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3 Day Refresh ⇒ Shakeology Review
In the fall of 2014, I became fixated on Beachbody’s 3 Day Refresh.
I don’t remember why, exactly. Maybe I thought that the 3 Day Refresh would be a quick & easy way to reset my not-so-great eating habits. That I would wake up on day 4 feeling skinny, energized, and inspired to overhaul my diet.
If you’ve read my now infamous review of the 3 Day Refresh, you know that I hated it. Like, literally. The title of the post is “I Survived the 3 Day Refresh (and Hated Every Minute of It).”
In retrospect, it’s not surprising that I didn’t love the 3DR. I mean, how can you really love something that’s 900 calories a day and gives you more gas than a truckload of burritos?
I was surprised, though, that I didn’t like Shakeology. The 3 Day Refresh includes 3 daily shakes: Fiber Sweep (gag), Vanilla Fresh (disgusting), and your choice of Shakeology flavors. And while Shakeology certainly has its fair share of mixed reviews, I’d read enough raves that I really expected to at least like (if not love) it.
I selected Vegan Tropical Strawberry Shakeology for my 3DR. Long story short? I HATED it. No matter what I mixed it with or added to it, I couldn’t make it drinkable.
Of course, I realize now how ill-conceived my whole 3DR plan was. The simple truth is that the only kind of shake I like is made with ice cream. As for the rest of them – superfood, protein, meal replacement – nope. They’re not for me.
My husband, on the other hand, is a big fan of shakes. He drinks at least one a day – sometimes 2 or 3, depending on what I’ve prepared (or more often, not prepared) for dinner. He’s tried quite a few protein products over the years, and he chooses products based on their nutritional profile, taste, and cost per serving. He also has a much less delicate palate than I do. He doesn’t mind non-sugar sweeteners, and he’s open to trying new foods and flavors.
In other words, his Shakeology review probably has more of a widespread appeal & value than my across-the-board YUCK. So when we decided to revisit Beachbody products, it made a whole lot more sense for Vic to be the guinea pig this time.
The Shakeology 7-Day Sampler
We were reluctant to purchase the full-size product because of the cost – it’s $129.95 (plus tax, shipping, and handling) for 30 servings in a bag OR for 24 single-serving packets. That’s a lot of money to spend on something that you may or may not like.
(Note: all Beachbody products come with a 30-day money-back guarantee, although the specifics vary by product. Shakeology even comes with a “Bottom of the Bag” money-back guarantee, which means that customers can return packages that have been opened and used, even if the bag is completely empty. This is pretty cool.)
The Shakeology 7-Day Sampler seemed like the best option – 7 single-serving packets of 7 different flavors. The Beachbody website lists this as $34.95, but after tax, shipping, and handling it cost us $44.62 (that’s over $6/serving, if you’re keeping track).
We’ll discuss the cost a little later on. But first, I asked Vic to give his opinion on each of the 7 flavors – their taste, texture, smell, and anything else that struck him, both good and bad. I tried some of the flavors too – you can hear about my experience in the video clips.
The 7-Day Sampler included the following flavors:
- Café Latte
- Chocolate Vegan
- Tropical Strawberry Vegan
There is also a vegan-only sampler pack available, with 2 packets each of Chocolate Vegan & Tropical Strawberry.
The 7-Day Sampler comes with 1-2 recipe suggestions for each flavor, and you can find loads more online. I’ve browsed through some forums and other blog posts, and the consensus seems to be that recipes are a must.
Vic tried all 7 varieties of Shakeology – he had one each morning for 7 consecutive days. Some mornings he made shakes (8 oz liquid + contents of package, blended in a shaker cup). Other mornings he made smoothies (contents of package + other ingredients, mixed in a blender). Sometimes he used the recipes recommended by Beachbody, and other times he added the Shakeology into his usual morning smoothie.
The following reviews are in Vic’s words.
The Café Latte, Chocolate, and Vegan Chocolate taste similar to other protein supplements. In my experience with protein shakes, chocolate is usually the safest flavor in terms of taste. I mixed all 3 of these flavors with milk (1% milk, 2% milk, or almond milk) in a shaker cup. With the chocolate vegan, I also added some peanut butter powder.
Some of the flavors have a pronounced “green” smell – similar to lawn clippings. (If you’ve ever tried a “Greens” product, you know what I’m talking about.) But in spite of the smell, the “green” taste really wasn’t that pronounced. The product didn’t entirely dissolve in the mix and left some residue in the container, which should be expected given that the ingredient list includes things that are not soluble.
The Vanilla and Strawberry flavors were okay. I used the recommended “Vanilla Latte” recipe for the Vanilla Shakeology (1 cup cooled brewed coffee, 1/2 cup almond milk, 1 tsp honey). With the Strawberry, I added it into my usual morning smoothie (almond milk, no-fat Greek yogurt, frozen fruit, ground flax, and oatmeal). I usually add 1 scoop of whey protein powder, so I replaced this with Strawberry Shakeology. (My current brand of protein powder is Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Vanilla Whey, which I bought on sale at Costco – 6lbs for $45).
In terms of protein supplements in general, vanilla is typically a safe bet for mixing with smoothies or on its own, while fruit flavors can be a gamble. Both the Vanilla and Strawberry Shakeology tasted fine. Not great, but not terrible either.
The Terrible (or Why, Beachbody, Why?)
Do yourself a favor and stay away from the Greenberry and Vegan Tropical Strawberry. Better yet, give them to someone you don’t like. OMG, the Tropical Strawberry! Just don’t.
I added Tropical Strawberry to my own morning smoothie blend. There is a very minimal amount of powder in the total volume – how much could it affect the taste? It’s strawberry, after all. Big mistake! Adding the Vegan Strawberry to my smoothie gave it a very noticeable sour/bitter aftertaste. It was hard to finish. This was unexpected, as the Vegan Chocolate was pretty good.
[Note: This is what Vic emailed to me after trying the Tropical Strawberry. “This made my shake <bleeping> awful. I would have thrown it out if we didn’t pay so much and didn’t need the feedback for the blog.”]
I used the “Blueberry Lemonade” recipe to make the Greenberry, and I found it okay. However, if you watch the video and see Sharon’s reaction to it, you’ll understand why purchasing this flavor is a gamble. At the cost per serving, it’s just not worth it. Stick with the safer flavors like Chocolate and Vanilla.
Vic recorded his experience and results carefully. The following is in his words.
My career teaches me to document processes and measure results. It’s easier to identify effects by changing only one variable at a time. That’s what I did with Shakeology – I used it just as I would use any other supplement. I already eat well and work out 3 or more times per week, so switching out my usual product for Shakeology wasn’t a big lifestyle change (except for my wallet). Here are some details.
My typical workout is 10-15 minutes warming up on an elliptical followed by 45 minutes of resistance training. This was a somewhat unusual week for me, in that I don’t normally work out 7 days in a row. In a typical week when I’m not traveling, I can usually fit in 5 workouts. I was especially productive during my Shakeology review week, which I think was my way of giving the Shakeology a truly fair shake. I wanted to provide the optimal circumstances for it to work, and I didn’t want to undermine the merit of my review by skipping any steps.
As you can see from the chart, my “daily dose of dense nutrition” didn’t help me lose weight or have a leaner body composition. It also didn’t give me a noticeable increase in energy.
There is no silver bullet. I’ve used a lot of these products over the years, and I’ve learned through much trial and error that there is no magic supplement (or combination of supplements) that’s going to give you a six pack and superhero energy. Generally speaking, physical health is determined by three things: eating, training, and rest (Check out Tom Rath’s “Eat Move Sleep“).
Supplementation of one’s diet is a very small factor in overall physical health and conditioning. Adding a “superfood” supplement cannot fix a diet that is primarily processed foods with simple/refined carbohydrate sources.
So with the exception of a couple of flavors, Vic’s review of Shakeology was pretty favorable – at least in terms of taste. And while he didn’t experience any “amazing benefits,” he found it comparable to other protein powders.
In terms of cost, though, Beachbody falls short when compared with similar products.
I sat down yesterday and tried to simplify Beachbody’s pricing structure. The trouble is – their pricing is anything but simple. After 2 hours of researching, calculating, and typing, I gave up. (You know things have gone awry when your eyes glaze over while reading your own writing.) I’m going to save all those facts & figures for a separate post, so if you’re interested in reading a thorough breakdown of Beachbody pricing, check back here in a couple of weeks. For now, just a couple of highlights:
1. Beachbody’s shipping charges are outrageous. If you choose to autoship (recurring monthly shipments until you cancel), shipping is only $2. But if you want to make a one-time purchase, shipping is a whopping 11.5% of your subtotal (with a minimum shipping charge of $6.95). This means that when you purchase a 30-day supply of Shakeology, you’ll pay $14.95 for shipping on top of the retail price of $129.95.
2. After shipping and taxes (which could be an additional $9-10, depending on where you live), you can expect to pay over $150 for a 30-day supply of Shakeology, or about $5/serving.
3. You can purchase discounted products by signing up for a Team Beachbody club membership, purchasing a Challenge Pack, or becoming a Beachbody Coach. However, all 3 options come with sign-up and/or recurring monthly fees – which means that those discounts might not be as deep as they appear to be.
Vic sums it up nicely: “A good product will sell based on its quality and value without some convoluted marketing scheme. I want to buy a product without feeling compelled to become affiliated with a sales program just so I can afford it. This is where Beachbody falls short in my assessment.”
Conclusion: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
Vic gives most of the flavors a thumbs up on taste. I like that the package includes easy recipe ideas and that you can find tons more on the official Shakeology site: yummy sounding stuff like Strawberry Ginger and Hazelnut Latte.
I love Beachbody’s 30-day money-back guarantee and the “Bottom of the Bag” money-back guarantee included with Shakeology. I’ve never attempted to return a product, but from what I’ve read online, Beachbody returns are typically pretty hassle-free.
We also love the built-in support system that comes with your Beachbody purchase. Not only do you have access to a multitude of online resources, but you have your own coach to guide & support you through the process.
Shakeology is marketed as a daily nutritional shake packed with superfoods. For reference, superfood is defined by Merriam-Webster Dictionary as “a food that is rich in compounds considered beneficial to a person’s health.”
Five dollars per serving for Shakeology might not sound like a big deal – people spend that much on a Starbucks drink, right? But compare that with Vic’s current protein product, Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey Protein, which you can purchase at Costco for $60 + $3 shipping, or on Amazon for $70 with free shipping. That’s $0.70-$0.80/serving!!! (To learn how Vic selects his protein products, click HERE.)
And while it’s true that Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard does not contain superfoods, there are a number of other protein + superfood blends on the market – most of which cost less than $2.50/serving. (I’ll get into more details about these products in my follow-up post about the cost of Shakeology.)
I’m not saying that Shakeology isn’t a great product. But we think you can do better for your money. Do your research (and crunch the numbers) when choosing the product that’s right for you. Or pass on the protein + superfood blends altogether and use the money you save for a good protein supplement (70% protein by mass) and some real superfoods (like blueberries, broccoli, and avocados).
Three words: Vegan. Tropical. Strawberry. Just don’t.
Your Shakeology Review
We’d love to hear your thoughts. What’s your favorite flavor of Shakeology? Any Tropical Strawberry fans out there? Have you tried other protein + superfood blends? Let’s keep the conversation going – just keep it friendly, okay?