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*** UPDATE 2/4/2014***
Nearly two years after writing this original article, I am shocked at how ignorant people still are about the toxic ingredients they are ingesting every single day with “quick fix” shakes like Visalus. Not only do I stand by my original research, I write this update to point out that we have even more evidence now that artificial sweeteners are toxic and harmful and to share the links of other health bloggers and professionals who are spreading the truth on the dangers of Visalus (and other compromised protein supplements). I now realize that my original concerns with Visalus was just scratching the surface of this inferior product who preaches about changing lives for the better…laughing all the way to the bank. Now we know that Visalus is also giving us a toxic dose of growth hormones, antibiotics, and quite possibly heavy metals! Visalus — the toxic and damaging gift that just keeps on giving!
I will also update that I’m no longer using Vega (despite being accused of selling it! I guess the Visalus lovers needed to find something on me…even if it was an outright lie!). That said, I stopped using Vega because I am now committed to using 100% organic products in my daily diet (I now use Tera’s Whey organic grass-fed whey protein). I know that not everyone can follow a 100% organic, local, and hormone-free diet but every step in that direction will greatly impact your health for the better and eating real food will always be better than a processed shake. Period.
I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve been asked for my opinion on Visalus “Body by Vi Challenge” weight loss products. Despite my strong recommendation to avoid these well-marketed “health” products with countless questionable ingredients, I’ve had quite a few friends and family try them anyway. And without fail, every one of them has eventually stopped because of adverse health effects. A constant head ache (even a migraine for some) being the number one complaint.
Put it this way, if you’re an average North American with an average North American diet (full of processed food, chemicals and man-made additives), than you could probably benefit from replacing some of that garbage with Visalus. The company has such great “testimonials” because their target market are overweight, unhealthy people who eat highly refined and processed “foods” on a daily basis. By switching to a lower-calorie shake (albeit still highly refined and processed), they are bound to lose weight. This is not rocket science, people. As I explained in my blog post about the 3 Stages to Successful Weight Loss, the first step in effective weight loss follows the adage of “a calorie is a calorie is a calorie”: Reduce Calories. Lose Weight.
But if you don’t eat the typical North American diet, then to suddenly add a daily dose of garbage ingredients like what’s inside Visalus would actually set you BACK, not take you forward.
So a few things I’ve come across in my Visalus research:
Isn’t it alarming that the entire web page Visalus has designed for “Visalus Ingredients” doesn’t actually even list the ingredients?!?! SKETCH!
Don’t you also find it kind of funny that the spokeswoman they use for all their psuedo-scientific mumbo-jumbo videos (which totally skirt the issue of what’s actually inside the Visalus products) is overweight herself?! Don’t get me wrong, I definitely don’t believe in having super skinny models claiming to use a product that they don’t in fact use, but I also think that you should buy products that produce results worth emulating! Check out Vega’s Ambassadors to see examples of healthy and fit people of all ages (not just skinnier “after” models) who believe in, and use, Vega’s products.
Okay, enough of the straight-up common sense issues — what about the actual ingredients? Well I could write a book on all the cheap and dangerous ingredients Visalus is using but for now, I’ll just give you my top 3 reasons to avoid these products based on this ingredient list I found online:
Visalus Ingredients: Protein Blend of (Soy Protein Isolate, Whey Protein Hydrolysate, and Whey Protein Concentrate), Digestive Resistant Maltodextrin (Fibersol™), High Oleic Sunflower Oil, Natural and Artificial Flavor, MCT Oil, Maltodextrin, Gum Acacia, Xanthan, Sodium Caseinate, Lecithin, Aminogen™, Mono & Diglycerides, DiPotassium Phosphate, Sucralose
Domestica’s Top 3 Dangerous Visalus Ingredients:
Fats are good for you — and especially when you’re trying to lose weight. But not all fats are created equal. A healthy fat will contain a proper ratio of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids. Vegetable oils, however, have an improper ratio, creating an omega 3 deficiency. It’s safe to say that a proper intake of omega 3 is beneficial in many ways, even being linked to protecting us against cancer. But a high intake of omega 6’s, on the other hand, has been proven to promote the pathogenesis of many diseases, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, and inflammatory and autoimmune diseases¹. But again, these types of vegetable oils are in abundance and cheap, cheap, cheap to use. Companies using them are after one thing, MORE PROFITS. Not your health.
NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR
First off, whenever you see “artificial flavors” or “natural flavors”, you can bet there’s a good chance it contains MSG. In fact, more than 40 different ingredients contain the chemical in monosodium glutamate (processed free glutamic acid)² that can lead to common side effects such as migraine headaches, upset stomach, fuzzy thinking, diarrhea, heart irregularities, asthma, and/or mood swings.
“Natural” absolutely does NOT equal “healthy”. Remember, arsenic and hydrochloric acid are “natural”, too!
It was a toss-up on which to include as my third most dangerous Visalus ingredient. I could lecture you for an hour on the negative effects of maltodextrin (the cheapest corn-based sweetener you can get) or whatever the heck “digestive resistant” means (I’m guessing it’s similar to that gross YouTube video where the Ramen noodles take something like 8 hours to digest…) but I have to come back to my old faithful — artificial sweeteners like Aspartame and Visalus’ poison of choice, Sucralose/Splenda.
I don’t ask people to change everything all at once when they decide to get healthy. In fact, I recommend starting very slowly and with only one thing at a time. But when it comes to toxic and addictive additives like Splenda and Aspartame, I demand quitting so cold-turkey that you might call it frozen-solid-turkey. I want you to quit that crap, yesterday.
So help me, if I have to hear one more person tell me that they just can’t give up their Diet Coke while they complain about how they can never lose weight or feel crappy and moody all the time, I’m going to lose it! Artificial, man-made sweeteners are TOXIC. And they are going to keep poisoning you until your very existence becomes nothing more than a constant brain fog that revolves around your next “hit” and when you last changed your panty liner since you can’t hold your urine anymore. Every time you drown your liver with these completely foreign and toxic additives, you are poisoning your own organs. How can you go run or workout for half an hour trying to get healthy and then poison yourself from the inside out?! Nonsensical, people! It’s nonsensical!!
Sucralose, which is also marketed under the name “Splenda”, is a chlorocarbon, in the same chemical compound family as deadly pesticides like DDT, insecticides, biocides, disinfectants like Chlorox Bleach, and WWI poison gas like dichlorourea. It’s very claim to fame is that it can be zero-calorie because your digestive tract doesn’t know what the heck to do with it and so it just passes right on through and leaves via urine and/or feces.³
Yeah, that sounds….totally A-OK. If I was a simple-minded five-year-old!
WAKE UP PEOPLE! What part of our digestive tract not recognizing the “food” you just ingested sounds healthy to you?!
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, I do agree that a nutritious shake in the morning is a good idea and next up, I’ll give you my own weight loss shake recommendation, including a Domestica-approved (and not endorsed in any way!) supplement product.
Natasha Drisdelle (aka Domestica) is a mom of twins, baby-weight survivor, and health & fitness blogger who lives in California’s Silicon Valley. She posted her before-and-after pics on the immortal internet as living proof that morphing into a gelatinous baby-growing-factory doesn’t have to mean your bikini days are over. You can find her on Google+, Facebook and Twitter, cutting through the myths and lies that keep women from realizing true health and contentment.