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BeachBody Shakeology- Is It Worth The Money?

A client recently emailed me and asked if I’d look into the Shakeology product from BeachBody. For those of you not familiar with Beachbody, this is the same company that markets the popular home workout DVD’s P90X, Insanity, and others.

Let me make sure I state right out of the gate that I am NOT a Beachbody coach and this is not some bogus sales letter disguised as a review.

As someone who has no vested interest or bias I’m simply going to look at addressing the question my client (and I’m sure many others) are asking….is it worth the money?

More after the jump…

The Shakeology line is an accompanying sideline product for those individuals who are Team BeachBody coaches. The Beachbody organization is headed by some pretty smart marketers and they’ve got quite a successful business model. Got to tip my hat to that.

Just know that it’s likely the individual who is giving you a sales pitch on Shakeology is probably a “Team Beachbody Coach” who obviously gets a commission for selling product.

This certainly doesn’t make the product good or bad, and I have nothing against someone promoting products that improve health (and getting paid in the process). As an affiliate/distributor for several product lines myself I earn commissions for products I sometimes promote as well.

The way a product is being marketed and sold (retail versus independent virtual franchise, etc) isn’t all that significant. If anything, I’ve found that the higher quality products are often sold outside of traditional retail outlets.

The smaller companies (or even larger ones who choose to spend more money on research, production, and quality control) can’t compete solely on price against the mass produced and often low-quality products you’ll find on retail shelves, so they look for other distribution methods.

I say all of that so you know those who knock a supplement simply because of how it’s distributed aren’t being completely fair. There are some really good products being sold through MLM (multi-level-marketing) companies. On the same token, there are some pretty crappy products being distributed this way as well.

If you see a review that dismisses the Shakeology product, or for that matter any product, simply because it’s sold through a MLM company, I wouldn’t give it much weight.

Having said that, I do think you have to look at how the review was positioned and the person providing it.

If someone has seen great results with using a product and wants to share their experience, great, this can be helpful for others who are considering using the same product.

What I do have a problem with however, is when someone who’s not educated on nutrition starts making claims for or against a product, not based on personal experience mind you, but rather on nutrition science they don’t fully understand.

Credibility needs to be an essential component when assessing the legitimacy of reviews like this. The last thing you want to be doing is taking nutrition advice from someone who sells mobile phones during the day and pitches fitness/health products on the side.

Keep that in mind when you’re scouring through on-line reviews or hearing a product pitch from a co-worker, friend, etc.

Why should you listen to me?

In all humbleness, what I share on the Shakeology product isn’t the final word or end-all argument either way. Let’s just say for starters I don’t have a dog in the hunt.

My review will be unbiased nor will it be used to promote some other competitive product. I’m a fitness coach, research nerd, and someone who’s spent the past twenty plus years becoming an expert on nutrition and exercise science.

Simply put, this is my passion and it’s what I do 24-7.

If a product is good in my opinion, I’ll tell you that. If it has poor quality ingredients, manufacturing processes, and the like, I’ll tell you that as well.

In today’s post my primary objective will be to simply provide my opinion on whether or not the Shakeology product is worth the money.

That seems to be the biggest issue I hear with most folks as it does come with a pretty expensive price tag.

Alright let’s dig right in.

First off what is Shakeology, a protein shake, meal replacement shake, or something else?

You’ll see a lot of reviews with individuals referring to the Shakeology drink as a protein shake. This isn’t accurate as it’s way more than that. Protein shakes are typically just protein, the Shakeology drink has probiotics, enzymes, and a broad base of antioxidants and phytonutrients.

See the ingredients list below:

Click here to download the ingredients list.

Ok, you can easily see this is way more than a protein shake, but would we consider it a meal replacement shake?

At only 150 calories when mixed with water and negligible fat content, this wouldn’t make it a very good “meal replacement.”

I’d consider this more of a health shake to be used as a snack and not as a replacement for a meal with natural, whole foods.

If you go to the product website you’ll find a very detailed, and well done mind you, explanation of the product ingredients, quality, and benefits.

On the surface this looks like the “mother of all health shakes” because of everything that’s jammed packed in it.

In full disclosure I have no evidence to support or repudiate the manufacturing processes or quality control of the ingredients. Therefore I can’t get into the quality of the protein used or for that matter any of the ingredients.

There’s simply not much to go on. For the purpose of our discussion, let’s assume that the highest quality ingredients are used. Does this still mean the shake is all it’s cracked up to be?

This is where we get into some really grey area.

The fundamental question we have to be asking is what is the intended purpose of the shake?

Is it a “compliment” to an otherwise healthy supportive nutrition diet with plenty of raw fruits, vegetables, and natural foods, or is it a “replacement.”

If we’re looking at it to be a “replacement” shake that fills in the gaps we’re not getting in our diet, we start going down a slippery slope.

I would caution against being overly “wowed” by the laundry list of phytonutrients, antioxidants, adaptogens, and other ingredients.

It’s not whether or not these ingredients exist in the shake, but whether or not your body will assimilate the compounds in the same way you would from whole food?

In that regard, I have reason to believe there are differences. There’s no debating the benefits of many of these ingredients, but how are they coming through in the finished product?

Take the digestive enzymes and probiotics for example. Both of which I highly endorse. I also know these are highly susceptible to light, heat, and oxidation.

In other words, they break down and lose their potency in a hurry when exposed to any of the above. Once again this goes back to the manufacturing, storage, and processing which I know nothing about.

Is the product vacuum sealed, shipped right off the line to your door fresh, or did it sit in a warehouse for several months before it ever got to you? Likewise, did all these super-food ingredients sit on pallets for months being shipped from overseas and what was the quality control?

We have more questions than answers.

Let’s just say I’m more of a proponent of using high quality probiotics and enzymes and adding them to your diet directly on top of getting them from whole foods. This takes out the element of heat, light, and oxidation that may occur in manufacturing, processing, or storage of shakes.

Once again, we haven’t determined you’d get zero benefits from these ingredients or that the product is necessarily bad. I just want you to see the differences.

Personally, I think it’s a risky proposition to look at ANY processed product to fill in gaps with your diet that should be filled with raw, live foods.

There’s a difference between how the body assimilates micro-nutrients from naturally occurring live foods and isolated ingredients. There’s a lot going on there with synergy between compounds that far extends the scope of this discussion.

Let’s just say that God in His infinite wisdom knew what he was doing when he made fruits and vegetables for us to eat. I’m suspect that we can replicate this entirely by breaking down naturally occurring compounds and mixing them up in some lab or manufacturing line.

Again this is just food for thought.

One thing that is somewhat of a concern for me with this product is the use of herbal adaptogens.

See the image below:

Do you really know what these are and what impact they may have on your body?

Make no mistakes, herbs can be very powerful and potent compounds that impact hormonal balances in the body. They may act as a stimulant and possibly come with unwanted side-effects. For example, they may interfere with medications you may be taking, etc.

Bottom line is you’d want to talk with your doctor before taking any adaptogens if you’re on medication or have health concerns.

I also found it interesting that in the small print, there’s mention of the shake containing suma root which has the chemical compound ecdysterone, which could be erroneously detected and flagged in synthetic steroid screening tests.

See image below:

Certainly if you’re a competitive athlete who is subjected to drug screening you want to avoid taking this product. But what about the rest of us? If it’s being flagged in steroid screens, what does this mean? Maybe nothing, but the bigger question is why take suma root in the first place?

I’m merely guessing one of the reasons these herbs are in the shake is because of the stimulant (increased energy) impact they’d have on most folks.

Once again I’m all for the use of adaptogens, especially for individuals with adrenal fatigue issues for example. Let’s just say I’d err on the side of discussing this with an organic medicine physician and not just blindly jumping on them.

The amounts in the shake may not be much of a concern at all. Then again, it may pose an issue for some individuals. Something you’d want to look at for your unique needs.

Bottom line…

Wrapping this all up, it appears this shake is promoted by its uniqueness. The lure is with all the “extras” that are provided to support human health and performance.

Is this legit or mere marketing hype? I’d say probably a little of both.

In all fairness, this may very well be a better formulated shake than a lot of the garbage that’s on the market. I have no doubts that people are seeing very good results with using these shakes and they feel better.

Then again these same people have probably changed up their diet overall and started exercising using one of the Beachbody programs or some other workout regiment.

Could they have seen just as good of results by doing the former, but using less expensive high quality protein powders and/or meal replacement shakes instead of Shakeology?

The crux of health will go back to what’s being done big picture with diet and exercise, not with one particular “shake” or another.

There’s a lot that makes this shake compelling and I don’t want to negate the possible benefits or sway someone from taking it.

Let’s just say I wouldn’t tell a client, friend, or family member NOT to take it if there were no concerns over the adaptogens. It beats the heck out of some crappy tub of protein powder picked up at Wal-Mart for example.

The final issue (and what this was all about in the first place), is the question of whether or not it’s worth the money?

A month’s supply of Shakeology will run you about $119 (for 30 servings). This is assuming you’d use the product once a day. This rounds out to be about $4.00 a serving.

Certainly a bargain compared to some garbage meal replacement shake, or snack from the vending machine. We’ve got to put things in perspective when we’re talking about health.

I don’t scoff at $4 for decent nutrition and neither should you. But I do see how this could get a little pricey month in and month out for shakes.

Considering how you can get a really high quality meal replacement shake for half that, there are certainly more affordable alternatives.

Sure you won’t be getting all the same ingredients, but if your diet is largely made up of whole, natural foods, with sufficient raw fruits and vegetables, you’ll likely get what you “need” from these foods in regards to phytonutrients, enzymes, and micro-nutrients.

If you want extra probiotic support (which I think is a good ideas) you can and add some powder with water and drink upon awakening or break open some capsules and put in a shake or smoothie.

Bottom line is you don’t have to rely on “super-shake” to get solid nutrition. If you try it and like the taste, then by all means go with it. I can see this shake being a nice addition to an otherwise clean, supportive nutrition diet as a snack if you’re cool with the price.

It’s a judgement call at the end of the day based on cost as I don’t see any “negatives” per say, other than the possible contraindications with the adaptogens.

I would simply caution against using it to “fill in the gaps” like previously mentioned. No manufactured shake, including this one, will take the place of whole food in their natural state.

Tis my two cents for what it’s worth.

Shane Doll is a certified Charleston personal trainer, fat loss expert, speaker, and founder of Shaping Concepts Personal Training Studios. He specializes in helping people achieve a body transformation with burst training exercise and whole food nutrition. You can receive a FREE no-obligations trial of his Charleston personal fitness programs and start experiencing the Shaping Concepts difference today.

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Category: Supplements.