I know meal replacements can be awfully tempting when you’re expecting. Maybe because you’re tired or maybe because nothing is appetizing (thanks first trimester).
Meal replacements sound awesome: blend the powder with some liquid and you’re done. Too good to be true? Maybe. Let’s dig into Ka’Chava, a popular meal replacement.
Disclaimer time: Although I studied holistic nutrition, I’m not a doctor or a biochemist. I research ingredients because we all need to look out for ourselves. My goal is to choose what I believe is “safer” based on what I discover. If you have any concerns about the products below or any others, please ask your doctor or midwife.
What is Ka’Chava?
Ka’Chava is a meal replacement shake manufactured by the company named “Ka’Chava” in the USA (parent company: Tribal Nutrition LLC). It was created by Simon Malone while he was traveling in Thailand.
It’s a drink that’s been getting a lot of attention lately for its alleged health benefits. According to the company, Ka’chava can improve digestion, weight loss, and immunity.
The drink contains properties of over 70 ingredients that provide almost every nutrient your body needs. Additionally, the formula includes a blend of probiotics, minerals, vitamins, and enzymes.
Ka’chava is vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free and soy-free.
I was immediately attracted to Ka’Chava because of its unique superfoods and hefty servings of fiber and vegan protein. The website states: “The World’s Healthiest Milk Shake”.
Side note: their site is beautiful and it seems they’re putting a big chunk of change into branding and advertising.
After checking out Ka’Chava, I was disappointed to see that it contains a “proprietary blend” of ingredients. This means the company isn’t being transparent about how much of each ingredient they put in their formula.
I understand because competitors are out there, but by reading the label, I really can’t tell how much of one thing is in there.
What about quality? Getting excess heavy metals like mercury, arsenic, lead, and cadmium in your diet can be concerning, especially during pregnancy.
Although some of these are typically found in water and natural foods, when they’re tested in supplements and hit a certain level, they need to put a warning on the packaging. This typically shows up as the California Prop 65 warning label.
Oftentimes I ask for a company’s COA (certificate of analysis). Transparent companies typically have no issue providing this. When I requested Ka’Chava’s COA, they responded that their COA contains “proprietary information and are not able to share the document.”
Again competitors are out there so it’s somewhat understandable. However, it’s possible the proprietary information could’ve been blurred out and I could still review other parts. Companies can also create a COA summary that won’t list their proprietary information. I really only wanted to see the levels of the metals.
Upon further research, I found The Environmental Research Center (ERC) issued a warning to Ka’Chava for unacceptable lead levels in some of their meal replacement drinks. The ERC is a non-profit, public interest research and education organization. Their mission is to protect human health and the environment by providing consumers with information about toxic chemicals in their everyday products.
Because of the natural ingredients in many of these meal replacement drinks, the California Prop 65 label is required to be posted on the product. This label is a warning that there may be chemicals in the products that are linked to cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm.
During pregnancy, I try to avoid anything with the California Prop 65 label on there.
I honestly don’t know if they have the label on there now or if they reformulated their products. At around $4 per serving, Ka’Chava is too pricey for this mama and it wasn’t worth buying for me.
Things to Consider When Consuming Ka’Chava During Pregnancy
So, besides the sticker shock, here’s what makes me a little hesitant to consume Ka’Chava during pregnancy:
Ka’Chava contains adaptogens, though it’s unclear of the amount of each one.
I personally stay away from any supplemental adaptogens during pregnancy, as they can be very stimulating and can even cause miscarriage.
Most of the adaptogens listed are medicinal mushrooms. There’s not enough research done on the potential risk of taking these during pregnancy, so it’s probably best to avoid them.
It also uses raw maca powder, which Illuminate Labs states “is a sign the formulators aren’t that educated about herbal nutrition.”
Besides my daily prenatal vitamin, synthetic vitamins are another thing I steered clear of during pregnancy. It’s a delicate balance: you want enough for you and baby for development, but too much can be harmful. Ka’Chava contains synthetic vitamins A, C, E and B-complex, which are some of the most common ingredients in prenatal vitamins.
I’ve been on the hunt for the phrase “natural flavors” in ingredients lately. Why? Because it’s similar to when “fragrance” is listed.
Meaning — companies can put a whole bunch of things under “natural flavors”, things we probably don’t want in our bodies.
Pure Food® states “natural flavors are 90 percent chemical junk“. Unfortunately, it’s found in so many packaged foods today. As hard as it is, I’m trying to avoid them when I can.
Ka’Chava (just like Shakeology) contains natural flavors.
I wish Ka’Chava had provided me with a COA summary. They also received a lead warning by the ERC here.
We have to look out for ourselves because the regulations on supplements in the USA are pretty weak. Whenever I purchase from a supplement company, I’m looking for a few things:
- Medical credentials
- Third-party seals/verified testing
- Other certificates (cGMP certified, etc.)
Besides some organic ingredients, unfortunately, I’m not finding a lot of these things with Ka’Chava.
Is Ka’chava Safe for Pregnancy?
Given the adaptogens, synthetics vitamins, lack of transparency and confusing ingredient list, I personally wouldn’t consume Ka’Chava meal replacement during my pregnancy.
Are you overwhelmed trying to figure out what to eat during your pregnancy? Check out The Prenatal Nutrition Library.
What Does Ka’Chava Say About Consuming Their Meal Replacement Drink During Pregnancy?
On Ka’Chava’s site (as of this article writing), it states it’s “possibly safe…you’ll want to check with your doctor first.” That’s good advice and goes for any supplement during pregnancy: always check with your doctor or midwife.
Ka’Chava Conclusion and Alternatives
So, would I drink Ka’Chava while pregnant? Although I wanted to love Ka’Chava for its high protein and organic ingredients, I won’t be consuming it during pregnancy.
I also don’t recommend using any meal replacements to replace your meal while expecting. I always go for organic whole foods whenever possible. Snack on nuts, cheese and fruit — really whatever your body’s craving within reason.
If it’s a packaged product, I focus on these things:
- Ingredient list
For an on-the-go snack between meals with high protein, high fiber, and zero natural flavors, my fave is RAWREV Glo™. Still want a protein powder? Go with Truvani® (independently tested for heavy metals here). Take a look and compare:
|Shakeology Chocolate Whey||RAWREV Glo PB Dark Chocolate||Truvani Chocolate Protein Powder|
|No Artificial/Natural Flavors?||No (contains natural flavors)||Yes||Yes|
|Average cost per serving||$4.30||$1.50||$2.50|
Best Protein Bar
Best Protein Powder
That’s all mamas, hope this helps! Congrats on taking one more easy step toward living a greener life for you and baby.
Peace love & baby kicks.
Care to share?
About the Author
Jen Brady — Chief Green Mama
Mom of two. Wife of one. Holistic nutritional consultant. Amateur biohacker. Guide of the Green Yourself Pregnancy Challenge. Author of the Green Your Baby Registry Guide.
I'm wild about pregnancy and babies (in a sane way) and I need to steer you away from harsh chemicals and hormone disruptors. Stick with me to keep it lean and green.