By Matt Foreman
Isagenix is a multi-level marketing scheme which offers people the opportunity to make money the higher they get on the pyramid. It offers nutritional cleansing, detoxing, weight-loss supplementation, and general wellness products, along with additional financial benefits through the marketing of their products.
A ‘red-flag’ though is that the clinical studies on the products have been performed and paid for by Isagenix themselves, leading to potential bias, and in my opinion the figures do not add up. Lets take a look over this study and review these numbers.
The study was conducted on 54 obese women aged 35-65, where they compared a calorie-restricted diet using Isagenix liquid meal replacement for two meals daily with a real food calorie-restricted diet providing the same amount of calories. The study was conducted over 10 weeks. In the first two weeks the subjects maintained their current bodyweight, then in weeks 3-10 were randomized into groups of either; Isagenix meal replacement, or regular food.
A significant issue is that the study did not control food intake and subjects self-reported dietary intake via telephone (2). A recent paper published in the International Journal of Obesity found self reporting of energy intake and energy expenditure is flawed and researchers should not be allowed to publish studies using inaccurate self reporting methods. (1)
The Isagenix group over 8 weeks lost a total of 4kg compared to 3kg lost in the food intake group. However, the Isagenix group decreased their energy intake from 1708 to 1255 calories daily, a total reduction of 453 calories, while the food intake group reduced their energy intake from 1694 to 1444 calories, a total reduction of only 250 calories. Therefore it is obvious as to why the Isagenix group lost more weight.
The macronutrients do not add up. The researchers claimed that while energy intake decreased over the 8 weeks, that protein, fat, carbohydrate, cholesterol and fiber intake all stayed the same. This is merely impossible. If calorie intake decreases, macronutrients would have to change also.
If you add up the claimed intake of macronutrient for the Isagenix group, it totals 1655 calories, but their reported intake was 1255 calories, and for the food group the macronutrient totals give 1279 calories, but the reported intake was 1444 calories. None of it makes sense.
Fat intake in the groups was supposed to be 35% or below, but the Isagenix group reported 51grams of fat totaling 459calories, when the total should have been 310calories or below. The carbohydrate intake was supposed to be 50-60% of the 1444 calories consumed for the food group and that is between 722 and 866calories, but 174 grams were reported totaling 696 calories.
Subjects in the Isagenix group were to consume two 240 calorie shakes daily and a 400 to 600 calorie meal. This should total between 880 calories and 1080 calories, but their total intake was 1255 calories daily. The food group was supposed to consume the same total of calories daily, but consumed 1444 calories.
The study was funded by Isagenix itself and research has shown a publication bias usually yields favorable results when studies are funded by the manufacturer. (3)
After critiquing this study it became apparent that it does not reveal any significant benefits to using Isagenix over a calorie-restricted diet and there appears to be significant issues with the methodology and analysis.
Matt is a bodybuilder, qualified personal trainer and registered clinical nutritionist. He is a current intern with Holistic Performance Nutrition.
1. Dhurandhar, NV., Schoeller, D., Brown, AW., Heymsfield, SB., Thomas, D., Sorensen, TIA., Speakman, JR., Jeansonne, M., Allison, DB., Energy Balance Measurement Working Group. (2014). Energy balance measurement: when something is not better than nothing. International Journal of Obesity doi:10.1038/ijo.2014.199
2. Kroeger, CM., Klempel, MC., Bhutani, S., Trepanowski, JF., Tangney, CC., Valrady, KA. (2012). Improvements in coronary heart disease risk factors during an intermittent fasting/calorie restriction regimen: Relationship to adipokine modulations.
3. Song, F., Parekh, S., Hooper, L., Loke, YK., Ryder, J., Sutton, AJ., Hing, C., Kwok, CS., Pang, C., Harvey I. (2010). Dissemination and publication of research findings: an updated review of related biases. doi: 10.3310/hta14080.