February 16, 2010 posted by

Shakeology Cleanse

Here’s a little inside information for the Straight Dope faithful. It’s a three day cleanse (I’m doing this week) that’s becoming a standard part of our diet guides. It came from Mike Karpenko (Beachbody coach who once worked for me in the office and still runs our test groups with me) as an evolution of a cleanse I’d done using Shakeology as a substitute for our current fasting formula. Mike spruced it up a bit, we turned it loose on our test groups, and voila!

I’ve just returned from a weekend in Moab for Romney’s birthday (and birthday challenge, report coming soon). Along with a fair amount of exercise we did a fair amount of reveling. I mean, it’s the off-season and pints are two bucks around town and what else are you going to do on a birthday weekend? Therefore, even though I spent four to six hours each day running around I feel like pig that’s been fattened for slaughter, making this a perfect time to flush my system and bring everything back into homeostasis.

This is a performance-oriented system designed to support hard training. It’s not the Master Cleanse. The goal is to promote flushing junk from your system and regulating hydration levels. It’s calorically restricted to be sure. But in its 1500 or so calories will be more nutrients than most people get by eating well over twice that amount. The key is caloric efficiency; getting the most nutrients possible out of the fewest number of calories.

It’s too fat restrictive for a lifestyle plan. I’m on a low cal cycle of the ABCDE diet so it’s the kick start to that. After three days I’ll roll this into a 1600 calorie a day plan with additional calories added for sports performance only—this means targeted calories consumed during and immediately after workouts don’t count in the daily total.
The plan consists of three Shakeology shakes* a day with a salad in the evening. If the shakes are plain (Shakeology and water only) I can add three pieces of fruit. The salad is unrestricted as far as veggies go, with 4 ounces of a protein source (if it’s meat or fish and slightly more if it’s a veggie source like legumes), and two tablespoons of an olive oil/vinegar dressing. For fatty acids, each salad will also contain a tablespoon of chia seeds (or flaxseed or hempseed). Plenty of water washes it all down. Coffee, tea, and herb teas are fine as long as they are sans additives, as all are performance enhancing. In three days I plan feel recovered from the weekend and ready to roll into my final prep phase for the Copper Canyons.

* Any meal replacement or protein shake could be substituted but I’d recommend adding at least a greens formulation to this to try and equate Shakeology’s 70 ingredients.

pics: romney’s run looking less than the promised “red hot” conditions, rare postholing conditions on castleton, celebrating romney’s “never say never” birthday challenge.


  • Same here, Low calorie for the ABCDE is very hard for me. I cant seem to take inn less than 2400 calories. My body is so used to it that I feel low on glycogen levels if I go less. The cleanse diet does sound good but not nearly as enough for me. At 147 lb (pretty light)I eat quite a lot. Is there some other way I can do this type of diet during my recovery week with more calories?Also I got a few people on the boards started on birthday challenges. Mine primarily is just numerous reps of bodyweight exercises and a V6 bouldering route.Thanks for the article, I Lisa's birthday challenge, Looks Insane!!

  • Hassan, the way you train at your age I don't think you need either the ABC.. diet or a cleanse. Your challenge would be to eat enough to gain mass period. This will change as you age, of course, but right now you can pretty much eat as much as you want and train as hard as you want, which probably makes every other reader of this blog very jealous.

  • Steve you just made my day (rest of it) 🙂 Finally I can chow down as much as I want!!! Usually anywhere from 3400-3600 calories a day. But I still wanted to see what the results could be with the ABCDE diet. I guess its not worth starving myself.

  • Say, I think I did this cleanse "accidentally" – sans salad – when I had oral surgery! LOL Anyway, Steve, I am a cheating vegan. What I mean by that is I don't eat animal products EXCEPT Shakeology. Is there a chance that there will be a vegan option in the future, with say, hemp protein?

  • Say, I think I did this cleanse "accidentally" – sans salad – when I had oral surgery! LOL Anyway, Steve, I am a cheating vegan. What I mean by that is I don't eat animal products EXCEPT Shakeology. Is there a chance that there will be a vegan option in the future, with say, hemp protein?

  • I think I'd like to try a 3 day cleanse…never done one before and could be good for the body. We don't have shakeology, so not sure if I should just use protien power and some added greens…what do you think? Also not sure how many calories I'd need. Any advice?

  • I was actually thinking of this – instead of the 2 day version. So many good things in the shake I bet it would work well.

  • I'm on my 2nd round of Insanity, going on my 2nd Month. Do you think this Shakeology cleanse would be okay to do now or should I wait? I've been REALLY hungry but I do need to drop some excess tummy pudge. Thanks!

  • I would not do it mid Insanity unless it's during a recovery week. For sure. It's not THAT low calorie but there is no sense doing Insanity if you're not going to re-fuel. With a program that hard you get plenty of recovery periods where this makes more sense.

  • I'm on day 3 of this, and I lost 4 pounds so far. I have a question for Steve though. I calculated what I ate, and it came out to 865 calories. That's with 3 Shakeologys, 3 pieces of fruit, and a big salad of lettuce, red pepper, 4 oz chicken, and sugar snap peas and a little low fat salad dressing. I'm not sure how you got to 1500!

  • Steve, we LOVE moab in the off-season – we usually go the weekend before the season starts. Can't beat the hotel (and food) rates, and the weather is usually perfect for lots of activity on our bikes and hiking. I'm looking forward to giving this cleanse a shot.

  • I asked Steve my calorie question on his chat last night. He said that because of his activity level he had to keep the calories up…which he accomplished by adding seeds (flax and chia) and nuts (walnuts and almonds) to his salad and shakes.

  • Steve I'm starting todayThank you!

  • Steve, My fiance is doing this, and is having terrible headaches. She's half way through day 2 and doesn't really want to go any further. She' committing to finishing today, but is questioning doing another day… advice?

  • Ted,Too hard to answer questions in old posts so ask on the Beachbody Message Boards in the Nutrition forum under Info and Education. Sounds like caffeine withdrawl but could be lack of nutrients, which should not happen if she's doing this correctly. I'll need to ask some questions to be sure.

  • thanks steve, I posted in the shakeology board.

  • As you mentioned you can do with any protein/meal replacement shake… do you think you could mix it with milk instead of water though or does that defeat the whole pupose of the low fat concept I suppose.

  • I would not recommend milk, or any dairy, during a cleanse. If you're using a protein powder you might want to add a greens formulation or eat a lot of extra raw veggies.

  • Hey Steve. I know this is an old post, but I am half way through the cleanse and sticking too it and I am wondering if it is normal to have joint discomfort or what I can do to change that during the cleanse. my shoulders elbows and knees are just uncomfortable most of the day. I can even feel it a bit in my wrists as i type. this is not a normal occurrence especially for the length of time it has been there. any info helps. thanks you.

  • Not at all. Ask on the Message Boards (link at right and it will get to me) and we can do some q and a. There are a couple of possibilities.

  • Hey Steve, Love the post! I was wondering can I begin P90X the day after the cleanse? or do I eat as if it were a regular day and not workout the day after to recover then start P90x the 2nd day after my cleanse ends?

  • The answer is yes, you can, but it's not necessarily the best thing to do. It kind of depends on how hard you're planning to train out of the gate. In general, if you're putting your body through a lot of pain I'd prefer to see more cals. But if you're easing into the program than no problem.

  • When you said that any protein shake could substitute the shakeology shakes but you would need to add a greens formula… what kind of greens formula are you talking about? Thanks in advance! -Tiffany(Trying to get away from the super pricey shakeology)

  • If you want to have your mix equal Shakeology you need a lot of ingredients and you'll find that buying them one by one is expensive. But you can also pick and choose based on your budget and you don't need to get it perfect. If money was tight I'd look at specials and buy what you can find on sale and do the best you can. It will still yield good results.

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