I’ve done several reviews of different proteins and meal replacement shakes and each time, my bias is called into question. Let me make this clear. I have no vested interest in the outcome of whether or not you purchase Beachbody, or any other protein supplement. With the exception of the fact that I think it’s environmentally and sustainably irresponsible to support a company that uses GMOs in their products, not to mention that they do a number to human health.
It’s no secret that I’m not a fan of meal replacement shakes. There is no meal replacement shake that can take the place of real, unprocessed, organic food. I know that many companies have their distributors convinced that we can’t obtain all of our nutrients from food and that we are so toxic that meal replacement shakes are necessary. This is only true to an extent, and this is where marketing genius really makes these companies a shit ton of money.
Let me clarify for you, because I’m calling bullshit on that.
Is our food as nutrient dense as it once was? No. There’s soil depletion. It travels thousands of miles if it’s not local. It’s unlikely that anyone can eat 100% organic and local 100% of the time.
But does a protein or meal replacement shake make up for this?
No. Not even close. This is why I supplement with high quality fish oils, probiotics, an antioxidant supplement and a food-based multivitamin (particularly for people who have a history of poor diet, health issues or pregnancy). I also take steps to detox regularly. So while our food isn’t as nutrient dense and while we do experience high exposure to toxins – meal replacement shakes in no way rectify these issues.
Now, Beachbody does sell an omega-3 fish oil blend. Here was the response I got from customer service when I asked if it’s from wild fish, if it’s tested for toxins and how it’s processed. I also asked whether the multivitamin was food-based or not.
(Click to enlarge. I blacked out the customer service agent’s name because I don’t want to be the reason he gets fired for having no idea what he’s talking about.)
After his complete lack of knowledge surrounding the products, I’m not sure I even believe that the omega-3 fish oil supplement is sourced from wild fish or that it’s “guaranteed” (but not tested?) for heavy metals and PCBs. Fish oil need to be cold pressed or delicately extracted due to the fact that the delicate omega-3s are extremely susceptible to oxidation. I find it very sketchy that they either wouldn’t or couldn’t tell me how it’s processed. Now compare that with the only brand of fish oil I recommend, the company is literally is so transparent about their amazing fish oil that they put up a video of just how it’s extracted, which you can watch here.
Now let’s examine the ingredients in some of their products.
The BB Meal Replacement Shake, found here.
The ingredients in the meal replacement shake:
INGREDIENTS: Protein blend (soy protein isolate and whey protein concentrate), fructose, maltodextrin, microcrystalline cellulose, natural and artificial flavors, colloid gum, soybean oil, tribasic calcium phosphate, gum colloid, guar gum, potassium citrate, magnesium oxide, dl-alpha tocopheryl acetate, sodium ascorbate, soy fiber, sucralose, chromium aspartate, boron citrate, ferrous fumarate, kelp, calcium-d- pantothenate, biotin, copper citrate, niacinamide, zinc oxide, pyridoxine HCI, phytonadione, riboflavin, thiamine mononitrate, manganese sulfate, cyanocobalamin, vitamin A palmitate, folic acid, cholecalciferol, and sodium molybdate.
Ingredients in the P90X Results and Recovery Formula:
Soy Protein Isolate
What’s wrong with soy protein? For starters: everything. Soy protein is what results after extracting all of the oil to make soybean oil (which is highly toxic, we’ll touch on the later). Anyway, soy undergoes an extreme amount of processing including high heat, bleaching, it’s even extracted with hexane – a neurotoxin. Then what’s leftover is this disgusting soy, which is then marketed to the public as a healthy alternative to animal products. Marketing genius at its finest.
Dr. Mercola describes the process to make soy protein isolate (SPI) pretty well,
SPI is not something you can make in your own kitchen. Production takes place in industrial factories where a slurry of soy beans is first mixed with an alkaline solution to remove fiber, then precipitated and separated using an acid wash and, finally, neutralized in an alkaline solution.
Acid washing in aluminum tanks leaches high levels of aluminum into the final product. The resultant curds are spray- dried at high temperatures to produce a high-protein powder.
Whey Protein Concentrate
I love whey protein, when it’s isolate and form grass-fed cows and extracted properly. In these products, it’s none of these things. It’s from cows in CAFOs being fed genetically modified corn and soy. Then you eat it. Yum.
This is something that actually pisses me off. Beachbody has more that enough money at their disposal to use grass-fed, local whey in their products. They could support small (when compared to CAFOs) farmers, raising animals properly in accordance with the land. Instead, they choose to support CAFOs, GMOs and the torture of cows. Because that’s what happens in CAFOs, those animals are tortured. It’s disgusting and quite frankly, reprehensible.
Sucralose (otherwise known as Splenda) is an artificial sweetener. It is made in a lab by adding three chlorine molecules to a sugar molecule. Sounds totally safe and healthy, right?
In my Herbalife article, I wrote that sucralose alters the beneficial gut flora in the GI tract. When tested on mice, consumption of this artificial sweetener resulted in a significant reduction of beneficial gut flora. Considering that our gut flora helps protect us from everything ranging from the flu to cancer to depression, this is significant.
Yes, fructose is found in fruit. But let’s consider that a safe fructose intake is around 25 grams per day, and around 15 grams if a metabolic disorder is present. Fructose is processed by the liver, an excess of fructose is not only toxic to the liver, but forms free radicals and triglycerides. Regular and high fructose consumption is so toxic to the liver, that it can even lead to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). From Emory University School of Medicine,
Substantial links have been demonstrated between increased fructose consumption and obesity, dyslipidemia, and insulin resistance. Growing evidence suggests that fructose contributes to the development and severity of NAFLD. In human studies, fructose is associated with increasing hepatic fat, inflammation, and possibly fibrosis…Sufficient evidence exists to support clinical recommendations that fructose intake be limited through decreasing foods and drinks high in added (fructose-containing) sugars.
Obtaining a small, natural amount of fructose in unprocessed foods is fine. Obtaining isolated fructose from a processed protein drink…not so much.
Maltodextrin is a processed food additive that is usually derived from corn.
Some effects of soy include decreased libido, mood swings, depression, anxiety, erectile dysfunction, protein malabsorption, endometriosis, depressed thyroid function, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and several others.
This study from Harvard found that men consuming the equivalent of one cup of soy milk per day had 50% lower sperm count than men who did not consume soy (even accounting for other factors like age, caffeine and alcohol intake, etc.).
From the study,
There was an inverse association between soy food intake and sperm concentration that remained significant after accounting for age, abstinence time, body mass index, caffeine and alcohol intake and smoking. In the multivariate-adjusted analyses, men in the highest category of soy food intake had 41 million sperm/ml less than men who did not consume soy foods.
Guar gum can cause painful gas, especially for those with sensitive GI tracts.
Folic acid is the synthetic version of folate. Folate is great, particularly for pregnant women. Folic acid, however has been shown to be extremely problematic and even lead to cancer. From Chris Kresser,
While the incidence of NTDs in the United States been significantly reduced since folic acid fortification began, there has been concern about the safety of chronic intake of high levels of folic acid from fortified foods, beverages and dietary supplements. (5) One of the major risks associated with excessive intake of folic acid is the development of cancer. (6) In patients with ischemic heart disease in Norway, where there is no folic acid fortification of foods, treatment with folic acid plus vitamin B12 was associated with increased cancer outcomes and all-cause mortality. In the United States, Canada, and Chile, the institution of a folic acid supplementation program was associated with an increased prevalence of colon cancer. (7, 8) A randomized control trial found that that daily supplementation with 1 mg of folic acid was associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer. (9) Source
Derived from corn and high on the glycemic index.
Carrageenan is a harmful additive that all but guarantees it’s going to f*ck you up. From The College of Medicine at University of Iowa,
Although the International Agency for Research on Cancer in 1982 identified sufficient evidence for the carcinogenicity of degraded carrageenan in animals to regard it as posing a carcinogenic risk to humans, carrageenan is still used widely as a thickener, stabilizer, and texturizer in a variety of processed foods prevalent in the Western diet…Review of these data demonstrated that exposure to undegraded as well as to degraded carrageenan was associated with the occurrence of intestinal ulcerations and neoplasms…Because of the acknowledged carcinogenic properties of degraded carrageenan in animal models and the cancer-promoting effects of undegraded carrageenan in experimental models, the widespread use of carrageenan in the Western diet should be reconsidered.
And from the Department of Medicine at University of Illinois at Chicago,
This is the first report of the impact of carrageenan on glucose tolerance and indicates that carrageenan impairs glucose tolerance, increases insulin resistance and inhibits insulin signalling in vivo in mouse liver and human HepG2 cells. These effects may result from carrageenan-induced inflammation. The results demonstrate extra-colonic manifestations of ingested carrageenan and suggest that carrageenan in the human diet may contribute to the development of diabetes.
I think the people taking these products are doing so to lose weight and ya know, avoid diabetes.
Wondering if the whey in Beachbody products is grass-fed? Let me help you out. It’s not.
And as for the genetic modification of Beachbody ingredients – the jury is still out. They say that they don’t use GM ingredients, but they’re not verified. This is definite cause for concern. Consider that even GMO-free certified products have been known to still contain GMOs, it’s even more likely that GMOs are in a product that isn’t even certified. My conversation with customer service:
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that they definitely contain GMOs. And I truly do appreciate that they’re trying to obtain GMO-free certification. I’m just wary as to why they have not done so yet when the process isn’t that hard considering the money the company has and that they’re already apparently GM-free.
I think the most hilarious part of the Beachbody products is the 21 Day Reset which is $230 (for less than a month’s worth of products) and you know what’s in them? Well, for starters, the “Mineralize” supplement is salt. Straight up SALT. YOU HAVE BEEN DUPED, BEACHBODY-ERS.
Don’t get me wrong, salt is great. I use Himalayan and sea salt at home…for $6 a pound. To be fair, it also comes with a probiotic, an alkalizing supplement (which is just some veggies – you know you could drink a green juice for a fraction of the price and get way more benefits right?), an optimize blend for metabolic function (unnecessary and overpriced), a detox blend (good ingredients, but not for the price) and a “soothe” which is a supplement for inflammation. In reality, it’s 100 mg of curcumin – the active ingredient in turmeric. You can get 1200 mg of curcumin and 120 days worth for $25! Oh, but “soothe” also contain 225 mg of aloe – you can get 100 days worth of a 5000mg aloe supplement for a whopping $9 bucks.
Before it’s asked, this is the protein I use and recommend. I couldn’t find one good enough on the market, so I made my own. Grass-fed collagen with six organic superfoods: kale, spirulina, wheatgrass, broccoli, spinach and turmeric. I drink it in my daily smoothies and it gives me LIFE. Aka a healthy gut, glowing skin, strong digestion and energy for DAYS.
If you want to learn about real, lasting health and weight loss – check out my programs.
There is no magic pill, powder or meal replacement shake that will make you healthy and make you lose weight. Beachbody helps people lose weight, but it’s not healthy. It’s not lasting. True health comes form real, organic, unprocessed foods combined with exercise and the right supplements. It’s something you need to work for. We’ve become a nation of consumers that want to take a pill or a shake to make everything better. That’s not how it works.