Rob and Dana Linn Bailey, founders of the popular clothing line Flag Nor Fail, recently released their first ever supplement ONWARD to the masses, and it’s drawn quite a bit of attention.
Always on the go, Rob and Dana found themselves popping multiple supplements to support their health, energy, and immune systems. Rather than continue to consume a truckload work of pills, they set out to develop an all-inclusive formula that will give users energy, focus and better overall health.
Specifically aimed at the weekend warriors (those that run triathlons on the weekends and have long business trips starting Monday morning), ONWARD promises to give:
- Immune system support
- Sustained energy
- Optimal focus
- Mood enhancement
Marketed under the brand Run Everything Labs on the website Whatever Your Work May Be, this is meant to be a daily health supplement, not a pre workout supplement!
When the label was first released, all the hype surrounding the product was met with equal parts curiosity and disappointment. While some fans believed this is exactly what the industry needed, others didn’t see anything prolific or ground-breaking in the heavily-disguised formula.
We got our hands on the label and see if ONWARD has anything to it. But before we get into the pros and cons, take a look at our coupon-powered price comparisons and sign up for price updates, because this is one expensive daily supplement:
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First, the bad news. We really want to like this supplement, because after all, we like Rob and Dana Linn. But in all fairness, there are three glaring issues here, and they all lead us to wonder if ONWARD will be worth the money:
Proprietary formula front-loaded with cheap ingredients
We were most disappointed to see that the product was launched with a proprietary blend inside.
First, Flag Nor Fail has always broadcast a type of message that they were “hard working folks of the people, for the people”. In the supplement industry, nothing says this more than a 100% open formula. Instead, we were treated to quite the opposite — not even a disclosure on how much caffeine is inside.
Not only that, but the proprietary blend was front-loaded with three extremely inexpensive ingredients, further obfuscating an already confusing (albeit unique) formula.
If this was a $0.50/day supplement, we’d be fine with a prop blend. But it’s not…
At retail prices, you’re going to be paying $1.50/day for relatively unknown amounts of active ingredients. No doubt, each and every one of the ingredients has credence (as we get into our analysis below), but without knowing how much we’re getting, it’s quite a risky sell.
This is doubly true since this isn’t really replacing anything in your regimen – you’re likely still going to want more Vitamin D, for instance – so now we’re just $45 poorer and cannot prove that we have anything to show for it.
We’re now a bit more comfortable with what’s inside, since Vitamin C is disclosed, and that allows us to further analyze the label. But unfortunately, there’s not enough good room for great doses of the good stuff.
Simply put, if poorly dosed, ONWARD would have about $4/bottle of raw materials in it. But at adequate doses of CDP Choline AND Noopept, that number would be about $18…
…and in this industry, if the label allows for the former, it’s best not to assume the latter. Once again, they should open this label up so we can really see what’s going on.
But it sold out!
No doubt, ONWARD will sell. Hell, at this point, Flag Nor Fail could put out workout diapers, throw up a YouTube video, and you’d be seeing bros wearing them on their next leg day. They are masters of marketing and have a huge following.
But at PricePlow, it takes more than hype and legions of fans for us to get behind something. Our readers demand more, and that’s where our in-depth ingredient and value analyses come in.
So let’s look at the benefits of each ingredient, and decide if the pros (below) can outweigh the cons (above).
ONWARD’s formula consists of several different types of vitamins and of course, the dreaded proprietary blend (but we at least know Vitamin C, which helps us do some math). Let’s go through each of these and see what they have in store for us!
Palmitate (Vitamin A) – 5000 IU
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin used in the body to support healthy vision, immune function and cellular communication. Typical amounts seen in multi-vitamins range anywhere from 2,500-10,000 IU so this sits nicely in the middle of that range.
However, most people living in the United States would be hard pressed to not get enough Vitamin A in their diets. Deficiency in this vitamin is really only seen in developing countries.
Cholecalciferol (Vitamin D3) – 400 IU
Now, there is an increasing amount of those deficient in Vitamin D. Stuck inside by our office jobs and video game obsessions, we don’t get out into the sun often enough for our body’s to soak up those glorious UV rays and synthesize our own Vitamin D.
Onward does include the preferred form, cholecalciferol, in its formula which has shown to be the most effective form when supplemented. The dosage is a little on the low side as RDA for Vitamin D is 600 IU for individuals 18-69.
But in terms of actual supplemental research, 2000IU – 5000IU seems to be more of a sweet spot for proven benefits with no side effects (anything over 10,000IU is where things start to get hairy, so stay below that total).
Tocopherol Acetate (Vitamin E Acetate) – 30 IU
Vitamin E is a potent antioxidant in the body and is responsible for staving off those nasty free radicals and proper immune system functioning.
Phytonadione (Vitamin K1) – 80mcg
Vitamin K functions as a coenzyme in the body and is utilized in the blood clotting process as well as bone metabolism. The problem with this synthetic form of Vitamin K is that there are few if any studies that show this form of the vitamin is absorbed by the body.
Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1) – 1.5mg
Vitamin B1, and all the B vitamins for that matter, are critical for the body’s production of energy. They are heavily involved in converting carbohydrates to glucose providing the necessary fuel for our cells. Additionally, Thiamin helps the body’s immune system and fight off stress.
We arrive at our first mistake on this ingredient panel. The RDA for Vitamin B1 is 1.2mg… ONWARD’s label states 1.5mg is 50% of the RDA. This may be a sign of things to come…
Riboflavin (Vitamin B2) – 1.7mg
Aside from its energy production benefits, Vitamin B2 is another antioxidant used by the body to stave off damage from free radical. It is also used for producing red blood cells and overall growth.
The RDA for B2 is 1.6 mg for breastfeeding women and 1.4 for men ages 19 and up… again, Onward’s label states they are only supplying 50% of the RDA, when their dosage is clearly higher than the RDA.
Niacinamide (Vitamin B3) – 20mg
Vitamin B3 helps the body make stress-related and sex hormones, in addition to its role with energy production. It has also been shown to improve circulation and help lower LDL cholesterol (the bad kind).
Another label faux pas as the highest RDA is 18mg (pregnant women) and they’ve included 20mg, yet claim they are only supplying 50% of the RDA value. Seems like their lab guys need to check their RDA tables…
d-Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B5) – 10mg
Much like all the other B vitamins, this is used for energy production and metabolism in the body, but B5 is particularly important to the production of red blood cells. Not only that, but Vitamin B5 plays a role in keeping your digestive tract healthy and functioning optimally.
We’re not going to get into the RDA thing again….just know it’s incorrect on ONWARD’s label.
Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6) – 2mg
Vitamin B6 is responsible for making several key neurotransmitters in the body in addition to the hormones norepinephrine and serotonin, which help influence mood.
Vitamin B6 also works with B9 and B12 to regulate the body’s levels of homocysteine and create red blood cells and immune system cells.
Cyanocobalamin (Vitamin B12) – 6mcg
Vitamin B12 helps with the production of DNA and RNA and is especially critical in maintaining healthy nerve cells.
However, ONWARD uses the cheapest form of Vitamin B12 in the synthetic variant cyanocobalamin which is known to be less absorbed by the body, because it needs to be converted to the “active” form by mammals first.
It would have been much better to include this natural and active form of B12, methylcobalamin, which is then a more direct and much better-utilized type of B12.
Biotin (Vitamin H) – 0.3mg
The body uses biotin to metabolize proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. It is part of the B vitamin family, even though it’s sometimes called Vitamin H, and is involved in strengthening your hair and nails.
Selenium – 100mcg
An essential mineral found in the body, selenium plays a role in proper thyroid function and immune system function.
ONWARD Proprietary Blend – 4,862mg
Now we get to the real meat of ONWARD’s label. Composed of L-Taurine, L-Glutamine, Ascorbic Acid, Echinacea, L-Tyrosine, Caffeine Anhydrous, Colostrum, CDP Choline, Noopept, should be where we get the real “bang for our buck.”
Again, our first gripe right off the bat is with the most crucial ingredients in this blend being hidden under the proprietary label. This is where we should really see how effective ONWARD can be, but we have no clue how much of any of these ingredients is in it. So the best we can do is just go over what each does.
L-Taurine possesses several antioxidative properties and helps maintain healthy cardiac tissue.
Although we’re fans of taurine, it’s also a cheap ingredient commonly used for purposes of proprietary blend disguising and amino acid spiking in protein.
L-Glutamine is the most plentiful amino acid in the body has long been ballyhooed around bodybuilding circles for its recovery benefits, but the research doesn’t really back it up – for muscle growth, at least. It has been shown to help with glycogen replenishment though following endurance training.
Pros: Glutamine and the immune system’s leucocytes
The good news is that glutamine does have some impact on immune system support – which is why it’s added here. When we see this amino acid marketed as a muscle builder, it makes our blood boil – because it does not work like that. But thanks to the fact that leukoctyes (certain immune cells) use it as their main energy substrate, it can definitely help you out when your system is suppressed. Just as marketed.
Cons: Frequently used as cheap filler / amino acid spiking
The bad news is that this is an extremely cheap ingredient, and it’s in the front of the proprietary blend, just like taurine. It’s also implicated in amino acid spiking scandals due to its low cost. So while it’s useful here, it could be more useful to a supplement manufacturer’s profit margins than to your immune system.
Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C) – 1000mg
Ascorbic Acid is another name for Vitamin C, which is one of the most potent antioxidants known to man. And we now know that in the updated label, there’s 1000mg of it.
So that makes for three ridiculously inexpensive ingredients in front of the prop blend. Next is where things start to get unique.
Doing some math, we know that there is at LEAST 1000mg of Taurine, Glutamine, and Vitamin C — which makes 3000mg. Take that out of our 4,862mg proprietary blend, and we can deduce that there’s at MOST 1862mg of the remaining ingredients (echinacea, l-tyrosine, caffeine anhydrous, colostrum, CDP Choline, and Noopept).
Those numbers are likely a bit different, but it helps with our analysis.
Echinacea is an herb than is commonly used to help people ward off colds or other sickness, but the research is inconclusive at best and doesn’t demonstrate echinacea as the be all, end all supplement to stave off ailments.
The best meta analysis performed of echinacea and all of its well-performed studies shows that it does reduce the length of sickness in individuals (by an average of 1.4 days), but is wildly unreliable.
So it might work for you, it might not, but if you’re exposed to illness frequently, you’re better off having it than not (there are no significant side effects).
L-Tyrosine is a non-essential amino acid that is used to produce dopamine and noradrenaline. It’s most useful application is when taken prior to exercise to exert anti-stress benefits.
We also enjoy the focus benefits of L-Tyrosine. Unfortunately for ONWARD, the more expensive N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine is the best-absorbed form, however. Users anecdotally feel better focus from it, but regular L-Tyrosine is still pretty beneficial – just cheaper.
If Flag Nor Fail dosed this one adequately, it could be why users are feeling so good, though. Anywhere near 1000mg would be awesome – and possibly leave enough room for decent doses of the rest.
Caffeine Anhydrous is everyone’s favorite stimulant and pre-workout ingredient. It is constantly funneled into our bodies via coffee, energy drinks, pre-workouts, and soft drinks. It gives us a good boost of energy and focus.
Unfortunately, we have no idea how much is in ONWARD, and that’s a major disappointment because most of us like to use other sources of caffeine (in coffee, pre workouts, fat burners, etc) yet stay at safe thresholds. Using this, you start to fly blind with your caffeine intake.
Colostrum, a.k.a. “first milk”, is a secretion from the mammary glands of cows and other like animals. It does appear to offer some digestive and immune system boosting benefits. As a performance-enhancing supplement, the research is conflicting at best.
Also, at this point, we have got to be getting into miniscule doses – after all, it’s after caffeine in the proprietary blend, and nobody is bouncing off the walls from ONWARD. Several colostrum powders come in 3g scoops, which is great to mix with your protein. This is potentially ~3% or less than that kind of dose, though.
Also known as citicoline, CDP Choline is one of the many forms of choline supplements that are used by individuals seeking to improve their mental concentration and focus. We’re huge fans of it. However, the most conclusive studies have shown it to be effective in rats and the elderly with doses between 500-2,000mg.
Anecdotally, 500mg is where things really start to get fun with citicoline. But being behind caffeine, this cannot possibly come close to that dose.
Arguably, a much better form of choline supplement would have been Alpha-GPC, but once again, that’d cost more money.
Noopept is another nootropic compound and the last ingredient in this proprietary blend. We haven’t talked about it much here, but it’s gaining a lot of steam in the cognitive enhancement community.
Noopept similar to another potent nootropic, piracetam, and may help with cognitive decline and memory improvement. Other animal studies have shown it to have anti-anxiety benefits, but this has yet to be conclusively proven in human trials.
Alongside a great dose of L-Tyrosine, this could be one of the secret weapons in ONWARD, since it doesn’t take much (say 20mg) to start “feeling the flow” from it.
So there it is! The whole breakdown of ONWARD’s rather extensive and exhaustive ingredient panel. As you can see, it is a mish-mash of good ingredients combined with a few potentially unnecessary ingredients, and the potential for greatness.
No doubt, it’s a phenomenal idea, but is that alone enough to get our blessing?
Currently, ONWARD is available in two flavor, Berriade and Watermelon, and retails for $44.99. Using the PricePlow widget below, you can see that some of our built-in coupons save you money off of that:
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While the idea of an all-in-one supplement is appealing, and seems to deliver on most of its promises (as well as review well), we do wish it was a bit less expensive.
At the end of the day, this seems like an incredible product idea, with powerful marketing. But is it worth it?
We believe that there’s definitely a market for this – there’s still no quality “executive-level” nootropic/energy/health formula for a businessperson on the go who has to constantly fight fatigue and airborne pathogens. It’s a good idea that someone is going to dominate.
Without knowing the exact caffeine content of this product, it’s hard to know how much energy or focus this will give or how to best fit it into your day.
Until Run Everything Labs / Whatever Your Work May Be open up the label completely and tell us chapter and verse how much of each ingredient is in ONWARD, we’re going to remain on the sidelines – at least until the price drops.
The last rep
The bottom line is that ONWARD is going to sell because Rob and Dana Linn Bailey are master marketers and it will have no trouble reaching their fan base.
It’s also reviewing pretty well, so you can’t argue with that if you’re on a big budget.
But is it worth the money for the rest of us?
As with nearly every other self-aggrandizing startup team, rarely a day goes by when Rob and Dana Linn don’t tell you just how hard they work. But is this a supplement that actually solves that problem, or is it just another podium for them to remind you of it?
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- Neznamov GG, Teleshova ES; Comparative studies of Noopept and piracetam in the treatment of patients with mild cognitive disorders in organic brain diseases of vascular and traumatic origin; Neurosci Behav Physiol. (2009)
- Hanna J, et al Protective effect of taurine against free radicals damage in the rat myocardium; Exp Toxicol Pathol. (2004)
- Glutamine Synthetase: A Key Enzyme for Intestinal Epithelial Differentiation?
- Ardawi MS; Glutamine metabolism in lymphocytes of the rat; Biochem J. (1983)
- Shah SA, et al; Evaluation of echinacea for the prevention and treatment of the common cold: a meta-analysis . Lancet Infect Dis. (2007)
- Meeusen R, Watson P, Dvorak J; The brain and fatigue: new opportunities for nutritional interventions; J Sports Sci. (2006)
- Magnusson, I; N-acetyl-L-tyrosine and N-acetyl-L-cysteine as tyrosine and cysteine precursors during intravenous infusion in humans.; Department of Clinical Physiology, Karolinska Institute, Huddinge Hospital; 1998
- Hurley WL1, Theil PK ; Perspectives on immunoglobulins in colostrum and milk; Nutrients. (2011)
- Alvarez XA, et al; Citicoline improves memory performance in elderly subjects . Methods Find Exp Clin Pharmacol. (1997)
In our list of cons, this text is what was removed:
Illegal Label per FDA Guidelines In an effort to break this formula down more, we noticed that Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C) was the third ingredient in the proprietary blend, so we checked to see what the dosage was. According to the FDA law, quantities of vitamins and minerals that have DRVs (daily reference value) or RDIs (Reference Daily Intake) — which includes Vitamin C — must be disclosed, as established in 21 CFR 101.9(c)(9) and 21 CFR 101.9(c)(8)(iv).[1,2] Unfortunately, despite those guidelines, the dosage is not disclosed. Knowing the amount of vitamin C would go a long way towards us understanding the true nature of this formula – and it’s ever-so-inconveniently not provided. “Mistakes” like these are what make us further question this product and the effort / research that was put into its creation. We are considering putting this into our bodies, after all. For $1.50/day, we need better.
The new label now states Vitamin C (1000mg!), so we’re good to go on this one.