Weight loss can be a notoriously tricky undertaking, requiring a perfect combination of hard work, dedication, habit-changing, and a willingness to learn more about the complex world of health and nutrition. Understandably, many will feel daunted before setting off on a weight-loss journey, and many will ultimately fail to reach or even approach their target weights. Enter the weight-loss program! Offering a combination of education, support and a few weight-loss products, these programs promise to offer the final push that can help dieters achieve their weight loss and change their habits for good.
Below, we take a look at a weight-loss program called Slimgenics, to see whether it can deliver these promises in an efficient and cost-effective way.
Slimgenics is a weight-loss program that has been operating since 2003. Formerly known as Slim 4 Life, Slimgenics claims to help dieters lose weight through a combination of nutritional advice, support and supplements. The program is accessible both online and in-person at special weight loss centres located throughout Colorado, Minnesota and Ohio.
As with all weight-loss programs, the most important aspect from the perspective of the consumer is the quality of the advice given, and Slimgenics makes a concerted effort to provide nutritional advice in a variety of forms. Customers signing up to the program receive an immediate pack containing a 4-step weight loss plan, online access to video guides, food and recipe lists, nutritional information, a food journal and more.
Customers that live close to one of the centres will also be able to join in with an initial group session, and will be able to drop by as many times as they like to receive one-to-one advice from a Slimgenics counsellor. Online customers can receive a similar service over the telephone and via email with an ‘e-program advisor’.
One gimmick that is central to the way Slimgenics works is the various diet supplements that the company promotes. All customers signing up to Slimgenics are expected to commit to taking a range of Slimgenics-branded supplements as part of their plan; these range from thermo-snacks (hot chocolate drinks, crunchy snacks, sweet treats, etc.) to powders and tablets containing a wide range of supplements (including omega-3, probiotics, antioxidants and many more).
The 4-step weight loss plan is intended for long-term use, and promises to instil habits that will last for a lifetime. On the Slimgenics website, the company estimates that dieters lose around 1 to 2 pounds a week on average, demonstrating a focus on a steady and slow approach to dieting rather than the more dramatic ‘crash’ diet promoted by others.
Unfortunately, the program suffers from a number of huge issues that should raise concerns for the discerning dieter.
The first and most worrying of these is related to price. When signing up as an online user, customers should expect to pay $80 upfront to register to receive the materials and gain access to the online advisor. An essential weight-loss starter kit containing an assortment of supplement powders, pills and thermo-snacks will cost around $230 and a larger premium kit will set you back $460. Receiving top ups of thermo-snacks (enough to last 8 weeks on the program) will cost another $250.
For the in-centre customers, similar quotations of prices are not available on the website. Instead, interested customers are invited to come along for a free consultation, in which a diet plan is set and a price is quoted in accordance with the customer’s ‘specific dieting needs’. Many years of experience spent examining companies like these tells us that this arrangement is a huge cause for concern, and is a likely indicator that the quoted price will be far higher than most customers would be willing to pay were they not in a high-pressure sales situation.
Evidence from customer feedback on the internet shows that these consultations are often used to secure a huge financial commitment from the customer before the company has even done anything. Some customers report being asked to sign a contract pledging to consume a set number of supplement servings or thermo-snacks every week. Others report paying extortionate fees, whilst also committing themselves to visiting a one-on-one counsellor multiple times a week (a service which is also charged per visit).
The total amount that users end up paying varies hugely, but some quoted sums are truly eye-watering. Lower estimates place the cost of the program from around $200-$400 per month, with others paying much, much more. To quote some anonymous internet commenters:
I joined 12/5/09 and think my total spend was around $1450.00 that was for the initial program fee and all of my snacks. I decided to not buy all of the supplements or ThermoBoost drinks at the time I signed up. I would imagine had I bought all the supplements I would have spent an additional $1000.00.
Honestly, it can get VERY expensive. I signed up a few weeks ago and I paid a total of about $3,400.
Both users were incidentally satisfied with the Slimgenics program and the positive effects it had had on their weight in the short-term, but one thing should be abundantly clear to all customers thinking of joining in: this is an extraordinarily expensive program, and one that should not be entered into lightly.
The written and video materials offered by Slimgenics seem to be reasonably packed with information, providing customers with useful food lists, recipes and nutritional advice. One concept promoted throughout the written materials is ‘thermogenesis’. In this process, the body is able to lose weight through generating extra energy, thus boosting one’s metabolism. Many of the supplements and snacks promoted by the program incorporate thermogenic ideas as a core component, and much of the advice offered by the program promises to help clients eat plentifully in a way that will help them lose the weight.
Overall, these materials seem to have succeeded in the pledge to help clients to lose weight, albeit slowly. Few former customers complain that they failed to lose weight whilst following the program, although some have noted that they put weight back on immediately after they left it. We believe that this may be due to a few key reasons.
For one, the standards of quality in terms of advice are not universal across the board. Some customers complain that the in-house advisors are not always particularly flexible or knowledgeable, instead being trained to guide clients within the strict limits of the programs. As one customer recalls:
I don’t know what kind of training the support people have … not that they weren’t helpful at times but they are not dietitians… I kind of felt like I needed individual guidance on how to make the program work better for me so I wasn’t gagging down chicken three times a day and they really didn’t know anything except what the program says.
A cursory glance at Slimgenics’ hiring page for new consultants shows that the company does not require their employees to have specialist training in nutrition or a background in diet counselling. If this fact were clear from the outset, we doubt too many people would be happy to pay extra for multiple sessions of one-on-one counselling!
One other factor preventing the benefits of the Slimgenics program from being long-term is the program’s overuse and overreliance on supplements.
The range of supplements available on the Slimgenics program is truly vast, meaning that we can only cover their quality in brief. For the most part, the supplements themselves are not particularly bad when examined on an individual basis, but the way they are forced on clients give serious cause for concern.
The majority of the supplements offered on the Slimgenics program are relatively straightforward mixes that tackle one key area. Users will be able to find a probiotic supplement, a digestive enzyme supplement, a vitamin and mineral supplement, a dietary fibre supplement, etc. Some of the proprietary formulas did raise a few eyebrows on our end such as the Herbal Slim mix that is seemingly intended to be used by children over the age of 10, diabetics and the elderly, which contained several stimulant ingredients rich in side effects, including caffeine and synephrine! However, most of the supplements are clearly labelled accurately described by the company and generally safe for use.
The thermo-snacks are also simple (albeit frighteningly expensive) snack substitutes that rely on heavy amounts of soy, milk and whey, in order to be a relatively low-calorie snack that contains a significant source of protein.
It is also worth noting that many of the supplements, including the vitamins, minerals, probiotics, digestive enzymes and fibre supplements, are all available at a much lower price from other companies. Although the exact recipes, flavours and varieties available may vary hugely, there are also cheaper alternatives to the thermo-snacks.
The problem ultimately lies with how the Slimgenics program supposedly helps consumers to lose weight; by largely relying on expensive supplements and meal replacement products to get the job done. Clients are expected to sign up to eat multiple thermos snacks, supplements and health drinks per day as part of their contract, and given the high costs many incur, these practices can never be sustainable beyond a certain fixed point.
In any case, ingredients like vitamins, minerals, and fibre should not need to be heavily supplemented when a user is following a sensible, well-balanced diet, leading us to suspect that the Slimgenics weight loss program is not nutritionally complete.
Unfortunately we believe that Slimgenics will not work in the long term. The program seems far more concerned with signing customers up for expensive and unnecessary services and products, rather than teaching them new, healthy eating habits that will help them to stay at a healthy weight in the long term.
Former customers often seem to echo the same story: they lost weight on the program, but spent too much money and tended to put weight back on when the program finished. Do yourself a favour and stay well away from the Slimgenics program.
Disclaimer: Our reviews and investigations are based on extensive research from the information publicly available to us and consumers at the time of first publishing the post. Information is based on our personal opinion and whilst we endeavour to ensure information is up-to-date, manufacturers do from time to time change their products and future research may disagree with our findings. If you feel any of the information is inaccurate, please contact us and we will review the information provided.