What You Need to Know About MLM Diets

Hello, my name is Megan and I do not recommend MLM diets.

No, not even that one. No…no, Karen, put your credit card down. $500 in pre-packed powders is not going to save you.

I want to be clear here – I am not anti-multi-level marketing. I have a handful of direct sales products I love and use! But, for the love of God, please save your money on their cleanses, detoxes, and prepackaged soy foods. Having to spend hundreds – or thousands – of dollars on weight-loss products is a big red flag and I’ll explain why.

I’m breaking down why I don’t recommend these programs so that you are armed and ready next time Jessica slides into your DMs asking you if you want to try her new fat-burning chocolate syrup.

chocolate and vanilla protein powder in scoops surrounded by broken protein bars

First up: Optavia.

Optavia is marketed as a weight-loss plan that prescribes eating a mix of purchased, processed food created by the company — called “fuelings” — and homemade “lean and green” meals. You consume 6+ portion-controlled meals per day. Lean and green meals are protein, fat, and fiber (no starchy carbs), and the “fuelings” include shakes, biscuits, soups, puddings, etc — all containing added protein. 30 minutes of moderate exercise is also recommended daily.

The Good: No counting calories or macros. High protein.

The Bad: The “fuelings” are highly processed, all with added whey or soy protein to boost protein content. Having to purchase processed food replacements makes this diet unsustainable, meaning you will regain the weight once you go off the plan. Not only is this diet expensive and unsustainable, but it’s also extremely low-calorie. If you follow the recommended 5&1 plan, it means you’ll only be consuming about 800 calories a day. That’s insane. You’re going to feel extreme hunger, fatigue, and brain fog, and you’ll have a high risk of binge eating. Even following the mildest plan they offer means consuming almost no carbohydrates.

The Cost: About $400/month depending on which plan you choose.

The Verdict: Optavia Diet is metabolism-crushing and expensive.

This diet receives a 0/10 and is an absolute no from me dawg.


Isagenix Diet is a 30-day program focusing on reducing caloric intake through meal replacement shakes and cleanses.

The Good: Isagenix shake ingredients are not too bad. Their meal replacement shake is made with a lot of milk proteins, so if you have any degree of dairy intolerance, you will not do well with these. But overall, their products have less dumpster-fire ingredients than others on the market.

The Bad: You’re encouraged to do 2 shakes + 1 meal/day, which equals 400-600 calories. Plus snacks (which include their packaged products). You’ll land right around 1200 calories/day which is too low for most people and will eventually lead to a decreased metabolic rate. Low calorie = quick weight loss = crushed metabolism over time = weight gain. But what’s most concerning here is the amount of fat allowed on the plan. If truly following the plan, you’d only be consuming about 30g fat/day, which is low enough to send a menstruating female into amenorrhea. You have to get at LEAST 60g of fat/day for hormones to be functioning properly.

The Cost: About $375/month.

The Verdict: Isagenix 30-Day Program will definitely help you lose weight in the short term but it’s not sustainable. If you like their protein powder and want to do the program, fine, but add some berries and 1-2 Tbsp fat like almond butter to your shakes.

I’ll give it a 4/10 for its potential.

Beachbody 21-Day Fix

Beachbody is more known for their workout programs (anyone else an ex-Chalene-Extreme fanatic?!) but they do have a really popular 21-Day Fix program that consists of 30-minute workouts and eating out of portion-controlled containers.

The Good: No counting. Your meals are calorie-controlled by containers, but you yourself do not need to count calories. There’s also a big emphasis on whole foods over prepackaged garbage.

The Bad: When you plug your data into Beachbody’s calorie calculator to find out how many calories (and, therefore, how many containers) you should be eating each day, the numbers end up on the low side. You could be eating 1200 calories/day and that is far too low for most people, especially if exercising. So, again, great for some short term weight loss, but if the only way you now know how to lose weight is by filling little containers with food, it’s not likely you’ll be able to go out to eat, go on vacation, or go ANYWHERE outside your little comfort zone and be able to sustain this. As for Shakeology, I cannot for the life of me figure out why this costs $130. There is nothing really special about this vegan protein shake that is relatively low in protein for a protein shake.

The Cost: Depends. The container kit is about 60 bucks but you’ll be pushed to get their cult-favorite Shakeology shakes as well and these will run you $130 (!!!!) for a 30-day supply.

The Verdict: This particular Beachbody plan isn’t too bad, but that’s because it mostly just focused on whole foods. But eating meals out of containers is not eating like a normal person.

I’ll give this a 6/10.

Herbalife AKA Your Neighborhood Smoothie Shop

Herbalife is an oldie but they have a new flex keeping them alive and well in the MLM diet game – local brick-and-mortar smoothie shops. This is honestly genius and I can’t help but give them some big props for this. Look closely at your neighborhood smoothie shops – are they selling Herbalife products?

The Good: I suppose this is better than McDonald’s for lunch.

The Bad: Unfortunately, Herbalife does not sell any products that I can recommend in good faith. Every one of their protein powders or meal replacement shakes contains soy protein isolate, vegetable oils, corn syrup solids, artificial flavors, and artificial sweeteners. In addition to this, many shops that are selling these shakes also use sugar-free jello packs to flavor their smoothies. This is genius because it creates a REALLY delicious product with endless flavors…and ingredients that are wreaking havoc on your gut microbiome and hormones, as well as lighting up inflammation in the body. These shakes may help you lose weight initially as they rot your insides, but I can’t recommend consuming these products – ever.

The Cost: The cost of a container of their meal replacement shake or protein shake is comparable to the high-quality, organic protein powders available. These products, however, are as cheaply made as they come. If you want a product with ingredients like this, just buy your protein off Amazon and go with something that’s half the price.

The Verdict: 0/10. Just say no.

Arbonne’s 30-Day Healthy Living Cleanse

Arbonne’s diet is marketed as a 30-day whole-foods clean-eating program, a rest for the liver and kidneys to maximize function, an elimination program to help uncover food sensitivities, and a weight loss jumpstart. It looks like the cleanse is 1 or 2 shakes per day and 1 or 2 balanced meals/day, totaling 3 meals and no snacks.

The Good: No counting calories or macros. Emphasis on high-quality, whole foods. Arbonne products aren’t too bad ingredient-wise, although…

The Bad: it’s interesting that added sugar is not allowed on their plan and all of their products contain added sugar (that they recommend during the cleanse).

Following the plan correctly will put you at about 1000 calories/day. For 30 days. Not only is this unsustainable (for most it’ll be unsustainable for even 30 days), but the weight that you will lose on this plan will include a good chunk of lean muscle tissue. So you can be sure to expect considerable weight gain after the 30 days due to decreased lean muscle tissue and a decreased metabolic rate.

And a side note – the foods listed to eliminate to discover food intolerances are odd. Some are normal (gluten, dairy), but foods like vinegar and coffee and alcohol aren’t highly allergenic foods. If this was the true reason behind the elimination, we’d have seen Arbonne ask us to eliminate actual high-allergenic foods like corn, nuts, and eggs. And…and…soy is not allowed on the plan, but tofu (which is soy) is. There’s a lot of weird sh*t going on here.

The Cost: About $300.

The Verdict: Arbonne could have created a really nice, sustainable plan with their products but chose to go the dangerously restricted route and I can’t understand why.

2/10 for the decent ingredients in their products paired with a starvation diet.


It’s a dietary supplement company that’s best known for its “pink drink” — Plexus Slim Hunger Control — which is a powdered supplement that’s meant to suppress appetite and help you lose weight. There are no true “diet programs” to review, but Plexus has a variety of products they recommend for weight loss.

The Good: I like that Plexus appears to stay in their lane with supplements without selling any highly-restrictive diet plans as a means to push their products. They do not use artificial sweeteners or flavors.

The Bad: The Lean Whey is toted as a meal replacement shake for weight loss, but it’s 170 calories and 15g protein. That is not a meal. The $91 “Slim” Microbiome activator AKA “Pink Drink” is 1,000 mg of a prebiotic fiber that can be found here for $14.95. It does have some green coffee bean extract which has some nice benefits, but this is also a very inexpensive supplement. All I know is the person who came up with this Pink Drink is making a sweet profit. The probiotics cost the same as Just Thrive* with no mention of trials done to show that the bacteria actually “arrives alive” in the gut.

Because these probiotics are not spore-based and there are no studies proving efficacy, I would venture to guess taking these probiotics would be similar to pooping out $45/month. I just can’t seem to line up these supplements’ ingredients with their claims, so for that reason I cannot recommend them.

The Cost: Varies

The Verdict: I’m not going to rate it since it’s not really a diet, but I’m having a hard time justifying purchasing products at these prices that you can buy of equal or better quality elsewhere for much less.

AdvoCare 21-Day Jump Start

I’ve definitely done this program in my college days, so I’m excited to review it! The program claims to “help you achieve your goals of weight management, energy, overall body composition, or overall wellness.” It consists of two phases: the Cleanse Phase and Max Phase.

The Good: The lowest available calorie plan is 1400 calories and goes up from there! No standard 1200 calorie diets here. Included meal plans look great and include a balanced portion of protein, healthy fat, fiber, and carbs.

The Bad: I actually don’t have anything bad to say about the actual “diet” on this plan. The Advocare “regimen” of energy drinks, meal replacement shakes, herbs, and vitamins is not your ticket to long-term weight loss. Spark is delicious…it’s also just an energy drink with vitamins and artificial sweeteners. The meal replacement shakes consist of ingredients that don’t match up with the price (cheap forms of whey protein, vitamins, and minerals + corn fibers and artificial sweeteners). An omega 3 supplement is not a “cleanse” ingredient, so I don’t know what that’s about. Overall, Advocare is just another example of a company with “meh” supplements and products being sold at a premium price.

The Cost: $200

The Verdict: Impressed that Advocare isn’t trying to starve you. Not impressed with their products. I think you’ll likely lose weight on this plan and if you continue eating protein, fat, and fiber at meals, it’s sustainable. But I wouldn’t continue to use their products due to the ingredients. I’ll give it a 7/10.

Basically, if you’re putting your dieting in the hands of an MLM company, you’re losing more money than anything else.

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