Article edited for scientific accuracy by Illuminate Labs Blog Editor Taylor Graber MD
Most of the Herbalife reviews online are favorable because the company is arguably a pyramid scheme. Many consumers are unaware of this, but the company actually had to settle for $200 million in 2016 due to misleading marketing claims. There is a need for an honest, unbiased Herbalife review by a doctor, which we will seek to provide in this article.
We will review some Herbalife product categories like weight loss and protein to determine if their products are actually healthy and effective. We’ll also analyze some of the questionable health claims and marketing practices on their website.
No Published Supplement or Nutrition Facts Labels
When you visit a product page on Herbalife’s site, there’s no way to actually see what’s in the product. They apparently don’t publish Supplement Facts or Nutrition Facts labels, which we’ve never seen before in any supplement brand we’ve reviewed.
This is harmful for consumers, because consumers can’t make educated choices about their health without the full set of information. How are you supposed to know if a pre-workout will be effective if you can’t even see the formulation?
In our opinion this is an incredibly deceptive practice, and given that Herbalife has already settled for hundreds of millions due to past deceptive marketing charges, we don’t believe this is unintentional.
By intentionally leaving out the actual nutrition labels, Herbalife shields their products from critical reviews by doctors and other credentialed medical professionals. This forces consumers to simply trust their marketing claims because without any counterpoints or nutrition information, that’s the only thing most consumers will use to build an opinion.
We strongly recommend avoiding supplement/nutrition companies who care so little about your safety and intelligence that they don’t even tell you what’s in the overpriced product they’re trying to sell you.
Herbalife Weight Loss Products Review
Herbalife’s site has a “healthy weight” section with products they claim will “enhance your weight-management efforts.”
Many of these products are herbal tea concentrates. We have not come across any medical research suggesting that herbal tea concentrates aid in weight loss efforts, nor is there any biological reason they would.
Herbalife doesn’t publish any research or information at all suggesting that these products actually increase weight loss, so there is no reason to believe they do.
We recently published a review of an FDA-approved weight loss pill called Plenity which you may be interested in reading if you’re looking for weight management solutions. We actually don’t recommend that product either for the price, but at least it’s backed by actual medical research unlike the garbage Herbalife is selling.
Herbalife Protein Products Review
Herbalife sells a variety of protein products, including drink mixes, bars, collagen and more.
We have to analyze these products based on their self-reported information since Herbalife doesn’t publish Nutrition Facts.
Their vanilla protein drink mix advertises “24 vitamins and minerals”. Adding synthetic vitamins and minerals to a protein drink does not improve performance, as we discussed at length in our breakdown of Premier Protein ingredients, which is another brand that follows the same practice.
We don’t know for certain if Herbalife adds synthetic vitamins, but we can assume they do because soy protein does not contain 24 vitamins and minerals based on research data. Just selling the protein isolate alone would be cheaper and better for performance.
The protein bars sold by Herbalife seem to have a dosage of protein that’s below the effective dose for athletic performance. Their bars contain 10 g of protein while medical research shows 20 g and above to be effective for muscle building.
Herbalife also sells a collagen protein powder but we can’t determine if it should be effective because the dosage of even the active ingredient (collagen) isn’t published on their site.
Collagen is effective for improving skin appearance, so their health claims are accurate in that regard, but it appears this product is also supplemented with synthetic vitamins. There is much more medical research on collagen alone being used for improved skin than collagen plus vitamins. We’d recommend sticking to a plain, unflavored collagen powder instead of this product.
Herbalife Pre Workout Review
A pre workout powder called “Prepare” is sold by Herbalife, and appears to be decently formulated. It includes amino acids l-arginine and l-citrulline as nitric oxide (NO) precursors. Nitric oxide relaxes blood vessels and can improve exercise endurance, so this is a performance benefit.
While these ingredients both do increase nitric oxide, it would be better to see citrulline alone here. Arginine isn’t as effective as an NO precursor as citrulline, so its inclusion is somewhat wasteful.
The Herbalife pre workout also includes 2.1 g of creatine, which is an effective ingredient for improving exercise performance but is slightly underdosed. Dosage should be minimum 2.7 g based on an average U.S. male weight of 90 kg, according to studies. Even more is needed during an optional “loading” phase.
Herbalife Prepare is NSF-Certified for Sport which is a legitimate and thorough certification protocol, so we commend them for undergoing that process. It tests label accuracy and contaminant levels.
We actually considered this certification ourselves but decided a more effective approach would just be to publish our test results transparently on our product pages and cut out the expensive middleman.
The "Prepare" pre workout also contains 100 mg of caffeine which is an effective dose, especially for people new to caffeine supplementation.
Overall this is one of their better formulations, but we’d probably recommend something like Gorilla Mind for exercise performance (but we recommend reviewing the potential safety concerns we covered in the linked article).
Herbalife has some decently formulated products and some terribly formulated products. We find it a huge red flag that they don’t publish their Supplement/Nutrition Facts labels on their website, which is something even the sketchiest supplement companies like BulkSupplements are doing.
Overall we’d recommend avoiding this brand. They’ve settled major lawsuits in the past, and their formulations (even the decent ones) are inferior to other options. Weight loss supplements can generally be replaced with increased insoluble fiber intake for better results, their protein products could be replaced with pure whey isolate for arguably better results, and their pre workouts could be replaced by other brands with better formulations.