AdvoCare: 24 Day Challenge
American society is fixated on standards of beauty that include extreme slenderness and yet this country is experiencing an obesity epidemic, with more than one third of adults falling in the category of “Obese (CDC, Adult Obesity Facts, 2015). Therefore understandably, many people are interested in losing weight and improving their physical fitness.
AdvoCare is a popular and growing weight loss and weight management system that also markets itself as a way for participants to earn money selling their products. AdvoCare’s weight loss plans such as “The 24 Day Challenge” rely heavily on AdvoCare supplements such as Spark, Meal Replacement Shake, Crave Check, Catalyst, Carb-Ease, Thermo-Plus, Leptilean, Fibo-Trim, OmegaPlex, BioTune and more (AdvoCare, Products). AdvoCare utilizes coaches, daily food guides, social media and physical fitness guidelines in addition to supplements to help participants meet their weight loss or weight maintenance goals (AdvoCare, 24 Day Challenge Overview).
AdvoCare 24 Day Challenge focuses on a 10 day “Cleanse” phase and a 14 day “Max Phase. The premise of the “Cleanse” phase is to “rid your body of waste” in preparation for better nutrient absorption (AdvoCare, 24 Day Challenge Overview). The “Max” Phase “is about fueling your body in order to achieve maximum results” which includes taking products that sustain energy, control appetite, provide “core nutrition” and contribute to “overall wellness (AdvoCare, 24 Day Challenge Overview).”
The AdvoCare 24 Day Challenge states multiple times that “this statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease (AdvoCare, 24 Day Challenge Overview),” and that AdvoCare products should be used in conjunction with healthy diet and exercise (AdvoCare, 24 Day Challenge Overview). In addition to AdvoCare supplements included in the 24 day Challenge, a nutritional guide and workout series are included in the plan (AdvoCare, 24 Day Challenge Overview).
There are many flaws with the AdvoCare 24 Day Challenge as a weight loss plan.
First and foremost is that nowhere in the 24 Day Challenge website is there any reference to scientific evidence of the efficacy of the AdvoCare supplement products or the efficacy of the weight loss plan, above and beyond that which would be acquired with healthy diet and exercise (AdvoCare, 24 Day Challenge Overview), despite the claims of AdvoCare that scientists
“highly regarded and recognized in their areas of expertise, members of the AdvoCare Scientific & Medical Advisory Board use their knowledge and experience in the fields of medicine, nutrition and science to ensure that all AdvoCare products are . . . based on the latest scientific research (AdvoCare. SciMed).”
In fact, AdvoCare 24 Day Challenge has multiple footnotes stating that their statements “[have] not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.” The FDA regulates nutrient claims (DeBruyne & Pinna, 2014, p 27) and health claims but not structure-function claims (p 28), reinforcing skepticism about the actual effectiveness of AdvoCare products and supplements.
A primary premise of the 24 Day Challenge is the “Cleanse” phase, the intent of which is to cleanse the body of waste to allow optimal nutrient absorption. This is a faulty presumption, as it is the job of the liver and kidneys to cleanse the body of metabolic and other wastes and of the kidneys and intestines to excrete these wastes. There is no indication on the AdvoCare website as to why nutrient absorption is optimized by the use of supplemental products to eliminate wastes (AdvoCare, 24 Day Challenge Overview).
AdvoCare 24 Day Challenge includes statements such as:
- “lifestyle changes may generate the need for a ‘fresh start’” for “Proper absorption of nutrients”
- “high-quality blend of essential Omega-3 fatty acids for overall wellness”
- “20 vitamins, minerals and nutrients that work synergistically to provide a healthy, balanced and effective source of energy that won't overburden or over stimulate your body.”
- “Catalyst provides a blend of essential branched-chain amino acids and L-glutamine to fuel your body with the muscle-building components it needs.* Catalyst helps repair and protect muscle, and provides the essential amino acids needed to maintain and promote lean body mass, endurance and strength.* Catalyst helps rid the fat and retain muscle when used in combination with a healthy diet, exercise”
- “stimulating fat oxidation and healthy metabolism (AdvoCare, 24 Day Challenge)”
These statements seem to indicate that a normal healthy diet will not provide sufficient nutrients, amino acids, etc. for healthy metabolism and muscle growth/repair, while in reality, well balanced diets can provide most if not all of the necessary nutrients (DeBruyne & Pinna, 2014, p 12).
The disclaimer “This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease” is found as a footnote on the 24 Day Challenge website, and found in multiple other places on the Advocare.com website. However, this product is clearly designed for weight loss (AdvoCare, 24 Day Challenge Overview), and the World Health Organization considers obesity and overweight to be non-communicable diseases (World Health Organization, 2016), therefore the above statement is false. The AdvoCare 24 day challenge website does indicate that one should consult one’s physician before starting to use AdvoCare products, however there is no statement regarding possible side effects or negative consequences of using AdvoCare products alone or as part of the 24 day challenge (AdvoCare, 24 Day Challenge Overview).
AdvoCare 24 Day Challenge does clearly indicate that products should be used in conjunction with healthy diet and exercise, advice which is confirmed DeBruyne & Pinna (2014, p 174). The 24 Day Challenge Guide (Advocare, 24 Day Challenge Daily Guide, p 5) references www.choosemyplate.gov as a source for nutritional information. The 24 Day Challenge Guide does address the consumption of a variety of food groups, and emphasizes portion size with respect to vegetables and protein (p 5). The 24 Day Challenge Guide suggests foods which should and should not be eaten as a part of this program (p11), and gives a formula for calculating appropriate water intake (p5). The AdvoCare formula however differs from that given in DeBruyne & Pinna (2014, p236) and does not account for individual differences other than body weight.
Lastly, the marketing portion of AdvoCare that engages participants as distributors of products turns those participants into de facto nutrition advisors and coaches (AdvoCare, Opportunity), while actual nutritional professionals are certified in a variety of ways (DeBruyne & Pinna, 2014, p 381) that do not include “sales professional.”
If AdvoCare is to be taken seriously as a weight loss program, peer reviewed independent studies should document its effectiveness above and beyond recommending healthy diet and exercise which would otherwise effect the same weight loss.
AdvoCare. 24 Day Challenge Daily Guide. Retrieved on April 5, 2016 from http://advocarecorporate.s3.amazonaws.com/corporate/24daychallenge/24DayChallenge-Daily-Guide-081114.pdf
AdvoCare. 24 Day Challenge Overview. Retrieved on April 4, 2016 from https://www.advocare.com/products/challenge.aspx
AdvoCare. Opportunity. Retrieved on April 7 , 2016 from https://www.advocare.com/opportunity/default.aspx
AdvoCare. Products. Retrieved on April 7, 2016 from https://www.advocare.com/products/default.aspx
AdvoCare. SciMed. Retrieved on April 6, 2016 from https://www.advocare.com/science/#scimed
CDC. (2015). Adult Obesity Facts. Retrieved on April 6, 2016 from http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html
DeBruyne, L.K. & Pinna, K. (2014). Nutrition for health and healthcare. (5th Ed).
Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
World Health Organization. (2016). Obesity and Overweight. Retrieved on April 6, 2016 from http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs311/en/