Visalus and Herbalife are two of the major players in the protein supplement and lifestyle fitness market. I’ll be honest, I’m not usually a fan of companies that use “distributors” in an MLM sort of way, but I know it’s not always fair to judge a product by it’s <br/> business model.
After hearing a lot of hype about both of these supplements, I decided to finally test them out for myself. I has a little hesitant to use my body as a guinea pig, but I wanted to prove a point to some of the people I train with in a straight up test.
In the following article, I’ve highlighted the key points of both Body By Vi – otherwise known as Visalus – and Herbalife Formula 1. I’ve also used a third supplement – Vega One – to put the previous two supplements into context. I’ve reviewed Vega One already here and stacked it up against Shakeology, in case you are interested in learning more about it.
Visalus (Body By Vi) Overview
To help keep things simple and straightforward, I’ve compiled a “pros” and “cons” list of Visalus below:
Pros of Visalus
Good Price and Decent Value: For the number of servings you get (30) the $52.99 price tag (For the latest prices and discounts, check here) is not too bad. That comes out to roughly $1.76 per serving. As far as heavily marketed supplements go, this really is quite affordable. For example, the much hyped Shakeology comes in at over $4 per serving.
Low Calorie: Visalus only has 90 calories per serving. This is remarkably good if you are trying to shed pounds quickly. Even more than exercise, losing weight is about limiting what goes in.
Low Carb: I was pretty surprised to see that Visalus came in at just 7 grams of carbs per serving. This is lower than pretty much every meal replacement supplement that I have tried.
Decent Fiber: 5 grams of fiber is a pretty good serving. If you drink twice per day or supplement with other fiber-rich foods you should get ample fiber to ensure an efficient metabolism.
Low Sugar: I was shocked to see that Visalus had less than 1 gram of sugar per serving. The shake has a sweet undertone (see below).
However, on further investigation I found that Visalus contains sucralose (see cons section).
Tastes Nice: I can definitely see how people get hooked on this stuff. It’s highly mixable and highly drinkable, really like a nutritious milk shake depending on how you are taking it.
Cons of Visalus
Scammy Marketing: Like Herbalife, Visalus has a “MLMish” style of promotion. You might have been approached by “promoters” of the product in the past who were clearly under-educated in nutrition.
This is because anyone who signs up for Visalus is quickly encouraged to promote the monthly plans to friends and family. They promise flashy cars and provide self-congratulatory seminars, but the more they push the more I question.
Bloating and Gas? I’ve had a few people come to me after being on Visalus complaining of severe bloating, gas, and diarrhea.
The only reason I mentioned this is because I’ve seen it posted elsewhere online as well. Yes, you can shed the pounds, but I’m a little suspect of the idea that you can use Visalus as a meal replacement by itself.
Contains Preservatives: This might help explain some of the gas complaints. It’s not on the label, but Visalus has a significant amount of preservatives which I’m not a fan of. The average diet already has too much of this and I find using a supplement with preservatives is a bit counter-productive. Not my thing.
Soy Based: A lot of people hate on soy. I’m actually okay with it in moderation. However, soy protein has been shown to have negative effects over time, especially in men. It’s also not the most effective source of protein out there.
Contains Sucralose: You may have noticed one of my “pros” was the low sugar count, but there is a hidden cost. Again, deceptively not on the nutrition facts, Visalus uses sucralose to keep folks coming back for more. I personally don’t believe you can “trick” your body with sugar substitutes.
The only way to improve your health long term is to go with less sugar. This may be a controversial statement, but there is a growing chorus that does agree as well. There is mounting evidence that sucralose – in particular – has some potentially harmful side effects.
Not That Much Protein: In terms of the nutrition facts on the label, this is the first thing most people will see as a negative. I’m not a big fan of ingesting massive amounts of protein, but 12 grams is a bit light for a meal replacement shake. Plant based supplements sometimes get the reputation for being low in protein, but the ones I use have more protein per serving than Visalus (a casein and soy hybrid).
Herbalife Formula 1 Overview
Using the same approach for Herbalife, I’ve separated the “pros” and “cons” below:
Pros of Herbalife
Cheap! At only $30-35 (For the latest prices and discounts, check here) for a 30 serving container, the $1.06 cost per serving is pretty dirt cheap. The problem I’ve found is that getting a reliable price is difficult due to the decentralized structure of the Herbalife MLM business model. Distributors will sell it for various prices, but it’s not always available reliably online.
Low Calorie: Like Visalus, Herbalife only has 90 calories per serving. Again, this is a remarkably low number for a meal replacement formula. If you are looking to lose weight, this is one of the first things to look at.
Mixes Well: Herbalife has perfected the mixability of their formula. I found it easy to mix with any liquid. I tried milk, almond milk, and water.
Cons of Herbalife
MLM: This three letter acronym stands of “Multi-Level Marketing”, otherwise known as one of those “businesses” where your friends or family start incessantly hounding you to buy something “through them”. Spending most of my time in and around gyms, I’ve begun to develop a nose for these types. You may have them casually strike up a conversation with you or try to give you advice.
It’s just a matter of time before the “upsell” occurs. I’ve found this “word of mouth” forced marketing to be really challenging for brands.
A lot of times the business model is hiding imperfections in the product. In this case, I do have some concerns with the underlying product and I don’t think it could be as successful on its own.
Aggressive Marketing: This is related to the “MLM” thing, but the people I’ve met who have promoted Herbalife are by and large very pushy. If you are on Herbalife and are not experiencing weight loss, the solution is generally more Herbalife. Because of the aggressive sales mentality, it’s hard to really know the truth about Herbalife.
Also Contains Sucralose: Gahhh! I can’t avoid it. I don’t know why they don’t just use sugar and quite trying to fake it. I was hoping Herbalife would take the high road, but nope!
Also Contains Soy: It’s actually the first ingredient. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a big fan of soy as the core ingredient. I’d encourage everyone to do their one research, however.
Low Protein Count: I was really turned off by the low protein per serving with Herbalife. 9 grams per serving is really not enough for a meal replacement shake. Yes, the calories are lower, but without adequate protein you will either A) need to consume more servings of Herbalife (probably what they want) or B) need to snake or eat in addition. This last point basically defeats the purpose of a meal replacement.
Higher Sodium: Salt is a cheap flavoring additive to make things taste good, or at least palatable. However, most of our diets already feature way too much sodium. Sodium content per serving is one of the key metrics I look for when evaluating a protein supplement. Herbalife Formula 1 has 95mg per serving, which is higher than the 75mg for Visalus and the 30mg for Vega One (the supplement I currently am using).
Higher Sugar: Herbalife also has the most sugar per serving at 9 grams. I wouldn’t be upset with this total if they didn’t ALSO use sucralose! But it’s really the worst case scenario here.
You are getting more sugar and more sucralose….
Other Options to Consider
Whenever I’m comparing two supplements, I sometimes like to bring in a third option to better evaluate the market. One of the supplements that I’ve been using a lot for the last few years is Vega One. As you can see in the comparison table below, Vega One is better by almost every key nutrition metric.
You’ll get more calories at 160 per serving, but these are GOOD calories from quality plant based ingredients. It’s also more expensive per serving than both Herbalife and Visalus, but I’ll pay the extra cost for my health. It’s about $53.50 per container here.
If you are into vegan protein supplements, I’d recommend that you check out my review of Garden of Life (RAW) protein here as well.
Overall Comparison Table
I’ve compared the Vega One, Herbalife, and Visalus below for an “at a glance” comparison.
|Calories||Saturated Fat||Sodium||Carbs||Fiber||Sugars||Protein||Price||Estimated Cost Per Serving|
|Herbalife Formula 1 (30 servings)||90||0g||95mg||13g||3g||9g||9g||(For the latest prices and discounts, check here)||$1.06|
|Visalus Body By Vi (30 servings)||90||0g||75mg||7g||5g||<1g||12g||(For the latest prices and discounts, check here)||$1.76|
|Vega One (20 servings)||160||0.5g||30mg||10g||6g||<1g||20g||(For the latest prices and discounts, check here)||$2.67|
If you are stuck deciding between Herbalife and Visalus, I’d lean towards Visalus for the better track record (higher customer reviews), higher impact ingredients (like protein), and lower “junk” like Sodium and Sugar. You can find the 30 serving Visalus bags here for a decent price.
While you can find Herbalife on the cheap at this listing, I’m not a huge fan of the low protein count (9 grams per serving), despite the affordability factor. While the cost per serving overall is cheap at $1.06/serving, you aren’t really getting enough protein to make it a top tier supplement.
However, my favorite supplement in this category is still Vega One. As you can see from the table above, it’s a better value for the money with minimal other “filler” ingredients like sugar and sodium. I’ve been ordering my containers at this listing.