The main purpose of this article is to educate prospective distributors and customers on the Advocare brand and it’s products.
What Is Advocare
Advocare, if you are not familiar, is a multi-level marketing supplement company. What is multi-level marketing? In a nutshell, it’s when a company sells their goods to a person (not a business), so that person can market the products to their family and friends in order to make money? Sounds good right? While this may look ok at first glance there are a few problems inherent to this system.
- In order for both the parent company and distributor (the person buying the product to re-sell) to make money, products have to be priced higher than normal market pricing. You are adding an extra middleman in this scenario who needs to be paid. This will drive up the sales price significantly.
- Many people, after spending their own hard earned money on inventory, find out that they are not as well suited to selling that product as they thought. In many situations, these people end up stuck with the inventory and have to either sell it at a loss/break even, or use it themselves.
- Referring back to #1, it drives up prices to have a middleman. In many cases, in order to accommodate the additional cost, companies produce low quality (aka cheap) products in order to allow more margin to pay themselves and distributors. Unfortunately, this is rampant in the multi-level marketing industry and I will go more in-depth on this below.
So basically the problem with multi-level marketing companies comes down to selling high-priced, low-quality products to people that may not be able to sell them. Often times these companies skirt the line into pyramid scheme territory. What is a pyramid scheme? According to Investopedia…
“At issue in determining the legitimacy of a multi-level marketing company is whether its products are sold primarily to consumers or to its members who must recruit new members to buy their products. If it is the former, the company is deemed a legitimate multi-level marketer. If it is the latter, it could be operating a pyramid scheme, which is illegal.”
So in essence, a pyramid scheme is a company whose primary focus is to recruit more and more people in order to sell their products. Not all multi-level marketing companies are pyramid schemes, but it is certainly a thin line.
Back in 2016, ESPN published an extremely comprehensive article on Advocare due to the involvement of New Orleans Saints star quarterback, Drew Brees. According to ESPN numbers, in 2014 of the over 517,000 AdvoCare distributors, only .54% (that’s just over 1/2 a percent) made at least $10,000 selling Advocare supplements. Under 5% earned more than $1,000.
Many of the people that buy into Advocare products end up keeping their distributor status in order to get discount products for themselves. This is not a bad gig until you compare Advocare distributor pricing to the normal sales price of supplements in the consumer market. Many supplements sold at normal retail price are higher quality than the Advocare products at a similar price to what distributors pay.
The remainder of this article is going to focus on the quality and formulas of Advocare supplements. Due to the companies marketing, often Advocare is seen as a premium brand. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Below I’m including a brief breakdown of each product, comparing it to the top products on the market, and giving my commentary.
Spark is likely the most popular product in the Advocare lineup. It provides the immediate benefit of a caffeine boost and many people enjoy it because of the taste and energy they get.
Price: $57.90 per 42 servings on Amazon
Distributor price: Most distributors make around 40% margin which puts their price at around $34.74.
Vitamin A (as beta-carotene), Vitamin B-6 (as pyridoxine HCl), Vitamin B-12 (as cyanocobalamin), Vitamin C (as ascorbic acid), Vitamin E (as d-alpha tocopheryl acetate), Thiamine (as HCl), Riboflavin, Niacin (as niacinamide), Pantothenic acid (as calcium pantothenate), Zinc (as zinc monomethionine), Copper (as copper glycinate), Chromium (as chromium citrate), Choline (as bitartrate and citrate), L-Tyrosine, Taurine, Caffeine , Glycine, L-Carnitine (as tartrate), Inositol, Maltodextrin, citric acid, sucralose, silicon dioxide.
First off, Advocare does not include the full supplement panel on their website. This is extremely shady, and if you ever see a company that does this you should stay far away. This means the company is not proud of their label and don’t want people to see it. Most supplement companies with legitimate formulas will be proud of this and have it front and center. I had to go to Amazon to find the supplement facts which are included to the left.
From Advocare’s website, “Spark® is a unique blend of 20 vitamins, minerals and nutrients that work synergistically to provide a healthy and balanced source of energy.* Spark contains an effective amount of caffeine to give you a quick boost, B vitamins to enhance your body’s natural ability to produce and sustain its own energy, and neuroactive ingredients that enhance mental focus and alertness.*”
Vitamins and Minerals: Advocare’s blend of vitamins and minerals are included at levels far under what you would find in a good quality multi vitamin. Basically, everything in this blend is underdosed.
Energy: Advocare utilizes Caffeine (120mg) and L-Carnitine-L-Tartrate (10mg) for their energy blend. Both of these are good, proven ingredients and the caffeine is at a good moderate dosage (around the same amount as a cup of coffee). The problem I see is the Carnitine dosage. At 10mg, Advocare is using a technique known as “pixy dusting.” This basically means including the ingredient on the label, but not at a high enough dosage to do anything. For reference, in clinical studies, L-Carnitine-L-Tartrate was administered in doses around 2g. That’s 20x the dosage that Advocare includes in Spark!
Focus: L-Tyrosine and Choline Bitartrate (both at 500mg). L-Tyrosine is an ingredient that is great for focus and is very cheap. At a 500mg dose, it’s not as much as is normally included in supplements, but it’s not extremely underdosed either. Choline Bitartrate is an inferior version of Choline that does not pass the blood-brain barrier easily and thus is relatively ineffective for oral consumption. Other versions of Choline such as Alpha GPC and CDP Choline are far superior.
Value: Coming in at almost $1.38/serving, Spark is extremely overpriced compared to other competitors on the market. All it will really do for you is give you a small energy and focus boost. I’m going to give two options below that are far superior as far as value and quality go.
Charged Amino: $.67/serving. A great alternative to Spark, Charged Amino boasts a moderate amount (100mg) of Caffeine. The taste is amazing and it includes a good mix of Essential Amino Acids to help with recovery. Charged Amino further separates itself by including an Electrolyte Matrix. This assists with hydration and various bodily functions. The bottom line here is that Charged Amino comes in at under half the price of Spark and gives the energy benefits along with recovery and hydration. While there are better options on the market, if you are looking for something very similar to Spark at a fraction of the price, this is your best bet.
Dedicated Nutrition Unstoppable: $1.33/serving. Dedicated Nutrition Unstoppable is one of the premiere pre workout supplements on the market. This supplement is literally packed with amazing ingredients to enhance your energy, endurance, blood flow, and focus. This is 10g of extremely effective proven ingredients with no filler. In comparison, Spark boasts a 7g scoop size, however 4g of this is carbohydrates in the form of maltodextrin (a cheap filler) which leaves you with 3g or less of active ingredients. For close to the same price per serving, Unstoppable is an amazing value when compared to Spark.
$31 for 31 servings on Amazon. $1.14/g of BCAA.
The Science: Amino Acid supplements work by signaling muscle protein synthesis (MPS) in your muscles. Leucine, the anabolic trigger, is the primary amino acid responsible for elevating rates of MPS. However, studies have shown that Leucine on it’s own can’t do the job and needs the support of the other two Branch Chain Aminos (Isoleucine and Valine) in order elevate rates of MPS. In addition, in order to sustain MPS, your body will need the other 6 Essential Amino Acids (EAA’s).
Dosage: Leucine needs to be present in quantities of 2.5-3.5g in order to optimize rates of muscle protein synthesis. Catalyst includes only 450mg. That’s about 1/7 of what you need. In addition, BCAA’s should be present in a 2:1:1 ratio which means the isoleucine and valine are lacking as well. And optimally there would be 10g total Essential Amino Acids as that is the amount present in approximately 25g Whey Protein. All in all for 30 servings at $31 (on Amazon) you are getting ripped off. See the two comparison products below.
Summary: This is an extremely expensive product when you break down what you are getting. There are much better alternatives on the market for far less money.
NutraBio BCAA 5000: Cost: $29.99 for 63 servings. This is 9.5 cents per gram of BCAA. Compare to $1.14/g of BCAA in Catalyst. This product is literally over 10x cheaper and extremely high quality. NutraBio uses only vegan BCAA’s (sourced from plant fiber and not duck feathers which are sometimes used as a BCAA source). In addition, NutraBio manufactures all of their products in-house and does 3rd party testing to ensure quality and purity. They are literally the most trusted brand in all of sports nutrition.
NutraBio Intra Blast: This Amino Acid supplement differs from both BCAA 5000 and Catalyst by including Essential Amino Acids in it’s blend. Essential Amino Acids are the building blocks of protein and include the 3 Branch Chain Amino Acids Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine. Intra Blast includes a huge dose of 10g of Essential Amino Acids which is the equivalent of 25g Whey Protein.
NutraBio BCAA 2500 Caps: 30 servings for $12.95 or $.17/g of BCAA. This is a great alternative that comes in capsule form. I normally recommend amino acids in powder form as to get a proper dosage you normally need to take around 10 capsules.
Advocare Meal Replacement Shake
Protein source: Whey & Casein – RED FLAG: Additional amino acids added to protein products indicate the possibility of amino spiking.
Carb source: Most prevalent is Crystalline Fructose (basically sugar). Also contains Maltodextrin and Oat Fiber.
This is Advocare’s meal replacement product. Meal replacement shakes can be a great way to get quality protein, fat, carbohydrates, and sometimes vitamins and minerals. Unfortunately, Advocare cuts a lot of corners here. The most worrying thing to me is that the protein blend in the label includes several amino acids. Generally, when this happens it indicates amino spiking. Amino spiking is the process wherein companies add cheap amino acids to their protein so it tests higher in nitrogen levels (how protein levels are derived) than what is actually in the product. This basically means that there might not be 24g of protein in here. Amino acids added in the ingredients section are not always indicative of amino spiking, but especially when it is included in the protein blend, there’s a very strong possibility that it could be.
The other worrying part about Advocare’s Meal Replacement Shake is the primary carbohydrate source. Ingredients labels list ingredients in order of most to least prevalent. The second highest quantity ingredient in this is Crystalline Fructose. What is Crystalline Fructose? Basically sugar. Fruit sugar in fact. When searching for more info about Crystalline Fructose, many sources claim it is actually worse for you than regular sugar due to the fact that it must be metabolised by the liver. For meal replacement shakes, a high quality, slow digesting carbohydrate is preferable here.
Advocare Meal Replacement Alternatives
NutraBio Muscle Matrix MRP: $41.99 per 18 servings. As I mentioned in the Amino Acids section, NutraBio quality is unmatched. This holds true with their MRP Product which uses Whey Protein Isolate and Micellar Casein as it’s protein source. Whey Protein Isolate is the highest quality protein source available due to it’s fast digesting nature, high purity (over 90% pure), and high Leucine content. Micellar Casein is a slow digesting protein which will digest slowly and stimulate your metabolism for hours after consuming. For a carbohydrate source, Nutrabio MRP uses Highly Branched Cyclic Dextrin which is very fast absorbing, but slow release. In addition, Cyclic Dextrin is extremely low Glycemic Index which means it doesn’t spike insulin levels like sugar or fructose does. Low Glycemic Index foods are exactly what dieters want for their carb source. NutraBio MRP also contains a high amount of fiber.
Advocare is overall not a good company to associate yourself with. Their product line includes extremely low-quality products and formulations relative to the rest of the market at several times the market price. In addition, many people who get into distribution for Advocare find themselves unable to sell the products they buy and end up either using them themselves or selling them at a loss. Even if you are an excellent salesperson, most of the products in the Advocare lineup will not help the people you are selling to, and in some cases may actually hinder their fitness and nutrition goals.
If you are someone that really wants to get involved in the fitness industry, a better option would be to become an affiliate or brand ambassador for a supplement company. Many companies (including Suppz) have programs that pay out commission for every sale you make. Some brand ambassadors are able to earn a monthly stipend for posting and marketing on behalf of supplement companies. Another option would be to apply as a demo rep. Some supplement companies will pay demo reps $20-30 per hour for setting up booths and sampling out product at stores and gyms.
If you have additional questions or want to ask about any other supplements, leave a comment below and I’ll be happy to answer.