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Ka’Chava: Truth or Trend?

Ka’Chava May Be Great IF Your Gut Health is Optimal

Our latest Truth or Trend contender is Ka’Chava, the all-in-one meal replacement shake that claims to cover your nutritional bases and taste great at the same time. 

I’ll say this up front: Depending on your nutritional needs and gut health status, Ka’Chava may be a good meal replacement option. First, it’s relatively high in protein (from peas, rice, oats, and amaranth), of which most of us need a bit more. Plus, it includes plenty of nutrients from superfoods, greens, fruits, adaptogens, essential fatty acids, and fiber, and it can fit in with a healthy diet. 



However, it’s important to note that some people with sensitive guts may find that Ka’Chava doesn’t agree with them. I’ll go into the various reasons why and give options for folks with gut sensitivities.

Let’s investigate Ka’Chava, what it can do for you nutritionally, who might struggle with it, and other meal replacement options. 

What is Ka’Chava?

Ka’Chava is a plant-based meal replacement shake that includes a variety of quality ingredients such as plant proteins (e.g., pea protein and brown rice), superfoods (e.g., chia seeds and maca root), antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, probiotics, a digestive enzyme blend, and dietary fibers. The macronutrients in each serving include 7 grams of fat, 25 grams of protein, and 24 grams of carbs [1].

On their website, Ka’Chava compares its product to the top three kinds of health shakes: protein powders, meal replacement powders, and greens/superfood powders. Ka’Chava states its unique position as a clean, nutrient-dense, all-in-one meal replacement option that also tastes delicious [2]. Flavor options include vanilla, chocolate, coconut acai, matcha, and chai. 

Ka’Chava Benefits

Ka’Chava claims its benefits come down to several main points: 

Nutrient density: Ka’Chava claims to provide a comprehensive variety of essential nutrients, including protein, fiber, greens, omega-3s, probiotics, adaptogens, antioxidants, and 26 vitamins and minerals. This, the company says, surpasses the nutrient profile of other nutrition shakes and offers a more holistic approach to nutrition [2].

  • Fact Check: While Ka’Chava does offer a comprehensive ingredient list, other offerings on the market, like Lyfe Fuel, also offer a strong nutrient profile. The choice between Ka’Chava and another meal replacement shake may come down to consumer preferences for taste, texture, price, and how it feels to digest.

Complete meal replacement: Unlike protein powders and greens/superfood powders, Ka’Chava claims to be a complete meal replacement with a balanced combination of protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. The company says it is a satisfying and filling option that helps control hunger for hours, thanks to its large serving size and diverse nutrient content [2].

  • Fact Check: Ka’Chava is technically a complete meal replacement, and it does have an impressive nutritional profile, especially with 25 grams of protein per serving. However, the total calorie count (240) for a serving is pretty low (more healthy fats would help), and the carb count isn’t great for those wanting a low-carb formula.

High quality: Ka’Chava also prides itself on using high-quality, plant-based sources for its ingredients. It’s 100% vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, and soy-free, making it suitable for a wide range of dietary preferences and restrictions. Moreover, it contains no artificial sweeteners, flavors, colors, or preservatives, and it ensures its formula is clean and pure [2].

  • Fact Check: The certified organic ingredients in Ka’Chava are impressive. Ka’Chava is also certified by the Therapeutic Goods Administration, an Australian agency that ensures product safety. Ka’Chava also follows Current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP) guidelines and has its products tested in legitimate third-party laboratories. 

Tastes good: Ka’Chava says it doesn’t compromise on taste. It has collected over 50,000 5-star reviews for its great taste, smooth and creamy texture, and absence of chalkiness or graininess. Unlike some other shakes, Ka’Chava doesn’t have stevia or other ingredients that may contribute to a weird aftertaste [2].

  • Fact Check: Ka’Chava really does seem to shine when it comes to flavor. Almost all their reviews are positive for the taste of all flavors (vanilla, chocolate, chai, coconut acai, and matcha). 

Ka’Chava clearly has a lot of great benefits. However, for those with tricky gut health, there are other factors to consider when choosing a meal replacement shake. 

Ka’Chava and The Sensitive Gut

For people who already have pretty good gut health, Ka’Chava may be easy to tolerate. But for people with gut conditions, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), or an otherwise imbalanced gut microbiome, Ka’Chava may not be the best option. In sensitive digestive systems, the higher fiber content and some high-FODMAP ingredients—hard-to-digest carbs found in Ka’Chava’s prebiotics, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, and cauliflower—may cause unpleasant symptoms. 

If you can relate and have struggled with Ka’Chava or avoided it for fear of symptoms, you might not tolerate FODMAPs very well, perhaps as a result of a microbial overgrowth, inflammation, or leaky gut.

For people with such gut issues, we suggest a step-by-step process to heal the gut, starting with a gut reset that involves 2–4 days of a modified fast, typically using an elemental diet. Then we focus on giving the gut extra support with an anti-inflammatory diet, probiotics, and possibly other supplements that can help heal the gut lining and reduce microbial overgrowths. 

The elemental diet is step one because it’s a potent way to reset your gut when you’re setting out to heal it. Though we’ve long found that elemental diets are an effective and clinically validated strategy for stubborn gut issues, we had a hard time finding decent-tasting options. This made it difficult for our clients to reap the benefits of this healing method, so we created our own formulation: Elemental Heal

Elemental Heal is a therapeutic shake designed to give the gut a break with pre-digested ingredients and nutrition that’s easy for your body to absorb. You might wonder if it’s a replacement shake, like Ka’Chava: Not quite.  

How is Ka’Chava Different From Elemental Heal?

Ka’Chava provides a blend of plant-based proteins, fibers, and superfoods with the primary aim of offering balanced nutrition for everyday use rather than targeted therapeutic benefits. It’s more aligned with general meal replacement shakes on the market that cater to anyone seeking convenience and nutrient-rich supplementation. These types of shakes can be especially helpful for weight loss and management, but they don’t  focus on digestive health.

Elemental Heal, on the other hand, is meant to replace meals temporarily. It provides a full spectrum of nutrients, broken down specifically to give the gut a rest and help it deal with and recover from microbial imbalances, leaky gut, and inflammation.

So, if a convenient, high-quality, plant-based meal replacement is something you’re looking for, Ka’Chava is a viable option. But if you’re looking for a therapeutic shake specifically for gut issues (such as IBS or IBD), you may want to investigate other choices. 

Research on Meal Replacement Shakes Like Ka’Chava

Now that you have some background on Ka’Chava and its purported benefits, let’s back up a little bit and review why you would want a meal replacement shake in the first place—according to science. 

Research on meal replacement shakes, which are often higher in protein and lower in fat, indicates they can be effective for weight loss and improving metabolic health markers, such as cholesterol, triglycerides, insulin, C-reactive protein, glucose, and blood pressure. 

Although this research did not include Ka’Chava specifically, we can assume similar benefits would apply.

For example, a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials found that combining meal replacement shakes with diet support programs for a year can be particularly effective for helping people with excess weight shed pounds and improve their metabolic health [3]. 

Large randomized controlled trials have also found that various meal replacement shakes can help people lose significant weight [4, 5], and they can even enhance nutrient intake [5]. 

In other randomized controlled trials, meal replacement plans have led to sustained weight loss and body composition improvements [6], while also improving blood sugar levels [7]. Additionally, they have been linked to benefits like reduced food cravings, improved mood, and increased confidence in managing diabetes [8, 9]. 

These findings highlight the high potential for meal replacement shakes to promote weight loss, metabolic health, and blood sugar control.

Besides these science-backed benefits, many people are simply looking to use meal replacement shakes as an easy alternative to cooking a healthy meal, whether it’s at home or on the go. Meal replacement shakes can also be a more nutritionally comprehensive option than a protein shake for post-workout muscle recovery. And they can be a great way to get nutrients while you’re traveling and unable to eat homemade meals. 

Ka’Chava Review: Is Ka’Chava Worth It?

Ultimately, Ka’Chava can be a valuable option for people who want a convenient and nutrient-dense meal replacement. It offers a comprehensive array of essential nutrients, including protein, fiber, greens, omega-3s, probiotics, adaptogens, antioxidants, and 26 vitamins and minerals. 

For those with busy lifestyles or specific dietary needs (like vegans), Ka’Chava can provide a convenient solution to ensure adequate nutrition. However, at $4.66 per serving, Ka’Chava comes with a relatively high price tag. 

Although it’s more expensive than established options like Slimfast (just 86 cents per serving), Ka’Chava provides 15 more grams of protein and a higher micronutrient content per serving, which the price tag probably reflects. It might be worth doing a cost-benefit analysis to find out if replacing meals with Ka’Chava will help you save money on groceries.

Who Shouldn’t Use Ka’Chava

There are some people who shouldn’t use Ka’Chava, so take this list into consideration and consult your provider if you have further questions about your nutritional needs.

  • Children: The daily value of nutrients listed on Ka’Chava’s nutrition label corresponds to recommended intake levels for adults, not children. Therefore, it may give kids more than they need [10].
  • Pregnant women: While Ka’Chava’s website claims it may be safe during pregnancy, pregnant women typically require 300 extra calories per day and higher levels of certain vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C and magnesium. If you’re thinking of using Ka’Chava as a meal replacement while pregnant, please check with your doctor to make sure you get everything you and your baby need [11].
  • Allergies: Ka’Chava is free of all top food allergens, except for coconut. While coconut is recognized as a tree nut, coconut allergies are rare, and most people with tree-nut allergies can safely consume it. However, individuals with specific allergies should read the full label of ingredients and try Ka’Chava with caution [12].

Ka’Chava Alternatives

If your goal is to lose weight and improve metabolic health, but you either don’t want to spend the money on meal replacement shakes or they don’t appeal to you, there are some other science-backed options available. 

You could try a Paleo, Keto, or Mediterranean diet, all of which have meta-analyses backing their effectiveness for weight loss [13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18].

In general, a higher-protein diet can help with weight loss and fat loss [19, 20, 21, 22]. And eating whole foods rather than processed foods can boost the calories burned during digestion [23]. 

If your goals are to get enough high-quality nutrients and meet your calorie needs, meal planning is a great alternative to try. For example, in a pilot program, participants who prepped healthy weekday meals developed a more balanced diet, lost a little weight, and kept it off for the full 3-month program [24].

Additionally, research shows that spending less than one hour per day on food prep at home is associated with spending more money on takeout [25]. In contrast, meal prepping can save money by helping you make intentional choices at the grocery store [25]. And this makes sense because research suggests that a busy schedule is one of the top reasons why people choose quick takeout meals [25]. 

Unfortunately, eating out more is associated with a higher risk of death from any cause. People who eat at home tend to live longer than those who frequently dine out [26], so getting creative in the kitchen may start to look pretty good. 

Choose Your Meal Replacement Wisely

If you are a healthy, relatively active adult, Ka’Chava may be a good meal replacement option with a lot of nutritional benefits. But if you have gut issues, use Ka’Chava with caution: You may find that its FODMAPs and other fibers overwhelm your gut. 

If the latter describes you, and you’d like help with your gut health so you might enjoy Ka’Chava alongside a healthy, varied diet, you can find related videos on my YouTube channel or a stepwise guide in my book, Healthy Gut, Healthy You. And for one-on-one support, feel free to reach out to us at the clinic.

The Ruscio Institute has developed a range of high-quality formulations to help our clients and audience. If you’re interested in learning more about these products, please click here. Note that there are many other options available, and we encourage you to research which products may be right for you. The information on DrRuscio.com is for educational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

➕ References

  1. Ka’Chava Ingredients & Nutrition Facts [Internet]. [cited 2024 May 1]. Available from: https://www.kachava.com/ingredients
  2. The Top 3 Health Shakes and how Ka’Chava compares? [Internet]. [cited 2024 May 2]. Available from: https://www.kachava.com/compare
  3. Astbury NM, Piernas C, Hartmann-Boyce J, Lapworth S, Aveyard P, Jebb SA. A systematic review and meta-analysis of the effectiveness of meal replacements for weight loss. Obes Rev. 2019 Apr;20(4):569–87. DOI: 10.1111/obr.12816. PMID: 30675990. PMCID: PMC6849863.
  4. Lowe MR, Butryn ML, Zhang F. Evaluation of meal replacements and a home food environment intervention for long-term weight loss: a randomized controlled trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2018 Jan 1;107(1):12–9. DOI: 10.1093/ajcn/nqx005. PMID: 29381791. PMCID: PMC5972600.
  5. Miller GD, Beavers DP, Hamm D, Mihalko SL, Messier SP. Nutrient Intake During Diet-Induced Weight Loss and Exercise Interventions in a Randomized Trial in Older Overweight and Obese Adults. J Nutr Health Aging. 2017;21(10):1216–24. DOI: 10.1007/s12603-017-0892-5. PMID: 29188882.
  6. Bowen J, Brindal E, James-Martin G, Noakes M. Randomized Trial of a High Protein, Partial Meal Replacement Program with or without Alternate Day Fasting: Similar Effects on Weight Loss, Retention Status, Nutritional, Metabolic, and Behavioral Outcomes. Nutrients. 2018 Aug 23;10(9). DOI: 10.3390/nu10091145. PMID: 30142886. PMCID: PMC6165084.
  7. Guo X, Xu Y, He H, Cai H, Zhang J, Li Y, et al. Effects of a Meal Replacement on Body Composition and Metabolic Parameters among Subjects with Overweight or Obesity. J Obes. 2018 Dec 26;2018:2837367. DOI: 10.1155/2018/2837367. PMID: 30687550. PMCID: PMC6327254.
  8. Kahathuduwa CN, Davis T, O’Boyle M, Boyd LA, Chin S-H, Paniukov D, et al. Effects of 3-week total meal replacement vs. typical food-based diet on human brain functional magnetic resonance imaging food-cue reactivity and functional connectivity in people with obesity. Appetite. 2018 Jan 1;120:431–41. DOI: 10.1016/j.appet.2017.09.025. PMID: 28958900.
  9. Moldovan CP, Weldon AJ, Daher NS, Schneider LE, Bellinger DL, Berk LS, et al. Effects of a meal replacement system alone or in combination with phentermine on weight loss and food cravings. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2016 Nov;24(11):2344–50. DOI: 10.1002/oby.21649. PMID: 27664021.
  10. Is Ka’Chava safe for kids? – Ka’Chava – Help Center [Internet]. [cited 2024 May 2]. Available from: https://support.kachava.com/hc/en-us/articles/360043089352-Is-Ka-Chava-safe-for-kids
  11. Is Ka’Chava safe to consume during pregnancy? – Ka’Chava – Help Center [Internet]. [cited 2024 May 2]. Available from: https://support.kachava.com/hc/en-us/articles/115001619206-Is-Ka-Chava-safe-to-consume-during-pregnancy
  12. 5 reasons we don’t include soy in Ka’Chava [Internet]. [cited 2024 May 2]. Available from: https://www.kachava.com/blog/health-wellness/5-reasons-we-dont-include-soy-in-kachava
  13. Frączek B, Pięta A, Burda A, Mazur-Kurach P, Tyrała F. Paleolithic Diet-Effect on the Health Status and Performance of Athletes? Nutrients. 2021 Mar 21;13(3). DOI: 10.3390/nu13031019. PMID: 33801152. PMCID: PMC8004139.
  14. Muscogiuri G, El Ghoch M, Colao A, Hassapidou M, Yumuk V, Busetto L, et al. European Guidelines for Obesity Management in Adults with a Very Low-Calorie Ketogenic Diet: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Obes Facts. 2021 Apr 21;14(2):222–45. DOI: 10.1159/000515381. PMID: 33882506. PMCID: PMC8138199.
  15. Amini MR, Aminianfar A, Naghshi S, Larijani B, Esmaillzadeh A. The effect of ketogenic diet on body composition and anthropometric measures: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2022;62(13):3644–57. DOI: 10.1080/10408398.2020.1867957. PMID: 33443451.
  16. Esposito K, Kastorini C-M, Panagiotakos DB, Giugliano D. Mediterranean diet and weight loss: meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Metab Syndr Relat Disord. 2011 Feb;9(1):1–12. DOI: 10.1089/met.2010.0031. PMID: 20973675.
  17. Huo R, Du T, Xu Y, Xu W, Chen X, Sun K, et al. Effects of Mediterranean-style diet on glycemic control, weight loss and cardiovascular risk factors among type 2 diabetes individuals: a meta-analysis. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2015 Nov;69(11):1200–8. DOI: 10.1038/ejcn.2014.243. PMID: 25369829.
  18. Ajala O, English P, Pinkney J. Systematic review and meta-analysis of different dietary approaches to the management of type 2 diabetes. Am J Clin Nutr. 2013 Mar;97(3):505–16. DOI: 10.3945/ajcn.112.042457. PMID: 23364002.
  19. Vogtschmidt YD, Raben A, Faber I, de Wilde C, Lovegrove JA, Givens DI, et al. Is protein the forgotten ingredient: Effects of higher compared to lower protein diets on cardiometabolic risk factors. A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. Atherosclerosis. 2021 Jul;328:124–35. DOI: 10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2021.05.011. PMID: 34120735.
  20. Hansen TT, Astrup A, Sjödin A. Are Dietary Proteins the Key to Successful Body Weight Management? A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Studies Assessing Body Weight Outcomes after Interventions with Increased Dietary Protein. Nutrients. 2021 Sep 14;13(9). DOI: 10.3390/nu13093193. PMID: 34579069. PMCID: PMC8468854.
  21. Clifton PM, Condo D, Keogh JB. Long term weight maintenance after advice to consume low carbohydrate, higher protein diets–a systematic review and meta analysis. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2014 Mar;24(3):224–35. DOI: 10.1016/j.numecd.2013.11.006. PMID: 24472635.
  22. Zhang Y, Chen X, Allison DB, Xun P. Efficacy and safety of a specific commercial high-protein meal-replacement product line in weight management: meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2022;62(3):798–809. DOI: 10.1080/10408398.2020.1829539. PMID: 33938779.
  23. Quatela A, Callister R, Patterson A, MacDonald-Wicks L. The Energy Content and Composition of Meals Consumed after an Overnight Fast and Their Effects on Diet Induced Thermogenesis: A Systematic Review, Meta-Analyses and Meta-Regressions. Nutrients. 2016 Oct 25;8(11). DOI: 10.3390/nu8110670. PMID: 27792142. PMCID: PMC5133058.
  24. Mendez S, Kubota J, Widaman AM, Gieng J. Advance Quantity Meal Preparation Pilot Program Improves Home-Cooked Meal Consumption, Cooking Attitudes, and Self-Efficacy. J Nutr Educ Behav. 2021 Jul;53(7):608–13. DOI: 10.1016/j.jneb.2020.12.014. PMID: 33541769.
  25. Monsivais P, Aggarwal A, Drewnowski A. Time spent on home food preparation and indicators of healthy eating. Am J Prev Med. 2014 Dec;47(6):796–802. DOI: 10.1016/j.amepre.2014.07.033. PMID: 25245799. PMCID: PMC4254327.
  26. Du Y, Rong S, Sun Y, Liu B, Wu Y, Snetselaar LG, et al. Association Between Frequency of Eating Away-From-Home Meals and Risk of All-Cause and Cause-Specific Mortality. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2021 Sep;121(9):1741-1749.e1. DOI: 10.1016/j.jand.2021.01.012. PMID: 33775622.

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