It is 2021 and by now most people are aware of the term MLM, but if you’ve been under a rock, or better, in your own world focusing on yourself, we will break it down more in this article and discuss the dangers of MLM fitness and nutrition companies and alternatives to their products.
What is an MLM Company?
MLM stands for Multi-Level Marketing, which used to be referred to as a pyramid scheme but those folks have attempted to clean up their depiction by calling the layout a different name. In my opinion, if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck. In other words, Multi-Level Marketing is still a pyramid.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not the pyramid itself that makes it a scheme, it’s the products and the way they push those products. An MLM or pyramid setup means you have one person selling a product and if they “hire” people under them, the first person makes money off of what they sell themselves plus a commission off of what the person they “hired” beneath them sells. Here is a picture for those (like me) who need a visual:
The reason this format is often referred to as a scheme and gets a bad reputation is primarily that “99% of people who join multi-level marketing companies lose money.”
Not only that, but the people who get into these conundrums have to pay to even be a part of it and have just the tiniest bit of opportunity to make money. Yes, you have to pay. We will look at a few of them, but what often happens is that the person coming in purchases a starter package of some kind to use/sell/advertise or whatever.
Let’s take a look at some of the worst Fitness and Nutrition MLM companies that just really make my eye twitch.
Types of Fitness and Nutrition MLM Companies and the Hidden Dangers
The Fitness and Nutrition MLM companies we will look at are Ziya Activewear, Herbalife Nutrition, JuicePlus+, Arbonne, Isagenix, and…..yup, you guessed it, Beachbody.
Literally my face right now:
Let’s start with Ziya Activewear. Okay, no, activewear is not inherently dangerous, but I wanted to bring this one in because I don’t think as many people are aware that it is an MLM setup. Truthfully, it just isn’t my style and TJ Max and Gymshark have far better options, quality, and customer service.
I just wanted to mention that one, moving on.
Yikes, I am going to be careful here because I am knocking people for making money and having good intentions. I have a friend who runs a brick-and-mortar nutrition business using Herbalife to make shakes, energy drinks, etc. And I LOVE her. She is a beautiful and kind human being and she’s is business goals.
Dangers of Herbalife
Herbalife has been linked to multiple cases of liver toxicity. One thing I want to point out, is you will hear doctors often say they can back these products or something stupid. Doctors are not registered dieticians and do not have an extensive nutritional background like an RD.
More about Herbalife
In one of Abby Langer’s articles, she discusses Herbalife’s products and how they compare to a complete, balanced meal. They don’t. In fact, products such as Herbalife promote replacing meals with shakes or “health” bars, but you should very rarely replace a balanced meal with these products, the nutritional value is not the same, no matter what they claim.
As far as the MLM format, Herbalife allows you to “start your business” and “be your own boss” for the low price of $91. But I’m sure all of those “friends” in your Instagram DMs will give you their discount if you sign up under them! You know…..because then they get a cut.
I hadn’t heard of this one until, I believe, Briannah Jewel mentioned it in one of her Anti-MLM videos on another company. They have actually been around a very long time and sell just about anything. On their website, they claim “Juice Plus+ helps you bridge the gap between what you should eat and what you do eat, every day, with added nutrition from a wide variety of plant-based ingredients.” But their products actually do not contain many vitamins and nutrients and they are kind of expensive, ranging from $30 – $80 a product for a month supply.
To sell it, the startup fees aren’t that much, it’s $50 to signup to be a distributor but then you would purchase what you need to sell. I am assuming at a discounted rate.
Dangers of JuicePlus+ MLM
Through my research, I found studies showing that cancer patients taking JuicePlus+ could notice interference with their chemotherapy or progressed states of the disease. Another finding shows, similar to Herbalife, JuicePlus+ had been linked to liver toxicity.
Arbonne offers skincare products, makeup, and nutritional products including energy, protein, detox – the list keep going. Yeah, ya’ll be just trying to do it all I guess.
They are expensive too. A 30 serving coffee protein product is $90! I’ll just drink my coffee and eat an entire carton of eggs a day every day for thirty days. Do the math. I could make this breakfast sandwich every day for way less:
Briannah Jewel goes through their whole “30 Days to Healthy Living” program, which is what they describe as “meant for anyone who’s seeking a journey to a healthy lifestyle to jump right in, regardless of your current lifestyle.” It’s basically a “reset” and you guys – resets and detoxes make my eye twitch some kind of funny!
Similar to the JuicePlus+ setup, to become an Arbonne Consultant you would pay $49 and then buy whatever you wanted to sell. Hopefully, by now you are noticing the trend.
Dangers of Arbonne MLM
Here is the tea with the dangers of Arbonne: I headed over to my girl Abby Sharp (you know it!) to get some more insight from an RD. Glucomannan, an ingredient present in Arbonne supplements, is described as a “dietary fiber” but if you listen to Abby it will basically give you diarrhea. That’s with most supplements, they just make you go to the bathroom a lot and you aren’t losing body fat, you are losing water and food quicker because of the ingredients which cause your body to go more often.
In case you didn’t know, Arbonne has also been linked to “stomach and digestion issues” which “can include bloating, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps, gas, constipation, and other issues. Long-term damage may occur in some cases as well.”
I am not a nutritionist nor a registered dietician, but I might suggest eating an apple or some spinach if you’re looking for a bowel movement.
Collagen, weight loss, sparkling energy, you can get it all from Isagenix, a nutrition and wellness company.
I’ve heard a lot about this brand, they are almost as bad as our next one. Just like the rest, they encourage replacing real, balanced meals with shakes. If you follow their “plan” they claim dramatic weight loss results in as little as 30 days.
Fast = Unsustainable typically. And it is SO expensive “the most popular plan is the 30 Day System, which costs $378.50 per month.” To sign up as an Isagenix Associate you would pay the annual membership fee of $29 (very low) and BOOM, start selling. But don’t come at me – there’s no way I am paying for your product. Even as an associate, you’re basically paying well over that just to afford their product!
Dangers of Isagenix
Interestingly, the only dangers of Isagenix I could find involved typical risks aligned with low calorie or crash diets including headaches, dizziness, nausea, etc.
My favorite! There’s so much to say about the Beachbody programs and their products. Now, mind you, I have no issues with folks working out with generic training, but many people who use Beachbody are new to exercise and they should really start with a personal trainer. It is their choice, but Beachbody definitely over complicates their programs with 0 added benefits.
Aside from that…..their coaches.
They are everywhere! In entrepreneurial Facebook groups, I even have them message me and I know who they are immediately. Girl, do you but no. Are you really an entrepreneur? I am. Like I own everything I do/make/sell etc. You do not so please stop, why are you here? When I was a CPT (Certified Personal Trainer) I had them constantly DM my Instagram starting with their fake “Hey girl! How are you?” My naive ass would start bubbly responding until…”I am starting an accountability group next month, I think you’d be perfect….”
I’m sure you’ve been there too. And this is why their family and friends blocked them.
Aside from the annoyance and lack of accountability and ownership, it’s expensive ya’ll, primarily they’re ridiculous “nutrient-dense” Shakeology bull.
Dangers of Shakeology and Beachbody Products
My issue with this company is with the people, the marketing, and frankly you who buy into it. Come on guys, a drink cannot compare to the nutrients in food, they are not the same.
Shakeology is expensive, all it is a money game at $130 for a 30 day supply. It’s not that I found any necessary risks or dangers of consuming this overpriced drink, it mostly comes down to it being advertised to replace a meal but it has no substance to do so. Shakeology even states:
“Shakeology is a dietary supplement that when prepared with certain liquids, healthy ingredients, and/or fruit can contain enough calories to replace a meal. As with all dietary supplements, Shakeology is designed to supplement your healthy diet and not be the only source of nutrition throughout the day. Shakeology is not recommended to replace more than two meals per day.”
But again, it is marketed as a meal replacement and you have to really sift through their website to find the information above. It’s fine to have once and a while if you really want to pay that, but I advise sticking with real food and opting for an apple and cottage cheese or peanut butter for a snack instead. Even a homemade fruit smoothie with a far cheaper protein powder would be suitable.
As for Beachbody and the dangers of their trainers, I mean this is at the discretion of each individual and they do have disclaimers. It is what it is, I just think a lot of the programs are 1) unbalanced 2) not a good idea if you are new to exercise and 3) they are too much, it’s like they’re trying to overly complicate things or add shock value and it is necessary. You can get a great workout, build muscle, increase flexibility without doing….whatever they do.
The other danger I see is Beachbody “coaches” who are literally anybody who pays a fee or purchases a starter pack and bam, they become a “coach” (another person on the pyramid). You can sell stuff or whatever, but it’s when they begin offering health and nutritional advice without any prior education, that’s when my eye really begins to twitch.
Alternatives to MLM Fitness and Nutrition Products
Save your money, save your health, do not succumb to the dangers of MLM fitness and health products, and look to these alternatives instead.
Eat right, I talk about it all the time. If you really just don’t know how to do this, or the whole protein, carbohydrate, healthy fat, moderation, portion sizes concept makes no sense to you, invest in yourself and speak with a nutritionist or RD.
Check with the FDA
Dietary supplements and vitamins are not FDA approved, they are monitored by the manufacturer. The FDA recommends:
When searching for supplements on the internet, use noncommercial sites (e.g. NIH, FDA, USDA) rather than depending on information from sellers.
If claims sound too good to be true, they probably are. Be mindful of product claims such as “works better than [a prescription drug],” “totally safe,” or has “no side effects.”
Be aware that the term natural doesn’t always mean safe.
Ask your healthcare provider if the supplement you’re considering would be safe and beneficial for you.
Always remember – safety first!
There is a search bar on their website where you can look into specific supplements.
Talk with your Doctor and a Dietician
As we mentioned, an MD is not an RD and vice versa. If you are talking about exercise, you should ask your doctor if you are healthy enough to do that. If you want more information on what to eat and nutrition, find a registered dietician who can help. Sometimes we just need a little common sense too.