Hey friends. It is time for another product and company deep dive. Today, we’re taking a close look at Plexus and reviewing a few of its products. Should you use Plexus to lose weight, cleanse your colon…or anything at all?
In today’s post, I’ll walk you through an overview of Plexus the company as well as a few of their popular products, including the Plexus pink drink. We’ll look at what research there is to support their claims (ahem…not much) and take a big-picture view of weight loss supplements at large. Do they work? Do they support real health, happiness…or anything at all?
And if this is your first time here: a big, Midwest welcome! I’m Colleen, an Intuitive Eating dietitian who is on your side, here to offer you an honest review of the diet industry claims. As a registered dietitian, I’m a fan of real science, not fluff or false claims.
So let’s dive in: what is Plexus? (and get a closer peek at a few of their most popular products). Fasten your seatbelt ladies and gentlemen: things are about to get turbulent.
What is Plexus?
Plexus is a supplement company that is built on the Multilevel Marketing model, i.e., you can’t buy the products in stores, but you can get them from your high-school acquaintance who suddenly wants to get back in touch with you on Facebook all these years later.
Plexus offers a wide range of “health” supplements for purchase. Their products are marketed to support anything from glowing skin to digestive health to, of course, weight loss. Unfortunately, they do not have the research to back up their bold and misleading claims.
From their website, “Our mission is to ignite Hope, Health, and Happiness for those who want more out of it.”
Tarl Robinson, a man with experience in direct sales and zero training in health or nutrition, has been leading Plexus since 2008.
Sometimes, a person will have a vision for a product or company, recognize the limits of their own training and expertise and bring together a board of advisors to augment their knowledge gaps. That does not seem to be the case with Plexus, as none of the listed board members are healthcare professionals that might lend credibility to a supplement company.
So…we are not off to a great start. Let’s take a peek at a few of their most popular products.
Plexus Pink Drink
Perhaps the best-known product that Plexus promotes, Plexus Slim – the Plexus “pink drink” – is a cheerful pink powder that you dissolve in water and drink once or twice daily before meals.
This is kind of like taking a Crystal Light and adding fiber powder and jacking up the price, BTW.
The ingredients in Plexus Slim include:
- Green coffee bean extract - provides caffeine, which may suppress your appetite
- Chromium polynicotinate – used in glucose metabolism
- Xylooligosaccharides (XOS) – the fiber
The reported – not backed by studies – benefit is that the special fibers in the powder will lower your appetite and therefore cause you to lose weight because you’re not eating as much.
That is not how our bodies actually work. Our biological wiring is here to protect us against famine. While in the short term, modifications to our eating might slow hunger, they won’t work long term. Using a product like the pink drink to squash hunger is like water building up against a dam. The more it builds up the harder the crash (or binge) is when it becomes too much to bear (and it will).
As with all of their products, there are no published, peer-reviewed studies of their products available to back up the claims that they’re making.
If you grab your magnifying glass and take a peek at the teeny tiny fine print, the product clarifies that their product will help with weight loss “when combined with a reduced-calorie weight loss diet plan. Individual results will vary.” Are you freaking kidding me? Red Flag.
Also a Red Flag? The product handout lists an independent study that showed an average of 5 pounds of weight loss among the participants who were taking 1 packet of Plexus Slim per day. And the control group? They lost an average of 3 pounds. The results are NOT statistically significant: this means that the researchers cannot say that the difference between the two groups was due to anything other than random chance.
Red flag: this study is not published in any journal. Nor is it even linked from their website. Good quality research is reviewed independently by peers and then published for anyone to read. This ain’t that.
What you CAN find in published literature is a 2020 case report where a woman became ill with an autoimmune condition called primary immune thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP) after taking this product.
How much does the Plexus pink drink cost? At about 3 bucks per packet, that is quite a commitment to a product with no published studies (and actual published risk).
Key takeaways: fiber is great. Most of us aren’t getting enough of it. All of the different kinds of fiber can boost health. And in the right dose, the specific fiber in this product can actually help to cultivate good gut health and support even blood sugars. But we don’t even know how much of the XOS fiber is in this product…is it enough to make a difference? Who knows: the blend is proprietary.
What we do know is that we can get fiber in far less expensive (and less risky) ways. We can add beans to our dinner or have some berries at breakfast. Fiber boosted at a fraction of the price: check!
Onto the next product: the Plexus Reset.
Are you preparing for a colonoscopy? Good for you for taking care of yourself. If this procedure is what you’re preparing for, your doctor will recommend a protocol to clear out your intestines so that they’re able to adequately evaluate the health of your digestive tract.
Anyone else? You don’t need a cleanse.
But, if you’d like to part with $150, you can have a 3-day hiatus from regular eating as you “reimagine your health” and think about how hungry you are. Plexus Reset is just the ticket (dripping with sarcasm, BTW)!
And because you’re eating far less than usual, the scale will be lower for a brief window…until you eat food again.
What is in the Plexus reset? Let’s explore.
- Hydrate: a sports drink packet that includes magnesium citrate, a known laxative.
- Lean Whey: a protein powder with unnecessary, but fancy-sounding digestive enzymes and gas-inducing fiber powder. Fun!
- Plexus Slim – the pink drink reviewed (and debunked) above.
- Bone broth – a popular soup. Tasty, but not necessary. The possible benefits are overblown (and can be purchased for less $$ at your local grocery store).
- Smart Snack – some sort of protein and fiber chocolate bar that might (?) stave off hunger until dinner time.
- Active – a caffeinated drink with coffee and other ingredients including trehalose, a mysterious sugar that was originally extracted from insect cocoons. Gross!
- Collagen soup – a tomato soup made with bone broth instead of water for a lot more money.
- Restore – a powdered drink mix with a pinch of powdered spinach and a few other ingredients that would be far tastier (and less expensive) if you just got them at the grocery store.
Worth it? I think not.
Don’t be fooled by their fancy language. They list many, many benefits, all with an (*) noting that these statements have not been evaluated by the FDA.
Basically, this is a bunch of bologna. I can think of far better ways to enjoy a weekend than to starve through three days of hunger, only to feel overly hungry and overeat afterward. Save your money, please, and thanks.
Let’s review one more product: the Plexus Metaburn.
Where to begin? The Plexus Metaburn is a capsule of ingredients that offer plenty of benefits, according to Plexus:
“You’ll notice better-fitting clothes and not to mention a mild energy lift, more positive mood, and sharper mental focus.*”
Notice that little asterisk there? Me too.
After a long hunt through the fine print, you’ll find this statement:
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
I.e., we can say whatever we want to say, we just have to tuck this little disclosure somewhere that you won’t notice.
The fibs continue.
Supports metabolism and aids in weight management^*
Supports mood and focus*
Which brings us to another, now familiar, disclosure:
^When combined with a reduced-calorie weight loss diet plan. Individual results will vary.
Here’s what we actually know:
Energy comes from food. Carbohydrates, fat, and protein provide the energy that we need to move and function and we measure that energy in calories.
Our metabolism can be marginally influenced by things like hot peppers. There are some very small studies that show a modest boost to your metabolism after eating hot peppers, but we also don’t know how much of the hot peppers are in this product. Is it enough to make a difference? Who knows?
Is that something that I’d bet on? Nope.
Plexus MetaBurn costs almost $50 bucks for a bottle of 60 capsules.
Would I ever take or recommend this product? Heck to the no.
After this deep dive into three of the popular products that Plexus has to offer, let’s zoom out to a big concern about the company in general: its complete lack of 3rd-party testing.
Where is the 3rd party testing?
Not all supplements are bad. I take a few supplements regularly, including a multivitamin and vitamin D.
But, before I’d ever take (or recommend) any kind of vitamin or supplement, I’d make 100% sure that 1) there is a good reason to be taking it to begin with, and that 2) the specific company has a comprehensive 3rd party testing protocol in place.
3rd party testing means that a company’s products are evaluated by a different organization to ensure that:
- The supplement contains exactly what is stated on the label, and
- There are no contaminants
Red Flag: Plexus does not do any 3rd party testing.
For your own reference, two examples of 3rd party testing agencies are:
Now, for many folks considering Plexus products, to begin with, they’re probably interested in weight loss. Does that sound right?
Let’s debunk one super-common myth: weight isn’t an accurate measure of health.
Weight loss isn’t a measure of health
I know that this is surprising for many folks to read, but weight is actually a pretty terrible measure of health. I cover this in-depth, right here: Can You Really Be Healthy At Every Size? (HAES Explained!).
What actually quantifies health are your behaviors; things like eating fruits and veggies, moving your body, reducing stress, and getting a good night’s sleep. Focusing on these habits helps your body to find its set point, the weight at which you feel good both mentally and physically. But, notice that I said “find” your set point, not “determine”. We can’t pick our set point any more than we can pick our shoe size; our body metrics aren’t in our total control. Other things called “social determinants of health” impact it which include where people live, learn, work, play, etc.
“All well and good, Colleen…but I still want to lose weight”
With the allure of finding a specific number on the scale between your toes, we can fall prey to the diet industry’s next big thing. That is why I’ve reviewed many different diet plans, products, and services. Here are a few that you can peruse:
- Shakeology Review: Is it a Healthy Meal Replacement…or Not?
- A Dietitian’s Review Of The 2B Mindset Diet
- Bright Line Eating Review: Another Diet debunked
- Herbalife Weight Loss Products Review: Not Worth It
- Does Keto Work? A Risk-Benefit Analysis To Read Before Hiring A Keto Coach
It is tricky because so many of these products and services promise health. But as we can see from this review, it’s a lie.
If you do lose weight on these products, it is far more likely because you’re eating waaaaay too few calories and your body will wind up overeating as a result, gaining weight back and then some. Not so fun fact? Up to ⅔ of dieters gain back more weight than they lost.
What can offer real health is to stop dieting and start Intuitive Eating.
Intuitive Eating offers real health
I totally get it.
We live in a society that worships thinness.
But going on diet after diet is only padding the bank account of the various products that you’re subscribing to. They’re never going to work long term, nor is that decrease in weight an adequate measure of health (or happiness).
For more of the real science (like, actually published in peer-reviewed journals), check out this post: Tell Me the Truth: Is Intuitive Eating Healthy?
What to do instead? Stop dieting. For realsies. Pursuing weight loss diets is more likely to cause you to gain weight. I know that this sounds counterintuitive, but it isn’t.
The reality is that shrinking your body won’t necessarily make you happier or healthier. Ending the war with your body, food and eating will make you happier and healthier.
Learn to nourish your body in a way that makes you feel good both mentally and physically.
Bottom Line: Is Plexus Worth it?
Nope, nope, nope.
I do not ever recommend pursuing a weight loss diet; nor do I recommend a company that is fear-mongering products that don’t work and even possibly cause harm.
I recommend learning to intuitively eat so that you are in harmony with your body and biology and cultivating real health. Period.
But I also know that without the structure of weight-loss diets, you can feel adrift.
You might also worry about what will happen if you stop dieting. For many current dieters, the fear of gaining weight is really, really scary. I’ve got you covered, gorgeous.
I created this guide to walk you through what to expect as you launch your Intuitive Eating journey and why science actually supports living your life this way. Download your free guide right here.
Intuitive eating sounds great but…won’t I just gain weight?!
Find out what might happen to your weight when you get rid of your food rules, the research behind Intuitive Eating, and why if your goal is long-term health, breaking up with diets is the way to go.
Say goodbye to food rules; you deserve a life of freedom, joy, and making memories.