This subject comes up ALL THE TIME with people I work with and the coaches in our community. People are always trying to compare different shakes that are on the market. There is so much skewed information since the people that are usually telling you the benefits of a particular shake are also selling that shake.
Full disclosure: I am a Beachbody Coach, drink Shakeology daily and also sell it. BUT…unlike a lot of other posts that attempt to compare these shakes, I want to share the facts: calorie information, macronutrient information, nutritional information, added ingredients, cost and let YOU decide what makes the most sense for you situation.
The only bias that might show up in this post is that I put a huge emphasis on long term health over short term weight loss. I believe lasting weight loss and finding your ideal weight is a side effect of being healthy. I also don’t believe that meal replacement shakes should be used as a way to restrict calories. They should be used to give you quality, convenient calories that promote health. I also have a bias towards restricting artificial foods, flavors, and preservatives.
I compared the chocolate shake from the following companies:
- Team Beachbody’s Shakeology
- Isagenix Isalean
- Herbalife Nutritional Shake
- GNC Lean Shake
- IdealShape IdealShake
- DoTerra Trim Shake
- Advocare Meal Replacement Shake
- Thrive Lifestyle Mix
- Vega One Nutritional Shake
- Arbonne Essentials
- Sanford Profile Meal Replacement Shake
- Garden of Life
I chose these shakes because they are the ones we get asked about most often. If you have a shake that you would like me to analyze that isn’t on this list feel free to email me a nutritional label and I can take a look at it. If my information is incorrect about any shake, please let me know that also. My goal is to represent every shake fairly with accurate information.
Calorie and Macronutrient Information
|Thrive Lifestyle Mix||35g||123||2g||11g||15g||1g||3g|
|Garden of Life||36g||120||2g||8g||20g||<1g||7g|
A few other things to pay attention to in this table:
Fat and Protein.
Vitamin and Mineral Content
|Shake||Vitamin A||Vitamin C||Vitamin D||Vitamin E||Vitamin K||Thiamine||Riboflavin||Niacin||Vitamin B6||Folic Acid/Folate||Vitamin B12||Biotin||Pantothenic Acid|
|Thrive Lifestyle Mix||50%||40%||50%||35%||0%||50%||50%||0%||50%||50%||0%||45%||40%|
|Garden of Life||10%||25%||50%||50%||50%||50%||50%||50%||50%||50%||100%||10%||50%|
This first table shows the percentages of the vitamin content in each shake. One thing to consider with this is nutritional density in relation to total grams consumed or total calories. A shake like Thrive Lifestyle Mix is a pretty low calorie shake at 123 calories but has a number of RDA values of 50% or more, so overall pretty nutritionally dense.
The 4 shakes that standout as the ones containing the highest concentration of vitamins per calorie are Shakeology, Vega One, and IsaLean in that order. Invigor8, Advocare, Arbonne and DoTerra shakes would rank among the worst when it comes to nutritional density.
|Garden of Life||4%||10%||0%||0%||6%||15%||0%||15%||60%||50%||30%||6%|
This second table shows the percentages of the mineral content in each shake. The top 4 shakes from a mineral density are Shakeology, IdealShake, Thrive Lifestyle Mix, and Sanford Profile Meal Replacement.
The other thing to consider when it comes to vitamin and mineral content would be where those vitamins are coming from. Are they synthetically created and added? For example if you read IdealShake’s ingredient list it would say Niacinamide and Potassium Chloride. Those things aren’t bad for you. However, when you get vitamins and minerals from whole food ingredients your body is able to absorb those nutrients more effectively. So when you read your ingredient list, make sure you look for ingredients that sound like foods rather than chemicals. If you are getting these nutrients from food, you are also benefiting by getting the phytonutrients that come along with those foods. These are lost entirely when you are consuming a shake that was made using lab created vitamins and minerals.
Shakeology, Garden of Life and Vega One are the three shakes that have the most comprehensive list of foods that go into their shakes. Isalean, Thrive, Invigor8 and Arbonne include some whole foods that make the vitamins and minerals more easily absorbed. The remaining shakes from what I can tell use synthetic vitamins and minerals to get their nutrient content.
Pre and Probiotic Content
|Garden of Life||√||√|
If you are new to the world of prebiotics and probiotics let me explain what they are very briefly.
Bacteria that populate your gastrointestinal tract. We have about 10 times the number of bacteria living in our GI tract than human cells. So essentially we are more bacteria than we are human. These bacteria provide a whole host of benefits to our bodies from metabolic regulation, immune function, cravings, and improved digestive issues to name a few. The science is still pretty new around how our gut health affects the health of our entire body but we know it is important to have a healthy gut.
Food for the probiotics to eat and therefore survive. Nearly all the shakes include prebiotic fiber in them. It’s important to feed the good bacteria in our gut the stuff it needs, rather than feed the bad bacteria which can lead to conditions like SIBO and candida overgrowth. Only 7 of them contain probiotics, so it makes it pretty easy to pick out the best ones in this category.
|Garden of Life||√||√||√||√||√||√||√||√||√||√||√||√||√|
Adaptogens and Herbs
|Garden of Life|
This category might seem a little strange to the average health conscious person. Adaptogens are foods that “adapt” to their current environment. Things like ashwagandha and astragalus are herbs that can regulate your immune system. If your immune system needs help fighting off disease, these will ramp it up. If your body is having an auto immune response and it needs to calm down, these herbs will slow it down. They adapt!
Other items on this list help with energy production at the cellular level. Things like schisandra and maca are great for this. Many of these adaptogens also have a incredibly high antioxidant properties like reishi and cordyceps mushrooms. Antioxidant rich foods are powerful for your immune system and reducing inflamation throughout your body.
I won’t go into a ton of detail about these specific ingredients, but the clear winner when it comes to adaptogens is Shakeology. A few other shakes have included a single adaptogen which is great that they recognize the value in them.
Additional Ingredients and Certifications
|Shake||Gluten-Free||GMO Free||Soy Free||Dairy Free||Organic||Grass-Fed Whey||Artificial Sweeteners||Artificial Flavors||Hydrogenated Oils|
|Shakeology||√ (not certified)||√ (not certified)||√||√ (vegan option)|
|Isagenix Isalean||√ (not certified)||√ (not certified)||√|
|Herbalife||√ (not certified)||√|
|IdealShape||√ (not certified)||√||√|
|DoTerra Trim||√ (not certified)||√ (not certified)||√|
|Advocare||√ (not certified)||√||√|
|Thrive Lifestyle||√ (not certified)||√|
|Arbonne Essentials||√||√ (not certified)||√||√|
|Sanford Profile||√ (not certified)||√||√||√|
|310||√ (not certified)|
|Invigor8||√ (not certified)||√ (not certified)||√||√ (not certified)||√|
|Shaklee||√ (not certified)||√ (not certified)||√|
|Garden of Life||√||√||√||√||√|
This is one of the most important tables (I think) when comparing shakes. Like I said, I have a few things on my non-negotiable list, especially when it comes to something I would be consuming daily. First, I’m gluten sensitive and therefore this is a must. If you are also I would recommend testing any of these shakes out or running it past your doctor. There are only a couple that are “certified” gluten free but a lot that claim that they are but just don’t have the certification. After that I prefer to avoid products that contain GMO’s, soy, artificial anything and hydrogenated oils. I don’t claim to be perfect with all of these but I certainly don’t consume anything daily that contains any of these items.
With that, there are only 7 shakes that meet my criteria and would benefit a person’s health: Shakeology, Isalean, DoTerra, Vega One, Arbonne, Invigor8, and Garden of Life. This is actually where I would personally start, and then work my way back up the blog post looking at these shakes as my options for a daily drink. That’s why I’ve highlighted them here. If you aren’t as strict as I am when it comes to these added ingredients then by all means use all of this information however you would like to find the right shake for you.
- Shakeology $4.30
- Isagenix Isalean $3.71
- Herbalife $1.33
- GNC Lean $2.19
- IdealShape $1.67
- DoTerra Trim $1.32
- Advocare $3.21
- Thrive Lifestyle $3.33
- Vega One $2.76
- Arbonne Essentials $2.53
- Sanford Profile $2.57
- 310 $2.43
- Invigor8 $4.00
- Shaklee $3.36
- Garden of Life $1.80
I should note that all of these shakes are priced out at the retail value. A lot of the companies that sell these shakes have member options that get you reduced pricing but to keep it consistent I wanted to share the retail. If you decide to drink one of these shakes regularly I would encourage you to look into some of those discounts.
Comparing these shakes isn’t apples to apples by any means and the price reflects that.
The price of these shakes tend to reflect the ingredient lists in them. For the most part, when the price of the shakes go up so do the nutritional benefits and quality of ingredients. For the shakes on the higher end with a higher nutritional value, you are still coming out ahead of what it would cost you to order a healthy meal at a restaurant and would be very comparable to making a healthy meal at home. For some of the cheaper shakes I would argue that you are just buying calories. It’s something to consume to hold you over until your next meal but they aren’t making you any healthier.
Unfortunately a lot of people will begin their decision making process with this table. I would encourage you to look at all the other categories above and pick the shake that will help you in the way that you need it. Then figure out a way to make that dollar amount work in your budget. It might mean giving up a night out a week at a restaurant, or forgoing the daily Starbucks trip or giving up cable TV. Your health is like an investment that you can start building up a positive or negative balance at a young age. Most people don’t see the benefits or the negative side effects until they are much older and often it’s too late to make big changes.
I hope I’ve laid out enough information that you can make an educated decision on your own and not have to sort through a bunch of crap out there on the internet to get a straight answer on what is included in these shakes. I also hope I presented the facts in a fair manner and highlighted the things that you would want to know before choosing a shake.
I’m happy to answer questions about any of my views and why I have chosen to drink Shakeology.
A lot of people scrutinize the safety of these shakes which is great and is why I put this post together. I would also encourage you to use that same level of care and concern when it comes to the other foods you eat regularly. None of these shakes are either toxic enough to make you sick on their own or nutritious enough to keep you healthy on their own. It’s a combination of everything you put into your body.
Thanks for reading!