Carb Powders and the Strange World of Supplement Economics

The world of nutrition is full of strange products. You have seen them all before: the “miracle” weight loss pills; the “superfoods”; the miracle skin creams; the miracle energy drinks…and so many others. What makes these products even stranger are their prices! These products are marketed at us with high hopes and low morals, but they’re not really any better than other junk food or drugs. They just cost more money! And that’s where we come in.

As a consumer, you might think that if I spend $100 on some product, it must be good.

But what does that actually mean? Is there something special about my dollar bill? Does it make me smarter because I have more money to buy whatever this product is? Or am I just paying more for the same thing?

Let’s take a look at some of the most popular products out there and see how much they really cost. (And yes, we will include the price of our own products!)

Carb Powders

What are Carb Puffs?

They’re little white pellets that taste like sugar water. The manufacturers claim that they contain no fat, no cholesterol, and no calories. And they even have some sugar in them for that sweet taste.

Doesn’t sound too bad huh? But how much do they really cost?

Well first you have to pay for the packaging which is often made of plastic. The cup that holds the pellets is 65% plastic! That’s almost as much as the product itself! And then there’s the cup itself, again made of plastic and which is also shipped from who know where, using who know what kind of fossil fuels. And then there’s the cup manufacturer and the cup distributor and the store you bought it all from.

So really, it’s not the price of the product that’s so bad. It’s all the other stuff that comes with it!

But what about actual price?

The most expensive kind of carb puff we’ve seen costs about $1.89 for a 1.5 ounce cup. Yes, that’s a whopping $1.89 for 1.5 ounces of carbs! If you’re a big time athlete this might be just what the doctor ordered. But we can think of other things we’d rather do with $1.89.

Sources & references used in this article:

Carb Powders and the Strange World of Supplement Economics by A Roberts –

Integration in microalgal bioprocess development: design of efficient, sustainable, and economic processes by WUC Powders

HIV and the moral economy of survival in an East African city by M Fresewinkel, R Rosello, C Wilhelm… – Engineering in Life …, 2014 – Wiley Online Library

Diet-dependent gene expression in honey bees: honey vs. sucrose or high fructose corn syrup by R Prince – Medical Anthropology Quarterly, 2012 – Wiley Online Library

Juvenile rainbow trout responses to diets containing distillers dried grain with solubles, phytase, and amino acid supplements by MM Wheeler, GE Robinson – Scientific reports, 2014 –

Algae—resource or scourge? Part II—economics and environment by ME Barnes, ML Brown… – Open Journal of Animal …, 2012 –

Production’in nature and production in the economy—second thoughts about some basic economic concepts by RH Charlier – International journal of environmental studies, 1991 – Taylor & Francis

Popular sports supplements and ergogenic aids by U Witt – Rethinking Economic Evolution, 2016 –