Meal replacement or protein drink? Learn all about Shakeology and its claims

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Last Updated June 13th, 2021

What is shakeology?

Shakeology is the term given to a health drink/beverage that was developed by Beachbody, a health and fitness company. The Beachbody claims that shakeology, which is marketed as a super nutritional drink, helps people lose weight, reduce cravings for junk food, improve digestion, and increase energy levels of the body.

What exactly does a shakeology contain?

The manufacturers have described this product as a cross between a meal replacement and a protein shake. This shake is said to contain a mixture of different proteins whey and pea protein along with vitamins, herbs, antioxidants, probiotics, and digestive enzymes.

Other blends include fruit and vegetable powders extracted from kale, chlorella, goji berry and pomegranate. Shakeology is available in a variety of flavors like vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry. There are also vegan options available for people who can’t or choose not to consume dairy or animal products.

How much shakeology to take?

People should mix one scoop of Shakeology with 236 to 355 ml of water, juice, milk or nut milk and take it once or twice a day. Although many dieters use Shakeology as a meal replacement drink, the company cautions dieters that replacing one meal with Shakeology is okay, but it shouldn’t be used to replace more than one meal on a regular basis. It should be taken as an addition to a healthy meal or as a convenient snack.

How does shakeology help you?

This shake mainly helps you lose weight. However, the same goes for replacing a meal with a smaller meal or a meal that contains fewer calories. The key to weight loss is creating a calorie deficit, whether that is by consuming fewer calories or by expending more energy through increased activity.

When Shakeology is prepared with water, it contains about 160 calories, which is around the same amount of calories found in two eggs. For a meal, this is not enough calories for most people. For this reason, replacing breakfast, lunch or dinner with a Shakeology shake will likely result in weight loss as long as the dieter doesn’t overeat on other foods throughout the day.

Many studies have shown that low-calorie meal replacements (including shakes) can be effective for short-term weight loss. However, some studies show that using overall calorie reduction techniques is more effective in keeping weight off in the long run, compared to relying on meal replacement programs.

For example, a study in 132 overweight people found that short-term weight loss was similar between groups who were given meal replacement shakes or taught calorie reduction techniques using regular food. However, the group taught to reduce calories using regular food experienced significantly less weight regain than the meal replacement group over a 36-month follow-up. This shows that although using a meal replacement shake may promote quick weight loss, creating a healthy food reduction plan using whole foods is more effective in keeping weight off for good.

Why choose shakeology?

Aside from potentially promoting weight loss, Shakeology does have other benefits as well.

It is convenient to take

Finding the time to prepare healthy meals can be challenging for some people, especially those leading busy lifestyles. Although the majority of the calories you consume should come from whole foods, occasionally relying on a supplement like Shakeology for a quick snack or meal is harmless.

Shakeology could be particularly useful for those with limited time in the morning who are tempted to grab an unhealthy meal on the run. For example, making a shake with a scoop of Shakeology, frozen berries, almond butter, and coconut milk is a much better choice than stopping for breakfast at a fast-food restaurant.

It doesn’t have preservatives

It’s fair to say that Shakeology is healthier than some other protein shakes and meal replacement beverages available on the market. Many products are loaded with added sugar, artificial colors, unhealthy oils and preservatives. Although Shakeology does contain added sugar, it’s a lower amount than some other shake products. For example, a serving of vanilla-flavored Shakeology contains 7 grams of sugar, while a serving of Slimfast original vanilla shake has 18 grams of sugar.

What are side effects associated with Shakeology?

Although there are some health benefits associated with drinking Shakeology, there are potential downfalls as well. These are

It is not cheap

Another obvious downfall of Shakeology is the cost. A one-month supply (30 servings) of Shakeology will set you back $129.95. That’s about $32 per week spent on Shakeology. For some people, this may be too much money to spend on protein shakes. Similar products, like Garden of Life RAW Organic Meal powder or Vega One Nutritional Shake, are less than half the price of Shakeology.

Shakeology is not real food

One of the main issues with Shakeology, along with the multitude of other nutritional shakes available to consumers, is that it’s a supplement, not real food. While it contains a good amount of protein, vitamins, and minerals, you can get the same benefits from consuming a homemade protein shake or a meal.

For example, combining Greek yogurt, frozen berries, fresh kale, chia seeds, almond butter, and cashew milk will provide a nutrition boost without the added sugar found in Shakeology. There’s no comparison between manufactured nutrition supplements and wholesome, real foods, no matter what companies may claim.

Shakeology is vague with its ingredients

Shakeology claims to be an excellent source of powerful ingredients like adaptogens, digestive enzymes, chlorella, and prebiotics. However, it doesn’t list the amount of these ingredients. While research does support the use of some of the ingredients contained in Shakeology for therapeutic purposes, the amount matters. It’s doubtful that the insignificant amounts of the superfoods contained in Shakeology are enough to make a substantial impact on health.

No scientific evidence to prove its benefits

The manufacturers claim that they’ve done tests to prove that Shakeology helps people lose weight, maintain healthy cholesterol levels and support healthy blood sugar levels. However, this was a study run by a small, independent company sponsored by Beachbody, and the study is not published online.

Plus, people in the study replaced 2 meals a day with Shakeology, something that Shakeology specifically advises dieters not to do, as it would result in the extremely low-calorie intake. There is a clinical trial studying the effect of Shakeology on weight loss in the works that is set to be completed in June of 2018. However, this study is also sponsored by Beachbody.

Can you really lose weight with Shakeology?

Yes, you can lose weight by consuming Shakeology.  Now having said that it should be noted that this weight loss diet suits only the short-term goals and not the long-term goals. For example, a Shakeology made from water accounts for 160 calories.  Consuming only 160 calories per meal would hardly fulfill any type of nutritional and calorie requirements. This, in turn, brings your calorie intake lower and hence aids in weight loss.

However, dieticians argue that weight loss can be achieved in a more easy way by just cutting down your calories and limiting your food intake.  You can still achieve weight loss when you cut down on your normal meal and not necessarily consume Shakeology to achieve weight loss. Dieticians recommend following a healthy diet plan and following calorie counter to achieve weight loss which is considered to be safe as well as lasts longer.

Main reasons to avoid meal replacement shakes

Replacing regular meals with shakes have been a recent trend among people. This is being followed for various reasons. One could try it just because they do not have enough time to have a complete meal due to their work schedule obligations.  There is another group who want to increase their calorie intake and on the other hand others might try it to lose weight. Finally, there are few people who consider that these shakes could fulfill their nutritional requirements.

Heavily processed

One important fact that everyone is missing here is that these products are not fresh. The labels may read them to contain fruits and vegetables but how is it possible to store fresh fruits and vegetables in a sealed container for such as a long time. Generally, these shakes have a shelf life that can last for months without refrigeration. One way to keep them going for so long is by heavily processing them. Once natural foods undergo processing, the major portion of natural nutrients is immediately lost.

Synthetic nutrition

The biggest shock strikes when you come to know that the vitamins and minerals present in the shake are synthetic and not natural. The labels would usually include words such as sodium selenate, sodium molybdate, potassium iodide, etc. Majority of these substances are not found naturally and generally are manmade. These substances are used to increase the levels of vitamins and minerals in the shake.

Added sugar

Various shakes that are available in the market come in different flavors like chocolate, strawberry, vanilla, etc.  These flavors may be tempting but generally come with added sugar which is definitely not recommended. Added sugars are nothing but empty calories that can cause various medical problems. Studies have claimed that consuming added sugar can cause inflammation, mood swings, and stomach upsets.

Contains artificial ingredients

Meal replacement shakes contain ingredients such as vegetable oil, preservatives, thickeners, flavor enhancers, artificial coloring, etc. There are various health implications associated with these ingredients. Vegetable oil is known to cause inflammation. Preservatives and thickeners are known to have a high glycemic value which means it can cause instant blood sugar hikes.  Artificial coloring and flavor enhancers such as sucralose and aspartame are known to cause inflammation and are not suitable for gut microbiome.

Healthy alternatives for meal replacement shakes

If you are really interested in trying meal replacement shakes, trying these healthy alternatives would be a good choice.

Smoothies

Green smoothies are suitable alternatives for shakes. They contain powerful antioxidants that can fight inflammation and provide the essential natural vitamins and minerals to fulfill nutrition.  Green smoothies can be made by adding a cup of spinach and a cup of water in a blender. Blend this mixture well until all the clumps are blended evenly. Next, add some fruits of your choice such as pineapple, mango, and banana. Now blend this mixture well until you get a creamy smoothie.

Pureed soup

Pureed soup can be one of the best ways to get fiber and nutrition at the same time. They are easy to digest and can even be stored in a freezer for later use. There are numerous varieties of pureed soup that you can make. Some of the healthy pureed soups include black bean soup, sweet potato, and carrot soup, butternut squash soup, chicken tortilla soup, tomato soup, mixed vegetable puree soup, etc. You can prepare this pureed soup by boiling the ingredients and next blending the ingredient in a blender along with the broth. Add salt to taste. Next, simmer this mixture on slow flame until it reaches a puree consistency.

Bone broth

Bone broth is a powerful source of important nutrients such as protein, amino acids, electrolytes, antioxidants, and collagen. Bone broth can be prepared at home and consumed on a daily basis. Add one cup of lamb bones, peppercorns, bay leaves, carrots, apple cider vinegar, onions, celery, and salt in a large bowl. Add water to this bowl until it covers all the ingredients sufficiently by about an inch. Next, simmer these contents on high heat. Later reduce the heat to minimum and allow the mixture to simmer for about an hour.

Final thoughts

Shakeology can be a wonderful nutritional shake when consumed appropriately.  It has various benefits such as providing nutrition and aid with weight loss. At the same time, it can never be a suitable meal alternative. Shakeology is definitely suitable as a shake between meals but is definitely not an alternative for a meal. If you are considering Shakeology to lose weight, you could rather do it by just cutting down on calories on your regular meal rather than choosing such as an expensive alternative.


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