Note: This article was updated after the 2023 release of Ghost Legend V3, which kept Nutrition21’s Nitrosigine as a key performance ingredient in the formula.
Over the past several years, nothing in the dietary supplement industry has had a meteoric rise as fast as Ghost Lifestyle, the brand founded by Dan Lourenco and Ryan Hughes in 2016.
Case in point, it’s nearly impossible to have a phone call with other supplement industry operators and Ghost doesn’t get mentioned. With their authentic licensed flavor collaborations, documentary-style behind-the-scenes footage, and fresh take on branding, the company has really flipped the script on the entire market. Throughout the process, they brought some much-needed legitimacy to the sports nutrition industry.
Ingredient Innovations in 2021 (Legend V2) Maintained in 2023 (Legend V3)
In 2021, a key theme Ghost promoted was the “Year of the V2”, spending the first half of the year upgrading several flagship supplements. The most notable product in the line is the Ghost Legend pre-workout supplement, which, back in 2016, made for a formidable introduction to professional flavoring and open formulas. But five years later, the pre-workout was due for a “power boost”.
They put their stamp on those V2 formulas, and several other brands and stores followed suit, copying much of their branding and formulation. In 2023, they did it again, keeping one the powerful nitric oxide enhancing matrix inside.
No claims? No need
Before getting into the formulas, first take a look at any Ghost supplement. You’ll notice the iconic red lids, vibrant colors, extraordinarily unique designs, textured feel, the co-branded ingredients and flavor systems on a gray supplement facts area, and even the classic cGMP-compliant American flag with three stars.
But guess what you won’t see on a Ghost tub?
Claims. Not a single claim. Not a single time.
There’s no outrageous “build 247% more muscle mass” claim. No “three times more effective” competition comparison tables. No bar charts with questionably-placed axes. None of that.
In fact, the closest thing to a claim you’ll get from Ghost are phrases like “Ghost BCAA was conceived to sustain greatness at any hour”, or “Ghost Gamer was conceived to pwn n00bs in and out of the game” — hardly what we’d consider “structure/function claims”!
At first, you may feel a tinge of suspicion. Is Ghost hiding something? Is the supplement underdosed? Are they lacking confidence?
But as we can see from their fully-disclosed formulas, the supplements are clinically and efficaciously dosed. For example, Ghost Gamer uses nooLVL, an ingredient that was scientifically demonstrated to improve gaming performance in real gamers playing modern video games.
So are they lacking confidence? No — it’s actually the polar opposite.
Less is more
In under five years, Dan and Ryan built a brand that is so confidently powerful, they they realized they didn’t need to make scientific claims on their tubs. The co-founders like to say that they formulate their products for the 1% who understand the science (your typical PricePlow reader), but craft the brand’s messaging for the other 99%.
With one less thing needed to lean upon, this provides them more freedom to do what they do best – brand the label. Which brings us back to the V2 and V3 upgardes.
Legends catch the third wave
Reformulating a supplement as successful as Ghost Legend requires an excruciating level of care and detail. Not only must the formula be better, but the flavors need to continue to be on point. It’s an all-hands-on-deck, no-detail-too-small type of operation.
In 2021, aside from Legend V2’s increased energy levels and switch to a two-scoop serving, the biggest story is the inclusion of a large dose of Nutrition21’s Nitrosigine nitric oxide booster. A patented form of inositol-bound arginine silicate, Nitrosigine is the L-arginine ingredient that we always wanted in workout supplements decades ago when standard L-arginine was floundering to get the job done.
Nutrition21: A research company that sells ingredients
Most supplement enthusiasts are beginning to see Nutrition21 ingredients (such as the aforementioned nooLVL and Nitrosigine) in their favorite products. Some would believe that Nutrition21 is just an ingredient supplier. It turns out they’re much more than that.
Over time, we’ve come to see that Nutrition21 is actually a research company that happens to sell demonstrably effective ingredients. In the case of Nitrosigine, not only have we seen studies on its safety, but there’s also peer-reviewed research on significantly elevated nitric oxide levels and cognitive function.[3-7] We even saw a study from the prestigious Exercise Science Research Center at the University of Arkansas that demonstrated the ingredient’s effectiveness compared against a five-times greater dosage of citrulline. That paper was even published without Nutrition21’s knowledge.
And our experience backs that up, too. Every time we test a fully-dosed Nitrosigine supplement (1.5g/serving), we get incredibly long-lasting pumps. Every. Single. Time.
New Nitrosigine research published between V2 and V3!
In fact, since we first published this article in 2021, a new study was published demonstrating that Nitrosigine can improve working memory and cognitive function in healthy young adults, supporting significantly greater working memory performance compared to placebo. The fact that the research hasn’t stopped after such great market success is yet another reason to use patented ingredients developed by professionals.
Legitimacy from the other side of the industry
Nutrition21 takes their experience even further, assisting brands with claims that can be made in the name of their ingredient – and at what dose they can be made at. They even have a program called CertainT that allows Nutrition21 to independently verify that brands (and manufacturers) dose their ingredients appropriately.
Just like Ghost, they’re working to bring legitimacy to the industry — and, we believe, are succeeding.
Claims? Where we’re going, we don’t need claims
We like to believe that Nutrition21’s sales team handed Ghost’s leadership a postcard of “allowable claims” for nooLVL and Nitrosigine, and Ghost said “cool, thanks”… and subsequently filed it in a cabinet, never to be seen again.
Because Ghost doesn’t need claims on their tubs. They showcase effects. They need the supplement to be felt as strong as the vibrant colors on the label. They of course follow the research and discuss it on their channel. But equally as important, Ghost puts ingredients to the test using their own bodies and their network of influencers.
And ultimately, after all the tests and filed-away claims cards and phone calls and flavor tastings, a full “clinical” dose of Nitrosigine — 1.5 grams in total — made it into the two-scoop serving of Legend V2.
So the original question to answer is, “Why would Ghost spend money to use Nitrosigine if they’re not going to take advantage of the scientific claims?”
The answer is simple:
Because it works.
Now watch the rest of the industry continue to follow.
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Note: This article was originally published on March 15, 2021, and was updated on June 21, 2023.