What you need to know about Advocare.
There is much to be said about any company that follows the MLM model. The truth behind it all is that any company utilizing MLM techniques is, at its core, unethical. Advocare is one such company. Even a cursory internet search on the subject of MLM will provide droves of useful info on the industry including many, many lawsuits, MLM business shut down because of unlawful practices, testimony after testimony of people who have lost friends, family, savings and now live in financial ruin. Can the individual be blamed for their failures? Sure they can. But no matter how great a person is in any business endeavor, MLM is a losing proposition. So much so that it is in fact easier to strike it rich by gambling in Las Vegas than it is to earn a reasonable living via MLM.
If you do a quick Google search, your results will contain page after page of "Advocare branded" web pages. Many of these web sites are directly set up by Advocare while many more are in place through Advocare "distributors"; people trying desperately to make a few bucks by selling their products. If you know anything about internet marketing, you know that "flooding" search results is an oft used tactic in an attempt to squeeze out traffic to competitors web sites. Advocare seems to have this area covered. So, one needs to dig a little deeper.
Before I go any further into Adovcare, I want to make it clear that not everyone involved with the company is bad or evil. In fact, the exact opposite is true. This fact is one of the reasons why pyramid operations are successful; they prey on good people. They prey on people who are honest, passionate and intelligent. Why and how do these people get involved with schemes like this? Because the promise of health, wealth and good fortune, coupled with a well crafted sales pitch, is difficult for the best of us to turn away from. After all, they make it sound so easy!
Medical Advisory Board
Much of Advocares sales pitch involves their "Medical and Science Advisory Board" with the "over 200 years of experience" contained within. Below is a list of facts about the members of their board.
Dr. Kenneth W. Goldberg, MD
Dr. Goldberg lives and works in Utah and Texas. His specialty and practice is urology. Of all of the credentials and professional accomplishments he has obtained, there is no professional mention of Advocare on his personal web resume. Dr. Goldberg also lends is name and credibility to another supplement company, "Purely 4 Heath".
Dr. Goldberg has written many articles and one of which can be found on the Advocare web site. In this article, Dr. Goldberg espouses about the benefits of eating right utilizing a proper diet consisting of whole, natural and un-processed foods. Not once did the doctor recommend the use of supplements in his article:
"The ADA points out that making big improvements in our eating habits can be much simpler and less painful than most of us imagine. Try following these simple guidelines:
Pick foods with a label that says "reduced fat" or "low fat." Revised ADA guidelines suggest that you keep fat to less than 25 to 30 percent of calories, and picking such foods will help.
Try herbs such as garlic, oregano, chives, paprika, and pepper before adding salt.
Five servings of fruits and vegetables per day will take care of your need for vitamins and minerals.
Two servings per day of lean meat, fish, or poultry will take care of your need for protein. One serving is about the size of a pack of cards.
Six to eleven servings of grain takes care of carbohydrates. One slice of bread is one serving.
Eat your five servings of fruits and vegetables, choose whole wheat bread, and have a bowl of bran cereal for breakfast, and you should be on track for fiber."
Dr. Carl I. Keen, Ph.D
Dr. Keen Lives and works in California. Again, in the listing of his professional accomplishments and affiliations, there is no professional mention of Advocare. But Dr. Keen is listed on the board of Pistachio Health and also an Advocare competitor, Herbalife.
William J. Kraemer, Ph.D.
Dr. Kraemer Lives and works in Connecticut. He owns and runs a lab producing and testing supplements, but yet again, no professional mention of Advocare. Since his lab is funded by grants, it becomes easy to see how and why he would want to get involved with companies like Advocare. By either subsidizing his labs research, or by direct payment, Dr. Kraemer is able to earn a living and keep his employees employed. Dr. Kraemer is also on the board for other supplement companies, Bommarito Performance Systems and Imagenetix. Again, these are competitors to Advocare.
Stanley J. Dudrick, M.D.
Dr. Dudrick lives and works in Connecticut. No professional mention of Advocare in any of his listed credentials. He also developed, markets and sells his own supplements - "myogence" which is Advocares "Catalyst". http://www.myogence.com/dudrick.html
Judith Smith, Pharm.D.
Lives and works in Texas. No professional mention of Advocare.
http://utmext01a.mdacc.tmc.edu/dept/pub/resrepv2.nsf/all+departments/B4FC1F8DA873CB29862576BE006CD4D0 - nothing about Advocare, nutrition or supplements.
Sidney Stohs, Ph.D
Dr. Stohs is the former Advocare Seinor Vice President of R&D. He is also a retired Dean. Outside of Advocare supplement sales, I could find very little info. on his professional career. What I did find is that he is also involved with "Purely 4 Heath". and is cited in reports supporting hydroxycut in 2010 with Dr. Keen.
Muscle Tech Inc., providers of Hydroxycut, cites, "a study done showing that people taking G. Cambodia with a diet of 2,000 calories a day and 30 minutes of exercise five days a week lost an average of ten pounds in eight weeks" (Dawns 2003). Yet, another study done by the "Journal of the American Medical Association found no difference in weight loss between people taking G. cambogia and those taking a placebo" (Dawns 2003).
Hydroxycut was pulled from the market by the FDA in 2009 –
Dr. Stohs and Dr. Keen both, sang the merits of Hydroxycut and the product they once endorsed has been pulled form the market.
Dr. Stohs is on the board for CBNS, advocating the use of certified nutritionists. - http://cbns.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/Complete-CBNS-Newsletter-July-12-2400-dpi.pdf
There is a reason why we have "Certified Nutritionists". It's for the same reasons why we trust our dentists, doctors, lawyers, plumbers etc. to help us; because there are many areas where expert advice is needed and warranted. Nutrition is one of those areas. You wouldn't trust your mechanic to perform a root canal, so why trust a sales person for nutritional advice?
Robert Hackman, Ph.D
Dr. Hackman lives and works in California. He has been with Advocare since its inception and partnered with Rangis (the founder of Advocare). He can be seen here stressing the benefit of healthy eating with whole, fresh foods.
What does all of this say about Advocares Medical Advisory Board? It shows that many of these doctors do not specialize in formulating dietary supplements. Those that do work directly in creating nutritional products do so with a very personal financial bias. If anything, they espouse the benefits of eating healthy, whole foods. It shows that they are not "on staff" and, for the most part, live in other states pursuing other endeavors.
Their roll in Advocare is small, monetarily motivated, and while the research they do may be a foundation for some of Advocares products, they have little to do with their formulation. If any of these individuals fully believe in Advocare, then they would publish it along with all of the other boards and projects they list.
One of the tactics almost every MLM utilizes is "in home" marketing; parties, mixers, presentations etc.
I'll dive right in here with some notes from an Advocare "mixer" I attended. Since the presentations given in these mixers are done by many different people across the country, the information I received may be different from what you have heard.
Friday Night Mixer Notes
During the presentation I was surprised by how much they favored supplementation over a proper, healthy diet with one of the most disturbing bits of info. being the use of Advocare muscle gainer mixed into a baby's formula.
None of the Advocare products are made for children under 4 years old. Giving ANY supplement to children under 12 should only be done when directed by a physician. A child's body is different than an adults and many of the ingredients in food supplements are untested. We have no idea what they might to do our children. I would never gamble with my child's health like that.
A few years ago, Advocare's product "KickStart Spark" was targeted to children age 4-11. It contained 60 mg of caffeine and came under severe scrutiny from pediatricians for the high dosage of this stimulant.
By giving food supplements to children we are teaching them dangerously poor eating habits; taking pills and powders over "real" food.
Caffeine was even touted as an alternative to prescription drugs for children with ADD/ADHD. While there is some evidence that this can work, it should be only administered as directed by a physician. Not by companies like Advocare that exist to sell products. There are far too many dangers in medicating our children with anything not directly prescribed by the child's personal physician.
"No high school athlete or parent should purchase supplements like protein, creatine or energy drinks without speaking to a doctor or nutritionist. Vitamin supplements are not needed for the vast majority of the U.S. population and specific deficiencies are best diagnosed and treated by a doctor". http://www.wxyz.com/dpp/news/region/wayne_county/before-you-purchase-supplements-you-need-to-educate-yourself-on-the-possible-dangers-
Catalyst - In the meeting, it was clearly stated that "Catalyst strips the body of fat." The example used was a wrestling team in Texas. Fact: there is no known product/substance known to man that has the ability to safely perform the function of removing fat from the human body. If there was, it'd be akin to finding the "fountain of youth".
The only active ingredients in Catalyst are taurine and betaine but neither of them are in large enough doses to really have any effect. Betain is used primarily to help digestion by increasing hydrochloric acid. Taurine studies using 2 -3 thousand mg per kilogram of body weight MAY help promote fat loss in the obese.
Herbal Detox – This was pushed as the "first step" and was pushed fairly hard using some pretty big claims. The fact is that studies done to show the effectiveness of detox diets have never shown anything to support the claims made by the proponents. Normally functioning kidneys and liver readily remove toxins from the body. Some detox diets can even be dangerous.
In fact, recent studies show that fasting (which goes along with detox) is counterproductive to weight loss.
Bottom line is that fasting or "cleansing" is something you should certainly avoid.
Probiotics - While not bad, aren't necessarily needed to be supplemented. A proper diet will give you all that you need.
NFL,NHL, MLB etc - Outrageous claims were made about Advocare being the only supplements allowed in pro locker rooms. All supplements used by pro athletes are screened and cleared by NSF International. Only three companies are allowed and Advocare is not one of them.
Texans "clean sweep" http://content.usatoday.com/communities/thehuddle/post/2010/10/texans-institute-clean-sweep-on-locker-room-supplements/1
The only supplement company approved for use in major league sports is EAS.
Certified for Sport - EAS and Redbull have been tested, accepted and listed. Advocare is not.
The danger of energy drinks - http://www.nsf.org/business/athletic_banned_substances/energy_drinks.pdf
"I don't see how young people in any way can benefit from these kinds of drinks," says Bruce Goldberger, a professor at the University of Florida College of Medicine who has studied energy drinks for several years. "The risks are much greater than any benefit that can be derived from their use."
Apples have lost 50% of their nutrition - This is a grossly exaggerated claim. The study, done in the U.K., was completed 20 years ago, using apples grown under very different conditions than found here in the U.S. No peer reviewed studies, or testing since, has been done/found. Nor have studies been done documenting changes in farming and the nutritional content of apples since. Furthermore, the study focused on mineral depletion and not vitamin/nutritional content. The presenter at the mixer I attended used the "nutritional deficiencies" of our foods quite often so that the benefits of using Advocare products could be made.
The use of Doctors/Nutritionist - The only people qualified to determine an individuals nutritional needs/deficiencies are certified/degreed professionals who can only make recommendations/diagnosis after invasive testing ie; blood and urine testing.
Published Studies - There are no published studies on the effectiveness AdvoCare products. Even though the company was established in 1993, no studies have been done to testify to its effectiveness in reducing weight loss or improving athletic performance. They rely completely on personal testimony which is as reliable as, "My neighbors' uncles' cousin saw a UFO, so UFO's MUST be real!"
"THE USE OF NUTRITIONAL OR DIETARY SUPPLEMENTS IS COMPLETELY AT THE ATHLETE'S OWN RISK. EVEN IF THE SUPPLEMENTS ARE "APPROVED" OR "VERIFIED".
"Bottom Line: USADA warns against taking any dietary or nutritional supplements. Athletes who take dietary or nutritional supplements, even if "approved" or "verified," do so at their own risk."
Pre-digested protein – An aspect of what makes Advocare products "the best" was pointed out in regards to the proteins they used. Pre-digested, or hydrolyzed, is often used with lesser quality protein sources, such as soy. Protein is sensitive to heat and acid which is how a lot of companies "Hydrolize" their products. The preferred method is to use enzymes. But again, if a high quality protein is used, such as whey, pre-digestion in unnecessary. The fact that Advocare claims to be the "best", but then points out that their products are hydrolyzed is incredibly contradictory. This is just another example of the sales tactics they employ to win people over.
Professional and celebrity endorsements are used quite heavily as a way to gain trust. I have heard many times that these sponsors are not paid and support Advocare because of the great products they make. While I did not dig into the endorsement side of Advocare, I did stumble upon the contradiction of the claim, "unpaid endorsers" with one of their most notable endorser, Drew Brees.
While Advocare may not pay Drew Brees directly, they supply him and his family with all of the product they want. Advocare is also a contributor to the "Drew Brees Foundation. The biggest contradiction to the "unpaid endorser" claim can be found on Drew Brees personal website. Here he lists all of the financial sponsors who support him. Advocare is on that list.
"AdvoCare supports the Drew Brees Foundation, started by Drew and his wife Brittany and participated in the "The Amazing Race" event in New Orleans presented by the foundation."
Drew Brees paid to endorse Advocare, among others; http://www.drewbrees.com/disclaimer http://blogs.forbes.com/jeffbercovici/2010/12/23/drew-brees-toes-ftcs-line-on-twitter-endorsements/
About the company itself
AdvoCare International, L.P. is a nutrition, weight-loss and skin-care company founded by Charles Ragus. Ragus, joining Herbalife in 1983, become one of the company's top distributors. In 1989, he founded a company called Omnitron. Wade v Omnitrition became a landmark case in the legalities of running a MLN. This lawsuit shut down Omnitrition. Ragus came back in 1993 and created AdvoCare International.
Advocare employs around 247 people in the United States and claimed net sales of fewer than 100 million in 2009. Its corporate headquarters are in Carrollton, TX.
The company distributes its products in the United States through a network of approximately 50,000 independent distributors, some of whom earn profit on product sales and additional commission from a multi-level marketing (MLM) compensation structure. The company slogan is, "We Build Champions."
Advocare had 5 presidents/managers from 2001 - 2007
Charles Ragus died on June 1, 2001 at the age 58.
Todd Cash - fired February 2005
Lance Wimmer fired after 4 months
Bob Ulrich 2005 - May 2007
In May 2007, Richard H. Wright joined AdvoCare as President and CEO.
AdvoCare is an active member of the Direct Selling Association (DSA). The company was a DSA Award recipient in 2002 for the DebtBusterÂ® System in 2008 for the AdvoBus program, and was a participant in the 2010 DSA Code of Ethics Communication Initiative.
The DSA is an organization for MLM companies, founded and supported by MLM companies. It's kind of like the fox guarding the hen house.
Olympic swimmer, Jessica Hardy, was notified on July 23, 2008 that her blood tests tested positive for clenbuterol. Hardy has claimed innocence and said she has never even heard of clenbuterol, attributing her positive drug result to either a tainted nutritional supplement or sabotage. Hardy was taking AdvoCare supplements at the time and sued AdvoCare for supplying tainted supplements; AdvoCare countersued for making false claims. AdvoCare disputed the findings of the arbitration hearing, which found that the supplements were contaminated, and reduced Hardy's suspension.
Income Disclosure statement
Advocare is quick to sell you on the business aspect of signing on as a distributor. One of the biggest carrots that they dangle in front of you is financial freedom the amount of money you can make. What they are less likely to tell you are what the odds are against you in being successful. Or, the actual average income Advocare distributors make. Why? Because the failure rate of distributors is around 95%. A person has a better chance of winning money by gambling in Las Vegas.
The average annual income of a "Gold Level" distributor is $36,849; before expenses. On average, it takes a person about 2 years to get there and out of all of the distributors under Advocares umbrella, only 2% reach this level. The averages for the next level up, "Gold 3 Star", is $40,516 per year before expenses and only .44% (less than one half of one percent!) of distributors are at this level. And these numbers only represent those that have earned a check from Advocare. The link below shows the actual Advocare Income disclosure statement.
99.1% of all people lost money with Advocare
Consider this quote from Advocare"˜s Policy and Procedures manual regarding its compensation plan: "You may choose any method you like to achieve Advisor status. These examples point out the practical reasons you always want to track your volume if you think you"˜re close to qualifying Advisor status and if necessary, cover the $500 Personal Volume with your own purchases."
AdvoCare has been named in 11 ephedra-related lawsuits
Advocare lost lawsuit in November 2010
Page# 4,5,6 - statement of facts partially reads as follows:
"The rule of following the money to understand causation is readily apparent: Mark Leitgeb, one of 2 Million Dollar Men (see infra), profited from 5 of the 6 terminations, Diane McDaniel, the wife of Danny McDaniel, the other Million Dollar Man, profited from 3, and Advocare itself profited from 3.
Danny McDaniel claimed that he saw no conflict of interest in terminating 3 of his best friends and former football heros when their earnings then flowed up to his wife, because he had been instructed ("convicted") to do so by the Lord. McDaniel 8RR 222-227"
The above quote is taken directly from court records.
"Jury Awards Million Dollar Verdict Against Advocare
Dallas Jury Returns $1.9 Million Verdict Against Nutritional Supplement Provider AdvoCare. A Dallas jury has awarded a $1.9 million verdict against AdvoCare International L.P., a Carrollton, Texas-based multi-level marketer and supplier of nutritional supplements and skincare products. Following a two-week trial in Dallas County's 191st District Court, jurors found that the company violated the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act by engaging in an unconscionable action by canceling agreements with distributors Bruce and Teresa Badgett of Arlington. 2009"
AdvoCare Disputes Drug Test Ruling
"AdvoCare International is disputing an arbitration panel's finding that a contaminated AdvoCare dietary supplement caused swimmer Jessica Hardy to test positive for a banned performance enhancing substance.
With its decision Monday, the panel shortened Hardy's competition ban to one year, from two. Carrollton-based AdvoCare said Tuesday in a statement that the panel's finding "is in direct conflict" with "independent" testing that showed Hardy's supplements to be free of contaminants. Also, the company said, the arbitration process was "severely flawed," in part because AdvoCare was not allowed to participate or even attend.
Howard Jacobs, Hardy's attorney, said in a statement that the arbitrators were correct in not allowing AdvoCare into the process and that the scientific evidence presented by his client at the hearing "was fully vetted through vigorous cross-examination."
According to a copy of the arbitration panel's report posted on the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency's Web site, "miniscule quantities" of clenbuterol, a banned substance, were found in one of the AdvoCare supplements, Arginine Extreme. Supplements from the same lots Hardy used were tested at the swimmer's request."
"The top court in sports ruled in Hardy's favor Friday, siding with her claim that a contaminated supplement was to blame and rejecting an appeal by the World Anti-Doping Agency to extend her suspension for another year." 5/21/2010
Another one of Advocares sales tactics is to emphasize the testing done by "Informed-Choice", an independent laboratory. Informed-choice tests products for the presence of banned substances so that the users of said products can be sure that there are no banned substances.
What Informed-choice does NOT test for is the efficacy of a product or the quality of its ingredients.
Even though a company and/or product has earned the "Informed-Choice" seal of approval, that doesn't mean that the company is "top notch". All American Pharmaceuticals has been give the Informed-choice stamp of approval, yet they were reprimanded by the FDA for improper manufacturing/warehousing practices.
FDA reprimand 1/14/11
FDA code enforcement
Does Advocare make a "bad" product? No, they don't. What they produce is just as good as almost any other supplement on store shelves right now. There is nothing great, special or unique about what they sell when compared with other brands on the market. Brands that cost much less and without the many lies or hype needed to get you to purchase them.
Is Advocare a "good" company? You need to let your own moral compass make that decision. For me, the fact that their distributors torture the truth and outright lie (whether it's on purpose or done out of ignorance) is more than enough for me to recommend that everyone should steer clear.
When I throw in the realities of what multi level marketing is and how it thrives on the failure of those at the bottom, I don't understand how anyone would want to be a part of this monster.
There is no MLM company that has been categorically shown to be a legitimate, profitable opportunity for its participants.
More Review Details
- Review category
- Weight Loss, Diets and Training