How to build a new brand in sports nutrition: The genesis of Herbalife24

By Elaine Watson

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Branched-chain amino acids, Muscle, Muscular system

Herbalife24 is helping the direct selling giant appeal to a new customer base beyond its core weight management audience
Herbalife24 is helping the direct selling giant appeal to a new customer base beyond its core weight management audience
“We decided to avoid lightning bolts and flexing biceps, the pure meathead bodybuilder look when designing our packaging", says Dr John Heiss, PhD, the lead scientist behind Herbalife24, the direct selling giant's new sports nutrition range.

“We went for a more sophisticated look. We wanted to appeal to everyone from the professional athlete to the office worker that goes to the gym once a week.”

Mix and match

While the former will have different nutritional needs to the latter, both can benefit from Herbalife24 products, insists Heiss, who is director, sports and fitness, worldwide product marketing at LA-based Herbalife and a former category II competitive cyclist.

“It's a customizable range, so you can use the products that fit your lifestyle​.

“We’ve created a ‘customize your routine’ tool​ on the Herbalife24 website enabling you to​ determine your day-to-day needs based on activity levels and training demands," ​adds Heiss, an expert in the nutritional needs of endurance athletes.

“We wanted to move beyond the traditional pre-, during and post-workout model and develop a complete product line offering 24-hour nutrition based on the latest science.”

Beyond the traditional pre-, during and post-workout model

Instead of making a one-size-fits-all recovery product, for example, Herbalife24 has two post-workout products.

One (Rebuild Endurance) is tailored to help athletes recover after aerobically demanding workouts and another (Rebuild Strength) is tailored to speed up recovery after a heavy session in the gym pumping iron.

We went back to the primary literature

While the ingredients in Herbalife24 are not especially unusual, this does not mean it is a ‘me too’ range, stresses Heiss.

"What is special is the science behind the formulations. We went back to the primary literature and spent six months researching exactly what is the right amount of L-glutamine to use in a recovery product? What precise combination of fast and slow release carbs or fast (whey) and slow (casein) digesting proteins should we use and why?

“Take L-carnitine. It’s not new, but it’s usually associated with fat burning products. We’re using it in a post workout recovery product for endurance athletes.”

What is the clinically effective dose for creatine in a pre-workout product?

As for creatine, the key is getting the right dose, he says.

“It used to be the more the better, and some athletes were taking 10-20g a day. They were literally swelling up because creatine pulls water into muscle cells causing them to expand. But this makes you more prone to injury.

“We know now that the clinically effective dose for creatine monohydrate - which we use in our ‘Prepare’ pre-workout product for fast twitch muscle contraction, enabling you to do more reps, work out that bit longer - is actually around 2g.”

Prepare, which also contains ingredients that boost nitric oxide production and support blood flow to working muscles, delivers a benefit whether you are a serious athlete or a weekend warrior, he says. 

Without adequate oxygen reaching muscles, performance can be inhibited.”


The ‘Hydrate’ electrolyte supplement, meanwhile, contains “bioavailable electrolytes that are efficiently absorbed for improved hydration”,​ says Heiss.

“Sodium citrate, sea salt, potassium gluconate and magnesium ascorbate quickly replenish the salts and mineral lost throughout the day. Unlike many sports drinks it is intentionally low in sugar, so it works for everyone, even those that are not so active.”

So essential electrolyte replacement for a triathlete or hardcore jogger - and a pleasant low-cal alternative to a sugary sports drink for the rest of us…

Clean labels

Finally, all the products are tested for banned substances and are free from artificial colors, flavors and sweeteners, he says.

Launched in the US last May, Herbalife24 was rolled out to Europe in September 2011 and is now sold in 20 countries, says Heiss, who argues it is also helping Herbalife appeal to a new, younger, generation of distributors and customers beyond its core weight management audience.

“It’s doing fantastic things for the Herbalife brand and creating a lot of excitement.”

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