It never fails to amaze me the lengths that nutrition MLM salespeople and ‘coaches’ will go to to sell their products.
Don’t get me wrong: not everyone who sells an MLM product is suspect.
But too many MLM ‘huns’ – named for their way of cold-emailing even the most distant of acquaintances with the opening line, ‘hey hun…it’s been a while,’ sell lies to move product.
These huns might truly believe in their company’s products, but they take it a step further by really drinking the kool aid. They become so invested in their MLM, that rational thought falls by the wayside (if they ever had the capability for rational thought in the first place, but I’d like to give them the benefit of the doubt, at least.)
This leads to the sort of content that we’re going to talk about here: content that tells such crazy nutrition lies, that so defies the boundaries of decency and human physiology, that it’s honestly a wonder how companies allow it to be put out there at all.
Except that these MLM companies don’t seem to care what their salespeople put out there. There’s a distinct lack of oversight, which is why we see the following lies being repeated again and again by nutrition MLMs themselves, and their salespeople:
Cravings can be stopped with supplements.
Nutrition MLMs love to talk about how their supplements ‘curb cravings.’ These products usually have some combination of chromium, B vitamins, protein, and fibre.
What they leave out is that cravings:
Are often emotional. No supplement is going to help that.
Can be because you’re not giving your body something it needs – like carbs.
No supplement is going to help that, but not restricting carbs so hard will!
Can be situational. No supplement is going to help that.
Can be hormonal. No supplement is going to help that.
For those of you with PCOS, cravings are more complex…but are generally not relieved by supplements of any kind. Read my PCOS and diet post here.
No supplement has ever been shown to improve cravings. To manage cravings, you first have to figure out where they’re coming from. Once you have that information, you can start to tackle them.
Their proprietary formula is the sh*t.
What is it with proprietary blends and MLMs?
Oh yeah…blends with no specific ingredient amounts listed allow the company to totally skimp on ‘active ingredients’ (which probably aren’t that ‘active’ anyhow.)
They also facilitate the marketing of supposedly ‘groundbreaking’ weight loss and wellness products. It’s easy to say your supplement or shake is ‘revolutionary,’ when nobody can really check if that’s true…because you aren’t giving them the whole story about what’s really in it.
I have never in my life seen a legit supplement that contains a proprietary blend.
Companies shouldn’t have to hide what’s in their supplements. I don’t buy the ‘but other people will steal what we’ve got!’ defence; when people are putting your products into their body, you shouldn’t be hiding what’s in those supplements.
Proprietary formulas are just another way of snowing the consumer and making them think that a product is special, when it really isn’t.
Please don’t fall for this scheme.
Their MLM products will transform your life.
Every single nutrition MLM is selling a diet, no matter what they tell you.
Whether it’s Arbonne, It Works, Noom, Beachbody, Isagenix, Plexus, or whatever – all diets.
Spending money on useless garbage diets doesn’t transform your life; it makes your life suck.
Whatever you believe can transform your life, a weight loss diet won’t change who you are and what your value system is. It won’t change how you treat people and how much you hate your job.
A true transformation often comes from within, and takes work. A lot of it.
Be very skeptical of anyone promising a transformation and then trying to sell you something. That’s not how any of this works.
Their products are ‘scientifically proven’ to do X, Y, and Z.
Out of all the nutrition MLMs I’ve reviewed, I think Juice Plus is the only company that has done research on its products.
And by ‘research,’ I mean ‘lame studies that contain confirmation bias and are done by the company’ sort of thing.
Otherwise, MLMs tend to refer to studies that have been done not on their products, but on ingredients that their products contain. These studies may be short, old, on animals, with poor methodology, and using doses and formulations that are completely different from what’s in the MLM supplement, but the layperson doesn’t usually know any better.
When you see ‘clinically proven’ or ‘scientifically proven’ or even, ‘developed by Harvard scientists!’ (I see this one a lot, and it means nothing) be skeptical. Find the actual studies. See what they say. If you’re not well-versed in nutrition research, get someone to read the study and let you know if it corroborates what the company/salesperson is telling you.
We have pounds and pounds of toxic waste in our intestines.
This is just utterly false, and it’s the perfect example of a company or person creating a problem that you didn’t know you had (and actually don’t have), then selling you the solution.
Nutrition MLM and wellness 101.
There isn’t a gastroenterologist in the world who would confirm that healthy people without symptoms are walking around with pounds of crap in their bodies.
Maybe someone with an intestinal obstruction would have that issue, but they’d be vomiting and having terrible abdominal pain, too. In other words, they’d need a hospital, not It Works detox drink.
Collagen is superior to any other type of protein.
Can we just end it with collagen already?
First of all, the evidence around collagen peptides doing anything for skin, hair, and nails is weak.
The evidence around collagen protein over other protein sources for weight loss is nonexistent.
There is no evidence backing up any gut health claims about collagen. So no, bone broth doesn’t ‘seal’ your intestinal epithelial junctions. That is just the worst oversimplification ever.
If you like collagen, by all means take it. But don’t expect miracles.
You can target and burn your fat – especially belly fat – with supplements.
No, you STILL can’t spot-reduce fat. So that MLM that’s promising you that its supplement can burn your belly fat with slimming gummies *ahem* It Works *ahem* is not being straight with you.
Even though every nutrition MLM sells their own fat burner that contains a unique ‘proprietary blend,’ I have yet to see a person who has ever burned any fat using them.
Any person or company selling fat burners is ignoring a basic physiological fact:
No supplement burns fat. If it did, this would be a massive discovery that everyone would know about.
Fat burners. HUGE red flag.
Their products are ‘premium,’ while store-bought versions are ‘toxic.’
I remember a Usana salesperson trying to convince women that regular, drugstore prenatal vitamins are toxic, while Usana ones aren’t.
This simply isn’t true, but it’s another way that nutrition MLMs use cache to sell their products.
It suggests that:
People who buy stuff from drugstores are getting lower quality, and are subjecting themselves to supplements with potential toxins and quality control issues. Actually though, the opposite is true.
These same people are unaware of the amazingness of X MLM’s supplements, and are in the ‘others’ category – because they haven’t been enlightened. This sort of tactic is meant to make you think that the MLM has discovered something magical that the conventional medical system has missed. Newsflash: that’s untrue.
People who use X MLM’s products instead of drugstore brands care more about themselves and are part of an elite ‘community.’
These tactics are all about using identity and fear mongering for marketing. The truth is that MLM products haven’t been shown ever to be superior to other brands.
Certain supplements can block fat or carb absorption.
What’s the thing I said earlier on in this post?
Right: If it worked, the diet industry would cease to exist.
MLMs often use ingredients that have been researched – a great example is Plexus Block, which contains seaweed and white kidney bean. There are studies behind these two ingredients, but surprise – they’re from the 80s, and the results weren’t significant.
Do you think that if carb blocking ingredients were really effective, we would know it by now, and they’d be used as first-line treatments for diabetes and weight loss.
Thrive Treat Meal is the same sort of thing.
A trashy supplement that apparently blocks carbs and fats, it’s too good to be true.
Prickly pear, okra, and fibre don’t block fat, people. Get serious, okay? Please don’t waste your money.
Also: fat and carbs aren’t horrid, toxic things that you need to ‘block.’ Let’s get away from that sort of thinking (and cheat days, you don’t need those, either).
They really care about you.
This one has nothing to do about nutrition, but I’m mentioning it anyhow because it’s something I see on a daily basis: nutrition MLM coaches and salespeople pretending that they care about their clients.
Pretending that they’re happy to reconnect after not speaking to you for 15 years.
Pretending that they have your best interests at heart.
I see nutrition MLM salespeople as people who have been on a sinking ship in the middle of the ocean. They’re constantly trying to keep their heads above water, and they’ll step on anyone to get another breath.
Is that mean of me to say?
I don’t doubt that these people feel extreme pressure: a recent survey on MLMs and income found that 47% of MLM salespeople actually lose money during the time that they’re involved. Another 25% break even, and the last 25% make money, but even so, more than half of that 25% make less than $5000.
They have to fulfill quotas and are beholden to their upline to sell sell sell. It sounds miserable, to be honest.
They also have to maintain the facade of being a ‘business owner’ and having hustle…something that can’t be easy, given the fact that their income is probably horrible.
A lot of people ask me if I’d ever recommend any of the nutrition MLM products I’ve reviewed, and the answer is no. This generally isn’t because the products are dangerous; it’s because of the fantastical claims these companies use for marketing, the way MLMs target women, and the complete lack of oversight around their coaches and salespeople.
Getting healthier doesn’t mean supporting companies that claim to ’empower’ women while using them to push product. It also doesn’t mean putting stuff into your body that you don’t know anything about, or listening to people who have no clues about science.