What Is Herbalife?

Herbalife Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Herbalife weight loss nutrition
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Herbalife is a popular brand of meal replacement products, and protein supplements. Herbalife nutrition products are sold through distributors who develop a relationship with customers and earn an income based on sales. Many consumers who buy Herbalife products are trying to lose weight or improve health.

Herbalife Nutrition Facts

Herbalife Formula 1 Nutrition Shake Mix (Vanilla) Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 2 heaping tablespoons (25 g)
Per Serving% Daily Value*
Calories 90 
Calories from Fat 9 
Total Fat 1g2%
Sodium 140mg6%
Potassium 210mg6%
Carbohydrates 13g4%
Dietary Fiber 3g12%
Sugars 9g 
Protein 9g 
Vitamin A 25% · Vitamin C 25%
Calcium 8% · Iron 10%
*Based on a 2,000 calorie diet

One of the most popular Herbalife products is the Formula 1 Healthy Meal Nutritional Shake Mix. The product comes in a variety of flavors including Vanilla, Banana Caramel, Dutch Chocolate, Wild Berry and many others.

The product label indicates that the shake mix primary ingredients are soy protein isolate, a form of protein powder, and fructose, or sugar. So the shake will provide you with protein (9 grams) to help you feel full, but will also contribute to your sugar intake for the day.  The powder provides 90 calories but if you combine it with eight ounces of skim milk as recommended, it provides 170 calories.

Consumers who want to lose weight use the Formula 1 shakes as part of a combined program. There are three to choose from: Quick Start Program, Advanced Program and Ultimate Program. Each package provides the Formula 1 shake mix along with different combinations of supplements that the company claims will help increase your chances of weight loss.

Will I Lose Weight with Herbalife?

Using meal replacements to lose weight is effective for some people. When you replace a typical meal (that usually totals 300-500 calories or more) with a shake that only provides 170 calories, you will significantly reduce your calorie intake for the day. This may allow you to create the calorie deficit needed for weight loss.

However, there is nothing unique about this (or any) weight loss shake that makes it more effective than creating your own shake at home. According to Herbalife, the Formula 1 shake mix provides 21 vitamins and minerals and essential nutrients.  But if you use fresh fruits and vegetables at home to create your own low-calorie smoothie, you'll also benefit from essential vitamins and minerals.

The company also claims that ingredients included in some of the supplementary weight loss pills and products will help boost weight loss. They acknowledge that the claims have not been evaluated for accuracy by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Stimulants like caffeine can boost your energy level to help you burn more calories, but a cup of strong coffee can do the same thing.

The Safety of Herbalife Products

For many years, scientific researchers have expressed concern over the safety of Herbalife products. Several published reports have linked Herbalife products to liver injury and even death.

Study authors from Switzerland, Israel, and Venezuela have expressed concern over the use of the products, often citing the potential dangers associated with stimulants contained in the supplements and shakes.

Other researchers, however, and the Herbalife company believe that the products are safe. They say that the incidence of injury is very low considering the large number of people who use the products. They also say that their own internal testing demonstrates that the products are safe.

Researchers on both sides seem to agree that it is very hard to say for sure what caused death or injury in the cases where Herbalife users got sick. Critics of Herbalife say that since specific formulations are not provided on the product label and since many consumers combine several different Herbalife products, it's hard to know what caused the actual illnesses.

So what does this mean for you? It is always smart to discuss the use of any supplement with your doctor. It doesn't matter if the supplement or weight loss product is natural or herbal—it can still cause harm. Herbal products can interact with each other or with your current medications to create problems. Your doctor will be able to evaluate the product and your health history to provide a personalized recommendation.

The Cost of Herbalife for Weight Loss

In order to buy Herbalife products, you need to connect with a distributor. The distributor then makes money based on the amount of the product you buy. The distributor may continue to contact you to encourage you to buy more products in the future.

So what are typical Herbalife prices? The Formula 1 Healthy Meal Nutritional Shake Mix sells for $39.90. One container provides enough mix to make about 30 shakes. The Quickstart Program sells for $115.30. A 3-Day Trial Pack sells for $11.95. Products combos are also available ranging in price from $194 to over $300.

Make Your Own Weight Loss Shakes

If you are thinking about using meal replacement shakes to lose weight, consider using one of these recipes to create your own drinks at home. When you control the ingredients and use your own fruits and vegetables, you have the comfort of knowing what you're putting in your body and you can tailor your drink to your own personal tastes.

If you choose to use Herbalife or any diet supplement for weight loss, continue to communicate with your doctor if you notice changes to your health. Weight loss can improve your sense of confidence and well-being, but staying healthy is more important.

Sources:

Ignarro L. Herbalife nutritional products and liver injury revisitedJournal of Hepatology. 2008; Volume 49(Issue 2):291–293. 

Licata A, Craxı` A. Considerations regarding the alleged association between Herbalife products and cases of hepatotoxicity: A rebuttalInternal and Emergency Medicine. February 2014. 

Manso G, López-Rivas L. Continuous reporting of new cases in Spain supports the relationship between Herbalife® products and liver injury. Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety. 2011;20(10):1080–1087. doi:10.1002/pds.2180.

Schoepfer AM, Engel A. Herbal does not mean innocuous: Ten cases of severe hepatotoxicity associated with dietary supplements from Herbalife productsJournal of Hepatology. 2007;47(4):521–526. doi:10.1016/j.jhep.2007.06.014. 

Stickel F. Slimming at all costs: Herbalife®-induced liver injury. Journal of Hepatology. 2007;Volume 47(Issue 4):444–446. 

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