According to the Isagenix website, IsaLean Shakes “contain superior nutrition compared to other meal replacement shakes on the market” and are designed to “take your health and performance to new levels.” Powerful words indeed; but words aside, the big question is, does the Isagenix shake work or not? In this review, I’m going to look at the clinical research and ingredients in the IsaLean Shake. I’ll rip away the Isagenix distributor hype, try to sort fact from fiction, and hopefully along the way help you better decide if the IsaLean Shake is right for you.
IsaLean Shake Ingredients
According to the product website, one Isagenix IsaLean Shake (Dutch chocolate flavor) has 240 calories per packet and the following nutritional information:
|Calories from fat = 55|
|Calories from saturated fat = 20|
|Total Fat 6 g||9%|
|Saturated fat 2 g||10%|
|Trans fat 0g|
|Polyunsaturated fat 0.5g|
|Monounsaturated fat 3g|
|Sodium 265 mg||11%|
|Potassium 430 mg||12%|
|Total carbohydrate 24g||8%|
|Dietary fiber 8g||32%|
DV = daily value. DV based on eating 2000 calories per day
Tip. The easy way to read a food label in the US is to remember these two facts about the daily values (DV):
- When you see 5% or less, it’s low in that nutrient.
- When you see 20% or more, it’s high in that nutrient.
Looking at the basic nutrition label for the product, we can say that the Isagenix Lean Shake is high in protein. Its 24 grams of protein provides 48% of the body’s protein need per day (assuming you are eating 2,000 calories per day).
The shake is also considered high in fiber because the 8 grams it provides is 32% of the fiber we should have in a day. The fiber (and protein) likely help people feel full longer—so that is good.
How Much Fat Is in the IsaLean Shake?
The IsaLean Shake is 22.9% fat, so it is high in fat. I got this by dividing the fat calories (55) by the total calories (240) X 100. In other words, 55/240 X 100 = 22.9% fat. This is a high-fat food because it’s more than our “20% or more is high” rule.
Note. As a rule, most healthy people should consume less than 30% of total calories in fat in a day. If the IsaLean Shake is the “worst” thing you eat, you are ok, because it only makes up 22.9% of the 65 total grams of fat of our daily recommendation (if we eat 2,000 calories per day).
Now for saturated fat. The shake has 20 calories coming from saturated fat. So, doing the same math as before, 20/240 X 100 = 8.3% saturated fat. So, the IsaLean Shake is neither low (less than 5%) or high (20% or more) in saturated fat. Putting this in better perspective—people should aim for not more than about 15 grams of saturated fat per day. One IsaLean Shake provides 2 of those 15 grams. Overall, I’d say it’s not too bad.
Isagenix distributors will point out that the saturated fats in IsaLean Shakes come mostly from medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) that come from coconut oil. These are fats that the body processes differently and as a result, they are less likely to be stored as fat and more likely to burned for energy. This might help people to lose weight―and there is some evidence of this too.
Many people say that MCTs are healthy fats, but in all due respect to those individuals, I must point out that more research is needed on this issue. For more on MCTs, see this review.
IsaLean Shake’s Other Ingredients
Below the Nutrition Facts Label are the other ingredients in the IsaLean shake. There are a LOT of ingredients. Fortunately, ingredients in the US are always listed in order from the most to the least so we can see which ingredients a product has the most of. So, reading from left to right, the label indicates that one packet of the Isagenix IsaLean Shake has the following ingredients:
|Myo-IsaLean Complex™||fructose||natural Dutch cocoa powder|
|sunflower (Helianthus annuus) oil powder||natural flavors|
|olive (Olea europaea) oil powder||xanthan gum||flax (Linum usitatissimum) seed powder|
|medium chain triglyceride (MCT) oil powder||Ionic Alfalfa™||potassium citrate|
|magnesium oxide||tricalcium phosphate||sea salt|
|magnesium citrate||enzyme blend||silicon dioxide|
|yucca (Yucca schidigera) root powder||vitamin C (ascorbic acid)||magnesium stearate|
|psyllium seed powder||biotin||selenium amino acid chelate|
(Cinnamomum zeylanicum) powder
|stevia (Stevia rebaudiana) leaf|
|vitamin E succinate||copper amino acid chelate||vitamin A (beta|
|zinc oxide||manganese amino acid chelate||iodine amino acid|
|niacinamide||d-calcium pantothenate||vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol)|
|chromium amino acid chelate||niacin||molybdenum amino acid chelate|
|vitamin B6 (pyridoxine hydrochloride)||vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin)||vitamin B2 (riboflavin)|
|vitamin B1 (thiamin hydrochloride)||folate (folic acid)|
The Myo-IsaLean Complex™ is composed of: whey protein concentrate (undenatured), milk protein concentrate (undenatured), and low-heat nonfat dry milk.
The Enzyme blend is composed of: lactase (from Aspergillus oryzae), lipase (from Rhizopus oryzae), cellulase (from Trichoderma longibrachiatum), invertase (from Saccharomyces cerevisiae), protease (from Aspergillus oryzae), amylase (from Bacillus subtilis), bromelain (from Ananas comosus), papain (from Carica papaya), and acid stable protease (from Aspergillus niger).
Looking over the ingredients in the IsaLean Shake, I can make these general statements:
- The enzyme blend won’t help weight loss. There’s no evidence for this.
- The second ingredient in the list is fructose, for those who consider this.
- I believe most of the shake’s 8 grams of fiber come from mostly from xanthan gum and flax.
- I don’t know what the “natural flavors” are.
- It contains an ingredient called isomaltooligosaccharide powder. Isagenix calls this a prebiotic.
Prebiotics are basically the food of probiotic bacteria. That said, prebiotic supplements are not needed.
- The Myo-IsaLean Complex is an invented word. It’s a combination of whey and casein proteins, which are found in milk. Whey protein is a good source of branch chain amino acids, which are popular in the world of exercise. The casein protein is absorbed slower than whey, which I’m guessing is present in the hopes that it will supply muscles with a steady stream of amino acids over a long period of time, in the hopes that this might enhance muscle growth. The prefix “Myo” refers to muscle, but I’m not aware of any evidence that the Myo-IsaLean Complex of protein builds or maintains muscle better than other forms of whey and casein protein.
Now, let’s talk about the research on the Isagenix Lean Shake. I searched online as well as the isagenixhealth.net website and found two studies on the shake that I will summarize below:
Study #1. A study published in 2012 in the journal, Nutrition and Metabolism titled Improvement in coronary heart disease risk factors during an intermittent fasting/calorie restriction regimen: Relationship to adipokine modulations. Here is the summary of the investigation:
- Fifty-four overweight women were randomly put on either a liquid intermittent calorie-restricted diet or a food-based calorie-restricted diet for 8 weeks. The liquid diet consisted of two Isagenix IsaLean shakes per day.
- For this program, the women ate less calories for the first 6 days and on the 7th day, consumed only water and 120 calories of juice powder.
- On the calorie-restricted days, the women consumed an IsaLean Shake for breakfast and lunch and ate a 400–600 calorie dinner. This means that on their calorie-restricted days (6 days of the week) the women were eating between 880 and 1,080 calories per day in 3 meals. This is less than the average person eats per day.
- The women in the food-based diet were instructed to reduce their calories by 30% of normal in the 3 meals per day they were to eat. On the 7th day, (fasting day) they also were to consume only 120 calories.
- Both groups met with a registered dietitian who instructed the women on how to eat healthy.
- Greater reductions in body weight and waist circumference were seen in those getting the IsaLean Shakes.
- After 8 weeks women in the IsaLean shake group lost about 8 lbs. Those eating food lost about 6 lbs.
- Significant reductions in fat mass were seen in those who used the IsaLean Shake compared to those who did not use the shakes (about 6 lbs lost vs. about 4 lbs).
- Significant reductions in total cholesterol and LDL were seen in those getting the IsaLean Shake.
- Significant increase in LDL particle size (this is good) was seen only in the Isagenix Shake group.
- Both groups saw significant reduction in small particle-sized LDL molecules (this is good).
- Significant reductions in leptin, IL 6, tumor necrosis factor, homocysteine, and IGF1 were significantly lower in those getting the IsaLean Shakes.
- CRP, a measure of cellular inflammation (and a marker for heart disease), did not change in the the Isagenix Shake group. Interestingly, CRP did decrease a little (non significantly) in the group who just dieted.
1. Only women were in the study. What about men? Its possible different genders react differently.
2. The researchers did not track calorie intake. I feel this is the biggest problem for the women who did not get the IsaLean Shake. In other words, how do we know they ate the same calories as the women who drank the shake? We don’t.
3. The participants knew who were getting the shakes. Since the women were aware of who got the shakes, it’s possible those women may have acted differently (ate fewer calories on purpose, for example) than the food-only group. The food-only group should have gotten a placebo/zero-calorie shake to eliminate this possibility.
4. The study was funded by Isagenix. While I have no problems with companies funding research on their supplements (I like it actually!), I prefer that the researchers have no association with the studies that are conducted. In this investigation, one of the researchers has a “consulting relationship” with Isagenix.
My biggest question with this study is why even involve intermittent fasting? Even if intermittent fasting is part of the Isagenix program, I think a more useful study would be to take those same 54 women, do the same measurements but randomly give them either the two IsaLean Shakes or two placebo/zero-calorie shakes a day for 8 weeks, tell them to cut their calories and see who lost the most weight and was the healthiest?
For those who are not aware of what intermittent fasting is, you can learn more about it by reading The Fast Diet which I linked to on Amazon for those who want to learn more.
Another option could be to compare the weight loss and health benefits of the IsaLean Shake to other meal popular replacement shakes such as:
- Shakeology (click to see my review)
- Body by Vi Shakes (click to see my review)
- Right Size Smoothies (click to see my review)
- Herbalife Formula 1 Shakes (click to see my review)
Heck, they could have even compared the IsaLean Shake to Slimfast!
Study #2. The other study I located was titled Intermittent fasting combined with calorie restriction is effective for weight loss and cardio-protection in obese women. This study was published in Nutrition Journal.
Here’s the thing. This is the SAME study as study #1. As such, it suffers from the same drawbacks that I’ve already covered. Why did they re-purpose the same study data under a different name?
Bottom line: Whether it’s kosher or not in the scientific community to do re-purpose the same data under a different name is irrelevant in my opinion. It’s sneaky science and it gives Isagenix distributors a false sense of how much research supports the products they sell.
While I can commend Isagenix for commissioning research on their shake, I believe this study (or two studies, if you want to think of it that way) could have been done better. My tips for a better study would include:
- No affiliation – at all – between the researchers and Isagenix.
- Compare the IsaLean Shake to just cut calories (no fasting).
- Compare the IsaLean Shake to other meal replacement shakes.
For a more in depth review of the IsaLean Shake study, see the review at Science-Based Medicine.
IsaLean Shake and Exercise
The Isagenix website notes that the IsaLean shake is designed to “take your health and performance to new levels.” By “performance” I assume they are referring to exercise performance. While I don’t think the IsaLean Shake will hurt the ability to exercise, I am also not aware of any published peer-reviewed research to show it improves exercise ability either. It might or might not. There is no good proof either way.
It would be interesting to compare the IsaLean Shake to anther brand, such as the Herbalife Formula 1 shake, to see which might make people bigger, stronger, faster, or healthier. Unfortunately, I don’t think we will see that kind of research anytime soon. Supplement companies―for whatever reason―usually don’t sponsor research that takes on the competition.
That’s too bad, because that’s the kind of research we all want to see.
The Isagenix Cleanse
Included in the Isagenix program are cleanse days on which people eat fewer calories in conjunction with taking various Isagenix supplements. This is said to rid the body of toxins, which, after they are lost, makes it easier to burn fat and lose weight. But what are these toxins? As far as I can tell, Isagenix has no published peer-reviewed evidence of toxins being released during the cleansing process.
When people eat fewer calories (or carbs) they tend to lose a lot of water from the breakdown of glycogen (the carbs that are stored in the body). Some people may notice that they go to the bathroom a few extra times during the day when they cleanse. This is likely the water that is being released. Hopefully Isagenix will sponsor research to uncover what toxins are actually released from the cleansing days.
I welcome the insights of Isagenix distributors who would like to shed light on what toxins are actually released with the cleanse.
The Isagenix Company
Isagenix―also called Isagenix International LLC―was founded by Dr. John Anderson and Jim and Kathy Coover in 2002. Dr. John Anderson is called the “Master Formulator” of several Isagenix supplements but I can’t find what his degree is in. Even the Isagenix website doesn’t appear to give this education information.
According to the website, the company is located at 2225 S. Price Road, Chandler, Arizona 85286. That address doesn’t come up on Google maps, but I did locate another address for “Isagenix International.” That address is 601 S 54th St, Chandler, AZ and on Google maps, does indeed show a building that says “Isagenix” on the outside. That’s good.
Isagenix has a contact number of: 480-889-5747. According to the Better Business Bureau file on Isagenix, the company also has a contact number of 480-889-5777.
The majority of Isagenix supplements are sold via MLM distributors. There is nothing inherently wrong with MLM, but for those who don’t want to buy Isagenix supplements from a distributor personally, I found the Isalean Shake on Amazon as well as even the 30 Day Cleansing and Fat Burning System too.
Isagenix distributors might claim the products purchased online are not the “official” supplements, but I see no good proof of this.
For those reading this who are considering becoming an Isagenix distributor, the only words of wisdom I would offer would be:
1. Try the program first to see how you like it.
2. Find out how much the AVERAGE distributor makes per month. This is a more realistic idea of how much most people make rather than the stories of the super successful salespeople.
Isagenix Side Effects
I Googled “Isagenix IsaLean Shake side effects” and did not see much in the way of people saying bad things about it, but I must also say that most of the search results I saw appear to be dominated by pro-Isagenix websites. Looking at the ingredients, I think if you are healthy, then the IsaLean Shake is probably safe. For those who have health problems, show the ingredients to your doctor or pharmacist, just to be safe.
Does the IsaLean Shake Work?
First let me say that there are a few things I like about the Isagenix IsaLean Shake. First, I like that it has 240 calories. While this is a bit more calories than in other shakes—like Shakeology—I think this is probably closer to what people typically eat for a snack. I also like that the IsaLean Shake has more fiber. In addition, I like that the shake has 24g of protein, which when combined with the fiber, might help people feel full longer, reducing overeating setbacks. While not proven, the added protein might also help spare muscle loss during dieting.
The big question, however, is this: Is the Isagenix IsaLean Shake best for weight loss? Currently, I see no compelling proof that it’s better than other commercial shakes. While I feel it can be a healthy addition to the diet, I see no benefits―other than convenience―that it’s healthier than the homemade shake I make in my kitchen. I think this is an important point to remember for those who are price-sensitive, because the shakes can be expensive. The Isagenix weight loss study, while interesting, has some problems and if I can be candid, I could have done a better study myself. That said, I do believe that if people follow the Isagenix program, they will lose weight. But that’s not because of anything unique in the IsaLean Shake or the cleanse system. I believe people lose weight with Isagenix because they eat fewer calories.
Here is the IsaLean Shake on Amazon for those who are interested and want to read the comments from others who have tried it.