I can’t believe that its been four years since I originally reviewed Herbalife, and thank you to everyone for making that post one of my most popular!
I’ve recently received a few requests to re-review the Herbalife scheme *cough* *cough* I mean program, and also their ‘nutrition clubs’ that are apparently popping up all of the place.
Because I love and appreciate you guys so much, I actually found one of those nutrition clubs here in Toronto, went there, and saw what it was all about.
Yes, I tried the products, but more on that later.
I think Herbalife is one of the oldest MLM nutrition companies. I remember it being around when I was back in high school, so that tells you that it’s practically ancient. The company has had its share of controversy, yet it continues to survive.
The higher-ups at Herbalife are notorious for their lavish lifestyles, all made off the backs of their associates.
I’m assuming that most people want to read about Herbalife’s weight loss products.
The Ultimate Program – because you’re worth it, right? – for $233.90, includes Formula 1 Meal Replacement Shakes, a multivitamin, Formula 3 Cell Activator, Herbal Tea Concentrate, Cell-U-Loss, Total Control, Snack Defense, and Aminogen.
I swear to you that I just covered my face in distress while I wrote that last paragraph. All of the products seem to place food in a hugely negative light: something that needs to be controlled…defended against…replaced….GAH!!!! We’re already off to a bad start!
Herbalife Weight Loss Products
Formula 1 Meal Replacement Shakes
Formula 1 Meal Replacement Shakes are what Herbalife advertises as a ‘healthy, balanced meal’. When blended with nonfat milk as recommended, each shake contains around 170 calories, 1 gram of fat, 3 grams of fiber, 9 grams of added sugar, and 17 grams of protein.
The second ingredient is fructose. The nutrition labels on this product are whacked, FYI: they list the numbers only for the raw powder, but not for when the powder is added to skim milk.
My issue with these shakes, besides the fact that they taste like sadness, is that 170 calories is NOT a meal replacement. 170 calories is a SNACK replacement, and even with 17 grams of protein, you’re likely to be hungry far faster than you would if you’d eat solid, chewable food that has around 400 calories.
Cutting calories is fine, but reducing them this far can cause rebound hunger and cravings.
Formula 3 Cell Activator
Formula 3 Cell Activator is what Herbalife claims as ‘mitochondrial and nutrient support’. I suppose this may sound all official and science-y to the layperson but is complete and utter malarkey to those of us who know about anatomy and physiology.
Aloe vera and alpha-lipolic acid make up the bulk of this supplement.
While ALA has been shown in studies to have a very modest effect on weight (like, around 2 pounds), and this was with 1800mg a day . Formula 3 Cell Activator provides 300 mg per day.
As far as the aloe vera component, Herbalife claims it ‘supports the body’s absorption of micronutrients’. This is a completely random claim that’s unproven. What aloe vera really does is make you poop: it’s a laxative.
The Herbal Tea is simply a vehicle for caffeine, but its first two ingredients are maltodextrin (a starch) and fructose (a sugar). Why? Herbalife says this product ‘boosts metabolism’, but nope, it doesn’t.
Caffeine has never been proven to increase metabolism long enough or strong enough to effect any significant weight loss. Add this to the stimulants in the other products, and all you’ll get is the jitters. Pass.
Cell-U-Loss ‘supports the healthy elimination of water’, meaning it’s a diuretic. I’m sorry, but nobody needs this product. Diuretics like these simply dehydrate you and offer no meaningful benefit. Next!
Total Control, according to Herbalife, ‘boosts metabolism and supports thermogenesis’, aka the burning of calories.
Made primarily of a proprietary blend of different teas with some pomegranate and caffeine thrown in there, nothing about Total Control will boost anything or ‘support thermogenesis’, which is something your body does when you eat and needs no help with the first place.
Every diet program has a product like this, and I’ve never seen one that has any science behind it. It’s all BS.
Snack Defence apparently “helps maintain healthy blood sugar levels already within the normal range”…but if your blood sugars are already normal, why the hell do you need to take this product!?
Here’s the thing: ‘blood sugar support’ sounds like something you need, but if you don’t have diabetes, you’re good. You don’t need a herbal product to ‘support’ your blood glucose that’s already normal, because your body’s complex system to regular blood sugars is way ahead of that.
That’s like telling Albert Einstein that he needs help with addition and subtraction.
Herbalife says their Aminogen product “helps break down proteins into smaller peptides”. Aminogen contains protease, a pancreatic enzyme, among a ton of fillers like dextrose and cellulose.
Most healthy people wouldn’t benefit from this, because our bodies do a great job of breaking down proteins without supplemental protease.
All of these products claim to either do things our bodies are already doing on their own, or things that aren’t proven.
Why would you need any of this stuff? You don’t!
WTF Are Herbalife Nutrition Clubs?
So, now that we’ve taken down every single one of these products in a systematic fashion (except for the multivitamin, which eh..who cares about an MVI), it’s time to tell you about Herbalife Nutrition Clubs.
Some friends and followers have told me that the Herbalife Clubs in their hometowns are proliferating at breakneck speed (and shutting down almost as fast). My intel told me that these clubs lure people in to get ‘a shake and a tea’ and then sign visitors up to be a part of Herbalife.
The ‘rules’ around these clubs are fascinating. To avoid FDA regulation, they position themselves as private gatherings and not actual businesses. To that end, the clubs have names like ‘Perfect 10 Club’ or ‘Stillwater Nutrition’ and are forbidden to have Herbalife signage anywhere on the outside of the premises.
They also must have blacked-out windows so people on the street can’t see what’s going on inside the club. Sounds random AF, I know.
Herbalife touts these clubs as a sort of ‘community outreach’ for health, but we all know that they’re more like, ‘community outreach to sell product and make more money’.
Many of these clubs run fitness classes, the price of which includes a shake or a tea, of course made with Herbalife products.
The most upsetting thing I’ve heard about these clubs is actually that the owners make very little money; most of the proceeds go to the company. This is probably why the clubs go out of business so fast, but I’m just guessing here.
I located a Herbalife club in Toronto and set out to see what it was all about. Were they going to put the hard-sell on? Did they want to recruit me? I dressed in my workout gear aka my normal outfit and set out on my mission.
The club was on the lower floor of a strip mall in the northern part of the city. Outside the door were a few ‘Free Weight Loss Class!’, Boot Camp, and Salsa Fit flyers posted.
Otherwise, there was no signage at all. I headed down the dingy stairs to a big empty room with a smoothie bar, a few tables that looked like they were used for counselling, lots of Herbalife products on display, and a large area to exercise.
Photos of successful weight losers decorated the walls, and the owner and another employee milled around.
I went in and asked for a shake and a tea. The owner was super nice and made me a cookies and cream shake and a tea ‘with aloe vera’. He took my $10 and didn’t try to sell me a single Herbalife product (he did ask me to come to the salsa class on Monday nights, though).
I left with the shake and tea, sipping the shake to prove I was legit.
I can see though how the club serves the community, because as I was leaving, people were starting to gather. Everyone seemed super nice and really happy.
While my experience with the club was somewhat underwhelming, the products were not.
They were overwhelmingly HORRIBLE.
The shake was, excuse my language, EFFING DISGUSTING. It was slimy, gelatinous, and I felt sick after a few sips. It had a really strong stevia aftertaste and the texture…omg. I brought it home to my husband who unwittingly drank some…and spat it into the sink.
The tea was okay…just like diluted, stevia-bitter flavored water? Eh.
In short – Are Herbalife Weight Loss Products Worth It?
Herbalife weight loss products are a racket.
You don’t need metabolism boosters and aloe vera and bucketfuls of caffeine. You don’t need smaller peptides and diuretics and to defend yourself against food. Nope, nope, nope.
None of these sorts of supplements and meal replacement shakes work because of what’s in them; you lose weight because you cause a caloric deficit somehow. Meaning, you eat less, and that causes weight loss. Supplements don’t burn fat or cause weight loss themselves.
Save your money.