Today I started something unusual – the GoodBelly 12 Day Challenge. For the next twelve days, I am going to be drinking a GoodBelly + probiotic juice drink “shot” once a day. Thanks to Diedre and the folks at GoodBelly, I picked up the 12 Day supply yesterday at my local Whole Foods on the house. (The products may have been offered free of charge, but the opinions to follow will reflect my honest experience with the product.) Whole Foods only had the strawberry and pomegranate blackberry in stock, so I opted for those. I spotted them while scoping out So Delicious’ new(-ish) Greek-style coconut yogurts in the non-dairy/yogurt chilled section.

If you have a history with this site, you know that I don’t typically review products or do sponsorships. I also have no doubts about my “gut health”, to put it politely. But when this one popped in my inbox, I was intrigued – perhaps because of the “challenge” nature. I had a lot of fun with my transformative May Challenge from 2012, and perhaps I felt like it was time for another. New year and all.

I was also impressed with their ingredients list; for strawberry: filtered water, organic pear juice, organic strawberry puree, organic sugar, organic oat flour, 2% or less: citric acid, organic barley malt, organic flavor, fruit and vegetable juice (color), lactobacillus plantarum 299v, calcium, vitamin C, pantothenic acid, vitamin E, vitamin B6, Vitamin b12, thiamin, D-biotin, vitamin A, vitamin B12. I only buy organic fruits and vegetables, so it makes sense that I’d only agree to drink an organic juice.

(Typically I don’t drink juice at all. Too sweet. Rather eat a fruit! There is one place in the world — Prasad, in Portland — where I’ll drink my green juice and love it, but that’s it. [As an aside within an aside, I recently tried to drink a juice while waiting for a delayed airplane, and it was soooo sweet that I drank two ounces and threw it out.] Like my pal Lagusta, I’m pretty skeptical of the health benefits of juices — why not just eat a piece of fruit?! — but the fact is, I rarely have fresh fruit sitting around my desk at work. I’m making an exception, temporarily, for these teensy juice “shots”.)

Today I decided to drink the a strawberry GoodBelly when I started to feel my energy drooping. Even though I had a cup of tea an hour or so prior, around 3pm I started to feel tired, grumpy, and intensely headachey. I don’t know about you, but this is about the time of day I reach (unhealthily) for something “sweet” — a (vegan) cookie or piece of cake, if we’re being totally honest here — to keep me going. I crave it because I want that boost. Knowing I had the GoodBellys in our work fridge, I went and grabbed one.

Taste test: interesting! It kind of  tasted like drinking one of those kid’s chewable multivitamins, but in a tasty way — if you can believe that. More than the taste, though, I liked the way it made me feel. Within minutes, my headache disappeared and my energy and focus returned.

My only concern with this challenge is the fact that I’m not used to doing added sugar in my beverages. These little shots contain 9 grams of sugar per serving. One teaspoon of sugar is about four grams, which means the Goodbelly shot comes in at about two and 1/2 teaspoons of sugar! That’s about how much someone might put into a cup of black tea, but I don’t use sugar to sweeten my beverages or tea, so this is new to me. I would love it if GoodBelly reformulated their products to be made with stevia, particularly a whole-foodsy one like my favorite SweetLeaf brand. All this pure sugar means I might have a similar “crash” later — it’s wait and see at this point.

Nevertheless, GoodBelly is a healthier choice than what I’d usually be tempted by. It may not be as ideal as piece of whole fruit, but at least for the next twelve days, I’ll take it. I’ll check in at the conclusion of the challenge and let you know if I’d keep it up. Til then… consider me yours in bacteria!

PS: You can do the Challenge too, if you’d like! Go here to learn more.