August 23, 2010 posted by

Shakeology & The GI Index

We’ve been doing a lot of lab testing on Shakeology lately to ensure it’s, as we say, the healthiest meal of the day. As there have been a lot of questions about the effect of the sugar in Shakeology we had it tested on the Glycemic Index (GI) scale and it came back with a score of 24, which is a number lower than most fruits and many veggies. For reference, sugary snacks generally score close to 100. Of course most of you probably have no idea what this means so I’ll explain it to ya.

A whole article on the GI index is a bit much for my blog so I wrote one for our newsletter and here it is:

Everything You Need to Know about the Glycemic Index

For my short attention span readers, all you really need to know is that if you’re not diabetic and you eat a diet that is mainly natural foods you don’t need to worry about the GI index. And it’s even less a concern if you exercise. It came about as a pop diet issue only because our nutritional habits have become so abysmal and that, at last count, close to 60% of Americans claim to do no exercise at all. Many people can’t even identify what natural foods look like and most convenience foods, whether they taste sugary or not, are high on the GI scale because they are so processed that all the things that naturally helped your body digest them properly have been removed so now natural sounding foods, like wheat and rice, can put you into a pattern of unwanted insulin spikes so unnatural that it can lead to diabetes. Anyway, all that stuff is in the article and we’re here to address Shakeology.

As a convenience food it’s a fair question to ask about Shakeology, especially since it contains some sugar (though not a ton—about 40 of its 140 calories). The sugar is in the formulation for two reasons. First is flavor. We had a hard time getting all of the 70 nutrients in Shakeology not to taste like, well, 70 nutrients. And no matter how healthy something is it’s not going to be very helpful if no one is willing to taste it. And sugar tastes good, so take a guess at what the hold-up for our version of vegan, sugarless Shakeology is.

The second is for nutrient transport. Most of our customers are on an exercise program, and mainly are on calorie-restricted diets. This combo can leave you in a glycogen-starved state where your overtrained and underfed body can catabolize muscle tissue for energy. Therefore, most of the meal replacement snacks we’ve designed have some sugar, which speeds nutrients into a depleted system quickly which aids recovery between workouts with minimal calories. If this sounds like rationalizing it’s because it IS rationalizing. It’s our job (in fact my job title is ‘director of results’) to ensure about products have some rational behind them. We find this make them work better, which lets me keep my job.

Anyway, while we are interested in efficient nutrient transport in all of our products each is designed for its own target circumstances. For something like Recovery Formula, we want it to be high on the GI index because you are only supposed to use it when your glycogen stores are empty and nutrients should be delivered as rapidly as possible. At all other times we want a more balanced mixture of ingredients to allow the nutrients to be absorbs without an insulin spike, and thus, why Shakeology has scored such a low number on the GI index.


  • Why is shakeology not considered a raw food?

  • As a bartender once said to me and my buddy Reed when we ordered Speefnarkles and then explained to him that it needed to be made with equal parts Wild Turkey and Wild Turkey from two different receptacles, "Are you fuckin' with me?!"

  • Since that bartender ended up pouring us drinks and even liking us, I'll answer in case that you aren't. Raw means in a natural state and other than mixed raw nuts I can't really think of any raw foods in packages. Even teas, which are often made naturally, are not raw when we get them at a store. Almost nothing in Shakeology, or anything that you can mix with water that is sold in a bag, is raw. In think we explain this in our marketing but if you added all the natural raw ingredients that we use to get the nutrient numbers we have in Shakeology into a bowl you'd need a very large one. Because so many of the ingredients are from plants (large in volume low in calories)) there is probably a small trash can of raw ingredients in a glass of Shakeology.

  • Why would a more natural sweetener not be used? Stevia, agave, etc.?

  • We use crystalline fructose from beets and it's a very natural sugar (not to be confused with HFCS which is a chemical concoction that comes from the by products of GMO corn produciton). The is stevia in the formulation and agave is basically a form of fructose and not necessarily better (some say worse). Stevia is hard to work with because it's so sweet and, while I'm a fan of it over chemical sweeteners I don't think it should be used liberally, especially the fake stevia that big food companies are coming out with that is a type of sugar alcohol that's had almost no testing done on it.

  • I have a question but do not want to post it on the blog, would you be able to supply me with an e-mail address I could message you at? Thanks!

  • Thanks, Steve. I love Shakeology, however, as a young cancer survivor I am concerned about recent report relating to fructose and cancer cell growth. I'm not trying to start trouble, I realize there's not such a large amount of fructose in Shakeology, I'm just trying to learn more about the fructose in Shakeology and if it's something I need to be concerned about. I found a bit more info here that doesn't give me much more comfort with the "beet" derivation:

  • Hey there…I love what you guys are doing and I have incorporated Shakeology into my eating / workout routine. Every other day I make my own protein shake. Here's what I put in it:1/2 cup of Whey Powder (I buy it in bulk from local whole foods type store)1 Tbsp Unsweetened Cocoa1/2 Rolled oats1 BananaTwo dollops Vanilla Yogurt1 cup Skim Milk8 Ice CubesI liquefy it for 40 seconds in the blender. Sometimes I throw blueberries in there as well. What's it missing would you say?Thanks!!

  • I just wanted to thank you for this no-nonsense brief explanation. To the point and honest. I will be sharing your blog post with others. Thank You

  • So should a person with Type 2 Diabetes not drink Shakeology if they are not working out?

  • Shakeology is a great concept unfortunately it has FRUCTOSE even if it comes from Beets or Corn Fructose is Fructose. Take a look at VEGA.

  • Steve,Thanks for posting this. I have a lot of people who are concerned about sugar content. Mainly because thats the topic of concern for most food product these days. And we'll ignore the fact that they have a pantry full of sugary cereals for their kids…Being new to the nutrition side of exercising still, does the low GI number mean that this would be a good food for diabetics, assuming that the diabetic knew it was okay for their diet (man I hope that made sense)? I have a pre-diabetic, and overweight friend who I am trying to get on Insanity and hopefully Shakeology. And I need to be able to explain to her that this will not spike her blood sugar like other meal replacements. I know I answered my question but I have to be CERTAIN about this. She's very analytical and so I need some expert backup advice.Thanks for all you do!Aaron

  • Vega is a good product. I think it tastes like sand and I spoke with Brendan Brazier about Vega while we were designing Shakeology, which at one point in the formulation was similar (totally vegan) to it but couldn't pass the taste test with our audience. We even considered a collaberation with him before we went with Darin Olien. It will be fine for diabetics from a blood sugar spike perspective. We have many diabetics who use it daily. Keep in mind exercise is the key componenet for reversing type 2 diabetes. If the customer above is off the couch I would suggest something–anything–other than Insanity. THat would be just crazy. Power 90, Slim in 6, Hip Hop Abs,Turbo Jam… Harder is not always better. I'm well versed in the no sugar point of view and it's valid, I suppose, but clearly unnecessary. We're such a black and white society that we love proclomations. Some sugar is fine, especially when it comes in fruit. Vilifying fruit (fructose) is absurd. It's one of the healthiest things on the planet.

  • Mike, good smoothie. What it's missing depends on your diet and what you might be missing. Shakeology has a full greens formulation, enzymes, probiotics, and a bunch of other stuff if that is the comparison you want but these are nothing you can't get in your diet if you eat well.

  • Steve,Thanks for the help! And I will totally suggest another product. She's seen my results on Insanity and wanted to go with it but I clearly see your point!Thanks again!Aaron

  • Nina,That is simply not true. There are a few different fructoses out there. The worst is HFCS, which is pretty much the only one you hear about in the news. HFCS is not even fructose. It's a chemical artificial sweetener derived from the by-products of genetically modified corn production. It's actually technically sucrose but whatever. The point is that there are many levels of crap slung by Big Food that are covered up by food labels using shady lobbying practices, but that's another story…

  • All of our test groups (for every program we make) get the SAME results. The key is picking the right program for the right person, which is basically the one the want to do and all the one the CAN do. If she wants Insanity but it's too much dangle it for her like a carrot. She needs to be able to do the fit test before she's ready for it. If she digs Shaun, maybe HHAs should be first but I try and pick intro programs based on personalities. Offer all of them and see which instructor she seems to like the most.

  • Great info, I initially didn't want to drink Shakeology because of the fructose. I have RA and am very particular about what I put in my body. I now drink it daily and it helps tremendously with my energy level. Loved the "Speefnarkles" comment 🙂

  • Steve,I apologize for asking this here but I couldn't find another area to ask. Can you please do some good coverage on the Recovery Drink and maybe why it's good to eat within an hour of working out? Two topics really… Theres a good discussion on the Team BB boards but there's too many chiefs and not enough Indians making posts. I think it would be great to have your expertise to post to everyone.Thanks again!Aaron

  • if you search this blog you'll find a lot of stuff. this post has a link to an article i wrote that goes into depth in layman's term of the science behind recovery formula. this search engine, my archives at, and the message board faq on team bb you will probably find the answer to every question you'll have.

  • I know you have been over this a 1000 times, but please tell me how the fructose in Shakeology and P90X R&R drink are good for me when there are so many sources out there that say Fructose is bad and cancer cells use it to proliferate.Tony Horton's Note on Facebook says to avoid all fructose no matter what. is the deal? Makes me not want to buy either supplement for the fear of it.thank you,Lanny

  • I know you have been over this a 1000 times, but please tell me how the fructose in Shakeology and P90X R&R drink are good for me when there are so many sources out there that say Fructose is bad and cancer cells use it to proliferate.Tony Horton's Note on Facebook says to avoid all fructose no matter what. is the deal? Makes me not want to buy either supplement for the fear of it.thank you,Lanny

  • I have a question about the 25% iron content of Shakeology. Women don't generally need to be concerned about iron due to menses; but I heard that men should not be taking an iron supplement. I had a blood test that showed a high serum iron level (it was, 172 ug/dL), so I am very concerned about taking anything with iron until I hear otherwise. Further, someone mentioned that you could use Shakeology as a cleanse 3X a day but that would be 75% of daily iron. And I also heard that the body retains iron, so please advise how safe this mught be for me. Thanks for any information to help me!

  • How do I order some?Thank you!Sarah

  • Sarah, You can go and buy some or, if you feel like becoming a Team Beachbody coach you can get it at a discount.

  • With Fructose being taken out of the Results and Recovery Drink, is Shakeology next?

  • Forgot to click email followup comments when posting last message so I am doing it know.

  • Your body only takes in about 10% of the iron from your diet. Men don't need supplements because they do not loose as much iron from blood loss as women do (menstruation). It takes years to build up enough iron stores where it becomes harmful unless you have a disease that causes it. If you are worried about iron overload then donate blood often as your body will have to draw on your iron stores to make hemoglobin for the new red blood cells.

  • Fructose is not bad for you if used in moderation and from natural food sources. It is metabolized through glycolysis as is glucose or it can be stored as fat. Fructose is found in many foods such as honey, tree fruits, berries, melons, and some root vegetables. We get a lot of it from table sugar or sucrose. Sucrose is basically a disaccharide made up of one glucose and one fructose molecule. The thing about fructose is that almost all of it is metabolized in the liver. There it can either be used to replace low glycogen (think glucose) stores or be metabolized and used to make fatty acids and stored. This is one of the reasons why fructose and high fructose corn syrup is so feared. Consuming too much fructose is thought to cause insulin resistance, obesity, elevated LDL cholesterol and triglycerides and eventually leading to metabolic syndrome. However the verdict is still out and there are no definite answers. Several studies showed no difference between the effect on several blood markers with sucrose (50% fructose and 50% glucose) and high fructose corn syrup (55% fructose and 45% glucose). Consuming fructose does not increase insulin levels but high amounts can lead to a fatty liver. I don't understand why someone would ignore all the potential benefits of Shakeology just because it has some fructose in it from a natural source. Our bodies easily use fructose for energy and no matter who you are you will consume fructose in your diet whether it is from fruits or vegetables.

  • Thanks for the Fructose Post Anonymous. I agree that Fructose is not BAD in moderation. I also agree that the Fructose in the Shakeology is not going to in itself produce a Fatty liver or lead to Metabolic syndrome, but we are each accountable to our own bodies. Now I only wish that they would add back just a little Fructose to the Results and Recovery Drink.I hear many people saying that they get the New and improved formula to taste better by adding a Banana (fructose and the fiber) to the R&R drink to make it taste any good. I would like to avoid having to add a banana (and use a blender for the drink. what are your thought on having any fructose or Sucrose in a Recovery drink, as opposed to all dextrose.

  • I am surprised that you did not recommend Project You type 2 for diabetic exercise and nutrition program. kathy smith is excellent.

  • Hi Steve,I love your insights here! Judging supplements only from a label (just like food in some ways) can be tricky and confounding. It really comes down to 2 factors: SOURCE and PRODUCTION (or processing). You've answered my questions about source, I'm curious to know more about production.Can you speak to the how the ingredients in Shakeology are processed and extracted? Water-extraction is the cleanest and purest. Many products—including some professional grade ones—use alcohol or chemical extraction which produces undesirable ingredients and byproducts. I'm curious to know about the production aspect of Shakeology.Thanks!British

  • Crystalline fructose intake can easily lead to fatty liver disease and Cirrhosis, and also could contain arsenic, lead, and other metals. Care to comment?

  • Respect that this is your blog and would LOVE to share this post except for the "F bomb" in the first comment…it shows in the preview of the article if I try to post it on Facebook 🙁

  • In asking a apecific question about shakeology (of teambeachbody)I was instructed that Steve Edwards should be the one to answer my question and they way to go about it is to post on this blog. My question/concern is: I have Celiac Disease and have altered the meal plan to take out meals with gluten (wheat, barley, rye, oats). I read the Shakeology was gluten free & purchased it. Just received it this weekend and read the ingredients – contains wheatgrass and barley grass. I get very sick even with traces of wheat, gluten. How can this be labeled as Gluten Free if it contains wheat and barley grass? I am nervous about trying it as I can't afford to be sick for 2 days. Do you have Celiac members who use this? If it is not recommend for me to use it (because of having Celiac0, is there another product on the market that is comparable without wheat/gluten?"

  • Andi,Who told you to ask here? I need to straighten them out. The quickest place, by far, to get these answers is on the boards. I'll post a direct link in the next comment. We have a whole staff working there, including me, and all of our answers are researched thoroughly. SHakeology has been tested to be gluten free. Twice. And yes many celiacs are fine with it. Of course you could be different. I would try it in small doses and increase if all goes well.

  • Isn't id Gluten Free because the Wheat & Barley are in the Spouted form and not the grain?

  • There are a lot of theories on gluten, not many that are conclusive, though that makes good sense. So we only state that it's gluten free because it's been tested for gluten and none has shown up.Here's the link to the boards:

  • Steve, I know this isn't in your post but what about Caffeine in Chocolate Shakeology? I have heard that there is some in there due to the Chocolate. Is it enough to impact those that can't have any?

  • I don't have exact numbers but it's a trace amount. Less than what's in chocolate and a fraction of tea or coffee. I'm sure there's an FAQ about it on If not let me know and I'll have it posted.

  • I have diabetes and I tried this product and my sugar level was high.. Soo it really didn't work for me.. 🙁 Others please be careful when you try this product… !!

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