Thursday, June 22, 2017

What you need to know about ViSalus

ViSalus is a multilevel marketing company that is one of the biggest names in weight loss.  

Their program, centered around their Vi-Shape nutritional shakes, has claimed to help millions of people lose weight and help them live healthier lives.

So did I get on board? This explains everything:

All good? Let’s continue…

Having been founded in 2005, it’s fairly new, but has climbed to the top of the heavily-saturated MLM industry quite briskly.  Internet search engine traffic testifies to the company’s meteoric rise.  

After the company’s founding, it chugged along, not making too many headlines, for several years.  But in late 2010, buzz about the company caused public interest in it to skyrocket.  Search traffic stayed high until late 2012, after which ViSalus’ popularity faded quickly.  Today, search traffic is not even one tenth of its peak levels.

Despite the saying, not all of ViSalus’ publicity was good publicity.  The spike in interest in the company generated several legal and journalistic investigations into the company in 2012 and 2013.  In 2012, CNBC published a piece arguing that ViSalus pushes the boundary between legitimate business endeavor and illegal pyramid scheme.  

CNBC criticizes the fine print in the compensation structure, as well as highlighting the extremely rapid growth that they claim can’t be sustainable.

ViSalus has been the subject of government investigation too, though not for its practices with its customers.  It was involved in some shady corporate espionage involving a competitor in the health supplement space, though the good news is that this didn’t involve maltreatment of distributors or customers.


Nevertheless, despite some bad press, millions of people have used ViSalus’ products and rave about their efficacy.  Are they all they are cracked up to be?

The flagship ViSalus product, and the centerpiece of its weight loss kits, is the Vi-Shape nutritional shake.

It’s a pretty solid meal replacement shake; its primary ingredients of interest are whey protein, soy protein, and corn fiber.  These jack up the protein and dietary fiber content, which are both smart moves for losing weight.

Research published in 2010 in the New England Journal of Medicine conducted a large-scale trial of high-protein diets and found that diets following this pattern led to a higher compliance rates, and other research on direct protein supplementation has also found that protein intake while dieting helps increase fat loss and preserve lean muscle mass.  

Fiber also helps with weight loss, probably by preventing or slowing the absorption of calories in what you eat and leading to greater feelings of satiety, or fullness.  

A 2005 review article by Joanne L. Slavin at the University of Minnesota connected high dietary fiber intake in your diet with a lower risk of obesity, and Slavin also noted that the average American gets less than half the recommended daily intake of fiber.

Additionally, the sugar and carbohydrate content is very low.  One serving of the Vi-Shake has less than one gram of sugar.  This is good; many competitors load up their weight loss shakes with sugar to make them taste better.  Sugary beverages are also known to be related to obesity, even independent of caloric intake.  

A systematic review of sugar sweetened beverages by doctors in Massachusetts and Germany found that greater consumption of sugary drinks increases the rate of being overweight or obese across many different medical studies.  

Beyond the macro ingredients, Vi-Shape’s shakes also include a moderate amount of several vitamins and minerals.  All the usual suspects you’d expect to see are there: the “letter” vitamins (A, B, C, D) plus minerals like iodine, calcium, iron, and zinc.  

There are no extra herbal extracts or supplements mixed into the blend; Vi-Shape is a pretty simple protein, fiber, and vitamin/mineral shake.

Compensation plan

Joining up as a distributor for ViSalus will cost you $99 (for a $49 startup kit and a $50 basic distributor fee) and net you a 20% wholesale discount.  

From here, you have two options to become eligible for commissions: you can either sign up for a $125 product volume auto-ship per month, or have total monthly sales of $200 worth of product volume.  

If you do meet this fairly high bar, you can start earning commissions of 10% right away, which jumps to 15% if you exceed $500 in monthly sales.  The structure is unilevel, so there is no need to worry about the relative strengths of your sales legs like in a binary structure MLM.

On the signup sheet and in marketing literature, it’s pretty clear that the company’s goal is to sign up as many people for auto-ship as possible.  

This should raise some red flags, since it’s a great way to drain your investment if your monthly sales aren’t keeping up with your expectations.  The company also doesn’t share an income disclosure statement, which makes it tricky to gauge what you are getting yourself into.


While ViSalus’ flagship product is pretty solid, and its weight loss kits are likely to work reasonably well, it still doesn’t seem to be the best time to join up.  

The company’s popularity has cratered in the last several years, and the investigative hot water the company has landed in are a bad sign.  

This, combined with the high cost of entry and the high level of sales needed to start actually earning commissions, makes it hard to take the risk.  

Combine this with the fact that you’ve got no idea how much the average distributor makes, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.  If you want to get into the weight loss business, there are better ways to do it.

I’m not a hater of ViSalus by any means, but if you’re simply doing it for the money, there are better ways to kill your day job.

You might like this coaching because it shows you the good life without peddling health products to your family and friends.

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