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Lindsay Lo Proto
ADVOCARE: Is it an effective and healthy weight management and fitness program?
What is the purpose of this treatment?
The AdvoCare program is a Metabolic Nutrition System (MNS) that, “combines an essential mix of ingredients and phytochemical herbs to increase energy levels and enhance your body’s ability to burn off excess body fat” (www.easy-weight-loss-diets.com/advocare_diet.htm ). The Metabolic Nutrition System (MNS) provides, “vital nutrients as well as supports for sustaining a healthy weight” (www.chasefreedom.com/advocare2.html ).
What is the rationale?
“Most people don’t eat an ideal diet day-in and day-out…Others simply can’t eat enough to meet their body’s high demands for peak performance vitamins, minerals, and health-promoting phytochemicals. MNS is designed to deliver the optimal amount of nutritional ingredients to your body so that your personal biochemistry can achieve peak
performance” ( www.chasefreedom.com/advocare2.html ). The program consists of three main products, each targeting specific needs such as appetite suppression, MNS gold, optimum nutrition , MNS yellow, and abundant energy, MNS orange (www.easy-weight-loss-diets.com/advocare_diet.htm ). The program is chaired by “Robert Hackman, Ph. D., of University of California at Davis”, he, “confirms that AdvoCare has a unique unparalleled commitment to producing world class products. He travels the world to obtain premier herbs and natural phytochemicals” which are approved by AdvoCare’s own Scientific and Medical Advisory Board as both healthy and effective (www.advocare.com/content/science_home.jsp?type=science ).
What claims are made about the effectiveness of the treatment?
Not only does AdvoCare have its own Scientific and Medical Advisory Board consisting of nine men and women certified in vast areas of science and health to back the effectiveness of the programs, but a number of world class endorsers. The product is used on the collegiate level by universities such as Alabama, University of Georgia, Auburn, and Texas A&M. The product has also been endorsed by professional athletes such as Tennessee’s own quarterback Steve McNair, 2002 Diamondbacks All-Star
infielder Junior Spivey, and hockey’s all time leading scorer Mike Modano of the Dallas Stars (http://www.advocare.com/content/servlet/AdvoWebServlet?type=endorser ). In addition, AdvoCare’s Sports Advisory Council of strength and conditioning coaches from fields as diverse as football, baseball, motor sports and others ensure Advocare products promote the competitive edge” ( http://www.advocare.com/content/servlet/AdcoWebServlet?type=endorser).
What evidence if any is offered in support of these claims? Who is presenting this evidence and why?
The chair of the Science and Medical Advisory Board, Robert Hackman Ph. D., states, “We don’t throw a dash of some ingredient so insignificant that it can’t yield any desirable or lasting effects. If something is listed on our labels, rest assured it’s enough quantity to actually have a positive effect on you” (www.advocare.com/content/science_home.jsp?type=science ). The evidence offered is the scientific opinions of AdvoCare’s Science and Medical Advisory Board and Advocare’s Sports Advisory Council of Strength and Conditioning assuring the “cutting-edge nutritional supplements for weight management, wellness, and sports Performance” these experts, “stake their reputations on the quality performance off these elite nutrition products ( www.advocare.com/content/servlet/AdvoWebServlet?type=products ). AdvoCare also presents an impressive four page list of world class athletes who are not only endorsers but users of the programs. The reasons for the two medical councils presenting such evidence can be viewed as an economic one, since both of the Boards work for the program. The athletes and universities could be endorsing the program because it really works, or for publicity or monetary issues.
There are no published studies on the effectiveness AdvoCare. The program was established in 1993, yet no studies have been done to testify to its effectiveness in reducing weight loss or improving athletic performance.
The AdvoCare website makes the list of ingredients of its products readily available (www.advocare.com/content/servlet/AdvoWebServlet?cmd=nutrifacts ). While researching some of the ingredients two were proven by different scientific reviews as either ineffective and possibly having some adverse effects. The first ingredient brought into question is chitosan. Chitosan is, “derived from shellfish” and is the, “so-called active ingredient …that promises to absorb fat before the body does…” ( Zyla 2000). A select few studies “initially suggested that chitosan might be able to trim fat, these studies were ‘small, not well-controlled, conducted in test tubes, and not published in peer-review journals’ says George Blackburn, MD, PhD, director of the Center for study of Nutrition and Medicine at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. ‘I’ve seen no data that proved it boosts weight loss in humans’ he insists” (Zyla 2000). Also
another study done in the May 1999 issue of the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, “showed that overweight people who took eight capsules every day for four weeks didn’t loses- or gain- any more weight than those who took placebo pills” (Zyla 2000). The ineffectiveness of chitosan has been proven many times, but what’s more is, “some experts fear that chitosan may bind nutrients such as Vitamin A, D, E, and K, which are chemically similar to fat, and prevent them from being absorbed” (Zyla 2000). Thus, chitosan is at best ineffective and at worst harmful by removing vital vitamins your body needs. The second ingredient that experts have expressed some concern about is Garcinia Cambogia which is an herbal extract. 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).Yet the effects of G. cambogia are still necessary to clarify its effects on humans and weight loss. Thus the effectiveness of G. cambogia is yet to be determined, but as of now there are no harmful side-effects.
Although there are no studies proving the program is detrimental to health that does not mean the program is safe and effective. There are also no studies proving its effectiveness either. Also, most of AdvoCare’s endorsers are members of the company. The only non-company affiliated endorsers are well-known athletes and coaches and their testimonials could also be economically motivated. I feel that there is not enough research to prove the product healthy and effective, and a few of the ingredients are still being questioned in the medical field. Thus the overall lack of scientific evidence leaves me too skeptical to be able to take AdvoCare without the doubt of adverse effects if any at all.
Dawns, M. (2003). Safety of Ephedrine- Containing Xenadrine for Weight Loss Questioned. WebMD, 1-2.
Zyla, G. (2000). Do Fat-Reducing Pills Work? Healtheon/WebMD, 1-2.
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