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This post reflects my professional opinion on The Body By Vi Challenge. I encourage you to research it for yourself and form your own opinion from other sites as well as my own.
The Body By Vi Challenge Is It All Hype?
I have been in the fitness industry for well over a decade and I see products, shakes, devices, pills, potions come and go. There is always the next great product or plan that claims to be the solution to all your problems when it comes to losing weight and getting in shape or healthy.
The latest one to come about and that I get asked about almost weekly is “The Body By Vi Challenge” created by Visalus Sciences. Visalus has created multiple products, and is recruiting and rewarding thousands of people if they promote “The 90 Day Challenge.”
What and who is Visalus?
Visalus is a Network Marketing company based out of Troy, Michigan. And although the company has just begun to attract attention, surprisingly, Visalus is a 7 year old company. Now, while they are 7 years old, it seems as though they haven’t really hit major momentum yet. The company was started by Ryan Blair, Blake Mallen and Nick Sarnicola In the past year and a half, it seems that one distributor, Kyle Pacetti (came from Mona Vie, another lousy product )has been responsible for the majority of the companies momentum and influx of new Distributors of “The Body By Vi Challenge” and is currently the top income earner in Visalus. But prior to Pacetti’s involvement I had never even heard of Visalus.
I have been researching Visalus for quite a few months and have been digging in the and researching the products trying to find out what all the hype is about and what is so special about these products especially the shake. Do you know what conclusion I came to after months of looking into these products, ingredients and challenge? I have amazingly discovered (can you sense my sarcasm) there is nothing special or magic about these products…let me repeat there is NOTHING special about the Body by Vi products or challenge. I would even go as far to say some products could be bad for you (even short term of only 90 days) and have a long term negative effect on your health.
I personally have no problem with someone wanting to get healthy, I have no problem with someone doing a legit challenge (exercise and eating right) for 90 days. However, I do have a problem with the way this Body By Vi challenge and products are being marketed and hyped. So I have been asked many times to give my opinion on all this “Body By Vi Hype” So here it is……..
Since I am Fitness and Nutrition Coach the Visalus products are my first concern so let’s dive into the ingredients of these products before anything else.
Vi-Shape- Nutritional Shake Mix.
Below is the exact label taken off the Vishape shake mix bag.
Let’s first look at the Nutrition Facts. My first concern would be the calories being so low. Two rounded scoops are only 90 calories? I know this is actually a selling point for many of the Visalus promoters. “It’s really low in calories!” Calories are so bad right? All calories make you fat! Not if you are getting the “the right calories”. My second concern would be it only contains 12 grams of protein for 2 scoops? That is in my opinion way too low for a meal replacement or nutrition shake. Having such a large serving size (2 scoops) and only getting 12 grams of protein that means this mix is 46% protein so what does that mean this mix contains “lots of fillers”. I am aware that they encourage you to add this shake to skim milk, almond milk, or soy milk for more calories and taste. Well if this shake mix is so special and is so great why do you need to add it to something else other than water to it to make it work? (not to mention something that might not be very healthy as well) To its credit the fiber content is good with 5 grams; however I am pretty sure the fiber is used to make you feel full. I have heard multiple times someone promoting the shake saying its only 90 calories and after having it “I’m not hungry for 4-5 hours or all day.” Again anything that curves someones appetite to a point where they are not eating for long periods of time I have an issue with. Not eating for long periods of time will:
1) Drop blood sugar which will prevent your body from using fat for energy,
2) Will cause your body to revert to using muscle for energy which will slow down your metabolism
3) This muscle loss in turn will cause your body to store more fat in the long term.
Good healthy fruits and vegetables can make you feel full as well and they do not have any fillers and questionable ingredients.
Back to the nutrition facts, the fat is low (1 gram) from sunflower oil which is possibly ok. But sunflower oil is omega 6 oil which most Americans’ already get plenty of. An Omega 3 oil which is lacking in the diet would be much better and make more sense.
The sugar is also low (1 gram) which is good. However, the sugar is being replaced by artificial ingredients to give it flavor. (More on this later). The Carbohydrates are only 7 grams which is not high, yet what is the source of the carbs if it has low sugar? I will touch on this when I break down the shake ingredient list next. At first glance the vitamin percentages in the shake look pretty good and balanced. However, what is the source of these vitamins and are they good for you?
So let’s break down the Vi-shake ingredient list. Those who know me know I always preach the ingredients of anything are more important that anything when it comes to long term health and body composition. The Nutrition facts only tell you the breakdown of the macronutrients but they do not tell you the whole story. The ingredient list however will (assuming it’s a legit label). The perfect example would be JIF peanut butter vs. KREMA all natural peanut butter. The nutrition facts will be identical however the ingredients list will not, JIF will contain “ sugar, salt, hydrogenated oil, peanut oils”, and the KREMA all natural peanut butter will just say “peanuts”
Alright, so here we go the first ingredient on the list is “Soy Protein Isolate” what might be wrong with Soy Protein Isolate? (MIGHT WANT TO TAKE A SEAT AND GET COMFORTABLE)
To some its great source of healthy protein…yet to me after years of quality research soy is a dangerous low quality protein source. Did you know that 91% of U.S Soy is genetically modified or engineered? A number of studies over the past decade have revealed that genetically engineered foods can pose serious risks to humans, domesticated animals, wildlife and the environment. Human health effects can include higher risks of toxicity, allergenicity, antibiotic resistance, immune-suppression and cancer. (Visalus claims their shake is NON GMO)
1) Raw soybeans contain a form of phytic acid that can block certain mineral absorption. (the vi shake is promoted as not being raw yet we don’t really know do we?)
2) Soy contains isoflavones genistein and dadzein which can affect and inhibit thyroid peroxidase which is necessary for the
production of T3 and T4.
3) Soy can negatively affect estrogen levels in the body.
Sara Jo Poff Personal Nutrition Counselor & Wellness Educator states:
Of course, this information does not just apply to this brand of shakes. Most of the other nutrition shakes out there contain similar ingredients and pose similar risks. Shaklee, Herbalife, and Ensure are some additional shakes that contain soy protein. (Other shakes may not contain soy protein but often contain soybean oil.)
Here is a brief list of some of the additional symptoms and health problems related to soy consumption (Dr. Mercola’s site) that are common:
Immune system impairment
Severe, potentially fatal food allergies
Danger during pregnancy and nursing
Sara Jo Poff Personal Nutrition Counselor & Wellness Educator states:
Soy contains natural toxins known as “anti-nutrients.”
Soy foods contain anti-nutritional factors such as saponins, soyatoxin, phytates, protease inhibitors, oxalates, goitrogens and estrogens. Some of these factors interfere with the enzymes you need to digest protein. While a small amount of anti-nutrients would not likely cause a problem, the amount of soy that many Americans are now eating is extremely high.
Soy contains hemagglutinin.
Hemagglutinin is a clot-promoting substance that causes your red blood cells to clump together. These clumped cells are unable to properly absorb and distribute oxygen to your tissues.
Soy contains goitrogens
Goitrogens are substances that block the synthesis of thyroid hormones and interfere with iodine metabolism, thereby interfering with your thyroid function.
Soy contains phytates.
Phytates (phytic acid) bind to metal ions, preventing the absorption of certain minerals, including calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc — all of which are co-factors for optimal biochemistry in your body. This is particularly problematic for vegetarians, because eating meat reduces the mineral-blocking effects of these phytates (so it is helpful—if you do eat soy—to also eat meat).
Even if Visalus and other soy-based products are not from genetically-modified soybeans, they still qualify as potential dangerous foods based on criteria above. Even organic soymilk, for instance, can cause permanent thyroid problems.
Above list taken from: (http://healthyfamiliesforgod.com/2011/12/could-visalus-other-soy-products-actually-be-harming-your-health/)
Sara Jo Poff Personal Nutrition Counselor states:
As my nutritional counseling friend adds:
“Most of the Vi shakes benefits seem to be from the vitamins and minerals found in the shake and little to do with the shake itself, other than the moderate protein content which is also a factor. If any product description or marketing starts talking about how many apples, pears, broccoli, etc. you have to eat to compare to what it offers and it is a supposed food replacement-type product, most likely you are being scammed. What sounds so wonderful and a no-brainer is bad for your pocketbook and bad for your health.”
Dr. Kaayla Daniel says the following (opinion):
“But the soy in some of these drinks, especially Visalus, is different, right?! I mean, they go through extra processing (great word PROCESSING) to ensure the soy protein does not contain these anti-nutrients. Why, then, are we hearing so many reports of people experiencing the same health problems from these problems that are associated with other soy products?! Certainly organic soybeans are safer than GMO soybeans, as there are serious dangers to all GMO foods, soy, corn or whatever. GMO soy contains higher and more resistant levels of protease inhibitors, among other toxins. Whole soybeans are also better than soy protein insomuch as this will minimize some harmful processing methods, particularly the use of hexane to split the bean. It is also possible that some of the other processing methods might be gentler. For example, the process might involve alkaline baths with a lower pH than is used by some commercial companies. Gentler processing methods could conceivably result in lower levels of the toxins lysinalanines and nitrosamines.”
“That said, I find it highly unlikely that this product – or the similarly hyped products — have removed the dangerous estrogenic isoflavones. Unless the companies use alcohol extraction, the isoflavones will not be removed. In fact these companies don’t want to remove the isoflavones because they all boast about their “health effects” and claim that their unique product somehow has all the benefits and none of the dangers of isoflavones. Saponins, which can bind with cholesterol and damage cell membranes will also be present in any soybean product that has not been alcohol extracted. Not surprisingly, these are marketed as healthy “all natural” cholesterol lowerers, bile acid reducers and cancer preventers and curers says Daniels”.
-I personally have seen no documentation that the isoflavones have been removed and removed effectively. Visalus says they have removed them on their site and the shake is safe and “all natural”(we already know it’s not) and youtube videos yet that doesn’t mean they have. Even if they have removed the isoflavones why would you risk eating soy with all the debate listed above? SOY IS BAD NEWS IF IT’S GMO OR EVEN GMO FREE!
Dr. Mercola states:
What Soy Products are Good For You?
“I want to be clear that I am not opposed to all soy. Soy can be incredibly healthful, but ONLY if it is organic and properly fermented.
After a long fermentation process, the phytate and “anti-nutrient” levels of soybeans are reduced, and their beneficial properties become available to your digestive system.
You may have heard that Japanese people live longer and have lower rates of cancer than Americans because they eat so much soy—but it’s primarily fermented soy that they consume, and it’s always been that way.
Fermented soy products are the only ones I recommend consuming.
These are the primary fermented soy products you’ll find:
Tempeh- a fermented soybean cake with a firm texture and nutty, mushroom-like flavor.
Miso- a fermented soybean paste with a salty, buttery texture (commonly used in miso soup).
Natto- fermented soybeans with a sticky texture and strong, cheese-like flavor.
Soy sauce-which is traditionally made by fermenting soybeans, salt and enzymes; be wary because many
varieties on the market today are made artificially using a chemical process.
Please note that tofu is NOT on this list. Tofu is not fermented, so is not among the soy foods I recommend.
Tips for Avoiding Unwanted Soy Foods
For a simple rule of thumb, just remember that unless soy is fermented (tempeh, miso, natto, or traditionally made soy sauce), you’re better off avoiding it.
Soy foods to avoid include:
TVP (texturized vegetable protein) or soy protein isolate, which contains a large amount of msg, which you should definitely not consume
Soy cheese, soy ice cream, soy yogurt
Soy “meat” (meatless products made of TVP)
Soy infant formula
The best way to eliminate non-fermented soy from your diet is to avoid all “processed” foods and instead purchase whole foods that you prepare yourself.” (not a bag of questionable powder)
-Well if the first ingredient and all the information above doesn’t stop you from buying and drinking this shake then what will?
Yet I will go on.
Digestive Resistant Maltodextrin- I have no problem with this ingredient. Digestive resistant (DR) maltodextrin is a polysaccharide produced from brown rice. Unlike regular maltodextrin, it is not digestible by humans, thus is does not contribute calories or carbohydrates to the diet. (This will be a lot of the fiber on the nutrition facts.)
Whey Protein Hydrolysate- is pretty good quality whey, and absorbs pretty well even if you have intestine issues with other kinds of whey like whey protein concentrate. WPH is known for being higher quality and more expensive because of that. But of recent studies claim WPH is more hype than higher quality and greatly overpriced.
Whey Protein Concentrate- whey is a liquid by-product of cheese manufacture. Removing the water results in Whey Protein Concentrate (WPC) Powder. WPC is the most efficient protein for the human body. Research has shown that, of all protein sources, WPC is digested and absorbed better than any other protein. I assume this not from grass fed cows but it seems to be fine. Though WPC can be an issue from someone who has a problem with lactose (milk sugar).
Dicalcium Phosphate- a synthetic calcium supplement with questionable side effects (I singled this out because its high on the ingredient list)
Sunflower Oil- this seems to be an ok oil- but is only omega 6 which already is dominant in the typical diet.
Natural and Artificial Flavors-(neither one is good)
MCT Oil- from coconut- another decent oil-but not omega 3 which is needed and lacking in this product
Soy Lectin- a soy by product
Gum Arabic- is a natural gum made of hardened sap taken from two species of the acacia tree
Xanthan gum- a thickening agent may be derived from a variety of source products that are themselves common allergens, such as corn, wheat, dairy or soy.
Aminogen is the patented, clinically-proven digestive enzyme system that triples the rate of protein absorption.- OK
Sucralose- artificial sweeteners (Splenda) though used in trace amounts in this shake it’s still not good.
Maltodextrin can be enzymatically derived from any starch. In the US, this starch is usually corn- this a cheap filler and can actually spike your blood sugar similar to sugar (though listed as sugar free). In fact maltodextrin is a solid 105 on the glycemic index. Where an apple for example is only 35. It maltodextrin is made from corn then there is a great chance that corn is GMO corn. Why? because 85% of corn is genetically modified. This ingredient probably makes up most of the carbohydrates in the shake.
Natural Minerals in the Vi Shake: (still not necessarily from whole foods)
chromium amino acid chelate, molybdenum amino acid chelate, selenium amino acid chelate.-all ok from what I can see.
Yet everything else…….. Other than the minerals I listed above all the other vitamins from Vitamin A to Maganese (21 of the 24) in this Vi Shake seem to be SYNTHETIC and not from whole foods.
Zinc Oxide-this shake contains this REALLY? I would not even put this on my skin let alone in my BODY. Yet it’s in the ingredient list. read about what zinc oxide here: http://www.medicinenet.com/zinc_oxide-topical/article.htm
So what is the difference between synthetic and natural whole food vitamins?
Synthetic means they are not from real food they are man made in a lab. I suggest, unless they specifically tell you the origin of each of the ingredients, they are just synthetic vitamins. Synthetic Vitamins are not vitamins; they are chemical activators that have some of the characteristics of true, natural vitamins you find in nature. However, nature does not make just one vitamin that stands alone; It always comes in a package of cofactors and other nutrients that support its functions. In fact, synthetic vitamins when photographed show very little light emissions, where as natural vitamins show huge bursts of light, indicating high energy value.
So other than taking my word from it and Dr. Daniels, and all the information I present above here is some more unbiased reviews from people who drank the shake.
For example, one person reported the following from Visalus shakes: (taken from:http://healthyfamiliesforgod.com/2011/12/could-visalus-other-soy-products-actually-be-harming-your-health/)
“I signed up with Visalus in Sept. 11, as I’ve been out of work, and loved the taste of the shake. Yet when I received the product, I was sent along with the big distributor kit, huge horse pills to swallow too, which in the little picture of ordering I didn’t see. Called the company, talked to a young gentleman, and complained, since I don’t like swallowing pills. Of which he said he couldn’t do anything about.
I introduced this to one girlfriend, who was on thyroid medication, and after taking a couple bags of product, she started to feel like her medication wasn’t working. So she called me to inquire if I knew if this Visalus was ok to take with her medication. So I Googled about it, and was so alarmed about all the sites I found, which spoke of the the dangers of soy, especially with thyroid problems. I then called the company back and wanted my money back. (Which is about $900 on plastic) As I knew in my heart I couldn’t honestly sell it anymore, was refused credit, because it had been over 60 days. Without a job, I am stuck with this burden now. Wish I had realized the dangers of soy.”
I personally received these 3 messages from 3 different people who didn’t want to speak out after I posted some information of Body by Vi online.
1) “Why did I quit the shakes? The product caused me to GAIN weight and brought back previous digestive issues that had disappeared until I introduced the shakes. The customer service refused to refund for a full box of 15 serving packets because I bought TWO boxes. They say it is not reusable. If a company believes in their product, why wouldn’t they stand behind it?”
2) “A friend convinced me to try this product. My body went crazy…seemed as if I had a total hormonal breakdown. I became extremely irritable and felt like I was going through puberty all over again…I’m 38! I requested answers from the company, and they never responded. I will never eat soy again. After this experience, if I can’t eat something in its natural state, I won’t.”
3)” I tried the Vi shake for about a month. My blood sugars were all over the place the entire time I used it. They would go high to extremely too low. I finally went back to using my whey protein powder in my smoothies. Plus, I ended up putting more and more fruit in the shake mix just to cover the “cake-mix” aftertaste it had.”
these are just two of the hundreds I have received after writing this:
(2013 email after reading this post) I just saw your blog post about Body by Vi. Just thought I’d let you know. I used to be a 3 Star Ambassador for 22 months. I started to experience blurry vision and once I stopped taking the shakes I noticed significant improvements. I resigned in December and have since heard from approx 150 people on various health issues. Some quite serious and some minor. Most of these people did notice significant improvements after stopping the shakes from Visalus. So you’re doing good by writing that post. Keep up the good work.
(April 2013) Are you the David who wrote the incredible article and opinion on the Body By Vi Shakes? I wish I did more research and saw you article before I started the shakes. I am laying in the hospital with damage to my liver. The doctors think the damage is from the shakes. I’ve had every test under the sun, poked and proded, may be having a liver biopsy on Monday and if my bilirubin does not go down, headed to Phila for liver transplant. I only heard the good, wish I did more research. Obviously, stopped the shakes and my numbers are SLOWLY going down. When I came into the ER, my liver #s were in the 3,000 when normal is between 7- 40. Anyway, let me know if this is you. Sorry to ramble if its not. Thanks for your insight, wish I saw it sooner . Sincerely, (name withheld for her privacy)
****I know there are also many positive reviews on the net for VI-shake. The majority of those however I have read seem to be from someone who also sells the product or from someone who doesn’t know any better. Also, I have not met anyone selling the shake that actually knows (other than what they have been told by the company or fellow promoter) what is in the shake and they seem to just measure progress by seeing temporary changes in their clothes and the scale. They also do not seem to promote exercise as an important part of the transformation.
I know friends who have taken it and lost weight (not necessarily fat) , I know people whose parents have taken and it lost weight and it kick started their fitness journey. These all “seem” positive things short term. However, what if the weight lost is “muscle”? I agree doing something is usually better than doing nothing. However, almost anyone can take any meal replacement powder with some protein and synthetic vitamins and lose weight/fat if they take this shake instead of their previous poor diet choices. By replacing their high calorie foods with a low calorie shake bingo they are getting lower calories (why wouldn’t they lose weight short term?) But can they sustain this long term? One should always strive to lose fat and not just weight (muscle, water and fat). The ingredients in this shake are not anything special that will help you lose weight or build muscle faster than any other shake on the market. Though a shake is convenient and a easier to get in than real food, this shake will never replace the nutrition you will get from real whole foods. There are many ways to lose weight……but as I always say there is a “A Better Way” and to me “One Only Right Way.” That would be real exercise and real food.
So is this shake better for you than fast food and lot of other junk foods? Sure, most likely. But is it any better than a low cost slim fast powder? In my opinion not by much. I know the shake tastes good to most ( I have tasted it) Maybe has less sugar and more protein……but that’s not saying much. I have seen better nutritional powders (as far as healthy ingredients)and shakes at Meijer without soy protein, fillers and no synthetic vitamins. What’s a Visalus promoter’s problem with the stuff at Meijer? They can’t add you to their pyramid and make money off you if you buy it there! If you want a shake for convenience I suggest finding a cheaper more effective one with better ingredients than the Vi- Shape Shake.
To me the Vi Shake will always be an inferior shake at a superior price. (yes, you can get it free you you promote and get your 3 people on your pyramid) This shake is being marketed as something almost magical that will help you reach all your fitness goals (by usually someone who has no real knowledge or qualifications to help you lose weight safely and effectively). Also, many who are promoting it are not even lean, fit or healthy themselves, and if they are it’s usually not from Body by Vi (many who sell it don’t even drink it). One should be focusing on not some special shake for a quick fix… but instead they should focus on getting real foods and exercise for a long term lifestyle change. This lifestyle change will allow you to lose fat and maintain/build muscle long term and not just lose ‘weight” short term.
I am aware of multiple people (chiropractors, gym owners, trainers, dieticians, beauty salons) selling (promoting) this shake (and challenge) not because they think the shake is special but because it’s filling their wallet and helping them get a car. (a few have told me this to my face) They seem to know people will buy anything that promises weight loss. Some think the shake is special but they really don’t know any better because they have not done the research, and are taken in by the slick marketing and promises to make money and win prizes for helping people. (a lot of people are being educated about nutrition by people who sell the product, yet these people who sell the product are being brain washed to believe this shake is healthy without researching it themselves) I really have not talked to anyone involved in this business that I personally feel that their main motivator is helping people get on a road to a better health. Instead “Money” is the main motivator. It’s always about the business, the money, the car and how they can help you get it all too. (if you get it all too, they get richer)
Yes, there might be some benefit in getting “weight loss support” from a group for 90 days, I know NOT getting support can be a factor for many people not succeeding. However, I would strongly recommend getting support from someone who is qualified to do so and has your long term health in mind and not a quick fix that will fill their pocket. You need someone who will give you a clear map to reach your goals and not a temporary detour.
DAVID, WHAT SHAKE AND POWDERS DO YOU TAKE YOURSELF AND RECOMMEND? This is a question I get asked sometimes 5-10 times per day since writing on this shake. I decided to add this in so I do not have to feel bad when I do not respond to the hundreds emails I get asking this very question. I do NOT promote a brand of shake per say….However, these are powders I use on weekly basis for convenience only and when I can not get in a solid meal. (there is nothing magical here and you do NOT need them) Yet, I like to make homemade “soy free” protein smoothies with spinach and homemade almond milk and my favorite powder. I use and recommend the following if you so choose to use protein powder:
Want to save 5% on your order? use my personal discount code on checkout: DDMM1208 (no I don’t work for this company)
I always sweeten with Stevia only. and if I do a flavor it’s natural vanilla.
UPDATE-unless you have proven scientific literature and documentation (other than what you have been told by someone selling the product, or video on the Visalus website/youtube) that this shake is all natural, isoflavone free, uses whole food vitamins, and is more than just hype…then please don’t bother contacting me to debate. This post is the opinion and conclusions I have come to after months of researching these products. I personally eat green fed meat… Yet the only way I know its green fed is to actually see the cows eating the grass myself until then all we know is what we “have been told”.
Your Fitness and Nutrition Coach