AdvoCare, a dietary supplement company founded in 1993, features a product line that includes vitamin, mineral and nutrient blends designed to promote health and wellness, sports nutrition, athletic performance enhancement and, primarily, weight management. Its line includes the AdvoCare 24-Day Challenge and the Advocare 10-day cleanse.
One thing to note is that AdvoCare is a mid-level marketing company, as its website homepage makes clear; you’re either a customer or a distributor. In the former, you might be a registered retail consumer or a registered discount-qualifying preferred customer, someone who regularly purchases AdvoCare supplements and other AdvoCare products.
In the latter, AdvoCare is a “business opportunity for individuals interested in pursuing extra income; become a distributor,” the website reads. “Buy AdvoCare’s world-class products at a 20 to 40 percent discount and sell them to earn a profit.” It is a business after all, so there’s nothing fishy about that, but it needed to be mentioned at the top.
AdvoCare International, LP, is headquartered in Plano, Texas. It has an A-plus rating from the Better Business Bureau (meaning basically it responds to BBB customer complaints) with a customer review rating skewing positive for 2 of 3 reviews. Contact number is (800)542-4800.
Just the basic kit for their 24-Day Challenge is over $250 (see individual ingredients below). This is not an inexpensive diet plan. You can actually input flavor choices and go all the way to the checkout without putting in a credit card, just to see the numbers add up; just make sure you remove everything from the cart before you leave.
AdvoCare says its products are formulated based on “proven and effective science and nutrition” overseen by its 8-member scientific and medical advisory board, which includes three medical doctors, described as professionals “dedicated to product research and development as well as training and education for AdvoCare Independent Distributors.”
AdvoCare claims the science backing up its supplements “helps improve lives through superior nutrition and wellness.” AdvoCare, along with companies like Herbalife, Amway and Mary Kay, is a member of the Council for Responsible Nutrition.
Okay, so AdvoCare has credibility; of that there’s little doubt. Though the medical and scientific communities are seemingly torn about the real benefits of supplements, including multi-vitamins. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates supplements and their ingredients, but not in the same way it does with conventional drugs; it does not evaluate or determine safety or effectiveness, only ensures that manufacturers don’t promote or sell “adulterated or misbranded” supplements and/or ingredients. Just so we’re clear.
Now to the actual AdvoCare programs. The 24-Day Challenge is at once easy to follow and also complicated. It does feature a smartphone app and a virtual coach for assistance, but the 24-Day Challenge Daily Guide is a copious document; 19 pages of how-to information plus several pages for notes.
For example, users are advised to become familiar with all the products and compare each so you know what supplements go with which phase—the kickoff 10-Day Cleanse Phase, and the Max Phase for days 11 to 24. Next you’ll need to go over the food recommendations for proteins, complex carbohydrates, vegetables, and snacks. You also must learn about water consumption and recommended portion sizes.
I suppose you don’t have to immerse yourself in all the nuances and details; rather just take the required supplements and eat according to the meal plan guidelines, which are easy enough: the standard for weight loss, no processed foods or sugars (simple carbs); focus rather on complex carbs, lean proteins and lots of greens and fruits—you know the drill.
During the cleanse you’ll need to use the three-product AdvoCare Herbal Cleanse system to “rid your body of waste and prepare the body for optimal nutrient absorption…” This includes ten-day supplies of ProBiotic Restore capsules ($33.95), Herbal Cleanse tablets ($38.95) and AdvoCare Fiber ($16.95). Also in this phase the AdvoCare OmegaPlex blend (fish oils, y’all—at $21.95) and the AdvoCare Spark ($51.95), a vitamin, nutrient, and mineral blend AdvoCare claims “work synergistically to provide a healthy and balanced source of energy,” with caffeine for a “boost,” plus B vitamins for energy, mental focus and alertness.
Once you’ve made it through the 10 days, the Max phase is up next, where you’ll use three other supplements: ones designed to promote strength, provide “core nutrition,” and help with appetite control. The Metabolic Nutrition System, (MNS) part of AdvoCare’s ‘Trim’ product line, which suppresses appetite and increases energy. Note here that you can up the ante and choose a stronger MNS supplement for a “higher level of appetite control.” ($41.95 or $43.95 for a 14-day supply)
Also in the Max phase you’ll use the meal replacement shakes ($44.95 for 14-day) and more of the Spark supplement.
AdvoCare also suggests challengers take “companion” supplements including:
- Catalyst ($31.50), an amino acid and L-glutamine blend to help with muscle-building;
- ThermoPlus ($31.95), with “key botanical extracts” for a metabolism boost and additional appetite suppressant;
- Carb-Ease ($37.95), that AdvoCare claims “inhibits the breakdown of fats and particular carbohydrate molecules” so your body doesn’t absorb them;
- and finally, more ProBiotic Restore, a probiotic that it’s claimed will “maintain the normal, healthy bacteria for your body to operate at an optimal level.”
So separately, that’s $388.00—they discount the “bundle” a bit.
AdvoCare does not make specific weight loss claims, but does say its products along with a healthy diet and exercise will rid your body of waste, better absorb nutrients and “achieve maximum results,” whatever those end up being.
You have to hand it to AdvoCare; the website includes a voluminous and comprehensive glossary of the “nutrients” in their AdvoCare products from Cat’s Claw and Coenzyme Q-10 (CoQ10) to wild yam root and zinc. And each is listed and defined in great detail. I found this to be both informative and a straightforward approach to help consumers check out the nutritional benefits of AdvoCare product ingredients.
Whether or not all of them are “essential” or even necessary is another question. Indeed, though AdvoCare supplements are seemingly packed with vitamins and minerals—which many people swear by—science generally would rather you get your nutrients from food.
The Science (or Lack Thereof) Behind AdvoCare
The Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) definition standard for dietary supplement claims must be from competent reliable scientific evidence through research studies, tests, and analyses conducted objectively. The NIH is certainly a competent reliable source, so its blessing of LeptiCore—an ingredient in AdvoCare’s LeptiLean supplement, one of its most popular contingents of weight loss and weight management supplements—is valid.
Independent scientific research and studies of AdvoCare—save those funded by AdvoCare itself—are hard to find, if they exist. That said, there’s no shortage of blogs out there written by dieticians and nutritionists (who aren’t hawking another weight loss product) who caution against AdvoCare, citing low quality ingredients, claims of ineffectiveness, dangerous (for some) side effects, and what some call toxic ingredients—like sucralose—plus warnings about consuming caffeine for energy.
Taking a look at a few of the ingredients AdvoCare uses frequently, some may be either praised or controversial, including:
Taurine, as described by the Mayo Clinic, is an amino acid found naturally in meat and fish that regulates mineral and water levels in our blood. It’s said to improve athletic performance, but side effects and long-term use need further study.
L-Tyrosine: the National Institutes of Health (NIH) says this drug may lighten the consequences of stress, based on research published in respectable journals…from research units in the US and Dutch armed forces. Yes. It’s used in the military, as a drug rather than a supplement, for
“…preventing a decline in cognitive function in response to physical stress. The physical stressors include those of interest to the military, such as cold stress, the combination of cold stress and high-altitude stress (i.e., mild hypoxia), extended wakefulness and lower body negative pressure stress (designed to simulate some of the effects of spaceflight).”
So unless you’re off to outer space or facing a zombie apocalypse, you probably don’t need this.
Proprietary blends like LeptiCore, a trademarked blend studied by the NIH, claims to “protect against oxidative stress, helps support healthy cardiovascular function and promotes healthy weight management and metabolic wellness.”
The NIH agrees:
The LeptiCore® formulation at both the low and high dosages appears to be helpful in the management of fat gain and its related complications. The higher dosage resulted in significantly greater reductions in body weight and triglyceride, blood glucose, and C-reactive protein levels, as well as increased serotonin levels.
Word on the Street About AdvoCare
AdvoCare reviews on its website cannot be considered objective. In fact, AdvoCare includes a disclaimer that the reviews and testimonials come from distributors and celebrity endorsers get paid for their thumbs-up.
AdvoCare is not a Better Business Bureau–accredited company, but there are nonetheless more than two dozen complaints about AdvoCare products, advertising and guarantees. One from late 2016, which resulted in a refund of more than $225 after a few months of back-and-forth, had the consumer allege:
And on PissedConsumer.com, folks have a lot to say about the 24-Day Challenge. Of nine reviews, AdvoCare was rated a 2.4 out of 5. Not terribly respectable. The first few reviews are stellar, and then things go bad.
I have been on Advocare for over a month! This is the worst I have ever felt! At first, I thought it was my body detoxing, but I started with cold (allergy like) symptoms, vertigo and nausea. I now feel constantly feel dizzy , nauseated, and less energy than I started with! And it keeps getting worse! My husband told me to keep on the program but I honestly feel Advocare is literally making me sick!
I started this for better health, more energy so I could feel like exercising again and weight loss, but all I have felt for the past month since starting Advocare is worse!!!!! What is in this stuff to physically make me “flu like” systems sick, constantly dizzy, nauseated and completely NO Energy because I constantly feel sick!!!!!!
The Bottom Line: Is AdvoCare Worth a Try?
Risky. I have my doubts. The assorted gastrointestinal side effects that come with so many weight loss supplements, which are at their core akin to laxatives, is one reason I’m dubious.
The other is—at the risk of sounding like a broken record—you’ll spend a lot of money on supplements that you may or may not benefit from and likely do not need. The body is quite the machine, with the liver and kidneys doing a superior job of cleansing, and if you have the proper food nutrition and plenty of exercise, your metabolism should be fine. If you eat healthy and are active and your metabolism is still very slow, see your doctor.
I would not buy any of these products, nor would I do the cleanse. A better way to “cleanse” is simply to skip all processed foods and all junk food. That’s pretty much all it takes, or that’s my take anyway. Save your money and buy a new bike and hiking boots.