Name a diet plan and we’ve tried it. I say ‘we’ because, trust that I am in the boat with you. I’ve been (curvy, thick, chubby, Rubenesque, fat) overweight my whole life. Not morbidly obese but most assuredly overweight. (I blame genetics.) I have had spans and stages where I’ve slimmed down, but have rarely kept the weight off for more than a year. I have tried every diet. Every. Diet. Raise your hand if you’ve been on one of these simply bananas diets like The Cabbage Soup Diet, the Shangri-La diet (where you drink extra light, extra virgin olive oil in between meals) or the Twinkie Diet (really?). What about detoxes where you drink some nutty or fruity concoction and fast for a day? Yup, been there, done that. (See what I did there: bananas, EVOO, nuts, fruits. There will be a quiz. JK) And for sure you’ve been on one (or more, probably more) of these: Weight Watchers, South Beach, NutriSystem, Jenny Craig, Biggest Loser, Atkins, Beverly Hills, and SlimFast to name a couple of handfuls.
What do these weight loss programs have in common? They don’t always come cheap. Dieters are losing money, but maybe not pounds, while weight-loss companies are gaining; weight-loss is a multi-billion-dollar market.
Speaking of mega-money weight loss companies, let’s talk about Isagenix. To be clear, the company doesn’t sell just a weight loss program, but also “energy and performance solutions, age-defying skin care and targeted solutions;” not
sure what the latter means, but our concern here is Isagenix’ weight loss products and promises.
Never heard of Isagenix?
For starters, it’s immediately clear when you land on its website that Isagenix is a multi-tiered direct marketing company, indeed, it identifies itself as such. “Share Isagenix and Get Paid.” Other keywords that leap off the page: Business. Marketing. Compensation, Wealth-Generating. Opportunity. Success. Growth. So it’s not surprising then that Isagenix says it made the Inc. 5000 list for the 10th year as one of the fastest-growing companies in the U.S. The business model Isagenix employs is direct selling with Independent Business Owners (IBO) read: independent contractors or distributors, like Amway, for example. This model is wildly successful for the 15-year-old company. According to Direct Selling website’s blog, Isagenix generated revenue of $725 million in 2014, placing it on the list of top direct-selling companies. Isagenix says, “Our no-compromise approach to health and wealth generating opportunities help thousands achieve their dreams—physically and financially.”
That’s awesome. No, I mean it, good for them. Here’s the thing: one way Isagenix has likely achieved this impressive standing is the revenue it earns. How? Well Isagenix is not cheap, far from it. At almost $400 a month, it’s either out-of-reach for many or for people that can afford it, well, they may not think it worth it. So is Isagenix worth the cost?
What Isagenix Does (or Says it Does)
The Isagenix system has users combining various products to detox, cleanse and lose weight as well as boost energy and athletic performance. It also carries a line of healthy aging and skin care products. The claim is Isagenix products will help folks burn fat while keeping muscle lean.
With the Isagenix 30-day plan, you replace two meals a day with ‘Isalean’ shakes, eat one 400-600-calorie meal, consumer supplements and drink the ‘Cleanse for Life, 1 Ionix Supreme’ cleanse. Their products include an impressively long list of ingredients including wheat protein, enzymes, herbs, green tea, ginseng and the like. There’s also the ‘IsaFlush accelerator’ and energy snacks (the latter being defined as snacks in the colloquial sense, reviews have said, is a dubious claim). Depending on where (and how) one purchases the 30-day cleansing plan, for example, the cost ranges from $325 to $490.
What Science Says (or, Is There Real Science?)
The Isagenix ‘research and science’ team of nutritionists and dietitians work with company founder John Anderson, a longtime supplement manufacturer and distributor, company chief science officer who has “25 years of experience leveraging business and science”
and “respected scientists” whom they do not name to develop and test products. It also funds its own clinical studies. In fact, the Isagenix-funded 2012 study “Intermittent fasting combined with calorie restriction is effective for weight loss and cardio-protection in obese women,” which was published in Nutrition & Metabolism and peer-reviewed for a fee, found that over an eight-week period, people who used Isagenix meal-replacement shakes as part of an intermittent fasting and calorie-restriction diet lost 2.2 pounds more than those who followed a similar diet using regular food. Isagenix says “Science backs our products…” adding the study “serves as clinical substantiation for Isagenix systems for healthy weight loss and also adds to advance our understanding of the relationship between diet, nutrition and health.” In its self-funded scientific study a number of obese women (the ones that remained in the group; many dropped out) who fasted one day a week, severely restricted calories and replaced one to two meals a day with liquid, an Isagenix shake among myriad other brands and types of offered, not surprisingly lost weight. Yes! The researchers found this: by not eating one day a week, drinking two meals a day and dramatically cutting calories for the one meal you get your teeth into, you will lose weight. Maybe it’s just me but this doesn’t seem like rocket science: don’t eat and you’ll lose weight. And honestly, if I were going to torture myself that way, I wouldn’t add insult to injury by paying several hundred dollars a month for the misery. But what do I know? Let’s ask customers.
What do Isagenix customers say?
To be balanced what follows are headlines from Amazon.com reviews that both debunk and praise Isagenix. Product-by-product, a number of Isagenix shakes, cleanses, supplements, snacks, flushes, and protein powders, enjoyed many high ratings. But the Isagenix 30-day program featured on Amazon — with IsaLean shakes, IsaFlush, energy Accelerator, snacks, brochure and CD — did not fare as well — 2.8 average. The review that 642 of 681 people found most helpful was from ‘Three Paws’ from Utah, who wrote in 2015, “I Drank the Kool-Aid …one woman’s candid impressions of the goods,” said she was “completely turned off by the marketing scheme and have no interest in trying to make money on bringing others in,” the products were, overall all, not ingestible: “I hope my impressions are helpful. Regardless of any potential health benefit, if you can’t ingest the goods, you never have a chance.”
“Big No” (sans all caps and at least four exclamation points) said, “Don’t waste your money. I constantly felt like I was hungry. It made me go into a minor depression because I couldn’t eat and it wasn’t like a detoxing irritation it was a horrifying sadness where I felt like I was torturing my body. All the negative reviews that you’ve read already: TRUST THEM (their caps, not mine) this is a big waste of your money, honey.”
But there were plenty of fair to positive reviews, too.
“Fast and Effective (minus caps and exclamation point) proclaimed, “I love this system. It was easy to follow, made meals convenient, and it made me feel good. Overall on the taste of the shakes, they aren’t the best thing I’ve ever tasted or anything, but they are actually a close second. I usually hate vanilla protein/meal replacement shakes and it ended up being one of my favorites.”
And there’s reviewer Kathy E. Gill who says Isagenix has “worked for me when nothing else did,” adding, “The system is solid, backed by research, and complete with a money-back-offer. What have you got to lose?”
Other sites with Isagenix reviews saw rants from customers that felt they’d be taken, complaints from others who said the products, while maybe effective, were inedible and still plenty more that sounded like they were on the payroll; many reviewers add that they are in fact not on the payroll. So reviews are mixed, but given Isagenix is a successful nutrition business globally with locations in Australia, Singapore, Canada, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Taiwan, Puerto Rico, and Columbia.
Crossed Ts and Dotted Is
Ready to try it? Best to know what are among the most Isagenix FAQs starting with are Isagenix products FDA approved? They don’t have to be since they’re described as dietary supplements and food products and not drugs and biologics. But, the company says it is under FDA jurisdiction for meeting Good Manufacturing Processes.
All Isagenix products are gluten-free except SlimCakes and while some of the products “meet the needs” of a Vegan lifestyle, none are vegan-certified. And, the company claims it uses organic ingredients in a few of its products but claims “not all are organic due to lack of availability or failure to meet standards of our Isagenix “no-compromise quality policy.” Some of its products are Kosher and the company says it doesn’t do animal testing of its products.
A word of caution, and something Isagenix itself recommends, if you have any medical condition where you think, even remotely, that fasting, doing an Isagenix “cleanse” or consuming its supplements may be a problem, definitely speak to your doctor first. And as far as pregnant or breastfeeding women are concerned, just don’t do it. Even the company will admit that pregnancy “… is not the time to diet or cleanse your body,” while suggesting, however, that there are products a woman could use or consume as a supplement to her regular doctor-approved nutrition plan.“Isagenix super foods may be incorporated into a pregnant or breastfeeding mom’s diet” adding in parenthesis, “with healthcare provider’s cooperation.” The list includes its skin care line, vitamins, fiber and snacks and other products like shakes but only as supplemental to a pregnant woman’s regular diet. Bottom line: If you’re pregnant, it’s probably wise to skip Isagenix.
Athletes have asked if Isagenix products could cause them to fail performance enhancing drug testing. Isagenix says none of their products contain any substances that have been banned by the “World Anti-Doping Agency, or any other professional sports organizations.”
And about refunds –the policy is multi-tiered and rather complex, but bottom line, for regular people (not Isagenix “associates”), if you return what you purchased within 30 days – with some stipulations like you need a Return Merchandise Authorization (RMA), must ship within 7 days of getting the go-ahead and get tracking and insurance from carrier, etc. – you’ll likely be refunded within 30 days. Oh and by the way, no product exchanges.
So there you have it. But if you have questions we haven’t answered, Isagenix has a help email address HelpCenter@IsagenixCorp.com.
What Works if Isagenix Doesn’t?
I have not tried it Isagenix, so I can only report on my findings, but it seems there’s plenty of people that swear by it and the Isagenix distributors that are getting rich selling their products to people like me on the diet rollercoaster.
My advice: use the money for a gym membership, Pilates, an awesome bike, or install an in ground pool (at that price). Or, listen to the experts who have a pretty good handle on what works.
The Cleveland Clinic’s ‘The Very Best Way To Lose Weight & Keep It Off’ keeps it real: to lose weight and keep it off, we have to commit to gradually embrace healthy living by sensibly lowering caloric intake while eating a good balance of nutritious (and delicious) foods and incorporating more activity, you know, getting up and taking a walk. Priceless.
*Please keep in mind that with any diet or weight loss program, individual results will vary.
Top 5 Diets Compared*
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*Individual results will vary.
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