I’ve been drinking Shakeology daily for well over a decade, so I think I’m finally at a point where I can give this superfood shake a worthy review.
Ever since I saw an INSANITY infomercial in 2009 and decided to get off my ass and make my health a priority, I’ve done exactly that. No slack. No turning back.
Naturally, my diet has shifted over the years while exploring how foods affect me. I've pretty much run the gamut—from passionately promoting the merits of an ancestral approach to nutrition (à la paleo and keto), to an entirely plant-based diet for many years. But whether it's paleo, keto, vegan, or vegetarian, it all emphasizes an important point: nutrition isn't a one-size fits all type of gig; rather, it's a journey of self experimentation that reveals what works best for you.
In the early days, my ignorance taunted me to convert everyone to my nutritional preference; today, I believe there's no wrong way to eat—but there is a right one for you.
Still, there's one piece of this equation that has remained a dietary staple for me throughout all this time—Shakeology. So, what have I learned from a decade of consuming these daily 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 a healthy lifestyle and offset nutritional deficiencies that we may otherwise neglect.
Supplements aren’t THE answer; they’re merely a part of the holistic solution. Therefore, it’s my belief they should be used sparingly and intentionally—NOT just because some ripped bro 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, and why I’ve looked forward to drinking it thousands of times in a row.
At our house, we use a Vitamix. 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 not?
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) Ice or 1 cup frozen blueberries
Frozen wild blueberries are a great substitute for ice and 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 formulator of Shakeology, 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 typically derived from embryonic tissue, this tip for increasing them naturally is pretty awesome.
2) Water/Almond Milk
Next, we pour in about 1/2 liter of water or almond milk. We make our almond milk with the Almond Cow (this thing is a game changer). Water wise, we use 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.
Update, July 2020:
While we still use Mountain Valley Spring Water for our drinking water, the pandemic made me search for other viable options should we be unable to get it delivered. As such, I ended up heading down a rabbit hole exploring water and hydration, which led to the AquaTru Reverse Osmosis Water System.
This is the gold standard in water filtration. Seriously, ask Robert Slovak, one of the early developers of reverse osmosis technology.
As it turns out, those expensive under counter tanks are a breeding ground for bacteria. I could go on for days about water, but moral of the story, there's literally nothing better than the AquaTru. We remineralize the filtered water with these sea minerals, restore life and structure to it with this Vortexer, and then use the AquaTru water for our shakes, cooking, etc. We store that water in these Flaska glass bottles for structuring.
Ah, the golden powder! Well, yours might be a different color if you prefer chocolate, Peppermint Mocha, Pumpkin Spice, strawberry, or any of the other flavors, but I’m looking to explode my tastebuds with this recipe, and we've landed on the ultimate combo—1/2 scoop Café Latte x 1/2 scoop Cookies and Creamy (cringe name, I know—they should have just called it Cookies and Cream).
But here's the deal, 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 legit the best. And I invest in what goes into my body more than anything else.
Now, I realize I'm pretty meticulous about my nutrition, but that’s only because I’m meticulous about everything. My wife and I call it "The Sickness," and it’s why I obsess over the smallest of details and research everything to levels deemed absurd by most people. But it’s what I have to do. Because The Sickness.
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 for a minute—long before everyone met him in Netflix's Down to Earth with Zac Efron. And please let me emphasize, Darin 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, though, is Darin Olien, who I’m honored to call a friend, and who I trust to be my personal 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 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 implicitly 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 I hear someone say, “Shakeology is too expensive," I have to question their knowledge of the stuff. Too expensive? Compared to what?!
4) Shakeology Boosts
Next up, we put one scoop of the following Shakeology Boosts: 1) Power Greens and 2) Focused Energy. There's a third Boost, Digestive Health, but since I get digestive support from a Daily Synbiotic from Seed, I don't need extra. 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 to every shake. 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 superfood green supps out there, but what do you know about their formulators? I know the people behind these. And not just by name. I actually know them—for 10+ years.
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 these ingredients appears 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.
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 a scoop of Beachbody Performance Creatine to my shake (5g). For reference, the general recommendation is 0.1 g/kg of creatine per kilogram of body weight.
6) Peanut Butter
I used to blend a handful of Barukas into my shake, but my wife won me over with the addition of peanut butter instead. We use Santa Cruz Organic Light Roasted Peanut Butter because it's the best. No other peanut butters compare.
Quick aside about Barukas: 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! The nut butter is out of this world delicious.
When having our shakes after a hard workout, we'll add Recover to the mix. We typically only take Recover after super intense workouts and lifts, since the branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) and other phytonutrients assist with muscle recovery.
What you put your beverages in matters a lot more than you 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 how many kitchen products contain lead.)
When do I have my shake?
Typically, my shake is my first meal of the day. We tend to only eat one or two big meals a day, so we have our shakes mid-day and they keep us satiated kicking ass.
What’s wrong with just having Shakeology?
Nothing! Shakeology is a health-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.
How to get everything
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.
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 optimize for health and longevity—which is sort of the point. In a world where everybody is laser focused on looks, too often we neglect our underlying health in favor of the latest shortcut to a physique. The irony, though, is that by prioritizing health, it leads to the very aesthetics people crave.
That’s the secret to this gig—if you simply focus on health, you end up looking, feeling, and performing your best. So regardless of whether you choose to incorporate Shakeology into your diet, I hope this helps you prioritize your health. Because if you can do that, everything else tends to fall into place.
- Café Latte Plant-Based Vegan Shakeology (PDF)
- Cookies & Creamy Plant-Based Vegan Shakeology (PDF)
- Vegan Vanilla Shakeology (PDF)
- Vegan Vanilla Shakeology (PDF)
- Shakeology Boost: Power Greens (PDF)
- Shakeology Boost: Focused Energy (PDF)
- Shakeology Boost: Digestive Health (PDF)
- Beachbody Performance Creatine (PDF)
- Beachbody Performance Recover (PDF)