This time of year many people are looking to drop excess weight. In their desire to see rapid results, many start a supplement program such as AdvoCare®. I’m writing to warn individuals who may be interested in trying this particular program. First, I will describe the program before sharing my professional (and maybe blunt) opinion as a Registered Dietitian.
The AdvoCare® Weight-Loss Program
AdvoCare® offers a variety of supplements and weight-loss programs, with the 24-Day Challenge being the most popular program. The 24-Day Challenge is the most popular program because it supposedly helps people “get skinny” in just 24 days. The program consists of a 10-day “cleanse” phase followed by an additional 14 days of a “Max” phase. AdvoCare® advertisements claim that the supplements taken during the “cleanse” phase will rid your body of toxins and prepare your body to better absorb nutrients. These supplements include an Omega-3 fatty acid supplement and an energy drink. According to AdvoCare®, these supplements will help jump-start your weight-loss efforts by ridding your body of water weight.
The “Max” phase consists of a “metabolic nutrition system,” which claims to increase metabolism, control your appetite, and support core nutrition when the user consumes meal-replacement drinks and more energy drinks. Additionally, this phases includes a meal plan that emphasizes lean proteins (such as ground turkey and chicken breast), non-starchy vegetables (such as asparagus, broccoli, and tomatoes), and complex carbs (such as whole grains, oatmeal, and quinoa).
Why the AdvoCare® 24-Day Challenge Is Bad For You
Sounds pretty good, right? Well, let me break down the reasons why this particular AdvoCare® program should come with flashing signs that say “WARNING! DANGEROUS DIETARY HABITS AHEAD!”
- The supplements included in the “cleanse” phase are quite simply glorified laxatives. Will this reduce your overall body weight? Sure…anything that purges your body of water will reduce your overall body weight. However, these supplements can create electrolyte imbalances within your body that can lead to serious complications, like a heart attack.
- Any program that advocates the consumption of energy drinks should be considered potentially dangerous. The ingredients in energy drinks are NOT regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, and contain artificial ingredients and stimulants. Last I checked, these particular foods are not considered to be a part of a “healthy” meal plan!
- The meal plan in the “Max” phase claims to provide “core nutrition” without ever defining what this means. If you have to question the definition, it’s probably not a good idea.
- The good thing about the meal is the emphasis on lean protein, complex carbs, and non-starchy vegetables. The bad thing about the meal plan is its lack of dairy and fruit, which fall far below the number of daily servings recommended by most nutrition professionals. No amount of supplements can replace the natural vitamins and nutrients you get from these foods.
Other Warning Signs About AdvoCare®
Those are my complaints as an RD; however, there are other warning signs that everyone should know. Numerous reports are popping up online in different forums warning other consumers about the safety of these supplements. People are reporting severe health complications such as gastric pains that require hospitalizations, organ failure, and adverse medication interactions. One of my own corporate wellness clients experienced a very serious medical scare while participating in the 24-Day Challenge. Not only did her blood pressure spike significantly during the program, but she also experienced kidney failure despite having no previous risk factors or pre-existing medical problems. Her doctor immediately told her to stop the supplements, and luckily her kidney function and blood-pressure levels were moving back toward normal after two weeks.
To be frank, I’m appalled that products like AdvoCare® are allowed to be sold in our country. It just demonstrates that although many supplements can benefit one’s health, they are not tested and regulated by the FDA.
I encourage anyone who wants to try AdvoCare® or a similar program to consider the warning signs of an unhealthy (and potentially dangerous) diet plan:
- If the claim of the program sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
- Supplements will NEVER replace the nutrient content of whole foods!
- Save your money and put it toward your grocery bill. Stock up on the healthy foods your body needs and you’ll be just fine.
The old-fashioned way of losing weight will never change: eat healthy and exercise. Simple, but true.
This blog was written by Laura Zavadil, RD, LDN