I decided to review Shakeology made by Beachbody because I’ve seen so many other reviews on this product. So why review a product that’s been already been reviewed so many times? Because pretty much every other review I’ve seen is biased due to that fact that it’s promoting Beachbody’s multilevel marketing system.
Beachbody has a program that allows you to sell their products and make a commission. From the website:
“You don’t need to be a fitness or weight-loss expert to become a Beachbody Coach. You just need to be ready to commit to changing your life.”
But like any MLM (multi-level marketing) the real money is in recruiting new members who sell under you. This allows you not only a piece of their sales commission but a sign up fee commission, which in this case is $40. For this price you can become a “Team Beachbody coach” (which doesn’t require any training, special knowledge or certifications) and coach others on how to get in shape by selling their products. With that said, on to my unbiased Shakeology review.
The official Wikipedia definition of Beachbody is as follows
“Beachbody LLC is an American multinational corporation that uses multi-level marketing to sell fitness, weight loss, and muscle building home-exercise DVDs.”
Beachbody is most famous for their video workout series P90X, by the way, which I have used and happen to think is good program. They also have two other popular video series; Insanity and Hip Hop Abs.
Shakeology isn’t Beachbody’s only supplement line. They also promote their P90X supplements at the end of each of their workout videos. I’ve already reviewed the P90X supplement line. The short version is that they are sub-par supplements that are way overpriced. Just because I’m not a fan of the P90X line doesn’t mean I won’t give Shakeology a fair chance.
Many people wonder what the name Shakeology means and/or where it comes from. You can stop wondering. It’s just a clever name their marketing department came up with. It gives the impression that there’s some sort of science involved of or maybe some other special quality.
The literal translation is ‘the study of shakes” which obviously makes no sense. The thing I always like to point out about supplements (and really any product or service) in general is that many times what your paying for is a clever marketing department not necessarily a better supplement.
Shakeology is marketed as an all-in-one meal replacement shake, meaning it is supposed to cover all your nutritional needs in a single serving. In fact, Beachbody claims,
“Shakeology is the most delicious, nutrient-dense, superfood-packed protein shake on the planet.”
Quite a bold claim. However, it takes a seriously misleading or completely false statement before the FDA will even issue a warning to a supplement manufacturer. So, essentially they can say almost whatever they want about their product, as can any other supplement company.
Shakeology includes a protein blend, an antioxidant blend, a phytonutrient blend, probiotics, vitamins, minerals and enzymes.
These blends and nutrients are comprised of one animal protein source; whey protein (not in all formulations) and many plant sources, some of which are in the form of isolated protein such and pea and hemp and others like konjac and coconut nectar which are included for their antioxidants and other nutrients.
One fact regarding Shakeology that the Beachbody likes to promote is that it includes over 70 natural ingredients. To many buyers who may not look too closely this may seem like a great selling point. But do more ingredients make it a better product? It depends on what those ingredients are and the proportions they’re in – which you can see in the ingredients section, just below.
“To make Shakeology Beachbody searched the world to find ancient and exotic superfoods simply not available at your local supermarket.”
Although that may sound impressive, calling superfoods like ginkgo, green tea, maca root and barley grass exotic is simply a marketing technique.
Using the word “exotic” makes consumers think they’re getting something special and thus brings the perceived value up, allowing the manufacturer to justify a higher price.
We first need to examine the many ingredients in Shakeology and the amounts of those ingredients to get an idea of this supplement’s potential effectiveness and overall value. For each ingredient, I will post a link to either the ingredient’s Wikipedia page or another source that expands upon that ingredients reported nutritional properties and health benefits.
WHEY PROTEIN ISOLATE – 15000 mg
PHYTONUTRIENT SUPERGREENS BLEND – 1800 mg
ANTIOXIDANT SUPERFRUIT BLEND – 1750 mg
PROPRIETARY ADAPTOGEN HERB BLEND – 1675 mg
PROPRIETARY FRUIT POWDER BLEND – 1500 mg
PREBIOTIC AND PROBIOTIC BLEND – 1150 mg
As you can see, Shakeology is composed of 15 grams of whey protein isolate (or plant protein if you buy the vegan blend) and just under 8 grams of superfoods. Not too bad. However, I would prefer full disclosure on the proportions these superfoods. The reason is that many times supplement companies will “hide” behind blends.
This way the blend can potentially be comprised of 90% one ingredient and 10% all the others combined. And that 90% ingredient is typically going to be the cheapest of the bunch. On the other hand, not all superfoods need to be consumed in large amounts to get their benefits. Some can be beneficial even in very small amounts. The point here is that it would still be nice to know exactly what we’re getting.
Shakeology contains all of these great superfoods but I have two questions about them. “Are they raw and are they organic?” If you’re consuming what are considered “superfoods” for their many health benefits you’ll want them to be raw and organic to get the most out of them.
Organic foods and dietary supplements are produced without the use of pesticides, chemical fertilizers, genetically modified ingredients (GMOs) or any other synthetic ingredients, which are responsible for causing a wide variety of health problems. Raw ingredients are unheated, which leaves all of the nutrients intact.
Many people are unaware that heating foods can actually greatly diminish their nutritional value. On the Shakeology website they do mention that their sacha inchi is organic; however, they don’t list any other organic or raw ingredients on the site or the supplement packaging, so I decided to give their customer service number a call.
On my first call the rep answered me very quickly and told me, “Yes, it’s all organic.” He didn’t answer my question about it being raw though. I asked why it’s not listed as organic on the packaging or the website. He didn’t know.
So I decided to call them a second time. This time when I asked the same question the rep told me to hold on because he had to check. After a couple minutes he got back on the phone and told me, “No, it’s not organic.” He wasn’t able to answer my question about it being raw either.
It is possible that there are other ingredients in Shakeology that are organic – but it’s not likely. They could, and most likely would, have listed them. As for the ingredients being raw – probably not. This is another selling point that they would have listed if it were true. Shakeology, as a whole, is not USDA certified organic, nor is it certified by any other organic body.
“This product is manufactured in a plant that also processes soy, egg, fish, crustacean shell fish, tree nuts and wheat gluten ingredients.”
If you are extremely allergic to gluten or any of the other allergens listed you’re better off staying away from the chocolate flavor. The Greenberry flavor states that it, “Contains milk-based ingredients and is manufactured in a plant that also processes soy ingredients.”
So, yes, all of the Shakeology shakes are produced free of any gluten ingredients; however, if you’re highly allergic (which is very rare) you’ll need to check the label for the specific flavor you intend to buy to see whether it was processed in a plant that also processes gluten (or any other allergens that apply).
Essentially, what Beachbody is doing is mixing a superfood powder with a protein powder and selling it as a meal replacement/weight-loss supplement. For considerably less money, you can buy both a protein powder and a superfood powder separately.
And for those that want to keep it simple by purchasing only one powdered supplement, Amazing Grass also sells meal replacements that are very similar to Shakeology at a lower price.
Below is a price comparison between three options; Shakeology, a combination of MRM whey protein + Amazing grass superfood drink powder, and Amazing Grass Amazing Meal. Keep in mind that Amazing Grass and MRM supplements can be substituted for options with similar characteristics. I just happen to personally use both of these premium quality supplements.
Shakeology per serving stats
- 16 grams protein
- 8 grams of superfoods
- no artificial flavors
- not certified organic
- may or may not use raw ingredients
- most likely GMO free, although not specified (other than non-GMO fructose)
- only whey isolate used (in the non-vegan formulas)
- Gluten free
- 70+ ingredients used
MRM Whey Protein per serving stats
- 18 grams of protein
- Blend of whey concentrate and isolate
- No artificial flavors
- Made from hormone free cows
Amazing Grass Green Superfood blend per serving stats
- 7.6 grams of superfoods
- Certified organic
- Guten free
- GMO free
Amazing Grass Amazing Meal per serving stats
- 10 grams protein
- 6.5 grams superfoods
- USDA Organic
- Gluten free
- Soy free
- GMO free
Monthly costs (30 servings):
- Shakeology = $130
- MRM + Amazing Grass Green Superfood = $33 (You save $97 per month)
- Amazing Grass Amazing Meal = $56 (you save $74 per month)
Per meal costs (1 serving):
- Shakeology = $4.33
- MRM + Amazing Grass Green Superfood = $1.10 (you save 3.23 per meal)
- Amazing Grass Amazing Meal = $1.87 (you save $2.46 per meal)
As you can see, not only are you saving a bunch of money by going with my Shakeology alternative, but you’re also getting raw organic superfoods.
I’m not out to get Beachbody or Shakeology (As I said earlier, I really do like the P90X video series) nor do I think Shakeology is a bad supplement. I am simply pointing out that this supplement is most likely at least a bit overpriced for what your getting.
I do think that Shakeology could make sense for someone who is busy and only has time for one supplement. If you don’t mind forking over the extra money, Shakeology does provide nutritional balance and may, regardless of the issues discussed in this article, be the meal replacement supplement of choice for many people.
If anyone knows of any other alternatives to Shakeology that have similar ingredient profiles, please post them in the comments section and I will add them to this section as well.
The Team Beachbody website states:
“If you do want to purchase products for your own use or resale, you’ll get them at a significant discount.”
That gives you an idea of how significant the markup is on this product. But to be fair, most supplements have a very substantial mark up. In general, the supplement industry is a very profitable one.
Even with the “significant discount” that is offered to Beachbody coaches, who can either buy the products for their own use or for resale, Beachbody is still making a good profit. It is inherent of MLMs to have products with little value (Although I don’t believe Shakeology fits the mold of the typical MLM product). The primary focus of most MLMs is to recruit more members whereas the product or service is just a means of doing that.
If you’ve ever been to or seen a MLM presentation, most of the focus is on selling the potential participants the idea of making lots of money, becoming your own boss and living the life you’ve always dreamed. Very little attention is paid to the product itself. People are already sold on the idea of being successful.
I am generally not a fan of MLM systems, but I would not go as far as calling them scams. They need to be evaluated on a case by case basis. There are many MLM systems out there that use deceptive practices and offer no real value to the investor or buyer. Shakeology by Beachbody, although a bit overpriced, does not fall into this category, in my opinion.
I think the overall effect of the Beachbody coaching system/Shakeology is a positive one. It promotes a healthy lifestyle through good nutrition and exercise. But let’s not forget these guys are not doing charity work, they’re in it for the money. So you have to ask yourself questions like, “Is this the best value for my money?” and “Is this the best product of its type available?”
After reading though the reviews on Amazon.com and asking a few people I know who’ve used Shakeology, only one thing is clear; there is no general consensus. Some people say they love the taste while others didn’t like it much at all. If you’re not new to meal replacement shakes, you shouldn’t have a problem with the taste; on the other hand, if you’re expecting it to taste like a milkshake you may be disappointed.
- Chocolate vegan (no whey)
- Tropical strawberry
I went in search of some truly unbiased Shakeology user reviews to get an idea of what the people who are actual using this product think about it. My requirement for unbiased reviews are:
- It can’t be coming from a Beachbody coach or anyone else who selling Shakeology on their site
- There can’t be any links to the Beachbody or Shakeology websites anywhere within the review (unless they are purely informational)
I was able to come across a few reviews that met this criteria.
One seemingly unbiased Shakeology user review I came across stated
“It did not “make” me lose weight. I lost weight because I had a calorie deficit…it took away all my unhealthy carb and sweet cravings. It gave me more energy…I love Shakeology. I will continue to use it everyday. Yes I think it’s expensive but I think it’s worth every penny. It is definitely helping me on this journey.”
Reviews on Amazon.com can generally be trusted as genuine. The user reviews on Shakeology break down as follows:
5 star =16
4 star =15
3 star =7
2 star =11
1 star =18
As you can see the reviews are split pretty evenly across the board.
Many of the negative reviews had a problem with the taste, but honestly that is to be expected with any healthy meal replacement shake. Not everyone is going to like it, no matter what it tastes like.
One of the one star reviews was titled, “Not bad…but the price, Holy Moly” That reviewer also wrote, “I’ve given some to other people to try and it’s about 50/50…some hated it and some didn’t mind it” regarding the taste of Shakeology. These remarks seem to speak for many Shakeology users.
Many of the positive reviewers reported having increased energy levels and weight loss. Many reviewers also commented on the shake being delicious.
One reviewer remarked “I enjoy Beachbody’s exercise programs (Insanity, P90X) but this Shakeology is pretty useless, at least to me.”
User reviews seem to be split, but the one thing most can agree on is the high price.
Shakeology does include isolated proteins. Depending on the flavor, you will either get whey or plant source protein isolates. Complete proteins (provided by both whey and plant proteins) are necessary for protein synthesis (muscle building).
Whey protein however, has the most complete amino acid profile. For that reason, if you would like to build muscle while taking Shakeology, you’ll have the best results using one of the formulas that contains whey rather than a plant based protein. If you’re vegan and do not have this option, don’t worry; pea, hemp and brown rice proteins are all still effective for building muscle.
Whey is simply considered the gold standard for muscle building. If your primary focus is to build muscle, I highly recommend buying a quality whey protein powder rather than Shakeology. You’ll save a lot of money and you’ll get much better results, as a whey powder is priced and designed to be taken multiple times a day for maximum results, unlike Shakeology.
There doesn’t appear to be any scientific, peer-reviewed studies on Shakeology.
Since Shakeology is made from all natural ingredients and is caffeine and stimulant free, it should be considered safe for most users.
It is a food supplement, so the only users likely to experience any adverse effects would be those with food allergies. Be sure to review the ingredient label if this applies to you, as there are over 70 ingredients in this blend.
As is standard with all supplements, Beachbody recommends that you fist consult with a medical professional if you are pregnant, breast feeding or have any medical conditions. The following is only important to keep in mind if you’re an athlete that undergoes drug testing.
“NOTE: Shakeology contains suma root, a rich source of many phyto-nutrients, including ecdysterone,which has significant health benefits. Ecdysterone is a naturally occurring phyto-chemical compound that could be erroneously detected and flagged in synthetic steroid screening tests.That unfortunate reality caused the NFL and WADA to add ecdysterone to the list of banned substances in 2010. Athletes and anyone subject to banned substances testing should consult with their physician and athletic organization.”
The Shakeology website has video reviews of doctors talking about how Shakeology is great for cardiovascular health and weight loss and is a great supplement in general. So what should we take away from this?
In my personal opinion, testimonials from doctors don’t really mean much simply because those doctors are likely paid for their endorsements. If I saw a thorough and unbiased-sounding review from a doctor specializing in nutrition who swore he was not paid to endorse the product, I would certainly take it in to consideration.
I haven’t come across this type of endorsement for Shakeology; that’s not to say it doesn’t exist. To be clear, these endorsements aren’t evidence against Shakeology, but in my opinion they don’t add any credibility either.
In theory, yes, the ingredients in Shakeology could help improve or maintain many different aspects of your health. My point here is you should never base your decision solely on a paid doctor’s endorsement.
From the Shakeology online order form page:
“Replace one meal a day with Vanilla, Chocolate, Greenberry, Chocolate Vegan, or Tropical Strawberry (vegan) to help increase your energy, reduce cravings, lose weight, and feel great.”
If your goal is to lose weight you will likely do so if you employ the full Shakeology program, which includes not only replacing one meal a day with Shakeology, but exercising three times per week. Assuming a RDA of 2,000 calories per day you’re getting an average of at least 660 calories per meal (3 meals per day).
One Shakeology shake has about 160 calories. Therefore, by replacing one meal with Shakeology you’re effectively lowering your daily caloric intake by 500 calories. Add regular exercise to that and you’re pretty much guaranteed to lose weight. You can also get the same result by replacing one of your normal meals with any healthy 160 calorie meal.
But what about all of the health superfoods in it? do they promote weight loss in any way? Possibly, but those effects are trivial compared to a caloric deficit.
Getting you’re body into a healthy state by cleansing it of toxins and providing all of the nutrients needs will make it much easier to lose weight, although it won’t have a direct effect on weight loss. Shakeology can be a useful aid in getting your body into this type of healthy state.
The Shakeology website, under the FAQs section states:
“Our mission is to use whole ingredients (not extracts) in our formulations. As such, a whole leaf, all-natural green tea is used in each of the Shakeology formulas…Therefore all formulations contain low levels of naturally-occurring caffeine.”
However, contrary to this statement, the supplement fact label on the green berry states that it is caffeine free. During both of my customer service calls, I also asked about the caffeine content. Both reps assured me that none of the formulas contain caffeine. Your best bet to know for sure is to look for green tea on the ingredient listing.
If it says “green tea decaffeinated extract” the formula is caffeine free and if it just says “green tea leaf” it’s not. Either way, the amount of caffeine is going to be very small.
Yes, it is possible that you’ll experience an increase in energy using Shakeology. Superfoods and whole foods in general, are great for promoting energy. Here’s an article on 8 superfoods that boost your energy levels – all of which are in Shakeology.
If you are nutrient deficient in a particular area, say protein or vitamin A for instance, both of which are provided by Shakeology, there is a good chance you will see a boost in your energy levels. Some individuals have reported increased energy while using Shakeology. Like all supplements, it’s going to vary from user to user.
I have a few key problems with Shakeology, which is why I have recommended a few different alternatives instead. Although Shakeology is healthy product with nutritional balance that many people love and will continue to use, my issues with this supplement are as follows:
- Not organic
- Not raw
- No full disclosure of ingredient proportions
These concerns may not be relevant to everyone. If you’re still wondering about Shakeology after this review, my advice is to go out and buy a bag and test it out for yourself.