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Status:Closed    Asked:Dec 05, 2013 - 10:17 AM

Are Herbalife nutritional and protein shakes safe? Do they have any side effects?

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Herbalife is a company that produces a number of protein supplements and ergogenic aids marketed through a distributorship to individuals with a variety of conditions. Much of their products center around weight loss, energy and general nutrition. But like all supplements, they come with the risk of side effects as well as potential negative interactions with any current medications you may be taking.

The decision to use dietary supplements remains a hot topic for debate. Much of the controversy surrounding these ergogenic aids have to do with their safety. Unlike standard medications, they are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, therefore not subjected to the typical rigorous standards of product safety. Coupled with potential metabolic interference of medications you may be taking for existing medical conditions, your risk factors are even further increased. Without governmental regulation and individual medical evaluation, the combinations may prove not only detrimental, but potentially life threatening (FDA, 2006). Therefore it’s best to speak with your doctor before beginning any supplement regime.

One thing to keep in mind is that the average healthy individual requires about .8 to 1 gram of protein for every kilogram of body weight. To put this into perspective, a 150 lb person would need between 54-68 grams of protein per day. The typical American diet far exceeds this amount of protein in food alone thereby not requiring the use of any additional supplementation (Dunford, 2006). Consuming more protein than the body can use is not advantageous and should probably be avoided as high amounts over time may potentially cause kidney and liver distress from the metabolic elimination of protein waste products.

It’s always best to aim for obtaining most of your nutritional needs through whole foods verses supplement form. The body not only has a greater ability to assimilate nutrients in this fashion, but you’ll likely reduce your risk of consuming dangerously high levels of specific substances. Those who choose to consume whole foods verses taking supplements may also benefit from the presence of additional micronutrients such as fiber and phytochemicals that have important disease-protective factors.

U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA): Dietary Supplements: What You Need To Know,, May 2006.

Dunford M: Sports Nutrition: A Practice Manual for Professionals, ed. 4 Chicago, 2006, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.


Dec 05, 2013 - 10:17 AM

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