Shakeology® and P90X

Tuesday, July 27, 2010 | 0 comments »

By David Gutierrez

The whole Beachbody community is buzzing about Shakeology and all the great health benefits it provides. Today, Steve Edwards answers your questions about how to best incorporate it into your P90X regimen.

Can Shakeology replace one of my meals in the P90X nutrition plan?

I'd hope so, given that it's a meal replacement shake! [laughs] But seriously, Xers do have a different nutritional equation to consider than most people. Generally, meal replacement shakes are designed so that you drink them instead of eating a meal to help you lose weight. Of course, Shakeology fits into this mold just fine. In fact, given how nutrient-dense it is, I'd say it's better than anything on the market. And even though it contains an entire day's worth of many nutrients, it's still only 140 calories.

Aren't most of the meals in P90X nutrition plan in the 400 to 500 calorie range?

Exactly, and the average Xer won't be served well to cut out calories. The reason is that as you get fitter your nutritional requirements change, along with your body composition. When you first start to exercise, you can lose weight by just restricting your caloric intake. But as you gain muscle, you need to eat more to continue losing weight, and this is often a lot more than you ate when you first began losing weight—sometimes it's more than double. If you eat too little during P90X, your weight loss will plateau, along with your ability to do the workouts.

This is why we give you a lot of smoothie recipes and options. Shakeology, like any other meal replacement shake, can be a component of something larger. For meals, we suggest adding more calories from healthy fat sources, like nut butters (almonds, cashews, etc.), along with more standard smoothie-like ingredients such as fruit. This not only brings your calories into line with your diet plan but balances meals so they digest more slowly, as normal meals would.

Can Shakeology replace one of the snacks in the P90X nutrition plan?

Shakeology is a ridiculously nutrient-rich snack, a perfect snack for Xers. Because it doesn't have much fat, its nutrients are put to use very quickly by your body. This makes it an ideal pick-me-up snack when you're on the go. It's better, in fact, than a lot of energy drinks. While something like Red Bull might give you more up-front punch, Shakeology will give you sustained energy because it's providing nutrients your body needs to get things done.

Shakeology's macronutrient ratio splits the difference among sports drink, protein shake, and recovery drink, but it can substitute for all of them in any given situation because it also has an excellent micronutrient profile. Most people are focused only on macronutrients (proteins, fats, and carbs), but they're only part of your nutritional equation. Micronutrients are things like phytonutrients, adaptogens, and other scientific-sounding stuff. While we refer to these as "micro," nutritionally, they are anything but small. Many of them are absolutely essential for a healthy life. Shakeology speeds these micronutrients into your system, which enables you to perform better.

Why don't we hear more about the importance of micronutrients?

Not to dwell too much on conspiracy theories, but "big food," as we call the American food industry, doesn't want us focusing on micronutrients because they've been destroyed in most of the foods we eat. Things like food processing and pasteurization kill most of the micronutrients in food. These processed foods are then sprinkled with what have been lobbied to be "important" ingredients, which in reality only provide enough nutrition for surviving, as
opposed to thriving. As you can observe by watching society grow larger, this is leading to all sorts of problems.

In nature, food doesn't come this way. It has a balance of nutrients that help sustain life. It's possible for food scientists to recreate this balance in processed foods, but this is expensive. Essentially, if it doesn't fit the numbers, shareholders want to see it doesn't happen. So they make cheap food and keep us in the dark about nutrition. This is exactly why we're in the predicament we're in today (with obesity), because we can make calorie-rich but nutrient-poor food cheaper than we can produce natural food.

This is why Shakeology is designed the way it is. There is no one food in nature that has all the micronutrients we need to fill the nutritional gaps in our diets—that's why we need to eat a variety of foods. But most of us don't do that. So at its core, this is what Shakeology is doing—filling in our nutritional gaps.

I'm doing the Portion Approach in P90X. What block(s) could Shakeology replace?

The portion plan is basically little chunks of macronutrients portioned out to help you easily balance your diet. Shakeology is equal parts carbs and protein, with almost no fat. So Shakeology can replace one block of protein and one block of carbs.

Can Shakeology substitute for Results and Recovery Formula?

It's not an exact swap, but you could do a lot worse. When you're training very hard, like those times when your body is shaking during, say, P90X Chest & Back, Results and Recovery Formula is better because your body is bonking—essentially out of glycogen, or blood sugar. Any time you're in this state, the quicker you can recharge your glycogen, the less damage you'll do to your muscle cells, and hence, the faster you'll recover. It's the one and only time sugar is a preferred nutrient in your diet.

Shakeology doesn't have nearly as much sugar as Results and Recovery Formula. It only has a little for nutrient transport. But because its other ingredients also support your digestive process, you have rapid assimilation of nutrients. The science from the '90s showing that a small amount of protein can "piggyback" sugar and be put to use more rapidly, during or after exercise, holds true for Shakeology. It's not as effective as a Results and Recovery Formula for your hardest workouts, but at any other time, it's pretty darn good.

How about as a protein shake?

Shakeology has an ample amount of protein. While many protein shakes on the market may have more grams of protein, the type of protein they use often digests so slowly that you can't drink them when you're active. Shakeology uses whey protein, which is one of the most (if not the most) bioavailable sources of protein. That means it absorbs quicker into the system than other proteins. Most proteins, especially when you get them in a whole food, take forever to digest. This means that eating protein right before, during, or right after exercise is generally a waste because your body is using energy to digest something that won't help you for hours, energy that it could be using to enhance your workout or recovery. But when you combine whey protein along with Shakeology's other nutrients, you have a high-protein shake that can fit into many different nutritional slots in your day, something lacking in a standard protein drink.

Should I still bother taking P90X Peak Health Formula or ActiVit Multivitamins if I'm drinking Shakeology every day?

We get the vitamin question a lot because Shakeology has so many vitamins in it already. However, using my above example of processed foods, most of us only get a fraction of the nutrients that we should consume on any given day, even when we're eating more calories than we should. This is exactly why we have vitamin supplements in the first place. Throw exercise into the equation, which accelerates your body's usage of nutrients, and you can see why we recommend so many times the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for certain vitamins and minerals.

For an average person, Shakeology might eliminate the need for a multivitamin. But if you remember that movie Supersize Me, the average American takes about 600 steps a day—which isn't even your warm-up for a P90X workout! No one doing a Beachbody program is average. Xers, especially, are advised to take additional vitamin supplements.

It's also great to take your supplements along with Shakeology because they will digest more easily. One of the limiting factors with supplements is how well your body can assimilate them, so adding them to something that you know is broken down easily by your digestive system is a plus.

It's important to mention two other variables here as well. First, many—if not most—of our customers are trying to lose weight. This requires reducing caloric intake while adding exercise, which increases nutrient requirements. Starting to see an equation where multivitamins and supplements make sense? The body can be a complex organism, but this comes down to simple math. The key to losing weight is not just about reducing calories; it's about finding a way to reduce your caloric intake and still get enough nutrients to keep you body functioning at its highest level. The key to doing this is to seek out nutrient-dense foods. As I said before, you'd be hard-pressed to find something as nutrient-dense as Shakeology.

Then there's the RDA, which is the "recommended daily allowance" for everybody. Imagine one nutritional number for every person on the planet, from a 100-pound computer programmer who sits all day to a 350-pound NFL lineman. How absurd is that? Anybody who is doing P90X is no longer an average individual. So chances are the RDA won't fit the bill if you want your body to perform as well as it can.

When's the best time to drink Shakeology during a P90X day?

One of the beautiful things about Shakeology is how versatile it is. Because it helps you digest anything you consume along with it, there isn't really a wrong time to have it. Ideally, its best slot in an Xer's day is as a pre-workout snack, taken about 1 hour prior to your warm-up. Your impending workout will help you get the most out of Shakeology and it will help you during the latter part of your workout, especially if your glycogen stores are slightly depleted. It can be effective pre-workout, post-workout, or any time during the day when your energy is flagging and you need a pick-me-up. Or you can make smoothies and simply replace your meals. You basically can't go wrong.

Is there anything else you'd like to add about Shakeology?

Price holds a lot of people back, and I can understand that it looks expensive on the surface. We tend to look at foods in a cost-to-calorie ratio, instead of a cost-to-nutrient ratio. Sure, you can buy a Big Gulp and you get 800 calories for a dollar (or something like that). But what good are they? There are no micronutrients. It's man-made sugar, chemicals, and by-products of genetically modified corn and soy production—no nutrition whatsoever. Whereas if you tried to find all the nutrients in Shakeology, you'd spend forty bucks.

If you're serious about your health, you should consider what you spend your money on. People drop three to four bucks a day on things that are a detriment to their health without batting an eye. We're talking the price of a latte or smoothie or any number of things that are much worse than that. The consumer is at war with a lot of corporations that are trying to poison them to make a quick buck. The obesity trend will only stop when we take some responsibility for our health and begin to make better food choices.