What Is the Isagenix Diet?

In This Article

The Isagenix diet is a supplement plan that promotes weight loss. The program includes cleanses, shakes, bars, and pills that claim to naturally "detoxify" and help you burn fat. The creators say Isagenix offers science-backed supplements that work. They make health claims that sound great, but are they true?

What Experts Say

"Individuals on the Isagenix diet predominately eat highly processed meal replacement shakes and cleanses. These can contribute to excessive added sugar intake, and don’t teach long-term meal planning skills. Experts agree this is not the path to sustainable weight loss."
Chrissy Carroll, RD, MPH

Background

The Isagenix program was founded in 2002 and is a multi-level marketing company. This means the company offers money to consumers to sell their products and once you become a distributor, you recruit additional salespeople to make a profit. You also make money through direct sales to customers. In other words, the company is based on a pyramid selling strategy.

How It Works

The company's vision, according to the its website, is to impact world health and free people from physical and financial pain. Isagenix uses caloric restriction and intermittent fasting—which have been shown to promote weight loss—but its methods and products remain questionable. Any restrictive diet will cause weight loss because you’re creating a caloric deficit. It doesn’t matter if the calories are coming from whole foods or meal replacement shakes.

The Isagenix 30-Day System is one of the company's primary products. It’s marketed as a cleansing and fat-burning starter program that can be used long-term for healthy weight loss. It costs about $379 per month and includes meal-replacements shakes and supplements said to help with "cleansing" and weight loss. These include an Isagenix fat burner capsule called a Natural Accelerator and an Isaflush laxative capsule used for cleansing. According to the company, the cleanse days are meant to flush your body of toxins and are a form of intermittent fasting.

What to Eat

The only guideline for the one regular meal to be eaten on shake days is that it consist of 400 to 600 calories. The Isagenix 30-Day System bundle contains shakes, cleanses, snacks, fat burners, and other items that claim to help achieve and maintain weight loss results.

  • Isalean Shakes: Meal replacement drink containing a blend of whey and casein (milk) protein. It also includes vitamins, minerals, sugar, and other additives. Each shake is approximately 240 calories per serving, 23 grams protein, 27 grams carbohydrates, 5 grams fat, and 16 grams of sugar.
  • Cleanse For Life Drink: A blend of aloe vera, herbs, some B vitamins, and sugar promoted as a fundamental component during cleanse days. The drink claims to support detoxification, metabolism, and immune systems. 
  • Ionix Supreme: A liquid blend of herbs, vitamins, and sugars marketed as a tonic with adaptogens for improved energy, stamina, and mental performance.
  • Isagenix Snacks: Small chewable wafers that contain sugar, a protein blend, electrolytes, and other ingredients. 
  • IsaFlush: Capsules containing magnesium as a laxative and primary active ingredient along with an herbal and mineral blend. The product claims to balance your digestive system and improve nutrient absorption. 
  • Natural Accelerator: Fat burning capsules containing green tea as the primary active ingredient. The blend of vitamins and herbs claims to boost metabolism for improved fat burning.
  • AMPED Hydrate Sticks: Vitamins, minerals, electrolytes, and sugar in powder form ready to mix in water. It’s advertised as a sports drink to stay hydrated and refreshed during your workout.

Recommended Timing

The 30-Day System consists of five shake days and two cleanse days per week. On shake days, users replace two meals with an Isagenix shake (240–280 calories).

On cleanse days, instead of using shakes or eating a meal, users consume four small servings of the Isagenix Cleanse for Life drink, along with a tiny amount of suggested fruits and Isagenix-approved snacks.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Limits calories and provides portion control

  • Convenience of pre-packaged food

  • Saves time and accommodates busy lifestyles

  • Variety of supplement programs 

Cons

  • Highly processed, containing lots of sugar and additives

  • Not a replacement for nutrients from whole foods

  • Doesn’t teach how to eat real food as a healthy lifestyle

  • Very expensive

  • Biased research

  • Restrictive

Pros

Portion Control

Isagenix does offer a structured program that limits calories and provides portion control. This could be considered a plus for those who struggle with overeating and portion sizes.

Convenience

The convenience of pre-packaged food products delivered to your doorstep is another benefit for dieters using Isagenix. Skipping meals does save time.

Variety

Isagenix offers a variety of supplement programs based on specific goals. Some of their plans include supplements for performance, healthy aging, and personal care.

This convenience can be appealing. And you may even lose weight with Isagenix, but not in a healthy way, according to nutrition experts.

Cons

Processed Foods

The Isagenix diet is not real food. The products are highly processed, containing lots of sugar and additives.

Missing Nutrients

The Isagenix diet attempts to make up for a lack of real food nutrients in the weight loss program by loading its products with herbal blends, vitamins, and minerals. According to nutrition experts, there is no replacement for nutrients that come from consuming whole foods.

Isagenix also uses a multi-level marketing strategy where distributors not only sell the products but provide nutritional counseling. Most of these distributors lack nutrition and/or medical education.

Not Sustainable

The 30-Day System doesn’t teach you how to eat real food as a healthy lifestyle. Once you have completed the diet, you are left without nutrition education for sustainable weight loss in the future.

Expensive

The 30-Day Diet System is very expensive, clocking in at over $300 for all the monthly supplies. That's more than $10 a day for an extremely low number of calories.

Biased Research

Isagenix makes scientific claims that its product is an effective and healthy way to lose weight. The program also claims to flush out toxins, support whole body cleansing, and eliminate fat. The website also includes a disclaimer stating these claims are not evaluated or supported by the FDA.

Research has been conducted on calorie restriction and intermittent fasting, but Isagenix makes reference only to select studies that support its products and weight loss philosophy. The company does not disclose that it has funded the research or that some of its affiliates are part of the research panel. Regardless of Isagenix using intermittent fasting and calorie restriction as part of its weight loss plan, the program itself lacks sufficient research to support the company's claims.

Restrictive

The Isagenix 30-Day System falls way below the average daily recommended calories for healthy weight loss. Shake days can range between 1160 to 1500 calories and only a few hundred calories on cleanse days.

Restricting too many calories can work against you. Your body recognizes the need for calories or energy to run efficiently. Without sufficient calories, the body shifts into survival mode by slowing metabolism to preserve fat stores to be used as energy in the future. This eventually leads to the inability to lose weight, frustration, and yo-yo dieting.

Restrictive diets like the Isagenix program set people up for failure because you’re not eating real food. Instead, you are consuming diet shakes and supplements as your main nutrition. This is not realistic or sustainable long-term. Studies show that approximately 95 percent of dieters regain their weight plus more from diets like Isagenix.

How It Compares

The Isagenix 30-Day Diet System incorporates some weight-loss methods that are similar to other diets. But it also has some important differences and drawbacks.

USDA Recommendations

Food Groups

The USDA suggests a healthy daily balance of fruits, vegetables, protein, dairy products, and grains. Those on the Isagenix system only eat one meal a day (none on cleanse days), so it is nearly impossible to consume enough nutrients sourced from real food.

Calories

Your body requires a certain amount of calories for healthy weight loss. On average, the USDA says women should consume about 1500 calories daily to lose one pound per week. Men should consume about 2000 calories daily for the same result. Isagenix users will have difficulty reaching the 1500-calorie mark on shake days, and will consume far fewer than that on cleanse days. To learn your individual calorie needs, use this calculator instead.

Similar Diets

Elements of the Isagenix diet echo some other weight-loss plans. Here's how they compare.

Isagenix Diet

  • Nutrition: This diet replaces most meals with shakes and other supplements. While it's OK to get some of your nutrients from supplements, overall it is much better to get them through food.
  • Safety: This diet provides neither the nutrients nor the calories most people need to be healthy. Plus, supplements, including Isagenix diet products, are not regulated by the FDA. This means there is no guarantee of the purity, safety, and effectiveness of the product.
  • Flexibility: The only flexibility in the 30-Day Diet System is in what to eat for the one "real meal" users get each day (and even that is limited to no more than 600 calories).
  • Sustainability: The Isagenix diet doesn’t teach lasting change. It doesn't help users develop healthy eating strategies that are sustainable (beyond continuing to buy and use the diet products).
  • Cost: Expensive (more than $300 per month)

Very Low-Calorie Diet

  • Nutrition: As with Isagenix, a very low-calorie diet consists of meal replacements (usually liquids). The biggest difference is that these are prescribed by physicians, and participants are supervised to make sure their nutritional needs are met.
  • Safety: This kind of diet is safe because it is undertaken only with a doctor's guidance.
  • Flexibility: Like Isagenix, this diet is not flexible. Users consume only the prescribed meal replacements and no other food.
  • Sustainability: These diets are a short-term solution for obese patients. They are not meant to be used long-term, and maintenance can be difficult.
  • Cost: Expensive—perhaps as much as $500 a month including doctors' visits. Sometimes health insurance covers part of the cost.

Low-Calorie Diet

  • Nutrition: This is a broad term for any diet that limits calories to about 1000 to 1500 per day. While it doesn't have specific rules for the makeup of those calories, it's possible to eat a balanced diet under this plan, since no food groups or specific foods are omitted.
  • Safety: It's challenging to get enough nutrients and fuel for your body when restricting calories. But this style of eating could be safe if carefully planned and, ideally, supervised by a medical professional.
  • Flexibility: Since a low-calorie diet doesn't have a lot of rules, it can be flexible. But users still need to focus on nutrient-dense foods.
  • Sustainability: Since followers of this diet eat real food, not replacements, it is a more sustainable way to eat. It's still difficult to adhere to this level of calorie restriction, though.
  • Cost: Moderate—just the cost of healthy food, and perhaps a few sessions with a nutritionist.

Intermittent Fasting

  • Nutrition: Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern where you cycle between eating and fasting (not eating), similar to the Isagenix shake days and cleanse days.
  • Safety: If fasting is limited (say to two days a week), this diet can be safe, as long as those following it are getting plenty of nutrients on the days they are eating. Intermittent fasting is not safe for kids and teens, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, or people with a history of disordered eating. It might also be unsafe for people with heart disease or diabetes.
  • Flexibility: There's plenty of freedom to eat what you like on non-fasting days.
  • Sustainability: Because of that freedom and the way calorie restriction is limited to only a few days per week, users might find it easier to adhere to this eating plan for a longer time.
  • Cost: No additional costs

A Word From Verywell

Losing weight can be frustrating and feel like a struggle. When results don’t happen fast enough, it causes many people to consider using diet products to speed up the process. But studies show restrictive diets like Isagenix don’t work and aren’t the best choice for healthy weight loss. Weight is initially lost, quickly. But it's regained plus more in 95 percent of people who try these diets.

Isagenix products can’t take the place of nutrients from real food, nor does the program teach lasting change. The best and proven method for weight loss is building lifelong healthy eating habits by consuming a variety of nutrient-rich whole foods. Never start a restrictive or low-calorie diet without first discussing your concerns and plans with your physician.

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