Garden of Life Review | Raw Organic Shakes For Weight Loss

RAW Organic drinks review

In this Garden of Life review, I will have a look to their best meal replacements and green powders. In fact, Garden of Life’s Raw & Organic is one of the most popular weight loss meal replacement shakes in the US, with almost 20,000 reviews. Therefore, I want to have a deeper look to these organic shakes and truly test if they are as good as they claim or if Garden of Life is the best shake for you.

Garden of Life Review

Raw & Organic shakes review

Products: Raw & Organic All in One, Protein & Greens, Perfect Food Green Superfood and more.

Opinion

Having analysed Garden of Life thoroughly for this review, I must say that there’s a lot to like about the brand. For food enthusiast who are looking for clean and raw supplements, Garden of Life offers good quality meals and nutritional supplements. Their organic protein range and green powders positively surprised me.

That said, I was not as impressed with Garden of Life Raw Organic Meal. While it’s a perfect nutritional supplement, it’s a flawed meal replacement and a pricey one. My main issues with it are the nutritional deficiencies, the lack of essential fats (omega-3), and being extremely protein heavy (66%). I believe that there are better alternatives out there for most people looking for complete meals.

What I like

1. Raw and Organic. It’s welcome to have shakes that are free of any artificial ingredients.

2. Naturally sourced nutrients. Furthermore, they are all USDA certified organic.

3. Great green powders. Garden of Life’s best shakes are their green powders and their protein with greens. Affordable, nutritious and tasty.

4. Soy free, gluten free, non-GMO, and vegan.

5. Raw Organic shakes are great for weight loss.

What I dislike

1. Raw Organic Meal is nutritionally imbalanced. It lacks some essential nutrients and it’s too rich in protein to be called a meal replacement.

2. 2 weeks shipping time to the UK. While in the US you will enjoy fast delivery times, for Europe it will take about 2 weeks to get your order.

3. Raw Organic shakes are expensive. In particular if you are looking to get more than 130kcal per drink.

Improvements

1. Make Raw and Organic meal more balanced.

2. Ship from Europe.

Garden of Life Raw drink review

Garden of Life Products

Garden of Life is a brand committed to provide with organic, non-GMO products of the highest quality. As part of their product offering they have organic meal replacements, protein powders, green supplements, multivitamin supplements and more. However, in this review I will mainly focus on their meal replacements and green powders.

Our mission is to Empower Extraordinary Health, and to fulfill that mission, we continue to bring to market the most innovative Certified USDA Organic and Non-GMO Project Verified foods and supplements without compromise.

Hence, all products discussed here are raw and organic. This means that there’s minimal processing of the natural ingredients. For instance, for the greens powder “…grasses are juiced at the farm, straight after picking, using cold temperatures to dry them. This all takes place within an hour of harvesting“.

Raw & Organic
Raw & Organic All-in-One
  • Meal Replacement
  • Powder
  • 115kcal/meal
  • 21C/70P/9F % of Energy from
  • <1g of sugar/0g of saturated fats per meal.
  • Price without subscription: $4.50/400kcal
  • Price per serving: $1.46
  • No major allergens

Garden of Life Raw & Organic Fit
Raw & Organic Fit
  • Meal Replacement
  • Powder
  • 170kcal/meal
  • 23C/66P/11F % of Energy from
  • <1g of sugar/0g of saturated fats per meal.
  • Price without subscription: $5.10/400kcal
  • Price per serving: $2.17
  • No major allergens

Raw Organic Protein and Greens
Protein & Greens
  • Protein
  • Powder
  • 100kcal/meal
  • 11C/80P/9F % of Energy from
  • <1g of sugar/0g of saturated fats per meal.
  • Price per serving: $1.12
  • No major allergens

Perfect Food Garden of Life Green superfood
Perfect Foods Greens
  • Greens Superfoods
  • Powder
  • 25kcal/meal
  • Contains 34 greens & vegetables
  • <1g of sugar/0g of saturated fats per meal.
  • Price per serving: $1.05
  • No major allergens

Brief Raw & Organic All-in-One Review

Garden of Life Raw Organic Meal review
All four different flavours available in the US.

Flavours: Chocolate, Vanilla, Lightly Sweet, and Vanilla Chai.

Raw Organic Meal is the meal replacement option from Garden of Life. Despite that, I think it’s worth mentioning that each serving is rather low in calories and that it has some nutritional shortcomings as a meal replacement. For example, it is too high in protein, and does not contain enough essential fats. Therefore, I would consider it more as a snack or nutritional booster. You can see more on how it compares to more traditional meal replacements in the comparison section.

Nonetheless, much of its success comes from being a healthy meal replacement that’s both organic and raw, as well as tasty. There’s no discussion that this is indeed a healthy meal option, and a nutritional boost for most. The reason for this is the amount of vegetables included in the mix; which provide with essential vitamins and minerals, as well as antioxidants and other phytonutrients. All of which, it’s usually lacking on a standard western diet.

One of the main concerns out there is the amount of heavy metals in these products. While there were some issues in the past, this have been addressed long ago and all Garden of Life products contain safe levels of them.

The last thing to consider in the Raw & Organic meal review is the price. The truth is that while it’s a little pricey as far as meal replacements go; this isn’t the case when comparing with other organic shakes. That said, there’s definitely other cheap meal replacement shake options that you could buy.

Is Garden of Life Raw Organic Fit Meal Worth it?

I would say that for most people it isn’t. While it’s a good way to have some extra proteins and calories (8g more of protein and 40kcal more); I don’t think it’s worth paying extra. In my opinion, you better off purchasing more Raw Organic Meal instead.

Nutrition label for Garden of Life Raw Organic Meal replacement in the UK
Nutrition label for Garden of Life Raw Organic Meal replacement in the UK. Might vary for the US version.

Brief Garden of Life Protein & Greens Review

Garden of Life Protein and Greens review

Flavours: Chocolate, Lightly Sweet, and Vanilla.

Besides the meals, Garden of Life also offers organic protein shakes. While most of them come without greens, I prefer the variation that comes with. This is because it provides you with extra nutrients from plants that otherwise you wouldn’t get. All of that, while still providing you with 20g of protein and excellent taste.

Looking at the protein sources, Raw Organic Protein and Greens uses a mix of organic pea protein, organic sprouted rice protein and organic chia protein. Pea and rice are usually paired together to get a better balanced amino acid profile.

Starting at $1.12 per serving, it is a little more expensive than other vegan protein powders. However, if you are consuming both greens and protein powders, this mix will be very affordable for you.

protein & greens nutrition label from Garden of Life Raw & Organic
Exact values might vary with flavours.

Brief Perfect Food Greens Powder Review

Perfect Food Garden of Life Green superfood review

This is one of the best Garden of Life products, and one that I could buy frequently. While I’ve shown some concerns and issues for both the meal and protein options, I think that this is among the best green powders you can buy.

The reason for this is simply that they offer a very comprehensive mix of 34 organic greens at a reasonable price. These include (all organic) vegetables and fruits that are rich in antioxidants, lignans, anti-inflammatory agents etc. Everything packed in 25kcal and without any extras.

In fact, I would personally recommend going for the Original version instead of the flavoured versions.

Raw Organic Protein Greens Nutrition Label

Nutritional breakdown

Garden of Life natural ingredients for shakes
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Analysing Garden of Life’s nutritional aspect is complex due to the many products they offer. As such, I will mainly talk about Raw & Organic Meal.

That said, both Meal and Protein (and most Garden of Life shakes) are rich protein mixes with very low fats and carbs. Therefore, none of them is technically very balanced to act as meal replacement and do lack key ingredients to make them complete.

Besides that, it needs to be said that all shakes are soy-free, kosher, dairy-free, gluten-free, raw and organic. In fact, as mentioned earlier, being as raw and organic as possible is one of the goal of all Garden of Life drinks.

Carbs

Per 120kcal serving:

  • Total Carbs: 8.0g, 3.1% of RI.
  • Sugars: <1g, 0% of RI.
  • Fiber: 7.0g, 35% of RI. NOTE: The US product seems to be slightly different and has less fibre (2.0g), which is a downgrade.

As it can be observed, Garden of Life Raw Organic Meal is very low in carbohydrates. It contains less than one gram of sugar per meal and only 3% of your daily carbs. This might make it a good low-carb shake; but for many it’s simply too low.

On the plus side, the Raw & Organic is rich in fibres, and contains both soluble and insoluble sources. These come from organic tapioca meal, organic chia seeds and organic flaxseed.

They are also some of the best gluten free shakes.

Fats

Per 120kcal serving:

  • Total fats: 2g, 3% of RI.
  • Saturated Fats: 0g, 0% of RI.
  • Omega-3 (ALA): ?g.

Besides being low on carbs, Raw Organic Meal is also low in fats. While this can be a positive thing for protein powders and other foods, it is not a great thing for meal replacements. Fats are essential to keep our body going, protecting our organs, absorb vitamins etc.

For instance, meal replacements tend to be a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are often lacking in our diets. While Raw Organic does have some flaxseed (good source of omega-3), it is not nearly enough.

On the plus side, there’s no cholesterol or significant amount of saturated fats in Garden of Life shakes.

Protein

Per 120kcal serving:

  • Total protein: 20g, 40% of RI.

This is the bread and butter of all Garden of Life nutritional drinks. All of them are very rich in protein, offering more than 65% of calories just from protein. Furthermore, all are from plant-based organic sources.

As previously mentioned, the main protein sources used are organic pea protein and organic sprouted brown rice protein. Both sources are widely used in the industry to achieve a more balanced protein profile (Huel, for instance). However, there are many other vegetables and legumes in Raw & Organic that also contribute with quality protein: lentils, chia seeds, quinoa, sunflower seed… These are not “pure” protein sources, but have tons of nutrients on them.

Raw Organic Meal Essential Amino Acid Profile

Let’s see how the protein content relates to the essential amino acid content. Essential amino acids are those that the body cannot produce and therefore they need to be acquired via diet. Some of these are branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs).

 Raw Organic Meal%RI
Histidine42153
Isoleucine
90865
Leucine161459
Lysine67732
Methionine (plus cysteine)
84380
Phenylalanine (plus tyrosine)
2042209
Threonine72969
Tryptophan293104
Valine116064
Essential amino acids present in each serving. Recommended intake is taken from WHO. Amino acid values obtained here.

Micronutrients

One important aspect of complete foods or balanced meal replacements is their vitamin and mineral content. Most will provide you with all the essential micronutrients that you need per serving. This is often achieved by adding a synthetic vitamin and mineral mix.

However, in the case of Raw & Organic meal they don’t add any synthetic micronutrient, and instead they use the naturally occurring nutrients in plants. Consequently, they are a little low in some key minerals, like Calcium, Phosphorus and Magnesium. Otherwise, it’s a very vitamin and mineral rich drink.


Per serving
% RI* (NRV**)
per 36g serving
Vitamin A (µg)18010%
Vitamin D (µg)450%
Vitamin E (mg)2.950%
Vitamin K (µg)3650%
Vitamin C (mg)6025%
Thiamin (mg)0.2850%
Riboflavin (mg)0.3050%
Niacin (mg)3.250%
Vitamin B6 (mg)0.3450%
Folate (µg)8050%
Vitamin B12 (µg)0.8100%
Biotin (µg)1010%
Pantothenic Acid (mg)1.250%
Potassium (mg)940-%
Chloride (mg)160-%
Calcium (mg)2604%
Phosphorus (mg)260-%
Magnesium (mg)846%
Iron (mg)3.610%
Zinc (mg)2.815%
Copper (mg)0.30-%
Manganese (mg)0.8015%
Selenium (µg)1230%
Chromium (µg)860%
Molybdenum (µg)6050%
Iodine (µg)36-%
Vitamins and minerals per 400kcal as stated for Huel.

Other Ingredients – Non Essential Nutrients

Another point of consideration with raw and natural drinks is that they are rich in non-essential nutrients or phytonutrients. These are chemical compounds with key roles and often supportive features to our metabolism. A common example are antioxidants, which reduce the oxidative stress by helping eradicate free-radicals.

Due to the sheer nature of plant-based ingredients, all Raw Organic shakes are incredibly rich in phytonutrients.

Beyond that, Garden of Life also adds extra enzymes to help the digestive process. Enzymes are proteins that help the breakdown of other compounds by acting as scaffolding or catalyzers. In Raw Organic you can find lipase, protease, cellulase, lactase etc. Lactase might be one of the most famous, as it helps break down lactose (ingredient not present in Garden of Life shakes).

They also add probiotics: Lactobacillus plantarum and Lactobacillus bulgaricus (1.5 billion CFU).

Allergens

Garden of Life Raw Organic Meal is free of most major allergens.

Nutrition Summary

  • Vegan, raw, organic, soy-free and gluten free.
  • Each shakes includes 24g of protein from pea protein, sprouted rice protein, mainly.
  • Fat content is a little too low to be a balanced meal replacement.
  • High in fibres and low in sugars.
  • Low in some essential minerals, but very rich in natural vitamins.
  • UK and US formulas seem to vary so I recommend checking the nutritional label.

More about Garden of Life

Garden of life logo

Garden of Life was born to provide with raw, real food nutritional supplements and drinks. “Being fanatical food” has led them to avoid synthetic additives, choose for traditional cultivating methods vs the new efficient ultra-mechanized ones, and opt for non-GMO organic crops. All this leads to clean, healthy products; according to Garden of Life.

Garden of Life was founded by Jordan Rubin after he struggled with Crohn’s disease. According to him, he was at the brink of death when he changed his nutrition drastically and focused on eating quality whole foods. After a miraculous recovery, he decided to found Garden of Life in 2000 to promote raw and organic foods and supplements. At the end of 2017, Garden of Life was bought by Nestle.

Garden of Life Mission

Huel’s introductory video of Hot & Savoury.

Currently, the brand has 3 main pillars:

  • Science of whole foods.
  • Clean is healthy.
  • Traceability.

I mentioned the first two points above, so I won’t go over in more detail. As for traceability, Garden of Life believes on strictly tracking the origin of their products, and that can be seen in the multiple certificates that they have: USDA Organic certificate, non-GMO certified, NSF gluten-free certified, and Informed-Choice Certified for sports among others.

Pricing & Packaging

All the fancy goals and mission statements aside, let’s dive into one of Garden of Life’s weakest points: the pricing. The simple truth is that they are not the most affordable meal replacements, particularly outside the US. Even though, it is standard to pay extra for organic and natural complete food, Organic and Raw can be slightly above the competition (Bertrand).

That said, other products like the Perfect Food Green Powders or the Organic Protein & Greens drink are more appropriately priced.

Price
Raw Organic Meal
Protein & Greens
Green Powder
US ($)
per serving(expensive) 1.46 1.67 1.05
per serving(cheapest) 1.24 1.43 0.92
UK (£)
per serving(expensive) 1.59 1.65 1.06
per serving(cheapest) 1.27 1.32 0.85

More Garden of Life Products

So this has been mainly a Raw Organic Meal replacement review, as well as, looking at the Fit version, the Protein and Greens powders briefly. These, nonetheless, are not the only products Garden of Life sells. Other items include: probiotics, multivitamins, essential oils etc.

Here are the few that I think are worth looking at:

Keto Organic MCT Powder

  • 60kcal per serving, 6g of MCTs.
  • Keto, paleo friendly, non-GMO and organic.
  • No palm oil, mainly MCTs from coconut.
  • $0.72/serving.
Raw Organic Protein Garden of Life

Raw Organic Protein

  • 110kcal per serving, 22g of protein.
  • Vegan, non-GMO, low-sugar and raw.
  • Chocolate, Vanilla, Unflavoured, and Vanilla Chai available.
  • $1.68/serving

Besides, it’s a good place to get organic multivitamins, vitamin D3 capsules, probiotics or similar.

Shipping

All orders are shipped from the US. Even UK customers will have their orders shipped from the other side of the Atlantic.

This means that even though, US customers will have fast free shipping; the delivery to Europe will take about 2 weeks. Therefore, you might want to check the best meal replacements in the UK, instead.

Garden of Life FAQ

Are all Garden of Life products organic?

Yes, all Garden of Life products are USDA organic certified.

Can I use Raw Organic All in One to replace meals?

Yes, but I would advise increasing the recommended serving. 130kcal is not enough for a full meal.

Is Garden of Life Raw Organic high in heavy metals?

While there have been some rumors in the past about the heavy metal content in Garden of Life shakes, all products undergo strict third party testing and comply with all regulations.

Is Raw Organic Meal gluten-free?

Yes, all Raw Organic meals and protein powders are gluten free.

Does Raw Organic Meal have whey or other dairy?

No, all Garden of Life products are vegan and free of dairy.

Can I use Raw Organic Meal for weight loss?

Yes, it can be a very useful tool to lose some weight due to its nutrient rich nature. You will be able to get many nutrients (particularly micronutrients), while not eating many calories. It is also fairly filling, thanks to the high protein and fibre content.

Raw Organic Meal vs...

So is this one of the best raw and organic meal replacements? Yes, it is a very solid shake for someone looking for a raw shake. In fact, I think that it’s a healthier alternative to Shakeology for weight loss. The low sugar content also makes it a good shake for diabetics.

All that said, when it comes to the general population and those with less strict dietary requirements, there might be better alternatives out there.

Orgain vs Garden of Life Raw Organic Meal

Orgain is another US based company that produces excellent organic meal replacements. However, unlike Garden of Life, they don’t limit themselves to use raw ingredients only, and can contain some more processed foods.

Flavours

Orgain Meal Replacement: Creamy Chocolate Fudge, and Vanilla Bean.

Raw Organic Meal Replacement: Chocolate, Vanilla, and Lightly Sweetened.

Price

Price
Garden of Life Meal
Orgain Meal
US ($)
per 400 (expensive) 4.49 4.89
per 400 (cheapest) 3.81 3.91

Orgain also offers their meals in a ready-to-drink format at extra cost.

Nutrition

per serving Garden of Life DV (%)
Orgain
DV (%)
Energy (C/P/F) 21/66/13 45/35/20
Energy (kCal) 130 7 230 11
Fats (g) 2.0 3 5.0 6
Saturated (g) 0.0 0 1.0 5
Cholesterol (mg) 0.0 0 0.0 0
Carbs (g) 12.0 4 25.0 9
Sugars (g) 1.0 0 1.0 2
Fibre (g) 2 7 7.0 25
Protein (g) 20.0 40 20.0 40
Sodium (mg) 190.0 8 300.0 13

While both are organic meal replacements, both have some deficiencies when it comes to micronutrients. Orgain’s shakes are more balanced and contain more fats and carbs; while Raw Organic Meal is closer to a protein shake (ultra rich in protein).

Both have very small recommended servings, too; thus it’s worth considering increasing the calories if you are replacing full meals with them.

On another note, both shakes are very nutrient rich and contain many organic vegetables and greens, as well as, probiotics to boost your health.

What Should I Buy?

Raw Organic Meal is better as a post-workout protein boost or as an addition to your morning smoothie. Orgain’s Meal option works better on its own, but it can also be a great breakfast meal replacement. All in all, both can be great for daily use or weight loss; Garden of Life’s shakes being the choice if you want a more raw nutritional drink.


Raw Organic Meal vs Huel Powder

So, let’s compare Raw Organic Meal with one of the best meal replacement powders and one of the most popular:

Flavours

Raw Organic Meal Replacement: Chocolate, Vanilla, and Lightly Sweetened.

Huel Powder: Original, Vanilla, Chocolate, Coffee*, Berry, Banana*, Mint-Chocolate*, and Unflavoured & Unsweetened. *Only available in Europe

Price

Price
Garden of Life Meal
Huel Powder
US ($)
per 400 (expensive) 4.49 2.12
per 400 (cheapest) 3.81 1.51

Huel Powder prices in the UK are even cheaper due to the brand being British. Huel also offer meal replacement bars, RTDs and more powder options.

Nutrition

per serving Garden of Life DV (%)
Huel Powder
DV (%)
Energy (C/P/F) 21/66/13 40/30/30
Energy (kCal) 130 7 400 20
Fats (g) 2.0 3 13.0 17
Saturated (g) 0.0 0 2.5 13
Cholesterol (mg) 0.0 0 0.0 0
Carbs (g) 12.0 4 46.0 17
Sugars (g) 1.0 0 1.0 2
Fibre (g) 2 7 7.0 25
Protein (g) 20.0 40 30.0 60
Sodium (mg) 190.0 8 330.0 14

Huel is the more balanced alternative and the better meal replacement for most people. However, they do not use organic ingredients and they include processed ones.

That said, each shake has more calories, more vitamins and minerals (albeit synthetic), more healthy essential fats than Garden of Life. Once thing to notice is that while both are low sugar, Raw Organic Meal is the only shake without artificial sweeteners.

What Should I Buy?

Truthfully, both will appeal different people. That said, I believe that Huel Powder is more complete, better balanced and still provides you with quality ingredients and nutrients. All this, at a much affordable price. Thus, while Garden of Life has excellent products Huel does not (green powders, organic protein etc.); I wouldn’t recommend Raw Organic Meal over Huel Powder.


Other Garden of Life Alternatives

While those are two of the most popular Garden of Life alternatives, there are other solid meal replacements. For instance, in Europe I would recommend looking at Bertrand and Vitaline; two brands with fully organic ingredients. In the case of Bertrand, all vitamins and minerals are also achieved from food.

Another two interesting brands are Ambronite and Ample, worth considering if you live in the US. Both have high quality real food ingredients and avoid synthetic additives. Plus, they have excellent tasting shakes, keto and low carb options; as well as, green and protein powders.

Garden of Life Protein Review

Verdict

Taking everything to consideration, it must be said that Garden of Life meals and protein powders are quite good. However, they will be ideal for those looking for truly natural and organic shakes.

If like me, you don’t care that much about it; you might find that Garden of Life drinks are too pricey. Particularly, Garden of Life Raw Organic Meal shakes.

On the other hand, as highlighted in this Garden of Life review, I think the Greens and Greens & Proteins powders are superb. They offer a great combo of natural, raw, high quality ingredients and a reasonable price; as well as good taste.

Consequently, I recommend trying out Garden of Life green powders, both in Europe and in the US; but I would only recommend Raw Organic for those looking for a organic weight loss shake.

Garden of Life Review

From $3.81
3.85

Nutrition

3.8/5

Taste

4.0/5

Texture

4.0/5

Satiety

4.3/5

Price

3.3/5

Pros

  • Raw and Organic. All powders contain high quality ingredients
  • Multiple nutrient rich greens and vegetables added in most shakes
  • Great as a low calorie snack and nutrient boost
  • Their green powder is very good
  • Low in sugars, no soy, no-GMO, no artificial sweeteners

Cons

  • Raw Organic Meal is too high in protein and lacks essential fats
  • New formula is low in fibre
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