If you’re like me, you might have come across ads on social media urging you to buy Athletic Greens (AG1) as you scroll on Instagram or Facebook. Pictures of the vibrant supplement pop up everywhere saying it helps you “Build a Foundation for Better Health.” But what does that mean, exactly, and do you really need it to have a healthy diet?
As a Registered Dietitian, I get asked about this particular brand often. Is it a magical cure-all…or just another trendy fad?
The influencers are raving about it, but humans have made it this far without it, right? Let’s dig into the details and talk about whether or not you should join the loyal followers of AG1 based on real science.
What Is Athletic Greens?
Athletic Greens is a popular greens powder supplement that’s designed to provide a comprehensive range of nutrients in one convenient daily dose.
On the company website it’s marketed as “comprehensive nutrition in one simple scoop” that combines over 75 different ingredients, including vitamins, minerals, whole foods, “superfoods”, antioxidants, probiotics, adaptogens and digestive enzymes.
The company claims it “promotes gut health, supports immunity, boosts energy, and more” within a few days of ingesting it.
All you have to do is mix a scoop with 8oz of water for a refreshing beverage that eliminates the need for all other supplements and multivitamins (or so they say!).
Let’s explore what is inside each powdered scoop.
Athletic Greens Ingredients
The ingredient list is long– 75 ingredients, to be exact. Here’s a closer look at some of the key ingredient categories in Athletic Greens:
- Vitamins and Minerals: You’ll find vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E and B vitamins, as well as minerals like calcium, magnesium, and zinc. These are essential nutrients for various bodily functions like immune system health, bone strength, and energy production.
- Prebiotics and Probiotics: A scoop of AG1 contains a blend of prebiotics and probiotics to promote a healthy gut. Prebiotics are non-digestible fibers that feed the good bacteria in your belly, while probiotics are live microorganisms that can improve your gut flora (the bacteria that live in your gut). Examples of prebiotics and probiotics in Athletic Greens include inulin and Lactobacillus acidophilus. You’ll get 7.2 billion CFUs of probiotics in one serving of Athletic Greens.
- Phytonutrient Blend: Athletic Greens also contains a blend of “superfoods” and plant extracts that are rich in phytonutrients– beneficial plant compounds that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Examples in this blend include organic spirulina, organic chlorella powder, wheatgrass, broccoli flower powder, and green tea extract. While it’s pretty cool to get a huge boost of nutrients in a simple scoop, you can get most of these nutrients through whole foods.
- Digestive Support: Athletic Greens also includes digestive enzymes like bromelain and papain, which can help break down the food you eat. It also contains ginger root extract, which can help soothe digestive issues.
- Immunity Support: Along with the standard vitamins and minerals that support immunity like vitamin C, Athletic Greens also contain ingredients like astragalus root and reishi mushroom extract.
- Metabolism, Energy, and Stress Support: AG1 contains ingredients like adaptogenic herbs, plant extracts and antioxidants like rhodiola rosea, ashwagandha, and CoQ10 to support metabolism, boost energy levels, and reduce stress. Adaptogens like ashwagandha are herbs that may help improve stress levels and have gained a lot of recent popularity.
Here’s the catch: we don’t know how much of each ingredient is in each scoop of AG1, because it’s a proprietary blend – essentially a secret recipe. Is it enough milk thistle or wheatgrass to make a difference in your health? We don’t know because we don’t know how much of each ingredient you’re getting per serving. But it’s pretty clear you get very small amounts of each one when you compare the scoop size to the number of items on their nutrition label.
Athletic Greens vs. Multivitamin
Athletic Greens boasts that their supplement replaces every multivitamin you take. They actually instruct that you stop taking your vitamins before taking their supplement (likely to prevent over-supplementing).
So does that mean Athletic Greens and multivitamins are the same things? Nope.
Multivitamins are little capsules filled with a specific amount of vitamins and minerals. That’s it. They can help to close nutrient gaps if you’re deficient (1).
In comparison, Athletic Greens is like a multivitamin with a lot of extras. It’s a blend of whole fruits, veggies, and other ingredients that provide many of these vitamins and minerals in a single scoop of powder. The supplement also provides probiotics, which may boost your health as well. There are also added digestive enzymes, which you might not actually need a boost of. Essentially, they have a little bit of everything, not a specific dose of a few vitamins/minerals.
Is there a risk with this supplement? Let’s see!
Athletic Greens’ side effects
Most likely, the risk of harm from AG1 is low.
Most people don’t experience negative side effects from Athletic Greens, but some say it causes nausea, diarrhea, bloating, and other digestive issues. This may be because your digestive tract is adjusting to having probiotics and fiber, or it could be a reaction to any one of the ingredients.
Like every food we eat or any nutritional supplements we take, one size does not fit all and AG1 is no exception.
How do Athletic Greens taste?
Taste is personal, but Athletic Greens are known to be a bit of an acquired taste. Many people report a “chalky or gritty” texture blended with a powdery vanilla flavor. Some customers even recommend mixing with a strongly flavored juice, like pineapple or orange to mask the flavor or turning it into a green smoothie.
What Does Athletic Greens Cost?
Athletic Greens is an investment and you can expect to pay a monthly subscription of $80-90 a month for it if you take the supplement each day. Again, it’s not a meal replacement, so you’re not shortening your grocery list at all, just adding to it.
If you’re doing the math in your head and your palms are starting to sweat, don’t panic! You don’t have to take AG1, especially if the price point is an issue. You do not need to purchase special foods or supplements to be well nourished.
Pros and Cons of Athletic Greens
As a dietitian, I do my best to take an unbiased look at the research. Most things in nutrition are nuanced; what is best for you might not actually be a good fit for another person – that’s OK! Here are my top pros and cons as I review AG1.
- Athletic Greens contains plenty of potentially beneficial ingredients. It may help some people fill in nutritional gaps when they have a low appetite, a limited diet, or certain food restrictions.
- It may also help some people set the tone for the day by starting with something that “feels healthy” first thing in the morning, like a serving of Athletic Greens. This can be great motivation to stay on track with your nutrition as long as your doctor approves of your supplement choice. (Always check with your doc first)
- It’s convenient! The powders are portable and non-perishable. If you like them and they fit your budget, it is an easy nutrient boost.
- This brand is third-party reviewed for safety (many aren’t).
- In comparison to others, it’s objectively one the best greens powders quality-wise.
- They’re not necessary. Eating a well-balanced diet full of foods like fruits, veggies, whole grains, legumes and lean meats should be your main source of nutrients.
- AG1 supplements are relatively new, and there’s a lack of research to support the health claims.
- AG1 is expensive, around $80 – $90 per month. And you can get most of the nutrients in it just by eating whole foods or taking cheaper multivitamins that are more specific to your needs.
- Not everyone loves the flavor, although you can “hide” it in fruit juices or something similar.
Does Athletic Greens Help You Lose Weight?
This is a commonly asked question, even though the company doesn’t market it as a weight loss supplement. The bottom line: there’s no research showing it helps you lose weight. The powder is used to fill in nutritional gaps, not to curb your appetite or replace meals.
Is Athletic Greens Safe?
Every batch of Athletic Greens is tested by a third party to ensure there are no heavy metals or contaminants in it that can harm you. Many supplemental green powders are not. This is a major pro in my book because supplements are not regulated in the US; third-party testing helps to protect you and me as the consumer when we buy any kind of supplement.
Also, considering the ingredients are from whole foods it’s very unlikely that AG1 is unsafe. But you should always consult your doctor before adding dietary supplements to your diet – especially if you’re taking medications. Some can interact poorly with supplements or become less effective (2).
Does Athletic Greens Work?
On the Athletic Greens website, they say people report healthier skin, faster hair and nail growth, improved concentration, and better recovery after physical activity in just a few days or weeks.
They also say if you have a nutritional deficiency or digestive issues, you might feel the benefits of Athletic Greens sooner.
So the answer? It totally depends on the person and it’s mainly based on a feeling or observations, not on research. It does help some people feel better, and that’s great if it works for you! But it’s important to remember AG1 isn’t a magic cure-all and it’s definitely not a replacement for a well-balanced, veggie and fruit-filled diet (3).
The Bottom Line
Athletic Greens claims to be the “foundation of daily health,” but what really matters is what you’re doing after you drink those greens. If you feel good including something like Athletic Greens daily in your diet, it’s likely not going to do any harm and could even have some potential health benefits.
But many of the ingredients in the product that are beneficial for overall health are available in cheaper ways or through whole foods. Even if you choose to work Athletic Greens into your day-to-day, make sure you’re also focusing on other healthy lifestyle habits. Think well-balanced meals and snacks, more plant foods, increased exercise, hydration, and good sleep and stress habits!
Have you tried Athletic Greens before? And if you did, what was your experience? Let me know in the comments below!
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