I’ve been drinking Shakeology daily for 10 years now, which means I’m finally at the point where I might be able to give this superfood shake a fairly accurate review.
A lot has changed in that time, but the one thing that hasn’t is my commitment to my health. Ever since I first saw that fateful INSANITY infomercial in 2009 and decided to get off my ass and make my health my top priority, I’ve done exactly that. No slack. No turning back.
Naturally, my diet has shifted over the years, from eating lots of veggies, grass-fed meats, and wild fish, to only consuming plants. I’ve gone from passionately promoting the merits of an ancestral approach to nutrition (à la paleo and keto), to quietly reaping my most impressive gains yet on an entirely plant-based diet (à la vegan).
Whereas once, it was my goal to convert everyone to my way of eating, these days I believe there is no wrong way to eat—but there is a right one for you.
Still, there is one piece of this equation that has remained a dietary staple throughout all this time—Shakeology. So what have I learned from a decade of shakes? Let’s get into it . . .
Why make a shake at all?
You’ll often hear the statement that it’s best to eat a nutrient-rich diet derived from whole foods. This is an important lesson that must be taken to heart, which is why supplements play a relatively small, but intentional role in my diet.
Supplements are meant to do exactly that—supplement an otherwise healthy diet. Their purpose is to enhance an already healthy lifestyle and offset nutritional deficiencies that we may otherwise neglect.
Supplements aren’t THE answer; they’re part of a holistic solution. Therefore, it’s my belief they should be used sparingly and on purpose—NOT just because some ripped dude at the gym or a skinny Instagram model says they’ll make you look like them. It’s more complicated than that.
That’s why it’s important to understand that each item that goes into my shake is chosen on purpose to optimize my nutrition and make me healthier in the long run. Because I’m not in this for 30, 60, or 90 days. I’m here to dominate the sport of life.
So, let’s go over what makes my shake so damn healthy and delicious that I’ve looked forward to drinking it over 3,000 times.
My recipe for a healthy shake
My wife has previously laid claim that her shake recipe is the recipe to end all recipes. As her husband, I will tell you that she is absolutely right. However, as the person with the real recipe to topple all shake recipes, I’ll tell you that my shake can beat up all other shakes.
But let’s agree to disperse with the violence and get to blending.
At our house, we use a Vitamix that we got on sale years ago, back when I first introduced my wife to the splendors of Vitamixing. These things last forever, and definitely live up to the hype.
And no, you don’t have to use a blender. You also don’t have to wear pants. But if they improve the overall experience, why wouldn’t you?
When traveling, we'll hunt down a smoothie or açaí bowl place and politely ask them to add our packets to a shake or bowl. But to be safe, we always pack our travel blender so that we're able to make our shakes in the room. Plus, with our own blender, we're able to stop by a Whole Foods or local grocery store and add some of the extra stuff I'll mention below.
Point is, blending takes this shake to the next level. And couples who blend together, stay together. Facts.
1) 1 cup frozen wild blueberries
Frozen blueberries take the place of ice in my shake. But they also pack a powerful punch for your health. You’ve probably heard that blueberries contain a host of health-boosting properties, but I’m specifically interested in one of the lesser known ones.
Some years back, while geeking out with my buddy and Shakeology creator, Darin Olien, he let me in on a little secret: consuming one cup of blueberries every day for 30 days can increase totipotent stem cell production by 7x!
Why is this so cool? Because these are the cells that can form all the cell types in a human body—an entire organism! And apparently, there’s some real potential for these to extend lifespan and promote healing and all sorts of other beneficial stuff.
But since these cells are derived from fertilized eggs, this tip for increasing them naturally is pretty awesome. Hence why blueberries go in my shake.
2) SP2 Spirulina
The second thing I throw in the mix is another superfood that Darin turned me on to—frozen spirulina pods from SP2 Life. Spirulina is one of the most nutrient-dense sources of plant-based protein, rich in antioxidants, and also packed with vitamins and minerals.
Matter of fact, here’s a fascinating little tidbit from SP2:
A single SP2 Spirulina Cube contains every vitamin in the B group, 24x more vitamin E than strawberries, 10x more calcium than milk, 3x more iron than spinach and 4x more potassium than bananas.
So, yeah—I pop a frozen pod into my shake every day. And yes, the plastic case can be recycled. ♻️
Update, July 2020
Sadly, SP2 closed up shop during the COVID-19 pandemic, as they couldn't source their spirulina anymore. They did say they planned on reopening again in the future, so fingers crossed this will happen at some point.
3) Mountain Valley Spring Water
Next, I pour in about 1/2 liter of Mountain Valley Spring water. Why this water specifically? Listen to Shawn Stevenson’s Hydration and Water Masterclass on The Model Health Show. Shawn breaks down everything you could ever hope to know when it comes to the water you drink.
Prior to Shawn motivating us to switch over to glass-bottled spring water, we had a high-end Tyent water ionizer with an elaborate under counter filtration system. Chuma the Bengal loved to drink off of it, but otherwise, we haven’t missed it.
Update, July 2020
While we still use Mountain Valley Spring Water for our drinking water, the recent pandemic made me realize that we should be more prepared should we be unable to get it delivered. As such, I ended up jumping down a rabbit hole exploring water and hydration, which resulted in me picking up an AquaTru Reverse Osmosis Water System (for all the reasons covered in this Instagram story).
We now use the AquaTru water for our shakes, cooking, etc. and store it in these Flaska glass bottles for structuring.
Ah, the golden powder! 🙌🏼 Well, yours might be a different color if you prefer chocolate, Café Latte/coffee, pumpkin, strawberry, or any of the other flavors, but I’m looking to explode my tastebuds with this recipe, and Vegan Vanilla ticks that box (although, the new seasonal Peppermint Mocha Shakeology is pretty out of this world).
I’ve been using the vegan formula since long before we transitioned to an entirely plant-based diet, and honestly, I think it should replace the whey version as the only formula. But that’s another story.
The important thing is, Shakeology is really unmatched in the supplement world. And I want to be clear about my opinion on that: I haven’t been slamming Shakeology for the past decade because my wife and I partnered with Beachbody. I put this stuff in my body because it’s the best. And I invest in what goes into my body more than anything else.
Now, I realize that I may be more meticulous about my nutrition than most, but that’s only because I’m meticulous about, well, everything. My wife and I call it The Sickness, and it’s why I obsessively analyze the smallest of details and research everything to levels deemed absurd by most people. But it’s what I have to do. 🤷🏻♂️
The simple truth is, I’ve never found anything else that can hang with Shakeology—and not for lack of trying. I know what’s out there, and more importantly, I know WHO is out there. Well, technically, Darin does. And I trust that dude with my life.
Sidebar about Darin Olien and Shakeology
Darin Olien has been on the scene a long-ass time, and he has earned every bit of his stellar reputation. He knows everyone in the superfood game, including who the ingredient brokers are and from where they’re sourcing their “superfoods.” Unsurprisingly, everything isn’t always as it seems.
What is as it seems is Darin Olien, who I’m honored to call a friend, and who I trust to be my friendly neighborhood superfood hunter. The dude formulates all this shit himself, along with Isabelle Daikeler. He literally scours the earth for the best, most nutrient-dense foods that he can find, and puts them in our cups.
You might have a favorite supplement company. They might make some claims. But chances are, they’re sourcing their stuff from ingredient brokers who are but pawns in a very long and unknown chain. And yes, there’s bound to be some of what they say in whatever it is they’re selling. But you don’t know the quality. You don’t know the potency. And you sure as hell don’t know anything about the soil from which it came.
Darin, on the other hand, puts boots on the ground. He gets into the mix with the locals. He meets with tribal leaders. He immerses himself in the culture, studies the soil, and follows the foods that are extracted all the way through to testing—rigorous, wicked expensive multi-million dollar testing—and finally into the powder that goes into your bag.
So when I say Darin formulates this stuff, I mean he helps compile it from start to finish. And he is one of the few people I trust explicitly with my health.
Fun fact, when Beachbody CEO, Carl Daikeler, approached Darin, Carl specifically made him a promise that he would never dilute the formula or cut quality for cost. And he’s stuck by that. Which is why when the internet trolls and naysayers surface on their “Shakeology is too expensive” train, I have to question their knowledge of the stuff. Too expensive? Compared to what?!
5) Shakeology Boosts
Next up, I put one scoop of all three Shakeology Boosts: 1) Power Greens, 2) Focused Energy, and 3) Digestive Health. I’ll include the ingredient labels at the end of this post so you can see exactly what’s in what, but here’s the quick and dirty as to why I boost my shake:
This boost of nutrient-dense greens is pretty much as it sounds—a hearty dose of extra greens. I add it every day. Because greens. And since most of us are short on our intake, I feel it’s a smart choice.
Again, I know there are a ton of super-green supplements out there, but I KNOW the people behind these. And not just their names. I know them.
Sure, Focused Energy is great for sustained energy from ingredients like ginseng and natural caffeine from guarana and green tea. But the main reason I add this Boost to my shake is because of the powerful mushroom blend—Cordyceps, Reishi, King Trumpet, and Lion’s Mane—and especially, the Rhodiola.
I’m a fan of Lion’s Mane for the neurological benefits, but the combination of everything is believed to help with everything from energy and brain function (Cordyceps and Rhodiola) to longevity (Reishi). This is my favorite, non-negotiable boost that I had to every shake, and I turn into a tantrum throwing baby if we run out.
The Digestive Health Boost is another one that pretty much conveys what it does—aids with my digestion and promotes regularity. The extra fiber is welcome, as well as the Omega 3s for cardiovascular health.
Update, July 2020
I've been experimenting with not adding Digestive Health to my shake following the water fast before my 6 Weeks of THE WORK journey. I already get a lot of fiber from all the plant-based foods in my diet, so I wanted to see how I would respond without adding this boost. I'll report back with my findings.
Creatine monohydrate is pretty much the star supplement when it comes to athletic performance. And for good reason.
Of the approximately 300 studies that have evaluated the potential ergogenic value of creatine supplementation, about 70% of these studies report statistically significant results . . . —Kreider RB
That’s a big deal. Not only has creatine supplementation consistently shown to increase strength compared to resistance training alone, but it’s now believed to play a role in cognitive health as well.
Needless to say, I add two scoops of Beachbody Performance Creatine to my shake (10 mg). For reference, the general recommendation is 0.1 g/kg of creatine per kilogram of body weight.
Barukas have become a staple in my shake. I pour a handful of these unbelievably healthy nuts into the Vitamix, which essentially churns fresh nut butter into the mix and makes it taste next level amazing!
These nuts are SPECIAL. Like, insanely so. The Baru nut is arguably the world’s healthiest nut. I mean, technically, it’s a drupe, but we’ll call it a nut for simplicity’s sake.
This is another discovery from Darin Olien, who came across them during his travels to South America. He calls them “a mini-cocktail of hard to find micronutrients and vegan protein,” and I’d say he’s pretty spot on. Packed with protein, stuffed with antioxidants, and loaded with magnesium, they’re a nutritional powerhouse—and they have 25% fewer fat calories than most other nuts. Plus, they’re equally sustainable and good for the planet!
We ended up ordering so many of these and talking about them so much that Barukas gave us a discount code to share: use code NATONI to get 20% off your first order at barukas.com.
8) Organic Raw Hemp Hearts
I sprinkle hemp seeds into my shake as well. People always want to know where you get your protein from on a vegan diet—well, from plants! Like these. I eyeball how much I pour into the blender container, but there’s about 10g of protein and 12g of omegas per serving.
I started adding Maca to the mix when we were going through IVF to improve fertility, and Maca is said to do just that. If you’re a dude, Black Maca is what we want. For female fertility, Red Maca is recommended. Although that process has long since passed, I've continued adding the Black Maca, though I'll cycle off of it at some point to see if I notice any difference in stamina.
10) MCT Oil
Finally, I squirt in some MCT oil to add some additional healthy fat. And because it’s a fast, clean source of fuel for my body and brain. There are a bunch of different healthy options out there, and you can find some of the ones we use on my "Shake Enhancers" list on Amazon.
11) Four Sigmatic Mushroom & Adaptogen Blends
Originally, I thought this company was all hype since they tend to sponsor every podcast and social media account, but after my wife started working with them, I did a bunch of digging and I'm very impressed by their ethos and ingredient sourcing. I now take a bunch of their stuff, and I'm pretty sure I single-handedly drained their supply of mushroom chocolate.
I'm not sure if her discount code still works, but try the code DANIELLEN5, which will hopefully save you 15%.
What you put your beverages in matters a lot more than most people think, and if you want to be as safe as possible, glass is always the best choice. That’s why we use mason jars. They fit the exact amount of my shake and have a nice, big mouth to get every last drop out of the jar. We like the Ball mason jars, which have been confirmed to be lead free. You’d be surprised what’s not.
When do I have my shake?
Typically, my shake is my first meal of the day. I tend to only eat one big meal a day (in the evening), so I’ll have my shake mid-day and it’ll keep me cruising right on through to dinner feeling great.
What’s wrong with just having Shakeology?
Nothing! Shakeology is a game-changer on its own. You can shake it up, blend it up, dress it up, dress it down—whatever you like. But again, for my wife and me, nutrition is EVERYTHING. The only thing we prioritize over food is sleep. So each of us adds our own little twist to appease our palates and dose our bodies with extra nutrition.
Where to get everything
If you’re looking to add your own superfood shake to your daily routine, hit us up and we’ll get you squared away with Shakeology and the Boosts.
For the rest of the stuff, you can pick up most of it at your local grocery store or on my shake shopping list on Amazon.
For the frozen blueberries, I recommend getting the wild or organic packs from Sprout’s, Whole Foods, or Costco.
If you’re looking for Mountain Valley Spring water, it’s most cost effective to get it delivered. Check their site to find the local delivery company in your area.
At the end of the day, Shakeology helps me meet my minimum nutrient requirements—and then some. These days, everybody’s so focused on looking a certain way that they overlook what happens when you make health your goal—the aesthetics follow! That’s the bonus of being healthy—you look, feel, and perform your best.
Whether or not you choose to incorporate Shakeology into your diet, I hope you decide to prioritize your health. When you do that, everything else tends to fall into place.
- Vegan Vanilla Shakeology (PDF)
- Shakeology Boost: Power Greens (PDF)
- Shakeology Boost: Focused Energy (PDF)
- Shakeology Boost: Digestive Health (PDF)
- Beachbody Performance Creatine (PDF)