Many of us are looking for a great way to lose weight or to get healthy. Yet, that goal tends to end up being much more difficult than we would like.
In fact, the process of losing weight often feels impossible and even depressing.
There are many programs out there that claim to have the answer to the challenges of weight loss and today we’re going to take a detailed look at one of these – Shakeology.
This Shakeology review will focus on precisely what you can expect from the Shakeology products and whether they can actually help you to lose weight. After all, you don’t want to be throwing your money away with a product that doesn’t actually work, right?
What is Shakeology?
Shakeology is promoted as a way to lose weight and get healthier overall.
It’s also a fairly simple concept because the products are basically powders to make meal replacement shakes. As a way to lose weight, this is more realistic than products like Plexus Slim, which rely almost entirely on herbs and vitamins.
Shakeology has a range of different flavors to choose from with their products, along with the ability to get multiple flavors when you order. Some of the flavors are fairly common but others are more unusual.
Shakeology often comes across as unique and the company goes to great lengths to make their product seem amazing. There are certainly some appealing things about the shakes but they aren’t that unique.
Overall, Shakeology falls into the category of a meal replacement shake. This means that it’s specifically designed to be taken instead of a meal, without compromising your nutrients. That’s why the shake has a range of nutrients in it.
The other key category out there is protein shakes. There are many different options in this category, including the brand Pure Protein.
Basically, protein shakes focus mostly on the protein component and typically don’t have added nutrients. That decision is partly because protein shakes are targeted at a wide audience, including people who are having the shakes in addition to normal meals (like body builders).
Often, you will find that protein shakes are higher in protein than a meal replacement shake and they may have fewer additives, as there is less focus on flavor and nutrition.
For example, this is the ingredients list for the Café Latte flavor of Shakeology:
In contrast, here is the ingredients list for the Pure Protein vanilla whey powder.
Now, most of the extra ingredients in the Shakeology list would be considered healthy and they offer a way of getting nutrients. Nevertheless, it is still a lot of extra ingredients and in most cases there isn’t all that much research behind them.
Both types of shake can work well – and ultimately, which you need is going to depend on your own situation.
But, my main point here is simply that there are many options out there that offer the same advantages as Shakeology. That’s true for meal replacement shakes and for protein shakes, as there are many brands to pick from in both categories.
For example, one somewhat popular way to lose weight is the Clean 9 diet. One aspect of that diet is protein powder and that works much the same was as what Shakeology offers.
Shakeology versus Meal Replacement Shakes
In many ways, my biggest problem with Shakeology is simply that the promotion makes the product sound a lot more unique that it actually is. For example, these are some of the claims made on the site:
Now, I’m not actually disputing any of these claims.
I completely agree that Shakeology can be a key source of healthy nutrients and energy. Likewise, the shakes really can be filling and they can even taste like you are giving yourself a treat.
However, those same advantages are also true for pretty much any protein shake out there.
And, here’s the thing, there are a lot of different protein shake brands out there. That’s not too surprising, because protein shakes have become popular as weight loss tools and also for building muscle.
With that in mind, for this part of the Shakeology review, I’m going to take a look at whether or not Shakeology is actually different than the other brands out there.
I will say that Shakeology has more flavors than most other brands of protein shake. In fact, the brand seems to have specifically focused on providing a range of flavors, including some more unusual ones.
This is a welcome approach, because it’s pretty easy to get sick of chocolate and vanilla protein shakes.
Additionally, Shakeology comes in individual serving sizes, which also makes it easier to mix up the flavors and have something different each day. Doing this also adds to the variety and helps make the shakes more interesting.
In contrast, that’s not something you can do with many other protein shake brands. Often you end up buying protein shake powder in fairly large containers. Technically speaking, you could buy a number of these to get a range of flavors but most people probably wouldn’t.
In the case of Shakeology, there are five normal flavors along with two vegan flavors on offer.
With that in mind, you do get more flavor options with Shakeology, which could make it easier to stick with the shakes in the long-term.
Shakeology does have some interesting flavors and this can make it easier to stick to drinking the shakes
When it comes to comparing protein shake brands, it’s important to consider the protein, which is one thing that I want to look at briefly as part of this Shakeology review.
The protein in any shake is the key component that makes you feel full and it also helps with weight loss. Having a high protein content is absolutely critical if you plan to use a shake as an alternative to a meal.
In the case of Shakeology, the protein level isn’t horrible but it isn’t great either. For example, in the café latte flavor, the protein content is 16 g per scoop.
Typically, you would have one scoop per serving, so that’s 16 g of protein plus whatever else you have with it (for example, milk has protein). I’ve certainly seen worse protein levels but 16 g still isn’t that great. For example, the Pure Protein brand I mentioned earlier has 23 g per serving.
At the same time, the amount of sugar and the number of calories is lower for this product than for Shakeology. Having 20 or more grams of protein is fairly common among the high-quality protein brands (especially for whey protein, which is ideal).
This difference does come back to the idea of protein shakes versus meal replacement shakes. Often you find that meal replacement shakes have a lower amount of protein to allow for the extra nutrients.
Nevertheless, if you aren’t worried about nutrients, then protein shakes can often be a better choice, as they tend to be more filling and are often lower in calories. For example, the Café Latte version of Shakeology has 150 calories per serving, versus 130 calories for the Pure Protein. That difference isn’t huge but it’s still relevant if you’re trying to lose weight.
The amount of protein in the shakes is decent, although it is still lower than many brands of protein powder
One of the biggest issues that I’ve found with this Shakeology review is the price. In many ways, Shakeology is fairly similar to many of the Shakeology alternatives out there but despite this, it tends to be much more expensive.
Now, there are two options for packaging size. One choice is to buy single serving packets, while the other is to buy a bag of the powder. Both are the same price but you get more servings in the bag.
In terms of price, the two approaches are the same, $129.95.
That’s much more expensive than most brands out there. You’re also basically buying a month’s worth of product, so that expense is something you would have to pay every month.
There are also some other options, such as alternating the flavors that you get or combining flavors. This versatility is nice, especially as the price remains the same regardless.
There are also two options for the order.
Autoship means that you will be getting the product each month. The advantage is that you get a discount for doing so. If you’re a member of the Beachbody program, that discount is bigger.
However, if you sign up for autoship, you do have to manually cancel when you are ready to stop. In practice, it’s often harder than it should be to cancel with companies, so bear this in mind. At the same time, it seems like the autoship also tries to pressure people into joining the Beachbody opportunity (which I’ll go into later).
Thankfully, it is fairly simple to actually buy the products through the site, without having to worry about finding a distributor or anything like that.
Shakeology is on the expensive side and costs more than most non-MLM shake brands
As you might imagine, the ingredients choices for Shakeology are based on increasing the amount of nutrients that the shakes have to offer. This is a key thing I want to focus on with this Shakeology review, as those ingredients are really what makes the shakes different than other brands.
You’ll see that there are a lot of ingredients there but most of them are not artificial. Instead, there is a range of different plant-based ingredients, such as maca root, green tea extract and blueberry.
This focus is the basis of many of the health claims that the company makes. For example, some of their marketing promotes the presence of adaptogens in their product.
The company doesn’t define this concept too well, but adaptogens are essentially herbs and they are supposed to help with how the body response to stress.
Now, the wording of these claims alone should highlight the fact that there is relatively little research into the effects of these various herbs. Some research does suggest that adaptogens have potential (1,2), but there hasn’t been a large amount of research conducted. Additionally, most research seems to consider adpatogens an overall category, rather than the individual herbs.
In theory, this could mean that there are many health advantages of adaptogens out there that science just hasn’t found. But, it could also mean that these herbs do mostly nothing or that can even (potentially) cause harm when used in the long-term.
The simple answer is that we really don’t know.
Personally, I hate the use of traditional medicine as an explanation for how a given natural product has health benefits. After all, traditional medicine tends to be a series of hits and misses. In some cases, natural remedies do offer benefits but in other cases, they really don’t.
Likewise, the people who used traditional medicine didn’t actually have the tools to see whether a given approach worked or not. That’s especially true for cases like this, as measuring levels or outcomes of stress is next to impossible with traditional medicine approaches.
Now, there is the chance that these compounds offer health benefits but there’s a greater chance that they do nothing at all. Realistically, you are consuming a large amount of different herbs on a regular basis, with little evidence about what benefit they offer or how they interact with one another.
Shakeology strongly relies on herbs, including those classified as adaptogens. While there is some evidence that some of these may offer health benefits, much more research is needed
Antioxidants and Probiotics
Nevertheless, there are some compounds in the Shakeology products that can potentially promote health. One area is antioxidants.
Antioxidants are compounds that fight oxidation in the body. Specifically, they are supposed to protect against free radicals and the damage that they can cause. In theory, these compounds can help improve health and promote wellbeing (3). There are many discussions of how powerful antioxidants may be, such as in this post from BuiltLean.
However, there is also considerable debate about antioxidants.
That debate stems from the fact that oxidation is an important process in the body, so manipulating it too much could have unintended impacts (4).
In fact, it may be best for people to rely on antioxidants in the food that they eat, rather than to take antioxidant supplements. Some research has even suggested that antioxidant supplements may even raise death risk (5,6).
So, what about the antioxidants in Shakeology? Well, the antioxidants are still from natural sources. But, then again, that’s also true for many antioxidant supplements.
Even if the antioxidants in the shakes are beneficial, you could get a similar outcome by using a normal protein shake mix and blending it with fruit. Doing so would mean that you’re getting nutrients from whole foods, which is more appealing. Plus, you have control over exactly what you consume.
The other key area is probiotics. I’ve talked about probiotics in an article on yogurt and its health benefits. The interest in probiotics is connected to the significance of the bacteria in our gut and the way that they can contribute to our health.
The area of probiotics (and prebiotics) is still fairly new, so there hasn’t been an extensive amount of research. Nevertheless, what we do know supports that idea that probiotics can promote health.
So, this aspect of Shakeology does make sense.
However, probiotics aren’t unique to Shakeology products. Instead, yogurt is a good source of probiotics and fermented food also works well. This also means that you could get the same benefits by blending a probiotic yogurt into a smoothie with a different brand of protein powder.
These patterns suggest that there are some benefits to be had from Shakeology but they are far from unique.
There is significant evidence for health benefits from both antioxidants and probiotics. Nevertheless, it's important to note that there are many possible sources of these compounds
Reviews and Success Stories
If you take a look on the Shakeology website, you’ll see stories of people who have been successful with the product – which certainly suggests that it works as claimed.
Honestly, I’m not disputing this outcome. Shakeology would honestly work for some people, particularly as protein shakes can be a good way to decrease your calorie intake. However, it’s important to note that many of the Shakeology success stories aren’t just focused on the product itself.
The case above is a great example of this. Basically, the guy lost a bunch of weight but he was already doing a low fat, low carb and low-calorie diet. At the same time, he didn’t just use Shakeology, he also used another product from the company called P90X. Here’s another example:
In this case, the woman used Shakeology in conjunction with Les Mills Pump. That combination makes it hard to know how much weight was actually lost because of Shakeology.
Realistically, protein shakes are rarely ever a weight loss solution on their own. Instead, you do need to turn to a diet or exercise plan that complements it. This is partly how the company can be so successful, because it uses that pattern as a way to promote other services.
Of course, Shakeology reviews on the site itself are always going to be somewhat biased and they don’t offer much insight into whether the product actually works.
One much better indication comes from a site that specializes in meal replacement shakes. The authors on this site compare shakes from a range of companies to figure out which ones are worth the effort.
On that site, the Shakeology shakes score fairly well at 8.9 out of 10. The biggest issue that the site noted is the same one that I have problems with too – value.
Overall, this outcome suggests that Shakeology does work fairly well as a meal replacement shake and it is fairly decent when compared to other brands.
Nevertheless, this is still an expensive product and there aren’t that many differences between Shakeology and the other brands out there.
Reviews and testimonials suggest that the shakes work well and the shakes even rate well when compared to other brands in most areas
Other Things to Consider
The general approach for losing weight with Shakeology is to replace a meal per day with a shake. However, an alternative approach is something called the Shakeology 3 Day Cleanse.
This is a short program that is supposed to offer fast weight loss (3-5 pounds in 3 days) and improved health. The cleanse relies heavily on shakes, although people do also consume fruit, vegetables and lean protein during the cleanse. The overall calorie count is also between 800 and 1,100 per day.
At the same time, the approach is designed to be used alongside the workout programs that the company offers.
In terms of actual weight loss, the approach would work. After all, this is basically a short-term low-calorie diet that relies on protein shakes. Nothing especially unique there.
Even fad diets like the 3 Day Military Diet help people lose weight in the short-term based on being extremely low calorie.
Despite common belief, fast weight loss like this isn’t actually unhealthy either. However, you will only benefit if you have a healthy diet or lifestyle to turn to afterward.
On the other hand, the cleanse aspect of this approach is much more questionable.
Realistically, the whole idea of cleansing or detoxing is largely a myth, one that companies love promoting. We don’t have the ability to flush our bodies of toxins by simply changing what we eat. In most cases, we don’t need to either, as our bodies filter toxins themselves.
Now, there is some support for changing eating patterns to help our organs function as they should but that approach isn’t something you’d achieve in any cleanse. Instead, it’s more of a long-term approach and could involve approaches such as decreasing sugar intake and staying away from processed foods.
The Shakeology Cleanse isn't actually going to cleanse your body, although it may help with weight loss, as it is a low calorie intense diet
The shakes themselves are the main products that Shakeology has to offer. However, you can also buy boosts, which are designed to add in nutrients. One of these, the Digestive Health Boost, adds fiber, which is a good approach for smoothies.
While these boosts may be a good idea for some people, it’s important to note that once again, they are not unique. Instead, there are many places to get similar products, especially if you go to your local health store.
Realistically, the idea of drinking smoothies and shakes for health has become extremely popular recently. As such, there is no shortage of options out there. With this in mind, I’d recommend doing a little bit of shopping around before you consider going with Shakeology.
There are also other tips for ways to improve the health of your smoothies, such as the ideas that Don't Waste the Crumbs discusses.
Boosts for smoothies are a good way to add in extra nutrition, although there are lots of brands to choose from and getting the nutrients from whole food is still likely to be better
The site for Shakeology offers a range of different recipes that you can make. These include actual shakes, along with some desserts that you can make with the mixes.
There are also many other variations that the site doesn’t list. Realistically, your options for Shakeology recipes are pretty much unlimited. After all, there is a wide range of healthy and nutritious ingredients that you can include in smoothies.
For example, cinnamon, honey and yogurt are also fairly common addition to smoothies. There are also unusual additions, such as coffee, almonds and nut butter. You can also use smoothies as a way to hide the taste of greens like kale or Swiss chard.
Shakeology does offer some pretty appealing flavors, so it would be easier to make very appealing shakes or smoothies with the powder from the brand. Nevertheless, you could also make similar outcomes with the protein powder from just about any brand.
In fact, many of the Shakeology recipes could be simply made with another brand, as many of the flavors do have equivalents. For example, that would certainly be the case in the recipe below:
There are lots of options for Shakeology references, including smoothies and even desserts
The Connection Between Shakeology and Beachbody
If you’ve been looking into Shakeology, then you may also have heard about Beachbody. Beachbody is a multi-level marketing company that sells a large range of products, including exercise DVDs and health products.
The Shakeology brand is one of the considerable number of products that the company sells.
At this point, Shakeology has taken on a life of its own, distinct from Beachbody. In many cases, people end up hearing about Shakeology without ever knowing about the connection to Beachbody.
Now, in this Shakeology review, I don’t want to dwell too much on Beachbody. After all, it is possible for a good company to have a bad product and vice versa. Nevertheless, there are a few things that I do want to bring up.
One of these is that Beachbody does heavily focus on weight loss and it does also have an emphasis on health. That pattern does suggest that the company knows what it is doing in this field. At the same time, Shakeology is a natural fit with the other products on the site.
That brings me to the second thing.
Realistically, Shakeology seems to have been designed as a component of the diet and lifestyle that Beachbody promotes. This suggests that ideally members are supposed to use Shakeology products in addition to fairly intense exercise.
It should still be possible to lose weight without following any other parts of Beachbody’s program. Nevertheless, the design is something to keep in mind.
At the same time, the fact that this company is a MLM is a little bit concerning.
Without a doubt, there are some MLMs out there that produce fairly decent products that are popular in their own right. Unfortunately, MLMs like that are rare. Instead, most MLMs end up having products that are fairly average and are overpriced.
Often, the companies will then rely on hype, particularly hype from members, to make the products sound amazing. That approach often works, in the short-term at least, and it creates buzz for the products and the company.
Of course, this pattern doesn’t mean that all products from a MLM are bad. However, it does suggest that it’s important to look closely at any products from a MLM.
Shakeology is one of a number of products and services that the MLM Beachbody produces and promotes
21 Day Fix
Another important thing with Shakeology and Beachbody is that this isn’t the only diet plan that the company promotes. Another one is known as the 21 Day Fix and it’s one that I have looked at extensively in the past.
The basic premise of the 21 Day Fix was eating from containers, which is supposed to help with portion control and make weight loss fast.
To me, the idea of eating from containers isn’t a bad one and I’ve seen it done successfully before (in some ways, it’s a variation of Japanese approaches to food). Using small containers can be a fun way to prepare and eat meals, while the process can potentially help with weight management, because you’re slowing down your eating speed while decreasing the amount you eat.
But, that’s not quite what happens with the 21 Day Fix.
Instead, the containers are used for different food groups, which would make preparing meals quite frustrating. At the same time, there is also very specific information about how many containers to eat at each meal and even the types of food that should go into each container.
So, for one thing, the diet is very restrictive.
At the same time, it makes few allowances for variations in calorie needs and expenditure between people, or the way that people respond differently to the same foods.
The diet has also received a number of complaints, partly for these factors and partly because the included exercises aren’t a good idea for many people and could cause significant joint damage. At the same time, you could get similar containers from places like Amazon for a fraction of the cost or you could take a variation of the approach, like using containers to create Bento box meals.
It is true that Shakeology and the 21 Day Diet Fix have hardly anything in common.
However, the 21 Day Diet Fix is a misleading diet that costs considerably more than it should and this makes me pretty concerned about any other products that the same company sells – such as Shakeology.
21 Day Fix is another diet from Beachbody and there are issues with the design of the diet and its effectiveness
Does Shakeology Work?
If you want to lose weight, replacing one of your meals with a shake is a fairly effective approach. Doing so can offer an easy way to cut down on your food intake, providing that your shake has fewer calories than what you would normally eat for the meal.
Many people do find that shakes work well in this role, partly because you don’t feel like you’re starving yourself. In fact, shakes can often end up feeling like a treat. Psychologically, that’s a great outcome and it can make it easier for you to stick to your diet.
So, the simple answer is yes, Shakeology does work.
However, as I’ve highlighted throughout this Shakeology review, the brand is far from unique.
In fact, the main differences between this and other brands are the flavors along with the specific plant-based ingredients that are used. None of these things actually make Shakeology more effective.
At the same time, Shakeology is considerable more expensive than most other protein shakes or meal replacement shakes.
Likewise, regardless of whether you choose Shakeology or another brand, it’s best to also tweak the rest of your diet and get involved in exercise. After all, replacing one meal with a protein shake may not be that helpful if your other meals are very high in calories.
Using protein shakes or meal replacement shakes can work well for weight loss and reviews suggest that Shakeology is one good option in terms of a brand
How to Lose Weight Successfully
There is a huge industry surrounding weight loss, along with a lot of hype and manipulation. Because of this, it’s often hard to know whether a given approach will actually work, particularly in the long term. To make matters worse, many people struggle with weight loss and this will often mean that they try many of the new ideas that come along.
The problem is, there isn’t a magic solution to weight loss.
Instead, the solution is a simple one and one that everybody already knows – decrease the calories you consume and increase the energy you use. On paper, that sounds simple. In practice, not so much.
One of the challenges is that our bodies all respond differently and, at the same time, we all have differences in our behavior and in the way that our minds work. So, the solution that works for one person won’t necessarily work for another.
This is why you can see some people losing a lot of weight on a low carb diet, while others find the diet to be torture.
Through research and my own experience, I have learned that the most powerful way to lose weight is to develop a healthy lifestyle that works for you. Note, I’m talking about a lifestyle, not a diet.
A lifestyle can be viewed as the overall approach you take to life, including the food that you eat, the exercise you do and even how you view food. The most important thing about a lifestyle is that it is long-term and sustainable.
So, you don’t ever want a lifestyle that’s exceptionally challenging because you simply won’t stick to it.
It takes time, but if you pay attention to the way your body responds, you can figure out what approaches work best for you.
As an example, I know one person who loses weight by developing a lifestyle that roughly follows the ideas of intermittent fasting. Specifically, she skips breakfast and just eats lunch and dinner, with few to no snacks. That approach may sound horrible to some people but for her it’s natural and barely any effort.
The key advantage of following a lifestyle rather than a diet is that it is consistent. Sure, you may lose weight slower. However, you don’t ever stop the lifestyle, so you don’t end up with the yo-yo dieting pattern.
There are many different approaches that you can try when it comes to developing a lifestyle that works for you, such as Paleo, low carb, intermittent fasting, ketosis or even simply a high protein diet. Likewise, taking the Shakeology approach and replacing one meal with a shake can work well.
You can also check out our other protein shake reviews and comparison posts.
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Weight loss is a huge industry, with no shortage of hype. But, long-term weight loss doesn't come from a crash diet or a popular fad.
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Have you tried Shakeology? What did you think?