Herbalife and Amway are both similar brands who both sell the ever popular weight loss meal replacement shakes. Herbalife sells Formula 1 whereas Amway has its own version in Nutrilite Bodykey.
I reviewed both of them in previous posts. My findings might not be what you expected. In all honesty these shakes don’t quite reach my strict nutrition standards. Let’s explore below to see why.
I’ll look at how they compare when it comes to protein, sugar levels, cost and overall health benefit. I’ll also look at more the background of these companies.
At the end I reveal my favourite alternative that blows these two out the water. If your in a rush I recommend Orgain from Amazon.
For now, let’s put our comparison glasses on.
My Secret Findings?
Herbalife and Amway are both very similar businesses. Both are huge multi million dollar companies who dominate the market when it comes to health products.
This is what makes this review all the more revealing! Just because they have lots of money and are global companies does not mean their business strategy is 100% in the consumer interest.
My big find is that Herbalife and Amway are both network marketing businesses (multi level marketing). This simply means that they allow anyone to sign up and start selling their products for a commission. Where the “multi level” bit comes in is if you hire your friends to also start promoting the product and they start making sales you also get a piece of their commission.
Both companies have a “business opportunity” and “start a business” section where you can sign up to become a distributor.
How is this a concern?
One of the main issues with the business models of Amway and Herbalife is multi level marketing companies focus primarily on growing the number of affiliates instead of investing in a quality product.
The approach is not product focused.
Some companies have a product lead focus where improving the product is core to growing the business. These include clean brands like Huel, Orgain and Garden of Life. They are companies that are not as big but are very product and consumer focused.
However, with MLM’s the key to growing the business is recruiting as many people as possible to sell the product.
Essentially, mlm’s are not officially supplement businesses. They are primarily mlms that happen to sell supplements. Supplements and their health products come secondary. All they need is a half decent product that can be sold like crazy. There may be nothing unique or advantageous about the product.
I’m now very quick to spot mlm type businesses and am alway extra cautious when it comes to buying from them. They just all seem to have this clinical, hospital look to their pages.
Points of Comparison: Hidden Ingredients?
Herbalife contains Linoleic acid
Comparing both nutritional labels, I noticed Herbalife contained 3.9g of Linoleic acid whereas Body Key contained none. The reason I picked this ingredient is I have never seen this ingredient in other shakes I have reviewed.
This got me wondering…is this stuff any good?
Linoleic acid is a “poly unsaturated” fatty acid found in plant oils. It is a essential ingredient for human growth and development.
Example foods that contain linoleic acid are walnuts, flaxseed and flaxseed oil, tofu and pumpkin seeds to name a few.
Some of the benefits of linoleic acid are as follows
- Anti inflammatory
- Helps burn fat,
- Omega 6 for good brain function
Bottom line: Linoleic acid in safe amounts is fine to consume.
Both have gums and thickening agents..
Many shakes contain gums and thickening agents to help add volume to a mixture. For example, you can find many shakes with xanthum gum and various emulsifiers. Bodykey and Formula 1 are no exception. I noticed the use of xanthum gum in both Bodykey and Formula 1.
Xanthum gum is a plant based, gluten free fiber that is commonly found in many meal replacements.
They are generally thought of to be safe but only in very low amounts. Xanthum gum is a plant based, gluten free fiber that is commonly found in many meal replacements.
According to Webmd anything less than 15g of xanthum gum is fine to use. The amounts in meal replacement shakes are ever so small that they should not really cause a problem.
Herbalife Formula 1 and Bodykey both have a good number of vitamins and minerals
Vitamins range from A,B,C,D, E to minerals like chloride, magnesium, and zinc to name a few. Any meal replacement has got to contain vitamins and minerals so its great that both these shakes have a good amount.
Do not contain probiotics
I noticed that some meal replacements like Garden of Life have probiotics. Unfortunately, both Body Key and Formula1 do not contain any probiotics. Probiotics help produce a healthy level of gut bacteria and can also prevent the production of harmful gut bacteria.
Natural foods that contain probiotics include kombucha, yogurt and kefir.
Although not entirely necessary in a meal replacement shake, having probiotics would be a nice addition to Bodykey and Herbalife Formula 1.
Herbalife contains good or bad sugar?
I have hawked about this in my other reviews of Herbalife but the sugar content is too much! At 26g for the free from meal replacement and 33g for formula 1 its filled with sugar. One serving works out to 19 grams for free from and 1 serving for formula 1 works out to around 30g.
What’s worrying is the sugar content comes from fructose. Fructose is a sugar naturally found in fruits. Nonetheless, it still can said to have some negative benefits.
For example, being an auto-immune disease sufferer doing any damage to my liver is always a concern. Especially over time in which you would be consuming high amounts of sugar for month maybe months at a time.
Fructose, according to health line, has been linked to chronic diseases.
It’s important to note that fructose from whole foods is healthy. Fructose is naturally found in fruits. However, we do not know where the fructose in Herbalife has come from. Likely from added sugars which is not as healthy.
As with anything there is evidence supporting and going against the use of fructose.
Personally, I would prefer to avoid it especially because Herbalife contains high amounts (over 30 grams). Sugar content at the very most needs to be below 5g. This is twice the level I feel comfortable with.
Honey powder is another ingredient in Herbalife that contributes to the sugar content. I’m not sure how they developed or manufactured the honey powder but I doubt it’s entirely natural and right from the bee-hive.
Having said this honey powder is one of the better forms of sweetener. This is because number one it tastes good and is a safe sugar alternative. It is also a natural sugar that has a long shelf life and can have preserving food properties. This probably explains why honey powder is frequently used in baking products.
Nonetheless, honey powder is combined with fructose to give a sweetened taste. This means its not 100% pure honey. Very rarely do you find a shake with 100% pure honey. I believe this is done to create the best tasting sweetness.
Summary: Honey powder is safe to use, however, Fructose is not the healthiest sugar source. Likewise, the fact Herbalife contains over 30 grams of sugar in one shake is a crazy amount and very unhealthy.
Bodykey by Nutrilite also contains Fructose?
Just like Herbalife Formula 1, Bodykey by Nutrilite also contains fructose as a sugar source.
However where Body Key is different is that it also contains stevia leaf extract and sucralose. I’m unsure just how much of stevia and sucralose is included as the nutritional label does not say.
Nonetheless, I am more comfortable eating stevia over fructose considering it’s a natural plant based sugar unlike sucralose which is artificial. Consequently, its annoying they have both sweeteners in their shake. I would of much preferred if they just stuck to stevia.
Despite being artificial, the level of sucralose is said to have little to no effect on blood sugar levels. However, this does depend on the amount of times you have had artificial sweetener.
It could cause a spike if you body is not used to sucralose.
Likewise some say sucralose could have a negative impact on the bacteria in the gut, killing off the good bacteria.
The bottom line is I would try to avoid shakes containing sucralose. Although I believe low amounts are fine to consume, you don’t want to take the risk of long term damage to your gut.
Make sure you read the nutritional label of Bodykey before you buy. Some of Nutrilites meal replacement products have sucralose, stevia, fructose all in one product.
Others just have fructose and stevia on their ingredient page.
How much sugar is in Bodykey?
BodyKey contains 9 grams of sugar per serving (2 scoops = 57 grams) according to their product page. This is much lower than Herbalife’s 19 grams of sugar. Nonetheless 9 grams, although respectable is still too high for my liking.
In my opinion a shake does not need more than 5 grams at maximum.
What type of sweetener is best?
The best type of natural sweetener is stevia. This has minimal impact on blood sugar is calorie free and is naturally derived from plants. The best types of shakes have natural sweeteners like stevia only. For example, see Orgain or Garden of Life on Amazon.
Stevia been around a long time and produced by plants. The benefits of stevia include:
- No calories
- Does not raise blood sugar levels
- Plant based
In summary I would normally go for shakes with stevia only as a sugar and sweetener. Unfortunately, both Body key and Herbalife Formula 1 have other sweeteners that I believe are less healthy.
Herbalife protein source
Herbalife have two protein shakes. Formula 1 and formula 1 free from. Let’s talk about formula 1 first.
Milk protein isolate and soya protein is the protein makeup of the formula 1.Milk protein is a protein that uses the protein content found in whey and casein.
Soy protein is the protein content extracted from soy beans.
The benefits of milk protein and soya protein is that they do form a complete protein on their own. If you look at other plant based sources of protein they normally need to be combined with other plants to make complete protein.
Soya and milk protein naturally makeup complete proteins: and are very high in protein.
However, unfortunately I still don’t take these proteins for personal reasons. It may be different for you but anything with lactose really upsets my stomach and milk protein contains lactose.
Likewise I still don’t trust the research done in soya protein. Soy protein is still in the beginning stages of research and there is evidence both supporting and going against the use of soy protein.
It’s just a personal preference but I tend to not go for soya protein.
I also find adding both soy protein and milk protein together is a unusual choice. Normally soy protein is included in shakes that don’t contain milk proteins. This is because they provide a lactose alternative. The fact this shake includes both makes me wonder why?
A weird plant and milk mix which leaves out the market who only buy plant based products without lactose.
Luckily Herbalife do have an alternative option to to soya and milk protein. They have their free from version which gets its protein solely from pea protein.
This version is more clean and a protein source which I would go for over milk and soy protein. Purely pea protein has a number of benefits namely its more easily digestible, and plant based.
Bodykey protein source
Similarly to Herbalife, Nutrilite Bodykey also contains soy and milk protein. However, it does contain additional ingredients. These include pea protein isolate, and whey protein isolate.
Just like Herbalife they didn’t decide to go for one or the other. They stuck both in there. Maybe there logic was it would provide additional protein but it still doesn’t make sense to have soy with milk products. One or the other would give people a better option.
Pea protein is also easier on the stomach. However, whey and milk proteins are more known for being less easy on stomach and can cause bloating and discomfort. Why include pea protein if these effects are mitigated.
Pea protein is a clean source and has some benefits.
- Easily digested
- Pea protein is high in lysine
- Contains plant based iron
Some of these benefits are lost when combining with milk protein such as being easily digestible and vegan, which baffles me why they decided to include them together in the first place.
I also noticed a disadvantage of Amway is that it does contain less protein than formula 1. Amway’s Bodykey contains 20 grams of protein compared to Herbalife’s 32 grams. That is one thing that is great about Herbalife. It’s absolutely packed with protein. Good if you use weights and have a muscle building routine.
Herbalife edges BodyKey ever so slightly when it comes to options mainly because it has the free from version. The free from version is free from gluten, soy, and lactose.
BodyKey does not have a free from version. However, it does contain the standard flavours of strawberry, chocolate, and vanilla.
What both companies do not offer is the flavourless or unsweetened version of their shakes. This would be a good option for those who do not want to consume the sugar found in both these shakes.
Herbalife allow distributors to decide the cost. This can cause inflation in prices. However, I have also seen Herbalife products at an affordable price. Generally anywhere between $25-60 is what I would pay. Depends on the size as well and amount of servings. Larger servings should be no more than $60.
In my opinion Herbalife shakes are not worth the cost. They are over priced.
Amway’s Bodykey by Nutrilite sells at a retail price of $50. This seems to be set in stone. I would say $50 is an affordable amount. Anything over might be a bit too expensive for this shake. Generally I buy shakes between the 40-60 dollar range.
How are ingredients sourced?
One thing I do like about Nutrilite is that they have a vast team of scientists, 900 in fact, who look into product development, analytical sciences and technical and regulatory affairs. Still a bit baffling how all these scientists couldn’t get the shake perfect though….
They also own their own organic farms which is a huge bonus.
For example, you can see they have organic farms all over from Mexico, Brazil to USA.
For Herbalife, its less clear where they get the ingredients for their shakes.
I would like to think they follow the same rigid organic procedures as Amway but we do not know who is the 3rd party company who manufactures Herbalife products.
Which Shake helps you lose weight?
Weight loss meal replacement shakes won’t help you lose weight on their own. They need to be combined with a calorie deficit diet. The diet also needs to be healthy and not restrictive. A balanced diet that includes your 5 a day is a must.
Relying purely on Herbalife or Amway is the wrong way to go about it.
Essentially both shakes can help you lose weight. However, I still don’t think they are the healthiest shakes to lose weight.
The shake I find gives the best results and is healthiest is Orgain. You can normally find this shake selling on Amazon. I use this shake for a few very simple reasons:
- Low sugar
- Sugar is from stevia
- High protein
- Contains Vitamins
- Affordable price
- Vegan, soy, dairy and Gluten Free
If I was forced to go for one I would go for Amway’s BodyKey by Nutrilite. The simple reason it has lower sugar content. However, I still believe a much better option is my recommended alternative in Orgain.
The shakes I go for normally have no red flags. No shake is completely 100% healthy as otherwise we would be using shakes instead of whole foods for our diets.
By a process of elimination I list out all the things that can be potentially detrimental to the body and base my decision on that.
However, there are too many red flags in both Nutrilite body key and Herbalife for me to recommend these two.
Both shakes have a high sugar content and are less healthy than other better alternatives.
If you want a shake that is less in sugar, has good customer intentions, and is affordable then I recommend Orgain.
For now I would avoid these two!