Feb152016

Posted in Diet Reviews.

I’m getting a lot of hate mail from people who are using products that I review and apparently are very offended by my criticisms of the diets. Here is what I have to say to anyone who is reading my reviews:

My reviews are not ‘try it and review my results’. I have a series I’m doing now called ‘I Tried It So You Don’t Have To’, where I am actually trying diets. My original diet reviews, like this one, are simply to compare the claims that the company makes with the research out there (and basic physiology). So writing me and bitching at me for not trying the diet…that’s not the point of these reviews. If you want testimonials, you can go online and find some. 

Before and after photos, testimonials, your own personal experience…they are easily fabricated, but besides that, they don’t have anything to do with the science. If you like to base your opinion of a product on before and after pictures and your husband’s weight loss while using it, then go ahead. I’m taking a deeper dive into the claims and science behind them. If that’s not your jam, don’t read my review. 

Contrary to what you may believe, I have almost 20 years of experience being a dietitian. This means I’ve taken plenty of university courses in anatomy, physiology, chemistry, and nutrition. I’ve worked with critically ill patients, babies, people who are palliative, and I have done thousands of hours of counselling in my career. I am also open-minded about Eastern AND Western medicine. So yes, I do know what I’m talking about. I just like you to have as much information as possible before you start taking something (and spending your money on it).

I am not writing negative reviews in order to bolster my counselling business. That’s hilarious. I have enough clients, thanks for your concern! 

Stop taking it personally when I write negative things about your diet. If you like a diet, if it works for you, and it’s not dangerous, then go ahead and use it. Every single diet will have its success stories. You’ll also want to think about what you’re going to do in the future once you get tired of drinking diet coffee/having a shake instead of a meal/are broke from buying all sorts of supplements. For long term success, you should be changing your diet and lifestyle as well as taking a supplement. 

It’s funny how many people have started emailing me after reading my reviews of Isagenix, Shakeology, Zija, Juice Plus, Plexus, and Herbalife. Most of these emails involve requests for me to review various diet products and programs. Thanks to everyone who has given me such positive feedback and taken the time to shoot me a message to ask for a review. I love taking requests for recipes, blog posts, and diet reviews!

One program that I’ve gotten a lot of requests for lately is THRIVE by Le-Vel. Just like a few of the other products I’ve reviewed, I had zero idea about this one and went over to their website to investigate.

The philosophy of THRIVE is stated on the website:

Le-Vel was created and envisioned with a greater purpose, a premium plan. This plan is not to create a product, or a product line, but to build a global brand, a new icon.

The largest and most successful companies in the world are extremely good at one thing. They build brands, not products. They are so good at this one focus, they can literally put their logo on anything and it is passionately accepted worldwide. The quality, passion and efficacy with one product line, will flawlessly continue on to all product lines, because the true focus, our passion will always remain at its inception, The Brand: Le-Vel.

What I’m reading is that the company’s boldly stated confidence is about 100 on a scale of 1-10, but guess what?

The greatest branding can’t hide a faulty product, even if you declare that product as ‘premium’. Putting your logo on something and having it accepted just because of that is the stuff that big brands like Coca Cola are made of, and even those brands are having issues with this now. If you’re selling supplements and making big claims about their efficacy, your success rates will define your brand, not the other way around.

This is another product that’s sold using multi level marketing. There are incentives to sell it to your friends – including a free month of THRIVE if you sell to two or three people. I’m pretty sure that a lot of you have been approached by someone trying to pawn some of this stuff off on you. Some guy on my LinkedIn just tried to sell me some. Um. No way, buddy. *blocks him*

One thing I think you should know is that there has never been any research done to verify that THRIVE works. There are testimonials though! The testimonials on the THRIVE site seem to be written in that familiar Facebook font, which suggests that they’ve been pulled off THRIVE’s Facebook page. Wherever they came from, testimonials are really not worth the paper (or computer) they’re written on. What’s really worth something is some good solid research on the product. Search high and low, but you won’t find any on THRIVE. There is none.

Because I’m a dietitian and people generally want me to review stuff for weight management purposes, I’m going to take a mostly weight-loss assessment of this program, even though THRIVE makes other, non-weight loss claims as well, depending on which product you’re looking at.

THRIVE is based on an “8-Week Experience”, during which the company encourages users to apply a patch to their skin to deliver the active ingredients. No shakes or pills needed! High tech!! Thrive’s Dermal Fusion Technology delivers the ‘all natural formula’ (which we know means exactly nothing in regulatory terms) transdermally, which means through your skin. Like the nicotine patch, the birth control patch, and the anti-nausea patch, the method isn’t really new, but fair enough to say it hasn’t been done for supplements.

The company claims that ‘The DFT formula supports energy & circulation, promoting clean, healthy weight management.’

I’m not sure what all natural, clean, and healthy weight management is, but congratulations to Thrive for using three huge, completely meaningless nutrition buzzwords in one paragraph! What a feat!

They also state that there is better bioavailability of the product’s active ingredients when absorbed in patch form, and that the DFT formula doesn’t aid in muscle breakdown or deterioration like other weight loss products.

You should know though that unless you’re taking amphetamines, no weight loss product causes muscle breakdown. That happens when you injure your muscles physically or chemically. Muscle deterioration, or atrophy, happens when you either don’t move enough or don’t eat enough. So THRIVE’s claim is essentially meaningless.

As an aside, I love that the patches are all pretty with colors and designs, as if people aren’t going to look at you like you have 2 heads for wearing a weight-loss patch if it looks cute. My personal fave is the one that says, ‘hey girl….you thrivin’?’ Ha ha ha!! Good one, THRIVE!!

The company goes on to encourage people to take a whole load of their products together, for the ‘premium’ experience. It states: “For Premium results, use THRIVE DFT daily, with THRIVE Capsule and THRIVE Shake Mix.” Okay, wait. Didn’t they say something about no pills or shakes? What the…

One thing I noticed about the site is that there’s a continuous upsell. I mean, using the THRIVE DFT is one thing, but then if you really want great results, the company encourages the DFT Ultra. And then, if you want really really REALLY great results, the company suggests the Black Label, which is more effective than even the DFT Ultra, ‘taking the whole THRIVE 8 week experience to a whole new level’.

I mean, if I was gullible and not well-versed in science, they might convince me to spend tons of money using this upselling, ‘go hard or go home’ tactic. But me being who I am, I just get a headache looking at the relentless ‘convince you to spend more and more of your money to get an even better result’ BS on the site.

So what’s in this stuff, anyhow?

Let’s take a look at the plain old THRIVE DFT, the super crazy premium THRIVE Black Label, the THRIVE shake, and a brief peek at the vitamin capsules (M or W, depending on your gender)

THRIVE DFT: Forslean®, Green Coffee Bean Extract, Garcinia Cambogia, CoQ10, White Willow Bark, Cosmoperine®.

Black Label: Forslean®, Green Coffee Bean Extract, Garcinia Cambogia, CoQ10, Cosmoperine®, Satiereal Saffron Extract, Green Tea Extract, White Willow Bark, 5-HTP (amino acid), L-Theanine (amino acid), L-Arginine (amino acid), Quercetin (flavonoid), Guarana (herbal stimulant), Yerba Mate (herbal stimulant), B12 (vitamin).

THRIVE Shake: 123 calories, 15g protein, 3g fiber, 2g fat, 11g carbohydrate, with most of the vitamins and minerals you’ll find in any multivitamin (or ahem a balanced diet).

It also contains a ‘proprietary blend’ that consists of some digestive and fruit enzymes (mostly useless), caffeine (drink a coffee), lactobacillus (eat a yogurt), plus ginger root, cardamom, and cinnamon (sounds like my mom’s rice pudding recipe).

What’s the evidence?

Thrive’s Forslean® is basically a herb called Coleus Forskohlii, which has not been shown in any reputable studies to cause weight loss. This is despite its reputation to the contrary and its long-term use in Asian medicine for things like skin conditions, asthma, and obesity, among others.

Cosmoperine® is a metabolite of black pepper which is supposed to enhance the absorption of Forslean and that seems to be its main purpose in this product.

What they’ve basically done is throw a bunch of ingredients together. Some, like white willow bark, CoQ10, enzymes, green coffee bean, and amino acids, have never been proven to cause weight loss, and some – like garcinia cambogia, saffron extract, and yerba mate – have weak evidence that they might work for weight loss. But none of this evidence has been studied in trials using a patch delivery system. And neither has Thrive. Oh, I already said that. Just checking that you get that..no evidence!

The THRIVE shake is super low in calories and I can’t find anything in it of any value. What’s it’s purpose, anyways? I can’t figure it out. Eat real food.

The THRIVE M and W are supplements that have everything that a multivitamin has, plus a few enzymes and probiotics. FYI: No one needs 1667% of their DRI for vitamin B12. Yikers.

One of the claims for this product is that it ‘calms general discomfort’. Like the discomfort I feel when I think of people buying THRIVE and believing that it works better than REAL FOOD?

In Short:

No matter how confident a company is about its brand, if it can’t produce evidence that its product works, then why are you buying it?

Fancy science like cute patches (‘hey girl, you thrivin’?’) pales in comparison when it doesn’t necessarily deliver promised results.

There is really no compelling evidence that any of the ingredients in THRIVE cause weight loss. In fact, you can get most of the ingredients in a multivitamin and some real food. Supplements like garcinia, green coffee bean, and white willow etc etc aren’t magical. If they were magical weight loss miracles, someone would have caught on by now.

Throwing a bunch of herbs and other ingredients together doesn’t instantly make them effective. Weak evidence + weak evidence equals…..weak evidence?

And no, they don’t become magic when combined with THRIVE’s other ingredients or delivered by patch, so don’t even go there.

It’s not cool to upsell all over the place and make vulnerable people feel like they need to buy a premium product plus plus plus to get the best results. If THRIVE DFT really works, why is it less effective than the Black Label? Make a product that works without upselling.

Multi Level Marketing is annoying. Stop bugging your friends to buy diet supplements. It makes everyone uncomfortable and they just don’t have the heart to tell you.

The Verdict?

Leave it. I believe it’s expensive multivitamins and useless other stuff packaged in a pretty way. And those patches…cute, but I’m not convinced they increase the efficacy of the product. Nothing magical to see here, people. Move on.

 

 

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