to be effective or if the ingredient has been proven to be useful for training, but it’s not included at its clinically studied dose, it’s not worth your money!


These are the two most vital factors to determining whether scoop size plays a role in value and effectiveness of the supplement. It’s not the price per scoop, or how many servings you get in a tub, that determines its effectiveness, which many people use as the sole means for purchasing pre workouts. Remember, when it comes to supplements, you get what you pay for. Those bargain bin pre workouts are there for a reason...

Just remember to do your homework. Know what ingredients you want in a pre workout, what their clinically-proven doses are, and you’ll be well on your way to determining not only if a big scoop size matters, but whether the product in general is effective or not!



As you can see, serving size does play a critical role in gauging a product’s worth, but it’s not the sole factor you should consider. To assess the true quality of a product, you need to look at the ingredients included, the doses of those ingredients, and how much you can afford to spend on a supplement.

With these tools in hand, you’ll stop wasting money on crummy products, and start making informed choices on your purchases yielding bigger savings and better gains!


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