The whole Team Beachbody® community is abuzz about Shakeology and all the health benefits it provides. Steve Edwards answers some of the most common questions about how best to incorporate it into your diet.
Can Shakeology replace one of the meals in my workout program’s meal plan?
In general, meal replacement shakes are designed so that you drink them instead of a meal in order to lose weight. Of course, Shakeology fits into this mold just fine. In fact, given how nutrient-dense it is, I’d say it’s better than anything on the market. But even though it contains an entire day’s worth of many nutrients, it’s still only 140 calories. So, you’ll want to figure that into the equations.
Can Shakeology replace one of the snacks in my workout program’s meal plan?
This is its wheelhouse. Shakeology is formulated as a ridiculously nutrient-rich snack. Because it doesn’t have much fat, its nutrients are put to use very quickly by your body. This makes it a perfect pick-me-up snack when you’re on the go. Better, in fact, than a lot of energy drinks. It won’t have the up-front punch of, say, a Red Bull, but its sustainability should be much greater because it’s not giving you a quick mental boost; it’s providing nutrients that your body needs to get things done.
Its macronutrient ratio—the amount of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, and fiber—somewhat splits the difference between a sports drink, protein shake, and recovery drink. As you know if you’ve read the label, it’s loaded with micronutrients, which are things like phytonutrients, adaptogens, and other scientific-sounding stuff. We refer to these as “micro,” but, nutritionally, they are anything but small. Many of them are absolutely essential for a healthy existence. Shakeology speeds these micronutrients into your system, which enables you to perform better.
Why don’t we hear more about the importance of micronutrients?
Not to dwell too much on conspiracy theories, but, “Big Food,” as we call the American food industry, doesn’t want us focusing on micronutrients because they’ve been destroyed in most of their foods. Things like food processing and pasteurization kill most of the micronutrients in food. These processed foods are then sprinkled with what have been lobbied to be “important” ingredients, which in reality only provide enough nutrition for survival, as opposed to thriving. This, as you can observe by watching society grow larger, is leading to all sorts of problems.
In nature, food doesn’t come this way. It has a balance of nutrients that help sustain life. It’s possible for food scientists to recreate this balance in processed foods, but this is expensive. Essentially, if it doesn’t fit the numbers that shareholders want to see, it doesn’t happen. So they make cheap food and keep us in the dark about nutrition. This is exactly why we’re in the predicament we’re in today—with obesity—because we can make calorie-rich but nutrient-poor food cheaper than we can produce natural food.
This is why Shakeology is designed the way it is. There is no single food in nature with its abundance of ingredients, but we’ve got a lot of ground to make up in our diets and, at its core, this is what Shakeology is doing.
It’s not an exact swap, but you could do a lot worse. When you’re training very hard, like those times when your body is shaking during, say, P90X Chest & Back, RF is better because your body is bonking—essentially out of glycogen, or blood sugar. Anytime you’re in this state, the quicker you can recharge your glycogen the less damage you’ll do to your muscle cells and, hence, the faster you’ll recover. It’s the one and only time sugar is a preferred nutrient in your diet.
Shakeology doesn’t have nearly as much sugar as RF. It only has a little for nutrient transport. But because its other ingredients support your digestive process also, you have rapid assimilation of nutrients. The science from the ’90s showing a small amount of protein can “piggyback” sugar and be put to use more rapidly, during or post exercise, holds true for Shakeology. It’s not as effective as a sports supplement for your hardest workouts, but at any other time, it’s pretty darn good.
How about as a protein shake?
Shakeology has an ample amount of protein. Not as much as many traditional protein shakes, but it has its advantages over many of those. The knock on protein shakes is that they digest slowly, so you can’t drink them when you’re active. Shakeology uses whey protein, which is one of—if not the—most bioavailable sources of protein there is. That means it absorbs quicker into the system than other proteins. Most proteins, especially when you get them in a whole food, take forever to digest. This means that eating protein before, during, or right after exercise is generally a waste because your body is using energy it could be using to exercise to try to digest something that won’t help you for hours. But when you combine whey protein along with Shakeology’s other nutrients, you have a high-protein shake that can fit into many different nutritional slots in your day—something lacking in a standard protein drink.
Should I still bother taking my other supplements if I’m drinking Shakeology every day?
It’s great to take your supplements along with Shakeology, because they will digest more easily. One of the limiting factors with supplements is how well your body can assimilate them, so adding them to something that you know is broken down easily by your digestive system is a plus.
We get the vitamin question a lot because Shakeology has so many vitamins in it already. However, using my above example of processed foods, most of us only get a fraction of the nutrients that we should consume on any given day, even when we’re eating more calories than we should. This is exactly why we have vitamin supplements in the first place. Throw exercise into the equation, which accelerates your body’s usage of nutrients, and you can see why we recommend so many times the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for many vitamins.
It’s important to mention two other variables here as well. First, many—if not most—of our customers are trying to lose weight. This requires reducing caloric intake while adding exercise, which increases our nutrient requirements. Starting to see an equation where multivitamins and supplements make sense? The body can be a complex organism, but this comes down to simple math. The key to losing weight is not about just reducing calories; it’s about finding a way to reduce your caloric intake and still get enough nutrients to keep your body functioning at its highest level. The key to doing this is to seek out nutrient-dense foods. As I said before, you’d be hard pressed to find something as nutrient-dense as Shakeology.
I should also point out that the RDA for vitamins is for everybody, which likely has little to do with you. Imagine one number for every person on the planet, from a 100-pound computer programmer who sits all day to a 350-pound NFL lineman. How absurd is that? Anybody, no matter how big or small, who is doing P90X is no longer an average individual. So chances are the RDA won’t fit the bill if you want your body to perform to its maximum ability.
Remember the movie Super Size Me? The average American only takes something like 600 steps a day, total! That is horrible. You do more than that warming up for a P90X workout! And then you have to consider that the agency responsible for the RDA is lobbied by those giant food companies who are trying to put as few nutrients in their foods as possible. Anyway, I don’t want to get in trouble for recommending that you consider governmental nutritional standards suspect, but do think about what you’re subjecting your body to during P90X when you make your nutritional choices.
Is there anything else you’d like to add about Shakeology?
Price holds a lot of people back, and I can understand that; it looks expensive on the surface. We tend to look at foods in a cost-to-calorie ratio, instead of a cost-to-nutrient ratio. Sure, you can buy a Big Gulp, and you get 800 calories for a dollar (or something like that). But what good are they? There are no micronutrients. It’s man-made sugar, chemicals, and byproducts of genetically modified corn and soy production—no nutrition whatsoever. Whereas if you tried to find all the nutrients in Shakeology in various foods, you’d spend forty bucks.
If you’re serious about your health, you should consider what you spend your money on. People drop three to four bucks a day on things that are a detriment to their health, without batting an eye. We’re talking the price of a latte or smoothie or any number of things that are much worse than that. The consumer is at war with a lot of corporations that are trying to poison them in order to make a quick buck. The obesity trend will only stop when we take some responsibility for our health and begin to make better food choices.
We've only been on it for a few days, but I can already see why people take it every day. After a bit of tweaking with the recipes, now I very much look forward to each shake, usually after working out.