I first started to swap mid-day meals with meal replacement powders in early 2011, when I realized that I was eating more junk than I ought to.
I didn’t know anything about meal replacements back then and bought the most aggressively marketed powder in the world, Herbalife Formula 1, which a guy from my gym sold me.
It worked fine for a while, until I started to notice that I was feeling sluggish and sleepy all day.
That’s not how food should make you feel.
When I took up a field job in 2014, one that demanded all-day travel, I knew that my consumption of meal replacement powders was all set to increase. So I spent a good month or two researching and minutely scrutinizing every single meal replacement powder in the market.
I made some startling discoveries. It was then that I shifted to Shakeology.
You see Herbalife is everywhere around us. I find at least four people in my gym using it at any point of time, as a weight loss tool. That’s what aggressive marketing can do.
It wasn’t until I started to use Shakeology that I realized the difference that a quality meal replacement powder can bring to your life.
Meal replacements can be a life saver. They can help you keep your calorie intake in check, help you to get some much needed veggies into your body and also keep your vitamin and mineral levels in check.
But if you are not careful, then they are an overpriced, unhealthy rip off.
If you use meal replacements as frequently as I do, and have wondered whether Shakeology is as good as Herbalife is, or vise a versa, then this blog post will help clear some doubts.
Shakeology vs. Herbalife: Quick Summary
For the unversed, both Shakeology and Herbalife are meal replacement shakes.
Herbalife’s meal replacement shake is Formula 1 and ever since its debut in 1980, it has remained the flagship product for the company.
Shakeology on the other hand debuted in the early 2000s when Beachbody decided to expand into the dietary supplement business. It was the perfect adjuvant to go along with their hardcore workout programs.
Both these products have been around for quite a while and command a loyal user base.
But having used both these products for over two years, I can safely say that the difference is night and day.
Before you jump to conclusions, I would like to say that I am not a Beachbody coach either. So this is not a stealthy sales pitch.
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s talk about each one of these in a little more detail.
Shakeology is one of the best meal replacement shakes in the world. Period.
Each shake has more than 70 ingredients that include super greens for phytonutrients, super fruits for antioxidants, adaptogens to help you manage stress, soluble and insoluble fiber to keep you feeling fuller and 15-17 grams of protein.
Add to this all 31 essential vitamins and minerals, and the 9-essential amino acids that your body needs to function normally.
All of that makes it sounds like a calorie bomb. But Shakeology is just 160 calories a shake.
It is a great choice for anyone who doesn’t have the time to cook up a four-course meal every day or buy super foods for that matter.
How many meals do you consume every day that have 1.4 grams of antioxidants sourced from super greens and fruits? Or 1.05 grams of probiotics?
The answer is that most of us don’t. We eat whatever we can grab, or whatever is tasty, while cocking a snook at the nutritional profile of the food we eat.
Food is not just meant to fulfill pangs. It’s also meant to nourish.
Shakeology gives you the best of both worlds. It gives you the nutrition you need with the taste you crave.
Aah…where do I start?
One word, junk!
There was some follow up to this, (which reeks of a PR exercise) where the studies were later refuted and some sweeping under the carpet was done.
But even if you don’t care much for your liver, (which you should) I wouldn’t recommend Herbalife to anybody. Not even to my worst enemy. Lol!
It’s just an overpriced, toxic money grab.
Shakeology - What Is It and Who Makes It?
Shakeology is made by Beachbody LLC, a fitness company that was set up in 1998.
It is a meal replacement powder that’s designed as a substitute to real food.
One of the common arguments thrown at meal replacement powders is that it’s not real food.
But Shakeology, is in fact as real as it gets. It has veggies, fruits, prebiotics, probiotics, protein, fiber, healthy fats and some carbs. To top it off, it has vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and adaptogens.
In a nutshell, it’s everything that your dinner plate should be. The only difference is that this comes in a tiny sachet and can be had anywhere at your convenience.
According to Carl Daikeler, who’s one of the co-founders of the company, the idea for Shakeology originated during a mid-meal remark that his wife made.
She said that he ate like a second grader and that’s what led to the idea to create something that would be as convenient to use, as it was nutritious. A year of R & D followed and Shakeology was born.
One of the things that I really like about them, is that they have constantly innovated their product. It’s no longer the shake that was launched in 2005.
The formula has been updated and tweaked numerous times to make it more current.
Do They Have a Mission?
Every time you dig into a takeaway meal, or a juicy burger, it produces what is called as an insulin spike in your body.
When insulin spikes occur multiple times in a day, for a period of years, it reduces insulin sensitivity, which can be one of the precursors to Type-II diabetes.
In the short term, these insulin spikes trigger hunger pangs, which makes you want to eat again and again, leading to more insulin spikes.
It’s a vicious cycle that causes high cholesterol, obesity, hypertension and diabetes amongst other lifestyle diseases.
Beachbody wanted to create a meal that was convenient enough to use, was low on the glycemic index (no random insulin spikes) and contained all the vital nutrients that your body needs on a daily basis.
They call Shakeology, a shake that you can trust and the best investment that you can ever make.
If you look at the Beachbody community, Shakeology has been a life changer for millions of users.
It certainly is a shake that you can trust.
What About Herbalife? Who and What Are They?
Herbalife is a nutrition company that sells dietary supplements and nutraceuticals through a multi-level marketing business model, that employs more than 1 million independent distributors around the world.
It was formed by Mark Hughes in 1980 and is headquartered in the United States.
Over the years, the company has been remarkably successful with their meal replacement powder, called ‘Formula 1’ which accounts for more than 30% of their total sales volume.
That never ceases to amaze me, because the same meal replacement powder has been associated with acute liver damage on numerous occasions.
Herbalife’s MLM model has also faced flak, with some experts dissing it as a glorified pyramid scheme.
Despite all this, business is thriving for Herbalife and Formula 1 is one of America’s bestselling meal replacement powders.
What About Their Mission Do They Have One?
Herbalife’s mission, as claimed by the company is to improve nutritional habits around the world.
That’s what they have been aiming for since their inception in 1980, and to this end they have expanded their product range under a variety of brand names like Thermojetics, Health & Fitness Bulk & Muscle, Cell-U-Loss, Dermojetics&Colour cosmetics.
Their primary business niche is weight loss, although they also have a wide array of general wellness products.
However, the caveat is that Herbalife’s products are grossly overpriced for what they deliver.
If you are looking to lose weight with Herbalife, then it may be one of the most expensive ways to lose a few pounds.
If you believe that Herbalife’s products will help you detox your liver and kidneys, then you are the perfect potential customer for brands like these, that thrive on hype.
Shakeology Vs Herbalife: Which Has Better Reviews? What Are Customers Saying?
Shakeology has tons and tons of positive reviews all over the internet.
There are people who have lost weight, who have overcome their digestive problems and who have finally been able to stick to a specific calorie count each day.
The shakes taste delicious and are very low cal, despite containing all that it does contain.
That said, there are a few negative reviews. But they have more to do with the Beachbody MLM business model than the actual shake.
As long as you keep the two separate, I think we are good to go.
Herbalife on the other hand has scores of negative reviews on messaging boards, social media and personal fitness blogs.
What separates this from Shakeology is that these reviews are about the actual products and less about the business practices.
There have been 51 cases of acute liver damage associated with Herbalife so far. Enough said.
There’s also some chatter about it being like a cult that uses pushy sales tactics.
When it comes to meal replacement powders, I have tasted enough of these to land me a job as a professional taster for one of these companies.
Right from chalky goop to powders that mix well into a smoothie-like consistency, the taste can vary extensively depending on what brand you pick.
My favorites are Shakeology and Ka’Chava.
The least favorites are Huel (decent shake, tastes like goop) and ….drumrolls….Herbalife Formula 1.
Shakeology: Creamy consistency
Shakeology is available in five flavors, in both vegan and Whey options.
Chocolate Plant-based is my personal favorite, followed by Caffe Latte and Vanilla. I didn’t like the Pumpkin Spice, even though my partner swears by it.
Overall, the shakes have a very rich, creamy consistency, unlike other plant based proteins which taste either bland or extremely sweet, with no middle ground.
You can gulp one of these down at any time in the day.
Also, if you log on to the community, there are so many recipes that allow you to customize these shakes to your liking.
Herbalife: Overly Sweet
Like I mentioned a while ago, Herbalife’s shakes are overly sweet.
Each shake contains 9gms of Sugar, which doesn’t bother me as much as the taste itself.
It’s just too sweet for my liking. Leaves a synthetic aftertaste just after gulping it down.
I have tried all 6-flavors including Mint and Chocolate, Cookie crunch, Café Latte, Banana Cream, Smooth chocolate and Strawberry delight.
The barealy tolerable ones were the Mint & Chocolate and Café Latte. The rest are not even palatable imho.
Shakeology Vs Herbalife – What Are the Differences?
Let’s start with the most obvious and glaring difference in these two shakes, the protein source.
Shakeology Has a Superior Protein Blend
Shakeology sources its protein primarily from Pea and Whey. Pea and Brown rice in the vegan option.
The other ingredients that make up the protein mix are Quinoa and Flax, which overall is a very healthy protein blend that delivers all 9-essential amino acids.
Herbalife uses Soy Protein Isolate (SPI)
Soy Protein itself is not a bad quality protein at all, though it often gets an unreasonable bad rap for its estrogen content.
The problem is that Herbalife does not use Soy protein.
It uses Soy Protein Isolate, which is a highly processed, concentrated version of the former and which has been stripped of most of its nutritional content during the processing.
That’s not all. The processing also produces unwanted byproducts, that in some cases can also produce carcinogens.
Last but not the least, almost 90% of the soy grown in the United States is genetically modified.
So chances are high that the protein that you are getting from Herbalife is GMO.
Wait, did I mention that it can also mess with the absorption of protein in your body by inhibiting an enzyme called trypsin? That’s a recipe for an upset tummy every time you consume a high protein food.
Shakeology Doesn’t Require You to Use Other Supplements
You don’t really need to subscribe to Beachbody’s programs to be able to use Shakeology. Nor do you need to buy a whole bunch of other supplements along with it.
You can buy a sachet and use it as and when required.
Herbalife Is Sold as Part of Programs
Herbalife on the other hand is sold as part of a program that requires you to use the Formula 1 Shake along with a whole bunch of other supplements that supposedly increase the likelihood of weight loss.
The supps that you will be recommended will be personalized depending on your current health and body composition.
But at any point of time, you’d be shelling out extra bucks for additional supplements such as Herbalife Formula 3 Cell Activator and the Herbalife Formula 2 Multivitamin.
Both of these are again way too overpriced for what they deliver. You can get much cheaper multivitamins on any online store.
Herbalife Has More Flavors
The only advantage of using Herbalife, (although I don’t really see that as an advantage), is that it’s got a lot more flavor options.
There are almost 18-flavors on offer, including some limited edition ones like Pumpkin Spice.
Now, almost every one of these is artificially flavored.
Pina Colada uses artificial Pineapple and Coconut flavoring. Dutch Chocolate contains artificial Vanilla.
Wild Berry contains artificial raspberry flavoring.
That’s a lot of flavors that leave a synthetic aftertaste in your mouth. Even the ones that do use natural flavoring are overly sweet.
Which One Mixes Better?
If this comparison was made a few years ago, I would have commented that there’s very little to choose between the two.
But Shakeology’s consistency and mixability has improved by leaps and bounds in the last few years.
It mixes amazingly well in a shaker, with just water and leaves no undissolved gunk at the bottom. If you like your shakes frothy at the top, mix it with a blender, or give it a really good shake.
Herbalife’s shakes also mix reasonably well in a blender. But it’s not shaker-friendly at all. You will always find at least a few chunks of undissolved powder at the bottom of the shaker no matter how long you go at it.
Shakeology vs Herbalife: Nutritional Differences
Most dieters base their perceived value of a meal replacement powder by the numbers that they see on the product label.
Shakeology Nutrition Breakdown
Herbalife Nutrition Breakdown
Supplement manufacturers realized this years ago and have used various techniques to mask or sneak ingredients that offer zero nutritional value.
Let’s compare the ingredient list for Shakeology and Herbalife.
- SPI vs. Whey/Pea Protein: We already spoke about this.
- Fructose: If you take a careful look at a Herbalife product label, you’ll find that the first four items are nothing but empty carbs, like Fructose for example. Fructose that occurs naturally in fruit is not that harmful mind you. But Herbalife contains way more than that. Not only does this trigger hunger pangs, it’s also likely to contribute towards your triglycerides, which in turn increase the risk of heart disease.
- Cellulose Powder: A by-product of wood processing that’s used as a thickener in shakes. Herbalife uses Cellulose to give it’s shakes that creamy, thickness. Shakeology on the other hand uses pea protein.
- Corn Bran: Another filler ingredient that’s sourced from GMO corn and is linked to organ toxicity.
- Potassium chloride: Dangerous chemical used in fertilizers and lethal injection cocktails.
- Canola Oil: Loaded with trans-fats. Also most likely to be sourced from GMO ingredients.
There are many more such ingredients in Herbalife that offer zero nutritional value, but have been added to increase satiety and reduce hunger pangs.
Shakeology on the other hand has next to zero filler ingredients. The phytonutrients and fruits alone are worth their weight in gold. Goji Berry, Blueberry, Bilberry, Astralagus root, Acerola cherry, Camu-Camu, Maca root, flax, Chia and Pomegranate are a few that we can think of.
There’s a powerful mushroom blend as well.
Like we said, the difference is night and day.
Protein: Each Shakeology drink gives you 15-17 grams of a high quality protein blend. That’s a little less than the 20-25 grams that I prefer to consume each meal. But it’s a tradeoff that I am more than willing to make provided that it ticks all the other boxes that I consider to be more important. Herbalife on the other hand has just 9 grams of protein per shake that’s sourced from one of the cheapest sources of protein in the world.
Fat: Shakeology is very low in fat content. At least in the harmful variety of fat. It does contain some monosaturated fats because of the Chia and Flax seeds. Each shake contains just 2 grams of fat. Herbalife on the other hand contains 3 grams of fat courtesy the Canola oil and Medium-chain-triglycerides.
Calories: Herbalife is ridiculously low in calories. We’ll give you that. At just 90 calories a shake when mixed with water, it’s guaranteed to help create a deficit and thereby help you lose weight. But that’s precisely why it’s loaded with appetite suppressants, some of which are quite controversial. So that you wouldn’t have cravings until your next shake. Would it help lose weight? Sure. Is the weight loss healthy though? Absolutely not. Shakeology on the other hand is around 170 calories when mixed with water. Again, that’s not high enough to help you sustain a healthy body weight. But at least it’s not an insanely low amount of calories.
Sugar: Both Shakeology and Herbalife contain around 9 grams of sugar each, which is not a lot even if you calculate your net sugar intake from four shakes a day. However, if you consider the low calorific value of a Herbalife shake, you just realize that 36 calories out of those 90 come from Sugar. At least 10 of those come from fat. That leaves you 44 calories to account for all those claims of nutrients, vitamins, minerals, protein and healthy carbs. The numbers don’t match, do they?
Sodium: Herbalife’s Formula 1 Shakes contain 150mg of Sodium, which isn’t that high. But it what you’d call ideal, if you are looking to consume low-sodium shakes. Shakeology on the other hand contains around 70mg of sodium, which is amongst the lowest that you can get in meal replacement powders.
Shakeology Vs Herbalife - Which Is Better for What?
The only specialized fitness goal that Herbalife works for is weight loss. That too is mired in controversy given that it’s associated with acute liver damage.
But if you are still skeptical, then here’s a more detailed comparison between the two for specific business goals.
Which Is Best for Losing Weight?
Like we said, if your only approach towards weight loss is calorie restriction, and not necessarily working out, then Herbalife may work for you. In fact, it is probably the best protein drink to take if you are not working out and planning to workout regularly. Although it is not to say that you can't consume protein shakes if you are not working out but it is the better of the two. options
But if you are looking at a healthier, more wholesome approach towards weight loss, then Shakeology is a much better bet.
It’s only 60 more calories than a Herbalife shake. But it’s 60 much better quality calories. There are 70+ healthy ingredients in Shakeology with zero fructose, zero canola oil, and zero other fillers.
I personally feel that it’s a no-brainer decision.
Which Is Better for People Who Weight Train?
Shakeology has all the ingredients that make it a perfect shake for fitness buffs.
It has around 15-17 grams of a protein blend that includes both fast and slow absorbing varieties. If you are not a vegan, you can pick the version with Whey protein.
To top it off, it has all essential amino acids that form the building blocks of protein synthesis and it has adaptogens like Ashwagandha and Maca Root, which have a positive influence on muscle building.
Herbalife seems pale in comparison with the 9 grams of protein sourced from Soy Protein Isolate. It also does not have all essential amino acids, which makes it a poor choice for people who weight train.
Which Is Best for Busy on the Go People, or People Who Travel?
That depends on whether they prefer a meal replacement with a great, wholesome nutritional profile, that contains 70+ real foods, that mixes easily and tastes delicious, but costs a little extra.
Or, they prefer a shake that’s low in calories, ridiculously low in real food based ingredients, is crammed with artificial flavors, fillers and offers very little nutritional value, but is extremely cheap.
If you prefer the latter, then by all means go for Herbalife.
But if you are looking at fitness as a lifestyle choice, rather than a short term goal, then you’d prefer Shakeology to keep you active, energized and full during your travel. You can continue to get the nutrition your body deserves rather than cutting corners with it.
My Personal Choice & Recommendation - Go with Shakeology
That’s as thorough as I could get while drawing a comparison between these two meal replacement powders.
Based on my personal experience with these, I highly recommend Shakeology.
In fact, I cannot recommend it enough. I am a busy guy who hates to cook and travels for most time of the day. But I am also a gym buff and love to lift. Shakeology ticks all these boxes and a few more.
The difference that comes with eating real food as opposed to fructose-filled junk is night and day. Give Shakeology a try to know what I mean.
- Our Review Comparison of Kachava and Shakeology
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