Shakeology Review: Can Shakes Cause Weight Loss?

Shakeology Review: Can Shakes Cause Weight Loss?


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Shakeology is a weight loss shake sold by Beachbody, a popular health and nutrition brand that recently rebranded to BODi. The brand describes Shakeology as "Your Daily Dose Of Dense Nutrition" and claims that the shakes are "formulated to help reduce cravings and support healthy weight loss."

But do Shakeology shakes contain ingredients shown in medical studies to cause weight loss, or are these just marketing claims? Does Shakeology contain any questionable additive ingredients? Did the Beachbody-funded study prove Shakeology to be effective? And how do real users rate and describe the effects of Shakeology?

In this article we’ll answer all of these questions and more as we review the clinical trial on Shakeology to find out if the products are proven to cause weight loss.

We'll also analyze the ingredients in Shakeology based on medical studies to give our take on whether the shakes are likely to be effective for weight loss and if they contain any potentially unhealthy additives, as well as explain if some Shakeology flavors are healthier than others.

Finally, we'll feature real, unsponsored Shakeology user reviews.

Is Shakeology Proven to Cause Weight Loss?

Shakeology clinical results

Beachbody funded a clinical trial published in The Journal of Nutrition to test the effects of Shakeology on weight loss in overweight adults.

After 12 weeks, participants drinking Shakeology shakes lost an average of 4.85 pounds, which equates to a potential annualized weight loss of 21 pounds.

However, we consider this study to be poorly-designed.

Instead of comparing the effects of Shakeology to a shake with similar nutritional value, the effects of Shakeology were compared with the effects of a shake with low protein and low fiber.

We know from medical studies that fiber intake predicts weight loss, and higher protein intake is also associated with weight loss. 

So by comparing Shakeology to a lower-fiber and lower-protein shake, the study was designed to make Shakeology appear to be superior, while we cannot identify anything proprietary to Shakeology that suggests it's better than any other high-fiber and high-protein shake.

It's also notable that Shakeology only caused slightly more body weight loss by percentage (2.5% vs. 2.3%) than the placebo shake.

That said, we do consider Shakeology likely to be effective for weight loss given the results of this trial, and we commend the brand for publishing research in a legitimate, peer-reviewed medical journal. This is the gold standard of product research.

But how do real users rate and describe the effects of Shakeology? We'll share some customer reviews in the next section.

Real, Unsponsored Shakeology User Reviews

A YouTube creator named "laur yolo" claims to have lost 20 pounds in a month from one of Shakeology's shakes:

A TikTok creator named "with_love_jeannette" explains why she stopped buying Shakeology products:

@with_love_jeannette Reply to @moniquerogersreinwald #beachbody #antimlm #dietculture #mlm #scams #shakeology #portionfix #weightloss ♬ original sound - with_love_jeannette

Shakeology Ingredient Analysis

Shakeology Café Latte Supplement Facts label

The Supplement Facts label for the "Café Latte Whey" flavor of Shakeology (which is one of the bestselling flavors) is shown above.

Vitamins and minerals compose the majority of the ingredients in this shake, and a medical review published in the International Journal of Preventative Medicine found that multivitamin supplementation may slightly increase the risk of some types of cancer, and has no benefit on a population level.

Individuals with vitamin deficiencies may benefit from vitamin supplementation, but we haven't seen any convincing medical evidence that people without vitamin or mineral deficiencies benefit from taking added vitamins and minerals.

We also haven't seen any research studies suggesting that consuming added vitamins supports weight loss.

Added sugar is included at a dose of 5 grams (g), which is a strange choice for a weight loss shake in our opinion given that a 2019 medical review found added sugar in excess to be associated with increased risk of obesity.

Many Americans already consume too much added sugar from diet, so we recommend avoiding supplements containing added sugar.

Aside from the added vitamins and minerals, there are a number of other ingredients in Shakeology shown below:

Shakeology Café Latte Whey ingredients

Whey protein is the highest-dosed ingredient, as would be expected from the product name.

There is no mention of whether the whey is sourced from grass-fed animals, so we'll assume it's from conventionally-raised animals. 

A medical review published in the Frontiers in Nutrition journal suggests that animal products sourced from pastured animals are healthier (mostly due to the omega fatty acid ratio), and we only recommend animal products sourced from pastured animals. 

The majority of ingredients in this "Proprietary Superfood Blend" are plant-based and nutritious, but there are a few active and inactive ingredients we consider questionable from a health perspective.

Maca is an indigestible root fiber, and as we referenced in our Ka'Chava reviews article on another superfood powder containing this ingredient, raw maca can irritate the digestive system.

High-quality supplement brands use gelatinized maca which is easier to digest. Eating raw maca is like eating a raw potato.

Cinnamon is included, but the brand doesn’t list which form of cinnamon is used. The cheaper cinnamon, called Cassia cinnamon, contains a toxic compound called coumarin which may cause liver damage according to a 2010 medical review. "True” cinnamon (Ceylon cinnamon) contains essentially no coumarin.

Whenever a brand fails to describe the type of cinnamon used, we assume it's Cassia.

Natural flavors is a broad categorical term that fails to describe the specific chemical compounds used to create the flavor. A medical review published in the Environmental Health Perspectives journal found that some flavoring additives may be toxic.

Overall, we're unimpressed with the formulation and don't recommend it due to the questionable ingredients highlighted above.

But is Shakeology's manufacturer part of an MLM scam? We'll review in the next section.

Is Shakeology Part of an MLM Scam?

A YouTube creator named Abbey Sharp suggests that Shakeology is a multi-level-marketing (MLM) scam in a video with over 200,000 views that refutes some claims made by the brand:

Are Other Shakeology Flavors Healthier?

Since we analyzed the Café Latte Whey flavor above, and don't recommend it due to some of its ingredients, readers may be wondering whether other Shakeology flavors are a healthier option.

All of the flavors have a very similar formulation with the flavoring ingredients being the only change in most cases. All Shakeology drinks have added sugar and flavoring additives.

The flavor that we consider the worst option is Strawberry Whey, which contains citric acid.

Citric acid is a preservative and flavoring ingredient that imparts a "tangy" taste. This ingredient was shown in a medical review published in the Toxicology Reports journal to cause whole-body inflammation in some individuals.

Real Shakeology Customer Reviews

Amazon is a better resource for honest customer reviews than a brand's website in our opinion.

Chocolate Shake is the brand's most popular product on Amazon with 250 reviews and an average rating of 3.4 out of 5 stars at the time of updating this article.

The top positive review from a verified purchaser comes from a user named "Timothy Scott" who claims the supplement increased energy levels:

"It's bittersweet because I absolutely love coffee, but I really don't drink it in the morning anymore. Shakeology gives me plenty of energy and I'm usually feel so satisfied I'll forget that I even want to grab a coffee."

The top negative review from a verified purchaser is written by a user named "Starla Snodgrass Moore" who dislikes the taste of every flavor sold by the brand:

"the shakeology even over powered the 2 heaping tablespoons of pb2 that I had added. Liquid soap would have tasted better! It even left my throat burning. They claim it is made with all of these nutritious vegetables but it tastes more like the pesticides that they would spray on it to keep the bugs away! A few minutes later I pored the rest of it down the drain."

Beachbody (Shakeology's manufacturer) has an average review rating of 1.69 out of 5 stars on the Better Business Bureau (BBB) website.

Some customers like "April P" complain about auto-renewal charges that the customer claims were not authorized:

"I checked my credit card statement and they had auto charged me (on a card with a new expiration date that I'm not even sure how they got access to b/c all of my other auto-renews had to be updated by ME) $191 I did not agree to $191, I would never had agreed to that much for an online workout portal."

The brand does not currently respond to most negative customer reviews, such as the one above, but does respond to the majority of negative customer complaints (which is a different category on the BBB site), so we'd recommend that customers who had a bad experience with Shakeology submit a complaint rather than a review, as this my expedite resolution of the issue.

Our Clean Weight Loss Picks

There are food-based nutrients which have been shown in medical studies to be effective for weight loss.

Dietary fiber was shown in a medical review published in The Journal of Nutrition to cause 16 pounds of weight loss in 6 months when combined with moderate caloric restriction (750 calories per day below baseline).

Supergut Fiber Mix is our recommended fiber supplement, because it contains three different types of fiber powder and no questionable additive ingredients. Interested consumers can check out Supergut Fiber Mix at this link to the product page on the brand's official website, where it retails for under $2 per serving at a subscription rate.

MCT oil is quickly absorbed by the body and increases metabolic rate, which causes fat loss. A 2015 meta-study on MCT oil documented more than one pound of weight loss over 10 weeks. This equates to potential annualized weight loss of 6 pounds per year with less than one tablespoon's worth of MCT oil per day.

Bulletproof MCT Oil is our top MCT oil product, because the only ingredient is MCT oil derived from coconuts. There are no questionable additives. Interested consumers can check out Bulletproof MCT Oil at this link to the product page on the brand's official website, where it currently costs only $15.50 for over a month's worth of product.

Ginger intake "significantly decreased body weight" according to a 2019 meta-study on ginger and weight loss that analyzed data from 14 clinical trials.

Pique La Ginger is our top ginger product, because it's an organic tea in convenient crystallized form, and all that's needed is to pour the powder into a glass and add hot water.

Interested consumers can check out Pique La Ginger at this link to the product page on the brand's official website.

Pros and Cons of Shakeology

Here are the pros and cons of Shakeology in our opinion:

Pros:

  • Clinically shown to cause weight loss
  • Contains many nutritious plant-based ingredients
  • May reduce food cravings

Cons:

  • Contains flavoring additives
  • Contains raw maca
  • May contain Cassia cinnamon
  • Some flavors contain citric acid
  • Expensive
  • Manufacturer may be an MLM
  • Unimpressive Amazon reviews
Stay up-to-date on our research reviews

Conclusion

Shakeology is clinically shown to be effective for weight loss, and we commend the brand for funding clinical research published in a legitimate medical journal.

For consumers interested in weight loss alone, this brand may be a good option.

We don't recommend Shakeology overall because we don't consider the formulations to be particularly healthy. The shakes contain added sugar and flavoring ingredients. One of the flavors also contains citric acid.

Shakeology is also quite expensive, costing over $100.

Any weight loss caused by these shakes is likely to come from the fiber and protein content in our opinion, and consumers can increase fiber and protein intake much cheaper than by using this brand.

A popular health influencer suggests that the manufacturer of Shakeology is an unethical MLM business in a YouTube exposé.

Amazon reviews for this product are unimpressive with an average rating that's under 4-stars.

The brand's website appears to be the only legitimate retailer of this website, so for consumers intent on purchasing Shakeology shakes, we recommend visiting the BODi site rather than third-party retailers like Amazon or Walmart.