After seeing some supplement companies taking advantage of people and utilizing very effective marketing strategies to dupe people into taking products that might be detrimental to their health, we decided that it's time to devote a series of blog posts to these companies and expose them for what they truly are or praise them for their devotion to quality.
Part one is devoted to Advocare...Sit back and enjoy the ride!
Advocare is a MLM (multilevel marketing) company that has thrust itself into many CrossFit boxes, families and a host of other people from just about every angle. Interestingly they also offer a program called debtbuster that claims to target creditors and lower debt. Better health, more money and debt free...sounds like a win win to me!
Let us start by taking a product and analyzing its ingredients to see what it has to offer:
The Meal Replacement Shake:
-Delicious(flavors are vanilla, chocolate and berry)
-Provides an alternative to high calories, high fat and empty calorie foods
-Provides Calcium and Fiber
-Price 39.95 for a box with 14 pouches
While we think that this product is very delicious and MCTs are a nice addition the other claims can be quite misleading.
First off we are not fans of liquid nutrition, because of it's insulin spiking effects, while we understand time constraints. Meal replacement shakes should never be a regular part of your diet. The biggest concern is whether you will be able to maintain any weight loss after you stop taking the shake or will you be a slave to the shake for the rest of your life?
With the low fat and high carb content of this shake it seems you will jump on the insulin spiking roller coaster thus sending you into a hunger frenzy after a few hours. Fats make you feel fuller longer and thus make it very difficult to overeat.
Here is a study detailing the fact that replacing fats with carbohydrates causes issues relating to CVD.
Fructose is an ingredient in this product and we don't like that one bit. Fructose is only metabolized in the liver and thus is directly channeled from there to the small intestine, causing the metabolic load to be placed on the liver. The response by the liver is to convert the Fructose to fats for storage and thus raising triglycerides.
Fructose seems to cause the muscles to become more insulin resistant by blocking the metabolism of glucose in the liver and the synthesis of glucose into glycogen.
Fructose also leads to the formation of AGEs (Advanced glycation end products)
Next we really don't like the folic Acid that this product contains. To understand this it is essential to know the difference between folic Acid and folate. Folic acid is a synthetic form of folate found in supplements such as this one, while folate is the natural form and is vitamin B9 and Folic acid is the oxidized synthetic form.
An interesting study points out some very pertinent points: A higher proportion of Folic acid undergoes initial reduction and methylation in the liver. Some tissues including the liver have a limited ability to reduce folic acid, because of a low activity of dihydrofolate reductase. The significance here seems to be an increased amount of unmetabolized folic acid in the circulation when high doses of folic acid are taken.
What does all this mean? High levels of unmetabolized folic acid could possibly increase the rate of progression of pre-cancerous lesions to invasive cancer and in the older population it can be difficult to detect vitamin B12 deficiency and a degradation of the nervous system. All the while dietary folate (not folic acid) may protect against some forms of cancer.
Finally on the bottom of the nutrition label is the warning that this product contains Soy (which is linked to low sperm count in men) and wheat containing ingredients. Check out our post on wheat products to read about our thoughts on those nasty little buggers!
My final point about these guys is that the prices are completlely outrageous. For example the 24 day challenge is priced at $183.25 for 24 days. This is insane and Whole 9 did a very good writeup about it here. We agree that a lot of the claims made are way off target and in the realm of magic land, not science.
We are interested in providing information for allow people to make good decisions about their health from an unbiased source. If we recommended Advocare it would be a sad sad day, because we would have sold out in order to make a quick buck and our intention is to inform the public, not take advantage of them with clever marketing and big words.
Our final say is to run, don't walk away if an Advocare rep approaches you or if your gym is selling shiny new expensive products made by this company. We think they have no place in the realm of REAL health and longevity. If you would like information on the supplements we recommend and the companies we trust, check out our supplement post here.