First, understand that like so many weight loss product companies on the market (hundreds if not thousands), Plexus Slim is one of the many products made by Plexus Worldwide, another multi-level marketing (MLM) or direct-selling business. So since it has hundreds of distributors (it calls them “ambassadors,” who have to pay $35 a year for the privilege) hawking this product, it can be nearly impossible to tell fact from fiction.
Does it work? Will you lose weight, become slimmer? It says a “healthier gut means a slimmer you.” But when you poke around the Web looking for honest information from actual users with real results about the product, it is as clear as mud.
MLM companies have tight rein on reviews, as the products must be purchased through the official website—or, preferably through distributors—so you have no idea if a review you’re reading is from a real person not connected to the company, or an “ambassador” looking to earn a few dollars.
I say a few dollars because, in almost all MLM businesses, the tiny top tier make big money while the widest part of the distributors’ pyramid makes little to nothing. “Rewards as big as your dreams,” Plexus says. “What you earn is up to you,” it says. The ways you earn, Plexus says, come in the form of commissions on customer purchases and “your own product purchase.” (Which is like, “what?” So if you buy more product you make a commission on yourself?)
The other ways to “earn” include primarily signing up other distributors, and when your customers sign up for automatic monthly shipments billed to a credit card—and not easy to get out of, we shall see shortly based on Better Business Bureau (BBB) complaints—ambassadors may make a small commission on those.
So you can see where ambassadors would speak about Plexus Slim as if it were manna from heaven, or the secret weight loss elixir you’ve been searching for your whole life. I’m not saying it is or it isn’t, but when you read the company disclosure statement, it’s perfectly clear this is absolutely not a good way to make a couple of dollars, much less earn a living: nearly 85 percent of distributors earn an average of $100 to $400 a year. And at the high end, the Ruby through Diamond Ambassadors (a total of less than 1 percent of all distributors) earn five to even six figures—the Diamonds, which make up 0.05 percent, earn more than $400,000.
So what? Just because you probably won’t make any money selling Plexus Slim doesn’t mean it won’t work, right?
One quick aside before we get into the Plexus Slim claims: Plexus is a business of nutrition, weight loss, skin care, pain relief, detoxification and breast health products. The direct sales company was focused on weight-loss products which the CEO said “are king if you can find a product that works.” The Pink Drink was born. It was provided as samples to existing distributors and Plexus found it “had a winner.”
Dietary supplements skirt the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as they are neither foods nor drugs and are not held to the same standard. As a result, supplement manufacturers are not permitted to make any health claims—a violation of both FDA and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) rules—and of course can’t add toxins, poisons, or other dangerous stuff to their products. Of course, many have over the years and, when caught, are generally either shut down or prohibited from adding those ingredients. Think ephedra (people died taking this!) or Fen-Phen, or Sibutramine—all of these came with risk of heart attack or stroke.
The compound was deemed a danger when the FDA received reports of heart attack and stroke in victims taking DMAA (sometimes combined with caffeine, which is commonly found in weight loss or sports supplements). Sometimes identified as geranium extract and called an “all-natural stimulant,” the FDA declared it is in fact a drug and cannot be added to dietary supplements. Most supplement manufacturers—there’s one left still causing legal problems—removed it from their products.
I raise this issue in particular because some blogs I have read on Plexus Slim claim the product contains DMAA. Actually, though it previously did have DMAA as an ingredient, not unlike dozens of other athletic performance and weight loss dietary aids, Plexus removed DMAA from its “pink drink.”
All its other ingredients are described as all-natural. We’ll check that shortly. In the meantime are Plexus Slim ingredients slimming? Does it work?
Plexus Slim CLAIMS
Plexus Slim, or the “Pink Drink,” is a powdered mix made with a “premium microbiome activating formula” that contains ingredients clinically-demonstrated to improve gut health and promote weight loss. Plexus points to its own “independent” study where participants lost about 1 pound more per month in the two-month study than participants who did not drink Plexus Slim. So the “trend to weight decrease” with the Plexus Slim-drinking group was just over 2 pounds, by their own admission.
Plexus Slim claims to help you lose weight by increasing good gut bacteria and employing metabolism-bumping ingredients, which supposedly enhance Akkermansia microbes by 250 times. It contains no artificial sweeteners, flavors or colors, is gluten-free, 100 percent vegetarian and non-GMO. Each package comes with 30-single serving packets.
The whole concept behind this weight loss product is to make your digestive system as healthy as it can be and at the same time, support healthy glucose metabolism. To lose weight, you drink it before meals. If you’re just interested in overall gut health, Plexus says, drink it whenever—just not more than twice a day. It comes in raspberry, lemon, and watermelon flavors. We’ll see what people think about the taste shortly. The “Pink Drink” must be mixed with at least 12 ounces of water (preferably more) about 30 minutes before meals, twice a day. Plexus Slim by itself is $90 for 30 servings, so it you’re taking it twice a day for weight loss, this is a fifteen–day supply.
Plexus Accelerator-Plus and Plexus Block are the supplements users are encouraged to purchase in combination with Plexus Slim. You take Plexus Block before a meal with carbs; this supplement contains a brown seaweed blend and white kidney bean extract—you could get both of these from kelp and legumes, respectively. Accelerator-Plus, a “natural stimulant” designed to burn fat, is a proprietary blend of herbs, including yerba mate, and hydrochloride compounds. The combos range from $115 to $153.
So what’s all this about gut health anyway, and why does it matter? And does Plexus Slim actually help grow a healthy gut?
Here’s my two cents: You’ve heard of probiotics, mostly from yogurt commercials, right? Probiotics deliver good bacteria to your gut (bowel, colon, etc.), that’s true; but prebiotics are dietary fibers that act as a fertilizer to grow that good bacteria. Prebiotics come from plant fibers and can be found in foods like Jerusalem artichoke, avocado, jicama and chicory root, allium plants we eat like garlic, leeks, onions, shallots, chives and the like as well as breads made from 100 percent whole or sprouted grains, among others. None of these are actually digested by the body; instead they promote the growth of the good gut stuff that works against fat. If you love to cook, there’s little doubt the best way to get prebiotics in your body is through foods like these. Short of that, a blend with myriad prebiotics is the other way to go.
According to Plexus Slim, its powerful formula increases Akkermansia, a microbe which positively impacts disrupted metabolism associated with being overweight by 250 times, Lactobacillus by 365 times, and Bifidobacterium by 290 times—all of which, Plexus Slim maintains, contribute to your overall health. Its blend also increases “short-chain fatty acids” that help regulate your metabolism. That formula includes green coffee bean extract, Garcinia cambogia, mulberry and alpha lipoic acid.
Plexus Slim INGREDIENTS
Plexus Slim ingredients include the essential nutrient chromium, which helps metabolize fats—in fact, chromium is the first ingredient listed and provides 167% of what your body needs daily. In other words, nearly twice. Turns out, chromium as a supplement is controversial.
According to WebMD, chromium may be helpful for people with diabetes, since there’s some evidence it can lower glucose levels. But it’s usually used as a beneficial supplement if someone is deficient or has “poor overall nutrition.” Studies that it can aid in weight loss are mixed. And WebMD says 20 to 35 micrograms (mcg) per day is adequate. One serving of Plexus Slim provides 250 mcg—and the dosage is two pink drinks per day—which is about 10 times what we may need, although apparently it’s unclear just exactly how much is not quite enough. Researchers do say that 1,000 micrograms a day “should be considered the upper limit” because “excessive doses” can worsen insulin sensitivity.
In clinical studies, diabetics were given doses of around 200-plus micrograms in split doses throughout the day. “Some experts recommend that no one should take more than 200 mcg/day without medical advice. Doses of 1,000 mcg/day may be dangerous—theoretically there could be an increased risk of cancer. There is also risk of cognitive and motor dysfunction from high doses. So don’t use chromium in high doses without talking to your doctor first. And, too much chromium may damage the liver or kidneys. For me, this is a full stop! Plus, you can get all the chromium you need naturally from many different foods, from dairy to whole grains.
Now onto the Plexus Slim Blend. Alpha Lipoic Acid, a natural antioxidant, is one that your body makes itself, so you don’t need it as a supplement. And you won’t be surprised to learn Plexus Slim also includes popular weight loss supplement Garcinia cambogia (hydroxycitric acid), which is known to help assist in losing body fat and some studies claim it may suppress appetite. But the jury is still out on that. You’re better off without it. Plexus Slim also contains green coffee extract, chlorogenic acid, which stabilizes blood sugar levels. But there’s almost no evidence it aids in weight loss; drink green tea instead.
Then there’s so-called “superfood” mulberry. Mulberry may, like other ingredients, help lower blood glucose, but there’s no proof. Since it’s an herb added to dietary aids and not a “drug,” it hasn’t been approved or even clinically studied by reputable, peer-reviewed medical science researchers. Will it hurt you? I don’t know, but I suspect probably not. Then again, what’s the right dose when it’s a powder, if you can even be sure of its purity? I mean why pay for this, when it’s efficacy is debatable at best? Eat actual mulberries if you want to experiment.
THE SCIENCE (or Lack Thereof) BEHIND Plexus Slim
So you now know the science behind the main ingredients. The one we’ll talk about here is Xylooligosaccharide (XOS). Here’s the thing: if you have a very specific metabolic disorder, XOS can potentially promote an optimal gut microbiota profile, and consequently reduce the risk of the disorder called T2DM.
But not all probiotics help with weight loss, and some of them may even cause weight gain. The effects depend on the probiotic strain, and may also vary between individuals.
Xylooligosaccharide is a non-digestible dietary fiber “that preferentially stimulate the growth of prebiotic Bifidobacterium and other lactic acid bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract. And XOS provide a plethora of health benefits and can be incorporated into several functional foods, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). A clinical trial found simply that: “Prebiotic XOS may be beneficial in reversing changes in the gut microbiota during the development of diabetes.”
Improved gut health is great. And if you lose a pound or two because of it, even better. But don’t pay $100 a month for a diet drink that contains XOS. Don’t take it from me—ask your doctor.
THE WORD ON THE STREET ABOUT Plexus Slim
People looking to slim down want to know how effective Plexus Slim is. Do you really achieve weight loss by drinking the pink drink?
Plexus Slim authentic reviews are not easy to find—at least what appear to be objective or not paid/promoted endorsements. Weight loss products and supplements can often be found on Amazon; Plexus Slim is not one of them, but it can be found on eBay. Reviewers there—the small number of them—had little to say about the product specifically, save a very recent review by a customer who said,
That said, there were a number of poor reviews and even a number of very poor reviews as well, including a recent one by user “Debbie” who said:
“Something in the new slim has put my bladder on overdrive. I stopped taking it and it went back to normal. So must be having a reaction to it.”
User and Ambassador “Melissa,” said,
As you’ve learned, Plexus Slim’s MLM distributors are called “ambassadors,” are shown how to write a good review, and cautioned to be careful of staying within the right lane—the FTC lane—by avoiding health claims and to not “exaggerate what an average consumer can expect to lose if mentioning your weight loss.” And then provides an email address for more information on how best to write a good review.
Plexus is not a Better Business Bureau-accredited company, though they have a profile on the BBB site. But since 2006, the BBB has received almost 700 complains and features more than 180 reviews. The Plexus Slim reviews are, again, hard to both pin down and believe.
For example, of the 60 positive reviews, these are among the superlatives to describe the product and the company (all are quotes): Remarkable; High quality; I’m 100 percent satisfied: I’ve seen people’s health change; Great company, great leaders, great product; and, I’m a believer. That’s just from four or five reviews in the summer of 2017.
I am not saying these are phony—rather, I believe they’re likely from ambassadors. That’s just me. Maybe I’m just too skeptical. So let’s do a deeper dive.
So the “neutral” reviews seemed anything but that; with just four, two were very critical (one about serious health concerns another about being fraudulently charged) and two singing its praises. Very confusing.
So I looked at the 120 negative reviews. Note that most of these reviews are for Plexus Slim and other products, the company, and its overall business practices.
One review in particular, from “Debbie” in June of 2017, was a candid complaint not just about the hard-sell she got from an ambassador—which ended up costing her and her husband $150—and the subsequent problems she had with customer service, but it was her complaint about suffering withdrawal-like side effects that really caught my attention.
I decided ok I will try pink drink (for) 425. Not bad for 7 days. Didn’t really feel as though it did a thing for me, but ambassador was emailing, sending (Facebook) Messenger and texting about how the other things (the pills) would probably help. So after few days decided I would try all (without of course my husband’s approval). I made it a point to tell ambassador I did not want to do this on monthly basis just this one time she said she understood. She told me how to go online to order I ended getting the order and tried for full days felt like I was having nervous breakdown; my husband was ready to divorce me. I talked to the rep she said, ‘yes the product will cause some withdrawal issues’ (which she of course did not tell me upfront) so I quit taking and told her I would do so.”
Debbie’s case does not appear to have been resolved on the BBB site.
Debbie was not alone. Negative review after negative review had many complaining about alleged fraudulent billing practices, but many also that criticize both the company and the product.
Like “J.C.” who, like so many others, saw a friend on Facebook post rave reviews about Plexus Slim. The “friend” was an ambassador. In any event, “J. C.” was convinced and didn’t just purchase but became an ambassador themselves for an extra $35. This is what “J. C.” reported to the BBB in October of 2016:
“I received and tried my products and came very close to running to the hospital most likely from one of the products called Accelerator. That morning I drank a slim drink and took 2 capsules the bottle does not say to take with food. My heart-rate was over 140 I started to get really scared. I called the company and they said they do not know why this would happen and said I should ask a pharmacist to ask what was in the product that would cause my heart to be that high. If anyone takes this product please be careful. I have read several reviews and did more research on the company and their products after this happened and I am not the only one this has happened to. The next day I canceled my membership asked for a refund. It took almost a month to receive an email that the membership was canceled and I still have not received the membership fee returned.”
To be clear, “J.C.” says it was the Plexus Slim in combination with the Accelerator supplement that may have cause the frightening increase in heart rate—but many reviews share a similar story that the plan begins with the Pink Drink and then the other products are pushed on them, including the Accelerator (Hmmm. I think the name sort of gives it away.)
THE BOTTOM LINE: IS Plexus Slim WORTH A TRY?
Definitely not. I agree that a healthy gut is an overall win for your body, so incorporating prebiotics into your diet is just smart—but from plant-based foods, not Plexus Slim. Eat more garlic and avocados, for starters.
Drink Pink and Shrink? Come on. Even in the study Plexus Slim touts, participants who drank the mix twice a day for two months lost just two pounds more than the people who didn’t drink it. Two. Pounds. Plus, I have yet to identify any of its ingredients as a proven effective weight loss elixir.
Garcinia cambogia? We’ve gone over and over this ingredient. It’s not proven and may do more harm than good. Why risk it?
Green coffee bean, extract then powdered? Drink a good whole-leaf green tea (with stevia or a little honey and lemon) instead of ingesting green coffee bean extract (which is processed and manufactured and who really knows how much of the actual bean survives that?).
Chromium? Again, unless you eat no dairy, grains, fruits, or vegetables—and in that case you’re not going to be in good health much less worry about tummy bulge—you don’t need it. Or, if you’re a diabetic and your physician recommends it, then maybe. Plus, the amount of chromium in Plexus Slim is easily ten times what researchers recommend. Ugh.
Mulberry? Just eat some.
All this talk about getting your metabolism going? This isn’t rocket science. Some people have slower metabolisms than others; that’s a fact and is part of the biology (and genetics) that help to define our body types. But we have the power to adjust that by eating foods that naturally boost metabolism—beans, berries, even dark chocolate —and ultimately, just by being more active overall.
Plus, instead of forking over more than $100 a month for Plexus Slim, you could spend that instead on healthy, fresh foods.
And, I am absolutely convinced that weight loss products sold by MLM distributors—whatever they’re called—come with claims that cannot always be verified at best and not trustworthy or erroneous at worst. It’s just that simple for me.
Finally, if this—or any other miracle weight loss drink or supplement, or bar, or shake, or gadget, or gizmo—worked, why are we still facing such an obesity crisis? Please, just eat better and move your body. If you stick with it for the rest of your life (and cheat once in awhile to stay sane), you’ll lose weight and likely be healthier and live longer. Cut out the junk, the sugars, the trans fats, the sodium (all often found in the processed foods), and instead eat fresh, whole, healthy foods and make sure to exercise in some way at least three or four times a week for 20 or 30 minutes a day: ride a bike, take a long, brisk heart-healthy walk, play tennis, swim, run, skate, jump on a trampoline—just move.