Three times in the last week I've been specifically asked about the difference between Shakeology and Isagenix. This is a tough one only because my last posting was about The Ultimate Reset. I don't want people to think I am trying to "bash" Beachbody by any means. They are a terrific company, I love their workouts and their coach network is great. But being in the business of health and wellness I get a lot of these questions and need to put my research and information all in one place for easy reference (and so I'm not typing them out every time I am asked about them).
First, let me tell you my experience with the shakes and then we'll go into more objective details. Obviously, since we're just talking Shakeology, I am not going to do a comparison between that and an entire Isagenix program, just the IsaLean Shake. This is one of the core products in any Isagenix program.
I started using Isagenix products in February of 2010. I was cleansing on a regular basis, putting top notch nutrition in my body and my body was responding in ways I thought it never would. I felt great inside and out. The following December I decided that I wanted to also become a Beachbody coach because I loved health and wellness and physical fitness cannot be separate from that. I joined the network of coaches and was promoting the workouts through my old blog, Facebook and through word of mouth. I had a few people purchase programs through me but it became more difficult since people don't purchase a program every month. In order to make this a successful business venture I was going to have to share a consumable product that would have to be reordered every month. At that point the #1 consumable product Beachbody had was Shakeology. I bought some to try and share. I figured if people didn't want a whole program, they could at least do a shake a day right?
Two or three days a week I would have Shakeology in place of one of my IsaLean shakes. I noticed some gurgling in my stomach but there were no other noticeable differences in how I felt. I did, however, notice one HUGE drawback to the shake... the taste. I tried everything I could to make it palatable and the only thing that worked for loading the chocolate shake with milk, banana and peanut butter. The greenberry version - forget it! Nothing worked for that one.This was hard for me because my IsaLean shake was simply added to 8oz of water, blended for about 10 seconds and it tasted like a Wendy's Frosty. I had sent samples of the Shakeology to friends and I received the same response from them - they hated the taste and there was no way they were going to do that everyday.
After a few months I decided that I needed to do a few consecutive days of the shake to see if it would change how I felt or my performance during workouts. Instead of doing my IsaLean shake for breakfast, I substituted the Shakeology (with much doctoring for taste). I only made it three days. On day two I began having some digestive issues and was in the bathroom a little more than normal. By day three it was BAD. If I felt the urge to go and didn't it was going to be all over for me. This was especially difficult as I am a teacher and you can't just leave your classroom at anytime. You have to WAIT for another teacher to stop what they are doing so they can watch your students. I decided that day that there was NO WAY I was going to share this experience with anyone else. Oddly enough, this was the most common issue asked about in the coach network groups I was in on Facebook. "What do I tell a client who has developed digestive/gastrointestinal issues with Shakeology?" The "go-to" answer was to tell them that their body was adjusting to the dense nutrition and to give it time. My body was used to dense nutrition and I still had a horrible experience with this. I could not accept that answer. The Shakeology was returned the next day.
Now, those two observations I had while using Shakeology were just that... MY EXPERIENCE. I am not saying everyone who uses it has those issues but they aren't that uncommon from what I've heard from friends and other coaches. I would definitely not recommend it for someone who is already suffering from gastrointestinal issues.
So enough of my experience... let's move to a more objective comparison between Shakeology and the IsaLean shake.The first issue that always comes up is... you guessed it... price!
Shakeology - Chocolate, Greenberry, Tropical Strawberry, Vanilla or Chocolate Vegan
(1-30 ct bag, 30 servings)
RETAIL@ $129.95 = $4.33 per shake (updated 11/24/13)
*TEAM MEMBERSHIP @ $107.96 = $3.60 per shake
**COACH PRICING @ $71.97 = $2.40 per shake (assuming a 40% discount as I used to receive)
These prices do not include the cost of items added to the shake to enhance flavor such as fruit, milk, soymilk, peanut butter, PB2, etc. that I required.
*Team membership cost: $2.99 per week
**Coach membership cost: $40 annual, $14.95 monthly fees
IsaLean Shake - Chocolate or Vanilla (updated 11/24/13)
(2 - 14 ct canisters, 28 servings)
RETAIL @ $103.90 = $3.71 per shake
*REWARDS PRICING @ $79.90 = $2.85 per shake
*Rewards membership cost: $29 annual, no monthly fees
Summary: Let's assume that the nutrient content in either shake were equal, per serving at a retail price the IsaLean shake is clearly the better choice. Upon first glance the Coach pricing for Shakeology seems to have the IsaLean shake beat but I can't help but wonder what the price WOULD be if you factor in the monthly and annual fees to get the Coach and Rewards pricing. Want to do the math one more time?
Shakeology @ $2.40 per shake (coach pricing)
Annual fee: $40 / 365 days = $0.11 daily
Monthly fee: $14.95 / 30 days = $0.50 daily
Total daily shake price: $2.40 + $0.11 +$0.50 = $3.00 per shake per day
IsaLean Shake @ $2.85 per shake (rewards pricing)
Annual fee: $29 / 365 days = $0.08 daily
Monthly fee: NA
Total daily shake price: $2.85 + $0.08 = $2.93 per shake per day
In my book the IsaLean shake comes out in front in terms of price. Now for some price is not an issue, for me (living on a budget with a toddler who eats everything in sight), price is definitely an issue and although it might not be much (only a $2.10 savings per month for IsaLean over Shakeology) that is still money in the bank for our household.
There is no doubt in my mind that the ingredients in Shakeology are top notch. Most of those berries and extracts you can't find in your local market. The IsaLean shake has some of those too. Where I see a huge difference is in the protein base of the shake. Both shakes have whey protein. Whey has been proven better at helping burn fat and calories than soy however... here's a little bit of education for you. Did you know there is a big difference between protein isolate and protein concentrate? I was not aware of this until recently.
This excerpt is from Dr. Mercola's website in regards to choosing the right whey protein. You can view the entire article here.
Whey Protein Isolates have Dangerous Forms of Protein
This is the protein that is in the Shakeology formula (with the exception of their new vegan Tropical Strawberry flavor which uses brown rice protein). Personally, this frightens me. Instead of protein isolates, Dr. Mercola says to choose a high quality protein concentrate for the following reasons (also found at the link above):All whey protein isolates are devoid of nutritional co-factors including alkalizing minerals, naturally occurring vitamins, and lipids, which are lost in the processing... This renders them deficient and overly acidifying. Unlike whole protein food concentrates which does not acidify your body due to its alkalinizing minerals, whey protein isolate are over acidifying.Whey isolate can be a serious liability.
If chronically consumed in large amounts (such as with bodybuilders or athletes) without alkalizing foods, it can acidify your body and over time may lead to metabolic acidosis with consequences that include waste of muscle and bone tissues, total metabolic shut down, and increased vulnerability to degenerative disease.Many cheap whey protein isolates are produced from acid cheese; they're byproducts of acid processing, which is a cheap way to separate whey from the curd. Most of these whey products are rated below pet foods because of the inferior quality of the protein, which is actually more of a nitrogen waste product than one that will produce health benefits that are mentioned in the featured study.Additionally once the fat has been removed from whey protein isolate, you lose some of the most important components of its immunological properties, such as phospholipids, phosphatidylserine and CLA. All of the IgG immunoglobulins, which are an excellent source of glutamine and glutamylcysteine, are also bound to the fat globule, and therefore lost in the processing of whey isolates.So the bottom line is that if you want to use whey protein, PLEASE do not use an inferior whey isolate as there is no doubt in my mind it will cause more damage to you than benefit."
"There's no shortage of whey products on the market, but unfortunately most of them will NOT give you the health benefits associated with high-quality whey. First of all you want to use a whey protein concentrate. High quality whey protein concentrates also have glutamylcysteine, the major precursor to glutathione, which is another phenomenal anti-aging nutrient.
There is probably no other area of processed foods where you need to be careful than in selecting a high quality whey supplement.
Most whey proteins are processed from ultrapasteurized milk and many are exposed to acid processing. Heat and acid damages the protein and makes it insoluble in water. This is one of the key ways to differentiate high quality whey protein from inferior ones."Isagenix makes no effort to hide the source of their whey protein. It is sourced out of New Zealand from grass-fed happy cows. Why do they call them happy? These cows are only milked during their natural milking season. They are not given hormones to keep them in a constant state of lactation. This keeps their stress levels down thus.... Happy Cows! In addition, the whey is undenatured, meaning it is processed at a low heat, so the natural and live enzymes are not killed off. It does not go through the acid processes mentioned in Dr. Mercola's article therefore it is soluble in water and easily absorbed by the body. You can read about this process here.
I also want to include this link to a comparison chart I found very informative about the whey Isagenix uses compared to the most competitive brands Chart
Summary: Again, there is no doubt that Beachbody has included some of the finest quality ingredients that you just can't find in your local grocer. I am actually excited to see they use Himilayan sea salt and other great nutrients for flavoring such as stevia instead of nasty artificial flavorings. For me all of that is over-shadowed by the fact that they utilize an inferior protein source for their shake which is actually acidic to the body. Part of the reason I chose Isagenix was because I had been diagnosed with a condition that was highly reactive to acidic foods and beverages and I knew that their products were designed to help neutralize the body. At the time I was not aware of the difference between the two protein sources. Had I known then there is no way I would have ever put Shakeology in my mouth. I later found out that disease loves two things - and acidic environment and lack of oxygen. Guess I should have done more research early on, right?
Meal Replacement Comparison
The last question I'll address is that of these shakes being a full meal replacement. This is a statement made by Livestrong.com
As a rule of thumb for weight loss, a meal replacement should contain fewer calories than you would normally eat in a meal. While 200 calories is likely too few to tide you over until it's time to eat next, 500 may be too many, so try to pick options between 300 and 400 calories.
In August 2012 Isagenix released a reformulated version of the IsaLean shake. Here are the key differences as stated on their website http://www.isagenixhealth.net/blog/2012/08/28/7-ways-new-isalean-shakes-are-more-nutritious-than-ever/
11/24/2013 Update - I was recently made aware that Beachbody has no removed the Suma Root from their formulation. After checking some nutrition labels I did find it was no longer listed. I'm glad they have removed this controversial ingredient from their product line. I spoke with a friend who had tried Shakeology in the past month and, despite the removal of this ingredient, she still had the same gastrointestinal issues that I had. It seems this continues to be an common problem.
I was reading the back of my Shakeology bag and it says the following:
"Ecdysterone is a naturally occurring photo-chemical compound that could be erroneously detected and flagged in synthetic steroid screening tests. That unfortunate reality caused the NFL and WADA to add ecdysterone to the list of banned substances in 2010. Athletes and anyone subject to banned substances testing should consult with their physician and athletic organization."
Beachbody - do you foresee replacing or eliminating this ingredient to allow athletes to drink Shakeology? Seems we are missing a HUGE group of people that are like minded (fit) and have no problem spending the $4/day for this (at least the pro athletes).
It comes from Suma root and we've decided the benefits of Suma out weigh the negatives. We may re-think in the future or, hopefully, WADA will drop ecdysterone from the banned list since it's a natural ingredient and doesn't work in the same pathways as anabolic steroids. The actual amount of ecdysterone found in Suma is low and I've been hoping I get tested to find out if a positive test is even possible. So far, all threats to test age groups athletes have wrung hollow. However, I may get tested at World's in Sept.
The IsaLean shake does not contain Suma Root and is, therefore, perfectly usable by professional athletes with no risk of positive results on steroid testing.
I found this information about Suma Root online here. This was put out by a company that sells Suma Root extract. I am glad to see they are upfront about the products they sell.
BIOLOGICAL ACTIVITIES AND CLINICAL RESEARCHContraindications:The third bullet point makes me wonder it the inclusion of Suma Root might be part of the reason I've heard so many people report gastrointestinal discomfort and diarrhea when using Shakeology. Just a thought.
Drug Interactions:Vitamin K: This product contains Vitamin K – People taking warfarin should seek medical advice before starting consumption.
Note for Professional AthletesUnfortunately, the World Anti-Doping Association (WADA) and the U.S National Football League (NFL) decided to add ecdysteroids (including ecdysterone, the one found in Suma Root) to their list of banned substances because even though it is an all-natural phyto-chemical compound which has benefits to the body and no known toxic side effects, it can be erroneously detected and mistaken for a banned substance in screening tests by WADA, the NFL and the NSF (an organization that conducts banned substances tests for sports nutrition products). At this time, tests for banned substances are not sophisticated enough to be able to differentiate natural, healthy substances such as ecdysterone in Suma Root from synthetic banned substances.
I hope you have found this review helpful. Again, I have tried to be objective in providing the information that is most helpful in educating you to make the right decision for yourself. I will also say again, I am not in the business of "bashing" another company. I simply want people to KNOW what they are putting in their bodies as everything we put in has some effect, whether positive or negative, on our long-term health.