December 26, 2016 — I recently loss a large amount of weight, a key part of the weight lost was a portion control diet. In part due to replacing one meal a day with a protein shake. The point of the shakes is simple and effective portion control.
The first shakes I used were from my former girlfriend from Campbell River BC, who is an Isagenix dealer. Isagenix is a multi-level marketing product very much in the mould of the Herbalife model of “get rich quick and be healthier too”. Its main marketing tools are greed and misinformation. They use unsupported claims, testimonials, and money-making ploys.
I deeply dislike and mistrust the hype of MLM marketing. I instinctively avoid the hype people who fill a stadium full of zombies as they tell motivational stories — for me are just too much to take. Despite my own success, I do not buy in to the Anthony Robins kind of “you can do anything pitch” at all. It is all like evangelism and propaganda (like Hitler or Chairman Mao used) to sway the masses. Even when I like the underlying message (like Ayn Rand) I recognize propaganda when I see it.
Individuals who may be susceptible to motivational ideas and theater, it can raise their expectations only to be ultimately feel betrayed. Many people are searching for a higher purpose and hope that they can become prosperous and happier if they do what these speakers suggest. They let their guard down because they think; “look at all these people listening to this expert”. When I taught night school at University I was surprised at how many experienced executives sought me out as a consultant because they thought I had all the answers. Of course I did not, but it was good for my ego. This is of course also how charismatic religious leaders and multi-level marketers build their cult followings.
As for these MLM schemes, I have seen this too many times from Amway on down. Mostly the products are sold to aspiring dealers who over pay in the hope of getting rich. In fact the number one selling products from Amway are the new dealer kits and the motivational tools, not the ongoing product sales. The money is in the false hope of easy success. The math in any pyramid scheme means that after about 20 levels the pyramid needs everyone in the country on board. Have a look what 60 minutes had to say.
Also, I already had also had a preview of Isagenix’s marketing techniques by learning about people who lost their life’s savings to the Herbalife scam exposed on ABC News.
This is not the first “kick at the cat”, in fact two of the founders of Isagenix were involved in a program called the Cambridge Diet, that went from lavish spending, to an FDA investigation, that ended in a postal service ban on operations and terminated in bankruptcy.
In short, Isagenix is a slick marketing enterprise that lines the promoters’ pockets by selling baseless hope. There is a disclaimer on the website that should be taken very seriously: “These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.”
The Shakes — If you don’t know about Isagenix the core product is the protein shake called Isolean Pro. I was skeptical of this twice daily shake product. In fact after doing a lot of research really all I can say bad about the product is it sold through a few unethical tricks, it has some unnecessary “chemical” stuff in it and it is very expensive. But I must admit it probably will not kill you and is probably better for you than the “food” they sell at 711 or Dominoes Pizza. Yes you can lose weight on these shakes, but you can also loose weight on any one of dozens of diet plans, including as they say in a Nickelback pop song, “We’ll all stay skinny ’cause we just won’t eat”. Yup that works too.
Unethical Marketing – The way Isagenix markets is interesting, for example it does not take long until you begin to be told Isagenix dogma, like something from a cult you begin here the hype stories, stories about how modern farming makes regular food from depleted soils, or the modern diet is ripe with environmental toxinsthat only Isagenix can avoid and that only Isagenix shakes are a balance meal with all nutritional requirements met. However these misleading and false claims are not on the Isagenix website or ever mentioned by executives of the company in public. Instead in high level distributor meetings the stories are spun and then sent out to the masses by word of mouth and even YouTube videos. These are not the company speaking, nor any scientific authority, but the “opinions” of individuals. You can read, “Individuals” as in the people who make commission as master distributors. Thus creating the sales pitch without the possible blowback and lawsuits to Isagenix, when it turns out it’s just a load of hooey to sell protein powder at 8 times the price.
As you move down the pyramid each new salesperson hopes to get rich and no one wants to point out the emperor has no clothes. So they repeat the same stuff they were told. It’s like a cult like Scientology – it is rude to publicly insult your friend and nobody wants to deal with the consequences of speaking up. People start to get personal when you threaten their MLM livelihood with common sense and logic.
Another odd thing is that everyone selling this stuff tries to tell you they know all about nutrition. Like someone who joins a gym and 3 months later declares they are a “personal trainer”. I have been told how the product is scientifically proven, but the studies turn out to be one or two of low quality work with small sample sizes and all funded by you know who. Most of my well thought out arguments are met by standard comebacks like “nutritionally balanced” and “scientifically proven” that are a lot like the ready to go lines religions have along the lines of “you must have faith” or you will suffer the consequences.
Cost – My (former) Girlfriend gave me a few packets to try and said “its only $3 a shake”. So I gave her $15 and said gimme 5 to try. But she began to fidget and instead asked me to buy a box of 14, I got the bill – turns out it was about $5 per package after shipping etc. Most of that money is for MLM marketing as the pyramid pays out, primarily to the people at the top. Isagenix suggests consuming a case of 14 shakes per week, that alone is about $60 a week. Stories abound of people spending $350 to $500 a month to buy these products don’t forget that is only for part of your food budget, you still need dinner and these shakes are mostly powdered milk products.
Unnecessary stuff – First off what is in this stuff? The ingredients are listed on the package but you would need a microscope to read it. Here is the Ingredient list:
IsaLean Pro – Natural Vanilla
Exclusive Myo-IsaLean Pro Complex™ [whey protein concentrate (undenatured), milk protein concentrate (undenatured), low-heat nonfat dry milk], isomaltooligosaccharide powder, sunflower (Helianthus annuus) oil powder, fructose, natural vanilla flavors, xanthan gum, olive (Olea europaea) oil powder, flax (Linum usitatissimum) seed powder, medium chain triglycerides (MCT) oil powder, Ionic Alfalfa™, lemon fruit powder, tapioca maltodextrin, magnesium oxide, tricalcium phosphate, potassium citrate, honey powder, magnesium citrate, enzyme blend [lactase (from Aspergillus oryzae), lipase (from Rhizopus oryzae), cellulase (from Trichoderma longibrachiatum), invertase (from Saccharomyces cerevisiae), protease (from Aspergillus oryzae), amylase (from Bacillus subtilis), bromelain (from Ananas comosus), papain (from Carica papaya), acid stable protease (from Aspergillus niger)], sea salt, silicon dioxide, yucca (Yucca schidigera) root powder, vitamin C (ascorbic acid), stevia (Stevia rebaudiana) leaf extract, magnesium stearate, psyllium (Plantago ovata) seed powder, cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum) powder, biotin, selenium amino acid chelate, apple (Malus pumila) juice powder, vitamin E succinate, copper amino acid chelate, vitamin A (beta carotene), zinc oxide, manganese amino acid chelate, iodine amino acid chelate, niacinamide, d -calcium pantothenate, vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol), chromium amino acid chelate, niacin, molybdenum amino acid chelate, vitamin B6 (pyridoxine hydrochloride), vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), Lactobacillus acidophilus, vitamin B1 (thiamin hydrochloride), folate (folic acid)
Contains milk ingredients.
If you read the ingredient list (ordered by ingredient quantity) you will find that in fact the first two ingredients are simple whey protein and powdered milk, in fact that is most of the package. Ingredient 4 is powdered sunflower oil, a highly saturated fat linked to heart disease and too high in Omega 6 fatty acids, causing inflammation. Ingredient 5, fructose, is cheap corn sugar just like they use in Coke-a-cola, you know that is not good. Further down the list has sugar under a few other names. In fact each shake has 11 grams of sugar. Eat two shakes a day and you are right up against your recommended daily sugar limit. It also contains all things “silicon dioxide” last I looked that is sand, is it not?
Then of all things flax! Now a little flax seed sneaks in your sandwich one day no big deal, but the Isagenix marketing says you are getting all your friends and family to drink these shakes everyday, twice a day, forever. In case you did not hear, flax contains lignans that are highly estrogenic, they reduce total and free testosterone levels, while also suppressing the enzyme 5-a reductase which converts testosterone into its more potent form of dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Lignans work by increasing the levels of SHBG (sex hormone binding globulin), which binds into free-testosterone molecules and renders them “inactive” for the direct use of the androgen receptors. In other words flax turns boys into girls, ok maybe that is a bit much, but men may develop more fashion sense, start listening to “Mobby” and shopping at Ikea. It also makes it difficult for both boys and girls to build muscle or either sex to be interested in “doing the wild thing”.
A lot of the list of ingredients are in fact synthetic vitamins and if you know anything about vitamins you will know that these are micronutrients, and by micro I mean your body barely needs them and what it does need, it needs very little of. For example you can meet your entire year’s Iodine needs from eating a single Florida grapefruit once a year. Squeeze some lime juice in your water and poof, nearly a week’s worth of vitamin C. Also your body metabolizes vitamins best when it extracts them from real foods not by synthesized chemical replicas.
Even I had trouble believing this, but there are now at least 9 solid scientific studies that prove vitamin supplements are unnecessary, do not cure colds and other infections and even that people who regularly take man-made synthetic-vitamins actually die sooner than people who don’t, you can read more here in the Atlantic magazine. For an even more entertaining version of the vitamin myth I suggest watching the clip below, Adam Ruins Everything on Vitamins — for the truth about how most of what we believe about vitamins is just unscientific media hype from the 1960s triggered by the misguided musings of Dr. Linus Pauling.
Two Products I like — I do actually like two products from Isagenix. Isaguard sunscreen is a zinc based product that has less cancer causing and estrogen altering properties than most sunscreens. I also like the Isagenix melatonin sleep spray, but there is a more economical product from Jamisons that is just as good. Be careful with melatonin it is for occasional use only.
The Worst Things — Other products from Isagenix to my mind are simply a waste of money. In particular Ionix a daily drink that claims to rev up your energy, while in fact it is mostly a bunch of herbs and berries with no known scientific purpose.
However there is a one component tribulus terrestris that I know well. This is a body builder supplement that boosts your testosterone. I tried it in my late 30s and discovered roid rage. Suddenly I was acting like an aggressive mouthy, 21-year-old, my temper flared and I was moody. Just like a younger man packed with… testosterone, go figure. What’s worse is if you boost testosterone your body fights back by making more estrogen. In body builders on steroids this can lead to Gynecomastia or “man boobs” and small testicles but what it means is when you get off the testosterone booster you can have low testosterone for years. The abnormally high estrogen leads to diminished sex drive and even erectile dysfunction. In woman testosterone boosting tribulus terrestris can lead to a masculine look of 80’s female Russian athletes, with exaggerated muscles, facial hair and an enlarged clitoris. It can also make woman irritable and aggressive. Yes, I really did see signs of all this in my former girlfriend, who drank Isagenix Ionix daily.
Because the body does not easily reset from the excess estrogen process, athletes coming off steroids need three powerful drugs known as Clomid, Nolvadex and HCG to restore normal hormone function, lowering estrogen and allowing normal testosterone levels to return. But without these administered by a doctor who knows athletic medicine, your Isagenix tonic drink could turn you into a metabolic freak.
Cleanse your Wallet — Another $30 waste of money is the Isagenix cleanse. The hype says your internal organs become clogged and deteriorate if you don’t cleanse. I was told, “today we are sicker than ever before”. Also that “toxicity accounts for most diseases” (unsupported nonsense).
Isagenix dealers engage in scare-mongering about toxins, but provide no data to show that the tiny amounts we ingest lead to any significant adverse health effects. They also provide no evidence that their treatment actually removes any toxins from the body. Of course they really don’t. Your liver cleans toxins and if it is working, you are fine.
Essentially this “cleansing” is fasting and fasting has some real medical benefits. Isagenix boldly claims fasting benefits are their benefits from an Isagenix cleanse. Isagenix can’t make money if they say don’t eat, so the dealers tell you “not eating is dangerous” and can cause muscle loss (more myth). Instead you sip drinks and eat little chocolates and worst of all tiny bland “hockey pucks” called “Scooby snacks”. You do these snacks all day. This is a particular kind of hell, because it just reminds you that you are fasting and hungry.
Isagenix says there are no laxatives in its cleanse, but a key ingredient in Cleanse for Life is aloe vera, a potent natural laxative. I knew this the one time I did a cleanse and I felt like a freight-train went through my colon.
My sweetheart was a total bear when she went on these cleanses. I timed my days out of town to coincide with her two day cleanse schedule. I had no interest in being on the receiving end of her moody rants after a day or two of not eating.
My lady would tell me she plans to lose 2 pounds on her next cleanse, she often did, but month to month she stayed about the same weight, in other words water loss and laxative effects did most of the weight loss and next week the weight was right back. So fasting is good for you, but you don’t need to give Isagenix $30 a day for the privilege of not eating and a fancy ex-lax.
AMPED Hydrate or Replenish – This was a daily ritual as we went out for a 10,000 step walk. Before our walk we broke out the fancy branded Isagenix BPA free water bottle and filled it with filtered water and a few scoops of replenish. The company renamed the product AMPED HYDRATE but the stuff is the same — It helps replenish electrolytes and has some vitamins, in short it is just like the Pepsi junk called Gatorade.
Here is the ingredient list
Glycogen Complex™ (fructose, dextrose, evaporated cane juice, honey powder), electrolyte complex
[sodium chloride, potassium citrate, Ionic Alfalfa™
(Medicago sativa) leaf extract], natural flavor, tartaric acid,
grape juice powder, natural colors, silicon dioxide, vitamin C (ascorbic acid), stevia (Stevia rebaudiana) leaf extract, biotin, niacinamide, zinc oxide, pantothenic acid (d-calcium pantothenate), vitamin B6 (pyridoxine HCl), thiamin HCl, riboflavin, chromium picolinate, vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin), folic acid
I bet you see at the top of the list, that the most common ingredients are words that end in “ose”, these are all variants of sugar. In an 8 gram scoop you get a whopping 6 grams of sugar. Or in marketing-hype terms 6 grams of “energy”. In short our “water” became a three scoop, ~80 calorie sugar snack.
So exactly why do you need to replenish those electrolytes anyway? Gatorade was invented at the sports laboratories at the University of Florida in 1965 and tested on the football team, the Florida Gators (hence the name Gatorade). The original concoction consisted of water, sodium, sugar, potassium, phosphate, and lemon juice. The football coach and his players hailed Gatorade as a savior to their hydration problems during hot summer workouts and the long, intense football season.
In a 1991 study researchers took 8 cyclists and ran them through 6 grueling hours of intermittent cycling in an 86°F room of 50% humidity, and kept their intensities at 55% of their VO2 Max. Each cyclist repeated this exercise 3 times on 3 separate occasions and 3 separate conditions. Once with no water or sports drink, the next time with just water, and lastly with just a sports drink where in both the water and sports drink treatments both were provided in quantities sufficient to replenish their volume of losses to sweat. The cyclists would cycle for 13 minutes, and then take a 2 minute break during which their heart rate, rectal temperature, and their perceived exertion were measured. Blood was drawn at the 15 minute mark and at hours 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 to measure plasma sodium and plasma aldosterone.
Bottom line… Unless you’re exercising vigorously for longer than 6 hours straight, you don’t need a sports drink to replenish your “electrolytes”, because in this study, there was no difference in plasma sodium levels between the water drinkers and the electrolyte drinkers even after 6 hours of heavy-duty exercise!
So put your sugar filled AMPED Hydrate in the trash can, put away your sippy bottle and if you feel thirsty have a glass of water when you get home from your stroll.
And More — I never did stay with my girlfriend long enough to get fully indoctrinated but on the shelves in her garage I saw products like Isagenix vitamins, e-shots and isacomfort — which given time I am sure I would have gotten pitched on. The firm makes season special products like pumpkin shakes in the fall and accessories like shaker cups, blenders and I even saw a logo bearing umbrella. The list will expand I am sure, all I can say is you just don’t need any of it.