Scam DuJour: Thrive by Le-Vel
I was turned on to this bullsh*t by a friend of mine, who's Facebook friend had drunk the Le-Vel kool-aid and is now a sales person. She sent me a link to this terrifying thread where I watched people with no flipping clue about nutrition or performance wax on nebulously about this "amazing" product that only pros in-the-know use. There were claims of how "we don't get enough vitamins in our modern depleted soil," "disease can't survive in an alkaline body," and the old trope of "flushing" and "detoxing." On top of all that usual garbage, it is an obvious pyramid sales scheme... Oh, my bad, "Multi-Level Marketing Platform," (because pyramid schemes are illegal.) What is a Multi-Level Marketing Platform, you ask? A Pyramid-shaped sales scam with a product. People at the top reap the rewards of sales teams paying fees into the system for their "starter kits" and product. They sell practically nothing, but try to recruit others, so they can get a commission off of the people below them. The product is irrelevant. Hell, even Le-Vel says their product is irrelevant:
Le-Vel was created and envisioned with a greater purpose, a premium plan. This plan is not to create a product, or a product line, but to build a global brand, a new icon. --- direct from the company website
Thrive by Le-Vel promises the consumer "Weight Management, Digestive and Immune Support, Joint Support, Lean Muscle Support, Aches & Discomfort Relief, Anti-Aging and Antioxidant Support."
How does it (allegedly) work? Well, what you're supposed to do is take two capsules of Thrive for Women or Men on an empty stomach, first thing in the morning. 20-40 minutes after that, you are supposed to drink a Thrive Lifestyle Mix Shake and stick a Thrive DFT Patch on your skin, then go about your day. That's it! ...Wait, what the f*ck is a "DFT" patch? DFT stands for Derma (skin) Fusion (blend into) Technology (sticker). So it soaks into your skin through a sticker like a neon-colored quit-smoking patch or a birth control patch.
I'm sure it looks real cool, tho.
So what is all this mumbo-jumbo that I'm supposed to be swallowing and absorbing into my bloodstream all day? Let's see.....
B Vitamins, primarily. Let me break the "proprietary blend" down for you:
Guarana: stimulant, contains caffeine. Evidence does not support it does anything, other than contain caffeine. It can be used safely, but it's possibly unsafe if used in high doses and mixed with a lot of other stimulants.
Green Tea: Contains polyphenols, which may or may not be beneficial, another bit of caffeine.
Glucosamine: Derived from shellfish (allergy alert!) Very little evidence to support it improving joint flexibility. There is some evidence it may provide relief from knee pain, specifically, in certain doses, when taken consistently for at least eight weeks. If that's your oddly specific issue.
White Willow: Anti-inflammatory. In layman's terms, it's aspirin.
Glutamine: Amino acid that promotes muscle recovery. Evidence isn't what I'd call slam-dunk. And, besides, you need GRAMS of this stuff, not a sprinkle in a capsule. I cannot imagine this dose (whatever it could be) to be effective at all.
Green Coffee Bean: Another stimulant. Caffeine.
PEA: Phenylethylamine. A neurotransmitter that stimulates feelings of happiness and positivity, commonly found in chocolate. But it's metabolized too fast by the body to do anything. Useless in this form.
Kelp: A blood thinner. Not to mention it can be unsafe. Too much iodine can whack out your thyroid, a lot of it contains arsenic because they're pulling it form contaminated waters to meet misguided consumer demand, and it's high potassium content can damage your kidneys.
Irvingia Extract: No evidence to support it's "fat burner" claims. None.
BCAAs: Branched-chain amino acids, another recovery supplement for muscle repair and energy. The evidence is slightly better than the outright bullsh*t, but unless you are training really hard in the gym, you get these from your diet with no need for more.
Theobromine: A milder caffeine-like alkaloid found in chocolate.
Ginger: My guess is to calm your stomach from having to digest all this garbage on an empty stomach.
Synephrine: Another stimulant, because we clearly don't have enough already. On the "watched" substance list by the NCAA.
Aspartic Acid: Not sure if it's d-aspartic acid, considered a testosterone booster or Aspartic Acid which is some Aruvedic bullsh*t. (What's Aruvedic? Mystical/naturo/homeopathy of Indian origin.)
L-Serine: Amino acid that helps your body perform the chain reaction to create serotonin and relieve stress and anxiety. I'm sure there is a bs claim as to why it is here and zero evidence to support it, especially in this dose and for what.
L-Arganine: Another amino acid used for nitric oxide boosting (it widens your blood vessels to improve blood flow), also stimulates growth hormone and insulin production. Mixed evidence as to whether it improves athletic performance or not.
Grape Seed: Antioxidant bs.
CoQ10: Antioxidant bs.
White Tea: More antioxidant bs.
So far, we have stimulants for "energy" and "focus," blood thinners/anti-inflammatories to make your aches and pains go away, a bunch of woo-woo herbs that do nothing, and amino acids that might do something, but not at such small doses. Ok. A cup of coffee and an Aspirin might be cheaper, but whatever. Let's "drink the Kool-Aid," and move on to the Lifestyle Mix Shake....
I see a weak vitamin profile. But, with pills, shakes and patches, you wouldn't want to overdo it. Let's look at the "Proprietary Blend":
Garcinia Fruit Extract: Do you remember that time Dr. Oz was dragged before congress for being a lying, scamming, piece of shit con-artist, hawking weight-loss supplements that didn't work? Yeah, Garcinia Cambogia was that weight-loss supplement.
Oat Fiber: To make you feel full, appetite suppressant.
Black Tea: Surprise! More caffeine!
Lactobacilius Acidophilus: Probiotic.
Bromelian: Another anti-inflammatory.
Rice Bran: No evidence to support claims of enhancing athletic performance, supporting the immune system or being an antioxidant. But it has a lot of fiber, which might help you feel full.
Amylase 5000, Cellulase 1000, Lipase 1000, Papain 6000, Protease 1000, Protease 5000: Enzymes used to help digestion, break down fat, usually used only when people are really sick with pancreatic cancer or things like that. Can cause nausea, cramps and diarrhea.
Cardamom, Ginger, Cinnamon: Spices. They don't make you healthier, cure cancer or fight your diseases.
Protein Blend: 15 grams of protein is weak. Not only that, but it is mostly cheap soy protein. With so many excellent proteins on the market, this is C-List shit.
In conclusion, we have fiber and enzymes that make you un-hungry and MORE STIMS! Now, who wants to put on the patch?
ForsLean: Forskolin. Only one study has shown this supplement to increase lean body mass, and that one is from Sabsina, the same herbal supplement company that makes this stuff. Coincidence?
Green Coffee Bean: Holy shit, how much caffeine have we taken so far?
Garcinia Cambogia: More Dr. Oz snake oil. (see above)
CoQ10: a coenzyme for boosting energy in muscles, little to no solid evidence that the supplement form works, but high doses cause insomnia.
White Willow Bark: More Aspirin. Since all this other recovery shit doesn't work, we need to feel like we're not sore.
Cosmoperine: Piperdine. Black pepper, supposedly helps enhance absorption. Interestingly, I can only find one study from a Doctor in India that supports this claim. My guess is if I dug deeper, he probably works for Sabsina.
What can we take away from all of this? Stimulants, appetite suppressants, and aspirin/anti-inflammatories. Energetic? Pain free? Not hungry? Duh. You're basically drinking a few cups of coffee, taking some Aspirin, and drinking a lump of fiber, for $100-$300 a month. All the rest is nonsense.
The largest and most successful companies in the world are extremely good at one thing. They build brands, not products. They are so good at this one focus, they can literally put their logo on anything and it is passionately accepted worldwide. ---direct from Le-Vel bio
Take it from Le-Vel. All they are interested in creating a veneer of "ultra-premium lifestyle" so suckers will buy into it. The product is irrelevant. Like my husband says, "so they want to be the Kardashians of the supplement industry." The pyramid... er, I mean, the Multi-Level Marketing business is the important part, not the product, which is just an afterthought. Do you want to take an afterthought product?
Look, supplements are a totally unregulated industry. Questionable studies, conclusion jumping and over-hyping efficacy are standard practices in the quest to create the next big miracle. $$$$$! At best, you may get a decent product that doesn't do much for you.
At worst, you could get hurt.
Let us not forget that quality control lies with the supplement company, and NOT the FDA. The FDA can't step in until people start dropping dead or flooding hospitals. It is possible you are getting a tainted product made in a country with sub-par manufacturing standards.
Makes you re-think having who-knows-what seeping into your skin all day. (I hope.)
Do you want to know the biggest secret in the industry? Fitness model bodies are unattainable without YEARS of hard work, micromanaging your diet, and having special enhancements, whether they be surgical, hormonal or simply good, old-fashioned Photoshop.
There is no herb, no pill, no magic ANYTHING to make it easy. Be the best you, first. Don't try to be some magazine body type. Later on, if you decide you want to get serious about your training, or be an athlete, there are supplements that do help promote lean body mass, aid recovery, and boost short-term energy. But, until then, a cup or two of coffee, perhaps a little protein powder for variety, and some vitamins is about all you need. The only thing you don't get is the way cool stickers and the placebo effect that the $100-$300 buys. But then again, you still have your $100-$300. And you don't have to bug your friends to buy into this sh*t , either.
Don't fall victim to this stuff, guys. Don't take it, don't sell it.