[Last updated 23rd January, 2019] A wide range of Plexus products claim to boost metabolism and promote weight loss. But how much of these claims are based on reliable scientific research? This article takes a look at the evidence behind each Plexus supplement to see if they really can help you lose weight.
What are Plexus Products?
Plexus Worldwide sells several health products on their website and through their brand ambassadors. Their products include supplements for:
- Weight loss
- Multivitamins and minerals
Plexus states that their products "have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration" (FDA) and are "not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease" . This is likely a response to a warning from the FDA in 2014 about the misleading health claims attached to some of their products. Below, I'll examine eight of Plexus' weight loss products to see if any are worth your time and money.
Plexus Slim Products
Summary: Plexus Worldwide sells a variety of health-related products, including their popular weight loss supplements.
Plexus advises taking this weight loss supplement with 12-20 oz (355-590 ml)of water once or twice per day, 30-60 minutes before a meal. Similar products to Plexus Slim include 18 Shake and Isagenix. There are two different varieties: Plexus Slim Microbiome Activating and Plexus Slim Hunger Control. Both varieties contain chromium polynicotinate, which is a combination of the mineral chromium and niacin (vitamin B3). Both also contain the Plexus Slim Blend, which is made from:
- Green coffee bean extract
- Garcinia cambogia (a tropical fruit) extract
- Alpha lipoic acid (a fatty acid)
Plexus Slim Hunger Control
This product contains 20 calories per drink and is available in 3 flavors: blood orange, lemon and lime. Specific claims related to this product include:
- Improved weight loss
- Helps you feel fuller for longer
- Helps keep blood sugars at a healthy level
- Plexus Slim Blend (531mg)
- Chromium Polynicotinate (200mcg)
- Polydextrose (6250mg): a type of fiber that can be used to replace sugar in food products
Polydextrose is considered safe to consume, though it can cause diarrhea when consumed in large amounts (1).
Plexus Slim Microbiome Activating
This product contains 5 calories per drink and is also available in 3 flavors: raspberry, lemon and watermelon. Specific claims related to this product include:
- Improved weight loss
- Increased metabolism
- Helps keep blood sugars at a healthy level
- Promotes the growth of gut-friendly bacteria
- Plexus Slim Blend (531mg)
- Chromium Polynicotinate (200mg)
- Xylooligosaccharides (1000mg)
Xylooligosaccharides (XOS) is a prebiotic that feeds an important type of bacteria in the gut called bifidobacteria (2). That said, prebiotics like this can cause unpleasant side effects for those with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) like wind, bloating, pain, diarrhea and/or constipation (3). The evidence and safety related to Plexus Slim Blend and Chromium Polynicotinate are discussed below.
Do Plexus Slim Products Work?
Plexus says that their Slim products are "clinically demonstrated to promote weight loss." To back this up, they reference a study on their website that showed a trend towards higher weight loss in participants who used these products twice per day. However, this was an internal study that didn't show statistically significant results. It also was never published. In fact, there appears to be no official studies done on Plexus Slim. Instead, we'll have to look at research focused on its individual ingredients. Garcinia Cambogia Extract: There is some evidence that garcinia cambogia extract can promote weight loss in the short term, but the amount lost has been insignificant. (4). Green Coffee Bean Extract: This extract may have a small impact on blood sugar levels, though this evidence isn't very reliable. It may also improve metabolism due to the caffeine it contains (2, 5). However, weight loss related to caffeine intake has been found to be very small. One study found that over 12 years it only caused a drop of less than one pound (6). Alpha Lipoic Acid: Similarly, alpha lipoic acid has been associated with a small but significant reduction in weight. One review found a loss of 1.27 kg (roughly 2.5 lbs) compared to a placebo group in studies that lasted up to one year (7). Chromium: There is some evidence that chromium may promote weight loss too, though some studies have found it to have no effect (8, 9). Chromium may also reduce appetite and cravings for carbohydrates, but this isn't always linked to boosting weight loss (10, 11, 12). While weight loss may not be confirmed, it does appear that chromium can reduce blood sugar levels in those with diabetes (13, 14).
Safety of Plexus Slim Products
When taken in the recommended amount, there are no major side effects related to Plexus Slim or the ingredients it contains (15, 16, 17, 18). However, some minor side effects, such as stomach pain, have been linked with garcinia cambogia extract (57). Also, as chromium may lower blood sugar, it's important for those with diabetes to speak with their doctor before trying these products (14, 19). The caffeine in these products may also cause unpleasant side effects for some people like (20):
- Sleep problems
- Racing heart
It's also important to know that weight loss supplements can sometimes interfere with certain medications (21). Plexus states that pregnant or breastfeeding women should consult their doctor before taking a Plexus Slim product. It's also not recommended for those under 18 years old.
Summary: Plexus Slim Hunger Control and Plexus Slim Microbiome Activating are weight loss shakes that contain chromium, green coffee bean extract, garcinia cambogia extract, alpha lipoic acid and specific types of fiber. There has been no published studies done on Plexus Slim products. There is some evidence that its individual ingredients may boost weight loss, but these have not been rigorously tested. There may also be some minor side effects to consider.
This meal replacement shake is promoted as a way of promoting weight loss. It also claims to:
- Be a nutritious and filling meal replacement
- Help control hunger (due to its high protein and fiber content)
- Provide energy for physical activity
- Support digestive health
- Promote muscle growth (in combination with exercise)
Plexus Lean Ingredients:
Plexus Lean contains 20g of protein per serving, all from plant-based sources, including:
- Sacha inchi
- Chia seeds
It also contains 7g of fiber per serving, including specific types of fiber that act as prebiotics, which feed the healthy bacteria in the gut. These prebiotics include:
- Fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS) (a type of FODMAP)
- Alpha-galacto-oligosaccharides (ɑ-GOS)
- Xylo-oligosaccharides (XOS)
Plexus Lean contains most vitamins and minerals, except for vitamin K. These are present in varying amounts, ranging from 5-59% of the daily recommended intake per meal replacement serving. Plexus Lean also contains:
- Digestive enzymes
- 5-MTHF (methylated) folate
Does Plexus Lean Work?
No specific studies have tested whether Plexus Lean actually works. Similar meal replacement supplements have shown to reduce calorie intake and promote weight loss (22, 23). However, the evidence for these isn't strong for studies that have lasted up to a year or longer (24, 25). In terms of nutrition, a serving of Plexus Lean is low in calories (230 kcal) and carbohydrates (17g) and high in protein (20g with a range of amino acids) and fiber (7g). It also contains a moderate amount of sugar (7g), fat (7g), saturated fat (1.5g) and a range of vitamins and minerals. The high protein and fiber content may increase feelings of fullness (26). The claims about "promoting muscle growth (in combination with exercise)" may be justified, as the protein and leucine it contains have been found to play a key role in this process (27, 28). Its prebiotics can also help populate the gut with healthy bacteria (29). However, all of these nutrients can easily be found in a healthy balanced diet without the need for a supplement like this.
Safety of Plexus Lean
No specific safety concerns have been raised in relation to Plexus Lean, though pregnant and breastfeeding women should consult their doctor first. There are no guidelines to the amount of Plexus Lean to consume every day, but having too much may cause problems. For example, if Plexus Lean was taken in place of 3 meals and 3 snacks everyday it would provide:
- 1,035 kcal and 77g of carbohydrates: not enough to support an active lifestyle.
- 90g of protein: more than the recommended amount for most people.
- 32g of sugar: above the daily recommended limit.
- More than the daily recommended intake of vitamin A, which can be risky, especially for pregnant women.
- A high intake of iron, which can cause constipation, nausea or vomiting (30, 31).
Using meal replacement supplements similar to this has also been linked with an increase in depression and binge eating (32). Because this supplement contains oligosaccharide prebiotics, it's also high in FODMAPs. This may cause unpleasant symptoms in those with IBS (33). See this article for more information on the low-FODMAP diet and IBS.
Summary: Plexus Lean is a low-calorie meal replacement drink that is high in protein and fiber. It also contains a range of vitamins and minerals, prebiotics to support gut health, and leucine to promote muscle growth. No studies have examined how effective this product is, and evidence is mixed about whether meal replacements like this support long-term weight loss.
This protein shake is marketed as a meal and snack replacement. It's claimed to provide long-lasting energy, reduce hunger and cravings, and help build muscle. Plexus 96 comes in both chocolate and vanilla flavor. It contains 100 calories, 15g of vegetarian-friendly whey protein per serving, and 20 vitamins and minerals.
Does Plexus 96 Work?
No clinical trials have specifically looked at whether Plexus 96 increases energy or reduces appetite and cravings. The high protein content may increase the feeling of fullness. Some studies have also found that whey protein may stabilize blood sugar levels, as well as help release hormones that reduce appetite. This may stabilize energy levels and reduce cravings (34, 35). Whey protein also provides a substantial supply of amino acids, which can promote muscle growth and recovery when consumed within 1-3 hours of training (36). But no supplements are necessary. It's easy enough to get the benefits of whey protein by consuming ordinary dairy products. If you have a low intake of any vitamins or minerals, consuming Plexus 96 could correct some nutritional deficiencies (depending on the amount consumed), and could potentially improve energy levels. However, this can also be achieved from eating a balanced and varied diet, or from taking a standard multivitamin and mineral supplement.
Safety of Plexus 96
Many of the risks related to consuming too much Plexus Lean also apply to Plexus 96, as there is no recommended maximum daily intake on the label. Consuming Plexus 96 for 3 meals and 3 snacks in one day would result in:
- No fiber, which would be detrimental to your bowels and general health.
- An extremely low intake of calories (600 kcal), carbohydrates (18g) and fat (6g).
- No iron, which can lead to anemia.
- A moderate intake of protein.
It's also best to avoid replacing meals or snacks with this supplement if you are underweight, sick, or suffering (or have suffered) with an eating disorder. If in doubt, it's always best to ask your doctor for individual advice before starting a new supplement.
Summary: Plexus 96 is a whey protein supplement. There's some evidence that products like this can promote muscle growth, stabilize energy levels and reduce appetite. But this could also be achieved from simply consuming a balanced diet.
This supplement is said to block the absorption of 48% of sugar and carbohydrate intake, which can promote weight loss and stabilize blood sugar (in combination with diet and exercise). It claims to do this by reducing the glycemic index of carbohydrate-based foods and neutralizing enzymes (alpha-amylase, alpha-glucosidase) that turn carbohydrates into glucose in our body. Plexus also states that it doesn't block the absorption of health-promoting nutrients. The recommended intake is 2 capsules with water, twice per day (maximum). It's also advised to take these right before meals containing sugar or carbohydrates. Each capsule contains:
- Chromium picolinate (200mcg)
- Brown seaweed blend (500mcg), containing ascophyllum nodosum (or kelp), fucus vesiculosus (standardized as 20% polyphenols)
- White kidney bean extract (200mcg) - 10:1 extract (phaseolus vulgaris)
Does Plexus Block Work?
No clinical studies have evaluated this supplement or its claim of blocking 48% of sugar and carbohydrate intake. So, let's take a look at its individual ingredients. Chromium: As mentioned above, chromium can reduce blood sugar levels for those with diabetes. This may also promote weight loss and reduce food cravings, but the evidence for this is less clear. Brown Seaweed: There is some proof that brown seaweed may reduce the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates in mice. Not much research has investigated this effect in humans, but findings among small studies have been mixed (37, 38, 39). White Kidney Bean Extract: This has been found to promote weight loss and reduce spikes in blood sugar levels, but only at much higher doses than those contained in Plexus Block (40). However, one study on 60 overweight volunteers examined the effect of a supplement containing a similar amount of white kidney bean extract as Plexus Block. It was found to boost weight loss, but the effect on blood sugar levels wasn't reported (41).
Safety of Plexus Block
Just like their other products, Plexus Block is recommended for adults 18 and over. Pregnant or breastfeeding women should also consult their doctor before trying this. It's important to know that supplements containing brown seaweed or kelp are often not recommended as they can contain dangerously high levels of iodine, which can be harmful for the thyroid (42). Brown seaweed can also contain heavy metals like arsenic, which can damage organs (43). Meanwhile, there are no reported safety concerns related to kidney bean extract. Mild side effects like stomach pain typically reduce over time (44). As previously mentioned, those with diabetes may need to speak to their doctor before taking a supplement that contains chromium.
Summary: There's some weak evidence that the ingredients in Plexus Block may stabilize blood sugar levels, reduce the absorption of carbohydrates and boost weight loss. However, brown seaweed extract may contain arsenic and a dangerously high level of iodine.
This supplement claims to increase fat burning and boost your metabolism. It's advised to take 2 capsules of Plexus Accelerator+ per day between meals. The company says this supplement can work well alongside Plexus Slim, but should not be used in conjunction with Plexus Boost and "is not intended for long term use." Plexus Accelerator+ contains a 950mg blend of:
- Yerba maté leaf extract
- Green tea leaf extract
- Higenamine hydrochloride
- Hawthorn berry extract
- Hordenine hydrochloride
- 5-HTP (hydroxytryptophan from griffonia seed extract)
Plexus Accelerator+ also contains vitamins B3, B6, B9 (folic acid), and B12, along with calcium and chromium picolinate.
Does Plexus Accelerator+ Work?
This product contains a number of ingredients that are said to boost weight loss, but no solid research has yet proven their effectiveness. Yerba Maté Leaf: This South American herb contains a variety of antioxidants. Studies have found that it may promote fat burning and increase metabolism, but there isn't a lot of evidence of this in humans (45, 46). Higenamine Hydrochloride: This has been used as a supposed fat burner, but there has been no research on it with humans. Green Tea Leaf Extract: This has shown to promote a small amount of weight loss, and its caffeine content may slightly improve metabolism in the short term (47, 48, 5, 6). Hordenine Hydrochloride : This supplement may boost metabolism by increasing heart rate and breathing rate. However, research related to this is very limited. 5-HTP: Similarly, a small amount of research suggests that 5-HTP may increase feelings of fullness when taken in a spray form (49). Hawthorn Berry Extract: While this is high in antioxidants, there's no evidence that it boosts metabolism or fat burning (50). The B vitamins in this supplement may also have a small impact on metabolism, but only for those who have a low intake of these nutrients already. This is unlikely to make a difference for those who eat a varied diet.
Safety of Plexus Accelerator+
The label states that this product is not suitable for people under the age if 18, pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, and "anyone with a chronic medical condition." It also recommends speaking to your doctor before using Plexus Accelerator+, and to stop using it if unpleasant side effects are experienced. The potential risks related to chromium supplements and caffeine discussed under Plexus Slim Products also apply to Plexus Accelerator+. There are no major safety concerns related to the remaining key ingredients in the amount contained in this supplement. However, most of these ingredients have very limited research behind them, so there may be unknown risks related to taking them (or combining them) (51). It's also worth pointing out that higenamine hydrochloride was recently banned in sports by the World Anti-Doping Agency, as it may increase exercise tolerance (52). The amount of B vitamins are also extremely high. It contains 8,333% of the daily recommended intake of vitamin B12, and 1,500% of the recommended intake for vitamin B6. This should not be a problem given the upper limit for intake of both these vitamins is higher than the amounts contained in Plexus Accelerator+, but excessive intake of B6 has been linked with nerve damage (53).
Summary: Plexus Accelerator+ claims to increase metabolic rate and fat burning. Some of its ingredients have shown this effect, but many of the studies are small or have been carried out only in animals. Long-term effects and safety of the supplement are still unknown.
Plexus Boost is said to reduce hunger due to the inclusion of an extract from an Indian cactus called caralluma fimbriata. The recommended dose of this supplement is 1-2 capsules per day, preferably in the morning. Plexus Boost should not be taken alongside Plexus Accelerator+. This supplement contains a 608mg blend of:
- Caralluma fimbriata extract
- Yerba maté leaf extract
- Green tea leaf extract
- Higenamine from tangerine peel/lotus seed
It also contains the same mix and amount of B vitamins, calcium and chromium as Plexus Accelerator+.
Does Plexus Boost Work?
No direct studies have looked at the effect of Plexus Boost. The evidence related to caralluma fimbriata extract is mixed. Some small studies have found a link to reduced caloric intake and improved weight loss, but another trial found no impact on weight or appetite after using caralluma fimbriata extract (54, 55, 56). Check under Plexus Accelerator+ above to see the evidence related to Plexus Boost's other ingredients, including yerba maté leaf extract, green tea leaf extract and higenamine.
Safety of Plexus Boost
This supplement is also not recommended for anybody under 18, and it's advised that pregnant or breastfeeding women should speak with their doctor before trying Plexus Boost. The FDA recognises caralluma fimbriata as a safe ingredient in the amounts likely present in this supplement. However, some mild side effects have been reported, such as constipation, nausea and stomach pain. There are no major safety concerns related to the remaining key ingredients in the amount contained in this supplement.
Plexus Product Reviews
Summary: Plexus Boost is similar to Plexus Accelerator+, except that it contains caralluma fimbriata extract, which may reduce appetite and improve weight loss. But the small amount of research about this ingredient has produced mixed results.
Plexus Worldwide have an A+ rating on the Better Business Bureau (BBB) website, but the company only has one review, which says: "This business has changed my life. Their products are the first thing in my life that has helped my stomach issues. I don't sell them, but I appreciate the people who do." However, a previous review mentions that Plexus has a BBB rating of a C based on 680 reviews. So it seems suspicious that they now have a good rating and only one review. There are plenty of negative reviews about Plexus products and their ineffectiveness and bad customer service. Some look like this:
- "Nothing changed. Besides having to pee way more in the morning and my heart beating so fast."
- "I haven't lost any weight."
- "Can't even get a refund because they won't answer phones or respond online."
- "I have canceled my membership several times and they keep charging me."
But there are some more recent positive reviews about the effectiveness of Plexus Slim, such as:
- "I love it! I feel like I have more energy and a more positive outlook when I'm taking it. The Slim HC seriously helps with cravings and hunger... I forget to eat!"
- "I've lost six pounds in two weeks because it completely banished my sugar cravings!"
- "I love it. It fills me up, and forces me to look at healthier ways to eat."
It's interesting to see that there is a dedicated subreddit for "Life After Plexus." The general consensus there is that Plexus Slim doesn't work and is a waste of money. Some comments are also related to the fact that Plexus Worldwide is a pyramid scheme (multi-level marketing company), as they use brand ambassadors to resell their products.
Are Plexus Products Worth Your Money?
Summary: Plexus Worldwide currently have a high rating on the Better Business Bureau, but only because it seems that they created a new profile, leaving past negative reviews under a previous listing. Overall, the company has mostly mixed reviews. Some people report great results, while others say it's a waste of money.
Plexus products range from about $30 up to nearly $90 for a 30-day supply. The most recent price list of Plexus products can be found on their website. Currently, a year's supply of Plexus Slim will cost you over $1,000. Some of the ingredients in these products have a small amount of evidence to back up their claimed effects. But none of the actual products have been directly examined in a published study, and none have been approved by the FDA. There are also many people online who feel that purchasing Plexus products or getting involved with this "multi-level marketing scheme" has been a total scam. And just like other weight-loss pills, meal replacements and products such as 310 Shakes, Perfect Biotics, Lipozene and Forskolin, Plexus supplements are unnecessary to lose weight. Instead, you can save yourself the money—and likely your health—by simply following these proven weight loss tips.
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