Little did I know that when I wrote my original review of Shakeology, that it would become one of the most popular – and controversial reviews I’d ever write. Some people liked it. Some people didn’t. Since I wrote that review, BeachBody has come out with new flavors and even vegan Shakeology too. In this review, I’m going to look at Shakeology Vegan Chocolate Flavor. As I did in my original Shakeology review, I’ll show you the ingredients and try to help you better understand them. I’ll also taste it and give you my thoughts. If you have any questions, leave a comment below.
Shakeology Nutrition Facts
According to the Nutrition Facts label, 1 packet of vegan chocolate is 43 grams (1.5 oz) and contains the following information:
|Nutrient||Amount Per Serving||Percent Daily Value|
|Calories From Fat||35||N/A|
|Total Fat||4 grams||6% DV|
|Saturated Fat||1 gram||5% DV|
|Monounsaturated Fat||1 gram||N/A|
|Polyunsaturated Fat||1.5 grams||N/A|
|Trans Fat||0 grams||N/A|
|Cholesterol||0 milligrams||0% DV|
|Sodium||250 milligrams||10% DV|
|Total Carbohydrate||18 grams||6%DV|
|Dietary Fiber||5 grams||20% DV|
|Protein||16 grams||32% DV|
In the table above “N/A” means no daily value established. The N/A is not on the Shakeolgy label. I added it in to make it more understandable.
A couple of things about the nutrition label I noticed:
1. It looks like the serving size has decreased a little bit. When I previously looked at chocolate flavor, a serving size was 48 grams (1.7 oz). Now it’s 43 grams (1.5 oz). Overall this is trivial, although I wondered why it decreased. The serving size is a tad different depending on what flavor one is using. Here are some of the flavors and their serving sizes:
|Shakeology Flavor||Serving Size|
|Chocolate||42 grams (1.5 oz)|
|Vegan Chocolate||43 grams (1.5 oz)|
|Vanilla||35 grams (1.24 oz)|
|Strawberry||35 grams (1.24 oz)|
|Vegan Tropical Strawberry||41 grams (1.45 oz)|
I don’t mention this to slam the product. My goal is to give people the most complete review I can. If this matters to someone, great. If not, that’s great too.
2. On the vegan chocolate label, I see 2 cross marks († †) next to sugars which directs people to the bottom of the pack for more info. There, we see that the marks are next to this statement: “No Daily Value established” for sugars. This is true. So then, I wondered why those same cross marks were not next to:
- Monounsaturated fat
- Polyunsaturated fat
- Trans Fat
None of these have daily value established either, however there are no †† next to them. I think I know why. Unlike in days past when fat was vilified as being evil, today, it’s sugar. So, my hunch is that is the BeachBody company trying to anticipate questions by their customers about how much sugar it has. I believe the sugar comes form agave, which is listed in the ingredients below.
To put things in perspective, there are 4 grams in a teaspoon. So, Shakeolgy vegan chocolate has about 2 teaspoons of sugars. According to the USDA, 1 can (12 oz) of cola has 33 grams of sugar.
To help people compare, here are the calories in the different types of Shakeolgy I have along with their serving sizes:
|Shakeology Flavor||Calories Per Serving||Serving Size|
|Chocolate||160||42 grams (1.5 oz)|
|Vegan Chocolate||170||43 grams (1.5 oz)|
|Vanilla||130||35 grams (1.24 oz)|
|Strawberry||130||35 grams (1.24 oz)|
|Vegan Tropical Strawberry||170||41 grams (1.45 oz)|
None of the flavors have a lot of calories. While that’s generally good for meal replacement shakes, remember that calories can play role in, curbing appetite and the sensation of feeling full. I think this might be a reason the Isagenix shake had more calories.
Percent Of Calories From Fat
The Nutrition Facts label tells us that each serving of vegan chocolate Shakeology only provides 6% of our daily allowance of fat. That’s not too bad. They also tell us that each serving has 170 calories – and that 35 of those calories comes from fat.
From this, we can determine the percentage of calories that come from fat, which I
think, makes more sense to people than just knowing how many calories are from fat.
To determine the percent of calories from fat, just divide the calories from fat by the total calories and multiply this by 100. Here’s the math:
35 calories from fat ÷170 total calories= 0.205.
Now, 0.205 x 100 = 20.5% fat.
Vegan chocolate shakeology is 20.5% fat.
Since the FDA deems anything that is 20% or more as “high,” this would technically mean that Shakeology is a high fat product. But, because fat slows down digestion, I wonder if this this higher fat content might play a role in “reduce cravings” claim for Shakeology?
On the plus side, I don’t see anything in the ingredients that say “fat” to me. In other words, I believe any fat that’s in the product is likely naturally occurring in the ingredients. That’s actually kind of rare in meal replacement shakes, that often have a wide assortment of chemicals added to make them taste better. I applaud the company for taking the high road when it comes to this.
Fiber In Shakeology
The RDA for fiber is 25-35 grams per day. Each pack of vegan chocolate Shakeology provides 5 grams of fiber. This amounts to 20% of what we are supposed to have per day. This classifies Shakeology as being “high in fiber.” The amount of fiber in the product varies a a little bit by flavor. Here’s the fiber content of the different types of Shakeology that I have:
- Vegan chocolate: 5 grams (20% DV)
- Chocolate: 3 grams (12% DV)
- Vegan Tropical strawberry: 4 grams (16% DV)
- Strawberry: 3 grams (12% DV)
- Vanilla: 3 grams (12% DV)
So, it appears vegan chocolate has the most fiber. That said none of the brands of Shakeology is proving more than 20 % of what we should be getting per day. In other words, while it’s nice we are getting some fiber, don’t rely just on Shakeology for this nutrient.
The first ingredients in the list that I saw that might contribute to the fiber were flax seed and pea fiber. If I’m right, then they might make up most of the fiber in Shakeology.
In the ingredients list above “Pea fiber is listed as Pisum spp., fruit.” The “spp” refers to “species.” I take this to mean that Shakeology does not only contain one pea species but rather a little bit of all of them.
Technically this is good because it means -in theory-there is a more broad spectrum of nutrients in the product. Keep this in mind as you read the ingredients because “spp” is listed several times.
I noticed in the ingredients list (which I cover below) that Shakeology contains “chicory root fiber. Another name for this is Inulin. This is a soluble fiber in many products like “Fiber One Cereal.” My guess is that the inulin might be derived from yacon, which is described below. Inulin (chicory root fiber) has been in other shakes I’ve previously looked at including:
See those for more information on inulin.
Further down on the list I also noticed another ingredient called Yacon. Yacon might also contribute to the fiber. Yacon is a source of fructooligosaccharides (FOS). This ingredient has been so popular -for weight loss – that it’s even been featured on the Dr. Oz show.
Here is my review of Yacon syrup for more insights.
Protein in Shakeology
Each pack of vegan chocolate Shakeology provides 16 grams of protein. Regular chocolate flavor (non vegan) provides 17 grams of protein. To put things in perspective, there are 28 grams in 1 ounce. Overall this amount of protein isn’t too bad.
The protein comes from a “Vegan Protein Blend” of these ingredients, in order as they are listed on the pack:
- Pea protein (click to read review)
- Oat protein
- Rice protein
- Chia seed (salvia hispancia)
- Flax seed (Linum usitatissimum)
- Quiona seed (Chenopodium quinoa)
Even though Spirulina is not listed among the protein blend, spirulina does contain protein. As such, I think it also contributes to the protein content of Shakeology.
There are a LOT of ingredients in Shakeology. They are all listed as “Proprietary Superfoods” on the pack. Some of the ingredients are the same, while others are different than when I originally reviewed Shakeology. Each pack provides 43 grams of these ingredients. Listed, in order, as they appear on the pack, here are all of the ingredients:
|Pea protein||Oat protein||Rice protein|
|Flax and Chia||Quinoa||Cacao|
|Agave (Agava tequlina fruit)||Pea fiber (pisum spp, seed)||Yacon (smallanthus sonchifolius root)|
|Cordyceps Cordyceps militaris, fungi)||Acerola cherry (Malpighia glabra, fruit)||Pomegranate (Punica granatum fruit)|
|Chlorella(Chlorella spp., whole)||Spirulina (Arthrospira platensis, whole)||Chicory root fiber (cichorium intybus)|
|Camu-Camu (Myrciaria dubia, fruit)||Blueberry (Vaccinium corymobosum, fruit)||Billberry (Vaccinium myrtillus, fruit)|
|Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus, root)||Goji (Lycium barbarum, fruit)||Himalayan salt|
|Moringa (Moringa oleifera, leaf)||Maitake (Grifola frondosa, fungi)||Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum, fungi)|
|MSM (methylsulfonylmethane)||Spinach (Spinacia oleracea, leaf)||Ashwagandha (Withania Somnifera, root)|
|Glucoamylase||Alpha-Galactosidase, Invertase||Kale (Brassica oleracea, leaf)|
|Rose hips (Rosa canina, fruit)||Lactobacillus sporogenes (as Bacillus coagulans)||Luo Han Guo (Monk fruit) (Siraitia grosvenorii|
|schisandra (Schisanddra spp., fruit)||Maca (Lepidium meyenii, root)||Cinnamon (Cinnamomum cassia, bark)|
|Green tea (Camellia sinensis, extract)||Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba, leaf extract)|
When looking at this table, read it from left to right. This will tell you the ingredients that are present the most and those that are present the least. For example, since ginkgo is the last ingredient, it’s present in the lowest amount in Shakeology.
It appears that BeachBody no longer breaks their ingredients down according to over-hyped phrases like “super fruit blend” etc. That’s good because words like that hold no scientific basis. If you want to see what the label used to look like see my original Shakeology review.
Ok, lets cover some of these ingredients in more detail.
This is a fungus that grows on caterpillars. I wish knew the reason cordyceps was used. Shakeology contains a specific species of the fungus called cordyceps militaris. In this 2015 study, cordyceps militaris was shown to improve some aspects of immunity in men compared to placebo.
While this is nice, the study above gave men 1.5 grams of cordyceps militaris. They don’t tell us how much cordyceps is in Shakeology but 1.5 grams is more than the entire contents in a pack. If this is the reason it’s present, then it might not be enough.
Cordyceps is sometimes found in exercise supplements despite solid good proof it helps. For example, in this 2004 study, 3 grams of cordyceps did not help men cycle better after 5 weeks of use.
In this 2015 study, a combination of cordyceps and Rhodiola appeared to improve aerobic ability after high altitude training. But, from this study, we can’t tell if it was cordyceps or rhodiola – or a combination of both – that caused the benefits. Also in this study, the people got 600 mg of cordyceps. How much is in Shakeology? Unfortunately, they don’t tell us.
While I’m sure it does something in us, based on the research I’ve seen over the years, I’m just skeptical about the benefits of cordceps in humans.
This is a fruit that contains a lot of vitamin C. Since vitamin C is an antioxidant, I wonder if this is why it’s in Shakeology? There is also some evidence that camu-camu has anti-inflammatory properties too. Unfortunately they don’t tell us how much vitamin C or camu-camu is in Shakeology.
I reviewed the research on Camu when I reviewed Amacari so see that for more insights.
Like all fruits, I’m sure it has some health benefits but without knowing why it’s in Shakeology, I can’t comment on it. There is some research on Goji and I’ll refer you to the reviews I linked to in this section for more on that.
This is also sometimes called “Pink Salt.” According to Wikipedia, this is salt that comes from Pakistan. It’s mostly made of sodium chloride, just like table salt, but it has a variety of minerals too like magnesium and calcium. This may be why it’s perceived as being healthier in some circles. That said, I searched the National Library of Medicine for evidence that it was better/healthier than regular table salt.
I could not find any.
Either way, each packet of vegan chocolate Shakeology provides 250 mg of sodium and this amounts to 10% of our daily allowance. I personally don’t think most people drinking Shakeology are lacking in sodium. Most Americans eat way too much salt as it is. For more on this check out the review on Himalayan salt at Science Based Medicine.
This is sometimes called the “True of Life.” The first time I heard of this was while watching the Dr. Oz show where he called it an energy blaster, although most of the research I found involved lab animals. The same thing goes for moringa reducing pain too. Because it has a variety of nutrients, it’s sometimes given to people in developing countries to combat malnutrition.
I have an entire review of moringa oleifera where I looked only at the research. Do read that for more information about this ingredient.
I’ts scientific name is Grifola frondosa. It’s a mushroom that, according to Wikipedia, is sometimes called “King of Mushrooms” because it can weigh as much as 100 pounds.
In a very small study published in 2001, two people with diabetes were given 500 mg of maitake mushrooms in addition to their diabetes drugs. Their blood sugar levels decreased, which lead researchers to believe maitake mushrooms might make insulin work better. Since the study only had 2 people, obviously more research is needed.
Also see my review of M Drive for more on the Mitake research.
It’s scientific name is Ganoderma lucidum. There are many health claims for ganoderma, ranging from it helping everything from cancer to arthritis. But, when I looked at the research, I saw a lot of lab animal research.
The human research is a bit sketchy and I think better studies need to be done. Here is my Reishi mushroom review. See that for more info on the research on this mushroom.
MSM is short for methylsulfonylmethane. While I don’t know why MSM is in Shakeology, I can say that MSM is often used in arthritis supplements, such as:
- Tissue Rejuvinator (click to read review)
- Joint Juice (click to read review)
- Instaflex (click to read review)
- Australian Dream (click to read review)
There is some research to support this too. In this study MSM helped arthritis but people had to use over 3 grams a day. Granted, this is more than is in Shakeology but it’s possible less might help too.
In another study MSM seemed to reduce muscle damage after exercise. The people in this study used an amount equal to 50 mg per kilogram of body weight.
To put things in perspective, if you were 160 pounds (73 kilograms) this would be 73kg x 50mg = 3.6 grams.
I would need to know why MSM is in Shakelogy to say more about this ingredient.
This is sometimes called “Indian ginsing.” I’ve seen this as an ingredient in several other products I’ve looked at including:
- Avesil (weight loss supplement)
- Leptigen (weight loss supplement)
- 1 Db Goddess (weight loss supplement)
Since I usually see it weight loss supplements, I wonder if that is the reason it’s in Shakeology? If any BB Coaches can tell me, I’d be happy to add this to my review.
There is an “Enzyme Blend” added to Shakelogy. The enzymes in the product are:
- Amylase (starch digesting enzyme)
- Cellulase (starch digesting enzyme)
- Lactase (milk sugar digesting enzyme)
- Glucoamylase (starch digesting enzyme)
- Alpha-Galactosidase (starch digesting enzyme)
- Invertase (table sugar digesting enzyme)
While it’s nice they give us this, do you have problems digesting starches and sugars? Other than maybe lactase for lactose intolerant people, I don’t think enzymes are needed. Since enzymes contain protein, it’s logical to assume that these also contribute a little bit to the amount of protein in Shakelogy.
Trivia: In science, you can tell if something is an enzyme by looking at the last 3 letters in the word. If the word ends in “ase,” it’s an enzyme.
Some of these enzymes are different than what I saw when I previously reviewed shakeology. I don’t know why they changed the enzymes.
Also called Lepidium meyenii. I often see maca showing up in supplements marketed to men who want to improve energy, fertility, testosterone or performance in the bedroom. Other supplements I’ve looked at that included maca include:
In this 12 week long study published in 2002, men were given either 1500 mg or 3000 mg of maca or a placebo. While men did report that maca improved sexual desire (that’s good), this study does not mention whether those men “performed” better. This study also noted that maca did not raise testosterone levels. I would need to know the reason why maca is in the supplement to speak further about it.
My guess is that cinnamon might be in Shakeology because of it’s reported blood sugar lowering effects. There is some evidence for this too. While incorporating cinnamon can’t hurt, whether or not it lowers blood sugar I think, would depend on how much is in the product. The research I’ve seen has used at least 1 gram a day.
Green Tea Extract
What is the extract of green tea being used? Is it caffeine? is it EGCG or something else? Without knowing the extract used, I can’t comment on it. Green tea sometimes shows up in weight loss supplements although I don’t think it helps. See my review of Mega T Green Tea for more about this ingredient.
Gingko is the last ingredient listed for Shakeology. As such, there is likely not much in it the product. This herb has a reputation for helping memory although not all studies show it helps.
Update 7/13/16. As is reported on this page of the Beach Body website, Ginkgo has been removed from Shakology.
The Shakeology.com website does list a clinical study on this supplement. I don’t think this is a peer reviewed study however because I cannot locate it in Pubmed.gov. Likewise ClinicalTrials.gov does not list any Shakeology studies either. That said, it’s an interesting study and people may have heard of it, so I want to mention the results and try to make sense of it:
- The study involved 50 people and lasted 90 days.
- The people drank shakeology for breakfast and lunch.
After the study, researchers noted that:
- The people lost an average of 9.3 pounds.
- There was an average of 7% decrease in cholesterol levels.
- HbA1C (a measurement of long term blood sugar levels) decreased by an average of 5%.
These are interesting results. So what caused these changes?
Well, remember that the people in the study substituted Shakeology for breakfast and lunch. By substituting both breakfast and lunch for something that only has about 130 calories, this really decreased the total amount of calories they consumed in a day. Think about it, people only had about 300 calories for both breakfast and lunch.
- This drop in total calorie intake caused the people to lose weight.
So, I think it’s not so much that shakeology -itself – decreased cholesterol and hemoglobin A1C but rather that people lost weight – because shakeology caused them to eat fewer calories.
In most people, anything that promotes eating fewer calories will promote weight loss and changes like those seen in this study.
Let me be clear, by pointing this out, my goal is not to disparage Shakeology, but rather help others – and BeachBody coaches – who are looking for a deeper level of understanding.
In my original Shakeology review I go into more depth on this study so see that for more information.
The Lead Controversy
Few things caused a bigger stir than the June 2013 announcement from the supplement testing website, ConsumerLab.com which noted that it had detected 12.7 micrograms of lead per serving in Shakeology, Greenberry Flavor.
To be fair, their findings didn’t necessarily mean all flavors contained lead. Consumerlab only tested one flavor. While Beachbody countered that the lead was naturally occurring, Consumerlab disagreed. See my original review for more about this.
Regardless of who was right, on March 17 2015, Consumerlab.com stated that Shakeology, greenberry flavor has been reformulated and it now passes all of their tests and is approved. They found no lead in Shakeology. This is good news and I’m happy that the BeachBody company addressed this issue.
How Does It Taste?
Since I taste tested Shakeology previously, I wanted to do it again and see how I liked it. This time however I drank shakeology for breakfast and lunch to also see if it curbed my hunger between meals too.
For both breakfast and lunch I mixed 1 pack of vegan chocolate flavor with 12 oz of cold water and mixed it for 15 seconds in my Vitamix.
I decided to use only cold water because I wanted to see the effects of Shakeology – itself – without anything else added to it. Also, I believe Shakeology -alone – was used in the clinical study, mentioned above.
On the day I taste tested it, breakfast was 9AM and lunch was at 1PM.
When I tasted the dry powder, I could definitely detect a chocolate flavor. The picture on the right shows what it looks like when mixed with water.
When mixed with 12 oz of water, I thought it was watery. It did not have a creamy texture to it. The taste was interesting. I thought it definitely tasted better than the last time I tried it, but it wasn’t the best tasting thing I’ve ever had either.
By the time lunch arrived, I thought it tasted better than at breakfast. Maybe I was getting used to it? I did not feel that Shakeology curbed my appetite. I was ready for lunch and I could have eaten more. At no time did I experience any cramps or other GI problems that some are said to have experienced.
From lunch to dinner time, I don’t believe Shakeology gave me any more energy than I usually have. Is it possible I would have to use the product more than 1 day to see improvements in energy? Sure, this is possible.
So there you have it, my unscientific taste test and thoughts.
Shakeology Side Effects
I’m not aware of any bad side effects from the product. When I searched online for side effects, I didn’t see anyone saying awful about it except for some indicating they had digestive problems such as stomach pains and trips to the bathroom. I did not notice any problems when I tried it. With that said, here are some general things that occurred to me based on its ingredients. See your doctor if you think any of this applies to you.
If you take blood thinner medications -or any medications – show the ingredients to your pharmacist and doctor. While I’m not aware of any drug interactions, because we are all different, make sure first.
Stop taking shakeology at least 2 weeks before having surgery.
Speak to your doctor first if you are pregnant or breast feeding.
Shakeology And Gallbladder Problems
Sometimes, people online mention that they developed gallbladder problems after using Shakeology. Some wonder if there is something in Shakeology that might cause this. I don’t think there is. I don’t believe it’s the Shakeology that is causing the Gallbladder problems. Rather, I believe its the quick weight loss that might come about from using the Shakeology program.
Anything that causes quick weight loss has the potential to cause gallbladder problems.
To be fair, gallbladder problems have occurred with other weight loss programs. As an example, I remember back in the 1990s, some people had their gallbladders removed after using Nutra-System .
Gallbladder issues are one reason why losing weight quickly is not advised. Even if you drink enough water and exercise, gallbladder problems can develop from anything that causes fast weight loss.
Does It Work?
First let me say that I began this review to see if my opinions of this product had changed since the last time I reviewed it. I can honestly say that while I do think it tastes better, I still believe Shakeology is overpriced and contains ingredients that I believe lack solid proof as to how effective they might be in humans.
As to the the question of “will shakeology help me lose weight,” then I’d say the answer is, it probably will – if you drink 2 shakes a day in place of eating breakfast and lunch – because that is what BeachBody’s own research appears to show, if it’s going to work.
Besides “does it work,” I think another question to ask is “is it right for me?” I believe the answer to that question depends on who you are.
If you are someone who is always on the run, who doesn’t make time to eat breakfast and is looking for the convenience of something that you can toss in a shaker bottle and go, then maybe Shakeology might be something to look at. What can be easier than ripping open a packet and tossing the contents in a shaker bottle? Try it for a month and see what you think.
If you are someone who can afford Shakeology, then sure, it might be an attractive option for you too.
If on the other hand, you are someone who cannot afford Shakeology and would really struggle if you had to pay for it each month, then I’d say don’t buy it.
Yes, it has a lot of exotic ingredients and so called “super foods” but I’m still not convinced we need all of those things. I’m also not convinced it’s healthier than what you can make in your own kitchen, using a blender and some fruits and vegetables. Here’s my smoothie recipe to get you started.
I’m not a BeachBody Coach. I’m just someone who wants to help you make the right decision for you. To that end, I hope I’ve helped in some small way.
Here’s Shakeology on Amazon if you want to see what others are saying about it.