Is Herbalife Safe? My Take and 4 Alternatives to Herbalife to Consider [2019 Updates]

Last Updated on by Owen Alexander

There is a myriad of reasons why people choose to supplement their diet with protein shakes.

Often, people find themselves wanting to lose weight quickly, or they don’t have the time required to prepare and eat a meal. Sometimes, one will simply reach for a protein shake in an effort to supplement their daily nutrition, which they might feel is lacking.

Whatever the reason, it is essential to do your homework and choose the right protein supplement, or the very thing that you are striving to improve, your health, will seriously suffer the consequences.

Why People are Choosing Herbalife

Although Herbalife may be all the rage in the blogosphere right now, the truth is coming out that this particular company cuts corners and that their products are manufactured with less-than-stellar ingredients.

With a sales-driven mindset and a pyramid scheme-esque approach to marketing, it is no wonder that Herbalife’s products are low in quality and contain an abundance of cost-cutting additives and fillers.

With the relatively affordable cost (approximately $1.07 per serving), it might be easy to rationalize the choice. However, you may be doing long-term damage to their health and well-being in the meantime.

Herbalife Features – What’s the Draw?

The Herbalife F1 Shake Mix is marketed as a total meal replacement shake. The company claims that their product will assist with weight loss while supplying ample protein and other essentials such as vitamin B5, vitamin A, and zinc. Herbalife promises that their products will help with weight loss and achieving balanced nutrition.

Although some consumers may experience weight-loss success with this product, this does not automatically indicate that they are healthier and that their long-term health is not being compromised.

One look at the nutritional label on the Herbalife F1 Shake will reveal that this product does not supply any more than 30% of the daily value of any of the vitamins and minerals that it contains.

However, it contains an ingredient list riddled with harmful additions. It is a simple question of risks versus benefits. Is the small amount of protein, vitamins, and minerals that one would absorb while using this product worth the health risks involved with the consumption of destructive ingredients?

Herbalife regards themselves as a “global nutrition company”, but let’s take a look at some of the harmful ingredients that are present in the Herbalife F1 Shake Mixes.

Herbalife Ingredients List

Carrageenan – Herbalife contains carrageenan, which is a toxic emulsifier that has been shown to inflame the digestive tract. This risky ingredient has been linked to the development of certain cancers and to digestive disorders. With prolonged exposure, carrageenan can cause ulcers and intestinal bleeding. It is particularly harmful to those with autoimmune disorders, such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease.

Carrageenan sourced naturally from seaweed, and for that reason it is often lurking in natural and organic products such as almond or coconut milks, yogurt, and ice cream. Fortunately, some naturally-minded companies are catching on to the dangers of carrageenan and are voluntarily reworking some of their products to eliminate this harmful ingredient.

Carrageenan is just one of the many reasons to avoid Herbalife F1 Shake Mix.

Artificial Sweeteners – Herbalife Shake Mixes also contains artificial sweeteners – either fructose or sucralose depending on the flavor. Most know that a high-sugar diet is not a healthy option, yet alternative sweeteners, even though they are marketed as the healthier choice, are composed of toxic chemicals that can cause extensive damage.

Sucralose has been linked to digestive disorders, headaches, dizziness, blood sugar reactions, and blurred vision. It is also shown to disrupt healthy gut flora significantly. A gut flora imbalance, also known as an overgrowth of yeast or non-beneficial bacteria, is a common reason why some people are following a low-sugar diet in the first place.

Scientists say that the genetic makeup of sucralose resembles that of pesticides more than the genetic makeup of sugar. Yikes!

Artificial Flavors – There are thousands of “artificial flavors” out there. Unfortunately, this certain label is non-transparent and knowing what a company means when they claim that their product contains artificial flavors is next to impossible. Artificial flavors can cause a whole host of health problems including allergic reactions (that are difficult to avoid if you don’t know what you are eating).

Unfortunately, this list of side-effects attributed to artificial flavorings is too long to list here. Who knows what is lurking within the “artificial flavors” category in Herbalife Shake Mixes…

Soy Protein Isolate – Soy protein can also cause a host of issues, including hormonal imbalance, erectile dysfunction, mood swings, decreased libido, thyroid issues, and mineral depletion. Soy protein isolate in large amounts has even been shown to contribute to infertility in both men and women.

It is important to note that even though it is marketed as a soy protein shake, this product does contain milk products, which can pose a huge health problem for some.

GMOs – Multiple ingredients listed on the Herbalife F1 Shake label are riddled with genetically modified organisms. Genetic modification changes the food that we eat from its natural state, into something that never would have existed in nature, and thus into something that our bodies are simply not developed
to digest.

Unfortunately, GMOs of one kind or another are present in almost all processed food and the majority of produce available in the United States. Evidence linking GMOs to health problems is quickly stockpiling, and due to health and environmental concerns, non-GMO products are on the rise.

So, as I quickly realized after hearing all the hype, Herbalife can be a detrimental choice and is not the miracle health drink that the company claims it to be.

So what are the alternatives? If you are looking for a nutrient-dense protein shake that will boost your overall health, but also realize that a diet consisting of plenty of raw fruits and vegetables and exercise is essential, then there are a few products out there that provide a safer alternative to Herbalife.

Herbalife Alternatives – 4 Different Recommendations

1. Orgain Protein Powder

Orgain is a relatively new player on the market, but I love their organic ingredients AND great taste.

Many plant-based protein supplements suffer from chalky or gritty textures, but Orgain is among the smoothest I’ve tested.

With 21 grams of protein, Orgain is also among the better values (per protein serving) on the market right now.

Why I Love Orgain Smooth, slightly sweet (but not TOO much), all plant-based. Orgain is definitely one of my FAVS. Best of all, it doesn't break the bank. Check latest Prices Why I Love Orgain I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.

2. Garden of Life Raw Protein

A completely vegan, plant-based protein powder. Garden of Life Raw Protein is free of GMOs, artificial ingredients, gluten, and dairy, and there are no preservatives or fillers. The protein in this powder is derived from sprouted beans and seeds. To aid absorption and promote absorption of the vitamins and minerals that it contains, this formula also includes digestive enzymes and probiotics.

In addition to protein, this product contains 100% of the daily value of vitamin D. Raw protein comes in three flavors: original, chocolate, vanilla, and vanilla chai. Raw Protein can be efficiently mixed with either food or beverages to add 17 grams of protein per serving to your diet.

With a much more affordable cost and 28 servings per container, the original flavor rings in at approximately $1.35 per serving. (For the latest prices and discounts, check here).

3. Nutiva’s Hemp Protein

With 15 grams of protein and 8 grams of fiber per serving, Nutiva’s Hemp Protein is a solid choice for those looking to add a bit of plant-based protein seamlessly to their routine. This one-ingredient, easily-digestible powder naturally contains nine essential amino acids, as well as magnesium, iron, and zinc.

Hemp has a slightly nutty taste and can be mixed with any beverage, but may work especially well with alternative milks. Nutiva’s Hemp Protein is certified organic, non-GMO, vegan, and chemical-free. A 30 ounce container costs even less than Garden of Life and contains 30 servings, which works out to about $0.73 per serving. (For the latest prices and discounts, check here).

4. Tera’s Organic Whey Protein

If you are looking for an option that comes in a variety of flavors like Herbalife does, and if you don’t have trouble with dairy, this one is probably your best bet. Tera’s Organic Whey Offers certified organic nutritional shake powders in a medley of recipes. Made with organic whey derived from grass-fed cows, these powders are non-GMO and contain no artificial ingredients.

In addition to the naturally flavored varieties, a plain variety is available that is comprised of only two ingredients: organic dairy whey protein concentrate and organic sunflower lecithin. Even the flavored powders are made with minimal ingredients.

As an example, the blueberry flavor adds only two ingredients in addition to the whey and lecithin: organic stevia leaf extract and organic blueberry flavor.  All flavors contain at least 20 grams of protein per serving.

Expect to spend about $2.33 per serving for the organic variety and $1.71 per serving for the non-organic option. This company also offers a protein powder made with goat milk whey. (For the latest prices and discounts, check here).

FAQ About Herbalife and Herbalife Substitutes

I’ve updated this section with the latest questions and answers (some which I get frequently):

Is Herbalife good to lose weight?

Maybe. Herbalife has a program that works for some people, but I would argue that it’s far more expensive and less effective than the alternatives. Once you understand the principles of calorie deficits, the specific meal replacement supplement is less important than the discipline required to stick to limiting calories and even exercise (although exercise is second to proper diet).

Can Herbalife cause liver damage?

There is a well publicized case where Herbalife was sued for Fraud and Negligence and some supporting medical evidence from studies, precisely for this reason. I’m not a big fan of the Herbalife ingredients to begin with so this wasn’t an altogether surprising discovery fro me.

How Expensive is Herbalife?

While it can depend on your “supplier”, a 30 serving container is generally over $40. Herbalife recommends shakes 2X per day, so this is about $80 just on the shakes (not to mention the other supplements they push). This makes it a good 30-50% more expensive than comparable protein shake supplements.

Other Herbalife Substitutes and Comparisons

Here are some additional direct comparisons I’ve done over the years:

Herbalife Alternatives Comparison

For easier comparison of the key features, I’ve put together a table below to compare the key ingredients side by side.

Further Reading:

5 Comments

  1. Sudhir July 1, 2015
    • Owen Alexander July 8, 2015
  2. Melissa February 4, 2016
  3. Eric Eastland July 28, 2016
    • AltStaff October 26, 2016

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