Shakeology Alternatives – 4 Excellent Shakeology Substitute Supplements

(Last Updated On: January 3, 2017)

Shakeology is a quite successful supplement program that has been heavily marketed  in the fitness industry. While there are many positives to the program, cost is not one of them.

Shakeology’s formula is not all that unique.

Bottom Line Up Front: I personally prefer Vega One as the top less expensive Shakeology substitute. It’s virtually identical nutrient profile at half the price, makes it the most logical choice for Shakeology users looking to switch.

In fact, you can find a number of Shakeology alternatives that are far less “marketed” but essentially the same.

In the following article, I’ve broken down three (4) different substitutes that I can fully endorse. Please feel free to share your comments and experiences at the bottom of the page!

Why Shakeology Isn’t the Answer: Shakeology vs Other Shakes

Two words: marketing and price. Shakeology has thousands of “distributors” who have a vested interest in pushing the product. It’s not that the product is “bad”; it’s just overpriced for what you get. In short, you are sold a lifestyle. Shakeology marketing will make you feel like you are receiving more value than you actually are. If you are looking for the extra placebo effect, then maybe it’s worth the money. However, I quickly realized that you can get the same nutrient profile (or better) and save as much as 60%!

UPDATE: Another “concern” with Shakeology is the much publicized Dr. Oz report that it contained high levels of LEAD! Before the Beachbody “coaches/distributors” start parroting the company line, I did my research. Well, I read about other people who did the research. Check this article out for further validation.

The Beachbody response? Essentially that this lead is “natural” and found in many plants. The lead is natural!? While it may be true that some common ingredients include lead, this is a result of bad farming practices. In short, Shakeology has an issue sourcing and testing their ingredients. It’s not an acceptable excuse any more than polluted drinking water in Flint Michigan is “naturally occurring”.

Unfortunately, all natural lead is not the new superfood trend…

UPDATE #2: I’ve been told that the above test was done on an “older” blend (Shakeology Greenberry) that has since been rectified. This may be so. Personally, I’m not willing to take a second chance when a brand does something like this. Especially not a brand that is THE most expensive on the market and touts their “premium” ingredients as the reason for the high cost. This isn’t a case of lead paint. This is ingesting lead in a health supplement…

Here are some alternatives to Shakeology that I’ve had success with:

Garden of Life Raw Vegan Meal Replacement

Garden of Life is one of my favorite all natural plant-based meal replacement supplements. I’ll be the first to admit that it’s not for everyone. It doesn’t “taste sweet” or mix as easily as Shakeology, but it has one of the best nutrient profiles out there. What is more, it is a “clean” supplement with no additives, artificial flavoring, or other “fillers”. While mixing it with water “works”, I prefer using almond milk (lightly sweetened) or with berries and fruit in a smoothie. You can even use the same Shakeology recipes with Garden of Life as the replacement! For a full review of it, see this article.

Shakeology talks up their “unique” ingredient profile a lot, so I was very interested to check out what Garden of Life comes with as an alternative. First, its a sprouted brown rice protein base, combined with (all organic) Amaranth Sprout, Quinoa, Millet, Buckwheat, Grabanzo Bean, Lentil Flax Seed, Adzuki Bean, Coconut Blend, Seasame Seed, Chia Seed, Pumpkin Seed, Spirulina, Chlorella, Alfalfa, Barely Grass, Wheat Grass, Cherry, Blackberry, Blueberry, Raspberry, and other raw enzymes. In total, it actually measures up to and even exceeds the ingredient profile of Shakeology.

Perhaps most importantly, Garden of Life Raw has 34 grams of protein per serving. This is 2x the 17 grams of protein from Shakeology. If the ingredient profile isn’t enough, this sure is. If you are serious about losing weight and finding a real meal replacement, then the key thing to look for is protein content. Here, Garden of Life is clearly a more efficient protein source.

Finally, Garden of Life is better than Shakeology when it comes to price. Standard Shakeology bags come with aprox. 30 servings at $129.95. Garden of Life comes in a 14 serving container at less than $40. That’s $2.87 per serving for Garden of Life vs $4.33 per serving for Shakeology.

You can find Garden of Life for even less than $40 at this listing here.

Nature’s Bounty Protein Shake Mix

Nature’s Bounty is similar in many ways to Shakeology, with a few key differences. The only downside is that it has only 15 grams of protein, instead of the 17 grams in Shakeology. However, it is ideal for those looking for a low calorie and low sugar alternative. It has fewer calories than both Shakeology and Garden of Life, with just 110 calories per serving and 2 grams of sugar.

The protein blend is a combination of whey, soy and additional vitamins and enzymes. As such, it’s not a vegan (dairy free) supplement, but it does use all natural ingredients. Another aspect that I like about Nature’s Bounty is that it has 50mg less sodium than Shakeology. Sodium is considered a cheap flavoring “filler” and Shakeology has over 150mg of it. No bueno for me. Nature’s Bounty also has 1/3 of the sugar of Shakeology.

As a disclaimer, this supplement does contain soy. If you have sensitivities to soy or just don’t want it, try one of the other supplements instead.

The last key selling point for Nature’s Bounty vs Shakeology is the cost per serving. The standard Nature’s Bounty containers only have 13 servings; however, at about $15 per container the cost per serving is quite affordable. It comes out to $1.15 vs $4.33 for Shakeology. You can find good deals at this listing for Nature’s Bounty.

Labrada Lean Body Meal Replacement

If you are looking for something more traditional, but still less than Shakeology, Labrada Lean Body is a an excellent alternative. If the Garden of Life protein is too “green” or vegan for you, Labrada will taste quite similar to Shakeology. You might not even notice a difference. It’s one of the better conventional alternatives to Shakeology out there.

First, there are a few things that I don’t quite like about Labrada. It has 350mg of sodium per serving, which is much higher than I usually like to go for a meal replacement supplement. It also has 290 calories per serving, again higher than Shakeology and other alternatives. However, it really does act as a genuine meal replacement. Sometimes Shakeology left me feeling hungry all the time and not fully satisfied. The trick to sustaining a diet like this long term is having a meal replacement that actually feeds you.

The critical component of Labrada is 35 grams of protein per serving. This is the best pure protein meal replacement in its class. It’s even 1 gram higher than my favorite Garden of Life. It also more than double what Shakeology can offer. In terms of cost per serving, it’s still a LOT more affordable than Shakeology at $2.19 per serving vs $4.33 (Shakeology). You can check out the full product listing for Labrada Lean body here.

Orgain Organic Plant-Based Protein

I’ve recently had a good experience with Orgain protein, (full review here). For people who are concerned primarily about taste and texture, this is a good option to consider. It comes in a creamy chocolate fudge or vanilla bean flavor, both highly mixable and great tasting.

Orgain really threads the needle with a smooth taste and simple, quality ingredients. It doesn’t have all the “extra” superfoods like Shakeology and Vega One (below), but it does have a solid nutritional foundation. The protein blend is a combination of my favorite plant-based sources, pea protein, hemp protein, and sprouted chia seed protein. In total, you get 21 grams of protein per serving, 4 grams more than from Shakeology.

What you get is an Organic, non-GMO, soy-free supplement. It’s not marketed as a full meal replacement, but you can definitely use it as one. If you feel you are missing out on some of the superfoods, try adding something like Amazing Grass Green Superfood. There is no sugar added and low sodium at 125mg per serving. It also only has 150 calories per serving, slightly less than Shakeology.

Best of all, it’s a fraction of the price. I order mine here for a 20 serving container.

Vega One Meal Replacement Shake

I’ve actually done a head-to-head comparison of Shakeology vs Vega One here, but it’s definitely worth mentioning Vega One in this article as well. It’s recently been one of my go-to meal replacements and definitely a top option to consider in lieu of Shakeology.

Like Garden of Life, Vega One is a completely plant-based supplement, without any dairy. This is good for a number of reasons, but mainly because most of us already have quite a bit of dairy present in our daily diet. It’s good to mix things up, and plant based supplements can aid in digestion and help cleanse your dietary tract.

There is a perception that vegan supplements are light on protein, but Vega One has 20 grams of high quality plant protein per serving. This is a full 3 grams more than Shakeology. It has 160 calories just like Shakeology, less saturated fat, and much less sodium (only 30mg vs 150mg). It also features 7 fewer carbs than Shakeology per serving, has the same amount of fiber, but over 5 grams less of sugar. It really hits all the marks in terms of nutrition facts that you want in a good meal replacement. It also has a lot of antioxidants and “super foods” that defenders of Shakeology often point to as Shakeology’s key advantage.

Vega One isn’t as cheap as some, which is my only hesitation in recommending it. However, at just over $50 for a container of 20 servings that still works out to only around $2.60-70 per serving, almost half as expensive as Shakeology. That’s actually a pretty good price for a premium supplement. You can check out this listing for the current deals on Vega One.

Shakeology Alternative Comparison Table

For an easy  “at a glance” comparison of the five supplements (including Shakeology), see the chart below:

Shakeology AlternativeCaloriesSaturated FatSodiumCarbsFiberSugarsProteinPrice
Shakeology (30 Servings)
1601g150mg17g6g6g17gClick here for latest
Garden of Life (14 servings)2700g95mg35g9g11g34gClick here for latest
Nature's Bounty (13 servings)1101g100mg10g6g2g15gClick here for latest
Labrada Lean Body (16 servings)2902g350mg21g7g6g35gClick here for latest
Vega One (20 servings)1600.530mg10g6g<1g20gClick here for latest
Orgain Organic (20 servings)1500g125mg13g5g1g21gClick here for latest

Still Stuck? Take My Interactive Quiz Below!

What's your general budget?

What are your protein preferences?

How important is the number of protein grams per serving?

How important is low calorie count?

What's your take on sugar?

How important is low sodium?

How important is getting fiber from your supplement?

What's your take on labeling?

How important is taste?

How important is texture?

But Owen, These Aren’t Meal Replacements Like Shakeology!

  • I’ve heard this criticism a few times, but here’s the truth. First, Vega One, Garden of Life, and Labrada Lean Body ARE marketed as meal replacements.
  • Second, the difference between a “protein supplement” and a “meal replacement” is largely in how you use it! For example. I’ve used Nature’s Bounty shake mix, added berries and veggies in the blender, consume it at 7 AM and – Voilia! – Meal Replacement!
  • When I evaluate a “protein supplement” or “meal replacement shake”, I look at the same nutrition label and ingredient list. A lot of times the term “meal replacement” is a marketing tactic. Sorry for the tangent – but I wanted to clear this up.

But Owen, These Other Shakeology Substitutes Don’t Have SUPER Foods!

  • First, Vega One does have many of the same groups of ingredients.
  • Second, I’m skeptical of the true value of “exotic” superfoods. Science backs some, but many of them are unproven. At present, they are just a marketing tactic. For example, I’ve read the evidence on Spirulina…. its a GOOD superfood that has PROVEN results. On the flip side, I have no clue what to expect from “Yacon Root”. Early evidence is mixed, at best. I’m not necessarily impressed by that.
  • Finally, why not purchase a superfood supplement separately? I’ve had good success with things like Amazing Greens and Garden of Life Green Superfood.

List of Shakeology Ingredients

Speaking of ingredients, I thought I would do some more research on the actual ingredients found in Shakeology. I have gone to the source, the Shakeology website and downloaded a copy of the ingredient list for this one. There are a lot of good ingredients in these shakes, but there are also a lot of expensive supplements that have yet been proven effective. Another overall concern with the ingredient list is the amount and dosage of each ingredient in Shakeology — there are no amounts listed on any Shakeology ingredient list, and yes, that matters.

Without proper dosing, some of the good supplements are just not as effective. Also, another thing I noticed — the proprietary blends — we have no idea on the ratio, say for the digestive enzymes, and yes, that matters. Some digestive enzymes are better than others, while some are specifically used for things like dairy.

Another thing to consider with Shakeology ingredients — how are these sourced? Is the whey protein organic? Are the supplements organic? There are still not enough regulations in the supplements yet. Some of the more exotic ingredients found in Shakeology, for example, the Reishi mushrooms — high-quality reishi mushrooms are very rare and quite expensive. A lot of supplements claim that they contain Reishi mushrooms, but it’s not sourced, only recreated in a lab, as this article explains.

I love supplements. I love protein shakes, but I also love saving money. Shakeology is an expensive product with a long ingredient list. Check out my research on Shakeology Ingredients and judge for yourself. Is Shakeology worth it?

IngredientsResearch
Whey protein (as isolate)While whey protein isolate does contain more protein than other forms of whey protein, it is only optimal if it is grass-fed and organic, which Shakeology's is not. This document from Shakeology confirms that this whey protein isolate is neither grass-fed, or organic.
Pea proteinStudies show that pea protein can be an effective source of protein to aid weight loss by controlling Ghrelin, regulate blood sugar, increase muscle thickness, may also decrease kidney disease, and is proven heart healthy. A serving of pea protein is 23 grams, but Shakeology's shake does not contain this amount, and due to their proprietary blend of protein, we cannot guarantee the amount of pea protein.
Chia (Salvia hispanica, seed)There are a lot of people touting the health benefits of chia seeds out there. This study gave women 25 g of chia seeds daily for 12 weeks and proves that even though the plasma level of ALA increased in these women, there were "no significant results on weight loss and disease risk factors." Authority Nutrition claims that although chia seeds are high in protein and fiber, both of which have been shown to aid weight loss, the studies on chia seeds have not noted any effects on weight.
Flax (Linum usitatissimum, seed)This study shows that flax seeds may help improve digestion and relieve constipation. They are also very high in the omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which may decrease your risk of heart attack or stroke, as this study shows. There isn't enough flax seeds to supplement your Omega-3s, as this document from Shakeology discusses.
Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa, seed)Quinoa is known as a superfood because of its dense nutrients. It is a complete protein, and it does not contain gluten, so it can be a good protein source for vegans who are also gluten-free.

This study also shows that quinoa is also a good source of antioxidants and minerals, providing more magnesium, iron, fiber and zinc than other grains.

We do not know if there is enough quinoa in a Shakeology serving to make it effective.
CacaoRaw cacao has been proven to have numerous health effects, as this article contends, raw cacao can even have effects on blood pressure, and cholesterol levels. This study also proves that raw cacao beans are a great antioxidant, but there is no research on the amount of raw cacao in each Shakeology serving.
Pea fiber (Pisum spp., seed)Pea fiber is a gluten-free protein and fiber source made from the fiber that surrounds the pea. According to this study, pea fiber may have health benefits and can even lower glycemic index, however as this study contends, there is no research on its appetite suppressing properties, especially in such small amounts.
Yacon (Smallanthus sonchifolius, root)There is one study about the effects of Yacon syrup that might show some weight loss benefits, however, it was a small study done, and the participants were given 1 serving of Yacon syrup roughly one hour before meals to act as an appetite suppressant. We do not know how much Yacon is in each Shakeology serving to say that it is a full serving (as in the study).

More research is needed to prove the efficacy of this root and its effect on weight loss.
Cordyceps (Cordyceps militaris, fungi)According to Web MD, there are many benefits to Cordyceps, and is currently being used as Some people use cordyceps as a stimulant, a tonic, and an “adaptogen,” which is used to increase energy, enhance stamina, and reduce fatigue.
Chlorella (Chlorella spp., whole)Chlorella is an edible freshwater algae, and has been proven to have some health benefits. However, as this study shows, there have not been enough definitive studies to prove the effectiveness of Chlorella, what amounts you would have to take for any effectiveness and because of the way this must be processed in order to get any benefits, it can be a costly supplement, which can be easily replaced by other nutrient-dense foods such as kale or broccoli.
Spirulina (Arthrospira platensis, whole)According to Web MD, there might be benefits to Cordyceps – a fungus that lives on certain caterpillars in high mountain regions of China – and is currently being used as a stimulant, a tonic, and an “adaptogen,” which is used to increase energy, enhance stamina, and reduce fatigue. This is an exotic supplement that can easily be reproduced in the lab cheaper than harvesting. As with other natural supplements, dosing is so important, and WebMD recommends only taking Cordyceps for a short time, and gives warnings for people who should not take this supplement at all.

There is no information on how much Cordyceps is in each Shakeology serving, but this supplement is designed for short term use, and may have interactions with things like caffeine, as this study shows.
Acerola cherry (Malpighia glabra, fruit)Acerola cherry, as this study confirms, is an expensive source of Vitamin C. “To date, there is no clear evidence that naturally derived vitamin C is superior in its clinical effectiveness than synthetic ascorbic acid.”
Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus, fruit)It turns out that even though bilberry extract is a popular supplement, there hasn’t been enough definitive studies, as this report shows, to show that it’s any more effective than other less expensive and readily available supplements, such as cranberry.
Blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum, fruit)Blueberry supplements may have some cognitive benefits, as this report shows, and many antioxidant benefits, but as a supplement, it is recommended to keep in cold environments, as blueberry supplements are heat sensitive.
Goji berry (Lycium barbarum, fruit)Although there has been a lot of hype on the effects of goji berry supplements, as this report states, there is insufficient scientific evidence supporting the effectiveness of goji berry supplements, especially when it comes to weight loss.
Spinach (Spinacia oleracea, leaf)Some studies have shown that a certain amount of spinach extract can help with weight loss, as this research explains, however there have not been enough independant studies to prove this to be true.
Maitake (Grifola frondosa, fungi)There have been a lot of claims on the benefits of Maitake mushrooms, but as this report shows, there is still little research on the effects on humans for benefits such as weight loss.
Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum, fungi)According to WebMD, reishi mushroom is used for boosting the immune system and has been shown to have some effectiveness according to users. Other uses for reishi mushrooms include reducing stress and preventing fatigue.

The quality of this supplement is important, and so is dosing. The standard time frame for treatment with this herb according to this study is one to three months, taken three times per day. Also, people with autoimmune diseases should not take reishi. There is no information on the type or amount of reishi in Shakeology, and as this article confirms, high-quality reishi mushrooms are quite rare and expensive.
Rose hips (Rosa canina, fruit)Rose hips are a known anti-inflammatory supplement and should be taken with meals for full effectiveness. Studies have shown that taking rose hip supplements have had "a mild reduction in blood pressure" but there is limited evidence in human studies with regards to weight loss.
MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane)
There has been a lot of hype surrounding MSM, but according to Web MD, and other sources, there is little published scientific research to support its use. It can also be quite an expensive and ineffective supplement according to Web MD, and other sources.
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera, root)People use the ashwagandha plant for many things, but according to WebMD, "there isn’t enough information to judge whether it is effective for any of them."

Ashwagandha is also used as an “adaptogen” to help the body cope with daily stress and as a general tonic, and there seems to be some evidence that it has antistress properties, as this study shows, yet there is still not enough human research to back up these claims.
Enzyme blend: AmylaseAmylase is known as one of the "starch blockers" of enzymes that some claim to help with weight loss, yet, as this study shows, there isn't enough evidence to say definitively that they help reduce carbohydrate absorption in humans.

Also, not all enzymes, as this report explains, even those with the same name as effective, and since Shakeology does not list the details of their proprietary blend, we do not know the ratios of these enzymes.
Enzyme blend: CellulaseCellulase as an enzyme that breaks down cellulose, so as an enzyme cellulase acts as fiber, which can help digestion. But, as this study shows, cellulase does not influence subjective appetite sensations, or seem to be an effective weight loss supplement.
Enzyme blend: LactaseLactase is an enzyme that breaks down lactose, the sugar found in milk, and can be effective in doing that, if, as this article explains, you take them in the required amounts and are lactose intolerant, and since there is lactose in the whey protein used, this might be a necessary addition.
Enzyme blend: GlucoamylaseGlucoamylase is an enzyme that can help break down starches, but as this extensive article explains, not all enzymes are as effective as others, even those with the same name.
Enzyme blend: Alpha-GalactosidaseAlpha-Galactosidase is an enzyme that is also known as "Beano", which is used to reduce gas in the digestive track.
Enzyme blend: InvertaseInvertase is an enzyme, derived from honey, or yeast that helps break down sugars. It is used in baking to make candy, as it helps break down the sugar molecules.

It is really hard to find any definitive studies on its effectiveness in breaking down sugars in the stomach, however, even if it did help, there is no evidence to how much of this particular enzyme is included in Shakeology shakes, like other digestion enzyme products clearly list.
Kale (Brassica oleracea, leaf)We all know that Kale in its natural form is one of the most nutrient-dense vegetables around, however, as a supplement, you have to watch dosing, as high levels of Vitamin K can interfere with blood thinners, as this blog says.

Just like other supplements, the sourcing of the Kale is important and it is unclear if Shakeology is organic kale supplements or not.
Luo Han Guo (Monk fruit, Siraitia grosvenori)Luo Han Guo, or Monk fruit is generally used as a sweetener, as this site shows.
Himalayan saltHimalayan salt contains 84 minerals, as this article explains, but is a sodium and should not be used excessively.
Lactobacillus sporogenes (Bacillus coagulans)Lactabacillus is a type of bacteria that can help digestion, however, as WebMD discusses, "There are concerns about the quality of some lactobacillus products. Some products labeled to contain Lactobacillus acidophilus actually contain no lactobacillus acidophilus, or they contain a different strain of lactobacillus such as Lactobacillus bulgaricus. Some products are contaminated with “unfriendly” bacteria."
Schissandra (Schisandra spp., fruit)Schissandra is known as one of the "adaptogens" used for increased resistance to stress and disease, according to this site, Schissandra might be effective for mental performance, but there is insufficient evidence for exercise performance.
Maca (Lepidum meyenii, root)Maca has been known for centuries as an aphrodisiac and is primarily grown in Peru. Although there are plenty of studies that show Maca's effectiveness, as this site says, many of these studies have been done in Peru. More research outside of Peru is needed to prove Maca's effectiveness.
CinnamonCinnamon may also be used as a flavoring, but some claim it can lower blood sugar yet according to WebMD, some studies prove otherwise, or studies are inconclusive either way.
Green tea extractAccording to this research, "Green tea catechins are four molecules, high amounts of which are present in green tea and other sources. The most potent one is EGCG. It is effective in respect to most claims and potent in a few. Any fat burning benefits are dependent on being Caffeine-naive." It looks like the caffeine content in green tea may help its effectiveness for weight loss.
Ginko biloba, leaf extractGinko biloba is a herb that some claim can help with mental alertness and brain functions, however, as this research shows, "Ginkgo biloba is the most commonly ingested herb for brain health. While it can boost cognition, this effect is not very reliable."
Moringa oleifera, leafAccording to this study, "For usage as a supplement, moringa oleifera is recommended mostly as being a highly nutritious antioxidant. While it is indeed nutritious, supplemental dosages are too low to acquire adequate nutrition from and this claim is not relevant."
Sacha inchi, seedOften marketed as a Superfood, as this article explains, Sacha inchi is a plant native to Peru, where the edible seeds are used for supplements.

Although it is too soon to fully recommend Sachi inchi for weight loss, it can improve overall health because of nutrient contents, as this article explains.
Chicory root fiberChicory root fiber can help people with digestive issues, as this article contends because of the main ingredient, "Inulin", which may help decrease constipation, increase helpful bacteria in the colon, and may also decrease triglycerides in the blood.

There does seem to be some evidence that chicory root fiber might help with weight loss, as this study confirms, however, it is not as significant as some would lead you to believe and more research is needed for definitive connections.
Pomegranate (Punica granatum, fruit)There are some studies that may prove that pomegranate supplements can help with weight loss, as this article explains, however, most of the studies were not conducted on human subjects, so more research is needed.
Astragalus membranaceus, rootAstragalus membranaceus is one of the more expensive supplements in this ingredient list but does have a long history in Chinese medicine and can "add life to your years, rather than adding years to your life" as this article explains.
Camu-Camu, fruitAs WebMD explains, "Camu camu fruit contains many nutrients including vitamin C, beta-carotene, fatty acids, protein, and others. It also contains other chemicals that might have an effect on the body. However, there is not enough information to know how camu camu might work for treating or preventing any medical condition."

This is also another one of the more expensive supplements on the ingredient list, and although it is a good source of Vitamin C and other flavonoids, there are other less-expensive sources out there.

List of Shakeology Vitamins and Minerals: What You Need to Know!

When it comes to expensive vitamin supplemented shakes, it’s important to look at the source of each ingredient, including the sources of vitamins and minerals. It would appear that most (if not all) of Shakeology’s vitamins and minerals are synthetic vitamins. This is typical, as most high-strength, multi-vitamin pills on the market are synthetic. Not all vitamins are created equally, as this article explains, and can lead to dangerous mineral deficiencies and toxic effects, as this research also confirms.

Here is an overview on synthetic vs. natural vitamins that’s worth a read, but here are some takeaways.

How can you tell that there are synthetic vitamins in a product?

“If the potency is higher than anything you would find in nature (example 1000% Daily Recommended Allowance of Vitamin C per serving), the product contains synthetically produced ingredients, no matter what the producer of that product might claim.” (Source)

Putting the word ‘natural’ on a vitamin supplement is deceptive (Source)

Are certain synthetic vitamins worse than others?

Yes. Some vitamins are water-soluble, so they can easily be flushed out of the body. “The fat-soluble vitamins include vitamins A, D, E and K. Because they are soluble in fat (lipids), these vitamins tend to build-up in the body’s fat tissues, fat deposits, and liver” (Source).

When it comes to the vitamins sourced for Shakeology, it would appear that many of them are synthetic (not whole foods sourced) versions of the vitamins and minerals. It also appears that the cheaper, less effective versions are used as well, for example, the Calcium used is an inexpensive and ineffective version.

It would be much better to invest in a high-quality multi-vitamin source if you feel that your diet might be lacking some minerals and vitamins. We’ve recommended some good ones before. Remember to carefully read the labels.

Vitamins and MineralsResearch
Vitamin A (beta-carotene) 5000 IUUnless the whole foods source of beta-carotene is listed (which in this case, it is not) it is highly likely that this source is a synthetic vitamin, as this article explains, which can actually increase cancer risks, instead of lowering them as a whole food source would.

Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) 180 mgAscorbic acid, technically is not Vitamin C, only a part of the Vitamin C molecule, according to this research. The most effective form of Vitamin C is naturally found in food. According to this research, "For a complex matrix like Vitamin C to be effective, it has to be used as nature created it. Always use a full-spectrum food source supplement of Vitamin C and other supplements to insure that all the naturally-occurring nutrient factors are available to your body."
Vitamin D (cholecalciferol) 200 IUThis is a synthetic version of Vitamin D, which is made from "lanolin washed from lambs’ wool" (according to this source) and should be avoided, especially because it is one of the fat-soluble vitamins.

"Fat-soluble vitamins in their synthetic form are especially dangerous because they can build up in your fatty tissues and cause toxicity," says Dr. Edward Group here.
Vitamin E (mixed tocopherols) 15 IUThis is another synthetic vitamin that should be avoided because of toxicity, according to this research.
Vitamin K1 (phytonadione) 40 mcgVitamin K is a man-made vitamin typically used for people with a Vitamin K deficiency, as this article explains. It is also a fat-soluble vitamin with inherent risks of flushing, sweating, or tight-chestedness as this article explains.

People on blood thinners should avoid excessive amounts of Vitamin K, which many Shakeology members have discussed on forums, yet still told how to "continue with the program".
Vitamin B1 (thiamin HCI) 1.5 mgThis is another synthetic vitamin that should be avoided because of toxicity, according to this research.
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) 1.3 mgThis is another synthetic vitamin that should be avoided because of toxicity, according to this research.
Vitamin B3 (niacin) 5 mgHigh levels of niacin can cause side effects, as this source explains, but the amount of niacin in Shakeology is not excessive.
Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine HCI) 2 mgThe amount of Vitamin B6 contained in Shakeology is not enough to supplement people who have deficiencies, but this is typical amount found in most multivitamin supplements.
Folic acid 200 mcgThis is another synthetic vitamin that should be avoided because of toxicity, according to this research.
Vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin) 6 mcgThis is another synthetic vitamin that should be avoided because of toxicity, according to this research.
Biotin 90 mcgThis is another synthetic vitamin that should be avoided because of toxicity, according to this research.
Pantothenic acid 5 mgThis is another synthetic vitamin that should be avoided because of toxicity, according to this research.
Calcium (dicalcium phosphate)
300 mg
Dicalcium Phosphate is "an inexpensive, poorly absorbed form of calcium," says this research.
Iron 6 mgThere are two types of iron supplements, ferrous and ferric, of which ferrous is better absorbed in the body, according to this article. It is not clear or labeled what type of iron is in Shakeology.
Phosphorus (dicalcium phosphate) 230 mgNot sure why this is listed separately as Calcium as dicalcium phosphate, they are the same. Dicalcium Phosphate is "an inexpensive, poorly absorbed form of calcium," says this research.

With 530 mg of dicalcium phosphate contained in Shakeology shakes, it could be harmful taken at one time, according to this research, instead, the dosing should be spread out throughout the day.

Iodine 52 mcgIodine is an essential element, yet not typically found in supplements because it is already added to table salt, as this research confirms.
Magnesium oxide 80 mgMagnesium oxide is typically used as a laxative, and not as a magnesium supplement because the amount of magnesium absorbed is less than 4%, as this study confirms.

There are much better sources of magnesium supplements out there. Check out this comparison chart.
Zinc oxide 6 mgZinc oxide is an "inorganic compound of zinc most commonly used in topical ointments for addressing minor skin conditions such as burns and irritation. It is also a common ingredient in sunscreens. This type is a non-chelated, inorganic form of zinc. Studies show mixed results on the body’s ability to absorb and metabolize this form of inorganic zinc" claims this research.
Copper gluconate 0.8 mgCopper is not naturally found in the body, but is found in certain foods, as this research shows, but "copper gluconate is copper carbonate processed with gluconic acid. It is used as a deodorant" sites this research.
Manganese sulfate 2 mgManganese is a naturally occurring mineral in the body that is necessary for bone health,
Chromium chloride 60 mcgThis is another synthetic vitamin that should be avoided because of toxicity, according to this research.
Molybdenum (as sodium molybdate) 30 mcgSodium molybdate is a chemically altered form of sodium, as this article explains. Too much molybdenum can have side effects, however, it is different for every person.

But Owen, Good People Make Money from Shakeology!

  • I get it. I’m not trying to put down people who promote products. I am trying to present the other side of the story. A side that doesn’t usually get told because BeachBody provides a lot of incentives to stick to the company line. I’m not anti-corporate, or anti-making money, I’m just anti-bias.
  • In my personal experience, most of the BeachBody coaches and distributors make professional trainers look bad. Just because you start calling yourself a “coach” doesn’t mean you are. The fact is, BeachBody might empower people by calling them coaches, but they really don’t have the training that the title entails (in fact, coach = distributor for all practical purposes).

About the Author

Health enthusiast, runner, protein nut. Owen likes to write about protein, particularly alternatve supplementation and supplement comparisons.

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