Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Skinny on Metabolic Research Center

Metabolic Research Center (MRC) is a weight loss business with locations in 19 different states. The employees are paid on commission from sign-ups and the sales of supplements.  MRC has several diet plans, each slightly different.  There are diet plans emphasizing portion control, caloric intake, balance, low-carb/high-fat and many others.  Most diets are designed for weight loss, but others are for health, such as the pregnancy diet.

Who is best served by MRC?

MRC can help people that are overweight by giving them tools to use to reach a healthy weight, such as a BMI of around 24.  This program is not effective for people who are already at a healthy weight and want to be "skinny."  For example, a woman who is 5'8" is not likely to get below 150 pounds without the added benefits of consistent cardio exercise and additional limitations to the menus.  The CDC has a BMI calculator that is free and easy to use.

What can you expect from your initial consultation, agreement, and cost?

Initially, guests will walk in to an office with before and after pictures of past clients on the wall showing significant weight and inches loss.  There is a one-on-one sales pitch using examples of past clients, the personal testimony of the salesman, and a promise that the plan is designed so that you can eat your own food and eat at restaurants.  The salesman may tell you how low they can successfully get your weight, but be aware that this may be unrealistic.
The packages are offered in 16- or 24-week increments, and which one they put you on depends on a variety of factors.  Your commitment entails a hefty sign up fee, a minimum of one office visit per week, drinking 1-4 protein drinks per day (depending on your plan), taking the Total Woman/Total Man oil supplement and the Trace Minerals supplement 3x per day, taking the MRC multi-vitamin or your own multi-vitamin, and staying "on plan."  If you do all these things, they guarantee weight loss of 2-3 pounds per week.  Note that this is not a money-back guarantee.  Instead, they will extend the weeks of your plan until you reach your goal if you have stayed "on plan."
If you decide to use MRC to help manage your weight loss, you should be financially prepared.  It's a bargain compared to bariatric surgery, which is often a solution people consider when they desperately wish to lose significant weight.  The protein drinks you are required to use cost $13-14/box, and they have 7 packets per box.  At 3 protein drinks per day, this cost adds up quickly. Over the course of 24-weeks I spent nearly $2,000 overall.  Add to this the changes to your grocery bill.

My personal story

I was originally referred to MRC by a friend, and since I hated my weight of 176.5 pounds, and the salesman said that MRC could safely get me to 127 pounds, I signed up at the Springfield, MO location and chose a goal weight of 130 pounds.  The sign up fee was exorbitant, but I was desperate.  I paid $595 + around $100 for protein drinks and supplements on the first day.  After some time in the program and talking with my doctor, I realized this goal was unrealistic, but it was too late -- the salesmen had already sold me a large weight loss package, which was much more expensive than if I had paid for the results I would actually get.
I started out on the MetaBalance plan, and the first several weeks at MRC I lost weight.  I worked to stay on my diet plan, which was very challenging.  I could not eat the same food as the rest of my family, and they could not eat the same food as me.  Eating at a restaurant was impossible.  Keep in mind that the consultants are far more familiar with what is "on plan" than you may ever be, so while they may have success eating out, you should expect to not eat out at all.
After losing 14 pounds, I hit a plateau.  I went one week without losing anything, and their recommendation was to increase my trace minerals (a supplement they sell).  Over the course of my time there, I needed additional supplements.  Among these were B12, B6, CalMag (calcium-magnesium), a vegetable-probiotics powder drink mix, a thermogenic, MRC-6 (fat loss accelerator), a generic hormone cream, and colon cleanse.  One consultant suggested I do their MetaQuick plan (protein drinks and supplements with one diet meal for dinner), but two days later a different consultant switched me to the MetaProtein menu, the low-carb/high-fat/high-protein plan.  I liked this plan the best, and I finally got my weight down to 151 pounds.  Eventually, I began gaining weight on the plan, and they decided to change my plan again to a newer version of the MetaBalance plan.  It felt like they were playing a guessing game at my expense.  One consultant said at one weigh-in "I don't understand why your body is doing this to you."  
After being stuck at around 150 pounds for several weeks, the manager of the Springfield, MO location all but came right out and accused me of going off-plan.  She tried very hard to get me to admit to some small infraction, but there was none.  They had no explanation for why the plan wasn't working, except that I was hiding something from them.  At one point, one consultant nearly talked me into raising my goal weight from 130 to 140.  If only the salesman at the initial consultation had suggested that up front, I would not have bought as expensive of a plan and my expectations would have been entirely different, resulting in a more positive outlook.
At this point in the program I was emotionally spent.  During this time, I found out that there were people able to sign up for the plan for only $99, which anyone can do on any major holiday.  Of course, this infuriated me, because I had paid nearly $600.  I asked the manager about this, and she said that their sign up fee did not include as many features as mine.  Which features, you may ask?  MRC has the options of the sign up, hormone test, and 1-year maintenance plan wrapped up in the $595 plan, but for $99 you don't receive the hormone test (which can be purchased separately for $200) or the 1-year maintenance (also can be purchased separately at the end of your time there if you wish).  The amount of information you are given when you sign up really depends on which consultant you talk to.  My sales rep was very commission-driven.   Aside from selling me a big package without telling me it could be broken down cafeteria-style, she also told me that no exercise was required.  In addition, I specifically asked her about the hormone testing.  I wanted to know for certain that once the hormone test results were back I would be able to get a custom-compounded hormone cream like the one I had been prescribed a few years earlier.  She told me that the cream was custom.  As it turns out, everyone gets the same hormone cream ($30 for a couple ounces) regardless of test results.  The only way to "customize" it is to use more or less.  Since this is an over-the-counter supplement, this is not something a medically-minded client would be interested in.  It is not FDA approved.  Since MRC was unable to successfully get me to 130 pounds, I saw no need for the 1-year maintenance program that I had already paid for at sign-up.  I asked the manager, Angie, several times for a refund on the 1-year maintenance, but she dodged my question and did not return my phone calls.
In the end, I lost 25.5 pounds of the 49.5 pounds I set out to lose on my 24-week plan.  I continued to practice healthy eating habits after leaving MRC and lost an additional 9 pounds, getting me down to 142.  My goal is now 140, and with the healthy eating habits and tips I gained from my time at MRC, I believe I can achieve my goal.

How to succeed through MRC

If you want to use the service of MRC, my recommendation is this: sign up for a small, no-frills plan and set your MRC weight loss goal to a realistic number.
If you don't know how to figure your goal, here is the formula most doctors use for women: 100 pounds + 5 pounds for every inch of height over 5'0".  For example, I am 5'8", so I take 100 + (8 x 5) = 140 pounds.
Then, if you are able to meet your goal completely, you can extend your plan and set a more aggressive goal.  This way, you don't end up paying for a large plan and losing only part of the weight you paid for.  In my case, I lost only 25 pounds of my 49.5 on my 24-week plan.  Over the course of 24-weeks I spent nearly $2,000 overall.
Lastly, because the pay for the consultants is commission-based, they are less inclines to tell you if your goal is unreasonable until after you are well into the program and have stopped losing weight.  Around the mid-point of the program my doctor told me that getting any lower than 140 pounds was not only unreasonable, it wouldn't look right.  Talk to your doctor about your realistic weight goal -- not a commission-driven salesman.

Conclusion

MRC sees a lot of clients with more than a hundred pounds to lose.  These clients tend to get more of their money's worth, because they can easily lose more than 2-3 pounds per week.  I have personally witnessed more than one client weigh-in and hear the cheers when 14 pounds was shaved off in only one week.  This is easily done when the patient weighs over 500 pounds.  However, clients wanting to lower an already healthy weight to achieve a nicer figure are not likely to see as much success.  The closer you get to your goal, the harder you have to work.

7 comments:

  1. And I need to start now and lose weight in Springfield. I have to work hard for this.

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  2. Hi! A part of me wishes that I would have read this before investing, but so far since I've started I have lost almost 80lbs. Thankfully my dieticians are extremely patient and kind. They have been supportive and motivating me to keep going. I'm taking a bunch of supplements but on my own terms- they may not make a lot of money on pills from me but I do use the protein drinks. I'm very happy with the weight I've lost, I was 254 at 5'10 and I'm currently at 177lbs. My goal is 155. My dieticians are human and realistic-they don't push products to the point of ignoring your heart and goals for the purpose of their commissional reasons. The office I attend is in Colorado Springs. I have gone through 3 dieticians! I hope they didn't quit cause of my slowness but they never showed exasperation or accused me of being obstinate-crazy you had such a bad experience. Anyway this my journey. Once I reach my goal and if I gain again I'm going to probably not do MRC again.

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  3. At 5'11" and a starting weight of 295 lbs, I have lost 126 lbs with the help of MRC and I can GUARANTEE you that not a single pound of this was "easily" lost. EVERY pound has taken the same amount of commitment and dedication.

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