Supplements & Fitness In The Hunting Community
It is no secret that fitness has grown massively popular within the hunting industry in the past 10 years. The correlation between fit hunters and being successful in the field almost seems to be obsolete, but why?
Our forefathers were not all athletes, most of them didn't care about abs, or big biceps, hitting a PR on squats every two weeks, nor was getting the pump in the gym important just so they can be successful in the field. Shoot, most of them ate like crap, smoked like it was breathing, and drank moonshine like we all see in the old black and white hunting photos. Have you ever ran into an ol'timer in the hills? He lived off one can of sardines, Copenhagen, one water bottle, and some cowboy coffee for a four-day hunt.
So why the crave and popularity in fitness? Some would say because science shows a correlation between cardiovascular endurance, climbing mountains, and hunting longevity (time you can keep pursuing game). Others might say because fitness builds toughness, and hunters must be tough to be a provider for their families. We have also heard it is because of the saturated supplement market in the fitness industry is in need to find new niche markets and communities to tap into.
"Hunters who mainly live off grid, self-reliant, and or unfamiliar with the saturated supplement industry, makes for the perfect candidate to sell too. It's like selling candy to a baby." - Will Meyers, Former Bodybuilding.com Sales Consultant. UCSB Alumni; Bachelors in Marketing / Communications. A.C.E Certified Fitness Coach.
Think about it, every new "supp" company just needs to say, "helps you hunt better". Marketing campaigns like, "Give you an edge in the wilderness", "Adventure Fuel", "Become the Best Outdoor Athlete". Oh just name your products that match in the hunting industry, for example, like "Ammo, Blaze, Yeti, Magnum... etc. Hell, just sell some flat-bill hats to go along with it for marketing.. who knows.
Let us be honest, its not as easy as it looks. Data shows 1-10 new supplement companies hit the market every day. Its 150 billion dollar industry, to stand out you you need significant start-up capital, massive marketing budget, unique offerings, good formulas, a savvy marketing strategy, great content, and a ton of influencers to make it last enough time for some people to jump on board.
But here is the biggest problem with "supp" companies in this community (the hunting industry). Most of them are sourced from the exact same, big tyrant, manufacturing companies that use already pre-made formulas. All you have to do is slap your brands label on them and find a unique way to say how your formula and brand is different. Oh, and the whole "proprietary blend" is well too played out.
Lets back up to the ingredient and the manufacturing companies. Most of which are owned by only a handful of big dogs like VitaLabs, PLSupplement, Superior, and Makers Nutrition which would be happy to supply your "new break-through products". In the supplement industry, back when I worked for Bodybuilding.com we called all these new brands popping up... "the copper penny products." Any new brand that provided us with the manufacturing details of where their products were "created" (aka just pumped out like test tube babies like all the other products) we called them "copper pennies." Have you ever swallowed a copper penny? Well if you have, you will notice your body physically cannot digest it and you will poop it out in its original state, just like most of these products.
So if you have had your fair share of supplement, myself included, you probably have had copper penny products. Long story short, these products are heated and cooled and compress to formulate into protein powder, pre-workout, fish oil pills, multivitamins....etc. This process dilutes the actual effectiveness of the products and your body's actual absorption rate is 15-20% of the actual ingredients. Talk about a waist of money. Just like the copper penny your pooping out money!
But wait! "What about all the tingling effect I get from my "BRO enhanced pre-workout man!" come on guys really? Theres three ingredients that cause that; beta-alanine, niacin, and citrulline.. none of which actually helps improve your fitness or workout. Beta-alanine is the biggest culprit, as it is found in many pre-workout products despite it having no purpose in a pre-workout formula. Doses as low as 1g of beta-alanine can cause your skin to itch and tingle. Some will even notice it right on their lips as they are drinking a product with beta-alanine. Niacin the cheap formula to beta-alanine also has zero purpose in a pre-workout powder. So if you see it in the ingredients with a crazy daily value %, know that its probably there only to make your skin itch and tingle. Niacin is a B-vitamin, and yea, it is good to get enough B-vitamins every day. But taking a bunch of niacin before your workout isn't going to improve your workout in any way. You are just making your skin itch and tingle for no reason. If you say is does your drinking the BRO coo-lade, trust me.
If you really care to get a "good workout" (because your cannot hold your self accountable to get regular exercise in everyday), all you really need is to get adequate rest at night, eat health, drink lots of water, and set aside the time to workout with a plan in place. Mind blowing performance you will see, maybe i'll create a product that says it does all those things for you..... This also goes with protein powders. In fact this one is the easiest to get away with by the FDA, so they had to crack down on it harder with 3rd party companies to help test. Yet it is impossible to regulate all these new companies and all their individual products.
So here is the scoop, workout supplements vary in price by brand, but 5 pound tubs or bags of protein-based products often retail for more than $50 a tub. A supplement maker can buy wholesale whey protein concentrate – the most popular kind – for roughly $5 - $6 per pound. But third-party tests, attached to some of the lawsuits, show some companies also fill the tubs with far cheaper free form amino acids like glycine, taurine or leucine as well as other substances like creatine monohydrate, and then portray them as grams of protein on the products’ labels. Certain amino acids are considered the building blocks to protein but they are not protein by themselves, nor do they have the same benefits as complete proteins. These filler substances can cost less than $1 per pound, allowing companies to undercut competition with lower prices and dupe price-sensitive customers in the process. Oh and eating natural protein is far superior then "blended" protein powders by the way. Mind-blowing right?
Lets circle back to the crave and popularity in fitness with hunters now days. To be honest I love it and encourage it. Who doesn't want to be a more fit version of themselves regardless if they are in the mountains are not. With so much unhealthy processed foods and drinks at our convenience its hard to say no. Oh and do not get me started on how they get you with their advertising! As a fitness coach it keeps me in business, but in reality it is sad to watch the downfall of our judgement in whats quality food, and see the massive obesity rate skyrocket. So yes, I do enjoy seeing the fad of fitness in the hunting community. Whether its going to help you notch a tag vs something else to focus on is what can be debated.
Lets talk about hunting experience, knowledge, determination, and willingness to do whatever it takes (ethically) to harvest big game. You want to talk about ingredients... now your talking! Your chances of harvesting consistent success under these circumstance will outweigh ones fitness level hands down and fare superior then someone looking like The Rock. As they say, knowledge is power. The more information you have about the species you hunt, your equipment, and practice using it, the better hunter you become. Now combine that with being a Crossfit athlete; you have yourself a savage hunter. Notice how I did not say bodybuilder. If being a hunter is your goal it's best you train like marathon runner, UFC fighter, cross-fitter, endurance athlete, swimmer, rock climber, and or mountain climber. If being a butcher is your goal I highly suggest going the bodybuilding route.
So again why the crave and popularity in fitness in the hunting community? Personally as someone who studied marketing and advertising extensively through college and knowing the benefits of cardiovascular endurance as personal trainer... its a combination of all the above. Science proves a strong correlation between cardiovascular endurance, climbing mountains builds your longevity in your ability to pursuing game day after day. Fitness does build toughness and character that rolls into a hunters mind to be a provider for their family. And yes, the hunting industry is being saturated with new supplement companies that claim their products will help you in the hills and for most hunters we are quite naive it will help our harvest rate. They do a great job of product marketing and tailoring their revolutionary breakthrough products to meet the needs of all hunters alike! Do hunters need these products, absolutely not, you can always find natural alternatives that are healthier (real food) and that are cost effective.
Will the products make them a better performer in the mountains? Maybe, but not as well as natural way, and investing in your knowledge will be more effective.
Does the placebo effect work? Totally. Do salt tablets work for recovery and muscle cramp? Yes, just like their "proprietary blend" recover drink do that are twice as expensive with the same mg of salt. LOL.
If you ate real protein and veggies, got adequate rest, exercised regularly, and drank lots of water throughout the day would you need additional supplements? No, and definitely not the pre-workouts.
The great things with some of these "hunting supplement companies" are in fact the claim to provide 2% back to conservation efforts and or giving back to the community in one way or another (we can only hope). So do not feel too bad, your money isn't going to a complete waist like the copper penny mentioned above.
So the next time your thinking about about a protein supplement, recovery drink powder, post BCAA (which really you should find a EAA supplement over BCAA), and a "booster" drink to give you a push to meet your physique and fitness goals, don’t be fooled by flashy marketing. You’re smarter than that. Take a minute to think about what you really need and evaluate how that product is really going to give it to you.
As mentioned above, invest in your knowledge. Go listen to a hunting podcast , read hunting forms, call up some ol'timers with hunting experience, and or reach out to those that are consistently successful. And with the supplements the best strategy may be to just keep it simple. Get your protein without all the fillers and avoid those nasty artificial ingredients and do your research on "non hunting companies" that are credible to keep your cost down. Look up fat burning natural foods or metabolism booster foods and for damn sake stop eating fast food, cook like the ol'timers did. Good Luck out there!