Isagenix Shake Review: Does It Work?

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Expert rating: 3.2/5

Customer rating: stars-icon voted

Intro: What is it?

Isalean is a meal replacement shake that has 240 calories, and the company claims they’re clinically tested to help you lose weight.

Their shakes  come in different flavors from Strawberry Cream, Creamy French Vanilla, Creamy Dutch Chocolate, Black Sesame, and when in season, Eggnog.  So what do they actually do? And is there any benefit? The answer to both these questions and more is available in this comprehensive review.

Isaleans Ingredients

There’s slightly different ingredients added depending on the kind of shake you get. For example, there’s a dairy free shake that’s made with pea and hemp protein instead of whey.

The following is the ingredient list for the Creamy French Vanilla option:

Whey Protein Concentrate Milk Protein Concentrate Low-Heat Nonfat Dry Milk Isomaltooligosaccharides Powder Fructose
Sunflower Oil Powder Natural Flavors Olive Oil Powder Flax Seed Powder Xanthan Gum
Tapioca Maltodextrin MCT Oil Powder Cinnamon Powder Ionic Alfalfa Magnesium Oxide
Tricalcium Phosphate Potassium Citrate Magnesium Citrate Apple Juice Powder Sea Salt
Lactase Lipase Cellulase Invertase Protease
Amylase Bromelain Papain Acid Stable Protease Yucca Root Powder

It’s mentioned in one of their pamphlets that the added enzymes Lactase, Lipase. Cellulase, Invertase, Protease, and Amylase are added for proper digestion. Although it’s really unnecessary to add these ingredients, since enzymes are only required for people whose body can’t naturally produce its own enzymes.

They also add fructose and isomaltooligosaccharides which have been shown to cause potential side effects.

There’s a mixture of different percentage yields for each vitamin. These are the amounts you get per serving:

2%: Iron.

24%: Phosphorus.

32%: Calcium.

35%: Vitamin E.

40%: Vitamin C, Pantothenic Acid, Iodine, Magnesium, Selenium.

45%: Niacin, Biotin, Zinc.

50%: Vitamin A, Copper.

60%: Thiamin, Vitamin B6, Manganese, Molybdenum.

70%: Riboflavin.

80%: Vitamin D, Folate, Chromium.

200%: Vitamin B12.

That 200% of vitamin B12 may sound like a lot, but since it’s from a water soluble vitamin, most of it is lost through urination.

Overall it’s fairly standard for most meal replacement shakes.

Macronutrients and Calories

Calories 240


Calories From Fat 55 Calories From Saturated fat 15


Total Fat 5g, 8% Saturated Fat 1.5 g, 8%
Trans Fat Og Polyunsaturated Fat 0.5 g Monounsaturated Fat 2.5 g Cholesterol 45 mg, 15%


Sodium 240 mg, 10%
Potassium 330 mg, 9% Total Carbohydrates 24 g, 8% Dietary Fiber 8g, 34% Sugars 11g Protein 24g, 48%


Once again this is for the regular Creamy French Vanilla blend, though there isn’t much different in comparison to the other flavors.

This shake does have one of the highest amounts of calories and carbohydrates. This may be the reason why the company describes it as a way to nourish an “active lifestyle”. More effort has to be placed in comparison to other shakes, which have about half the amount of calories.

Quality of Protein

Protein is very important for a meal replacement shake, without a quality source you won’t gain most of the benefits that are possible from a full meal.

Isagenix offers 24 grams for their regular formula, 22 grams for their vegetarian blend.

They mix their formula into what’s referred to as the Myo-IsaLean  Complex blend, which is a fancy way of saying 3 different kinds of protein are used:

  • Whey protein concentrate (undenatured): The left overs that are found via the cheese making process. It has a high amount of amino acids and it’s easier to digest than regular milk protein.  It also has less protein than Whey Isolate.
  • Milk protein concentrate (undenatured): Cold processed protein source which has about 75% to 80% protein.
  • Low-heat nonfat dry milk: Both fat and water are carefully removed to produce a fine milk powder. Lactose still remains alongside vitamins and minerals.


It’s also claimed that the milk protein found in this brand is not extracted from cows treated with antibiotics or hormones. The truth is the FDA does not allow for any trace amounts of antibiotics to be seen in any milk used in the USA.

Also, there’s one hormone that’s commonly given to cows called rBST. The FDA has said there’s no different in quality between cows treated this this hormone. In fact, cows naturally produce this hormone on their own.

One study conducted by the FDA on the rate of antibiotics in milk had this to say

  • 2,000 dairy farms were tested by strict FDA sanctioned guidelines.
  • Less than 1% of the farms tested had even small amounts of antibiotics.

All these claims provided by the company are all marketing tactics that can confuse customers. It all sounds very new and scientific, but it’s really based off of commonly seen or unnecessary practices.

There’s also discussion about the word denatured. According to Isagenix, their shakes are made with undenatured protein. They claim that other brands heat and process their protein, and that this destroys precious amino acids and other vitamins.

The truth is that it’s impossible to get undenatured concentrates. This is because the definition of undenatured according to means:

Loss of native, higher-order structure of protein molecules in solution”

Whenever you get a concentrate of any kind, you’re naturally reducing the amount of some amino acids. To be truly undenatured would mean there’s no sort of change, and this is impossible since whey, nonfat dry milk, and milk concentrate are changed from their original source.

It’s also ironic that the company’s pamphlet mentions that other brands use heat to treat their protein, even though one of the ingredients they use is low-heat dry milk.

Another term used to describe the cows that they use is “Certified Cheerful Cows”. This means that the cows were allowed to roam free on the pastures of New Zealand. When trying to research exactly what the specifications are of this label, only explanations by Isagenix were mentioned. I couldn’t find any evidence that there’s actually any certification process.

Grass fed cow’s true value

Grass fed cows is milked to produce the protein in the regular Isalean brand. The problem with grass fed protein powders is that although they have healthier fats, you end up losing this when you take a concentrate. So you end up paying much more for a something you won’t benefit from.

At 24 grams of protein it’s a high amount, but the quality of the protein matters more than anything. It would have been good to see some sort of Isolate protein added, so there’s even more amino acids added. Also, since there are 2 forms of milk protein, it would have been much cheaper to just drink milk separately.

Isaleans Price and Quality

A standard tub of Isalean worth 14 servings ranges between $51.95, and $53.95, depending on the flavor.

You do get a 10% discount if you buy 6 tubs or more.

At the standard rate however the math for the amount you get is this:

$51.95 divided by 14 days= $3.71 a day.

The problem with this price is that you’re not getting the full benefits of whey protein isolate, and there’s also added fructose which isn’t very good.

What’s Isaleans Shake intended benefit?

They claim to offer the following benefits:

  • The ability to promote nutritional cleansing.
  • The healing of cells.
  • Sustained energy.
  • Rebuilt muscle and bones.
  • Curbed appetite.
  • Peak performance for the body.
  • Great nutritional diversity.
  • Pure and safe protein.

This may all sound unique, but their official website mentions this is all accomplished through amino acids. The truth is any product that has a high amount of aminos can produce the same effect.

Amino acids are considered the “building blocks” of life. They help the body grow and repair tissue, and they’re great after a workout.  So although the amino acids found in Isalean are good, the way they describe it makes it sound like it’s unique to them. Any source of amino acids produces the same effects.

Complications with Isaleans enzymes

Their version of Lipase is extracted from Rhyzopus Oryzae, it’s known as an “opportunistic human pathogen”. This basically means it can potentially harm people with weakened immune systems.

The European Health Safety Board which is similar to the FDA; has not recognized it as being safe or effective.


This digestive resistant carbohydrate is also a low glycemic ingredient.  There are many health claims which report that this ingredient is not only safe, but healthy. According to the European Union, they do not see any potential benefit from using this ingredient. There’s also the possibility for side effects such as bloating, nausea, and diarrhea.

Ionic Alfalfa

One unique ingredient which is only used by Isagenix is something called Ionic Alfalfa. According to them it’s a:

“Proprietary technology combining plant source minerals and alfalfa juice extract”

It’s claimed to have over 70 minerals, and it’s supposed to be able to aid 95% of the body’s functions. This once again is clever marketing used by the company. All the foods you eat are used by the body. As far as the 70 minerals goes, there’s no proof provided to suggest exactly what’s inside it.

Also they never explain what Ionic actually means. After doing some research on chemistry websites, it was revealed that this means it’s able to be digested and used by the body.  So really it’s a pointless word to use, since any mineral you use is digested.

What kind of proof is offered?

A study funded by Isagenix reported that people who used Isalean shake were able to lose weight and inches off their waist. Here were the documented facts and results of the study:

  • 54 obese women in the Chicago area were tested for 8 weeks.
  • They had a BMI of 30 to 39.9.
  • Ages were 35 to 65.
  • The first 6 days were a liquid diet with mostly water and only 240 kcal.
  • On the 7th day they were allowed an Isagenix shake for lunch and breakfast that amounted to 240 kcal.
  • Between 400 to 600 calories of Isagenix was given for dinner.
  • The other group was given 240 calories worth of food for breakfast, and another 400 to 600 for dinner. Though their meals were not controlled, and the women had to count their own calories.


The results were that the BMI was the same, and the Isagenix group wound up losing 2 extra pounds in 8 weeks.  However the major flaw in this study is that the women who didn’t drink Isagenix were allowed to do their own calorie counting. This can lead to a potential bias, and it’s possible they miscalculated their own calorie intake.

These same test subjects had to call and let the scientists know what they ate 24 hours before.  This wouldn’t be allowed in a true clinically researched study.

High sugar content

There’s also 11 grams of sugar, this is a fairly high amount when you consider some meal replacements offer a gram or less.

The main sugar source is fructose; this is what you should know about it:

  • It can cause a resistance to insulin, which leads to obesity.
  • There’s the possibility for increasing triglycerides, bad LDL cholesterol, and fat tissue.
  • Cardiovascular disease rates can also be increased.


Although fructose is extracted from different sources such as fruits, since it doesn’t have the fiber and other vitamins and minerals, you end up getting a heavy dose of sugar.  According to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, fructose:

“Is poorly absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract, and it is almost entirely cleared by the liver”

What ends up happening according to this study, is that your body does not end up producing leptin which is used to prevent hunger. So you can feast on large amounts of fructose and not feel any less hungry.

Isagenix Business

This company runs a multilevel marketing campaign. This makes it so any person can become a distributor, who not only sells their brands, but they also earn a commission and more income based on how many people they can recruit to also sell Isagenix products.

As mentioned before, they have their recruiter’s use a clinical study which was not only flawed and didn’t show much improvement, but it was also funded by the company itself.

They’ve had one FDA recall back in 2009:

  • Batches of an Isalean bar were contaminated with salmonella. The FDA advised people to destroy all batches with a certain barcode number. It’s unknown how it was contaminated with salmonella, and it’s unknown what they’ve done to ensure this won’t happen again.

Customer Opinions

Discovering what people truly feel about the company and even Isalean shakes themselves is very difficult. There are so many mixed reports online, and this has to do with the aggressive marketing performed by the recruiters.

It’s common for any message board or forum to have people representing the company reassuring people that they have a lot to offer.

One popular review on had this to say:

VERY turned off by the massive amount of marketing materials that arrived with my system”

This person mentions there’s a long appeal to help people understand how much money you can make with the company.

As far as taste goes, there have been mixed reports. The most common claims made include:

“Tastes too sweet”

“Has a chalky taste”


“Very mild taste”

“The chocolate is delicious”:

It’s hard to judge taste since people have different preferences. Some prefer heavy sweeteners while others try to avoid it. So it’s based mostly on preference.

What does the medical community have to say?

Harriet Hall, a renounced medical doctor who debunks fake science provided by companies has thoroughly researched the claims made by Isagenix. According to her, the company’s claims are all a:

“Mishmash of pseudoscience, myth, misrepresentation, and outright lies”

She also mentions that many of the benefits which the company claims are possible are based off half-truths, and that there’s no real benefit from taking their products as opposed to another low calorie option.


Many of the reported benefits from this brand often sound very scientific. However there have been a few promises either debunked or unnecessary since it’s a common sense statement:

  • The denatured milk protein myth: Once a protein source is concentrated, it loses its denatured status. It’s impossible to claim this fact since only pure sources are non-denatured. The truth is it’s OK to eat regular protein that is denatured. This doesn’t mean you lose any significant vitamin content or amino acids.
  • Using heat as a way to treat milk protein: They claim other meal replacement shakes treat their protein with heat. They say this destroys the nutrients. However, one of their ingredients is low heat milk protein. So essentially they use the same process that they say is bad.
  • Their own labels and processed ingredients make it seem better than it actually is: There’s a seal of approval for happy cows, and an ingredient called Ionic Alfalfa which is claimed to have over 70 minerals though they’re never released. Ionic is a fancy way of saying the body can process it. So technically every other shake company could say they have only Ionic ingredients.  They also provide their own seal of approval for happy cows; it’s not actually a real seal of approval that any government recognizes.
  • Quality of the protein: It’s good that there are 3 different kinds of milk protein, but it could be much better. There’s low heat milk powder, milk protein concentrate, and whey protein concentrate. The first 2 can be found much cheaper on their own. Whey protein concentrate is good, but it’s much better when it’s mixed alongside whey protein isolate. This ensures you get the full amino acid profile.
  • The good bacteria added aren’t necessary: They’re typically only given to people who have digestive issues.

Though the marketing is very effective at painting an interesting sounding picture, once you go past the big words and fancy sounding descriptions, it’s really just a mix of milk protein with a little bit of whey and some vitamins.

The truth is the clinical studies were flawed and biased. Overall, there’s nothing unique about Isalean shakes.

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