Introduction: what is it?
Complete nutrition is a dietary supplement company that separates its products into 3 broad ranges: weight loss, sports nutrition and general health. Upon entering the site, complete nutrition provides a short questionnaire about your body composition, activity level and goals – we really liked this as results in health and fitness are best achieved with an individualised approach. For those who have almost no experience in the area of supplementation or nutrition, this can be a great tool to direct them towards appropriate choices and provides some guidance towards the correct products. Obviously, this is another way of selling products to those who don’t know what they need, but it still sits well with us.
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Given the breadth of complete nutrition’s products, this article will discuss the main products – including some that were recommended to me based on the short survey available on the website. These include staples in the market such as protein powder and pre-workout, but some more novel products like a sleep-assistance spray and a dedicated recovery supplement that focuses on Leucine and various fats. As ever, these products have unnecessarily “hardcore” names such as RX4, Pre-X7 and Annex. These have exactly nothing to do with the products themselves but they make them sound like robots and/or cool.
Elite gold Annex
4 out of 5: it does what it says
Annex is complete nutrition’s take on the classical protein powder supplement – at 23g per 32g serving, this is standard for the market and we’re pretty happy with this quantity. The rest of the product is also relatively good for the market: there are only 3g of sugars per serving and a healthy serving of ground flaxseed is included in the powder. As with many other complete nutrition products, there is a focus on the content of BCAAs (Leucine, isoleucine and valine) which have a controversial reputation – but the inclusion of these in a protein powder is a modest benefit to the maintenance of a positive muscle-building environment. This makes it a relatively well-balanced protein powder: whilst it does not ‘stand out’ in any particular area it is exactly what it claims to be: protein powder.
Looking at the value, Annex is a little more expensive than some market alternatives but much cheaper than some ‘premium’ brands, at least on the regular price – $44.99 for 2lbs. It is also possible to get “members price”, which is considerably better value at $34.99 – but this involves committing to a monthly or annual contract (hilariously, the cost of 12 ‘monthly’ instalments is cheaper than an annual payment). On the value side of things, therefore, we continue to be neutral on this product: it is a simple, effective protein powder at a fairly reasonable price compared to the market alternatives.
This is our entire opinion on Annex: it is neither better nor worse than it claims to be. It is a protein powder, nothing more and nothing less. However, looking at the market and the way that supplements are marketed, this is probably a good thing. Protein powder supplements are not magical or glamorous – they’re glorified milk powder – so it is refreshing to see that there are no miraculous claims made by complete nutrition. Our verdict is that it is a protein powder and, in this role, it is a satisfactory choice – but perhaps that’s all it needs to be.
Elite gold Pre-X7
3 out of 5: conflicting ingredients, otherwise a pretty standard PWO
This product is a classical pre-workout: a type of supplement that has been manufactured and rehashed time and time again. The purpose of a pre-workout supplement is to improve performance during exercise, although complete nutrition claim that this product will “improve mind-muscle connection” which strikes us as utterly asinine when we consider that innervation of muscles is a long-term development and the result of repeated use . The product breaks down into 3 trademarked “matrixes” – Strength & endurance, ‘vaso pump’ and ‘Neuro igniter’ – we’ll discuss these individually.
Strength and endurance
The strength and endurance matrix is a fancy name for Beta-alanine (the endurance part) and creatine (probably the “strength” part, although this is a misrepresentation of its effects). Beta-alanine is a well-researched and effective aid to endurance, improving overall endurance across all forms of exercise, but primarily in aerobic exercise due to its effect on the removal of lactic acid . Beta-alanine should be the cornerstone of any pre-workout or endurance-boosting supplement and is a very popular ingredient in the pre-workout market.
Creatine is the strength-endurance supplement, maintaining the ability for maximal force output even as we tire over the course of a long training session. This doesn’t, however, improve maximum force output: creatine helps synthesise ATP in the muscles – the fuel source that we use for all movement and exercise . This is why creatine is such a popular supplement: it improves the sensation and performance in strength and can be incredibly useful for those who are trying to build muscle.
The vaso-pump matrix, again, sounds far too hardcore for what it is. This matrix is a mixture of 2 arginine-producing compounds (citrulline and arginine) and Agmatine sulfate. Citrulline and arginine are over-rated supplements in our estimations: these both increase serum concentrations of arginine which has a small effect on the Nitric oxide levels of muscles. This can be a positive effect, but even then, we have to consider the fact that orally-consumed arginine has incredibly poor absorption rates. Citrulline doesn’t have this problem, but research is still mixed on the effectiveness: there are some positive reports, but the overall trend suggests that it can inconsistently improve muscle development in a very minor way.
Agmatine is an incredibly interesting compound that is only recently gaining clinical attention. There has been a wealth of studies on the neurological effects of Agmatine (including those that suggest it has huge benefits for depression symptoms, but also increases the perception of pain), but our concern is the effect of Agmatine on the muscles. Agmatine has been shown – in some limited studies – to increase glucose uptake into the muscle, both in and out of exercise . Combined with the modest effects of the citrulline content, the Vaso pump matrix may be relatively effective at increasing the sensation of the “pump” and has some modest performance improvements.
The neuro igniter is a weird combination of ingredients and it doesn’t fill us with much confidence in the product. As with every other pre-workout possibly ever, the central ingredient is caffeine anhydrous in a reasonable dosage, which has a whole bunch of positive effects on metabolism, focus, blood flow and possibly even force production . However, the inclusion of this product with GABA confuses us: Caffeine actively blocks the uptake and utilisation of GABA to improve attention and focus. Thus, including GABA in the first place is an unusual choice, but including it with caffeine is self-defeating.
Bitter orange extract, theacrine and Vinopocetine are all secondary ingredients in this complex, primarily because there is insufficient evidence to suggest that any of these actually have any positive effects. The research on bitter orange extract is incredibly scarce, doesn’t really support positive effects as part of a pre-workout and had concerns with a conflict of interests due to corporate funding. Overall, these products are safe and may have some small effects, so there’s no real problem with them and their inclusion doesn’t cause “neuro ignition” but may have some small benefits.
Reclaim: 7-day cleanse
1 out of 5: cleanses don’t work
Complete nutrition also offers a “cleanse” product, which does nothing to really improve our opinion of their range. This product includes a variety of ingredients, but our concerns are mostly surrounding the inclusion of laxatives and diuretics in order to “refresh” the organs. Whilst complete nutrition contests that these improve digestive and kidney function, the science suggests that continued laxative use can damage the digestive system  and diuretics have long been known to have negative health effects.
There are some positive effects of these products: the inclusion of antioxidant compounds and prebiotics which can improve the health of the gut. However, this seems to be an unusual choice of product when it is likely to be the product itself causing poor digestive health. However, this does not seem to justify the cost of the product nor the negative side effects associated with a forced increase in urinary and fecal excretion. These can have serious problems and are irresponsible for inclusion in a dietary supplement: even one that is to be taken for 7 days.
Overall, we’re fairly neutral on complete nutrition’s regular product range. We’ll perform in-depth reviews of a number of other supplements in their own articles, but our general survey of these 3 products has left us in an unusual position: the protein and pre-workout supplements are generally positive with some marring issues with innocuous ingredients or failure to provide sufficient evidence. With the final product, the cleanse, we are simply not fans of cleanses and recent research suggests that these products do not actually provide short or long-term benefits above and beyond those of a healthy diet .
It is hard to give a rating to the company overall, but the average of the products we’ve reviewed is around an 3-3.5/5. This is moderately impressive and we can definitely say that we prefer complete nutrition to some market alternatives but, equally, there are some companies which we believe provide better products. Overall, we’d argue that complete nutrition is a relatively good company and their range has some effective, useful items – but this is qualified by the fact that these are primarily the ‘classical’ supplements and further research will be necessary before we can make definitive statements about any more novel items.
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 Calatayud et al (2016): Importance of mind-muscle connection during progressive resistance training’. European journal of applied physiology, 116(3), pp.527-533
 Hobson et al (2012): ‘Effects of beta-alanine supplementation on exercise performance: a meta-analysis’. Amino acids, 43(1), pp.25-37
 Juhasz et al (2009): ‘Creatine supplementation improves the anaerobic performance of elite junior fin swimmers’. Acta physiologica hungarica, 96(3), pp.325-336
 Khan et al (2005): ‘Beta-endorphin decreases fatigue and increases glucose uptake independently in normal and dystrophic mice’. Muscle & nerve, 31(4), pp.481-486
 Doherty et al (2004): ‘Caffeine lowers perceptual response and increases power output during high-intensity cycling’. Journal of sports sciences, pp.637-643
 Pietrusko, R.G. (1977): ‘Use and abuse of laxatives’. American journal of health-system pharmacy, 34(3), pp.291-300
Amanda is a gym instructor and a diet and nutrition fanatic that has reviewed 100s of supplements for the benefit of consumers. She struggled with obesity 7 years ago and after losing more than 30lbs, dedicates most of her time in helping others achieve similar results and transform their lives.