Shakeology and the GI Index

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Shakeology & The GI Index

They'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.