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Dr. Mark Cheng Article

Stack of books

Shakeology®: A Shake Too Good to
Be True?

By Dr. Mark Cheng, PhD

This is an article from a professional who teaches for one the most respected kettlebell training communities in the country. It was written by Dr. Mark Cheng in response to some of his students and peers who were questioning his vocal support of Shakeology. Dr. Cheng gave us permission to reprint it here.

Lately, I’ve made mention about my use of the nutritional product Shakeology, and some folks have been questioning if I’ve abandoned the RKC ranks and gone “P90X” on them. So let me set the record straight . . . definitively . . . once and for all.

I heard about Shakeology before there WAS a Shakeology, directly from the mouth of its inventor—Isabelle Brousseau. The wife of Beachbody CEO Carl Daikeler, Ms. Brousseau is a singularly talented coach and highly educated researcher. She’s spent years studying the advanced principles of elite human performance from authorities around the world, and I was honored to have the chance to share Pavel Tsatsouline’s Hardstyle RKC kettlebell training method privately with her. As an adept student, she was on the fast track to preparing for her RKC instructor certification when she decided to take time off upon learning she was expecting her first child.

During the times I spent training her, Isabelle and I spoke about Chinese herbal medicine, and she mentioned she was researching ways of combining all-natural foods with the highest possible nutrient values into a meal-replacement shake designed for athletes and people-on-the-go. When she mentioned wanting to put in high quality ayurvedic herbs, Chinese herbs, antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, prebiotics, and a host of other vitamins and minerals, my initial reaction was, “Yeah, right!”

My doubts were not unfounded. Having spent years studying (and consuming) Chinese herbal medicines, I had a familiarity with a good deal of what Brousseau was talking about. The ingredients she’d mentioned sounded like a wish list that only insiders would know of and only the filthy rich and well-connected could afford. On top of that, the taste of such a mixture, I surmised, would probably make even the least sensitive tasters wretch with disgust. To make a mixture that would contain the type of ingredients she mentioned, be stable enough to ship and store, and not taste like the bottom skim of a Los Angeles sewer was a pipe dream as far as I was concerned. So I filed the conversation away in my mental round file. A couple of years later, when I met with Carl to discuss a project idea, I saw the finished product on his shelf. Eager to see how far from the initial ideal the finished product had to compromise, I was in for a shock.

Not only did Shakeology have EXACTLY the type of ingredients that Isabelle had mentioned during our training sessions, but it had MORE!

Some notables:

  • Astragalus: widely used in Chinese medicine as an immune system regulator
  • MSM: one of the most popular supplements for joint health
  • Chia: the Mayan super-seed with more calcium than whole milk, more omega-3 and -6 than salmon, and more protein than kidney beans
  • THREE different proprietary blends and some vitamins and minerals that actually exceeded the U.S. RDA.

This stuff looked like it was fit for a king for sure. So I was curious to put it to the final 2 tests: taste and performance. I wanted to know if it smelled or tasted anything like what I thought it would and was curious if it’d make a difference for my high-velocity, high-output, high-mileage lifestyle.

A little background: I’m a caffeine junkie by virtue of workaholism. Ever since discovering the “joy” of all-nighter homework sessions in high school, I became keenly aware of the value of being able to work harder and sacrifice sleep. So when the NoDoz, Vivarin, and Mountain Dew lifestyle needed an adult turn after I’d graduated and started writing, teaching, treating patients, travelling, training, and trying to spend time with my family, I dove hip deep into energy drinks like Red Bull, Monster, and caffeinated energy bars like Pit Bull. When I speak well about a nutritional product, it’s for one reason: it helps me get my work done while keeping me healthy. Another bit of background: I’m a glutton. I love food, especially food that tastes good. I never met a filet mignon that I didn’t like, and never met one that I didn’t like better wrapped in bacon, with a side of bacon-wrapped scallops, and mashed potatoes—topped with bacon. If it doesn’t taste good, I don’t care how good it is for me. I’ll STILL probably not like it well enough to be disciplined about taking it.

The Greenberry Shakeology bag that Carl gave me turned my ball of preconceived notions and stood it on its ear. From the moment I opened the bag, the scent was wonderful, like a dessert that you’re eager to tear into. So I dumped some ice and water into the blender and dropped a scoop of the bright green powder in with it. I didn’t add juice or other fruits because I wanted to know exactly how this tasted by itself, unadulterated. The next sound I heard after taking my first sip was, “Yum!” It passed the taste test.

Next was the travel test. I wanted to see how it kept me going while traveling, so instead of my usual chain-drinking habit of Monster or Red Bull, I tried a shake or two during the day, usually with one in the morning. I brought Shakeology with me to New York, New Mexico, and most recently to Australia to see how I’d do with it, and the results were remarkable. I had sustained, stable energy, but without the jitters, aggression, and hard drops afterwards. When I travel, I travel to teach, and I have to be up, energetic, strong, and focused. My days here in LA revolve around teaching, training, treating patients, and trying to steal moments with my family. So if something doesn’t give me the energy to do what I need, I can’t waste my precious time or hard-earned money with it.

Shakeology has proven itself to be able to give me all of that on multiple occasions, both while traveling and here in Los Angeles. You can draw your own conclusions about any product you want, but I’m sharing my experiences with Shakeology here openly. And if you think I’m endorsing it only for financial gain, you couldn’t be more wrong. I signed up as a “Coach” so I could buy the product for myself! If you want to try it, you know where to find it, and get ready to be surprised how little such high-quality nutrition costs!

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