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Supplements are big business. Huge business in fact. The supplement industry is worth billions. But should we really be swayed by basing out supplement purchases on whether they’re aimed at men or women?

The local health food store, nutrition shops in the mall, fitness magazines, TV commercials, infomercials – wherever you look, supplements are everywhere. The supplement industry is worth a lot of money. It’s reported that the global supplement industry is worth not fat sure of 70 billion dollars, so supplements are pretty big business.

The Marketing Behind Male and Female Supplements

Supplements are marketed as miracle cures. No matter what your ailment, be it health-related such as poor skin, sleep and stress issues or feeling tired and lethargic, or simply wanting to improve your performance in the gym and on the sports field, there’s a supplement for it.

Sports supplements tend to be the most heavily marketed and promoted, purely for the reason that people want to look awesome. Forget going to the gym and eating healthily, if a supplement company can convince people that their product will get the desired results without any of the hard work, they’ll do their utmost to get their ad team on the case and put the product on the shelves.

Unfortunately, more often than not, we’re suckers for fancy marketing

The trend in recent years has definitely swung towards the way of gender specific marketing. You’ll tend to find two categories of supplements.

The first generally come in huge black tubs with a picture on the front of a ripped bodybuilder or a muscled hunk in shorts with a beach babe on his arm. The product name contains words like “anabolic” “mega” “xxx formula” “wrath” or “rage” and is often accompanied by a huge number that doesn’t mean anything. As you’d expect, these supplements are marketed at men wanting to get big and lean.

On the other hand, you’ve got the supplements aimed at the female market. These will be sold in smaller tubs, or sleek, shiny bags often with a pastel color tint. The picture will be a women – not too muscley, just with good muscle tone and definition, elegantly sipping a shake from a tall glass. Words such as “diet” “lean” “vixen” or claims like “specifically designed for women” will adorn the label.

While these two products couldn't look more different, here’s the truth.

They are almost identical.

Next time you get the chance, pick up a container of basic whey protein powder. Look at the male version with the bodybuilder on the front. It will probably have claims on the bottle to do with increasing the rate of protein synthesis or how much muscle you can gain by adding it to your diet and include details of the ingredients like BCAAs, a percentage of protein and if it’s got any extra creatine, glutamine or leucine added.

Then get a women-specific protein powder. The packaging and pictures will be different for a start and the claims will probably involve a metabolism boosting property as well as fat loss and definition. The advertised ingredients will boast about the minimal carbohydrate and fat content, perhaps some added CLA or another fat burning ingredient.

But once you get down to it and examine the exact ingredients you’ll see something surprising – they will be 99% the same. Protein, carb and fat content, added ingredients and everything else will be so similar it won’t make a jot of difference.

The only variable between the two is the way they’re marketed. This certainly isn’t illegal, or even particularly underhand, but it’s very clever and an excellent way of getting you to part with more of your hard earned money.

With this being the case, it’s safe to assume that there are really very few differences between male or female specific supplements.

However, there are a few considerations regarding gender you do need to address when choosing nutritional supplements.

Continue reading after recommendations

  • “Good Nutrition: Should Guidelines Differ for Men and Women?”, By The Harvard Medical School, Accessed on October 7th, 2012, Retrieved from
  • Photo courtesy of iateapie on Flickr:
  • Photo courtesy of kimberlygauthier on Flickr: