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Herbalife & Forever Living: A Critical View

Unlike many fitness professionals, I have no big issue with shake-based weight loss programmes in terms of health. Yes they might be full of dodgy ingredients but no more so than anything else that most people eat (fast food, alcohol, processed junk, other supplements etc) so why pick on them for that, unless it’s just another way to have a dig at something you don’t like!? Whether it’s politics, sport, fitness, whatever – I have no agenda other than to cut through the nonsense. I have no allegiance with anything or to anyone, other than to try to be reasonable in my assessment of what’s going on around me. This is more for my benefit than anyone else’s. 

Instead, the issues I have with the likes or Herbalife and Forever Living are not so much to do with the product, they are with the people who sell the products, particularly:

– Their lack of understanding about the subject they are talking about (weight loss).

– Their failure to understand the difference between correlation and causation.

– Their underlying motivation, which is money, not health.

If they said:

“Look, we can’t say this to our customers but the main part of the plan is the calorie restriction. We provide a shake that we think will help people to achieve that and we recommend our particular shake because it tastes really nice and it’s got some decent ingredients” 

…I’d have a lot more respect for them.

If they said:

“It’s just a shake and some other supplements for which we don’t really have any scientific evidence for their efficacy, other than placebo, but the placebo effect is very powerful and it does play a huge part in helping our customers to lose weight”

…I’d be staggered!

If they said:

We know it’s unsustainable but signing up helps people to make a commitment and gives them instant results to kick start them so they can wean themselves on to a better, more sustainable way of eating”

…I’d be going woah – some critical thinking here! 😮

If they said:

“Yes it is just another shake and people don’t necessarily have to buy our shakes to get the weight loss effects of a very low calorie diet. There are no miracle ingredients, it’s just part of a package that we offer and we think it can help because we have a decent support community and the fact that they are paying quite a lot of money will help them stick to it initially”

…I’d probably fall over on the spot.

Or, what if they actually said:

“Our customers drop loads of weight in the first week, but that’s due to the low-carb diet we tell them to follow so the weight loss is more or less all water to begin with but that gives them a boost. We don’t tell them that because that gives them enough time to start telling their friends how good it is when they first see the scale loss so gets us some social media shares” 👌.

…Now you’re talking!

Would they ever say?:

After the first couple of weeks people tend to stall because we’ve already got them to sign up on the basis that any success is down to the efficacy of the shake, rather than the calorie restriction (after all we need them to keep buying our products don’t we!).

So,  eventually they go back to their own way of eating, thinking that the shake is doing the job, when it’s not doing anything other than helping them to create a calorie restriction but it’s only a small restriction so eventually they make up those calories in other ways because they think they can get away with it as the shake is magic”.

… well wouldn’t that be insightful of them. Ain’t going to happen, though 😂

And just imagine if they said:

“Fuck ’em, we’re getting paid and I’m almost in the President’s Club with a shout of a holiday to Tahiti”

…OK, maybe I’m asking just a bit too much with that last one 😂 and I don’t actually think that’s true for the majority of people who sell these products.

I don’t think they are intentionally ripping people off. I just think they are misguided, don’t understand it and are cajoled and manipulated by other people higher up who also don’t understand the science but are awesome at sales.

So if anyone tries to sell you the Forever Living Clean 9 🙄 plan, ask them why you can’t just follow the nutritional guidelines without buying their products as there is no good evidence to support the use of aloe and garcinia within a low calorie diet – the calorie restriction alone is enough.

The only benefits of buying Clean 9 etc are:

1: You’ve paid for it, so it’s an incentive to stick to the low calorie diet

2: The placebo-effect of taking the supplements may help to ameliorate feelings of hunger.

3: The ready-packaged meal replacement shake is easy and saves you having to research a cheaper and better alternative (although the idea that you should drink your calories, when you’re eating so few of them is clearly unsustainable for most people). 

Want to do a crash diet? Fine. Do it! It CAN work if you do it right! You’ll lose weight and it might even be the catalyst for a healthier lifestyle, but don’t pay someone £100 for some shitty weight loss products because the purported benefits of these ridiculous products have no more scientific basis than me putting my grandma’s false teeth in the bread bin and then hoping to find a KitKat on the neighbour’s roof as a result of doing so…it’s complete and total bollocks!!!

Finally, check out the recruitment advertising – nothing about health, all about wealth! I’ve never once said to our clients that I can make them rich. That’s not what we do!

I say it all the time but our job at Reach is not to motivate – if we do that as a byproduct of the environment we’ve created then that’s wonderful but that’s not our main goal. 

As naff as it sounds our job is to educate!We try to cut through all the nonsense in this industry and tell it like it is so that our clients are armed with knowledge, insight and understanding that will help them achieve their goals. 

That’s one of the reasons we get RESULTS!

Dan Sroda
Personal Trainer at Reach Personal Training
Dan Sroda is a Personal Trainer based in Birstall, serving Leeds and Bradford.

As the owner and lead trainer at Reach Personal Training, I am responsible for the philosophy of the business and overseeing client programmes.

My mission is for Reach Personal Training to be synonymous with a long-term, real-life approach to health and fitness. We help our clients to integrate health and fitness into their busy lives. We don't do fads. We don't do crash diets. We do "Fitness For Life".

I have a family. I’ve always worked (and not always in the fitness industry). I have housework and shopping to do. I have a REAL life. So I know what it takes to balance a real life with a sustainable approach to health and fitness.

If I can do it then anyone else can too. All you need is the desire to make eating healthily and keeping fit a priority in your life. An hour a day, thirty minutes a day, even fifteen minutes a day of exercise, supported with a healthy diet based on whole foods, is all it takes to make steady long-term progress towards looking and feeling fantastic.

I have a few simple values upon which I have built Reach Personal Training. Only personal trainers who share these values will be part of our team.

- Friendliness. Just be a genuinely nice person, it's dead simple and it's the best way to live. Smile as much as possible and try to see the best in every situation.

- No fads. No pseudoscience. My background in academia makes me question everything. There is so much nonsense in the fitness industry, mainly because some people are in it to make money so they'll believe anything and questioning it will mean they can't believe in the product. We are different. We do what works. We use science to create our programmes and we never put profit over effectiveness. You will NEVER find Herbalife or Forever Living in our studio!


The Reach Personal Training approach to health and fitness is no-nonsense but fun, friendly and motivating. We don’t do short-cuts or fad diets. Our FAT LOSS and BODY TONING training programmes are based on science and common-sense and they get long-lasting results.

If you hate the thought of drifting aimlessly from machine to machine around a commercial gym, with Jeremy Kyle on the TV, then get in touch today to enquire about our Private Personal Training & Group PT packages


Unit 9, Carr Mills, Business Park, 919 Bradford Rd, Birstall, Batley WF17 9JY