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Profiling the super success/scam of Ultimate Sports Nutrition

From niche, sports nutrition products and supplements are now packing many SA retail aisles to the rafters. In fact, there are very few countries in the world where sport supplements take up so much shelf space.

Playing big and winning big in this poorly-regulated game is SA’s own Ultimate Sports Nutrition (USN), born in Pretoria and now a global brand. However, one leading SA scientist believes USN products are mostly scams – and has been taking the company to task for years.

USN was founded in South Africa by Albé Geldenhuys in 2000 and has been at the forefront of the country’s sports nutrition sector, making these supplements – as used by professional and non-professional athletes – widely available.

Sports performance, weight control and muscle-building supplementation are the cornerstones of USN’s product offerings, followed by beverages and bars (since 2006). USN is now sold in over 40 countries.’s Stuart Lowman recently published this profile on USN’s founder:

Albe Geldenhuys

Albe Geldenhuys (left) is the founder and CEO of Ultimate Sports Nutrition (USN), a leading brand in the sports nutrition and supplements industry. Through in-depth understanding of the sports and nutrition industry at large, a clear and focussed business model, as well as an incredible drive to achieve success, Geldenhuys steered USN to one of the renowned and celebrated home-grown brands – with an impressive global footprint.

In less than 20 years, Geldenhuys’ business acumen and passion for the USN brand has seen the company penetrate competitive markets including South Africa, Europe, Australia, the USA, and South America.

Geldenhuys started the company from his home in Pretoria, South Africa, after identifying a gap in the market where he deemed existing products either low quality or too expensive.

After undertaking thorough market and product research, Geldenhuys began creating and mixing his own supplements with the assistance of his then girlfriend (now wife). By 2015, Geldenhuys has grown USN into a R1-billion-strong global business.

The sports nutrition and supplements industry has traditionally been associated with bodybuilding and competitive athletics; however, USN has successfully contributed to changing this perception.

Through various campaigns and activities, as well as carefully researched and tailormade products to suit the needs of specific markets, Geldenhuys has incorporated supplementation products into a daily routine and made it a more appealing and sensible route for anyone wanting to live a healthy lifestyle.

Geldenhuys credits his background in sales as playing a vital role in him being able to grow his business drastically in its first few years. For example, one of the cornerstones to the business’ early growth was Geldenhuys’ ability to leverage his existing connections, built during his previous tenure working at the Hatfield Health & Racquet Club.

The strong and positive partnerships Geldenhuys built between USN and Chempure, a South-African company that imports and markets specialty chemicals to the food, health-food and pharmaceutical industries, has also been a significant factor in the development of USN products, which has contributed to the brand’s success.

Apart from heading up USN, Geldenhuys is also an avid extreme sportsman, participating in and sponsoring various sporting events and persons under the USN banner.

As he truly lives to the brand promise of USN, Geldenhuys has always been the ultimate ambassador for USN, and has acquired insight to his customers’ needs and what is expected from a sports product experience. Geldenhuys’ belief in taking risks where needed also contributed to the success of both his personal sporting endeavours and his business.


Another viewpoint on USN

Harris Steinman

Dr Harris Steinman (left), renowned Cape Town-based allergy expert, is also the founder of CAMcheck, a website that describes itself as: “A South African consumers’ guide to scams, pseudoscience and voodoo science, OR, a critical thinker’s guide to the ins and outs of Complementary and Alternative Medicine”.

Steinman has been at odds with USN for some years, frequently challenging its products and their claims, and laying complaints with the ASA. He describes its founder, Albe Geldenhuys as “a great salesman – and also one of South Africa’s biggest scam artists”.

A post on CAMcheck goes:

Firstly, there is no robust proof that the majority of USN products, bar a few, are able to benefit consumers as USN claims – above that of a placebo response.

Secondly, the proof for the claims for the individual ingredients have mostly been shown to not be possible, ie, they have been studied and found to not have the effects USN claims – yet USN claims that they do work!

And many of the products are ingredients mixed together and never tested in human studies, simply a guess…

When the ASA rules against a USN product, USN simply changes the claims and makes other unsubstantiated claims. In other words, “you caught us lying, we remove these lies and replace them with others”…. Read more here

Steinman also believes “credible sports scientists throughout the world agree that approximately 95% of sport supplements (ingredients) either have no proof of efficacy or have not been shown to work. Secondly, as far as I know, there is not a single peer-reviewed study showing that any product of USN has efficacy.” Read more here

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