Garden of Life Raw Meal Shake Review | MRS.com Garden of Life Raw Meal Shake Review | MRS.com
Our Rating:
8.9/10

Garden of Life Raw Meal Shakes are certified organic, vegan and gluten-free. You can find the shake powders at retail stores including Walmart, The Vitamin Shoppe and Whole Foods.

Nutrition Per Serving1

130

Calories

0g

Sugar

0mg

Cholesterol

1g

Fat

8g

Carbs

7g

Dietary Fiber

22g

Protein

$2.32

Price Per Serving1


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Our Review

To help you to make a more informed decision.

#1
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Calories 110 130 124 160 110
Soy Free Protein
Sugars 0g 0g 0g 1g 0g
No Artifical Sweeteners
Superfoods
Probiotics
Price Per Serving $2.43 $2.32 $2.00 $3.50 $2.29
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310 Shake is a healthy meal replacement formula made with some of the finest natural ingredients in the world.

Garden of Life Raw Meal Shake Review

Written by the Meal Replacement Shakes Team; medically reviewed by Chrissy Arsenault, MBA, RDN, LD

Have you ever passed a Garden of Life Shake at your local store and wondered if this would be a good option for you? You may be familiar with the brand name but know little about what is in their products. Certified as organic, kosher, gluten-free, and vegan, this shake boasts the nutrition of a whole foods diet.  This review will tell you more about this shake’s ingredients and nutritional value to see if it might be the right option for you. 

 It will also touch on other essentials such as taste, price, and potential side effects (all based on Garden of Life reviews). 

The chocolate flavor was used for this review.

Garden of Life Raw Meal Shakes are USDA-Certified Organic and Vegan.

FLAVORS

The Garden of Life protein meal shake comes in just four main flavors: Chocolate Cacao, Vanilla, Vanilla Chai and Lightly Sweet (which includes cane sugar, whereas the other flavors include only natural sugar alternatives).

TASTE FACTOR

Though some users were extremely enthusiastic about the taste of these shakes (especially for plant-based, vegan drinks), the majority expressed their dislike of them. Many of the negative reviews specifically mentioned that they didn’t like the flavor of the shakes, but the texture was the bigger issue. (4)

Some Garden of Life reviews mentioned:

  • The texture of the shakes is really thick, like concrete
  • Shakes have a chalky taste and grainy texture
  • They need to be blended (otherwise there’s chunks of powder)
  • They leave a bad aftertaste
  • The flavor couldn’t be “covered up” with additional ingredients

Most of the shakes include natural sugar alternatives (such as Erythritol), and if people aren’t used to those, it could be what’s causing the “aftertaste” for some. As for the texture, the ingredients in these shakes are raw, whole foods, which could be adding too much bulk to the drink and preventing that smooth consistency users are seeking.

The reviewers who did like the taste of the Garden of Life Protein shakes mentioned that they mixed them in a blender with other healthy ingredients including banana, almond milk, berries and ice – which could be the key to better-tasting shakes. They also mentioned that they were drinking them more for the health factor and results, not for the taste.

Garden Of Life Raw Meal Shake Ingredients:

Garden of Life nutrition facts

Raw Organic Protein Blend Organic Pea Protein, Organic Sprouted Brown Rice Protein, Organic Amaranth (sprout), Organic Buckwheat (sprout), Organic Millet (pearl and sprout), Organic Quinoa (sprout), Organic Chia Seed (sprout), Organic Adzuki Bean, (sprout), Organic Flax Seed (sprout), Organic Garbanzo Bean (sprout), Organic Lentil (sprout), Organic Pumpkin Seed (sprout), Organic Sesame Seed (sprout), Organic Sunflower Seed (sprout)

Raw Organic Fiber Blend Organic Tapioca Fiber, Organic Chia Seed, Organic Flax Meal

Organic Flavor Blend Organic Vanilla Flavors, Organic Stevia Extract (leaf), Sea Salt

Raw Organic Fruit & Vegetable Blend Organic Spinach (leaf), Organic Baobab (fruit), Organic Apple (fruit), Organic Beet (root), Organic Broccoli (stalk and flower), Organic Carrot (root), Organic Tomato (fruit), Organic Green Bell Pepper (fruit), Organic Brussels Sprout (leaf), Organic Ginger (root), Organic Garlic (bulb), Organic Strawberry (fruit), Organic Cherry (fruit), Organic Parsley (leaf), Organic Cauliflower (flower & stem), Organic Blackberry (fruit), Organic Cabbage (leaf), Organic Blueberry (fruit), Organic Raspberry (fruit), Organic Kale (leaf), Organic Cucumber (gourd), Organic Celery (stalk), Organic Asparagus (flower & stem).

Raw Organic Greens Blend Organic Alfalfa Grass Juice, Organic Spirulina, Organic Barley Grass Juice, Organic Oat Grass Juice, Organic Wheat Grass Juice

Raw Probiotic & Enzyme Blend Lipase, Protease, Apsergillopepsin, beta-Glucanase, Cellulase, Bromelain, Phytase, Lactase, Papain, Peptidase, Pectinase, Xylanase, Hemicellulase, [Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus bulgaricus] 1.5 Billion CFU

Don’t be afraid of the ingredient label. Most of the terms listed are whole foods, it is the combination that is of inquiry. All the foods listed are in their raw state according to the company. Let’s take a walk through the ingredient list and see what is in this shake.

Organic Sprouted Protein Blend: This is a blend of complementary vegetable proteins that, in concert, provide all of the amino acids necessary for muscle repair and stimulation, appetite control and satiety as well as metabolism.   This is common in vegan/vegetarian protein shakes because, in order to create a complete amino acid profile, many different plants are used to complement each other.  Pea protein, listed first, is high in most essential amino acids except for methionine. Pea protein is a low glycemic food rich in iron and most of the amino acids necessary for metabolism. Pea protein is comparable to whey protein with a branched-chain amino acid content, and it contains more of the amino acid arginine than whey. Arginine is essential for muscle recovery and growth. It is a rich source of lysine.

Rice Protein is also high in branched-chain amino while it, too, is low in methionine and lysine. Amaranth is high in lysine, making it a perfect complementary protein. These grains are a rich source of soluble and insoluble fibers as well. They are also a great source of B vitamins and essential fatty acids. 

Buckwheat, Millet, and Quinoa are excellent sources of vegetarian protein-packed with nutrients. The amino acid composition is considered the best of all the cereal grains, including oats gaining popularity as “supergrains.”

 Chia seeds contain 18 of the 22 amino acids, including all nine essential amino acids. The protein, however, is not readily digestible compared to other protein sources. It is a source of dietary fiber and essential fatty acids to its tribute. 

Adzuki beans are high in vegetarian protein and contain substantial amounts of vitamins and minerals. The protein found in the beans inhibits the breakdown of glycogen and starch through the intestinal enzymes α-glucosidases, meaning the protein may help diabetics control their blood sugar.  Adzuki beans and other legumes are known for their high fiber content and ability to improve glucose tolerance and reduce insulin resistance.

Flax Seeds, Garbanzo Bean Seeds, Sunflower Seeds, and Sesame Seeds are full of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and healthy fats to round out the protein blend’s nutritional amino acid profile. The fiber present in the powder helps with weight loss due to the increased feelings of fullness. The omega-3 fatty acids present in the brain support a healthy level of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is involved in appetite and weight regulation.

Organic Fiber Blend is a mixture of tapioca fiber, a keto-compliant sweetener that is essentially starch, chia seed (already discussed), and flax meal. The health uses of flax meal date back to ancient Egypt and the early Roman times. High in omega-3 fatty acids, it may contain chemicals (lignans) that are antioxidant and may mimic the natural hormone estrogen. As a digestive aid, it has been used to relieve constipation. 

Organic Flavor Blend is a mixture of cacao, powdered chocolate that increases the number of good bacteria in the gut, and other natural chocolate flavors. It also contains erythritol, a sugar alcohol sweetener that is also a FODMAP, a substance that creates gas and intestinal issues when eaten. It has an excellent safety profile with this one digestive exception. Sea Salt is included in the flavor blend, an expected additive. Organic Stevia is also used as a sweetening agent. Stevia is made from the Stevia rebaudiana leaf and is on the GRAS list (generally recognized as safe) but may cause bloating, gas, dizziness, muscle pain, and numbness when consumed in excess amounts.  The amount of Stevia in this product is within the levels of safe consumption.

Organic Fruit & Vegetable Blend: Looking at this from a whole food perspective, no one would eat this combination of foods in one meal or even one day. The idea behind the fruit and vegetable blend is to concentrate all the healthy nutrients and antioxidants you would get from these super healthy foods into one concentrated blend to provide a heightened amount of these nutrients to the body. There is no separate nutritional analysis to determine exactly what nutrients this blend is providing, so you can’t really say what this mixture is increasing in the diet when consumed. All the fruits and vegetables listed in the blend are high in antioxidants, necessary to fight the free radicals in our bodies, boost metabolism and promote healthy aging and prevent aging-related diseases. They also contain a host of vitamins and minerals that one could only guess would contain most of the essential nutrients.

Organic Greens Blend: Alfalfa Grass Juice is high in thiamin and magnesium. Magnesium is a common deficiency in the U.S.  Spirulina is blue-green algae high in nutrients, possibly the most nutritious food on the planet. It has powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and can lower the number of triglycerides in the blood. It may aid muscle strength and endurance and protect against anemia. It has been known to reduce blood sugar levels. Organic Barley Grass Juice is often dubbed as a superfood and used to support immune function and weight loss. It is a rich source of polyphenols, antioxidants, vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin K. Oat Grass Juice contains chlorophyll, enzymes, vitamins, and nutrients that are essential for a healthy body. Like the other cereal grasses, oat grass contains beta-carotene, vitamin K and vitamin C, folic acid, calcium, iron, protein, fiber, and B vitamins; it also has up to 30% protein and is illuminated with rich chlorophyll – nature’s blood cleanser. Wheat Grass Juice contains chemicals that might have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities and might fight bacterial infections. It can cause nausea, appetite loss, and constipation in excessive consumption.

Whole Food Vitamin & Mineral Blend: Saccharomyces cerevisiae is a eukaryotic organism whose genes can be manipulated to produce vitamins. A total of 22 vitamins and minerals are listed on the label, but only 15 are listed in the vitamin and mineral blend. It is not known from looking at the label where the other nutrients are coming from. Only 11 vitamins and minerals are present at 1/3 the Daily Value (DV) levels for one serving. Vitamin B12 is present in its natural, not synthetic, form for better metabolic retention.

Probiotic and Enzyme Blend: Enzymes to help digest the macronutrients are present in the ingredient list – lipase for fat digestion, protease for protein digestion, and lactase for lactose digestion. Another digestive aid is Aspergillopepsin which detoxifies gluten, but gluten isn’t supposed to be in this shake anyway, so its purpose is to further protein digestion as gluten is a type of protein derived from grains. Furthermore, it is a fungal proteinase able to degrade lysine, another reason why it might be included. Beta-gluconase represents a group of carbohydrate enzymes able to break the glycosidic bonds within beta-glucan strands, such as present in insoluble fibers. Beta-glucan strands are present in cellulose fiber and are indigestible in humans. These enzymes help break the fiber bonds. Cellulase is any one of several enzymes produced by bacteria, fungi, or protozoa that help break down the cellulose in fiber. Bromelain is a protein-digesting enzyme extracted from the pineapple plant. Phytase is a natural chemical used to break down phytic acid, an indigestible compound found in many plant fibers. Papain is a natural protein-digesting enzyme found in the papaya fruit. Peptidase is an enzyme that breaks down protein. Pectinase is an enzyme that breaks down pectin, a fiber found in foods. Hemicellulase is used to break down cellulose into monosaccharides. Cellulose is an indigestible plant fiber found in plant walls. Xylanase is used to break down hemicellulose, another plant fiber. Most of these enzymes are derived from fungal sources. 

Lactobacillus Plantarum, Lactobacillus Bulgaricus are both probiotics. Lactobacillus Plantarum may have anti-inflammatory effects and may reduce insulin need. Lactobacillus Bulgaris may play a role in preventing the common cold, in diarrhea caused by antibiotics, inflammatory bowel disease, and other health conditions. Both are primarily probiotics used to keep the bad bacteria at bay and allow the good bacteria to flourish, maintaining gut health and integrity.  However, it is worth noting that if not refrigerated, these probiotics’ benefits may be significantly reduced.

The ingredient list is reminiscent of a culinary textbook of terms with the entire book thrown in. There is something inherently good about each ingredient, but to put all of these ingredients in one combination may be too much for a sensitive digestive tract to handle. We will have to read on to see what customers think of this formulation and if digestive tract issues are a concern. Also, these ingredients are in their raw form, something the company is proud of.

First, let’s take a look at the Nutrition Facts.

Garden of Life Nutrition Facts

Garden of Life nutrition facts

One serving on the label is listed as one scoop or about 36 grams. On the Amazon website, one serving is confusingly listed as two scoops of powder or 87 grams. The Amazon website must be in error, and we will go with what is on the label.

Calories: There is a reasonable number of calories in one serving – 130 calories are compatible with a weight loss regimen should you be on one. It leaves enough room for other whole foods to be blended into the shake and to be added to the diet without exceeding your calorie limit.

Total Fat: The product is low in fat at 2.5 grams per serving and only .5 grams of saturated fat with no trans-fat. The fat is a mixture of 1-gram polyunsaturated fat and .5 g monounsaturated fat. This is not enough fat to meet your essential fatty acid requirements for the day. Two to four grams of omega-3 fatty acids are recommended per day. The Dietary Reference Intake for fat is 20-35% of your calories as fat. That is about 44-70 grams of fat on a 2000 calorie diet. There is no cholesterol in this product.

Sodium: 150 mg, which is a standard amount for a meal replacement shake. It is not excessive and is not a reason for concern. The upper limit for sodium is 2300 mg per day, and the lower limit is 1500 mg/day for electrolyte balance.

Total Carbohydrates: 14 grams or 5% of the DV, making it a very low carbohydrate product. Other whole foods should be added to the diet to boost the carbohydrate intake for fuel. Carbohydrate sources include fruit, starchy legumes/beans/vegetables, and whole grains.

Fiber: There are 3 grams of total fiber in one serving, 1 gram of soluble fiber, and 2 grams of insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber absorbs water, and insoluble fiber maintains the health and cleanliness of the colon. They have separate effects on the body. Soluble fibers are good for the heart and other health conditions. Both types are good for improving digestive health and for weight loss. We would like to see at least 5 grams of fiber per serving since the daily recommendation is 25-38 grams per day.

Total Sugars: 0 grams of added sugar and 1 gram of total sugar. Natural sweeteners are used for flavoring. In clarification, the sweeteners occur naturally, but the ones in the shake are manufactured chemicals made from natural ingredients.

Protein: 20 grams of blended vegan protein. We look for 15-20 grams per serving to support metabolism, muscle health, and appetite control. The protein is complete with an ample amount of branched-chain amino acids.

Vitamins and Minerals: The vitamin and mineral blend is composed of 15 vitamins and minerals, but 22 are listed on the label, with 21 advertised on the website because potassium is present in such low amounts. Vitamin D, Iron, Vitamin A, Magnesium, Manganese, Zinc, Vitamin K, Vitamin C, Potassium, and Calcium are all present in amounts less than 1/3 of the DV. Only 11 vitamins and minerals are present in amounts equal to or greater than 1/3 of the DV. So, essentially, while this product does provide vitamins and minerals, it does not supply your daily need for all essential nutrients in amounts similar to what you would need in a balanced meal, so whole supplemental foods are suggested. 

The nutritional content of this shake is adequate in protein but low in fat and carbohydrates, making it a blank palate for combining other whole foods into the shake blend to balance the macronutrients. It does not provide all 24 essential vitamins and minerals, but it does offer an ample amount of some nutrients. It claims it doesn’t have any dairy, soy, gluten, tree nuts, filler ingredients, artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, or sweeteners, but the ingredient list reveals two sweeteners, erythritol, and Stevia. Stevia is made from a natural bush but is still processed and is a synthetic chemical. Erythritol is a man-made sugar alcohol despite the fact it is found naturally in some fruits.

Garden of Life Price

Amazon lists a 1,017-gram container for $45.40, and at 28 servings per container, it comes to $1.63 per serving, with 36 grams being a serving size (1 scoop). The Amazon website lists two scoops as a serving size or 84 grams, and the math doesn’t work out, so it must be an error. The label says a serving size is about 36 grams or one scoop. Two scoops would be 72 grams, not 84, so even the math is not correct, and the label has the true indication of a serving size.

Garden of Life Flavors

The product comes in chocolate, vanilla, vanilla chai, and lightly sweet. Reviews on the taste are mostly positive. Negative reviews include that it smells bad and is thick with a bitter aftertaste that is attributed to Stevia. No glaring reviews were found about digestive upsets, as anticipated by looking at the ingredient list. Others complained that it was gritty and had a “dirt” aftertaste. Their new flavor, lightly sweet, does not contain Stevia but does contain cane sugar.

Garden of Life Recalls

In 2016, the product was recalled due to Salmonella contamination. Since then, additional quality control measures have been put into place, and more testing for contaminants is being conducted.

Garden of Life Price

Amazon lists a 1,017-gram container for $45.40, and at 28 servings per container, it comes to $1.63 per serving, with 36 grams being a serving size (1 scoop). The Amazon website lists two scoops as a serving size or 84 grams, and the math doesn’t work out, so it must be an error. The label says a serving size is about 36 grams or one scoop. Two scoops would be 72 grams, not 84, so even the math is not correct, and the label has the true indication of a serving size.

Garden of Life Summary

The ingredient list is full of whole foods that are vegan, gluten-free, and healthy for the body. Consumers overall give it a favorable review for its flavor and taste, although the texture can be a bit grainy and thick with an unpleasant aroma. The protein is adequately blended to provide all the essential amino acids and an array of branched-chain amino acids. It is also high in arginine, a muscle-building protein that is high in pea protein. It contains a variety of superfoods, although the amounts are not declared, so we do not know how much of the superfoods go into the shake.

There are 14 organic grains and legumes providing a wide array of nutrients and proteins. The company has also added enzymes to aid in the digestion of the macronutrients in the shake, making the nutrition more available to the cells. Probiotics are present to keep the gut healthy and happy. Vitamins and minerals are present but will not provide all 24 essential nutrients in one or more shakes. The fiber is present but not high enough to support gut health and will have to be supplemented with other high fiber whole foods. Overall, this is a good vegan shake to try, but we encourage you to check the reviews on our other products before you make a decision.

 

Garden of Life Raw Meal Shake Comparison:

Sources:

  1. https://www.livescience.com/36188-sugar-bad.html
  2. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/erythritol#section1
  3. https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/stevia-side-effects#benefits
  4. https://www.amazon.com/Garden-Life-Meal-Replacement-Gluten-Free/product-reviews/B007S6Y74O/ref=cm_cr_getr_d_paging_btm_next_7?ie=UTF8&reviewerType=all_reviews&sortBy=recent&pageNumber=7
  5. https://althealthworks.com/14498/nestle-strikes-deal-with-garden-of-life-owners-atrium-innovations-to-purchase-company-for-2-3-billionyelena/
  6. https://www.foodsafetynews.com/2016/04/investigation-ends-garden-of-life-powders-pose-ongoing-threat/#.WPQPBPnyvcc
  7. https://www.scielo.br/j/cta/a/ZKvKbZryXYLFmFykv3FPxvq/?lang=en&format=html

1Nutritional information from https://www.gardenoflife.com/catalog/product/view/sku/658010116022. Price per serving calculated from a package price of $64.99 for 28-servings of Vanilla Protein Powder. Accessed 8/2/19.