I've been thinking about writing this for a long time. I post about it on my social media feeds quite often, and I usually get a decent response when I do, so I figured why not? If some of you who read this sell multi-level marketing (MLM) dietary supplement products and are making a killing at it, good for you. I'm not mad at your success. But I do have a bone to pick with the marketing tactics of these companies as well as the value of what they're selling. So I'm sorry in advance that I'm about to tell everyone why they don't need you...
I understand the MLM appeal. I really do. You went to a meeting where you were told you could make a couple hundred grand a year by selling these amazing dietary supplements. All you need to do is recruit your friends, family, complete strangers, and your neighbor's dog to get under you in the pyramid (yes, it's a pyramid no matter how the recruiter tries to spin it) and you're going to be living the good life in a few short months. Sounds reasonable, right?
Let's jump ahead those few short months. You've contacted, and annoyed, every friend, family member, and person you went to school with and haven't seen in 10 years. A few of them signed up to be on your "team", but most of them have unfollowed you on Facebook after you posted about this "great opportunity" 37 times a day for a month. "All you need to do is try this amazing 24-Day Challenge," you say, "and you'll be sold for life on the magic of AdvoCare. It's only 200 bucks plus shipping. What do you have to lose?!"
To be fair, I take supplements every day. I think they're great for filling the nutritional deficiencies that most of us have in our diets. But here's the thing. The AdvoCare 24-Day challenge and their whole supplement line are no better than any other supplements on the market. Neither is Beachbody and their 21-Day Fix, the Herbalife 30-Day Diet, etc.
These companies simply market exceptionally well to consumers and convince the masses they are the end all be all of weight loss supplements. I'm sick of hearing about it on my social media streams. I'm sick of people I've know for years un-friending me when I ignore their advances to join their team (yes, that has really happened). And I am sick of people wasting their money. This is why I'm going to tell you how to do the AdvoCare 24-Day Challenge, or really any other weight loss "challenge" for that matter, without having to shell out a ludicrous amount of money on supplements and overpriced shipping. This is how...
The AdvoCare 24-Day Challenge is comprised of 2 phases:
- The Cleanse Phase- For 10 days, you follow the meal plan, drink fiber drinks and take probiotics. You also have their Spark energy drink each morning, with the option to drink a second one later in the day if you want to (which means you'll run out of Spark well before the 24 days is up). You also take a fish oil supplement each day with dinner.
- The Max Phase- After you've successfully "cleansed" your digestive system (which is complete nonsense by the way), you keep drinking Spark, you replace one meal with a protein shake, start taking expensive multivitamin packs each day as well as keep up with taking the fish oil. As mentioned earlier, the whole supplement regimen is book ended by eating reasonable portions of lean protein, vegetables, complex carbohydrates and fruits.
Here's the deal. You don't need phases. You should be eating nutritious foods and getting vitamins on a daily basis. You should be getting fiber, probiotics, and a reasonable amount of omega-3's (fish oil). If your protein intake is lacking, you should be using a quality protein powder. If you need energy, drink coffee, a sugar free energy drink, or pop a caffeine pill. You don't need to spend $200 on supplements to achieve all these nutritional goals. You could spend far less by using the supplements below.
Their cleanse bundle includes 10 servings of fiber and 10 servings of probiotics and costs $40 plus shipping. Maybe that doesn't seem like a bad deal to you, but here are better options:
Organic Triple Fiber by Renew Life features 30, not 10, servings of fiber from flaxseed, oat bran and acacia. It mixes well with water, milk, or a smoothie and has a smoother texture than the Advocare fiber powder. It also costs just $10 per container on Amazon and is available at physical retailers such as Vitamin Shoppe.
NOW Probiotic-10 features 25 billion live organisms as opposed to AdvoCare's 4 billion, and instead of 10 days, you get 50 days worth for around $15 on Amazon. If you're keeping score, you could get 50 servings of probiotics and 30 servings of fiber for around $25, as opposed to the 10 days worth for $40 from AdvoCare. Seems much more reasonable doesn't it?
"Max Phase" Supplements
Truthfully, most multivitamins aren't too bad. I wouldn't go for something as cheap as Centrum, but it really is better than nothing. Vitamins are often synthetic and made in a lab (including AdvoCare's multivitamin), and some are made from food sources. Alive Max3 Daily Multivitamins are whole food based vitamins, have 60 days worth in a single container, and cost around $13. The AdvoCare mutlivitamin packs are $45 for a 2-week supply.
MEAL REPLACEMENT SHAKE
Personally, I would recommend getting most of your meals by way of food each day. But if you're an on the go person, are looking for a decent protein drink to have after your workout, or just prefer the convenience of a nutritious shake, Muscle Milk Light will do the job. The nutritional profile is nearly identical to the AdvoCare meal replacement shake, has the equivalent of one more serving, and costs $15 less.
Omega-3's and Energy Drinks
Fish oil is my favorite supplement. It's good for your cholesterol, heart health, and really makes your joints feel amazing. For the price, there is really no better product out there than Viva Natural Omega-3 Fish Oil. This is the one I personally take, and can't recommend it enough. It has a huge dose of fish oil compared to nearly every other product on the market, and is around 35% cheaper per serving than the Advocare brand.
You can really take your pick here as long as it's not filled with a bunch of sugar. Have some strong coffee, a sugar free Red Bull, or a zero calorie Monster Energy drink. Another great option is Optimum Nutrition Amino Energy. It has very similar properties to AdvoCare Spark, many flavor options, and is half the price. Spark has zero qualities that make it more valuable than anything I've just listed. It's that simple.
How Much is All This Going to Cost?
How and When to Take All This Stuff
- Energy drink- Whatever you've chosen to use as your preferred source of caffeine, have it upon waking, before your workout, or if you're having a mid-day energy slump. There's really no wrong time to have caffeine, unless it's later in the day and it's going to affect your sleep.
- Fiber- I would recommend having your fiber supplement with breakfast, mixed in either water or a low sugar/calorie juice of some kind. Words to the wise; chug it. The flavor isn't bad, but the consistency is definitely fibrous. The AdvoCare fiber drink is no better than the cheaper alternative I recommended, so just get it done and move along with your morning.
- Probiotics- AdvoCare recommends that you take probitoics on an empty stomach. However, research suggests that there's really no wrong time to take them. In fact, it may be best to take them with a snack or small meal to allow for better absorption. Stomach acid is some pretty nasty stuff, and dropping a pill down there on an empty stomach may cause you to lose out on some of the benefits.
- Multivitamins and Fish Oil- Take these both once a day at the same time after breakfast, lunch, or dinner. As long as you're getting them in at some point during the day, you're good to go.
- Meal Replacement Shake- As I said earlier, I do recommend getting most of your nutrition from solid food, but there is nothing wrong with replacing a meal with a protein shake if need be. Have a shake for breakfast if you're in a rush, after your workout, or just as a snack throughout the day if you're hungry between meals. High quality protein and fiber is always a good call.
What You Should Be Eating
All the supplements I recommended could and probably should be taken year round if finances permit. If not, stick with the multivitamins and fish oil, and make a determination about the rest based on your experience with it. Losing weight and being healthy truly comes down to what you're eating 365 days a year, not just 24.
I understand that you're bombarded on a daily basis with commercials, advertisements, and people like Dr. Oz telling you to try some magic weight loss diet. They're selling you a product they're getting paid to sell you. There's no such thing as a magic weight loss diet. You lose fat first and foremost by creating a calorie deficit, and that's it. No gimmicks needed.
The nutritional strategy (diet) you choose to achieve that calorie deficit is completely up to you. If it works for you and your lifestyle, that's the right one, whether it be low-carb, low-fat, or just simply counting calories and eating a wide variety of foods. If this is your first time trying to lose weight or you just have no idea where to start, you would be hard pressed to go wrong with a plate that looks like this at most meals...
There's no trick to eating this way. Have a serving of protein, a generous serving of any non-starchy vegetable, and maybe cook your protein or veggies in some olive oil. If you just finished working out, a side of rice, pasta, bread or potatoes along with protein and vegetables and/or fruit is also a great option. As I said, it's really all about getting in a calorie deficit and you will lose weight. Eat three meals that look just like this for 24 days, have a snack or two if you need it, drink a bunch of water, and you're golden. If you don't know what size portions are good, use your hand as your guide.
A Few Final Thoughts and Tips
Buying and using these products won't solve your weight and health issues any better than the products and strategies I've listed here. If you eat 3 wholesome meals a day, get some exercise, take all or some of the supplements I recommended, and stick with it 80-90% of the time while still remembering to treat yourself occasionally, you will meet and exceed your health and weight loss goals. You'll also save money and friendships by not getting involved in a pyramid scheme where less than 1% of sellers make significant amounts of money.
If you have any further questions or feel like there's something I missed, please comment below and I will check it out ASAP. I hope you find this guide helpful!