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Ka’Chava Meal Replacement Shake Review: A Dietitian’s Expert Take

Written by Brandi Givens, RDN

Published on July 15, 2021

Our Expert Rating:

3.8

About This Rating
The average rating of this product is calculated based on the evaluation of the following factors:
  • Support for Claims:5.0
  • Ingredient Safety:4.0
  • Value for the Price:2.0
  • Brand Transparency:4.0

Ka’Chava is a vegan supplemental meal replacement powder. While the product offers convenience and has an impressive ingredient list of 70 superfoods, there is nothing extraordinary about the product to justify its higher-than-average cost.

Ka’Chava Meal Replacement Shake Review: A Dietitian’s Expert Take

Pros

  • Convenient alternative to meal preparation when time is limited.
  • Made from plants that are considered high nutrient superfoods.
  • Has an informative website and offers convenient ways to contact the company for further questions.

Cons

  • No third-party testing seals on packaging to verify quality and purity.
  • Somewhat expensive compared to other meal replacement powders on the market.
  • A lot of the product’s nutrition comes from added vitamins and minerals, not from the dehydrated foods.

What Is Ka’Chava?

The Ka’Chava is marketed as a meal replacement powder made from 70 plant-based superfoods.

Ka’Chava gives off an earthy, South American vibe, including exotic foods that have been used for wellness for centuries.

Ka’Chava also contains minerals, enzymes, prebiotics, probiotics, and synthetic vitamins in its formula and comes in vanilla and chocolate flavors.

Ka’Chava claims to boost immunity, provide energy, aid digestion, improve appearance, support a healthy weight, fuel muscle growth and recovery, and support mental health.

However, all these benefits could be achieved just as easily by eating a wide variety of whole, healthy foods.

Each 62-gram (2 scoops) serving of Ka’Chava chocolate powder contains 240 calories. 

The calories come from 25 grams of protein, 7 grams of fat, including 4.4 grams of saturated fat, 25 grams of total carbohydrate, including 9 grams of fiber, and 6 grams of added sugars. (The nutritional value is slightly different for the vanilla powder.)

Ka’Chava is processed and assembled in the United States, but some of its ingredients are outsourced from other countries.

The foods are dehydrated, ground into a uniform powder, and heat-treated to reduce microbial growth. Then, all ingredients are measured and mixed.

The company claims to self-test each batch for quality and safety. However, the product does not have an independent third-party testing seal to verify its contents. Ka’Chava claims to use third-party testing “when verification and validation steps are needed.”

Evaluation of Ingredients

Ka’Chava’s website categorizes its 70 ingredients into groups or “blends.” While analyzing all 70 ingredients isn’t possible in this review, I’ll go over some claims for each blend. 

Keep in mind that the serving size of the chocolate product is 62 grams or two small scoops (60 grams for vanilla). Getting an effective amount of 70 whole plant foods into such a small portion seems questionable.

For example, a typical serving of dried blueberries is 1/3 cup, which equals about 40 grams.

As you’ll see below, a serving of Ka’Chava distributes about 6.1 grams of weight between 10 types of fruit in their antioxidant blend, which means you’d only get about 0.6 grams of blueberry powder.

Please note that for simplicity, I’ve focused on the chocolate powder in this review. However, the nutrition labels show slightly different values for the vanilla flavor.

Protein Blend, 27.75 g

(45% of the product)

The protein blend includes pea, brown rice, quinoa, sacha inchi, and amaranth proteins.

It’s well established that protein is a macronutrient that provides energy and enables muscles to grow and recover.

A study published in 2015 involving 161 men showed that pea protein supplementation was effective in helping participants to increase muscle mass.

Another study from 2013 involving 24 men showed that rice protein was also effective in helping to increase muscle mass in adult men.

Summary:

The protein content in Ka’Chava supports the product’s claims to provide energy and support muscle growth.

Omega EFA / Fiber Blend: 9.62 g

(16% of the product)

This group of foods includes the omega-3 fatty acids from chia seeds and flax seeds. In addition, this blend contains fiber from whole oats and acacia gum.

Low intake of omega-3 has been associated with neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and earlier cognitive decline.

Fiber is well known for its role in digestive health. Adequate fiber intake regulates bowel movements, helps feed the microbiome, and helps keep the bowels healthy by reducing the risk of diseases and even cancer.

Fiber can also help to maintain a healthy weight.

Summary:

The omega-3 and fiber blend in Ka’Chava helps support its claims for mental health, healthy weight maintenance, and digestive health.

Antioxidant Blend, 6.1 g

(10% of the product)

Antioxidants are substances that are known to seize free radicals, the particles which would otherwise do damage to the body.

The antioxidant blend includes acai, camu camu, maqui berries, tart cherries, coconut flower nectar, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries.

The antioxidant, vitamin C, is found in abundance in many foods in this blend.

Vitamin C has been shown to help protect skin from harmful environmental factors like UV rays.

Vitamin C is also essential for the formation of collagen, a protein responsible for skin strength and elasticity.

Anthocyanins, found in blue-colored foods like blueberries, have been shown to protect against cardiovascular diseases like atherosclerosis and neurogenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s Disease.

Summary:

The antioxidant blend in Ka’Chava helps support the product’s claims to improve your appearance and support mental health.

Adaptogen Blend, 1,020 mg

(1.6% of the product)

Adaptogens are plant foods that help the body adapt to stress. This blend includes shiitake, maitake, reishi, and cordyceps mushrooms, maca root, and ginger.

Reishi and cordyceps mushrooms have been used to boost the immune system for centuries in other cultures. Some evidence shows that they have anti-cancer effects.

Some evidence shows that ginger has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant effects on the body.

Summary:

The addition of adaptogens in Ka’Chava helps to support its claim to boost the immune system.

Super-Greens Blend, 500 mg

(Less than 1% of the product)

The super-greens blend includes a wide variety of 17 vegetables, including broccoli, kale, beets, carrots, and tomatoes.

These superfoods are normally at the top of my list of favorite foods to talk about. However, notice that this blend amounts to less than 1% of the weight of the product.

That’s about half a gram, split between 17 vegetables.

Summary:

The amount of ingredients in this blend is too small to warrant a discussion.

Digestive Enzyme Blend, 50 mg

(Less than 0.01% of the product)

The digestive blend includes amylase, protease, cellulase, lactase, and lipase.

Enzymes are proteins that help speed chemical reactions. In the case of digestive enzymes, they help speed the digestive processes by breaking down specific food particles so that the nutrients can be absorbed by the body.

Healthy bodies normally make the digestive enzymes needed. However, some people have pancreatic enzyme insufficiency, which warrants care and possibly FDA-approved prescription medication from a doctor.

Supplemental enzymes have uncertain efficacy and safety. They may break down in the stomach before they have a chance to work in the small intestine.

I’m not sure why Ka’Chava puts lactase, the enzyme that breaks down sugar from milk, in their vegan supplement. Unless a consumer planned to mix this product with milk instead of water, this would be a useless ingredient.

Summary:

Including enzymes in this product may have insignificant benefits to healthy people.

Prebiotic and Probiotics Blend, 50 mg

(Less than 0.01% of the product)

This blend includes inulin, a known prebiotic, and the probiotics Lactobacillus rhamnoses and Lactobacillus acidophilus.

Inulin supports digestive health by feeding good gut bacteria and is naturally found in foods including asparagus, onions, garlic, and oats.

However, we are not certain if there is enough inulin in Ka’Chava to positively affect the microbiome.

Ka’Chava label also doesn’t disclose which strains of L. rhamnoses and L. acidophilus are in the product or how many colony-forming units (CFUs) it contains.

This information is important when determining if these ingredients will be helpful for consumers.

Summary:

It’s unclear if Ka’Chava includes enough inulin or probiotics to aid with digestive health.

Vitamins and Minerals

There are 25 essential vitamins and minerals in Ka’Chava, and the amounts and the percent daily values of these ingredients are listed on the nutrition label.

These are added to the product and are not much different than swallowing a multivitamin supplement.

Summary:

It is well established that getting adequate vitamins and minerals is essential to health and can help support several of Ka’Chava’s claims. Vitamins and minerals help boost immunity, improve appearance, and support mental health.

Verdict on Claimed Benefits

Below is our summary of the available evidence for the claimed benefits of Ka’Chava based on the available research:

  • Boosts immunityGold Star Evidence
  • Provides energyGold Star Evidence
  • Aids digestionGold Star Evidence
  • Improves appearanceGold Star Evidence
  • Supports a healthy weightGold Star Evidence
  • Fuels muscle growthGold Star Evidence
  • Supports mental healthGold Star Evidence

Ka’Chava makes conservative claims that would be achievable with the macronutrients and micronutrients found in almost any healthy, well-balanced meal.

But since their claims are so general and are basically about real, healthy foods contained in the product, the available research supports these claims.

Side Effects, Safety, and Dosage

For dosing, Ka’Chava’s package label instructs consumers to mix two heaping scoops of powder (62 grams) into 12–14 oz of ice-cold water.

It’s always best to talk to your doctor before beginning a supplement routine to ensure the product is right for you.

This product has not been evaluated for safety in any studies and does not have a third-party testing seal to help verify its quality and contents.

The bulk of the weight in the finished Ka’Chava product is from protein extracts, whole foods, and other ingredients added for flavor and texture, generally regarded as safe.

Though rare, some ingredients like probiotics have been known to cause side effects. These can include nausea, gas, and diarrhea. Some experts believe adverse effects of probiotics are underreported in studies.

Supplemental enzymes occasionally have side effects, including gas, cramping, and a rare allergic reaction.

Cost and Where to Buy

Currently, Ka’Chava is available exclusively from its website. The price of Ka’Chava is $69.95 for one 15-serving bag, which works out to $4.66 per serving.

The price is discounted to $59.95 or $3.99 per serving for monthly subscribers.

In my opinion, this is expensive for a product that does not bear a reputable third-party testing seal.

Customers may justify the extra cost because a portion of the money goes to Ka’Chava’s cause, Rainforest Trust. However, I could not find what percentage goes to the environmental organization.

How Ka’Chava Compares to Alternatives

While Ka’Chava is marketed as a “back to nature” product and uses exotic foods, ultimately, its nutrients are comparable to other meal replacement powders.

For example, Orgain Organic Meal is a vegan product made from plant foods. It can be purchased from Amazon.com for about $2.19 per serving, which is less than half the price of Ka’Chava.

Orgain is also a USDA-certified organic product. The supplement has 220 calories and includes 20 grams of protein, 4.5 grams of fat, including 1 gram of saturated fat, 27 grams of carbohydrate, including 1 gram of added sugar.

Another alternative is Purely Inspired Organic All-In-One supplemental shake. It is also a concentrated, vegan blend of fruits and vegetables. It has higher protein content in 2 scoops of the product, with a similar carbohydrate and fat in its profile.

This product lists 1 billion CFUs of probiotics, whereas Ka’Chava doesn’t offer that information on its label.

Overall, you can find many similar products for significantly lower costs compared to Ka’Chava.

The Bottom Line

Ka’Chava may have great intentions with its support for the environment while boasting its healthful, exotic ingredients, but it is not as perfect as it might seem.

The manufacturers can only pack fragments of the 70 plant foods promised into such a small amount of powder.

Ka’Chava has added ingredients like enzymes and probiotics that are not generally necessary for healthy people. And there are added vitamins and minerals, which implies that the whole foods included are inadequate.

In my opinion, this makes Ka’Chava an unsatisfactory and expensive replacement for whole foods, especially for people who can prepare and enjoy meals without using supplemental powders.

A Word from Our RD

Meal replacement powders like Ka’Chava are undeniably convenient.

In situations where someone is having trouble getting enough nutrients, and in cases of illness or lack of appetite, there is value in meal replacement shakes.

I can also understand when people use them as a weight-loss strategy.

In these cases, however, it might be helpful to seek help from a qualified medical professional before trying a supplement to troubleshoot on your own.

It’s important to have underlying health concerns evaluated by a doctor. Meeting weight loss goals or discussing nutrition concerns can be best addressed by a registered dietitian.

Ultimately, healthy whole foods are the most reliable sources of nutrition. Finding ways to incorporate more of these into your diet can be just as easy and convenient as using expensive supplements.

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