The best alternative I’ve found so far is at Costco called Orgain USDA Organic Plant Protein with Superfoods Powder. It is $29.99 for approximately 24 servings, for a price of $1.25 per serving. The main ingredients that I believe likely contribute to feeling full (which is what is most important for weight loss – for me at least) are protein and fiber. Each serving has 21 grams of protein and 8 grams of fiber. Plus all of the other crap that may or may not really work. I drink it in a cup of original almond milk and the powder dissolves better than Shakeology and tastes very good. I’ve only had the vanilla flavor so far, as that is what was carried at my local Costco.
I debated for a long time whether I wanted to bother making a post on this topic as there are similar posts online. The main thing I found was that they all seemed to be trying to promote some product that they were making money from themselves. Also, I am a huge skeptic of any “weight loss” products. I made fun of my wife when she bought Shakeology, but at that point I had only heard of it from a few Facebook friends who talked about it non-stop, apparently getting a discount for every person they could convince to buy the product.
I then felt bad that I gave my wife a hard time (and then she only tried it once or twice and then gave up on it as she found all of the other parts of the program impractical for her to implement). I did some research on the product itself, which is almost impossible given all of the ridiculous propaganda filled information for Shakeology. As best I can tell, it does seem to be a high quality product with a reasonable and not unhealthy approach to weight loss – which says a lot. It also has incredible marketing behind it, which combined explains the great success. The biggest downside to me is the high cost of the product – around $4 per shake I believe. In the big picture, it is very reasonable to spend $120/month for a weight loss product if it works and does so in a healthy fashion. But if there are cheaper options out there, why pay so much for it.
I’ll probably save my detailed analysis of the effectiveness of the various components for another post, and focus now on the main competitors. Unfortunately, that means I’ll have to do regular updates as there will always be a newer “better” product out there.
I was recently diagnosed as “pre-diabetic” which basically means my fasting blood sugar is over 100 and under 120. In other words, I don’t have diabetes, but my blood sugar isn’t quite normal either. The majority of people in my category will eventually meet the definition of diabetes. Losing weight significantly reducing the risk of becoming diabetic. Gaining weight significantly increases the chances of becoming diabetic. I’ve been a lifelong skeptic of diets, having seen many people do yo-yo dieting through their lives and knowing extremely few people who have lost the weight and kept it off (but there are a few). I also look at the twin studies of type II diabetics. If one twin has diabetes, there is a 75% chance the other twin will develop diabetes over the next 15 years. But there is a 96% chance of having abnormal glucose metabolism. In other words, I’ve always taken the fatalistic approach that if I have the genetics to get diabetes, there isn’t much I can do about it.
It turns out that a lot of the genetic component may be more related to obesity rather than just type 2 diabetes. In other words, I have the genetics to be overweight, and therefore I’m at higher risk for diabetes. Being overweight has so many different factors – and unfortunately – treatments have not been too overwhelming. And that is in spite of billions of dollars being spent on trying to find a treatment for obesity. Not only is obesity a major health concern, but it is also a significant lifestyle issue as people want to look attractive. If there is ever a safe pill for weight loss, it will probably be the biggest selling drug ever.
I am aware that “will power” can lead to weight loss. You eat less, you exercise more, you will lose weight. But that is not so simple. The more you restrict calories, the hungrier you get. Hunger and appetite are about the strongest instinctual drives. Maybe I’d rank breathing and thirst higher. So, losing weight is tough.
Meal replacement shakes are probably not as healthy as a well balanced low calorie diet, high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. However, my current diet is complete crap. I hate most fruits and vegetables and I hate preparing meals. I need something simple and convenient. Since my wife hadn’t used her shakeology powders, I decided to try them. They taste pretty good when mixed with almond milk. They do make me feel a little bit fuller than I otherwise would. But it is still a little early for me to know if I will lose weight using just a shake meal replacement combined with being more mindful of my meals throughout the rest of the day.
I suspect that the main ingredients making me feel full are the protein and fiber. I considered just buying protein powder and trying that, but I also like the idea of a high fiber shake. As long as my GI tract can tolerate it (and I do have Crohn’s disease, which fortunately is quiet right now). Recently, the vast majority of Shakeology alternatives seem to be sold through Amazon. I suspect that they are being promoted so people can make commissions off affiliate links (as I will use here for any products sold on Amazon – but not because I am endorsing these products – again, my top pick at this time is sold at Costco). The one Amazon sold product I have seen many people speak highly of is “Idealshake”. It is currently $40-50 for 30 servings, so the price comes to only $1.33 – $1.66 per shake, depending on what flavor you select. It has an Amazon rating of 4.3 out of 5 stars, which is higher than most other meal replacement shakes. Based on the labels on Amazon, the shakes have 11g of protein and 5g of fiber. Again, my own theory is that protein and fiber make up most of the appetite suppressant effects of these shakes. I have nothing to prove that so I am very likely to be wrong, but it is a theory. So, looking at only fiber and protein, the Orgain product from Costco looks better. I’m not convinced that all of the probiotics, etc, make any difference, but as I do more research on that I’ll share what I can find out.
Another popular shakeology replacement sold on Amazon is the Nature’s Bounty Optimal Solutions Protein Shake. It is advertised as being for women, but I am not sure what ingredients if any make it inappropriate for men. The company even responded to questions saying it is appropriate for men and women, so it must be some sort of marketing thing that it is labeled for women. The only issue I could maybe see is because it contains soy and there are theories that ingesting soy can raise estrogen levels. I really don’t see this being significant enough of an issue to avoid soy, as most men eat plenty of soy based products anyway. So, the cost of Nature’s Bounty is currently only $9 per container which provides 13 servings. This is by far the cheapest alternative I have seen at a cost of only $0.69 per shake. It is high in both protein and fiber, having 15g of protein and 6g of fiber. It currently has a rating of 4.1 out of 5 stars on Amazon.
Please share your thoughts and suggestions in the comments. I’m very curious to see what works for other people.