Case in point: the Isagenix diet, which you might have heard about in Facebook ads or posts.
The diet, which includes cleanses, shakes, and supplements, focuses on “nutrition cleansing” and weight loss, says Abbey Sharp, RD, a Toronto-based dietitian and founder of Abbeys Kitchen . “They have a variety of cleanses and diet products…that supposedly help you burn fat and naturally detox,” she adds.
But before you stock up on shakes and supps galoretheres more to know about this diet and its products than what Isagenixs website suggests.
How does the Isagenix diet work?
So, Isagenix has a few different plan optionsenergy, performance, healthy agingbut for weight loss, they have several different Packs & Systems that claim to be conveniently packaged to help you take the guesswork out of achieving your best results.
Take the Weight Loss Basic Pack (a 30-day Isagenix System ), for instance (which costs $378.50 a month, BTW). Isagenix says this one’s ideal for individuals who want to lose weight using a long-term, flexible program.” Flexible seems to be a very interesting choice of words for this rather restrictive diet plan.
Basically, you replace two meals a day with Isagenix shake meals (240 to 280 calories) and for the third meal, you eat something healthy between 400 and 600 calories. If you get hungry during the day, Isagenix also has small, 100 to 150-calorie snacks, which are more like a chewable vitamin tablet than a typical snack or protein bar you may be picturing.
After a few “shake days,” you’ll have a “cleanse day,” where you’ll be instructed to drink four small servings of a low-cal cleanse liquid and snack on Isagenix Snacks, and not consume any real food like fruits or vegetables.
You take supplements every day too: Ionix Supreme, which you can add to a drink for “clarity and focus,” a Natural Accelerator supplement to help “support a healthy metabolism,” and a pill called Isaflush at bedtime to “support a balanced digestive system.” It’s basically a dose of magnesium and other herbs, which can act like a laxative, says Sharp.
And what do you do when the 30 days are over? The program suggests either restarting or trying another plan.
So, can the Isagenix diet help me lose weight?
You betjust not in a healthy way; like, at all.
“This system advertises that the cleansing helps you lose weight and it willbut all of that weight will likely just be water mass, maybe even muscle, which you definitely don’t want to happen,” says Sharp.
Something else to keep in mind about cleanses: Our body is really efficient at cleansing itself simply by peeing, pooping, sweating, and breathing, says Sharp. (Isagenix product education manager Sarah Richter compares the program’s “cleanse days” to a form of intermittent fasting , which research indicates may be conducive to weight lossif you can stick to the schedule.)
But the cleanse isn’t the only thing that’s problematic about the Isagenix diet.
I definitely would never recommend someone be using a laxative, even a natural one, regularly in the long term, says Sharp. I also would never suggest someone should eat the same thingeven if it does provide a wide range of nutrientsevery single day. Boring, restrictive diets can be a recipe for disordered eating, she notes.
In addition to the potential of developing disordered eating habits, restrictive diets almost always lead to regaining the weight you may have lost initiallyso on top of feeling disappointed or like youve failed to beat the odds that were scientifically stacked against you from the get-go, youll be out several hundred dollars if you chose to throw down on a pricey supplement plan.
There may also be some legitimate health concerns with the Isagenix product line. I am not comfortable with the lack of research on this cocktail of herbs,” says Sharp (she’s talking about the herbs like aloe vera, licorice root, and peppermint in the Isagenix cleanse drink). “Just because theyre natural, doesnt mean theyre benign, and consumed in large amounts, they may not be safe, she adds.
For the record, Isagenix says all of the ingredients used to make their products “are rigorously tested for quality, purity, and safety before they are used to make finished products,” according to Richter.
But still, there are better and more balanced ways to lose weight, says Sharp: Stick to a healthy mix of real foods to build life-long healthy eating habits and experience sustainable weight loss. Giving your body a variety of nutritious foods not only promotes overall health, but can also make you feel better.
Variety is key here: “Foods don’t work in isolation,” she says, and “cannot be duplicated through supplements.” And that sounds so much better than sipping on shakes each daybecause lets be realistic, no one can do that forever.
Experts agree that long-term, lasting weight loss isnt something you can bottle and sell in sleek packaging. Instead, it boils down to sustainable lifestyle adjustments that work to complement each otherlike increasing physical activity, managing stress, and eating a balanced diet that nourishes your body and doesnt starve it.
The bottom line: Skip the Isagenix dietthe cleanses, meal replacement shakes, and supplements just aren’t worth it, and won’t result in any kind of sustainable (read: healthy) weight loss.