You’ve probably seen a sign on a community bulletin board that read, “Lose Weight Now, Ask Me How” or seen someone with a pin or bumper sticker that read the same. The person is most likely selling Herbalife, a company that makes supplements and weight loss products and that has been around since 1980.
What Herbalife Is
Herbalife produces and sells several supplement products, including weight loss meal replacement plans. The company also produces herbal supplements designed for women going through menopause, growing children or for helping people manage stress. Their products have not been endorsed or evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. If you decide to try Herbalife’s weight loss products, you cannot buy them in stores. Instead, you need to order from an independent distributor, a person who has a contract with the company to sell their products, much like a person sells makeup for Avon or Mary Kay.
The Weight Loss Plan
On the Herbalife weight loss plan, you consume two meal replacement shakes for breakfast and lunch, and then eat a regular, healthy meal for dinner. The plan also includes a daily snack. You are encouraged to eat plenty of raw vegetables and fruits on the plan. Your one meal of the day should ideally consist of a salad, 2 cups of vegetables and 3 oz. lean protein, according to EveryDiet. Depending on the type of weight loss plan you choose, you may also have to take pills that reportedly boost your metabolism and pills that help flush water from your body.
Diet experts, such as those at Colorado State University Extension, have criticized the Herbalife weight loss plan. The plan claims that you can lose up to 7.5 lbs. each week, a rate that is much higher than the usually recommended 1 or 2 lbs. The diet plan may not also be sustainable, since you have to reduce the number of calories you consume drastically, and you must use the company’s products to drop the pounds.
Other Risks and Concerns
Purchasing Herbalife on a regular basis can get pretty expensive. According to EveryDiet, the products can cost between $85 and $200 per pack. Each pack lasts about two weeks. There are a few health concerns with Herbalife as well. Consuming fewer than 1,200 calories daily for an extended period of time can lead to digestive problems and gallstones, according to “Real Simple” magazine. You’re also likely to gain all the weight back once you stop the program, since you are not learning lifelong habits.
The way Herbalife is marketed and sold has come under fire as well. The company operates using a multi-level marketing plan. In multi-level marketing, one person recruits several others to sell the same product and receives a portion of those people’s sales. The other people recruit still more, saturating the area they live in and making earning a living as a distributor difficult. Many people who try to sell Herbalife are expected to buy and use the company’s products as well, so that they may end up losing money on the venture.