Update 3/10/20. Have you been asked to try Shakeology – or become a Shakeology Beachbody Coach? I have – several times. I've been asked to try this product so many times from so many different people that I decided to write this Shakeology review so you know the facts. Is Shakeology safe? Will Shakeology help weight loss? These are the questions I will address. As always, I'll link to the research so you know I'm not making stuff up. I don't have a dog in this fight. I only want you to have the best information available -free from testimonials, and internet hype – so that you can make the best decision for you. Also, see the review of Ultimate Power Greens as well.
Also see my review of vegan chocolate Shakeology.
Shakeology is one of the products sold by the company, BeachBody. Beachbody markets many health and fitness products, probably the most popular of which the P90X workout by Tony Horton. If you want to know how Shakeology tastes, check out my Shakeology Taste Test.
What Does Shakeology Mean?
The suffix ology means “the study of” so Shakeology literally means “the study of shakes“, In this case, it's a health and weight loss shake that contains various fruits, enzymes, vitamins, protein, etc.
It's a catchy name and gives the impression that there is some science behind Shakeology. But, when I entered “Shakeology” into the National Library of Medicine website, I found no published peer-reviewed studies on this product.
Most health and weight loss shakes don't have any research to back up what they are saying but I wanted to double check just in case because the name of this product stood out to me.
On the Shakeology website, I noticed a reference to a study that drinking Shakeology can lower cholesterol levels but there doesn't appear to be any published studies to back up this claim. At the bottom of the website (Shakeology.com) I see a reference that says :
“In a 90-day study, participants replaced one meal per day with Shakeology, ate a balanced diet, and exercised moderately three times per week. Total cholesterol was reduced on average by 30% and LDL cholesterol was reduced on average by 38%.”
But, this doesn't seem to be a published peer-reviewed study. Questions I asked myself included:
- Who were the people in this “study”?
- Were they men? Were they women?
- Did they have normal cholesterol or high cholesterol?
- What was their LDL levels before the study?
- Did exercise play any role in the outcomes?
They don't tell us any of this information – and this is important stuff to know if we are to analyze how effective shakeology really was.
Fruits contain soluble fiber and Shakeology has a lot of different fruits, so the study outcomes kind of make sense. But, would the same effect be seen if people just blended up some fruits themselves?
I don't know.
Losing weight can also reduce cholesterol. So, did cholesterol and LDL levels change simply because of weight loss, rather than because of Shakeology? I don't know because it doesn't look like the subjects were compared to those who did not use Shakeology.
There are a LOT of ingredients in Shakeology. Below you will see that I copied the ingredients from the Shakeology.com website (I used the chocolate version) and separated them into different sections to make this review easier.
|Calories from fat||10|
|Total fat||1 g (2% DV)|
|Cholesterol||15 mg (5% DV)|
|Sodium||100 mg (4% DV)|
|Total carbohydrates||17 g (6% DV)|
|Dietary fiber||3 g (12% DV)|
|Protein||17 g (34% DV)|
The total calories are based on 1 scoop (48 grams) mixed with water.
This doesn't look too bad to me. In fact, the calories, protein, fat, etc. are similar to other popular protein mixes. A scoop also has 135 mg of the sweetener, stevia.
Super Fruit Blend
Shakeology also has several types of what they call Super Fruits. Here is the list:
|Acerola powder (fruit)||Cordyceps|
|Camu-Camu powder (fruit)||Maitake powder|
|Pomegranate powder (fruit)||Reishi powder|
|Bilberry powder (fruit)||Citrus bioflavonoids|
|Blueberry powder (fruit)||Rose Hips powder (fruit)|
|Lycium (Goji) powder (berry)||Schisandra|
|Açai powder (berry)||Suma powder (root)|
|Acerola powder (fruit)||Gingko powder (leaf) REMOVED|
Update. Here is my review of the camu camu fruit research.
We are not told how much of each fruit is in Shakeology, only that the total of everything equals 2075 mg (or about 2 grams). I'm OK with that given that small amounts of phytonutrients (plant nutrients) tend to pack a big punch when it comes to health.
In the list you will noticed citrus bioflavonoids. This is technically not a fruit but rather a plant-nutrient (phytonutrient).
A couple of ingredients in this list did stand out to me. One is ginkgo. I suppose they added ginkgo to Shakeology because it has some antioxidant properties. But ginkgo also has anti-blood clotting properties that in theory may interact with blood thinner medications. There is also evidence that – in mice – ginkgo causes liver cancer. I'm not aware of any human evidence of this.
Ginkgo may also interact with medications used to treat:
Ginkgo is listed as the last ingredient, so I'm guessing there is not a lot of ginkgo in Shakeology but I felt this was worth mentioning.
Given that Shakeology has probably not been clinically tested in people who take prescription medications, I personally would prefer they remove ginkgo from Shakeology just to be safe.
Update: Ginkgo has been removed Ginkgo from Shakeology according to this page of the BeachBody website.
Cordyceps also caught my eye. In some circles, cordyceps is touted to improve aerobic exercise performance. But there isn't much proof that cordyceps works and some research that cordyceps doesn't help exercise. See this video for more insights.
Shakeology also contains acai berry, which is one of the principal ingredients in MonaVie reviewed previously. For more information on acai also see Acai Berry A Review Based on The Facts and The Acai Berry Diet.
Nondairy Probiotic Blend
Shakeology also contains several probiotics. These are basically friendly bacteria. They are as follows:
|Bifodobacterium longum||Lactobacillus bulgaricus|
|Lactobacillus acidophilus||Lactobacillus casei|
|Lactobacillus acidophilus DDS-1||Streptococcus thermophilus|
Probiotics appear to have a wide range of potential uses such as helping irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and diarrhea.
People who have immune deficiencies like HIV should be cautious with probiotics and consult their doctor before using.
We are not told how much of each bacteria is in this blend but only that its total is 150 mg. Often the amount of probiotics in a supplement are reported as colony-forming units (CFU). People may want to ask how many CFUs are in this 150 mg.
Tip. ask “are the bacteria alive now?”. Sometimes the probiotic bacteria are alive when the product is made but die off the longer the product is not used. This can reduce their effectiveness.
Proprietary Enzyme Blend (135 mg)
What is an enzyme? It's basically a protein. What happens when protein reaches the stomach? Its digested. Our bodies treat enzymes just like protein from whey, soy, chicken, etc. It breaks the protein up into amino acids, absorbs the amino acids and uses them to do whatever it needs – whether it be help to build muscle or repair a cell in your pinky finger.
While I can sort of see how enzymes might help those who have digestion problems, I never understood why healthy people needed enzyme supplements.
Other Ingredients in Shakeology
|Ashwagandha powder 100 mg||Grape seed extract (seed) 50 mg|
|Barley grass 100 mg||Green tea decaffeinated extract 50 mg|
|Kamut grass 100 mg||Holy basil powder (leaf) 50 mg|
|Oat grass 100 mg||Amaranth (Amaranthus hypochondriacus) 50 mg|
|Wheatgrass 100 mg|
Sometimes called “Indian ginseng” this herb appears to have several effects like helping the immune system. Most effects, however, have not been well studied. One warning that is sometimes mentioned (but hard to corroborate) concerns pregnant women: ashwagandha may cause premature birth of the unborn baby. For more info, see
Ashwagandha for hypothyroidism
A few studies suggest that barley may lower cholesterol and LDL. As such, this may be one of the ingredients responsible for the observations in the Shakeology study mentioned above. Shakeology is said to be gluten-free.
Grape Seed Extract
This is a popular antioxidant and is mostly studied in people who have heart disease. Shakeology only contains 50 mg of grape seed extract which is less than that used in grape seed extract research.
One study noted that taking grape seed extract (1000 mg/day) along with 500 mg of vitamin C increased blood pressure. Shakeology does not contain this much grape seed extract but I thought it was worth mentioning if any readers have high blood pressure.
At least one study has noted that holy basil might lower blood sugar levels after eating. As such it may interact with diabetes medications. Holy basil may also interact with blood thinner medications.
I could not turn up much on this ingredient. Some research hints that amaranth can lower cholesterol levels.
The Shakeology Clinical Trial
Thanks to someone who left a comment, I became aware of a Shakeology clinical trial posted on YouTube (the video has since been removed). The study was commissioned by BeachBody and administered by Medicus Research.
Medicus is a Contract Research Organization (CRO), which means that they are contracted by various pharmaceutical, and supplement companies to do research on their products.
According to the YouTube video above, this was how the clinical trial was designed:
- The study contained 50 people and lasted 90 days.
- Medicus researchers measured people's weight, BMI, and various other health factors including cholesterol and AIC levels.
Tip. Hemoglobin A1C is a measure of how bad diabetes is getting. Having 6% or less is usually considered normal. The higher the number, the higher the average blood sugar level is – which basically means diabetes is getting worse.
- Everybody drank 2 Shakeology shakes per day ―one for breakfast and one for lunch each day for 90 days.
Tip. From the video, it appears that people used Shakeology in place of foods they might ordinarily eat. This is important. Keep reading.
- The people did not alter their diet or exercise program (except for drinking Shakeology in place of food at breakfast and lunch).
According to the video, Dr. Udani, CEO of Medicus Research, notes that:
1. Statistically significant reductions in the desire to eat lunch were noted after drinking Shakeology for breakfast.
Since hunger, after lunch, was not mentioned in the video, I take this to mean that drinking Shakeology at lunch time had statistical significant effect on the desire to eat at dinner.
2. The video notes that the average weight loss was 9.3 pounds. The greatest weight loss in the study was 24 pounds after 3 months.
3. The average reduction in total cholesterol was 7% after 3 months. The greatest reduction was 50% in some of the participants.
4. Hemoglobin A1C (A1C) was reduced by an average of 5% after 3 months. Some of the people experienced as much as a 19% reduction in A1C levels.
What the video does not tell us:
Here are some things that I was unable to determine from the video:
- How many people in the study were men and women?
- What were the ages of the people in the study?
- Did the study participants have any health problems (high cholesterol, elevated A1C, etc.)?
- Were the average reductions in body weight, A1C, and cholesterol statistically significant?
- Did Shakeology have different effects on body weight, A1C, or cholesterol levels in men vs. women?
- Was there a placebo group? Having a group in the study that did not drink Shakeology would make these results more meaningful.
Toward the end of the video Dr. Udani says ” say:
“The results we are seeing are only due to Shakeology.”
That's a powerful statement. How do they know the results they saw were not simply due to weight loss?
By drinking 2 Shakeology shakes per day (in place of breakfast and lunch) people have reduced their total calorie intake for the day. Reducing calories also can also:
- Reduce body weight
- Reduce cholesterol
- Reduce A1C levels
Based on what was stated in the video, I don’t think we can tell if these values decreased because of Shakeology or simply because the people lost weight.
Dr Udani also states the in the video that the study is valuable because “it isolates the effect of shakeology,” In my opinion, the study, as depicted in the video, doesn’t do this because there is nothing to compare the effects of shakeology to.
For example, in my opinion, a better study would be:
- Take those same 50 people and randomly give them shakeology ―or nothing at all ―to see how they differ from each other after 90 days.
- Randomly give the people either Shakeology or something that had similar calories to see what happens after 90 days.
Of course, I would have to see the actual study to know exactly what happened. My comments are based on watching YouTube video alone.
I hope BeachBody Coaches will let me know if this study ever becomes published in a clinical journal so I can make more informed comments. Until that happens, I'm of the opinion that the effects discussed in the Shakeology Clinical Trial video are simply the results Shakeology causing weight loss – and it's the weight loss that is causing reductions in cholesterol, body weight and A1C levels, rather than a direct effect of Shakeology itself.
I believe almost anything that causes people to lose weight can also cause reductions in cholesterol and A1C levels. See the “Shakeology and Weight Loss” section below for more about this.
Shakeology Side Effects
For healthy people yes, Shakeology is safe but for people who may not be healthy, here are some general things to think about. This list is not complete
- start with less than recommended for the first week
- stop taking at least 2 weeks before surgery
- if you take any medications such as blood thinners talk to your doctor
- Pregnant or nursing – ask your doctor first
In June 2013 the website, Consumerlab.com found lead contamination in Greenberry Shakeology. They found 12.7 micrograms of lead per serving of Shakeology. Beachbody, the maker of Shakeology, responded to this by stating:
“While they seek to inform consumers, they may be actually misleading consumers by not distinguishing between harmful heavy metals and those that are naturally occurring in plants, vegetables and minerals.”
Consumerlab, on their website, fired back stating:
“Lead contamination of plants generally occurs to do contamination of the environment in which they have grown – often caused by industrial pollution or proximity to roadways, where in the past, cars used leaded gasoline. “
So, it sounds like Beach Body is saying that lead is a natural occurrence while Consumerlab is saying, the lead is present because the plants used were contaminated by the environment in which they are grown.
Here is a link to the Dr. Oz Show website shows Beach Body response to the Consumerlab findings.
In 2015 Consumer Reports noted that Shakeology had been reformulated and they no longer detect lead. Shakeology is now in the “approved” category. For more on this, see my Vegan Chocolate Shakeology review.
Other Meal Replacement Shakes
Other meal replacement reviews worth looking at
Shakeology And Weight Loss?
In the Shakeology program, people are instructed to replace one meal a day with Shakology. They are also supposed to exercise 3x a week and eat a healthy diet. This is similar to the reasoning behind other weight loss plans you've probably already heard of. For example:
- SlimFast: drink 2 shakes and eat a sensible dinner
- Special K diet: eat 2 bowls of cereal and eat a sensible meal
If you read my review of Right Size Smoothies, you may remember that the Right Size Smoothie plan was to replace 2 meals with 2 smoothies.
So, the idea behind Shakeology for weight loss makes sense; just use the shake to reduce the calories you eat.
The same thing is also true for many of their competitors like the Isagenix Shake
So for people who don't have the time to eat well or make their meals, I can see how something like Shakeology (or similar weight loss shake) would be attractive. People are more likely to do things that are easy.
How Does Shakeology Taste?
Does Shakeology taste good? I had a chance to try Shakeology thanks to a friend who gave me some samples. Here are the results of my Shakeology taste test.
Also, see the Vegan Chocolate Shakeology review for how it tastes.
How Much Does It Cost?
When I wrote this review, the cost of Shakeology was $119.95 a month (30 servings). This comes to about $4 per shake. You may be able to get it cheaper than this if you are a Team Beachbody coach and have other Beachbody coaches selling products under you on the pyramid. As such, some people may become Beachbody coaches as a way to get Shakeology cheaper.
Who Makes Shakeology?
Shakeology is made by the company Beachbody also known as Beachbody LLC. Beachbody is not only is behind Shakeology but a wide range of other fitness-related products ranging from P90X to Insanity to name a few.
According to the Better Business Bureau, BeachBody LLC is located at 3301 Exposition Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90404 .
Their contact number is (800) 998-1681.
What is a Team Beachbody Coach?
These are the people who often sell Shakeology and other Beach Body products. Team Beachbody Coaches may or may not have a background in fitness, health or wellness. On the TeamBeachBody.com website it says only that:
“You don’t need to be a fitness or weight-loss expert to become a Beachbody Coach. You just need to be ready to commit to changing your life.”
That's a little vague, so do ask about the credentials of a Beachbody Coach before you take any specific health advice from them.
The name Beachbody Coach is actually smart marketing. Instead of calling the people who sell Shakeology (and other Beachbody products) Beachbody distributors, they call them “Coaches”. It's like Walmart calling their sales staff “Associates”.
To be a Team Beachbody coach, people pay $39.99 to start. Beachbody coaches receive a commission for sales they make. Fortunately, Beachbody coaches do not have to buy Shakeology or other Beachbody products before they sell them. Team Beachbody coaches also are used to help people reach their fitness goals. The extent to which they can help would depend on how smart -fitness-wise they are.
Remember Beachbody coaches don't have to know anything about fitness, health or wellness.
Beachbody coaches also try to recruit others to become Beachbody coaches. They in turn, receive commissions on what their recruits sell.
So, Team Beachbody has a multi level marketing aspect. I'm not against MLM companies but it does by nature give incentives to coaches whose main goal is to recruit new people rather than selling the product. This ultimately might dilute the quality of the coaching service.
So Does It Work
Despite the hype, Shakeology is just a low-calorie meal replacement shake. If you follow the plan, you'll likely lose weight. But that's because of your eating fewer calories. Don't believe the hype. It's all about eating fewer calories.
Here are less expensive options
What do you think?
I found this page because I googled hair loss with Shakeology. I drank it for about two weeks straight and on the 14th day, my hair came out of the shower in clumps. That was literally the only thing that I had changed about my diet/exercise program. I stopped drinking it and am terrified to wash my hair tomorrow.
Joe Cannon says
Hi Julie, how are you doing? did you wash your hair? We have amost 600 comments for this review and I dont think anyone has mentioned hair loss as a Shakeology side effect. few Questions for you:
1 Was this the first time you used shakeology?
2 What flavor of shakeology were you drinking? Was it the vegan shakeology (review)
3 Did you purchase it from a distributor? if yes did you ask her/him about it? what did they say?
I will look into this and see what I can figure out. If will help if you can answer my questions.
Has anyone else here heard about hair loss after taking shakeology?
I actually just googled hair thinning and Shakeology and this popped up. I’ve been drinking Shakeology for about 3 months. I’ve noticed lately that my hair has become super thin and the only thing that I can think of that I have changed is Shakeology. I’ve been drinking vegan cafe latte, chocolate, and vanilla in the barista pack. I purchase it from Beachbody.
Joe Cannon says
Hi Alison, several people here in the comments have said their hair started getting thin after drinking shakeology. Im curious, as you were drinking shakeology were you also eating fewer calories? Have you lost a lot of weight?
Shakeology is a meal replacement shake. It’s supposed to help you eat fewer calories to help you lose weight. I wonder if the people saying their hair is falling out are experiencing hair loss because of a drop in calorie intake rather than shakeology itself?
Both drastic/fast weight loss and eating too few calories can cause hair loss.
Have you lost a lot of weight, quickly and/or have you been really cutting back on calories (or exercising a lot more than usual)?
From a nutrition perspective (I studied nutrition in my undergraduate), it has a lot of great ingredients packed into one shake. It has about the same amount of vitamins and minerals you would have in a multivitamin. It’s not meant to be a magic shake because it’s a SUPPLEMENT. It supplements healthy eating and exercise. I think Beachbody does a good job (especially in comparison to other companies) about trying to have a well-rounded program with exercise, healthy meal planning, and supplements. They don’t try to claim that if you just drink shakeology, you’ll be healthier and skinnier. They encourage and give resources for healthy eating and regular exercise along with shakeology.
My main problem with shakeology is although the nutritional value is phenomenal, it is very expensive ($130/month). I would rather just take a multi-vitamin, probiotic, and buy protein powder to save money. Although, it is really nice to have those all in one shake. My other problem is that they don’t tell you the CFU of the probiotic, which is very important in determining the potency and effectiveness of probiotics. Also, it’s possible that the bacteria dies after awhile unlike refrigerated probiotics that keep the bacteria alive. If the bacteria dies, the probiotic is essentially worthless, and this is such an important supplement.
Have you seen anything on the CFU count of their probiotic blend?
Hi Victoria, I really have not. You do bring up good points about probiotics and colony forming units (CFU) and whether those bacteria are alive when the product is made vs when we buy the product.
Anyone else have insights on the probiotics in Shakeology?
I am not interested in weight loss, but in getting as many antioxidants, vitamins and other healthy stuff as possible, and on a daily bsis. How do you score Shakeology in that department?
Hi Kelly, Ive never seen a independent clinical study that compared shakeology to others, in terms of antioxidants so that is a hard question to answer. But, If your goal is to get as many antioxidants and other healthy things as possible, I suggest you make your own shake using real food. Here is the shake I like to make to get you started.
I have been diagnosed with alopecia areata. It’s hair loss to the point of balding. And considered auto immune. I have been drinking shakeology since April. The hair loss started in aug. doing some research myself.
Naynay, while I doubt if Shakeolgy could directly cause hair loss, if you were drastically reducing calories, I wonder if this could contribute to your hair loss? Just a thought. Have you seen the review of Viviscal? its a hair growth supplement some have say helped them. I provided the link.
I had been drinking Shakeology for several months and noticed I was losing my hair. It had thinned so much that my scalp was showing significantly. I stopped Shakeology and began taking supplements. My hair is growing back. I don’t know if Shakeology caused the hair loss or if it was coincidental. But I am not taking a chance. Won’t use it again.
Hi Lisa, when you noted your hair falling out while you were drinking Shakology, were you just drinking the shakes? In other words, were you restricting your calorie intake? Sometimes hair can fall out when we relay cut back on calories and protein. If you combine that with intense exercise, this might further cause protein breakdown (hair is protein too).
Did you ever notice you started to smell like ammonia? Sometimes people report this when they exercise a lot and cut back on carbs and calories.
I’m happy your hair started growing back after you stopped shakeology. What supplements did you use to help your hair come back? Just curious.
Heres my review of Viviscal and Halo Beauty which are both marketed for hair health
Anyone heard of hair loss with use
Hi Diana, how soon after you started using Shakeology did you notice hair loss? Sometimes people who eat very low calorie diets report this. Are you drastically cutting back on calories? I don’t think Ive heard of hair loss from Shakeology. Has anyone else?
Melodi Whitaker says
This is the most thorough and comprehendive review I have read on this product (and the same can be said for some of your other reviews. You did extensive research on all the ingredients and I really appreciate that.
I just wanted to say that 2 years ago I decided to try to lose weight (I am 54 and did have high A1C, high cholesterol and high BP.). I got a fitbit and used it to monitor my activity and calculate the amount of calories I could have. I started a walking regimen and changed my diet as well as very carefully counting calories, weighing and measuring etc. The only money I spent was for the fitbit ($99) and a small food scale ($7).
At the end of 90 days I had lost 35 pounds, my cholesterol was down 60pts and my A1C was in the normal range, down from 6.8 to 5.9.
There is no magic pill or magic shake, and no trick to losing weight. Calories in vs Calories Out is what makes us lose weight or gain it. If you eat more calories than you burn, you gain weight, eat fewer calories than you burn, lose weight. 3500 = 1 pound that’s just 500 fewer calories a day in order to lose 1 pound a week. Exercise = Calories The more calories you burn by exercising, the more calories you can eat.
I lost more weight than the Shakeology drinkers lost, a lot more than some of them, and I got all the same positive health results.
My program cost $$31.75((25% of the cost of the fitbit + scale) for 3 months
Their program cost $357 for 3 months.
I think these things are designed to make the creators a LOT of money from gullible people ….and it’s working!
Hi Melodi, thank you for sharing your story! I am so glad you were able to lose weight and bring down your cholesterol and A1C! That is fantastic 🙂
Rose Bogaard says
Except that is not true at all. Some health conditions make losing weight more difficult for some than others. What may work for you may not work for someone else. There’s a LOT more to losing weight and gaining weight than calories in/out.
I’ve know people who can lose weight easily and others, on the same meal plan and same exercise regimine, struggle to lose a pound or two.
You’re attempting to over-simplify a complex process.
My sister feeds her 2 and 4 year Shakelogy shakes daily which is a concern of mine because of the traces of lead, etc. She prides herself on the fact that she doesn’t allow them to have anything with “sugar” in it. Just wondering whether you think it’s okay for them to be consuming shakes on a daily basis. I say let them have a homemade cookies and leave the shakes to the adults. Thank you so much for all of your research on this topic!
Hi Susan, Thanks for your nice words! While I am not a fan for most supplements kids of that age, when ConsumerLab -the ones who first noted the lead issues – looked again more recently, they didn’t find any lead present. That’s good. I addressed this in my review of Vegan Chocolate Shakeology (click to read it). I also learned that ginkgo is no longer in shakeology, which I am glad about.