AdvoCare Spark Energy Drink Review.

AdvoCare is a supplement company that markets a variety of products devoted to weight loss, wellness, and exercise performance. The supplements are said to be based on “the latest scientific knowledge” and contain “ingredients that are present in effective amounts and work synergistically for superior results.” In this review, I want to look specifically at the AdvoCare Spark Energy Drink Mix, which is said to “enhance mental energy and focus,” and provide “long lasting energy,” among other things. I’ll dissect the product by its ingredients and show you the relevant research on those ingredients and any research I can find on the Spark Energy Drink itself. Hopefully, this will help you evaluate whether this supplement is right for you or not.

What Is AdvoCare?

Advocare, also called AdvoCare LLC and AdvoCare International, is the company that markets the Spark Energy Drink. AdvoCare was started in 1993, according to the Better Business Bureau. According to the AdvoCare website, the company is located at 2801 Summit Avenue, Plano, TX 75074-7453.

The website lists a contact number of (800) 542-4800 for distributers. The BBB lists (972) 665-5800 as a company contact number as well. As of 1/17/14, the BBB gives AdvoCare a rating of A+. See the BBB listing for additional information.

I contacted AdvoCare about the name of the company. They told me that AdvoCare is a reference to the values of the company’s founder, Charlie Ragus, who wanted to be an “advocate who cared.”

 

Spark Energy Drink Research

I searched the AdvoCare website to see if there had been any published studies on the Spark Energy Drink itself showing that it increases energy or mental focus levels in humans. The website makes no reference to any such studies.

I then searched the National Library of Medicine for “AdvoCare” and found a 2012 study titled Acute effects of a caffeine-taurine energy drink on repeated sprint performance of American college football players. In this investigation, AdvoCare Spark Energy Drink was given to 20 college football players who then participated in sprint tests (they performed 6 sprints with 10 seconds rest between sprints). One week, the men received the Spark drink and did the sprint test, and the next week they received a placebo and did the sprint test. At the end of the study, the Spark Energy Drink did not result in any significant changes in in these college football players.

Other than this study, I’m not aware of any other investigations involving the Spark Energy Drink. If anyone knows of research I missed, please let me know and I will update this section of my review.

Let’s now look at the ingredients in Spark Energy Drink. By doing this, we can shed light on the research and what the drink’s active ingredient/ingredients might be.

Spark Energy Drink Mix Ingredients

From a pdf file I found on the AdvoCare website, I discovered that the Spark Energy Drink contains the following ingredients per serving (a serving is one pouch =0.53 oz =15 g):

Amount per serving % DV
Calories 45
Total carbs 11g 4%
Vitamin A (beta carotene) 1000 IU 20%
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) 180 mg 300%
Vitamin E (d alpha tocopheryl acetate) 30 IU 100%
Thiamine 3 mg 200%
Riboflavin 3.4 mg 200%
Niacin (niacinamide) 60 mg 300%
Vitamin B6 15 mg 750%
Vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin) 45 mcg 750%
Pantothenic acid 50 mg 500%
Zinc 3 mg 20%
Copper (copper glycinate) 200 mcg 10%
Chromium (chromium citrate) 24 mcg 20%
Choline 500 mg N/A
Tyrosine 500 mg N/A
Taurine 200 mg N/A
Caffeine 120 mg N/A
Glycine 100 mg N/A
Citrus flavonids 50 mg N/A
GABA 50 mg N/A
L Carnitine 10 mg N/A
Inositol 10 mg N/A

DV =Daily Value.

N/A= No % DV established.

% DV is based on eating 2000 calories per day.

Other ingredients also listed include maltodextrin, citric acid, beet root extract (for color), natural flavor, sucralose and silicon dioxide.

This is a lot of ingredients; however, I don’t believe that the vitamins and minerals provide any energy, help in focusing, or weight loss, in basically healthy people. I believe the AdvoCare company, for the most part, agrees with me because on both the website and the pdf document for the product, they indicate that the “key ingredients” in the Spark Energy Drink are:

  • B-vitamin complex (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B-6, vitamin B-12 and pantothenic acid),
  • taurine
  • L-tyrosine
  • choline
  • caffeine
  • GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid)

In other words, these 11 ingredients put the “spark” in Spark Energy Drink. Since they are said to be the most important, I will only look at the relevant research on these ingredients.

The B Complex Vitamins

Spark Energy Drink Mix contains various amounts of the B vitamins such as riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B-6, vitamin B-12 and pantothenic acid. The B vitamins help us turn food into energy. They also help us store energy (in the form of carbs and fat). Many energy drinks contain B vitamins (especially B6 and B12) but there just isn’t any good proof that they improve energy levels in healthy people—such as the way caffeine would.

Likewise, I’m not aware of any good proof that B vitamins help people lose weight. Vitamin B12, in particular, has a big reputation in some circles that it helps weight loss. I’ve looked into this but can’t find any good proof that it does. Do read my review on vitamin B12 and weight loss for more information on this topic.

Taurine

Taurine is a type of amino acid that we make naturally. While it might play several roles in the body, taurine is also something found in many energy drinks because of research showing that it might help mental performance. For example, in a 2001 study of 36 people titled The effects of red bull energy drink on human performance and mood, researchers noted that Red Bull (the energy drink that appears to get most of the attention in energy drink studies) significantly improved memory, reaction time, and concentration in 36 people.

While studies like this are encouraging and appear to justify the use of taurine in supplements, it is interesting to note that most of the studies showing that “taurine works” actually combine it with caffeine. In addition, there is also research noting that it is the caffeine in the mixture that provides the benefits—not taurine.

For example, in this 2008 review of energy drink studies from 1997-2006 titled, The effects of energy drinks on cognitive performance, it was concluded that caffeine was likely the “secret sauce” in energy drinks, rather than taurine or other exotic ingredients.

This result was substantiated by a 2012 review of energy drinks titled Do energy drinks contain active components other than caffeine? These researchers conclude that caffeine—and caffeine alone—is the main active ingredient in energy drinks responsible for effects such as improved focus and physical performance.

In a 2004 study titled Cognitive and physiological effects of an “energy drink”: an evaluation of the whole drink and of glucose, caffeine and herbal flavouring fractions, researchers actually looked at some type of “soft drink” that contained herbal extracts. So while this investigation didn’t specifically look at taurine, they did conclude that caffeine, along with sugar, improved mental performance and memory.

 

Some people take energy drinks in the hope that it helps them have better workouts. However, according to this small 2012 study titled, Acute ingestion of sugar-free red bull energy drink has no effect on upper body strength and muscular endurance in resistance trained men, neither the energy drink nor caffeine improved strength in college men.

In a study that was basically a test tube investigation titled, Does a physiological concentration of taurine increase acute muscle power output, time to fatigue, and recovery in isolated mouse soleus (slow) muscle with or without the presence of caffeine?, investigators exposed isolated mouse muscle fibers to either taurine alone or caffeine plus taurine. Researchers noted that taruine—by itself—did not produce any increase in power, time to exhaustion, or muscle recovery. On the other hand, the taurine plus caffeine mixture did. While this was not a human study, this investigation further points to caffeine as the main active ingredient in energy drinks.

L-tyrosine

Tyrosine is also a type of amino acid that most of us make in the body. Tyrosine also helps us make thyroid hormone (thyroxine), so it might also be found in supplements marketed for hypothyroidism.

With that in mind I searched the National Library of Medicine for:

  • Tyrosine thyroid
  • Tyrosine thyroxin

to see if any studies were conducted to determine if tyrosine increased thyroid hormone production. Unfortunately, I saw no human studies on this issue.

As far as exercise, a 2014 study titled, Failure of Oral Tyrosine Supplementation to Improve Exercise Performance in the Heat noted that tyrosine supplementation did not help exercise performance in 7 men who cycled in hot temperatures.

The amount of tyrosine used in this study was 150 mg per kilogram. In people terms, a 180-pound person (82 kg) would have used 150 x 82 = 12,300 mg of tyrosine. This is a lot more than the 500 mg in a serving of Spark Energy Drink.

Ironically, these same researchers noted in 2011 that tyrosine helped exercise performance in the heat, in their study titled, Oral tyrosine supplementation improves exercise capacity in the heat. The amount of tyrosine used in this study was the same as the 2014 investigation—150 mg per kg of body weight—far more than is in Spark Energy Drink.

Choline

I’ve seen choline in many memory supplements over the years. This is probably because choline helps make acetylcholine, a neutrotransmitter that helps the central and peripheral nervous systems function properly. I searched the National Library of Medicine for:

  • Choline memory
  • Choline supplementation memory

While I did see some rat studies of choline helping memory, I did not locate any studies involving choline supplements and memory in humans.

Caffeine

Pretty much every energy drink I have ever seen has contained caffeine. The reasons for this are obvious and so I won’t recount the research here, as I’m sure everybody is already aware of the stimulating effects of caffeine. If you search this site for “caffeine” you will see various studies to which I have already linked. The Advocare Spark Energy Drink Mix contains 120 mg of caffeine per 8-ounch pouch. This is similar to that of an 8-ounce cup of coffee.

GABA

GABA is short for Gamma-aminobutyric acid (also called γ-aminobutyric acid). GABA is classified as an inhibitory neurotransmitter because it tends to calm things down. Because of this, it was even called “liquid zanax” on a segment of the Dr. Oz show. While that statement resonates with a lot of people looking for a natural way to relax, I think it’s more complicated than this, given that some evidence suggests that GABA supplements might not be able to enter the brain. In other words, GABA supplements might not work. As such, likening GABA to zanax is an over-simplification.

 

Truth be told, GABA does many things. The AdvoCare pdf document I found for the Spark supplement states that the “choline and GABA found in AdvoCare Spark Energy Drink Mix are essential for nerve function, muscle control, memory and many other functions.” While this is true, does that mean that taking GABA supplements improves these things in healthy adults?

 

I searched Google for “GABA supplementation research.” I saw no evidence that GABA helps weight loss. I saw some preliminary evidence that low levels of GABA may play a role in depression, but it’s unclear if GABA supplements help this condition. Also, since the Spark Energy Drink is not marketed for depression, that research isn’t relevant to this review.

 

Given the lack of proof for GABA supplements and considering what GABA is supposed to do -slow things down – I find it odd that this stuff is in an energy drink because it’s generally at odds with the very idea of having more energy. GABA calms things down, while caffeine speeds things up.

 

Since caffeine inhibits GABA release, maybe that’s why its included in the supplement?

 

AdvoCare Advisory Board

On the science page of the AdvoCare website, there is a list of MDs and PhDs who serve on the advisory board of AdvoCare. While it’s nice that they have an advisory board, what this page does not list is any research on AdvoCare products published by any of these individuals.

 

Spark Energy Drink vs. 5-Hour Energy

It appears that AdvoCare has less caffeine per serving than 5-Hour Energy. A serving of AdvoCare Spark Energy Drink has 120 mg, while, as I mentioned in my review of 5-hour energy, that product has 215 mg per serving. That doesnt mean its any better or worse but I wanted to mention this for those who were curious. There are other differences also, so see my review of 5-Hour Energy for more information.

 

Spark Energy Drink and Kids

In a New York Times article on Advocare from 2005 titled, A Sports Drink for Children Is Jangling Some Nerves, there were references to Advocare marketing the Spark drink to kids and young athletes. I see no reference to kid marketing on the AdvoCare website as it appears today. There are, however, testimonials from athletes—like Drew Brees and AdvoCare independent distributors—several of whom appear in physically active situations. The subtle message to consumers is that AdvoCare is good for a physically active lifestyle. While it’s tempting for kids to look for a competitive advantage during sports, I can tell you that there is no scientific proof that the Spark Energy Drink improves exercise ability—in kids or adults.

Since I am not aware of any AdvoCare research that specifically used kids, I don’t think it’s appropriate that kids use the product. I feel this way for all energy drinks. Parents need to remember kids are not miniature versions of adults.

Spark Drink and ADHD

After I posted my review, I was alerted that I missed a study that compared Spark Energy Drink to Ritalin (methylphenidate). Online, this investigation is sometimes called the Texas Tech Spark Energy Study.  The actual title is A comparison of the Neuropsychological Effects of Methylphenidate (Ritalin) And Nutritional Beverage Versus Placebo on Children with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

 

This study took place at the Center for Family Medicine in Amario Texas and looked at how Spark Energy Drink compared to either Ritalin (methylphenidate) or placebo  in 72 kids, age 6-17.  The study lasted 4 months and took place in 1998.

 

Kids were broken up into 3 groups

  •  Placebo group which received caffeine
  •  Ritalin group
  •  Spark Energy Drink group

All treatments were given to the kids 2 hours prior to ADHD testing.

 

The researchers noted that kids getting Spark Energy Drink scored as well as kids getting Ritalin in 3 out of the 4 ADHD tests that were administered.

 

It’s important to note that this study did not say the Spark drink was better than Ritalin, but rather that kids scored as well as those getting Ritalin in 3 out of the 4 tests they used.

 

Looking at this from another angle, the results also mean Ritalin did as well as the Spark drink in 3 out of the 4 tests and that Ritalin was better than Spark in 1 out of the 4 tests also. Still, the results are interesting.

 

What’s good about this study is that it appears that the researchers controlled for caffeine which may have had an effect. In the summary I saw, the researchers did not say that the caffeine content of the placebo was the same as that in Spark drink, but I’ll assume it was.

 

 What’s bad about this study was that it does not appear to be published nor peer reviewed. In the summary of the study I have, it only says “Presented at Experimental Biology April 1999.” Studies presented at medical conferences don’t have to be peer reviewed. I searched online and in the National Library of Medicine for the study but could not find it.

Why didn’t the researchers ever attempt to get this study published?

Another downside of the study is that the researchers were not able to determine which ingredient/ingredients in the Spark drink were responsible for its effects. For example, was it taruine? Was it GABA? We can’t tell from this study.

If anyone knows where this study is published please let me know. I’d enjoy reading the full paper and, if needed, updating this section of my review.

Spark Drink Side Effects

I’m not aware of any bad side effects from the Spark Energy Drink and when I goggled  “AdvoCare spark energy drink side effects,” I didn’t see a lot of really negative side effects. That doesn’t necessarily mean there are none, and if you have had issues, I hope you will leave a comment so you can help others. Based on the ingredients in the product, here are a few things that I think people should be aware of:

In addition to causing diarrhea, it’s possible that in high doses, choline might cause people to notice a body order that smells like fish. Currently, the upper tolerable limit ―beyond which side effects might be noticed―for choline is set at 3.5 grams per day. A serving of Spark Energy Drink has 500 mg of choline (1/2 gram). Good food sources of choline include milk and eggs. Theoretically, it’s possible that a few servings of the Spark Drink per day plus normal food intake might put people over this limit. I thought I’d mention this in case anyone noticed this odd  body odor.

There is conflicting evidence that choline might—or might not—be linked to colon cancer. This is an area where I feel more study is required. Those who take choline supplements should discuss this concern with an oncologist who likely has seen this research.

Some say that caffeine can dehydrate people, due to its diuretic effects; however, I feel this side effect isn’t based in our current understanding of caffeine. While we are all different, in those who are accustomed to caffeine, it doesn’t seem to be dehydrating. Energy drinks in general have been the focus of several news reports such as this New York Times article from 2011.

I uncovered a case report of a taurine energy drink causing anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction. Interestingly, this case reported that the woman who experienced this allergic reaction only was sensitive to synthetic taurine and not natural taruine. I don’t believe supplements indicate whether whether taurine is natural or synthetic.

I would be remiss, if I did not mention Energy drinks have also been associated with death in apparently healthy people, as is highlighted in the link I’ve provided. In this instance, a 28-year-old man consumed three cans of an 8-oz energy drink (I don’t know which brand) 5 hours prior to a basketball game. This is not to say that the same would happen with the AdvoCare supplement, but it does highlight the idea that natural does not mean safe for everybody. For the record, I don’t advocate any energy drink before exercise.

Does Spark Energy Drink Work?

Based on what I could discover, I think the active ingredient in AdvoCare Spark Energy Drink mix is the same as it is for most energy drinks―caffeine.  As such, I would not be surprised if people felt more energized after using it. The same can be said for any caffeine containing beverage also. For those who are interested and want to read the comments from others who have tried it, here is the AdvoCare Spark Energy Drink on Amazon if you want to see what others are saying.

What do you think?

Comments

  1. P.J. Vanni says

    Joe,
    Thank you for reviewing SPARK from an Advocare distributor, user of SPARK, and friend. I can honestly say I use it to help me stay focused and energetic about my doctoral studies…….. never encountered any crash or side effects. SPARK is not Advocare’s best pre-workout drink, although can be used as one. Thanks again!!!!

  2. P.J. Vanni says

    Nope!!! Here is the link to the cleanse phase information.
    advocare.com/131140496/24DayChallenge/cleansePhase.aspx

  3. Ali says

    This is so interesting. Thank you for the review! As a mother of an Autistic Child, I was told of SPARK as an alternative to medications. In your research, did you come across anything that might support this claim. Again thanks for doing all the hard work. :-)

    • Joe says

      Ali, Im happy you were able to find my review helpful. Ive never heard anything that AdvoCare Spark energy drink helps autism. Are there any websites that discuss this you can point me to? Ill be glad to take a look at it and update my review with what I find.

      • Christie says

        Google Texas tech Ritalin vs spark study! Thanks for an unbiased review–as an Advocare advisor and a nerd-girl I appreciate it!

        • Joe says

          Christie, Glad to help and big thanks for bringing this study to my attention. I was not aware of the Texas Tech Spark Energy Drink Study. I did Google it as you suggested. Can you point me to where this study was published (which journal)? I saw summaries of the Texas Tech study mentioned online but from what I see, the study was only presented at Experimental Biology (presumably a science symposium) in 1999. If the study was ever submitted for peer review, it should be published somewhere by now. That would give the study more credence. I couldn’t find it when I searched pubmed.gov. if you can find out this info for me, Id much appreciate it.

  4. Jennifer says

    I used spark 5 days a week for 2 weeks with no issues. Then, I stopped for a week while out of town. The first Monday back, had my Spark and bam! Instant nausea resulting in vomiting and *ahem* some bowel issues…as in 6 times a work day (8-9 hours).

    I took a few days off thinking I had caught some stomach bug, no issues on the days off, and this morning went back to Spark with the same results. I’ve always been sensitive to caffeine, but not to this extent.

    I was hopeful I’d found my pick-me-up, but after this morning’s episode, I’m done. If it works for you, fantastic, but be cautious.

    • Chantal says

      I drank my first Spark at 2:30 on the afternoon. After awhile I started feeling weird. At 10:30pm I was wired and afraid I would never get to sleep. This morning I still feel weird. My mind is over stimulated and the sleep I did get involved crazy dreams. I am not a coffee drinker. I only drink a cup of tea in the morning I’m afraid to drink spark again and I just ordered the 24 day challenge!!

      • Jen W says

        I hope things are better and you talked to your sponsor about your issues with Spark! V16 contains no caffeine and is similar to Spark in all other aspects. Or Rehydrate is also a great choice…. My best friend only does half a pack of spark at a time because she is sensitive to caffeine. Hope all is well!!

  5. AMBER says

    I had a terrible crash from spark…. I use to live off Redbull and still love 5-hr energy. It was crazy! A distributor tried to tell me it was because my b12 was low, which my doctor told me, when the doctor also told me drinking b12 and taking a pill aren’t well absorbed…

    • Joe says

      Amber did your doctor also tell you your B12 was low? Are you a vegetarian or taking diabetes medications like metformin?

    • Alex says

      It’s basically Advocare’s energy drink without the caffeine. People with a sensitivity to caffeine take this instead of the Spark energy drink everyone usually takes.

      • Joe says

        Alex, I looked it up on their site. Advocare V16 has several ingredients but these are said to be the “key” ones
        Golden root, leuzea extract, schisandra extract, vitamin B-6, vitamin B-12, thiamine, folic acid, niacin, vitamin K, biotin
        The b vitamins are common in most energy drinks but they won’t help boost your pep/energy levels. Since golden root is listed first, I think its the main ingredient. Its also called Rhodiola rosea and its been in several products Ive looked at. Just impute it in the search box to see what Ive said before about it.

  6. James says

    This is kind of embarrassing, but I figured I’d just throw this out there. I used to drink between two and four energy drinks per day. Although I knew this was not a smart idea, I couldn’t stop. This lasted for about 2 years. I started working in the fitness industry and was introduced to spark. I wasn’t too excited about it at first, but the boss man raved about it and my coworkers were all spark junkies who signed up to sell it. I eventually gave in and tried Spark.

    Surprisingly I was impressed with its effects. My energy was great, the kick lasted longer, and I didn’t crash. I quickly became hooked on spark and found that one slightly overflowing scoop in the morning was usually all I needed. I would sometimes drink a second full serving around one or two if I needed a pick me up. What a pleasant alternative to the constant energy drink roller coaster I was used to functioning on. I drank one to two servings of spark per day for over a year.

    I’m not sure how long after I started drinking Spark that I developed stomach problems like diarrhea and abdominal pain. After about six months of misery dealing with chronic diarrhea, it clicked with me that something was wrong with my stomach and had been for a few months.

    Worried it was cancer (first thing to come to mind when anything with my body is a little off), I avoided going to the doctor and just pretended I didn’t have a problem and figured I would just wait it out and it would go away on its own eventually. I didn’t make the connection between my GI issues and my spark consumption.

    Like any substance, gradually my body got used to spark and the effects weren’t nearly what they used to be. I quit drinking spark about three months ago because I was sick of shelling out 50$ per container for something that wasn’t helping me like it did in the beginning.

    The craziest thing is over the past month I’ve noticed everything in my abdomen is settling down. No more running to the restroom unexpectedly, no cramps, no andominal pains… Just gone. Hmmmmmm…..?? Wondering if the spark had anything to do with my GI issues.

    • Joe says

      James, I dont think Ive heard of constipation and GI issues from Spark Energy before but you said you were using up to 4 per day (which is a lot) so I’d suppose its possible -and it stopped after you ceased taking it. Go and get checked out by your doctor anyway just so you rule out anything else.

      It sounds like this discomfort caused you some emotional stress (thinking it might be cancer). Moving forward, please do see your doctor when stuff like this happens. If anything bad really was happening, its much better to find out -and do what you need to do to get better.

      • James says

        I would drink up to four 16 oz monsters or rockstars before I tried spark. Once I switched to spark, I decreased to one scoop in the morning and an occasional second scoop around 2pm. From what I’ve read, this is a moderate amount.

      • Donna T. says

        I have a friend trying to get me to do this but my concern is that energy drinks make me sleepy, nausea, diarrhea and migraines. They haven’t always done so. It’s like it happened overnight. I would only do a 5-hour energy drink when I had a lot of stuff around the house to do, like paint a room. But then one day the energy drink made me sick. I tried it two more times, weeks apart, with the same results. I had also been doing B12 under the tongue for energy and that worked fine for a while and then I started feeling like I had taken a Bynadryl.

        I’ve decided it’s the B12 and the Taurine. So I’m hesitate to try the Adovcare though my friend is convinced it won’t make me sick.

        • says

          I use Advocare products and I’ve tried Spark but I am sensitive to caffeine so I had to switch to V-16. It only comes in one flavor though.

          Spark is called an energy drink but it’s more of a mental focus effect without the spike and crash like other drinks out there. Advocare does state on the Spark packages – not recommended for use by those sensitive to caffeine or choline.

          I’ve not heard of anyone getting sick from using Spark but the caffeine (amount equal to about one cup of coffee – 120 mg) is an issue for some.

          I don’t know a lot about other energy drinks, I’ve never tried them but I know many people that have benefited by drinking Spark with great results. One of my dear friends lost 90lbs over a 2 yr period by using Spark alone. She has many GI issues and couldn’t use a lot of the supplements Advocare has, but it gave her enough energy and focus to get up and start moving. To date she has lost 190 lbs.
          It’s a great product, you could possibly dilute it a bit more at first or drink it slowly over the course of an hour or two to see how you do with it. (If you haven’t already, I know your post was from last Sept.)

          Sorry to ramble. Hope this helps

      • says

        Finally, someone mentions one of the worst ingredients in this drink: sucralose. Sucralose causes me low-grade nausea, intestinal issues, and a general feeling of unease.

    • Heidi says

      I am currently looking into whether it has caused 10 times liver enzyme elevation in my body. it’s the only thing I’ve changed over the past year. My $200.24 day challenge is turning into a $500 medical bill between ultrasound and doctors visits.

      I have stopped taking the product and will have my blood retested in two weeks. if it has gone down then we will know that spark is the problem with way too much niacin for your liver to handle.

      • Joe says

        Heidi, wow, so sorry to hear you are going through that! I do hope your liver enzyme go back to normal soon. Do let me know if what happens.

  7. timsarmywifey says

    I had some given to me by a sweet friend! I definitely want to be healthier HOWEVER after seeing the actual list and questioning the “natural” flavors and sucralose all she could send me was a study saying sucralose (Splenda) was safer than Stevia. (Study done BY advocare of course). When I told her I wouldn’t be able to buy because of that – I have broke out in hives before from Splenda and I’m sorry but it would seem to me that even the most processed Stevia (which I don’t use) would be healthier than Splenda since it is an actual herb and not made in a lab. Thank you for this review.

  8. Mike Rudolph says

    It seems that I am the only one out of all my friends that takes comfort in peer review. I recently had one of them tell me that the all the ‘lack of peer review from Advocare’ talk seemed silly.

    For a multi-million dollar company that has been around for quite a long time, why is there still no peer review? Nothing except the few studies you’ve talked about that pretty much say there is no more effect than the placebo.

    To me, Advocare is pseudoscience preying on the inhibitions of the scientifically illiterate. Not only that, do a google search “Advocare scam” and you’ll find several ‘unbiased’ (ha) reviews all set up the same way, all with the same structure, all that reek of (SEO) search engine optimization. Thoughts?

    • Joe says

      Mike, I’m sure some companies do seo so I wouldn’t be surprised if what you said was true. The only way to combat it is for people like you and me to share good content with friends online and elsewhere.

  9. JD Bell says

    Joe,
    Appreciate your write-up/review. I just wanted to bring up a few of the ingredients that might be leading to NVD (nausea/vomiting/diarrhea), not mentioned in your post.
    Inositol:
    sucralose:
    Maltodextrin:
    Titanium dioxide: In certain flavors of the Advocare Spark
    Artificial ingredients: I know there is no make up of the artificial ingredients used in the coloring or flavoring, but could these also be cause for concern?

    Also, check your section on L-Tyrosine- In the quoted blue paragraph, I think you planned to reference Tyrosine but instead listed Taurine. ” In people terms, a 180-pound person (82 kg) would have used 150 x 82 = 12,300 mg of taurine. “

    • Joe says

      JD Bell, thanks for pointing that out to me. Yes it was a mistype on my part. I corrected my mistake and I appreciate you letting me know about it. Some people do report issues with artificial sweaters and additives. This is the main reason I think people should start new supplements with less than is recommended, just to see and minimize – any side effects that might crop up.

  10. Sophia says

    I have a question. Can Spark affect your liver in anyway due to the ingredients? Possibly causing spots or growths?

    • Joe says

      Sophia, When I searched for “Spark drink liver” I didnt see much in the way of people saying it did anything but I did see a Facebook group called “Advo-Truth” whcih I dont know anything about but they did list a series of side effects one of which was liver damaged assocated with Nicin. Here is the link they mentioend on the FB page: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-cholesterol/expert-answers/niacin-overdose/faq-20058075

      the Spark drink does have a lot of niacin but it has a different form called Niacinimide. I did some further searching and found this site
      which notes that both forms in high doses can harm the liver: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/924.html

      That said, I dont know if the level of niacin in the Spark drink would do this or cause spots/growths on the liver. What I would recommend is showing the ingredients and their concentrations to a liver specialist. They may be able to shed more light on this.

      I hope some of this helps Sophia and I’m also going to say a prayer tonight for you that this isn’t serious and that you are put in contact with medical experts who can help you.

        • Tammy Parker says

          While I do recommend everyone to do what is right for them, I have done what was right for myself and my family. I do know our scientist have researched everything before it gets into our products and we have a doctor specifically for making sure there is nothing toxic level in our products. I have used the products for 15 years and have not had any bad side effects. I use the products as recommended and do not exceed what our scientist recommend.

          I choose spark over any of those canned energy drinks due to acids that make the carbonation. I feel that is more detrimental due to the minerals being broken down in your body.

          Again, this is a personal thing for me. I have seen the cost of sodas on kidneys in my own family. Those drinks that add those acids actually cause the vitamins they claim to be in their products to be broken down before it ever enters the body.

  11. says

    I have been a part of Advocare for 15 years. Spark is not pushed for children, but as a mother I did use it for my Son in the 3rd grade. I chose to give him something I trusted for his ADHD instead of the drugs that had such side effects. Luckily over the years the taste has gotten better. I had a heck of a time to get him to take it during the early years. I ended up having to put him on Adderal. He had severe reactions including a stunt in his growth. He had rage spells and a very fast heart rate. I took him off again and took the Spark to the nurses station and had it given to him there instead of his medicine.

    It took a few years of being back on Spark for him to finally start growing. He had missed two growth spurts according to the doctors. He made it all up going into his last years of high school. Spark was just a way to control his ADHD without those harmful drugs. He might have done just as well with the red bull and Monsters, but I didn’t feel he needed the acids that are in those that cause your body to release too much magnesium. I do not let them have a lot of carbonated beverages because of that.

    Speeding up he is now 6 ft, and I am glad he is a healthy size, after fighting with him to grow and gain weight all his life. As a mother, I chose what I felt was healthier, and I wished I had never caved to the teachers that were pushing for him to be on that medicine when my son would skip the spark due to the taste..I also thank god that they have new flavors. He now steals my spark daily and sometimes more. I have always used it even when it didn’t taste as well. I just knew it worked.

    I personally use just about everything from Advocare, and will not jump on whatever new product that comes out. I trust the science department to do their due diligence and provide a product that will work, not just promote a product due to hype.

    • Dr. Aaron says

      You “trust the science department to do their due diligence and provide a product that will work” yet you can’t see the lack of peer review or the lack of any sort of study showing that their products work more than a placebo?

      Jeez. Us.

      And you were giving it to your 3 year old child? Yikes.

      • Tammy Parker says

        If you had read, it said third grader. There is a Texas Tech study for Spark against Medicines for Adhd. Spark didn’t have side effects those drugs had. 15 years and I’m healthy and both my children are. There are no peer review of supplements.

        At least the doctors that help design our products are top of their field. They are not going to back a product that can blacken their image. They have too much at stake. They as well trust the Products enough to take them and give to their families.

        Peer review of about 500000 distributors who also trust the products is also a strong case.

        • Joe says

          Tammy, if I can jump in for a moment on a couple of things you mentioned
          1. there are supplements that do have peer reviewed studies. See my review of Juice Plus for one example.

          2. As for the Texas Tech study, it’s interesting but its not peer reviewed. It also dates back to 1998. Given the results, I wonder why it was never published and why clinical studies since 1998.

          3. 50,000 distributors selling the product isn’t the same thing as a peer reviewed study.

          That said, I do wish you continued success with the product.

  12. Marie Michel says

    My neighbord gave my 21 year old some samples of Advocare, But because I use Reliv suplements, I told him no to take them because We do not know the ingredients. Have you done any reviews on Reliv? Marie M.

  13. Angel says

    My husband is an Advocare Distributor and I fell in love with Spark. It helps me to focus and I feel it helps put me in a positive state of mind. I look (looked) forward to my drink each morning.

    However, back in May I became sick and was diagnosed with Diverticulitis and had an abscess that had perforated. I’m sure due to symptoms I’ve had, with NEVER being regular, I’ve had the diverticulosis (the pockets on the colon) for a long time, but they never became infected.

    After my 3 day hospital stay this last May, I came off everything that was not natural to give my colon time to heal. I missed my Spark during this time so bad and so after a month I started back on my morning drink. I started feeling pains in the area where my diver’s was and immediately came off the Spark.

    I have been off for some time now and the last two days I decided to try again and today I’m feeling slight pains in on my right side. (Issue in May was on my left.)

    I have no clue if the Spark is to blame, but at this point I’m feeling like I’m going to have to quit using it since I don’t seem to have these pains when I’m not using it. I’m sad since I know it helps me, but I sure can’t risk my colon health for it.

  14. says

    While Advocare could be considered a multi-level marketing corporation, they are the least pushy about it that I have ever seen. I became an Advocare distributor in June simply because I get a 25% discount on my products, AND I give that discount to anyone that buys from me, I mean why not? Advocare isn’t my job and I don’t need to make a profit off of you. I became a distributor because I fell in love with Spark. I am in no way addicted to it, but I honestly don’t want to live without it (I use to drink Starbucks 2x a day and have crazy caffeine crashes..vicious cycle)

    So just as I wouldn’t tell you to give up your daily coffee, I will keep my daily Spark which is significantly cheaper by the way…. Also yes, Spark does have caffeine.

    HOWEVER the caffeine is to help the immediate effect of the drink, the long term energy comes from the many vitamins and amino acids that Spark has that naturally create all day energy.

    All in all I am totally and completely in love with Spark and really all Advocare products. I wont push it on you because everything works different for each person.

    Personally this is the only one that has ever worked for me. Plus a box of Spark (14 servings) or the canister (42 servings) come out to far less than my Starbucks habit.

    ANYWAY don’t knock it till you try it! I suggest you go out and try to find some samples and if you seriously can’t I would love to send you some free samples! IG: CarrieDiana

    • Joe says

      Hi Carrie, I appreciate your offer. I actually have tried Spark in the past. I didn’t feel any different unfortunately. I am happy that you do though. :)

  15. Raymond Russell says

    Hi Joe,

    Thank you for taking the time to post such a well-written, and excellently researched, review of Spark. It is refreshing to see such a thoughtfully put-together piece; I am also very impressed with how measured and respectful your replies to various comments are. Great job, I really appreciate it and look forward to enjoying more of your posts.

    Raymond.

    • Joe says

      John, I looked but didn’t see anything concrete regarding Advocare Spark causing joint pain. Why dont you try this. Show the ingredients to your pharmacist and see what they think. They may be able to shed light on this. If you do this, please let me know what they say.

  16. KT says

    Thanks for mentioning the allergy to Taurine! I tried the 24 day challenge about a year ago and had an allergic reaction that put me in the ER with breathing problems and a swollen face, neck, hands, etc. I told my up line and was told I was imagining it! It may work for folks. But not for me!

  17. Kristy says

    Spark energy drink alone is not supposed to help you lose weight. Advocare is a lifestyle in my opinion. I started the 24 day challenge 4 days ago because I’m so fatigued all day everyday and have a hard time staying awake. The 24 day challenge includes spark but it also includes fiber mix, herbal cleanse, pro-biotics, meal replacement shakes, about 10 different vitamins, omega-plex, etc…..it’s a specific plan and DIET that you follow to lose the weight which in turn gives you more energy.

    The first 10 days is the cleanse phase, the remainder 14 days is the max phase. i can honestly say in these first 4 days that I’ve started my challenge i have not felt tired once! it’s amazing. i think it’s a cummulation of cleansing all the toxins out of my system, eating healthy, and drinking the spark which just gives me that pep that i need in the morning.

    • Kristy says

      I also forgot to add that i was nervous about trying spark because i haven’t drank caffeine in about 5 years. I had horrible anxiety and panic attacks for years and i was afraid of caffeine. The spark gives me no side effects and no “crashing” effects at all.

    • Joe says

      Kristy, nope, I just posted them. I moderate all comments to stop spam so it may take a little bit before a comment appears. Both of yours are now posted :)

  18. adrianloera says

    I’m noticing that after using it my ears begin to get red, I mean REALLY red. I’m not sure if this is an allergic reaction or maybe overdose of a certain ingredient because I also take a multivitamin in the mornings (9 hours prior to drinking the spark & exercising.) I also get a massive headache around an hour after having taken the spark. I know it’s not dehydration because I’m drinking 100+ ounces of water a day, roughly 3 liters.

    Anyways, wonder if anyone else has felt the same.

    • Joe says

      Adrianloera, My guess is that might be due to some of the B vitamins in the Spark but either way, they don’t sound like pleasant symptoms. Id stop taking it if I had those reactions.

  19. Kaila says

    I am addicted to caffeine, I had to have a dr. Pepper everyday before work, and many throughout the day or I would get severe migraines. My trainer recommended trying spark and the 24 Day challenge. I am deathly terrified of anything diet-related due to the movie Requiem for a dream, and I’m one of those weird people that despises medication of any sort.

    I was diagnosed with ADHD and ADD at a young age, and based off the definition of what they are, I do believe I still am and will always be. I made the choice after becoming an adult that medication isn’t for me, so I learned to live and maintain my ADHD and ADD. Lots of calendars, sticky notes, and planners.

    Anyways, I tried spark before working out, it gave me a nice clean energy, nothing drastic, and I never felt it wearing off. I had no issues sleeping that night, and woke up fine. I drank it every morning for a couple of weeks, same thing, no insomnia, no side-effects, no change in me, just more energy. I stopped taking it for almost 2 weeks because I was getting much needed sleep and didn’t need the boost.

    Yesterday, I mixed and drank some at around 4PM. I was a little skeptical because of how late in the day it was, but sure enough, no side-effects besides energy, gave me the boost, and I was able to go to sleep when I laid down around 11:30. To each it’s own, everybody has different experiences with different things. I didn’t lose my appetite, no fatigue, and I’m extremely comfortable and happy with the product.

  20. Andrew says

    I have been using Spark in my 24 day challenge and I have had no problems actually had nothing but solutions to my energy problem!! It has helped me drop 13 lbs in 12 days on my 24 DAY CHALLENGE!!! I have helped dozens of ppl with their weight loss goals using Spark n the 24 Day Challenge and never once had complaints of stomach pains or racing heartbeats!!

    I actually had digestive problems which were solved with the herbal cleanse in the first 10 days of 24 day challenge. It was the best life choice I have made and I willing to share my experience and advice with anyone who is struggling with weight loss and energy!!! We should all help each other n not keep secrets!!! Any questions??? Easy solutions!!

    Have a blessed n energetic day I know I will!!!!

  21. Kevin says

    Joe,

    Thank you for the review! I have been reading several and I really appreciate your insight.

    I have not been holistically tested since I was young (12) and I am now 31, but when I was tested for imbalances I was informed that at that age I had a Vitamin B deficiency. I was given a vitamin B regimen to help me stay more balanced and at a young age It seemed to help.

    I am always skeptical of products like these, but I just had my first Spark this past weekend. I felt very energized and focused. So perhaps it was because I already have a deficiency and got an additional Taurine/Caffeine boost in top, but I certainly could tell a difference.

    Will keep reading your reviews!

    Thank You,
    Kevin

  22. Molly says

    I was a spark user for months and loved it so much. Then my husband and I switched to a more natural diet of a more “paleo” nature, basically just fresh (raw) fruits and veggies organic meats and nuts and stuff.

    So tonight I was feeling a little sleepy so I thought “why not use a spark?” I got so jittery my heart rate increased (slightly) and now my arms feel strange. Almost as if they are cold and slightly electrified.

    I have no idea if this is directly related to the spark or something else but I was wondering if anyone else had experienced this?

  23. danebessard says

    Joe, From my prior knowledge of how ingredients absorb in your body in relation to how they dissolve in water, I was skeptical of this product. It has a lot of powder that does not dissolve in water. Any connection as to the validity of its absorption rate in relation to how poorly it dissolves in 8oz of water as stated on the label? I agree to what Raymond and Donna said btw. Look forward to more reviews from you.

  24. Sung says

    Have you ever tried Onnit’s Alpha Brain? It is suppose to be a nootropic to help with mental focus and memory. Im curious on your opinion if something like this actually works? They have some clinical trials at https://www.onnit.com/clinical-studies/alpha-brain-clinical-trial/ . It is a bit over my head to understand everything noted in the trials so i was hoping you can shed some light on to this for me. Also i liked your review on sparks and reading some of the problems that may occur when drinking this from real people commenting this and not just HR of advocare.

    • Joe says

      Sung, while I have not heard of Alpha Brain, I did look at its website. I saw that it has huperzene in it. If you look at my review of Procera AVH you can read more about that ingredient. While it looks like they have done a study on Alpha Brain, it does not appear yet that they have published the study in a medical journal. I feel this is a critical step that needs to be done so others can better understand the product.

  25. Alicia says

    I am on day 14 of the 24 day Advocare challenge. On day 13, i noticed that my face is swollen, bright red, and has a burning sensation. I am trying to determine if it is something in the challenge or just an allergic reaction to anything outside of the challenge. Have you ever heard of this from anyone else from the challege?

    • Joe says

      Alicia, That sounds like an allergic reaction to me? Niacin can cause face flushing but the Spark drink contains a version of niacin called niacinamide which shouldn’t do this. Is Niacin in any of the other Advocare products you are using? Your face swelling up concerns me. I recommend you stop all Advocare products and see your doctor.

  26. Justin says

    For the month of May, i’m replacing my bulletproof (butter) coffee with Spark. So far I’m sleeping better and feel a bit more focused and relaxed. I think the focus is from the caffeine and relaxation is from the GABA. I think I’m sleeping better due to the fact that I’ve cut out about 2/3 of the caffeine I was drinking in my bp coffee. It is not going to help anyone lose weight.

    Only a healthy, well balanced diet will do that. I do think it makes people happy and relaxed though, which can definitely help make it easier for someone to make better choices in other areas of their life.

  27. bonnie says

    I have been drinking spark for about a year now mist of the time just 1 a day. Have recently upped it to 2. Somewhat heaping scoops. For the last month i have had hemorrhoids first internal now external. I’m not sure if its the spark but i cant seem to figure out the cause. Reading all of this is making me wonder if i should stop? Could it possibly be related?

  28. Jamie says

    This was so incredibly informative! I am on Day 15 of the 24 Day Challenge. I have been drinking the Spark drinks one in the morning before work out (as told by my coach) and then one in the afternoon if my body needed it. You are to not drink sodas during this time, so for me the Spark drink was to replace my daily morning Mountain Dew.

    I ha no idea though that there was 120mg of caffeine in one of these Spark drinks. Which makes huge sense why I get a massive headache if I don’t drink one late in the day and why when I did drink one late in the day I couldn’t sleep at night.

    I’m not a person who needs a lot of caffeine and am probably sensitive to drinking it too late at night. I am not a coffee drinker, so my only comparison to this amount of caffeine is the Mountain Dew. I guess the whole idea on your 24 day fix is to remove the coffee or soda out of your diet and replace it with this so that you get the same caffeine with out all the calories of the soda. Thank you again for your article!

  29. Debbie says

    There are 55 mg of caffeine in a 12oz can of Mt Dew and of course tons of sugar.
    If your not tolerating the caffeine content in Spark I would suggest asking your Advocare coach about V16. You’ll get the same benefit as Spark but it is caffeine free.
    You can also divide the serving of Spark and only drink half of it.
    (Keep in mind also that headaches are sometimes common when cutting back on caffeine, if you choose to go that route)

  30. Alex Gandy says

    Well written article. Thanks for the feedback. I am curious what you would recommend regarding an energy supplement for athletes instead of Spark. I play and coach Ultimate Frisbee, and the nature of our sport requires weekend tournaments with multiple games per day. Finding ways to get more energy is always on our minds.

    • Joe says

      Alex, honestly, I think you would get more out of a regular sports drink with carbs than an energy drink. Most energy drinks are just caffeine and/or other stimulants. When you are playing Frisbee, your muscles are using carbs and fats for energy. While caffeine can improve exercise performance, would other caffeine-containing beverages work as well as energy drinks? I think they would but I know this is a personal choice we all have to make.

  31. Lara says

    I started taking Advocare in October 2014 and quickly became a huge fan. I lost 25 pounds in about 2-3 months and everything was great… or so I thought. After the first couple of days/weeks, I started having major gi/indigestion issues, headaches, etc.

    At first I didn’t put two and two together, then I figured it had to be something in Advocare and blamed it on the probiotic course of the program. When I was finished with the probiotics, I thought it was something within the max phase vitamin pack (MNS). I tried two of the three MNS options (opting out of the energy version) and I had such a bad reaction to the “3” version (although I had taken a course of it before) that I had to stop MNS entirely.

    I continued to use other Advocare products, namely, Spark and the meal replacements but kept dealing with real bad indigestion along with some other side effects. I finally had enough and started doing my research. I lined up all my products and realized the common denominator was sucralose.

    So, I googled sucralose and sure enough, I was suffering a good portion of the possible side effects even though most people aren’t sensitive to it. I stopped all Advocare products and after a week I’m starting to feel a bit better.

    Initially I thought I would slowly work some products back into my lifestyle to see if there was one thing specifically that was causing the problem but I’m now starting to think my experience with Advocare will end here. My reasoning for this is, a) after reading about sucralose I decided I wanted to avoid it whenever possible (sure, it could very well be safe but it just didn’t sound like something I want to willingly put into my body especially if that’s what’s causing my issues), b) it’s a very expensive habit to keep up, and, most importantly, c) I had lost 20 pounds before I even started Advocare so I was doing something right to begin with.

    I’m not knocking Advocare or it’s products, I suppose I’m just hypersensitive to some things (caffeine is another one, which is in a lot of their products). For me, the winning ticket is changing my eating habits and getting up off the couch. There is no easy out or quick fix, you have to put the work in for results whether you use a supplemental product or not.

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