Product Review: Shakeology vs Garden of Life

Shakeology has intrigued me for years. I’ve had some friends swear by it, and I respect many Beachbody coaches who sell it as a component of their online wellness business. Garden of Life, on the other hand, I’ve passed by a few times at Whole Foods Market, but never really thought twice about until this past week when I picked up a packet at my local natural foods store.

I am not a Beachbody coach or affiliated with either of these companies in any way. I was not paid for this review. The opinions expressed in this review are solely my own. 

Using Shakes as a Meal Replacement

I don’t believe in consistently relying on shakes (or pills, juices, etc.) as a meal replacement. Instead they are an excellent addition to a healthy real-food diet, and the much better choice over fast food or skipping a meal when you’re really in a hurry. I typically have a smoothie or shake a couple times a week for breakfast, and occasionally as a snack after working out. In the past I’ve had whey protein that has made me feel like I was shaky and having heart palpitations, so now I only stick to plant-based vegan powders.

Let’s get into the review of Shakeology versus Garden of Life!

Shakeology vs Garden of Life: Nutritional Stats

A sweet friend of mine was kind enough to send me a free packet of Shakeology in Chocolate Vegan flavor. I was really excited to finally taste it after hearing glowing reviews the past couple years!

Overall, I like the nutritional stats for 1 serving of Shakeology:

  • 170 calories
  • 4g fat
  • 18g carbs
  • 5g fiber
  • 16g protein
  • and I thought the 8g of sugar was okay

I happened to be at my local natural foods store this past weekend, and Garden of Life Organic Plant Protein in smooth chocolate caught my eye. I REALLY loved their nutritional stats for 1 serving:

  • 110 calories
  • 2.5g fat
  • 6g carbs
  • 3g fiber
  • 15g protein
  • and only 1.5g sugar!

Shakeology vs Garden of Life: Ingredients

Garden of Life is organic, non-GMO verified, gluten-free certified, and certified vegan. It also contains no dairy, soy, tree nuts, added sugars, filler ingredients, artificial flavorings, colors, sweeteners, or preservatives. This particular flavor is grain-free and their plant protein blend is made from:

  • organic pea (seed)
  • organic flax (seed)
  • organic cranberry (seed)
  • organic baobab (fruit)
  • organic moringa (leaf)
  • organic chia (seed)
  • organic pumpkin (seed)
  • organic cacao
  • organic flavors (chocolate & vanilla) <–the only vague ingredient
  • organic stevia extract (leaf)

Shakeology is NOT certified organic, which is not to say that I only consume organic (I don’t) but I am more careful when it comes to rice. Shakeology also isn’t certified gluten-free; which actually is the main reason I have hesitated to try it for so long. There are no gluten ingredients; however, it is made with oats which is known to negatively impact some Celiacs due to the great likelihood of a cross-contamination with wheat during harvesting. The packaging also says it is made in a facility that processes milk, egg, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, wheat, peanuts, and soy ingredients. That all aside, I truly do like the ingredient list of Shakeology’s vegan protein blend; especially because it’s soy-free:

  • pea protein
  • oat protein
  • rice protein
  • chia
  • flax
  • quinoa
  • cacao
  • agave <—not a fan
  • pea fiber
  • pomegranate
  • blueberry, bilberry, goji
  • Himalayan salt
  • Moringa
  • Spinach
  • chlorella
  • spirulina
  • chicory root fiber
  • Stevia <—why is agave necessary then?
  • Xanthan gum <–another issue for some Celiacs

And ingredients in Shakeology I’ve never heard of:

  • yacon
  • cardyceps (a kind of fungi)
  • acerola cherry
  • camu-camu
  • astragalus
  • maitake
  • reishi
  • MSM/Methylsulfonylmethane <—most disturbing

Both Shakeology and Garden of Life have additional ingredients in their raw enzyme blend and probiotics which I have not listed.

Shakeology vs Garden of Life: Pricing

The other main reason I’ve held off on trying Shakeology is price. It’s absurd! Let’s all be honest. And the fact the product does not contain organic ingredients and is made in a plant that processes all the major allergens makes the hefty price tag even more outrageous. I understand that MLMs price their products higher since you truly are helping an entrepreneurial mom provide for her family, but man does it make it hard for the average person to afford this product. Their website price shows $130 for 30 servings ($4.33/serving). This price does not include shipping.

Garden of Life, on the other hand, can be found locally at Whole Foods Market, or perhaps your local natural food store like my neighborhood Kimberton Whole Foods. Otherwise, Garden of Life Organic Plant Protein can be purchased on Amazon! At the time this article was published, Amazon is selling it for $19.97 for 10 servings ($2.00/serving). That’s a dramatic savings compared to Shakeology!

Shakeology vs Garden of Life: Taste Test

On Tuesday, I excitedly poured my packet of Shakeology Chocolate Vegan into my Nutri Ninja cup, added 8 oz of coconut milk, and added a bunch of ice. I am always seeing yummy-looking recipes on Instagram for Shakeology, but I intentionally wanted to try it in its “purest” form so that I could do an even taste test. After I blended it in my Nutri Ninja IQ, I had to pulse it several times since it was clumping on the sides. Ugh, does that bug me!

Finally, I took a sip…disappointed. It was bitter. Which is shocking because it has both agave and stevia in it. I can see how it pairs deliciously with nut butters and fruit like everyone recommends, but I want a shake where I don’t have to add a bunch of other ingredients in order for it to taste good. If I have to do all that extra work, then I might as well make a smoothie from scratch or have a salad. I was so surprised by the poor taste—this was not what I was expecting! I ended up adding a drop of peppermint oil, but then that really overpowered everything so I didn’t even finish the shake.

On Wednesday, I poured my packet of Garden of Life Organic Plant Protein in smooth chocolate into my Nutri Ninja cup, added 8 oz of coconut milk, and added a bunch of ice. This blended up perfectly with no additional pulses needed. I took a sip…smooth, chocolate-y, not-too-sweet but not bitter at all. Perfect! Even with the blended ice, it was very similar to drinking chocolate milk (which I LOVE!) My 6 year-old had a sip and gave his loving approval too. No additional ingredients are needed for the Garden of Life shake to be yummy and satisfying.

PROs: Shakeology

  • Great nutritional stats
  • Good plant-based ingredients—no soy!
  • Added carbohydrate and grains will keep you feeling full
    • Due to the above, I’m more willing to accept it as an occasional meal replacement
  • Your personal Beachbody Coach can also help you with your fitness by finding a program that’s best for you, in addition to encouragement and group challenges
  • MLMs help moms balance family and career
  • Many flavor options beyond chocolate and vanilla

CONs: Shakeology

  • Price is high ($130/month if consumed daily)
  • Does not mix well
  • Does not taste good unless more ingredients are manually added
  • Not certified gluten-free
  • Not certified organic
  • Is not verified by the Non-GMO Project
  • Made in a plant that also processes all the major allergens (milk, egg, fish, crustacean fish, tree nuts, wheat, peanuts, and soy)
  • Contains oats and xanthan gum which negatively impacts some Celiacs

PROs: Garden of Life

  • USDA Certified Organic seal
  • Certified gluten-free
  • Verified by the Non-GMO Project
  • Excellent nutritional stats
  • Exceptional ingredients
  • Price is on point ($60/month if consumed daily)
  • Great for low-carb days

CONs: Garden of Life

  • Limited flavors: chocolate, vanilla, coffee, energy (?), and unflavored
  • Those who use shakes consistently as a full meal replacement may not find this as filling due to the lower amounts of carbohydrates and no grain

Final Thoughts on Shakeology vs Garden of Life

Overall, I think both of these products have a lot to offer.

Will I ask my clients to stop consuming Shakeology? Not at all!

Do I think Shakeology can be part of a healthy lifestyle? Absolutely!

Do I think Garden of Life is a better choice? Yes.

It ultimately came down to taste and price, which is why Garden of Life “won” the match. It just so happened to also be a HUGE bonus that Garden of Life is certified organic, verified by the non-GMO project, and particularly for me, certified gluten-free.

People with Celiac can never be too careful, so I do wave a yellow flag of caution for Shakeology due to oats being in the list of ingredients, and for it being made in a facility where wheat is also processed. I think very highly of Beachbody LLC and appreciate their contribution to the health and wellness space. As for me though, Garden of Life just secured a new fan and I’m happy to have an affordable, healthy, pre-made mix that I can quickly blend up! I will also be recommending Garden of Life to my clients as I believe it is an enjoyable way to curb cravings while getting 15g of complete protein, probiotics, and antioxidants. And it fits nicely into our Fitcamp meal plan!

Have you tried either of these shakes? Which is your favorite? Let me know in the comments below!

Meridith Oram
Meridith Oram is an ACE-Certified Health Coach at Below the Fork where she encourages women to love themselves towards healthy. She is married with two boys, and lives outside of Philadelphia. She earned a B.A. in Communications from Villanova University. Meridith writes about FASTer Way to Fat Loss, fitness, nutrition, Celiac Disease, and easy (but delicious!) gluten-free recipes at Follow her @belowthefork on all social channels.
  • Bain

    I’m surprised you didn’t find the Shakeology mixed well. (My Ninja kills it here, so I know it isn’t the blender.) I usually mix the vegan ones with almond milk or rice milk, and throw in half a banana. (Ice too.) When I’m being decadent, I throw in some other things too, like a little nut butter. A dash of cinnamon is also nice. I’ve never found the chocolate to be bitter-tasting, except when I put in coffee instead of almond milk. Maybe you would like the tropical strawberry better than the chocolate?

    For the non-vegan ones, sometimes I’ll throw in a little frozen fruit (I like a whole strawberry or two in with my strawberry Shakeology). I have put things like spinach into the vanilla and strawberry, with a little juice and some water instead of a milk.

    There are a few other shakes out there that have quality ingredients in addition to the ones you reviewed. I’m curious to try the new Zumba Shake Shake Shake, for example. It’s great that we have so many good choices now–the days of the crazy “diet” shake mixes as our only options are over!

    1. Meridith Oram

      Thanks for your comment, Bain! Maybe I would prefer other Shakeology flavors but it seems consistent across the board that no one seems to drink them “straight up” which was my main goal for a protein powder. There’s a lot of other quality plant-based protein powders out there—my previous go-to was Vega Sport but it has a weird aftertaste which fortunately neither Shakeology or Garden of Life has.

  • Jill

    Good info to have, thank you! I actually like the taste of chocolate shakeology, but I do mix with 1/2 banana, frozen fruit and kale. It’s just good when I’m craving chocolate and like that it has maca and other adapotgens. Does Garden of Life have those? Also wondering on folic acid in both. I just found out I’m only supposed to consume the methylated version because of the MTHFR gene mutation.

    P.S. Have you tried to mix 1/2 scoop chocolate with gluten free oatmeal (is there such a thing?), berries and almonds? Yum!!

    P.S.S. I don’t sell shakeology.

    1. Meridith Oram

      Do you have regular chocolate or vegan? Maybe the original is better? In Garden of Life, the folate is 4% of daily value. Folate is not listed on Shakeology’s label…it’s actually kind of weird they don’t have the break out of minerals and vitamins like most labels are required to have.

      1. Jill

        It might be regular. I’m not sure…I’m sorry! I put it in a stainless steel container on my counter because the bag took too much room in my cabinet and this looked prettier, lol. I’m pretty sure the Tropical Strawberry I have is vegan and I like that, but again I do mix with fruit and kale/spinach in the nutribullet.

        I could’ve sworn the breakdown was on the label, though. Maybe it’s just not on the smaller, sample packs?

        Thanks for checking on the folate for me!!

        1. Jill

          I forgot to say, I also don’t usually use the full scoop. Just 1/2 in my smoothies.

          1. Jill

            Just found it with a quick Google search. 200 mcg folic acid (50% daily value). Darn it. Let me know if you ever happen to come across one without folic acid/folate.

          2. Jill

            Sorry for many posts. Researching more and wanted to share in case anyone comes across this. Have you heard of this issue, Meridith? I have the gene mutation and have been taking extra folic acid (in prenatals) for years, on top of all the fortified foods. My folate levels tested off the charts high and no one knew why or seemed to care. I can’t tell if the Garden of Life folate is methylated or not. If it is, that’d be fantastic.

      2. Derek

        Vegan Shakeology does not have a breakdown of the vitamin and minerals due to the way it is processed. It actually has a higher amount (in grams) of the proprietary food blend because Beachbody does not fortify the vegan shake with vitamins and minerals.

  • Rachel

    While I know you can’t really “put a price” on your health, your wallet begs to differ! I have many friends who have tried to get me to join Beachbody and use Shakeology but we just can’t afford it and I was never really sold on the ingredients. Thanks so much for doing the research and finding a more affordable organic option! I will try Garden Life this week!

    1. Derek

      It’s 30 servings (scoops). $4.33 per scoop. A ridiculously fantastic blend of food. Most shakes out there have like 15-20 servings.
      Most smoothies from smoothie joints can’t even come near the nutritional benefits that ShakeO has to offer, and they cost $1 or $2 more.

    2. Sho

      I agree! I feel that Garden of Life is better and the price point of Shakeology is insane considering this. I’ve been drinking Garden of life for years and love it!

  • Emily

    Thank you for writing this review! As far as digestive health is concerned, can you vouch for Garden of Life being able to prevent/soothe any GI problems? I’m just trying to find a reputable meal replacement that’s going to provide the nutrients I need while at work (and not able to eat an actual meal), while also not upsetting my gut.

  • Derek

    I can vouch that Shakeology will soothe GI problems. I would give it a try. It’s a fantastic shake. Most people pre-judge it way too much.

  • Janet Fuller

    I have tried both brands. I agree Garden of Life is great. G of L also much cheaper. The meal replacement has lots to offer nutritionally too. I cannot afford Shakeology. I also have a daughter with nut allergies. Thanks for the comparison.

    1. Meridith Oram

      Thanks Janet!

  • Jessica

    Hi! I love this review, btw! Being a former Beach Body “coach” I, of course, “drank the Kool-Aid” for just shy of one year. I’m a thyroid cancer survivor, have lived with hypothyroidism for almost 13 years and have severe Vitamin B12 and D deficiencies. I allowed myself to be sold on the whole “cheaper priced products indicate cheap ingredients” philosophy (handed down to me from my previous up line) and failed to ever really do my own research. Did Shakeology help with my energy and getting in my “daily dose of dense nutrition”? Absolutely! However, in looking back at what a lot of those ingredients are: I can’t pronounce the majority of them. My fiancé and I are now a all-organic household, and any ingredient I can’t pronounce, I don’t eat or drink- I tossed out a half container of P90X “Recovery Formula” as a result and it was also money down the drain. Since being introduced to Garden of Life products by my fiancé earlier this year, I will never go back to consuming other shakes, vitamins, etc.- I have a 1-scoop shake Monday-Friday (as these are the days that I’m in the gym twice/day) and have also started using the Garden of Life vitamin supplements. I’ve gotta be honest and say I have never felt better! I will promote this company and it’s real ingredients until I take my last breath! #onehappycustomer

    1. Meridith Oram

      Thanks for sharing part of your journey! Ingredients & their sources are so important. Happy new year, Jessica!

  • Erika Tucker

    I am a beachbody coach and I was reading your review to get more info on Garden of Life since a few of my friends are drinking it.
    I wanted to clear up a few things in your review: I have a friend with very sensitive celiac and shakeology does not bother her at all.

    I also wanted to clarify that MSM is actually an anti-inflammatory. We had looked it up at our last conference since many people were concerned with this ingredient since many don’t know what it is. My sister has severe RA and shakeology has helped her so much with inflammation because of those properties. Keep in mind also that it is agave fruit, NOT agave nectar that is in shakeology which is why it isn’t overly sweet when stevia is also used.

    Also many of the “other” ingredients that you listed are mushroom based which are proven to help cancer patients. My father actually is fighting cancer right now and has seen great results from his treatment when I finally got him to take shakeology to his doctor and start drinking it! Literally, his red blood cell count went up in one week and he avoided the need for a blood transfusion!

    It appears to me that Garden of Life is also a good shake, but since shakeology contains so many more exotic ingredients that help the human body immensely and could never be found in a regular supermarket, that explains the price. Since many of these exotic ingredients come from other countries, this makes it difficult to label it certified organic, so that can be a downfall for some.

    But in my opinion shakeology’s price is still in line with many other protein powders, however shakeology is much more than a protein powder, it is more of a nutritional supplement. I do use it as a meal replacement on some days since I work behind a bar and am not able to eat dinner on those nights. I can easily drink a shake and I rarely add fruit to mine and it keeps me full all night! I blend it with either almond milk and ice or OJ and ice depending on the flavor. I don’t find it difficult to blend, however I have heard that it was reformulated a few years ago which has improved the texture (I’m not sure when you tried it). I find that the vegan chocolate tastes more like an unsweetened dark chocolate while regular chocolate tastes like milk chocolate or brownie batter! I also use shakeology to make yummy treats, so I can eat those instead of cookies with processed sugar all the time.

    Though Garden of Life seems nice, based on your review it isn’t giving me as much as shakeology does. You get what you pay for I guess. But at least it doesn’t contain any soy, artificial flavors, or artificial sweetener so I’m not concerned for my friends who are drinking it.

    Thanks for sharing your opinion.

  • Jennifer

    I have tried both Chocolate Vegan Shakeology and Vanilla Garden of Life. I find that The Garden of Life keeps me fuller longer compared to Shakeology and I add almond milk and fruit to both of them. Shakeology is very expensive also. Garden of Life also mixes better in my ninja than Shakeology. The Chocolate Vegan Shakeology tastes ok as in comparison to The Garden of Life. The Garden of Life is much cheaper than Shakeology. I will stick with Garden of Life for my drink.

  • Kandi

    Having consumed Shakeology for many years, and loved most of the flavors, (and also consumed Isagenix for many years) – I was shocked to have my naturopath doctor recommend that I DON’T use Shakeology due to the MSM in it, as well as the whey protein because it is an isolate. She recommended I search out other “whole food” products for my shakes. I had heard of Garden of Life, but not tried it. I do find Shakeology expensive (and yes, I was a coach to get the discount), but my health is worth the price – if the product can improve my health. I use shakes for my breakfast every day (unless I’m away and have to eat oatmeal or something else), so searching out the BEST shake is very important to me. While I’m not highly dairy sensitive, it’s better if it doesn’t have it (in my opinion).

  • Chamaine S Alfonseca

    I TRULY am grateful for this review. I have been a fan of Garden of Life since 2001, when I read The Makers Diet by the founder Jordan Rubin. That started me on true wellness and I was cured from a stubborn candida infection that left me almost hopeless. I have used their shake supplements for some time now. Recently I met with a friend that LOVES and sells Shakeology, but I found some of the same issues you did regarding it not blending well, and not tasting great and price-point. I LOVE supporting small businesses, and as I own one as well, but….I love the best quality and bang for my hard-earned buck. I did find a HUGE improvement in taste when using Vanilla Almond Milk instead of the plain or unsweetened, and I tasted their Vegan Cafe Latte and Strawberry flavors – not bad. My concerns too are that I have a pretty severe milk allergy, and they produce their products in a facility that has the risk of cross contamination, which I am not sure how that will pan out if I use Shakology over time. BUT THANK YOU for doing the work of the side-by-side comparison of the products…you saved my A LOT of work in my already crunched schedule. Kudos and keep up the great work

  • Laurie L

    I have tried both shakes and have settled on using the Garden of Life Fit powder in chocolate. It’s smooth and delicious mixed with unsweetened almond milk. It’s cost effective and if I want even more protein, I add a half a scoop of Jay Robb’s egg protein powder – also sweetened with stevia and no extra junk. Thanks for the great article!

  • Romunda

    I love garden of life! I loved Shakeology too but some ingredient in it make me break out and itch badly. After I stopped using it those symptoms went away! I’ll stick with GOL! Chocolate

  • Kris

    I have tried Shakology despite the price point but I received a warning that the product contains trace amounts of lead and this was enough to get me to try other products. I just found vanilla Garden of Life raw organic protein powder at Costco and will try that. I can get carbs and other nutrients from my snacks so I’m good. I can’t imagine who can really justify spending $150/month on their protein powder, and for that price, the quality should be impeccable.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: