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
- agave <—not a fan
- pea fiber
- blueberry, bilberry, goji
- Himalayan salt
- 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:
- cardyceps (a kind of fungi)
- acerola cherry
- 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.
- 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
- 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!