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Protein and meal replacement shakes are among the most popular weight loss supplements on the market.
Dieters use these shakes to reduce calorie intake, improve performance, and curb hunger in attempts to reach wellness and fitness goals.
Though there are many types of protein and meal replacement shakes available, Shakeology — a cross between a meal replacement shake and a protein shake — has become a hit with consumers.
Shakeology is marketed as a “daily dose of nutrition” and has developed a devoted following, especially among Beachbody (a fitness and weight loss program) enthusiasts (1).
However, as it isn’t cheap, you may be wondering whether Shakeology is worth the cost.
This article provides a comprehensive review of Shakeology to help you decide if you should sip or skip.
Shakeology is a nutrition shake that was developed by a team of wellness enthusiasts in 2009, including Darin Olien, the CEO and co-founder of Beachbody.
Beachbody is a company that sells workouts videos, supplements, and nutrition programs.
Beachbody uses multilevel marketing (MLM) to sell its products, including Shakeology, with more than 340,000 “coaches” peddling and promoting the products, mainly via social media.
Shakeology is at the heart of the Beachbody weight loss program, and Beachbody members are encouraged to drink it daily.
Shakeology is promoted as a “superfood nutrition shake” that’s claimed to help dieters lose weight, reduce cravings of highly processed foods, boost energy levels, and support healthy digestion.
Beachbody claims to adhere to current good manufacturing practices (CGMPs) established by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which are guidelines designed to ensure the safe and sanitary manufacturing of food products and supplements.
It also adheres to FDA guidelines regarding labeling and includes an FDA disclaimer on its products, which is required for supplements that make any health claims not reviewed by the FDA.
The product label also lists some information on potential allergens, along with contact information for the company.
Though Beachbody products are not certified by third-party organizations, the company claims that it tests its products for safety and quality.
However, Beachbody failed Healthline’s rigorous vetting process due to concerns about some of its business practices.
For example, Beachbody uses an MLM model to sell its products, which is a controversial form of direct sales that encourages existing distributors to recruit new distributors to sell its products.
Although MLM models are not illegal, they use predatory tactics to recruit distributors and often make false or exaggerated claims about the potential profitability for participants (2).
Additionally, Beachbody distributors are not required to have knowledge of the specific products they sell, including supplements.
Furthermore, Beachbody has garnered attention for its questionable business practices and was served with a class action lawsuit in September 2020.
The pending lawsuit alleges that the company disclosed customers’ personal information — including viewing history, transactions, and demographic information — to data miners, marketing companies, and other third parties without consent (3).
Shakeology shakes contain a blend of proteins, including whey and pea protein, along with vitamins, herbs, antioxidants, probiotics, and digestive enzymes.
Super-Fruit and Super Green blends include fruit and vegetable powders, like kale, chlorella, goji berry, and pomegranate.
The company also offers a line of Boosts, which can be mixed into Shakeology shakes or other beverages.
These supplements contain vitamins, minerals, or other herbal ingredients and are designed to promote digestive health, energy levels, and skin health.
Keep in mind that the ingredients that you use to make your shake can alter the nutritional value of your drink.
Dieters are instructed to mix 1 scoop of Shakeology with 8 to 12 ounces (236 to 355 mL) of water, juice, milk, or nut milk once or twice a day.
Although many dieters use Shakeology as a meal replacement drink, the company cautions those that while replacing one meal with Shakeology is OK, the shakes shouldn’t be used to replace more than one meal on a regular basis.
Instead, the company advises Shakeology consumers to use it as an addition to a well-balanced meal or as a convenient snack.
A cross between a protein shake and a meal replacement shake, Shakeology is claimed to be “simply the most delicious superfood protein supplement on the planet.”
Shakeology comes in a variety of flavors, with vegan options available for those who can’t or choose not to consume dairy or animal products.
Some of the flavors you can choose from include:
- Peppermint Mocha Plant-Based Vegan
- Cookies & Creamy Plant-Based Vegan
- Chocolate Whey
- Chocolate Plant-Based Vegan
- Vanilla Whey
- Vanilla Plant-Based Vegan
- Caffé Latte Whey
- Caffé Latte Plant-Based Vegan
- Strawberry Whey
- Tropical Strawberry Plant-Based Vegan
Online reviewers generally enjoy the taste of Shakeology products, but note that it should be blended thoroughly to prevent chalkiness.
Most Shakeology shakes are available as either a 30-serving bag or a box of 24 single-serving packets. The price for each is $129.95, or $4.33–$5.41 per serving (6).
Some limited edition flavors are also available for $74.95 per box, which includes 14 single-serve packets.
You can also purchase sample packs, which contain 4 or 5 flavors for $19.95 or $24.95, respectively.
The company’s line of Boost products range from $34.95–$49.95 and contain 20–28 servings each.
In addition to the prices listed above, there’s an additional fee for shipping, which is calculated during checkout.
Replacing a meal with a shake containing fewer calories will likely result in weight loss for most people.
However, the same goes for replacing your usual meal with one that contains fewer calories. The key to weight loss is creating a calorie deficit, whether that be 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. According to the most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans, most healthy adults require between 1,600–3,000 calories per day (
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 have found that simply eating fewer calories of real foods is more effective in keeping weight off in the long run, compared with relying on meal replacement programs.
For example, an older study in 132 people with overweight found that short-term weight loss was similar between groups who were given meal replacement shakes (SlimFast) 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 (
Finding the time to prepare nutritious meals can be challenging for some people, especially those leading busy lifestyles.
Shakeology is particularly enticing for those with limited time in the morning who are tempted to grab a highly processed meal on the run.
Furthermore, Shakeology products are popular because they contain less added sugar than many other protein shakes and meal replacement beverages on the market. They’re also free of artificial colorings, flavors, and preservatives.
The shakes are also a good source of protein and are available in plant-based and whey-based varieties, making them a suitable option for those with certain dietary restrictions, such as vegans and vegetarians.
Although there are some benefits associated with drinking Shakeology, there are several downsides to consider.
Shakeology isn’t a suitable replacement for real food
One of the main issues with Shakeology, along with the multitude of other nutritional shakes available to consumers, is that it’s designed to be a supplement and shouldn’t be used as a replacement for real foods.
While it contains a good amount of protein, vitamins, and minerals, you can get the same benefits from consuming a meal or homemade protein shake using whole fruits and vegetables.
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.
Therefore, there’s no comparison between manufactured nutrition supplements and wholesome, real foods, no matter what companies may claim.
Another obvious downfall of Shakeology is the cost. A 1-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.
It contains lots of ‘superfoods,’ but doesn’t list amounts
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.
For example, Shakeology contains adaptogens, which are herbs scientifically proven to counteract stress in the body (
One study in 60 people found that taking 250 mg or 600 mg of ashwagandha extract (an adaptogen) per day for 8 weeks significantly reduced perceived stress and blood levels of cortisol, the body’s primary stress hormone (
However, since Shakeology doesn’t list the amount of ashwagandha or any herbs, enzymes, or fruit extracts for that matter, it’s unknown whether a shake contains an effective dose of these ingredients.
It’s unlikely that the amounts of these “superfoods” are high enough to make a substantial impact on health. Instead, the inclusion of these compounds is likely just a way to make the product seem more healthy.
There’s no scientific evidence to back up the claims
On the Shakeology and Beachbody websites, you can find information stating, “Shakeology is now clinically shown to help you lose weight, maintain healthy cholesterol levels, and support healthy blood sugar levels” (15).
However, this was a study run by a small, independent company sponsored by Beachbody, and the full study doesn’t appear to have been published online or in any peer-reviewed journal.
Furthermore, people in the study replaced two meals a day with Shakeology, something that Shakeology specifically advises dieters not to do, as it would result in extremely low calorie intake.
While there is one peer-reviewed study from 2018, the study was also sponsored by Beachbody and wasn’t designed to specifically show whether drinking Shakeology leads to meaningful weight loss.
The study, which included 50 adults with overweight or obesity, found that those who consumed a Shakeology beverage 30 minutes before eating a meal experienced significant reductions in hunger and desire to eat (
That is, compared with those who consumed a beverage that was lower in protein and fiber (
While the findings suggest that Shakeology drinks may be more filling than those that are lower in protein and fiber, the participants only drank the shake one time before a single meal.
Therefore, it’s unknown whether drinking Shakeology on a regular basis is effective in helping reduce daily calorie intake and assist with significant weight loss over time.
It’s also worth noting that after an investigation by the city attorney in Santa Monica, California, Beachbody settled a $3.6 million lawsuit in 2017 in which the company was banned from making bold health claims about Shakeology without solid scientific evidence.
Could cause digestive issues
Some online reviewers report experiencing digestive issues after consuming Shakeology beverages, including gas, bloating, and stomach cramps.
This could be due to the addition of fiber, which can cause digestive side effects when consumed in large amounts (
There are plenty of nutritious and affordable alternatives to Shakeology.
For example, buying your own protein powder is one easy way to add more protein to your diet.
Not only does this give you more options by allowing you to select a product offering the price, flavor, and type of protein that you prefer, but you can also blend it with other ingredients, like fresh fruits or vegetables to increase your intake of several key vitamins and minerals as well.
If you’re using it as a meal replacement, you can even mix in other ingredients like nut butter, chia seeds, oats, or flax seeds.
In addition to meals, companies like Splendid Spoon and Daily Harvest also offer a selection of smoothies, which can be a convenient and time-saving alternative to preparing your own protein shakes from scratch.
Is there sugar in Shakeology?
Yes. Most Shakeology flavors contain 7 grams of total sugar and 5 grams of added sugar per serving (19).
Is Shakeology dairy-free?
Traditional Shakeology shakes are not dairy-free — they contain whey, a type of protein found in milk. However, all Shakeology Plant-Based products are dairy-free and vegan-friendly.
Can Shakeology be used as a meal replacement?
When should I drink Shakeology?
According to Beachbody, you can enjoy Shakeology shakes as part of a meal, as a snack between meals, or just before a meal.
Can you drink two Shakeology shakes per day?
It is likely safe to drink two Shakeology shakes per day. However, keep in mind that the shakes aren’t cheap. They’re also not as nutritious as snacks made from whole-food ingredients.
Shakeology is a nutritional shake claimed to spark weight loss and provide various other health benefits to those who consume it.
Although Shakeology does provide some potential benefits, including weight loss, the bold health claims made by its distributor have yet to be proven by scientific evidence.
While drinking Shakeology on a daily basis isn’t bad for you and is a more nutritious choice than highly processed meals or snacks, there are cheaper and less processed alternatives worth considering.
Whipping up your own whole-food protein shake at home or making a nutritious meal will provide you with the same benefits as Shakeology while also saving you money.