Is Shakeology Healthy? Maybe Not For Your Wallet
Before we begin, you should know I am NOT affiliated with Shakeology or BeachBody in any way. I have also never tried Shakeology.
I see a lot of people promoting Shakeology online so I wanted to look into what exactly it was that people were promoting. Was it a health product? Does it help people lose weight? Is it worth it?
Shakeology is a brand of ‘superfood protein supplement shakes’ that are part of the Beach Body MLM. Since it’s an MLM product, it’s sold primarily through a BeachBody Coach, although they also sell it online. It’s important to know that BeachBody Coaches are not required to be educated in health or nutrition to sell Shakeology. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s important to know in case you ever feel pressured by someone to buy Shakeology. Anyone pressuring you to buy Shakeology is likely just desperate to meet a sales quota in order to maintain their rank. In other words, they would not be looking out for your best interests, or your health.
Okay, getting into the actual product, it’s important to say first: No matter how amazing any supplement is, it will NEVER be healthier than fresh, unprocessed food. That goes for any powdered supplement or vitamin capsule. To quote NutritionFacts.org, “Mother Nature’s powers cannot be stuffed into a pill” (or powder). Unfortunately, there’s more money in promoting pills and powders than plants.
I’m using the Vanilla Whey Shakeology® as an example here, and it has a ton of ingredients. The main protein source is whey protein, in addition to pea protein. There’s flaxseed and chia, fruit, mushroom, kale, MSM, ashwagandha, green tea, quinoa, chlorella, sacha inchi, spirulina, and a ton of vitamins and minerals, as well as probiotics. And more. Seriously, there’s a ton of good stuff.
The non-medicinal ingredients consist of some juice concentrates and stevia for taste, malodextrin, sodium chloride (salt), and D-fructose. Malodextrin is a small concern here, as it’s a refined sugar and preservative, which will affect blood sugar levels, but is likely in a small enough amount here that wouldn’t be an issue. But it could potentially be a problem if you’re diabetic. It could also be an issue as it can adversely affect your gut lining and promote bacterial growth. Fortunately, the addition of probiotics to the shake would help this. D-Fructose (fructose) is another refined sugar, but only causes a minor rise in blood sugar. It has been linked to various metabolic disorders, but primarily due to an excess of it.
Shakeology For Weight-Loss
Weight loss is about calories in and calories out. So if you use Shakeology and your daily calories expenditure is more than your calorie consumption you will lose weight. Shakeology isn’t the reason you’re losing weight though; it’s that you’re sticking to a lower calorie diet. Strict diet plans force you to actually monitor what you eat, which is something you likely weren’t doing before. So, you lose weight. That’s it. And if that works for you, then that’s great!
Okay, from what I’ve heard and read online, Shakeology is very expensive. If you love it and have the money, then great… but again, the healthier and cheaper option is to simply buy fresh fruits and veggies and mix em in a smoothie. You want the added nutrient benefits? Throw in some spirulina/chlorella powder, some ground flaxseeds and chia seeds, and add some yogurt for probiotics. You can find everything in Shakeology at a health food store. Those ingredients will last though a lot of homemade smoothies. You can also find a different protein powder that gives you the same benefits for a lower price. Here are some cost comparisons:
On the Canadian website, 30 servings of vanilla Shakeology costs $155.95. I’m not sure how often you’re meant to drink it, but even if it’s only once a day that’s pretty expensive. This works out to about $5.20 per day
Vega All-In-One Shake, vanilla flavoured, which contains about 20 servings for $60 in-store or online. This works out to about $3 per day. You can add this to a smoothie full of fresh fruits and veggies. It contains similar ingredients like pea protein, spirulina, chlorella, probiotics, and a plethora of vitamins and minerals.
Garden Of Life
My current favorite is the Garden of Life Raw Organic Protein powder, vanilla flavored. It lasts a little less than a month (20 scoops), tastes great, and it’s raw. This one is great for me because it contains live enzymes, probiotics, complete proteins, is entirely organic, non-GMO and so yummy. In Canada online it’s $47 and in-store about the same. This works out to about $2.35 per day. I add fresh fruits and veggies to this to make a delicious smoothie. It also contains similar ingredients to Shakeology like pea protein, chlorella, stevia, and a ton more ingredients to create a blend that has a complete amino acid profile, a ton of probiotics and enzymes, and no refined sugars.
So Is Shakeology Healthy?
Shakeology seems like a product that is really trying to be everything. They put as many different things into it as they could into it in the hopes people would turn to because it covers all their bases and lets them stay in a definable caloric range.
For someone who is used to overeating junk food and a lot of processed snack food, Shakeology would absolutely be a step in the healthier direction. For someone who already eats a whole food, plant-based diet, Shakeology wouldn’t be unhealthy (Unless you wind up consuming too much vitamin A, D, E, or K), but it would be unnecessary.
Shakeology is not recommended for people with medical conditions or pregnant/nursing mothers. This info sheet actually gives a long list of contraindications; sentences starting with “Do Not Use If.” This is likely due to the high amount of herbs and botanicals in the powder, many of which can have severe side effects for certain people. There’s even a warning that says “Discontinue use and consult a health care practitioner if symptoms of digestive upset (e.g. diarrhea, nausea, vomiting) occur, worsen, or persist beyond 3 days.” Basically, if you have any kind of medical condition, either steer clear or really do your research.
Essentially, Shakeology is neither healthy nor unhealthy. It’s healthier than processed junk food, and less healthy than unprocessed, whole food.
Would I ever try Shakeology? No. For me, there is no point. I know there are healthier, cheaper options that don’t have the potential side effects and I already eat a whole food, plant-based diet. Besides, I’m currently a nursing mother so I couldn’t try it if I wanted to.
Should you try Shakeology? I don’t think it’s necessary, but if you’re already using it, love it, and can afford it, you might as well continue using it. If you have an unhealthy relationship with food and want to try something new, Shakeology might be an option for you… if you can deal with the heavy price tag.
Have you used Shakeology before? Do you love it or hate it? Was it worth the cost? Let me know in the comments below!
Abby Langer, a Registered Dietitian, also has a great Shakeology review on her website. Check it out here