I Tried Advocare: An Honest, Unbiased Review

advocare

Any good blogger is basically a guinea pig. I’ve tried it all for you: a three-day juice cleanse, moxibustion to flip a breech baby, putting essential oils in my vagina…I will spare you no detail.

But when a friend of mine starting using and selling Advocare I had absolutely no interest. Firstly, I wasn’t a big fan of multi-level-marketing (also called “referral based marketing”  or “direct sales.”) If you have been unwillingly added to a Facebook group for false eyelashes or Jamberry nails you know what these are. They are also why I held off on trying essential oils, which have been co-opted as the new Tupperware party. But when I actually liked essential oils, I was forced to become a link in the sales chain to get them at a reasonable price.

Then my friend showed me her six-pack. And her biceps. Defined without making any changes to her relatively mild workout routine.

Look – I like my body. And I work out hard to look and feel fit. But I have to admit, my belly bothers me. I have birthed two children and I rarely turn down ice cream. I can’t wear an empire waist without being asked when I am due. Maybe I did need some amino acids in my life?

I had been toying with the idea of increasing my protein intake and incorporating some shakes into my diet, so it didn’t seem too crazy to buy $150 worth of pills. I was also hopped up on Spark at the time.

Spark is hallmark of Advocare, a drink that I would describe as a cocktail of Red Bull, Adderall, and Kool-Aid. It will make you want to organize your closets and pull a truck down the street with your teeth.

That said, I was not willing to add it to my diet. It contains sucralose (aka Splenda), artificial flavoring, and a shit ton of caffeine.

I will not be drinking Spark (OK maybe once in a blue moon when I need to stay up past 10).

What was I willing to do?

The initial 10-day-cleanse includes Catalyst (amino-acid supplements), a probiotic and herbal cleanse, a fiber drink, Omega-3 fatty acids, and Muscle Gain protein powder. The plan recommends incorporating much more protein into your diet and cutting significantly back on carbohydrates, as well as eating every 2-3 hours. These suggestions were not completely foreign so I was willing to give them a try – within reason.

I take a before selfie in the mirror wearing only underwear and sext it to my friend. I also use some kind of electric bodyfat monitor at my gym, which tells me I am 31.9% bodyfat – one/tenth of a point away from “obese.” I’m not buying the accuracy on this thing, but at least I can use it as some kind of baseline.

As I mentioned, I was not willing to replace coffee with Spark. So black coffee was still on the table for me. The downside of no Spark was drinking the fiber with nothing but water, which wasn’t my favorite thing. But once I tried simply adding it to my protein shake, it was fine.

I try the Muscle Gain protein powder and immediately my mouth began to tingle and my throat felt itchy. I had never experienced an allergic reaction to food before apart from one month prior when I ate a whey protein bar. I quickly realize I likely have a random whey allergy, and replace Muscle Gain with Orgain Organic Plant-Based Protein Powder.

For the rest of the day I eat a tremendous amount of turkey and vegetables, which is not problematic. I was hesitant to take the Herbal Cleanse pills before bed, insisting that I was not interested in a laxative, but my friend insisted that it would be “gentle and uneventful.”

I wake suddenly at 12:30 a.m. with severe abdominal cramps and lay awake half the night in the fetal position. My friend insists that this is not a bad thing – my body is simply ridding itself of toxins. I go through a pound of organic hemp seeds a week and should by stock in kale. How toxic could I possibly be?

I will no longer be taking Herbal Cleanse.

I continue with the plan on the second day, forcing down the fiber drink. I continue to feel low level nausea, stomach cramps, and general malaise throughout the day.

I go to dinner with friends who all order dessert and actually don’t feel particularly tempted, which I suppose is a good thing.

By day eight I am actually starting to see a difference. My belly feels a bit flatter, the scale has gone down a bit, and, most importantly, I finally feel some increase in my strength at the gym. Maybe I’m just having a good day, but I feel like I am killing those wall balls and double unders.

I believe I am finally getting results from my change in diet and supplements – as I should. Adding protein and decreasing sugar and carbs is not revolutionary – it’s a time-tested weight loss and muscle gain program. In fact, I really should have tried it sooner and will credit Advocare (and my friend who sells it) for giving me the kick in the ass I needed. But Advocare did not invent the core ideas of this program – it just monetized and promoted them. Which is good and bad.

I thought I was finished after the ten-day-cleanse but my friend informs me that I have actually moved on to level two – the “Max Phase,” which sounds frightening. But it’s pretty much just vitamins and supplements that don’t cause me any adverse effects. Many people continue to use these as their daily multivitamins – but it is a lot of pills.

I continue to explore the Advocare product line and I’m bothered by some of the product ingredient profiles. CitriZinc is an immune system booster similar to Cold-EEZE (and its more natural counterparts). For $21-$35, depending on your place in the pyramid, you get 60 Starbursts laced with vitamin C. Think I’m kidding? The first three ingredients are sugar, corn syrup, and palm oil.

Stuff like “LeptiLean” and “Fibo-Trim” which promise to control appetite and limit fat absorption just seem wrong. I’m not a fan of anything that promises “block fat”  or fill you up by making you bloated on crustacean shells. It’s just too close to something I’d see in an infomercial, like Lipozene. There are no clinical studies to say these things work, and I would be shocked if they didn’t reek havoc on your digestive system.

As for the supplements I like, they can be found at equal or better quality and lower prices. The OmegaPlex capsules are basically fish oil capsules, which you can buy significantly cheaper just about anywhere.

Advocare Catalyst costs $31.50 retail for 30 servings of Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA). If you are an Advocare distributor, you can get from 20-25% off so that is $23.70. If you are superstar seller (advisor) and get at least 10 friends buying Advocare, you get 40% off, so that’s $18.90 at the absolute best.

NOW Foods Amino Complete Supplements  are $19.35 on Amazon (less if you “Subscribe and Save”) and contain 90 servings (360 pills with a 4 pill serving). So even at Advocare’s best possible price, you are spending 3 times more on quality BCAA alone.

Look, I am all for anything that helps people to get in better shape. And Advocare may be a great program for people who need a kick start. The basic principals of cutting back on sugar, carbs, and alcohol; adding lean protein; incorporating omegas and BCAA, and making fitness a priority are something anyone can and should embrace.

I believe Advocare’s supplements are better than some on the market – but not the best. There is simply too much artificial junk and filler for me to fully support the brand.

FINAL RESULTS:

NOTE: I cheated a handful of times – one vodka drink, three slices of pizza, a couple mini cupcakes, a scoop of gelato, and a handful of granola here and there. I probably stayed true to about 95% of the diet.

Weight: I go from 142.6 to 141.2 – a one pound, four ounce difference. This is unremarkable, but I realize I am building muscle and the scale is an unreliable measurement.

Fat Monitor: The handheld monitor drops from 31.9 to 31.3. Again, doesn’t seem like a lot and still does not paint me as a woman who does CrossFit and its psycho hybrid “Intensity” 4-5 days a week. But at least it didn’t go up.

The Visuals: In the name of science, here are some photos of me in my underwear. Here is where we actually see some evidence that I was doing something right:

before after

My tan may be fading but I am definitely articulating my abdominal muscles – and I am not even sucking in. There will forever be evidence that I birthed two children and have reached the metabolism tipping point, but I would feel much more confident in a bikini. Which is great timing – only 8 months til Memorial Day!

Would I recommend Advocare to a friend? Maybe. If someone is looking for a jumpstart to a healthy lifestyle it can be a good prescriptive routine. But if you understand the basic principles, you can probably get better quality products at a cheaper price. My plan is to stick to the principals of the diet and continue to drink protein shakes and take Branched Chain Amino Acids and Omega supplements. Still want to try Advocare? Contact my friend – she is a great coach!

p.s. Here are a few great products I’ve found as high protein, lower carb substitutes:

Stonyfield Organic Protein Smoothee – a great sub for a protein shake on the go. But you might have to fight your kids for them.

stonyfield

Nutritional Yeast: Subs well for parmesan cheese. I said “well” not “amazing.”

thinkThin Protein Nut Bar: These are not organic but they are non-GMO. The best high protein/low sugar snack bars I have found. Also great when kept in the freezer.

Zucchini Noodles made with a spiralizer – Subs well, for, um, noodles

Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts: I love these high protein suckers and use them in everything, from smoothies to oatmeal.

Note: I am not a doctor or a certified nutritionist. As always, I am just giving my honest opinion. No one paid me to write this or gave me anything for free. However, I have included Amazon affiliate links within to products I would personally recommend. Read my full disclosure here.



  • Thanks for being the guinea pig. I’ll pass on this one! lol I do want to try those Stonyfield smoothies now though.

  • mindfulmomma

    Appreciate your honest opinion of this product line. I think it speaks to the fact that there is no magic solution to weight loss and fitness….and that you should be aware of the not so great ingredients in most of the stuff out there.

  • Colleen (Souffle Bombay)

    What a great in-depth honest review, thanks! I have never taken…anything. I’m a big chicken. If you had said this worked wonders…I would have been tempted by the scrutiny you gave it.

  • I love how detailed and honest your review is. There are so many products on the market that promise amazing results, but really they don’t deliver or are temporary fixes and are so bad for our bodies.

  • ish

    Its funny you dont like MLM compainies but have no problem using affilate links?

  • paigewolf

    Apples and Oranges. Also I don’t care if YOU want to work for an MLM company, I just personally do not care for the model.

  • Carolina Olinger

    I liked your review. I just ordered the Advocare Catalyst from a distributor. I will see what it does. My main issue is that I workout consistently, but I don’t eat enough. When I am stressed, I lose appetite, and I don’t want to lose lean mass. So that’s the reason I am going to try the Catalyst, not to lose weight, but to help me NOT lose lean mass. Great review!

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  • Karissa Dougherty

    I appreciate your review! Definitely helps, but I do question if you would rather use over the counter products (like omega 3 & amino acids) instead of what advocare offers? Just wanting an honest opinion before I make a commitment.

  • paigewolf

    Hi Karissa! It’s tricky: I think advocare is probably better than much of the supplements you might find at a drugstore. However, there are probably better quality for lower prices to be found online at places like luckyvitamin.com. I’m not an expert on supplements though! Do you have a consultant? I am happy to refer you to my friend who is great. Good luck in whatever path you choose!

  • KM

    Thanks for the review. I just started the challenge and am on day one. Nothing much to report. But I have a friend that did it and the weight loss was very visible after the challenge. We’ll see, but I am hopeful.

  • Victor A Danielson

    Would you mind trying Isagenix and giving a review?

  • Al Eng

    Anytime you add exercise you will lose weight. Anytime you start eating healthy you will lose weight. Anytime you combine both you will lose lots of weight. But there challenge is unrealistic. After all day 25 will come. Thansgiving will come. That cruise will come. I am on the 24 day with the wife. Sure we lost weight the first 11 days. I hope so. We were eating better. But I think the diet is unreasonable costly and you will spend a day in the kitchen trying to get ready for the week. Every 2 hours there something to do so forget about real life unless you are retird sitting home watching TV. I also think it’s to much protein on the kidneys. Just cook the food and nothing on it. Soinds good huh. How about oatmeal with nothing in it? You want to lose weight? Here is the secret. Get close. Eat vegetables fruit and lean meats and fish. Lighten up on the salt and leave out sweets for 1 day a week and workout. That’s how it’s done!

  • rach

    by far the BEST honest review of advocare…EVER!! i know 2 advisors who swear by advocare and i got suckered into buying the products because these advisors loo. Later i learn that one of them doesn’t admit to having lipo done and the other just contributes her lean figure through good genetics and popping a bunch of pills that curb her appetite. i’ve done the challenge and felt sick the whole time and even went to the ER when i took the Max Phase pills. my advisor kept trying to sell me the same stuff that got me sick! i still buy from advocare but only Spark and the meal replacement shakes. i truly agree that being conscious of what you eat and watching your portions is the biggest factor in losing weight and i think that’s what the challenge works.

  • Fran

    Thanks for your opinion and review. I tried the challenge a year ago after much hesitation. I lost 52 pounds in a year. The challenge kick start was amazing and there are products I stay on (catalyst, omega plus, and thermo), because I know they work for me. I can’t afford everything I’d like to have, but you’re right: Everyone needs to find their comfort zone and work on healthy eating and exercise. I went from a size 18 to a size 6 and was able to keep it off when I went off the product. First time ever! I do however continue to exercise and eat right. I will continue to eat healthy and exercise now that Advocare helped me get kickstarted. My diabetes is now controlled. Wow, your review was awesome. Thanks!! A person must change their eating habits and activity for a lifetime commitment, and not consider this a diet. Diets are temporary, lifestyles are forever!!!

  • Michelle Davidson

    Great review! We used Advocare for YEARS and were at the Advisor level…but the more I swapped to whole foods, the less I could justify the sucralose and artificial flavors of things. I found your blog looking for an alternative to Catalyst because we just let our membership go last year and I will say I have honestly not found anything like Catalyst. Even the NOW brand does not have the same BCAA that Catalyst does. I guess we will have to combine brands.

    There are many supplement companies that are just filler and Advocare was NOT one of them, BUT I wanted to swap to 100% food based vitamins and can do that at Whole Foods 🙂

  • paigewolf

    Hi Michelle! I would love to hear more about the difference between Catalyst and other BCAAs. What can you share? Thanks!

  • paigewolf

    That is awesome!! Good for you!

  • Michelle Davidson

    I know that Catalyst was developed for the 1993 (or 96) olympic wrestlers so they could drop weight classes but still maintain strength and muscle mass.
    What I could find comparing is that Catalyst has the normal three BCAA but also l-glutamine, L-arginine, , betaine and taurine.
    I did (literally just now) find the Now Foods BCAA Big 6 Powder that is pretty close though! That said- my hubby has been in the corporate side of MLMs so I still know that the likely hood of “just as good” supplements in retail exists for a much cheaper-ish price.
    We LOVED Catalyst and I would have kept our membership just to get it at $18 a bottle…but because we stopped using Spark and the MNS system, I started looking into just finding an alternative. I may just try the NOW brand of BCAA and add L-glutamine and L-arginine to it and skip the taurine (which is basically a jolt of energy I believe).

  • Anne

    DISSAPPOINTED!
    WARNING!
    Advocate Hospice of Naperville, Illinois:
    Do Not agree to have ANGELA a nurse of Oriental nationality to be a nurse for any patient! Her attitude is atrocious!
    She is impatient and very rude. She even took away medication from a very sick patient. She has no business working in the field of Home Care! She seems to me in this field for money and does not have any true regard nor compassion for the sick and dying!

  • Anne

    ADVOCARE OF NAPERVILLE ILLINOUS
    Warning regarding ANGELA, a nurse of Oriental descent from Palestine, Illinois. Caused problems regarding proper medical caretaking. DO NOT HIRE!

  • Lynn

    I have used and enjoyed Catalyst, but reached a point where it wasn’t doing much anymore. These are the BCAAs I use now, and am seeing and feeling better results with.. than I ever had with Catalyst. https://uniconutrition.com/shop/yumino/team/melwee.braden/
    * Coupon code MELODY will get you 15% off!

  • Tara Elizabeth Smith

    Michelle,
    You may enjoy Aminowise by Young Living. In the spirit of full disclosure, I feel that I should mention that am a distributor for Young Living, but I’m not telling you about this product because I want to sell it to you, rather, I’m telling you because I’m LOVING it! Aminowise has all 8 essential BCAAs without including any added sugars or artificial sweeteners (it does contain FOS and stevia). Now, it is more than the $18 bottle you’re used to, but it may be less than buying a brand and supplementing it with other aminos, too. Just a thought!

  • Zeul D

    Sorry but your opinions are based on pure speculation and no fact … And that makes you most likely an overweight idiot … I will stick to science and win

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