On the Cult of Advocare Cleanses

This product caught my attention when, in one week’s time, my cell phone exploded with texts from people I don’t regularly talk to trying to “sell” this product to me. 1st, if your only contact with me is because you are trying to sell me something, maybe we should evaluate “us”.

Don’t worry, it’s me and not you, baby.

I wasn’t even convinced it was anything more than another dieting gimmick. What grabbed my attention next was when I was dropped from every single one of the conversations when it was apparent I wouldn’t be contributing to profits from these little pyramid-scheme-esque discussions. I wasn’t initiated into the cult of advocare. Bummer.
I did discuss these products with my dietitian- you know, a real professional rather than someone who simply buys this stuff with no thorough understanding of health and nutrition. I had a sample packet. She generally likes advocare products, so I considered her biased towards advocare. That being said, the feedback I got was fun.
The first thing she pointed out was that, unfortunately, some of the vitamins can put you at toxic levels if you aren’t careful- since it’s not FDA regulated, that’s a bit difficult to assess. For example, dietitian mentioned this and I’ve read some reviews of Niacin overdose (300% for *each* spark supplement, and it’s recommended consumption is 1-3 per day: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/niacin-overdose/AN01644). I saw on forums where people complained of feeling sick during it- some responses of those without any medical or nutrition training whatsoever were “oh, those are the toxins leaving your system”- It’s funny that those specific symptoms of the sickness just happened to mirror the symptoms of Niacin OD. The world has a funny way of telling you things, dontchaknow.
When processing this with the dietitian (who specializes in sports health and fitness) I was advised that I would get the same effects from the Spark by drinking a cup of black coffee. A good quality multivitamin captures the rest, and then to boot, when we have excess vitamins in our system (well, the ones that don’t attack our organs) they tend to get urinated out. We joked that in the end, the 750% of B6 and B12 from this product generally just created expensive urine in the end, which tends to be a neon yellow. My urine could have gone to a rave and be perfectly suitable. That’s just with one pack.

I like that it advocates for a more active and healthy lifestyle- but quitting coffee, meals, dairy consumption, and using the spark as an expensive substitute to get the caffeine? Nah. Most of these vitamins can be obtained with good dietary balance, which most of us are lacking.

Meal replacements: Eat a balanced meal. Adjust for protein or add a protein supplement
Herbal Cleanse: Laxative effect. I mean, if you are just going to crap out everything you take in, suck it up and accept that you would save money by using a laxative, or other vitamins with a laxative effect. In the weight loss billion dollar business, we can translate “cleanse” to mean “poo until the cows come home’’- but don’t drink their milk- no dairy on this diet…”
Substitutes–

MNS: Probiotic food item- typically found in dairy (which you can’t have on this diet plan, apparently)… protein, vitamin
Omega Plex: Fish Oil supplement- avoid mercury.
Spark: Coffee/caffeine + multivitamin. Taurine is something you can find in Red Bull and other energy shots.

My biggest beef (so to speak):
It doesn’t seem to teach lasting lifestyle changes- instead it’s a “let’s take away your normal sources of nutrients and put them in powder and pill form instead.”

I see that there are results, and if that’s what’s needed to get started, great *cough-placebo-cough* Most people aren’t working out 5+ days a week like this product recommends (that change alone will give you results). It won’t do much good, though, if you are returning to old patterns after the cleanse is over.

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6 thoughts on “On the Cult of Advocare Cleanses

  1. I just wanted to fill you in on a couple of facts.
    1) Spark isn’t “recommended” 1-3 times a day. Once a day, in the morning is what is in the program. Up to 3 is for people who are addicted to coffee or caffeine and need the fix
    2) By no means does the program encourage “quitting” meals. Just the opposite in fact. 3 well balanced meals a day and 2 snacks are what is recommended.
    3) Herbal Cleanse= laxative I am a regular sort of gal as it is but I in no way was effected the way a laxative would impact my diet.

    I get the fact that people who drink the “spark” so to speak are annoying. And you are entitled to your opinion by all means. But I am from the school of “don’t knock it tip you tried it” Some people need the boost to start a healthier regimen. The cleanse portion is only 10 days and if you knew anything about the entire program it’s not meant to be for 24 days total…its supposed to be a lifestyle change of better nutrition and eating habits.

    • Oh okay. Let’s go by this point by point, since you insist.

      Response: 1.) The instructions state: “Blend, shake or stir contents of one pouch into 8 fluid ounces of water or the beverage of your choice. May consume 1 to 3 times per day, preferably between meals.” 100% of the people I met who have taken it took it 3x daily. Either way, if they needed the fix, it states it can be taken 3x daily. My post stated 1-3x daily. Not sure where the difference lies in what you are saying and what I am saying (or the packaging, for that matter), here.
      2.) Quitting meals? No worries, we have a liquid substitute for you:
      From Advocare:
      THE ISSUE:
      There are two major obstacles in today’s culture that make healthy eating a formidable challenge. One obstacle is our schedule. Today’s fast-paced lifestyle often has us rushing out the door to work or school with no time for breakfast. We often sacrifice good nutrition for convenience, opting for the high-fat combo meal or the nutrient-starved microwave dinner instead of a meal that’s fresh and nutritious. The other obstacle is that even healthy options may not always be as balanced or complete as we need them to be. For example, the right amount of protein and other nutrients may also be high in calories and fat. It’s difficult to take the time to prepare healthy meals on a regular basis, and yet that’s exactly what our body needs to maintain steady energy levels.

      THE SOLUTION: Meal Replacement Shake
      Receive complete nutrition in a light, refreshing meal even when you’re pressed for time or trying to lose weight. Available in chocolate mocha, berry, chocolate and vanilla flavors, Meal Replacement Shakes are easy to make and deliver balanced nutrition that taste delicious. More importantly, Meal Replacement Shakes offer a powerful combination of vitamins, minerals, protein, carbohydrates and fiber that are wholesome and easy to digest. With 26 vitamins and minerals and only 220 calories per serving, Meal Replacement Shakes are an excellent addition to your weight management program. They give you an alternative to high-calorie meals packed with sugars, fat and other empty calories, and provide the protein and nutrients you need to stay at your best.

      3) Herbal Cleanse= laxative I am a regular sort of gal as it is but I in no way was effected the way a laxative would impact my diet.
      I’m glad you decided to help us out with that factoid- I’m very pleased to hear that *you* did not have the laxative effects. Given the nature of what is IN the herbal cleanse, it’s a very real side effect that many people experience.

      Your additional paragraph: Consumer review quoted follows: Looking for healthy nutritional advice? Ask someone who has the training and experience to issue sound advice! Bottom line: the healthy method to permanent weight loss is to decrease caloric intake and/or increase caloric expenditure. This is basic human physiology-simple math. Why do we spend billions per year on products like this Advocare package, yet fail to take responsibility for our dietary and lifestyle behavior?

      I have ended up in the hospital for a program very very similar to this. I was on a potassium drip, and then sublingual supplements on the days following. I had an electrolyte balance. And this was from a program that functioned eerily like Advocare, and was supported by a physician with an anesthesia background. She had to google side effects of drugs she prescribed to patients to help with energy during the program (24 day boot camp- how about that?) because she was so poorly educated about the products, she had not even managed to memorize the most important details.

      This post is about empowerment. And as the review above notes- we need to take responsibility. Seek professional help for lifestyle adjustments. Any dietitian locally has had fees much lower than a cost of the 24 day Advocare product. And zero dietitians I have spoken with have been supportive of such programs.
      Want a lifestyle change? Why do it with supplements and shakes? That’s not sustainable? Why not reboot with a healthy and balanced diet, and increased exercise for those who are able? Why does there have to be a “gateway” program to a healthy lifestyle?

      If you want it, do it.

      If you want a simple shortcut, do that. It’s all up to us. But do your research and save yourself and your loved ones the RISK of a hospital trip.

      I would not risk my loved ones for a weight loss program like this for the world. It’s not a true change. It’s a shortcut. And if you *research* and consult with weight loss doctors, there is an extremely high rate of people who do well on the program but fail when it comes to the activities they claimed to want to do later.

      If you don’t have TIME for meals now, for example, what makes you think anything will change by drinking a protein shake or a handful of almonds in 24 days? Meal prep after a program like this still requires a time investment. The quick fix does nothing to establish *healthy eating patterns* other than reduced calories and carbohydrates- depending on the program. PS. See the end of my original post where I’ve already iterated all of these points.

      Just be educated. By professionals. Not by someone who can make a dollar off of our lack of responsibility for daily nutritional care. I don’t know why recommendations to be educated and talk to professionals brings such hatred from the Advocare community.
      Hmm… That’s a thinker.

  2. You need to do more research before you knock something that works so well. Try it for yourself and then see if you’re still spouting off behing your computer?

    • Consulting with a physician and multiple dietitians at this point is called research. Consulting professionals who have insight into medical issues and nutritional issues rather than chatting up Betty Jane down the street with her high school diploma who just so happens to be part of the program is probably going to remain my preferred method of fact gathering. Where is the research in this comment, other than an insult? Oh yes, the anonymity of the internet and the paradox of the troll who “spouts” “Do more research.” Where was your research, again? Nothing worth noting in that 2 sentence argument. Well, I’m convinced.

      Truly. No. I’m just kidding. Mostly because I did my research and more even since I’ve posted this.

      Oh, and here’s a consumer report: ” I’m sitting here in the ER with my husband. We began Day 11 of the 24 Day Challenge today, which commenced our first day of multipacks. The heart palpitations, nausea, dizziness, and facial rash was severe enough that my husband requested 911 assistance. ER doctor is attributing his response to an overload of niacin. I did a search on this while waiting in the ER, and found a number of similar responses to the massive amounts of niacin in the vitamin pack/Spark combo. We purchased our products through an Advocare rep and have been coached through the process. However, no mention of possible side effects, though they are clearly documented online. Bottom line: It really is a good idea to check with your physician before beginning any diet or fitness program. Lesson learned, and Challenge terminated.”
      Oh and here: “Roommate went in to kidney failure within two weeks. He passed out at work this past Tuesday May 6th 2014, sent to ER. Had spiked BP, extremely high creatine levels and was considered to be in kidney failure. He is 33, works out weekly, eats a great diet with no fast or fried food, only drinks 2 times a week tops and no health problems. DO NOT DO THIS!!! Fly by night programs like this are NOT regulated by the FDA or any other health regulations. My advice as a physical therapist and athletic trainer, talk to your doctor before trying any new diets. Do not go for these fad scam diets that have no regulations! DO RESEARCH BEFORE YOU BUY!!! Feel free to private message me if you have questions.”
      I have yet to see it work for any people around me, anecdotally speaking. At this stage in the game, people are pretty much over the fad after their initial 5-10 lbs rebounded- if they lost weight at all.
      You know what else works well for weight loss? Phen phen. Damnit all when they banned it. Also, cocaine. Oh, and Adderall for those who don’t use stimulants for ADHD. Crystal meth does great for weight loss too. And hey since those avenues work so well, don’t knock it until you try it for your self, right?

      That’s an extreme example, and I am being completely sarcastic- I hope that’s observable. Just do the research YOURSELF. You have to weigh the risks. If you are wiling to end up dealing with potential medical fall out as a result, more power to you. But don’t clog my local ER. The wait times are already atrocious.

      By the way, Amazon reviews show 21 one star ratings. Click here for more feedback on reported side effects: http://www.amazon.com/AdvoCare-Advocare-24-Day-Challenge/product-reviews/B007R6ZUFU/ref=cm_cr_pr_hist_1?ie=UTF8&filterBy=addOneStar&showViewpoints=0&sortBy=bySubmissionDateDescending

      • I am a nurse and have researched this product over and over again and I agree with you. Terrible. Causes too many other health problems

  3. I started the 24 day challenge 10 days ago this past Sunday. I completed the cleanse phase and Sunday was my first day on the max phase using MNS 3. I am not much for caffeine and usually only drink water so I drink spark at 1/2 the recommended amount. 1/2 scoop to 1 bottle of water. According to plan, you drink spark 30 minutes before breakfast and take the 1st yellow packet of supplements.
    30-45 minutes after I did I began to feel lightheaded, dizzy, heartbeat racing, increased pulse in my blood pressure shot up.
    I ended up at ER and where I took all the products with me. They thought I was going to have either a stroke or heart attack. It was eventually diagnosed as naicin overload to my system. The Spark is 300% and the supplements are 250% with it also present in meal replacement shakes as well. The doctor said I was lucky that day.
    The imbalance of electrolytes in my system due to cleanse combined with naicin overload and caffeine nearly killed me.
    Be careful folks. Just because it considered a health supplement does not mean it is healthy.

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