Shakeology Alternatives

This post is a monster, I spent a lot of time reading and researching the ingredients that go into Shakeology's nutritional shakes in order to find the best alternative. If you don't care to read it all you can click below for the best alternative.

There is a dirty little secret that exists in the consumer good market. The worst part? Even those who KNOW about this secret still end up making illogical decisions.

It's the reason why you've opted to buy the $129 bag of Shakeology as opposed to one of the many Shakeology alternatives on the market.​

I'm referring to the fact that a huge percent of the products in todays marketplace come from the exact same manufacturer or are manufactured using the exact same process and raw materials. I know this because I've private labeled enough products and worked with enough manufacturers to know this to be true.

Yet, despite this when my girlfriend buys her essential oils she does it through an MLM which is 8x the price. When I buy my supplements off of Amazon, I still find myself gravitating towards the middle-high end priced products.

It's human nature and it's marketing.

I'm not sure if Shakeology has their own manufacturing facility but my point remains: you're overpaying because they've out-marketed and out-branded the competition. 

Before we can explore alternatives to Shakeology we first need to figure out what exactly is in Shakeology. Luckily for us, even though they use "proprietary blends" all over the place and we can't tell exact quantities we can at least determine what is in these miracle shakes.

Alternatives to Shakeology's Proprietary Blends

In this section we're going to explore each individual blend and I'll show you some supplements you could take for each blend. If you're looking for a nutritional shake which replaces Shakeology without taking individual supplements this part of the article will help you with that!

Shakeology Proprietary Protein Blend

The ingredient list for their protein blend looks like this:

  • ​Whey Protein
  • Pea Protein
  • Sacha Inca
  • Chia
  • Flax
  • Quinoa

Whey protein isolate shouldn't be a mystery, it's the most common protein powder on the scene.

Pea protein powder is often used by people who need to avoid whey because they're allergic to dairy or for those who want a plant based protein option. Although it's a solid alternative Pea Protein powder isn't a complete protein because it's missing a few non-essential amino acids.

Sacha Inca is a seed and to be honest I've never heard of it before researching this product. It's got all nine essential amino acids along with omega 3, omega 6 and a fibre. It's buried on the list of ingredients and while I can't say for certain it's a safe bet that there isn't a lot of Sacha Inca in your Shakeology mix.

Chia is next up on that list. It's considered a super food for a reason; it's packed with protein omega 3, fibre, magnesium, iron and calcium. And it delivers any incredible amount of nutrients in a very small package. 

Flax seed, like Chia seeds are incredibly nutrient dense. It probably doesn't get the due it deserves and is mostly recognized as a way to help get things moving. And while it is full of fibre it is also full of protein, vitamins and minerals. ​

Quinoa​ is the final ingredient on our list. Again, loaded with nutrients, full of good stuff.  But there are cheaper ways to get the good stuff than a $4/serving meal replacement shake.

It's not a bad protein supplement but if it's not a cost effective way to get the protein you're after. The chocolate Shakeology contains 17g of protein, compared to the 27g of protein found in Bulk Supplements Whey Isolate. Of course that doesn't incorporate all of the nutritional benefits you get from the seeds, quinoa and pea protein. 

If you're looking to replace this with a plant based protein powder, Orgain Organic Protein would work nicely. It's got both Pea Protein and Chai Protein along with Hemp and Brown Rice Protein. It's about $1 per serving so it's not the cheapest protein source.

In my opinion, unless you have dietary restrictions you'd be better served to pick up a pure whey protein powder which would closer resemble Shakeology's protein blend. Bulk Supplements sells pure 100% whey protein powder and it'll cost you a fraction of the price.

Superfruit / Antixoidant Blend

​The purpose of the super fruit blend is to help build a healthy immune system. Anti-oxidants help to neutralize free radicals which when left unchecked create oxidative stress. Oxidative stress can lead to a host of chronic health issue

The Superfruit blend contains the following:

  • Camu-Camu
  • Acerola Cherry
  • Bilberry
  • Goji Berry
  • Green Tea
  • Luo Han Guo
  • Pomegranate
  • Rose Hips
  • Vitamin A, C & E

I think part of the draw of a supplement like Shakeology is not only are you getting protein to help build lean muscles, you're also consuming a whack load of vitamins and minerals.

Camu-Camu is a fruit that has an incredible amount of Vitamin C. It's grown in the Amazon and is usually sold in powder form in North America. It also contains potassium and some amino acids but mostly it delivers a massive amount of vitamin C.

Acerola Cherry, Bilberry and Rose Hips are three more fruits that contain an enormous amount of Vitamin C.

Green tea is full of powerful antioxidants. It has some vitamin and minerals but to a lesser degree than some of the other Superfruits on this list.

Luo Han Guo is another fruit that most North American's will have never heard of. It's grown in Asia and is often used as a natural sweetener. 

Goji berries ​are a fantastic source of antioxidants and beta-carotene. 

Pomegranate is another fruit that is nutritionally loaded.​ It's a good source of Vitamin K, Vitamin C, Folate and Potassium. 

Obviously part of the draw to Shakeology is the convenience. Tracking down and consuming small quantities of all of these fruits daily would be insane. Fortunately, there are other companies creating super fruit blends (we'll also discuss other replacement Shakes later on). Navitas Natural creates this blend of Pomegranate, Goji and Acai Berries.

It's loaded wit​h Vitamin A and Vitamin C.

Supergreen / Phytonutrient Blend

Green powder, or super green powder is something I believe in. Several times per week I'll consume a blend which contains these so-called super greens. Shakeology's Supergreen blend consists of the following:

  • ​Moringa
  • Chlorella
  • Spirulina
  • Spinach
  • Kale

You've probably heard of all of these greens in one capacity or another. Chances are you're very familiar with Spinach and Kale but maybe less so with Moringa, Chlorella and Spirulina.

​Moringa is a commonly used herbal supplement that reportedly has the following health benefits.

  1. Anti-oxidants. We spoke above about why anti-oxidants are important to maintaining good health. Coles notes; they fight free radicals
  2. Balances hormones. Hormonal health is becoming a bigger health issue and more research is constantly coming available. 
  3. Helps digestion. A healthy gut is the first step in ensuring a healthy immune system.
  4. Mood stabilizer

Chlorella is literally algae. I know it sounds gross but it's another one of these lesser known, but extremely nutritional dense herbal supplements. It's loaded with Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Thiamin, Niacin and Vitamin B6 to name a few. 

Spirulina is often referred to as the most nutrient dense food on the plant. It packs an amazing amount of iron, protein, Vitamin B1, B2 and B3, along with a reasonable amount of Vitamin A, C and E. 

Spinach & Kale are both high in Protein, Vitamin A and Vitamin C. And unlike a lot of the other ingredients in the Phytonutrient blend they're relatively cheap.

Shakeology's Phytonutrient blend is very similar to Amazing Grass, which contains Chlorella, Spirulina, Spinach and Kale. The only part of the blend that it doesn't contain is Moringa. Again, relative to Shakeology, Amazing Grass is quite cheap ($0.5/serving). 

Adaptogen Blend

Of all the proprietary blends, the adaptogen blend is probably the most unique. There is a chance that you haven't heard of a few of the ingredients we've been listing off thus far. This blend will likely change that.

Adaptogen is a term that refers to herbal supplements that help the body adapt to stress. This blend is primarily composed of herbal supplements and mushrooms.​

  • Ashwagandha
  • Astragalus
  • Cordyceps
  • Maca
  • Maitake
  • Reishi
  • Schisandra

Ashwagandha is a herbal supplement that has shown some promise being used to balance hormones, along with helping to improve mood, anxiety and even as a muscle building supplement.

Astragalus is a supplement that is widely used in traditional Chinese medicine. Unfortunately, the amount of research backed evidence that Astragalus is useful if fairly week. It may improve immune system function.

Cordyceps is a mushroom that again, is used in traditional Chinese Medicine. It's only found at very extreme altitudes. Most studies to date haven't demonstrated that Cordyceps are a worthwhile supplement to take. There is some evidence that it might help delay lactate acid onset.

Maca is one of the better studied herbal supplements. There is solid evidence that Maca helps to improve libido. It's also thought to help improve mood and reduce anxiety.

Maitake​, another mushroom, has been studied and linked to slowing tumor growth. It improves the immune system through "activation of macrophages, T cells, and natural killer (NK) cell [1]"

Reishi is another mushroom that may increase NK cells resulting in an improved immune system. It's also likely a mood enhancer which would be the primary reason it was added to the adaptogen blend.

Schisandra is a berry that has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for thousands of years. Another adaptogen it helps to naturally balance hormones which can aid in our ability to fight stress.

As we move down the list and try to replicate Shakeology's blend, this one has been the hardest. You can get the three mushrooms from this mushroom blend (I personally use this blend and it tastes awful). 

As for the Ashwagandha, Astragalus and Schisandra you can find them in an Adrenal support supplement such as this one.

That leaves just the Maca which is an easy supplement to find. You can have all three of these for about $1 per serving.

Probiotic & Digestive Blend

The final piece of the Shakeology puzzle is their Probiotic & Digestive Blend. It contains:

  • ​Yacon Root
  • Chicory Root
  • Lactobacillus Sporogenes
  • Amylase
  • Cellulase
  • Lactase
  • Glucoamylase
  • Alpha - Galactosidase
  • Invertase

If I spelt any of those wrong, I sincerely apologize. Prior to doing the research for this article I had heard of 2 of those ingredients. 

Yacon Root is a plant that grows in South America. It looks almost identical to a sunflower. According to this study consuming Yacon Root can help improve important bacteria in the colon, which aids in digestion. Just like all of these ingredients we've discussed there are a host of other benefits which we won't dive into. 

Chicory root is best known as a caffeine free replacement for coffee​. However, it's also a digestive aid and contains prebiotic fiber. Prebiotic fiber can't be digested by the body, however once it reaches the colon they're fermented by flora. Prebiotics are important to gut health because they provide nutrients for healthy gut bacteria to thrive on. 

Lactobacillus Sporogenes is an active probiotic culture. Probiotics help to ensure we maintain a health immune system. The flora in our stomach has a host of jobs, and keeping our immune system strong is on that list [2]

Amylase is an enzyme that helps begin to the process of digestion. It helps to break down starches (bread, paste, rice, beans etc.) into a useable form of energy. 

Cellulase is another type of enzyme which helps to break food down. It's responsible for helping to break down cellulose which is fiber found in plants. 

Lactase, yet another enzyme helps to break down lactose. Lactose, of course, is present in milk products. It's the portion that many North American's are intolerant to. Without the lactase enzyme lactose doesn't break down leaving us feeling gassy or bloated.

What I'm about to tell you next shouldn't surprise you. Glucoamylase is an enzyme! And it helps to break down Glucose which is a simple sugar. Alpha-Galactosidase and Invertase are also enzymes. Invertase helps to break down carbohydrates into glucose and fructose.  

Digestive enzyme supplements are extremely common and extremely cheap. These can easily be purchased for $0.20 to $0.30 per serving. Chicory Root and Yacon Root can be bought as individual supplements, again both are pretty cheap. All three shouldn't cost more than $1 per serving. 

The Cost of Shakeology

Shakeology costs about $4 per serving, if you were to individually buy all of the supplements that I laid out above it would cost approximately $3.75 per serving. And is the convenience of Shakeology worth $0.25? I think so. However, the point of that exercise isn't to have you buy each product individually, that's not very efficient.

I just wanted to point out that the ingredients in Shakeology's blends aren't magical, some of them are obscure but they're all easily to find.​

There are meal replacement alternatives to Shakeology that are a lot cheaper and nearly as effective. I'm not a doctor so I can't say with any certainty which of the ingredients listed above are totally unnecessary and which ones aren't, so my goal will be to find a Shakeology alternative that hits the high points and if necessary I'll recommend an additional supplement or two if I'm missing anything.

​Shakeology Alternative Nutritional Shakes

Before I begin I want to point out that you may have to add a supplement or two, to match up with Shakeology's blend. 

The Best Option to Replace Shakeology: Vega One Nutritional Shake

vega-one-nutritional-shake

This is what I personally blend into my morning shakes, so I'm a little bit partial to this. It contains 20g of plant based fibre. I also have 100% whey protein powder for post workouts as well but as a replacement for Shakeology I think the protein blend (Pea Protein, Hemp Protein, Sacha Inchi) in Vega-One Nutritional Shake's would suffice.

It also has a fine fruit blend containing powerful antioxidants which includes Pomegranate, Acai and Goji berry to name a few. ​

As for the Supergreen Blend, it contains Kale, Spirulina, Spinach​, Chlorella, so we're good on that front.

Admittedly, it doesn't contain much as far as the adaptogen ​blend is concerned. It does contain Maca but the herbal supplements (Ashwagandha & Astragalus) and the mushroom blend will have to sourced from other supplements if you're looking for a natural mood booster.

It's worth trying, but for many herbal supplements are hit or miss. When it's rolled up into a product like Shakeology there is a strong chance you wouldn't miss the herbal supplements.

The mushrooms are great and can be found here.

Lastly, it does contain Chicory Root and Bacillus Coagulans, which is may actually be a better option than taking a slew of probiotics. 

"In addition to digestive enzymes, supplements containing strains of probiotic bacteria, especially Bacillus coagulans, have been found to be significantly superior to common ordinary probiotics (such as those found in yogurt and other traditional probiotics) [3]"

Fortunately, if you want to take a probiotic supplement they're very cheap and easy to source.

​Vega One nutritional shake in my opinion is the best all-around alternative to Shakeology. It's not the cheapest option on the market as it's ~$2 per scoop. However, that's roughly half the price of Shakeology blends. All it's really missing is the adaptogen blend. 

Vega One Nutritional Shake

Vega One Nutritional Shakes: Flavors

Vega-One comes in eight flavors; Chocolate, Coconut Almond, French Vanilla, Mixed Berry, Mocha, Natural and Vanilla Chai.

I've personally tried the chocolate, mixed berry and natural.

If I'm craving something "bad" I'll make a peanut butter and chocolate shake. One big heaping scoop of peanut butter, a banana, a scoop of Vega One Chocolate and Almond Milk.

Depending if I make the morning green smoothie or if my girlfriend does I'll use natural or else she'll use mixed berries. Both are pretty good, she prefers the mixed berry I prefer to use the natural because it's cleaner but both are great in green smoothies.

A Great Cheap Option to Shakeology: Nutrade Vegansmart All-In-One Nutritional Shake

nutrade-vegansmart-all-in-one-nutritional-shake

Another plant based nutritional shake, Nutrade Vegansmart is a solid, cost effective option. Depending on the day it's approximately $1.5 per serving size. 

It ​has 23g of protein in each serving. It's a vegan protein blend made up of Pea, Hemp, Chia, Potato and Chlorella protein. 

It's loaded with a number of powerful fruits including Apricot, Pineapple, Mango and Raspberries. Raspberries in particular are high in Antioxidants. ​

While it doesn't contain many of the same superfoods that are contained within Shakeology it does have spinach, beetroot, cabbage and broccoli. In my opinion this is a downgrade but you can always supplement with something like this​

Nutrade ​Vegansmart Flavors

Vegansmart  comes in three flavors; chocolate, chai and vanilla. The vanilla flavor is described as tasting like a vanilla milkshake which is a bit too sweet for my liking but reviewers liked it. A few users complain about it having a chalky taste but I think generally, plant based protein powders are a bit chalky. 

Healthy Skoop All-In-One Nutritional Shake

healthy-skoop-nutritional-shake

Healthy Skoop is another All-In-One Vegan Nutritional Shake. I'm not entirely sure why all of these blends are Vegan but it seems to be a recurring theme.

The protein powder consists of hemp, pea and brown rice offering 20g of protein. Like Vega One and Nutrade VeganSmart Healthy Skoop contains a blend of superfruits and greens providing a phytonutrients and antioxidants.

It also contains a digestive blend consisting of more than 1 billion probiotics. 

It's a bit deceiving because it seems like this product is cheaper than the others. In reality it's just s smaller container, and it costs approximately $2.5 per serving making it the most expensive of the three options we've presented.

Healthy Skoop Nutritional Information

Should You Use An Alternative to Shakeology?

Personally, I think Vega-One is the best substitution as an all-in-one nutritional shake. The only thing it's really missing is the adaptogen blend which as we discussed can be sourced here for less than a dollar. 

The main reason is because it's cheaper. You could argue that each has better ingredients but I think that's a difficult thing to prove with the number of proprietary blends that come into question. Ultimately for some, Shakeology's All-In-One nutritional shakes might be too expensive.

[1] Effect of Maitake D-Fraction on the activation of NK cells in cancer patients. September 21, 2016. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14977447

[2] Immune System Affects Gut Bacteria Evolution. September 22, 2016. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/12/151202132706.htm​

[3] ​Optimizing Digestive Health. Lane Lenard PHD. September 23, 2016.
http://www.lifeextension.com/magazine/2009/1/optimize-digestive-health/page-01