Protein shakes 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 different 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, marketed as a “daily dose of nutrition” has developed a devoted following, especially among Beachbody (a fitness and weight loss program) enthusiasts (1).
This article explains everything you need to know about Shakeology to help you decide whether it’s an effective product for weight loss.
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 multi-level marketing to sell their products (including Shakeology), with over 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 is claimed to help dieters lose weight, reduce junk food cravings, boost energy levels and support healthy digestion.
What's in Shakeology?
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 like vanilla, chocolate and strawberry with vegan options available for those who can’t or choose not to consume dairy or animal products.
Most shakes contain 17 grams of protein and vary between 140 to 160 calories per 36-gram serving.
The 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.
Dieters are instructed to mix one 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 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.
Instead, the company advises Shakeology consumers to use it as an addition to a healthy meal or as a convenient snack.
Summary Shakeology is a popular nutritional beverage that is used by consumers as a meal replacement or healthy snack. It is marketed and sold by followers of the Beachbody program, a fitness and weight loss company.
Replacing a meal with a shake with fewer calories will likely result in weight loss for most people.
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 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 (2).
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 (3).
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 (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 (4).
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 (5).
Summary Although using nutritional shakes like Shakeology to replace meals or snacks may result in short-term weight loss, adopting healthy, lasting dietary changes using real food is best for long-term weight loss.
Aside from potentially promoting weight loss, Shakeology does have other benefits as well.
Shakeology Is Convenient
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’s Healthier Than Other Nutritional Beverage Products
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 (11 oz or 325 ml) of Slimfast original vanilla shake has 18 grams of sugar (6).
Shakeology is also free from artificial colorings, flavors and preservatives.
Summary Shakeology may be convenient for people with limited time and is a healthier choice than many other meal replacement and protein shake products.
Although there are some health benefits associated with drinking Shakeology, there are potential downfalls as well.
Shakeology Is a Supplement, 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.
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.
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 that have been scientifically proven to counteract stress in the body (7).
A study in 64 people found that treatment with 600 mg of high-concentration ashwagandha root (an adaptogen) extract per day significantly reduced stress levels (8).
However, since Shakeology doesn't list the amount of ashwagandha or any herbs, enzymes or fruit extracts for that matter, their inclusion in the product is likely a way to make the product seem more healthy.
It’s doubtful that the insignificant amounts of the “superfoods” contained in Shakeology are enough to make a substantial impact on health.
There's No Scientific Evidence to Back up the Claims
On the Shakeology and Beachbody websites, you can find information stating that “Shakeology is now clinically shown to help you lose weight, maintain healthy cholesterol levels and support healthy blood sugar levels” (9).
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 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 (10).
Additionally, 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.
Summary Shakeology is expensive, lacks scientific evidence and doesn’t list amounts of certain ingredients. Plus, it’s a supplement, not real food.
The Beachbody and Shakeology websites promote healthy eating practices and focus on clean eating, which basically means focusing on food in its most natural form.
This is a good thing, as following a clean eating diet should automatically result in cutting back on processed foods.
Meal plans on the Beachbody website focus on lean proteins, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats and fresh produce.
Foods to eat include:
- Proteins: Turkey, chicken, eggs, seafood, lean beef, tofu.
- Starches and grains: Sweet potato, beans, quinoa, brown rice, barley, oatmeal.
- Fruits: Berries, apples, grapefruit, apricots, grapes.
- Vegetables: Greens, zucchini, peppers, tomato.
- Healthy fats: Olive oil, nuts, seeds, nut butter, coconut, cheese, avocados.
- Dairy: Unsweetened yogurt, milk, non-dairy milk.
- Seasonings and condiments: Herbs, lemon juice, garlic.
Of course, dieters following Beachbody fitness and nutrition programs are encouraged to drink Shakeology at least once a day.
There are many recipes on the Beachbody and Shakeology websites on how to make Shakeology shakes more filling by adding healthy ingredients such as nut butter or coconut.
Summary People following Beachbody nutrition plans are encouraged to drink Shakeology daily along with consuming clean, healthy meals and snacks.
Beachbody urges dieters to avoid unhealthy junk food when trying to lose weight on their programs. Foods to avoid when following Beachbody nutrition plans include:
- Refined grains: White bread, white rice, white pasta, baked goods.
- Foods with added sugar: Soda, juice, candy, cookies, sweetened yogurt.
- Processed foods: Fast food, crackers, processed meat.
- Fatty and fried foods: Chips, fried chicken, pizza, french fries.
Dieters are encouraged to cook meals at home and limit buying meals on the go.
Beachbody also stresses the importance of choosing nutrient-dense foods like nuts, fruits and vegetables over foods that are nutrient-poor like chips, cookies and fruit snacks.
Summary Beachbody urges dieters to avoid processed and refined foods such as white bread, candy, soda and fast food.
The Beachbody and Shakeology websites provide users with many recipes and ideas for meals, snacks and healthy desserts.
Here is a sample daily diet using recipes from the Beachbody website:
- Breakfast: Vanilla Shakeology made with 1/2 of a banana, nonfat milk, 1/4 cup (31 grams) chopped walnuts and one tablespoon of peanut butter.
- Snack: Avocado toast with pumpkin seeds.
- Lunch: Chicken and black bean burrito bowl.
- Dinner: Potato-crusted salmon filets with a salad.
- Dessert: Chocolate pudding made with chocolate Shakeology, bananas, almond milk and avocado.
People drinking Shakeology are encouraged to follow healthy diets that include lots of fresh produce, lean proteins, healthy fats and complex carbohydrates.
Here is a shopping list for dieters following Beachbody programs.
- Shakeology: Available in a variety of flavors including vanilla, chocolate, greenberry and café latte.
- Proteins: Chicken, turkey, lean beef, egg, salmon, tuna, sardines, tofu.
- Starches and grains: Sweet potato, potato, rolled oats, barley, bulgur, butternut squash, chickpeas, whole grain bread, black beans.
- Non-starchy vegetables: Kale, spinach, mixed greens, peppers, mushrooms, tomato, zucchini, sprouts.
- Fruits: Blackberries, blueberries, apple, pear, orange, banana, grapefruit, mango, papaya.
- Healthy fats: Unsweetened coconut, olive oil, flax seeds, avocado, natural peanut butter, walnuts, pumpkin seeds.
- Dairy and nut milk: Unsweetened reduced fat yogurt, skim milk, almond milk, coconut milk, feta cheese, goat cheese, parmesan.
- Condiments and seasonings: Fresh herbs, salsa, vinegar, mustard.
- Beverages: Water, sparkling water, green tea, coffee.
Summary The meal plans outlined on the Beachbody website revolve around fresh, whole ingredients including vegetables, complex carbohydrates, lean proteins and healthy fats.
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 makes a far better choice than some unhealthy meals or snacks, it’s likely not necessary either.
Whipping up your own whole-food protein shake at home or making a balanced healthy meal will provide you with the same benefits as Shakeology while also saving you money.