The Great Shakedown: Part 1
We’ve all seen the shake pictures posted on social media dripping with cereal, candy, syrup and sprinkles. No denying that they look delicious. You’ll also see these “nutrition shops” use eye catching words like low calorie, low carb, and healthy meal replacement option. I’ve literally read posts claiming they’re “fast food for healthy people.” It sounds great, but what are you really getting?
Time to shake things up again, so lets talk about none other than the Herbalife shakes.
Not only are the products ridiculously overpriced, but the nutritional information claimed by these shops is highly inaccurate.
They would have you believe you’re enjoying a healthy meal replacement shake packed with protein, vitamins and minerals. In all actuality, the nutritional information typically only covers the Formula 1 and Protein Drink Mix. It does not account for any of the additional flavorings mixed in or toppings added on.
To help us understand what’s happening here, the Southern girl in me has to draw the comparison to my beloved Waffle House hash browns. I don’t know about ya’ll but I order mine “scattered, smothered, covered and topped.” We all know the nutritional value of my hash browns is completely different after adding all the toppings, right? I no longer have just the plain hash browns, and I have to take into account all the cheese and chili.
Now that we have this visual, what I’m telling you is that these “nutrition shops” are typically giving you the information for the base products, the hash browns if you will, without factoring in all the flavorings or toppings and passing it off to you as something it’s not.
I mean, how great would it be if we could order the “scattered, smothered, covered and topped” but only get the calories, fat and carbs of the plain hash browns? Sign me up if that’s how nutritional values work these days! Also, I would not be fulfilling my true Waffle House potential if I did not take this opportunity to tell you that you can get your hash browns “all the way” for only $5.
Here’s The Shakedown
First, it’s important to know that Herbalife is a multi-level marketing company, meaning that their products are sold by distributors who then recruit additional distributors to work underneath them. The more people underneath a distributor translates to more money for the higher ranking distributor. They then must order Herbalife products, usually in bulk, in order to sell them. These downline distributors are sold on the empty promises that they’ll make money (and lots of it) while owning and growing their own business. They’re then under an immense amount of pressure to sell all the products they had to purchase and continue to recruit others to buy in under them. The realization slowly sets in that they’re working for the big guys, not themselves.
The “nutrition shops” you’ve probably seen popping up all over the country, mostly in the South, are almost exclusively run by Herbalife distributors.
Unfortunately, Herbalife doesn’t directly provide any success stories or clinical data to support their claims that the Prolessa Duo actually decreases body fat and reduces calorie intake. They make it very difficult to confirm the product’s actual effectiveness.
This is a way they can sell their products directly to the public without having to advertise as Herbalife or sell you on buying into their downline. If you’ve ever walked into one of these shops, you will likely notice that Herbalife is not displayed. In fact, the likelihood you’re ever told that your shake contains Herbalife products is slim to none. This setup virtually eliminates the pushy selling to friends, family and even strangers that distributors often struggle to succeed in doing.
It didn’t take me long to realize that these places really will say anything. Their claims are all over the place. A quick look at the many recipes posted on Pinterest and Facebook will leave you scratching your head. There’s no way the ingredients listed total up to the claimed nutritional content. It simply doesn’t add up.
For example, one distributor posted a recipe for a Reese’s Shake that called for:
- 2 scoops of F1- Cookies ‘N Cream
- 2 scoops of Protein Drink Mix
- 1 TBSP Sugar Free Chocolate pudding mix
- 1 TBSP of PB2
- Water and Ice
The distributor showed this recipe to have 311 Calories; 31g Carbs; 30g Protein; 5g Fat; and 8g Fiber.
The next recipe shared by this very same distributor for a French Toast Shake claimed to have 333 Calories; 41g Carbs; 33g Protein; 4g Fat; and 3g Fiber.
Now, remember that none of these nutritional values take into consideration any of the toppings or decorations. I reference this distributor’s recipes specifically because the nutritional information actually takes into account the many flavor add-ins that are required to make the various shake flavors. These are the same shakes being sold at the “nutrition shops” claiming to be low calorie, low carb, low fat and healthy.
It should be noted that Herbalife’s distributors do have the option to purchase much more expensive flavorings that are actually low calorie and low carb, but the ones incurring that additional cost are extremely rare. In the event they go this more expensive route, that cost would be passed on the customer at some point.
The reality is that these shops are selling you a shake for $8 (or more) using low quality base products.
As if ripping you off wasn’t enough, most of them go even further by misrepresenting the nutritional information. So, that “healthy food for fast people” shake you think you’re getting is actually just bottom of the barrel protein mixes likely blended with flavored pudding mix and syrups.
The thing that bothers me the most is that people are being led to believe these Herbalife shakes (and even the loaded teas) will make them lose weight. There is nothing magic in these products! These shakes, or any others made at home, should not be sold to you as a quick fix to lose the weight. However, you can make healthier versions at home that can be incorporated into a healthy diet and exercise plan if your goal is weight loss.
The truth is that you can make your own low calorie, low carb, low fat meal replacement shakes at home with protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals for a fraction of the cost.
In fact, the shakes you make at home can be done so with higher quality products that do not require you to purchase through any distributor at an unjustified cost. You can still enjoy the same fun flavors and even add any toppings you wish, all without supporting a multi-level marketing company or being ripped off in the process.
If you’re interested in making shakes at home, check out our Shake Menu Board for recipes, the Shake Ingredient Master List for details, and the post for our breakdown and comparison of the shake product dupes.