Here at PricePlow, you know we love a good sales pitch. The supplement industry is a never-ending stream of new products, ingredient research, dramatic marketing tactics, and sex-driven advertising.
We’ve always been quite accepting of aggressive marketing — after all, if you can’t handle it, you probably don’t belong in this space.
But as always, there’s a line to be drawn. For me, that line rests with the ingredient labels. Namely, not lying on your labels and most definitely not lying about other companies’ labels either.
This past week, Jim Stoppani has repeatedly and unabashedly crossed that line.
Updated June 7th, 2016: Jim has posted a video response to this post. Click here to watch it.
Updated July 6th, 2016: Mark Glazier of NutraBio, one of the companies that Jim attacked, has posted a response as well. Click here to watch it. (Original article was posted May 13, 2016).
On to the Jim Stoppani Label “Scandal”:
The story begins on Saturday, May 7th at around noon eastern time, when Dr. Jim Stoppani posted the following picture(archive.org backup) on Facebook:
“Yesterday, I shot several videos explaining other ways to identify proprietary blend protein powders. I went into great detail, but the easiest way to know if your protein is a proprietary blend is to look at the FRONT. If it doesn’t have JYM on the label it IS a proprietary blend. Pro JYM is the ONLY NON PROPRIETARY blended protein powder.
— Jim Stoppani, May 7th (via Facebook)
Now, I can tell you with absolute certainty that this is a patently false statement.
First, remember the fact that Pro JYM’s ingredients panel is technically a proprietary blend:
We let that slide, though, because elsewhere in the product’s marketing, Pro JYM’s label does disclose the general breakdown of proteins inside of the product. We’ve always been huge fans of that disclosure, and have given Jim huge kudos for pushing the industry forward with that model.
But beyond the fact that it is still technically a proprietary blend lies something more important: there are other companies whose protein powders are similarly disclosed – some even more so than Pro JYM. To name a few:
- All NutraBio protein powders and supplements, including their protein blend, Muscle Matrix Protein;
- Muscle Elements TRUTH;
- Grenade Hydra 6
- Body Nutrition’s Trutein
There are likely others, but you get the idea – Pro JYM is not “the ONLY NON PROPRIETARY blended protein powder”, and as we’ll see below, it’s not nearly the “most open” either.
But hey, as a PhD and a hugely-respected member of the community who keeps extremely busy helping his followers, building awesome workout content, and promoting his brand, Jim isn’t expected to know about all these other brands. We can’t — and don’t — fault him for this.
Of the four companies listed above, the one whose following is larger than anyone realizes is NutraBio. And one of their fans chimed in and posted a picture, stating
“Actually Nutrabio protein in non proprietary too. They have been around since 1996”
— NutraBio customer comment (with picture, shown below) responding to the above Facebook post
No big deal, though… All Jim has to do is take a look at the label, follow the words written on his own mission statement(archive.org backup), and applaud NutraBio’s efforts:
“Good For other companies Trying to do it right!”
“I salute those supplement companies who are looking to re-invent themselves and give the consumers transparent products that they can trust and information that allows all of us to reach our goals. The ones who are doing so I will applaud, shake their hand, and let you know who they are…”
— JYM Supplement Science Mission Statement (emphasis ours)
So he’ll say something positive and all is well, right?
Wrong. And this is where the mess really begins.
Jim’s response? Well, it wasn’t applause:
This label makes no sense. Which begs the question of its accuracy. It’s not specd out correctly. You MUST list the total protein amount (25g) but you don’t have to list the source, however when you add what they are claiming 16.1+13.2 it doesn’t add up. Remember, there are companies who have flat out lied. This is suspect. Sorry if you have to question, it’s your choice but I don’t want my consumers to question anything. Additionally this has no medium digesting protein so……
— Jim Stoppani, May 7, 2016 (on Facebook)
Now, let’s give Jim the benefit of the doubt. He’s got a PhD, but there are quite a few words and numbers on NutraBio’s label here. It can be confusing if you don’t take the time to read it.
So I posted a response from our PricePlow account, explaining how we’re really looking at 14.3g + 10.7g = 25g. My comment was quickly deleted, but I’m not upset, because it did start with something to the tune of “LOL UMMM NO”, which is admittedly unprofessional, and it’s completely within Jim’s right to do so. Unfortunately, I do not have a screenshot of this comment, but I have no reason to lie — it was deleted.
However, in that comment, I also tagged @NutraBio, which awoke the sleeping giant.
In comes Mark Glazier, founder of NutraBio
Having been in contact with Mark Glazier ever since we wrote our popular amino acid spiking article, I can tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt that this man takes his labels seriously. So seriously that he even discloses the amount of flavoring, sweetener, and colors on the labels – something nobody else is currently doing. You can see an example for yourself in the image above!
Now, normally in the supplement industry, you’d expect a testosterone-driven “shouting match”. Instead, on May 8th at 1:38PM (CST), Mark posted a wonderfully professional comment, defending his label:
“Hello all, I am the founder of NutraBio. I appreciate the discussion of my protein so let me jump in and clear up a few things.
The label shown has 100% ingredient disclosure including the exact dosage of each protein source and each component of the flavor system. I am not required to disclose the dosage of the source, but I believe to claim a true “no proprietary blend label” you must disclose everything to the consumer. I am the only brand on the market that discloses the exact dosage of every ingredient with absolutely no exceptions, and I have done so in every one of my 300 plus products for over 15 years.
Here is the math: This product contains only 5 ingredients with a total serving size of 29.92 grams broken down as follows: 16.1 grams of whey Protein Isolate (WPI), 13.2 grams of Micellar Casein (MC), 417mg of vanilla flavor, 167mg of xanthan and 37mg of sucralose. The ingredients total 29.92 grams, which matches the serving size claimed on the label exactly.
Lets go a step further. We all understand that no protein source is 100% protein, for example WPI contains about 90% protein and MC about 80%. I take label transparency so serious that I disclose not only the dose of each protein source but also the amount of complete protein each source provides.
In this case, my label claims each serving contains 25 grams of complete protein. To achieve this, the formula requires 29.3 grams of WPI and MC combined. The label shows the breakdown exactly: one serving includes 16.1 grams of WPI supplying 14.3 grams of complete protein, along with 13.2 grams of MC supplying 10.7 grams of complete protein. By adding the two together you get a total of 25 grams of complete protein.
The protein values of each protein source add up to the total protein claim, the individual ingredients add up to the serving size claim. The math makes absolute sense. Folks, this is what complete label transparency is all about. With this high level of information disclosed on my labels, you can prove out the formula to milligram accuracy.
— Mark Glazier, Founder and CEO of NutraBio, on the Facebook image thread above
But if you head back to the picture with this conversation thread, you’ll see two problems:
- that comment no longer exists.
- Jim never updated or deleted his original comment which was now shown to be incorrect.
The comment hiding begins
Unfortunately, shortly thereafter, Mark’s comment was hidden – either by Jim Stoppani, someone doing his social media, or by Facebook itself. (How do I know it was first hidden and not yet deleted? Hang in there.)
At this point, on May 8 at 8:44PM CST, I emailed Jim and his right-hand-man, Mike, asking what was going on and attaching the above two screenshots:
“Well gentlemen, I can understand your deleting my comment over here, but Mark Glazier’s comment (see attached) on this post was extremely well-written, polite, and informative.
Care to comment on or off the record?
Thanks as always!
— Email from PricePlow Mike to Jim Stoppani and JYM Mike
I’m yet to receive a response from that email.
Meanwhile, after his comment was hidden, NutraBio Mark posted another comment, on May 9, 10:24am CST:
[CUSTOMER NAME OMITTED], good question to bring up, as the owner of NutraBio let me address it. By disclosing on our label each protein source along with its corresponding yield of complete protein we prove mathematically that the product is not protein spiked.
Here is the math: My label claims each serving contains 25 grams of complete protein then further breaks down where every gram of that protein comes from. One serving includes 16.1 grams of Whey Protein Isolate (WPI) supplying 14.3 grams of complete protein, along with 13.2 grams of Micellar Casein (MC) supplying 10.7 grams of complete protein. Remember that no protein source contains 100% protein value, for example WPI contains about 90% protein and MC about 80% which is why we disclose both the dose of the source and its yield.
When you add the numbers, you get a combined total of 29.3 grams of WPI and MC which yields 25 grams of complete protein. By disclosing this level of detail on the label, every gram of protein we claim is accounted for leaving no option of spiking. Furthermore, every ingredient with its dose is disclosed on the label right down to amount of flavor we add. The label also verifies there are no additional ingredients in this product such as amino acids or creatine that would provide NPN (non-protein-nitrogen) that would cause spiked nitrogen levels. We leave nothing open to interpretation, the label is completely transparent.
— Mark Glazier, Founder and CEO of NutraBio (second attempt to inform consumer on the Facebook image thread above)
Using my personal Facebook feed to see this comment, I got the following three screenshots:
Where are those comments now? Sadly, they’re no longer hidden — they’re now fully deleted.
That comment stood for a couple of days, the customer thanked him, and at that point, I figured it was all said and done, despite the fact that Jim’s rather incorrect response was still live.
Jim goes all in
Instead, Jim doubles down, posting an excruciating video stating that “Pro JYM is the only non-proprietary protein blend on the market”. Published on May 11, 2016, three days after hiding my comment and NutraBio Mark’s first comment and two days after Mark posted his second comment (which is now completely deleted).
At this point, Stack3d chimes in with this post, also on May 11, causing quite the stir. Stack3d was completely unaware of the fact that I’ve now been closely following the situation regarding the hidden/deleted comments on Facebook.
Also, on May 11, Jim posts the following comment, after the original commenter thanked Mark at NutraBio:
“Actually [CUSTOMER NAME] if you want to put your trust in other brands that are not giving it to you straight it is your choice. BS? I guess the protein spiking and lawsuits brought forth by my exposing how to read a label was BS? So much for helping you understand what others do to lie to you. Make your own choices. The above comment still makes no sense and if it takes a dissertation from someone to explain why their label somehow makes the cut, then I might as well showcase information supporting my kids belief in Santa Claus. Additionally if someone from another company is using MY FACEBOOK page to troll my consumers shouldn’t that tell you the pathetic nature in which they will try to sell you on their brand? Goes to show you they have nothing better to do than to worry about what real expertise and science say when they position false information and try to rationalize it
— Jim Stoppani, on Facebook thread
The above screenshot is where things remain as of May 13, 2016.
…and they’re gone.
Where are Mark Glazier’s comments now? They’re not even showing up on my personal feed anymore. They’re no longer hidden, they’re permanently deleted.
Now, I’ll be the first to admit that it’s well within Jim’s rights to delete or hide comments. All of us brands have done it before, PricePlow included (usually in an effort to combat spammers). But that original comment reply still sits…
Doing the due diligence
There have now been several instances of attempts to re-educate and notify Jim of this situation:
- The customer’s original posting of this label
- My comment (deleted)
- Mark Glazier’s original comment (hidden and then deleted)
- Mark Glazier’s second comment (deleted)
- Stack3d’s blog post
- Comments on his video, such as James Tracy’s comment about Muscle Elements TRUTH (James is a VP at Muscle Elements)
Yet his original response to the comment, stating that NutraBio’s label is “not specd out correctly” still stands, unedited, to this point. This is where we have a problem.
While I’m not a lawyer, I personally believe the constant hiding/deleting of comments while not updating the original incorrect answer is something to be seriously concerned about here. Either you change nothing or you edit everything – you shouldn’t pick and choose when the truth applies.
At the end of the day, this matters to me because consumers have been done a disservice, and one of the few honest companies, NutraBio, has been thrown under the bus as a result.
The truth is that they’re both great products, and there’s so many far worse ones that could be attacked instead. But if you want to nitpick, let’s have at it:
Digging Deeper: There’s “non-proprietary” and then there’s 100% TRANSPARENT
Jim even states that “You MUST list the total protein amount (25g) but you don’t have to list the source”, which is true, but is also an admission that NutraBio’s product has a label that goes above and beyond Pro JYM’s.
In Pro JYM, we aren’t sure what specific quality of each protein (as defined by percent-by-weight) we’re getting. In NutraBio’s Muscle Matrix, we do get the quantitative quality for the whey protein isolate (90%), although not the casein percentage.
Alongside the flavoring, filler, and sweetener numbers, NutraBio is undoubtedly a more open formula – at this moment in time, their transparency is untouched.
Further, in terms of total protein by weight in the finished product, Muscle Matrix is “cleaner” too: Vanilla Muscle Matrix has 25g protein in a 29.9g scoop (83.6% protein by weight), while vanilla Pro JYM has 24g protein in a 34.5g scoop (69.6% protein by weight). Pro JYM clearly has more fillers and creamers and may taste smoother, but we really don’t know how much of that 10.5g leftover is from the “Other ingredients” or is from the non-protein byproducts from the four protein-based ingredients. With NutraBio, we know where every last milligram is going. Who is proprietary now?
14.3 + 10.7 = 25
Meanwhile, the PhD Dr. Stoppani claims that “The above comment [NOW DELETED] still makes no sense and if it takes a dissertation from someone to explain why their label somehow makes the cut, then I might as well showcase information supporting my kids belief in Santa Claus.”
So you’re publicly admitting that you have indeed read the Mark Glazier comments above, yet you’re telling me that 14.3 + 10.7 = 25 makes no sense?
At this point, I’ve seen it all.
Time to get real
Dr. Stoppani, it’s time to take a step back, slow down, and reconsider your recent behavior. You are one of the most highly-respected men in this industry. You’ve always been one of the few good guys, too: with your workout plans and videos, you’ve changed more lives for the better than can be counted, and we’ll always love you for that.
But this bullshit has got to stop.
It’s time to follow your very own mission statement, and commend the few other brands that have stepped up their game, or at least acknowledge that you are not the only non-proprietary game in town.
Hell, these brands don’t even need acknowledgement – they just need you to stop lying to customers about their very existence.
Fact of the matter is that 90% of this industry is still complete and total garbage, so it’s okay to pat the other 10% on the back! Trust me, there’s plenty of money for everyone to make. The constant rising tide of this industry lifts all ships, and remember that protein is a repeated consumer purchase, so if they didn’t buy Pro JYM this time, you can still get ’em next time.
Listen, I understand that it gets old talking about the same thing over and over. You think I want to write about yet another pre workout supplement with the same five ingredients every damn week?
With nine JYM products, there’s only so much room for unique content plays – it’s not infinite. At some point, we run out of ways to describe protein powders and caffeine-based supplements. I understand that pain, and I personally believe you’ve hit that wall. Yet that’s perfectly okay, because you have the trump card:
A better plan for JYM
Here’s the kicker: you don’t even need to make new supplement videos! Instead, my advice is to get back to doing what made you so awesome in the first place: your killer workout content. Motivational stuff. Form, technique, and tattoos even. Throw a JYM t-shirt on and drink out of a JYM shaker cup during that video.
Trust me, we will get it. We are not stupid. We know that you make a damn good protein powder, and the #JYMArmy will buy it at nearly any price, if only to thank you for all the fantastic free content you’ve provided over the years. That model works. This new model doesn’t.
When you run out of things to talk about regarding supplements, the absolute worst thing you can do is to double down, especially if that means throwing the few other honest companies under the bus in the process.
With so many bad products out there, there’s plenty of market space for the good ones to all succeed without stepping on each others’ toes. By raising customer standards, we can all win together.
You are better than this, Dr. Stoppani. So be better, and quit it with this bullshit.
Mike at PricePlow
Jim Stoppani has Responded…
On the evening of June 6, 2016, Jim posted a video response to this post and some of the videos made out there:
At this point, we’re at a total loss for words. We have nothing further to add than that – you can make up your own minds by now.
Mark Glazier at NutraBio Responds
On June 7th, 2016, Mark Glazier posted a thoughtful and educational response to Jim’s two videos:
Excellently stated, Mark.
Final Question: Did Jim Stoppani even formulate Pro JYM?
Here’s one last thing we’ve noticed: Pro JYM’s formula is eerily similar to Bodybuilding.com’s Protogen formula!! Take a look at the two vanilla flavors:
Compare the differences:
- Pro JYM has the exact same ingredients as Protogen, in the exact same order, except it doesn’t have the AMINOGEN digestive enzymes that Protogen has!
- The serving size and nearly all other ingredients are nearly 20% different.
The fats are the same, yet the calories from fat are not, which may actually mean that Pro JYM has more creamers??
Yet Pro JYM costs more for less.
We know that Protogen has been out longer than Pro JYM, since there’s an archive.org page of it from August 18, 2012, while Pro JYM came out around mid-2014.
So, at this point, we have to ask: Did Jim Stoppani even formulate Pro JYM??? Or is this just a spin on an old Protogen formula that they had sitting around in the offices?
At this point, we don’t see a purpose in ever recommending Pro JYM. Not only for Jim Stoppani’s questionable marketing tactics covered here, but now also because you can get a similar (if not better) product in Protogen for less money!
In conclusion, it was a fun ride for the JYM Army, but it’s definitely our time to get off the train – for good.
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