Ka'Chava Review: "Superfood" That's Anything But Super

Ka'Chava Review: "Superfood" That's Anything But Super


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Ka’Chava is a meal replacement powder that contains an incredible 85 ingredients, many of which the brand describes as "superfoods." Ka'Chava claims that their smoothies have "all the good stuff" for your gut, brain, muscles, hair, heart and health.

But is Ka'Chava really healthier than a standard protein shake? Does it have any questionable additive ingredients? Is it worth the high price? And how do real users rate and review it?

In this article we’ll answer all of these questions and more as we review every ingredient in Ka’Chava based on medical studies to give our take on whether it's actually healthy and worth the high price, or if it's a waste of money.

Because Ka'Chava contains so many ingredients, our review will be broken down into ingredient sections: protein, fiber, fruits and vegetables, adaptogens, gut health ingredients, and finally vitamins and minerals. 

We'll also share our experience using this product and feature other real, unsponsored user reviews as well as a cost comparison to feature which retail site sells Ka'Chava for the best price.

Ingredient Analysis - Protein

Ka'Chava protein ingredients

Ka’Chava’s protein blend provides 25 grams (g) of protein per serving which is a good amount for a single meal, and useful for athletes looking to build muscle. A clinical trial published in the American Journal of Physiology reports that 20 g of protein is the minimum to support muscle growth post-workout, so Ka’Chava’s health claim of “supporting muscle growth” is backed by good science.

The formulation is vegan, so pea protein is used as the core protein source, which is a good choice because pea protein (unlike some vegan protein sources) is a complete protein with all nine essential amino acids. Beyond Meat uses pea protein as their base protein for the same reason.

Providing protein from multiple sources may be nutritionally superior to protein from one source because each protein source has different micronutrients and health benefits. We approve of this blend.

Ingredient Analysis - Fiber

Ka'Chava fiber ingredients

Many Americans don't consume enough fiber, and fiber is not only important for general health, but also is associated with weight loss in overweight and obese individuals based on medical research because it's low-calorie plant matter that fills up the stomach and causes one to feel full quicker.

Ka’Chava provides 9 g of fiber per serving, which is a decent amount for a meal. All of the fiber comes from whole food sources like oat and acacia gum. We approve of this blend.

Ingredient Analysis - Fruits & Vegetables

Ka'Chava fruit ingredients

Ka'Chava vegetable ingredients optimized

Ka'Chava's fruit and vegetable blends contain a large number of ingredients, but the highest-dosed is organic coconut flower nectar, which is a sweetener derived from the flowers of the coconut tree. We consider this a much healthier alternative to added sugar as it's unrefined and provides nutrients, but we'd prefer if the highest dosed ingredient were a more nutritious ingredient like organic raspberry.

Because Ka'Chava lists these ingredients in a proprietary ("prop") blend, it's difficult to assess the healthiness of these blends. These two blends provide 6.6 g of fruits and vegetables combined, but prop blends only list the total and not the individual dose of each ingredient. So if 80% of the combined blends is just coconut nectar, they wouldn't provide much phytonutrients. But if the ingredients are equally dosed, we'd consider them nutritious.

Overall, since all of the ingredients in this blend are whole food ingredients we approve of the blend.

Ingredient Analysis - Adaptogens

Ka'Chava adaptogen ingredients review

The first ingredient in this blend is raw maca root, which isn't an ingredient we'd recommend.

Maca is indigestible when uncooked like a potato, and is often used in a gelatinized or extract form both by traditional cultures and in clinical trials to avoid digestive discomfort and improve absorption. Here's an example of a clinical trial on maca for sexual function where the researchers chose to use gelatinized rather than raw maca.

We also consider the ingredients in this blend to be underdosed, given that the average ingredient dosage is only 170 milligrams (mg).

To give a sense of how low that dose is, let's analyze one of the ingredients: ginger root. A medical review published in the Herbal Medicine journal reports the effective dosing range of ginger to be 250 mg to 4,800 mg per day. This is a range of 1.5x to 23x the dose in Ka'Chava.

All of the ingredients in this blend are whole food ingredients, but we disapprove of this blend due to the use of raw maca and the low ingredient doses, though we do not believe this blend will be harmful. 

Ingredient Analysis - Gut Health

Ka'Chava probiotic ingredients review

Ka'Chava contains two different blends for gut health: a probiotic/prebiotic blend and a digestive enzyme blend.

Probiotics are almost always listed by colony forming units (CFU) on Supplement Facts labels because this is the medical dosage standard, but Ka'Chava lists in mg instead, which leaves consumers without the necessary information to determine if the probiotics are effectively dosed.

Ka'Chava lists the probiotic species, but not the specific probiotic strain, which makes it challenging to assess the potential benefits of these ingredients.

We have not come across any medical research suggesting that people without digestive health conditions require supplemental digestive enzymes, and we don't understand why they are included in a meal replacement product.

We do not approve of this blend.

Ingredient Analysis - Vitamins and Minerals

Ka'Chava vitamins and minerals ingredients optimized

Ka'Chava contains a large list of added vitamins and minerals, which we consider unfortunate and unnecessary because the product is already nutritious without these additives. 

Many supplement companies add vitamins and minerals to make their Supplement Facts labels look more impressive, because the average consumer cannot differentiate vitamins from the food ingredients and added vitamins (tip: if the specific vitamin form is listed like "as chromium amino acid chelate" that means it's added and not naturally-occurring).

In early 2022, a different wellness shake brand had to recall several products from the market due to all of the added vitamins causing toxicity in some consumers. This illustrates why we recommend avoiding supplements containing added vitamins and minerals.

We do not approve of this blend.

We Tried Ka'Chava: Our Take

Ka'Chava UGC

As the author of this article, I tried Ka'Chava myself.

My main issue is how thick it is and how poorly it blends, as evidenced by the image above. I tried mixing it into a standard shaker bottle to take with me during exercise and it totally congealed and took multiple dishwasher runs to fully clear.

I purchased the Chai flavor and the taste is fine but too artificial for me. If you're used to eating a healthy diet primarily with whole foods, I'm guessing you'll feel similar. It has that clear sugar substitute flavor (due to the lo han fruit extract and the natural flavoring additives) which are relatively healthy sweeteners. I'm just not a fan of them.

The convenience is a benefit. There were a few times during the week I was too lazy or busy to cook animal protein and used Ka'Chava instead. 25 g of protein in two scoops is impressive.

Overall I consider this a decent product but I wouldn't re-buy it due to the taste and consistency. I prefer simpler, cheaper, single-ingredient protein powders that blend well.

Real People Try Ka'Chava

One of the most popular YouTube reviews of Ka'Chava comes from a channel called "Fitness & Finance." It has over 100,000 views.

The creator shares his experience after four months of using Ka'Chava and answers everything from whether it tastes good to whether he actually felt full after drinking a Ka'Chava shake:

Another YouTube creator named "Yummy Yeti" explains if Ka'Chava shakes helped her lose weight:

Does Ka'Chava Cause Side Effects?

Ka'Chava doesn't appear to have been studied in any clinical trials so it's impossible to say for certain whether or not the product causes side effects. However, we can make an educated guess based on its ingredients.

We do not believe that Ka'Chava is likely to cause side effects in the average, healthy consumer nor did it cause side effects when we tested it. It's primarily made from whole foods and non-toxic ingredients.

The only ingredient of concern in our opinion is raw maca. As we detailed in the ingredient analysis section, this can cause digestive discomfort, but the dose is likely so low in Ka'Chava that it shouldn't have any effects.

There is no mention of side effects on Ka'Chava's website.

Real Ka'Chava Customer Reviews

Ka'Chava has been reviewed over 4,500 times on Amazon and has an average review rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars. We consider Amazon to be a more objective source of customer reviews than a brand's website.

The top positive review from a verified purchaser is written by a user named "mike caraccia" who claims that the product tastes decent and can be improved with fresh fruits:

"Do not understand all the one stars for the taste. They should add 40 grams of sugar and it will have the taste they are looking for. It does not taste great , but trust me its not as bad as some people are saying here. Throw some strawberries, a banana , blueberries or grapes in with the vanilla and the whole taste issue is gone. Simple..."

The top negative review from a verified purchaser comes from a user named "E. Rivera" who claims the product tastes bad:

"I am a pretty easy to satisfy when it comes to food and beverages... definitely not too demanding on flavors. But I must say that the chocolate flavored version of this product is pretty bad tasting. I carry a very low sugar diet and I do not spice up or season too heavy any of my meals, so I am not expecting "healthy" alternatives to taste particularly good or sweet. But this is ridiculous...the flavor is *extremely* bad, the price should be subject to a steep downward correction."

Ka'Chava has a 1 out of 5 star review on the Better Business Bureau (BBB) website, which is the lowest possible rating. What concerns us more than the rating (because it's a small sample size and many consumers use that website to submit complaints) is that the brand fails to respond to most customer complaints.

This suggests that customers who fail to receive the product they paid for or have other order or billing-related issues may not be able to easily get their issue resolved with Ka'Chava.

Where To Get the Best Price

Ka'Chava is sold by a variety of online retailers. Here's a cost breakdown at the time of updating this article:

Walmart: $100 (third-party seller)

Amazon: $86.30

Brand website: $69.95 (link)

Ka'Chava is currently 19% cheaper on the brand's website than on the second-best option, which is Amazon.

Our Clean Meal Replacement Picks

Momentous Whey Protein is our top overall meal replacement pick.

This protein powder is derived entirely from grass-fed animals, and whey protein is clinically shown to increase satiation and fullness in overweight and obese individuals.

Complement Organic Protein is our top vegan meal replacement pick.

The only ingredients in this protein powder are a blend of nutritious plant proteins: organic yellow pea protein, organic pumpkin seed protein, organic almond protein, organic sunflower seed protein and organic chia seed protein.

Both of the products recommended in this section are entirely free of ingredients we consider to be unhealthy.

Ka’Chava vs. Huel

Huel is another popular meal replacement product, and many consumers are curious about which brand is a better option.

In our opinion Ka’Chava has a superior formulation to Huel but we wouldn't recommend either. 

As we documented in our is Huel healthy article, Huel contains an artificial sweetener called sucralose which we recommend avoiding, and has far fewer whole food ingredients. Those differences lead us to believe Ka’Chava is superior from a health perspective.

We consider Huel to be more "processed" generally, although it's significantly cheaper per serving ($2.46) than Ka'Chava so it may be a better option for consumers on a budget.

Pros and Cons of Ka'Chava

Here are the pros and cons of Ka'Chava as a brand in our opinion:

Pros:

  • Many different whole food ingredients
  • Complete protein source
  • Convenient
  • Contains probiotics
  • May help with weight loss

Cons:

  • Very expensive per-serving
  • Thick consistency
  • Somewhat unnatural flavor
  • Contains raw maca
  • Contains flavoring agents
  • Contains added vitamins and minerals
Stay up-to-date on our research reviews

Conclusion

Ka'Chava provides an effective protein dose and has a wide range of whole food ingredients. We do not recommend the product overall due to the inclusion of several additive ingredients including digestive enzymes, vitamins and minerals and natural flavors.

The price of Ka'Chava is relatively high at nearly $5 per serving, which is the highest price of any meal replacement product we've reviewed on Illuminate Health to date.

Some customers report a poor taste, and this is something we experienced ourselves when we tried the product.

While we don't recommend Ka'Chava, we don't believe it's likely to cause any side effects. Those set on purchasing this product should do so from the official manufacturer website where it's significantly cheaper than on Amazon.

We consider Ka'Chava to be a healthier option than another popular meal replacement shake called Huel, although it's significantly more expensive per-serving.