After writing my reviews of Herbalife, Isagenix and Advocare, the next protein/meal replacement shake I’m asked about most is Shakeology. I find that in lieu of actually putting time and energy into one’s own health, some people would rather drink a protein shake they have convinced themselves is the end-all-be-all to nutrition and call it a day. Except it doesn’t work like that. Shakeology is a company that touts its products as superfoods, as the best nutrition available, and as a safe, healthy and effective way to lose weight.
Is this true? Well, not exactly. Will it help you lose weight? Yes. Is it safe? No. Is it healthy? No.
Now here’s why.
Whey Protein Isolate
I’m all about whey protein. It’s a great protein source – but if and only if it’s grass-fed and organic. Which Shakeology’s is not. Purchasing inorganic whey is a cheaper option, but it is one that will lead to health issues. According to their website, their whey is “the highest commercial grade available” which sounds good but actually means nothing. There is no scale for highest commercial grade availability, and if this statement were true, they’d be using grass-fed and organic whey. The website does say the whey is antibiotic and BST free (they make no mention of whether or not the whey is free of BGH – or bovine growth hormone), but without regularly sourcing from grass-fed and organic farms, there is no way to guarantee this.
And I haven’t even mentioned the fact that if these cows are not grass-fed and organic, they’re eating genetically modified corn and soy. Cows are meant to eat grass, the bovine consumption of corn and soy – which are two of the highest genetically modified crops – causes infections in the cow and raises the omega-6 content while lowering the omega-3 content (making the whey much more inflammatory). In fact, this study demonstrated how organic dairy contains 62% more omega-3s and 25% less omega-6 fatty acids than inorganic dairy. Vitamins, particularly A, E, D and K are also higher in grass-fed dairy.
The fact is, every time you spend money on food or food products, you vote. You vote for small farmers, for organic food, for health, or you vote for giant corporations and GMOs. Purchasing Shakeology supports the genetic modification of our food.
Are there good ingredients in Shakeology? Absolutely. But that doesn’t mitigate the fact that the very first ingredient, aka what the product itself is mostly comprised of, is unhealthy. It’s kind of like eating fried Oreos and then a salad to make up for it. Is the salad healthy? Yeah, but you still just ate some gnarly food that will have a negative impact on your health.
The other issue is how the whey is processed. Unfortunately, Shakeology’s whey is completely denatured. They use ion exchange to extract it. Here’s what Milk Specialties Global has to say about this method of extraction:
“Ion exchange is a chemical method that utilizes pH adjustment in order to achieve protein separation. Raw whey is sent through a column that has an affinity for protein. The protein is collected and all the other macronutrients pass through. Chemical reagents sodium hydroxide and hydrochloric acid are introduced in order to release the protein, by adjusting the pH.
While this yields a very high protein ingredient – 90-96%, with no fat or carbs (lactose), this pH adjustment can denature the protein and can reduce the biological activity of the protein and it’s micronutrients. Reduced or eliminated are antioxidants, essential amino acids, protein digestion, calcium absorption and immune support to name a few.”
Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate that is naturally found in food. This is a huge problem. Folate is a naturally occurring water soluble B vitamin. Folic acid, however, is a synthesized form of folate that the body is unable to properly absorb or utilize.
In fact, folic acid supplementation has even been linked to cancer.
“…in the Journal of the American Medical Association — suggesting that all the extra folic acid might increase your odds of developing cancer. “The more we learn about folic acid, the more it’s clear that giving it to everyone has very real risks,” says folic acid researcher David Smith, PhD, a professor of pharmacology at the University of Oxford in England.”
Another study out of Chile linked folic acid supplementation with an increased risk of colon cancer.
And yet another study out of Norway linked folic acid supplementation with a 21% increase in lung caner.
“Folic acid and B12 supplementation was associated with a 21% increased risk for cancer, a 38% increased risk for dying from the disease, and an 18% increase in deaths from all causes.”
While folate is a necessary part of a balanced diet, folic acid has actually been linked to increased rates of cancer (another source for ya).
What about the vegan shakes?
Holy phytic acid. Oat, rice, quinoa and amaranth are all loaded with lectins and phytic acid, gut irritants and enzyme inhibitors. Phytic acid binds to calcium, zinc, iron, manganese, magnesium and other minerals, preventing them from being absorbed. So while there are benefits to this shake, there are also a ton of downfalls. I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone, mostly due to the fact that it would be so irritating to the GI tract.
I was also curious about the type of food Shakeology promotes. I would’ve been impressed with an emphasis on real, unprocessed, organic food. You know – the food that actually helps people attain healthy weight loss and keep it off. But then they wouldn’t have repeat customers, would they?
Really? This so called health company is promoting Fiber One pancake mix? Let’s take a look at the ingredients.
Bleached wheat flour, genetically modified canola oil, genetically modified and defatted soy flour, genetically modified corn, additives and preservatives? If that doesn’t tell you everything you need to know about this company, then I don’t know what will.
Oh, but it gets better.
Wheat, even more genetically modified soy and dairy, and Jello-O mix? Jell-O also contains preservatives, but in addition they throw in food coloring, aspartame and artificial flavor. YUM!
They also promote the consumption of gluten, despite the fact that it’s highly inflammatory, a gut irritant, will spike your blood sugar and hinder any weight loss effort. Recipe here.
Really, more tofu? I think the people who recommend this trash need to read my article on soy (found HERE). Soy causes aggression, decreases fertility, increases the rate of cancer, disrupts hormonal balance and increases the need for B12.
And skim milk? What is this, the 80s? Haven’t we already established that skim milk is a highly processed byproduct of the food industry? Not only is skim milk loaded with GMOs and antibiotics, it has no nutritional value.
If you want a truly healthy meal replacement, use this grass-fed and undenatured whey protein. And here’s my video on the ultimate protein shake:
Now, I’m not denying that there are good ingredients in these shakes. But is it worth it to take good ingredients with bad ingredients? No. You’re still consuming unhealthy products. I know that all of us could use a boost nutritionally. Our food isn’t as nutrient dense as it once was, our bodies are bombarded with toxins everyday. Which is why I recommend a nutrient dense diet along with targeted supplements. Not everyone has the same health issues, goals or needs. We all vary.