Have you been asked to try Shakeology – or become a Shakeology Beachbody Coach? I have – several times. I've been asked to try this product so many times from so many different people that I decided to write this Shakeology review so you know the facts. Is Shakeology safe? Will Shakeology help weight loss? These are questions I will address. As always, I'll link to the research so you know I'm not making stuff up. I don't have a dog in this fight. I only want you to have the best information available -free from testimonials, and internet hype – so that you can make the best decision for you. Also see the review of Ultimate Power Greens as well.
Also see my review of vegan chocolate Shakeology.
Shakeology is one of the products sold by the company, BeachBody. Beachbody markets many health and fitness products, probably the most popular of which the P90X workout by Tony Horton. If you want to know how Shakeology tastes, check out my Shakeology Taste Test.
What Does Shakeology Mean?
The suffix ology means “the study of” so Shakeology literally means “the study of shakes“, In this case, it's a health and weight loss shake that contains various fruits, enzymes, vitamins, protein, etc.
It's a catchy name and gives the impression that there is some science behind Shakeology. But, when I entered “Shakeology” into the National Library of Medicine website, I found no published peer reviewed studies on this product.
Most health and weight loss shakes don't have any research to back up what they are saying but I wanted to double check just in case because the name of this product stood out to me.
On the Shakeology website, I noticed a reference to a study that drinking Shakeology can lower cholesterol levels but there doesn't appear to be any published studies to back up this claim. At the bottom of the website (Shakeology.com) I see a reference that says :
“In a 90-day study, participants replaced one meal per day with Shakeology, ate a balanced diet, and exercised moderately three times per week. Total cholesterol was reduced on average by 30% and LDL cholesterol was reduced on average by 38%.”
But, this doesn't seem to be a published peer reviewed study. Questions I asked myself included:
- Who were the people in this “study”?
- Were they men? Were they women?
- Did they have normal cholesterol or high cholesterol?
- What was their LDL levels before the study?
- Did exercise play any role in the outcomes?
They dont tell us any of this information – and this is important stuff to know if we are to analyze how effective shakeology really was.
Fruits contain soluble fiber and Shakeology has a lot of different fruits, so the study outcomes kind of make sense. But, would the same effect be seen if people just blended up some fruits themselves?
I don't know.
Losing weight can also reduce cholesterol. So, did cholesterol and LDL levels change simply because of weight loss, rather than because of Shakeology? I don't know because it doesn't look like the subjects were compared to those who did not use Shakeology.
There are a LOT of ingredients in Shakeology. Below you will see that I copied the ingredients from the Shakeology.com website (I used the chocolate version) and separated them into different sections to make this review easier.
|Calories from fat||10|
|Total fat||1 g (2% DV)|
|Cholesterol||15 mg (5% DV)|
|Sodium||100 mg (4% DV)|
|Total carbohydrates||17 g (6% DV)|
|Dietary fiber||3 g (12% DV)|
|Protein||17 g (34% DV)|
The total calories are based on 1 scoop (48 grams) mixed with water.
This doesn't look too bad to me. In fact, the calories, protein, fat etc. are similar to other popular protein mixes. A scoop also has 135 mg of the sweetener, stevia.
Super Fruit Blend
Shakeology also has several types of what they call Super Fruits. Here is the list:
|Acerola powder (fruit)||Cordyceps|
|Camu-Camu powder (fruit)||Maitake powder|
|Pomegranate powder (fruit)||Reishi powder|
|Bilberry powder (fruit)||Citrus bioflavonoids|
|Blueberry powder (fruit)||Rose Hips powder (fruit)|
|Lycium (Goji) powder (berry)||Schisandra|
|Açai powder (berry)||Suma powder (root)|
|Acerola powder (fruit)||Gingko powder (leaf) REMOVED|
Update. Here is my review of the camu camu fruit research.
We are not told how much of each fruit is in Shakeology, only that the total of everything equals 2075 mg (or about 2 grams). I'm OK with that given that small amounts of phytonutrients (plant nutrients) tend to pack a big punch when it comes to health.
In the list you will noticed citrus bioflavonoids. This is technically not a fruit but rather a plant-nutrient (phytonutrient).
A couple of ingredients in this list did stand out to me. One is ginkgo. I suppose they added ginkgo to Shakeology because it has some antioxidant properties. But ginkgo also has anti-blood clotting properties that in theory may interact with blood thinner medications. There is also evidence that – in mice – ginkgo causes liver cancer. I'm not aware of any human evidence of this.
Ginkgo may also interact with medications used to treat:
Ginkgo is listed as the last ingredient, so I'm guessing there is not a lot of ginkgo in Shakeology but I felt this was worth mentioning.
Given that Shakeology has probably not been clinically tested in people who take prescription medications, I personally would prefer they remove ginkgo from Shakeology just to be safe.
Update: Ginkgo has removed Ginkgo from Shakeology according to this page of the BeachBody website.
Cordyceps also caught my eye. In some circles cordyceps is touted to improve aerobic exercise performance. But there isn't much proof that cordyceps works and some research that cordyceps doesn't help exercise.
Shakeology also contains acai berry, which is one of the principle ingredients in MonaVie which I reviewed previously. For more information on acai also see Acai Berry A Review Based on The Facts and The Acai Berry Diet.
Nondairy Probiotic Blend
Shakeology also contains several probiotics. These are basically friendly-bacteria. They are as follows:
|Bifodobacterium longum||Lactobacillus bulgaricus|
|Lactobacillus acidophilus||Lactobacillus casei|
|Lactobacillus acidophilus DDS-1||Streptococcus thermophilus|
Probiotics appear to have a wide range of potential uses such as helping irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and diarrhea.
People who have immune deficiencies like HIV should be cautious with probiotics and consult their doctor before using.
We are not told how much of each bacteria is in this blend but only that its total is 150 mg. Often the amount of probiotics in a supplement are reported as colony forming units (CFU). People may want to ask how many CFUs are in this 150 mg.
Tip. ask “are the bacteria alive now?”. Sometimes the probiotic bacteria are alive when the product is made but die off the longer the product is not used. This can reduce their effectiveness.
Proprietary Enzyme Blend (135 mg)
What is an enzyme? It's basically a protein. What happens when protein reaches the stomach? Its digested. Our bodies treat enzymes just like protein from whey, soy, chicken, etc. It breaks the protein up into amino acids, absorbs the amino acids and uses them to do whatever it needs – whether it be help to build muscle or repair a cell in your pinky finger.
While I can sort of see how enzymes might help those who have digestion problems, I never understood why healthy people needed enzyme supplements.
Other Ingredients in Shakeology
|Ashwagandha powder 100 mg||Grape seed extract (seed) 50 mg|
|Barley grass 100 mg||Green tea decaffeinated extract 50 mg|
|Kamut grass 100 mg||Holy basil powder (leaf) 50 mg|
|Oat grass 100 mg||Amaranth (Amaranthus hypochondriacus) 50 mg|
|Wheat grass 100 mg|
Sometimes called “Indian ginseng” this herb appears to have several effects like helping the immune system. Most effects however have not been well studied. One warning that is sometimes mentioned (but hard to corroborate) concerns pregnant women: ashwagandha may cause premature birth of the unborn baby. For more info, see my review of the weight loss supplement Avesil
A few studies suggest that barley may lower cholesterol and LDL. As such, this may be one of the ingredients responsible for the observations in the Shakeology study mentioned above. Shakeology is said to be gluten free.
Grape Seed Extract
This is a popular antioxidant and is mostly studied in people who have heart disease. Shakeology only contains 50 mg of grape seed extract which is less than that used in grape seed extract research.
One study noted that taking grape seed extract (1000 mg/day) along with 500 mg of vitamin C increased blood pressure. Shakeology does not contain this much grape seed extract but I thought it was worth mentioning if any readers have high blood pressure.
At least one study has noted that holy basil might lower blood sugar levels after eating. As such it may interact with diabetes medications. Holy basil may also interact with blood thinner medications.
I could not turn up much on this ingredient. Some research hints that amaranth can lower cholesterol levels.
The Shakeology Clinical Trial
This is an update to my review posted, 6/26/14. Thanks to someone who left a comment, I became aware of a Shakeology clinical trial that some may have seen on YouTube. The study was commissioned by BeachBody and administered by Medicus Research.
Medicus is a Contract Research Organization (CRO), which means that they are contracted by various pharmaceutical, and supplement companies to do research on their products.
According to the YouTube video that I linked to above, this was how the clinical trial was designed:
- The study contained 50 people and lasted 90 days.
- Medicus researchers measured peoples weight, BMI and various other health factors including cholesterol and AIC levels.
Tip. Hemoglobin A1C is a measure of how bad diabetes is getting. Having 6% or less is usually considered normal. The higher the number, the higher the average blood sugar level is – which basically means diabetes is getting worse.
- Everybody drank 2 Shakeology shakes per day ―one for breakfast and one for lunch each day for 90 days.
Tip. From the video, it appears that people used Shakeology in place of foods they might ordinarily eat. This is important. Keep reading.
- The people did not alter their diet or exercise program (except for drinking Shakeology in place of food at breakfast and lunch).
According to the video, Dr Udani, CEO of Medicus Research, notes that:
1. Statistically significant reductions in desire to eat lunch, were noted after drinking Shakeology for breakfast.
Since hunger, after lunch, was not mentioned in the video, I take this to mean that drinking Shakeology at lunch time had statistical significant effect on the desire to eat at dinner.
2. The video notes that the average weight loss was 9.3 pounds. The greatest weight loss in the study was 24 pounds after 3 months.
3. The average reduction in total cholesterol was 7% after 3 months. The greatest reduction was 50% in some of the participants.
4. Hemoglobin A1C (A1C) was reduced by an average of 5% after 3 months. Some of the people experienced as much as a 19% reduction in A1C levels.
What the video does not tell us:
Here are some things that I was unable to determine from the video:
- How many people in the study were men and women?
- What were their ages of the people in the study?
- Did the study participants have any health problems (high cholesterol , elevated A1C etc.)?
- Were the average reductions in body weight, A1C and cholesterol statistically significant?
- Did Shakeology have different effects on body weight, A1C or cholesterol levels in men vs. women?
- Was there a placebo group? Having a group in the study that did not drink Shakeology would make these results more meaningful.
Toward the end of the video Dr Udani says ” say:
“The results we are seeing are only due to Shakeology.”
That's a powerful statement, so I'm going to ask how do they know the results they saw were not simply do to weight loss?
By drinking 2 Shakeology shakes per day (in place of breakfast and lunch) people have reduced their total calorie intake for the day. Reducing calories also can also:
- Reduce body weight
- Reduce cholesterol
- Reduce A1C levels
Based on what was stated in the video, I don’t think we can tell if these values decreased because of Shakeology or simply because the people lost weight.
Dr Udani also states the in the video that the study is valuable because “it isolates the effect of shakeology,” In my opinion, the study, as depicted in the video, doesn’t do this because there is nothing to compare the effects of shakeology to.
For example, in my opinion, a better study would be:
- Take those same 50 people and randomly give them shakeology ―or nothing at all ―to see how they differ from each other after 90 days.
- Randomly give the people either Shakeology or something that had similar calories to see what happens after 90 days.
Of course, I would have to see the actual study to know exactly what happened. My comments are based on watching the YouTube video alone.
I hope BeachBody Coaches will let me know if this study ever becomes published in a peer reviewed journal so I can make more informed comments. Until that happens, I'm of the opinion that the effects discussed in the Shakeology Clinical Trial video are simply the results Shakeology causing weight loss – and it's the weight loss that is causing reductions in cholesterol, body weight and A1C levels, rather than a direct effect of Shakeology itself.
I believe almost anything that causes people to lose weight can also cause reductions in cholesterol and A1C levels. See the “Shakeology and Weight Loss” section below for more about this.
Shakeology Side Effects
For healthy people yes, Shakeology is safe but for people who may not be healthy, it's hard to say but generally I'd still say yes for the most part esp if the product is used short term. I do have concerns about ginkgo (I would remove it from Shakeology) because of its blood thinner properties.
Update. In June 2013 the website, Consumerlab.com found lead contamination in Greenberry Shakeology. They found 12.7 micrograms of lead per serving of Shakeology.
BeachBody, the maker of Shakeology, responded to this by stating:
“While they seek to inform consumers, they may be actually misleading consumers by not distinguishing between harmful heavy metals and those that are naturally occurring in plants, vegetables and minerals.”
Consumerlab, on their website fired back stating:
“Lead contamination of plants generally occurs to do contamination of the environment in which they have grown – often caused by industrial pollution or proximity to roadways, where in the past, cars used leaded gasoline. “
So, it sounds like Beach Body is saying that the lead is a natural occurrence while Consumerlab is saying, the lead is present because the plants used were contaminated by the environment in which they are grown.
Here is a link to the Dr. Oz Show website shows Beach Body response to the Consumerlab findings.
Update: 2015: Consumer Reports now reports that Shakeology has been reformulated and they no longer detect lead. Shakeology is now in the “approved” category. For more on this, see my Vegan Chocolate Shakeology review.
Other Meal Replacement Shakes
For those who are interested, I've reviewed other meal replacement shakes:
Shakeology And Weight Loss?
In the Shakeology program, people are instructed to replace one meal a day with Shakology. They are also supposed to exercise 3x a week and eat a healthy diet. This is similar to the reasoning behind other weight loss plans you've probably already head of. For example:
- SlimFast: drink 2 shakes and eat a sensible dinner
- Special K diet: eat 2 bowls of cereal and eat a sensible meal
If you read my review of Right Size Smoothies, you may remember that the Right Size Smoothie plan was to replace 2 meals with 2 smoothies.
So, the idea behind Shakeology for weight loss makes sense; just use the shake to reduce the calories you eat.
The same thing is also true for many of their competitors like the Isagenix Shake
So for people who don't have the time to eat well or make their meals, I can see how something like Shakeology (or similar weight loss shake) would be attractive. People are more likely to do things that are easy.
How Does Shakeology Taste?
Does Shakeology taste good? I had a chance to try Shakeology thanks to a friend who gave me some samples. Here are the results of my Shakeology taste test.
Also see my Vegan Chocolate Shakeology review for how it tastes.
How Much Does It Cost?
When I wrote this review, the cost of Shakeology was $119.95 a month (30 servings). This comes to about $4 per shake. You may be able to get it a cheaper than this if you are a Team Beachbody coach and have other Beachbody coaches selling products under you on the pyramid. As such, some people may become Beachbody coaches as a way to get Shakeology cheaper.
Shakeology is also sold on Amazon for those who want to compare prices.
There are also many alternatives to Shakeology on Amazon such as Raw Meal by Garden of Life.
Who Makes Shakeology?
Shakeology is made by the company Beachbody also known as Beachbody LLC. Beachbody is not only is behind Shakeology but a wide range of other fitness-related products ranging from P90X to Insanity to name a few.
According to the Better Business Bureau, BeachBody LLC is located at 3301 Exposition Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90404.The picture in this link is the Google street view, of the address which shows a large building complex separated from a residential area by some trees.
Their website lists a contact number of : (800) 998-1681 . The Better Business Bureau lists this contact number for Beach Body: (310) 883-9000.
The Better Business Bureau file on BeachBody gives them a rating of “A +” when I wrote this review and indicates that the company was started in 1998 and employs over 200 people. When I wrote this review, the BBB file for BeachBody did note 306 complaints —all of which were resolved —for various issues so check that out if for more information.
What is a Team Beachbody Coach?
These are the people who often sell Shakeology and other Beach Body products. Team Beachbody Coaches may or may not have a background in fitness, health or wellness. On the TeamBeachBody.com website it says only that:
“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.”
That's a little vague, so do ask about the credentials of a Beachbody Coach before you take any specific health advice from them.
The name Beachbody Coach is actually smart marketing. Instead of calling the people who sell Shakeology (and other Beachbody products) Beachbody distributors, they call them “Coaches”. It's like Walmart calling their sales staff “Associates”.
To be a Team Beachbody coach, people pay $39.99 to start. Beachbody coaches receive a commission for sales they make. Fortunately, Beachbody coaches do not have to buy Shakeology or other Beachbody products before they sell them. Team Beachbody coaches also are used to help people reach their fitness goals. The extent to which they can help would depend on how smart -fitness wise they are.
Remember Beachbody coaches don't have to know anything about fitness, health or wellness.
Beachbody coaches also try to recruit others to become Beachbody coaches. They in turn, receive commissions on what their recruits sell.
So, Team Beachbody has a multi level marketing aspect. I'm not against MLM companies but it does by nature give incentives to coaches whose main goal is to recruit new people rather than selling the product. This ultimately might dilute the quality of the coaching service.
For those who do want to use a BB coach, here is Shakeology on Amazon.
Shakeology and Personal Trainers
Many of the Shakeology distributors (Team Beachbody Coaches) that I have encountered are personal trainers.
I must tell those fitness trainers that their personal trainer liability insurance will NOT protect them from lawsuits stemming from recommendations about supplements. Personal trainers have been sued because of injuries resulting from supplements they recommended. For healthy people I think Shakeology is safe, but I would not recommend Shakeology (or other supplements) to people with health problems.
Here is Shakeology on Amazon to see what others are saying.
What do you think?