Fact Finder: Is Athletic Greens Worth it? A Dietitian’s Perspective
Alright, so what is the mysterious green powder advertised all over social media?
TikTok influencers are claiming that Athletic Greens® stops bloating, boosts energy, and makes you healthier than ever.
Even the ads from the Athletic Greens (AG) company itself claim that their product is a “superfood” with the power to improve gut health, support your immune system, and boost your energy levels with just one scoop, once a day, every day.
But is it as miraculous as it seems? Is Athletic Greens actually worth it? Or can you get everything you need by simply eating nutritious foods?
Now: back to Athletic Greens and if this green-powder supplement is actually worth it. Let’s take a closer look.
What is Athletic Greens?
Athletic Greens is a company that sells nutrient-filled supplements in powder form. The instructions are simple: all you have to do is dissolve one scoop in 8 oz of water, mix it together, and drink up to receive the benefits.
The company proudly shares that its product has 75 vitamins and minerals, AKA micronutrients. Plus prebiotics, probiotics, phytonutrients, and many other beneficial ingredients keep you going strong all day long.
Okay, that’s a pretty long list of ingredients and benefits, but do they actually do the things they say?
Vitamins in Athletic Greens and how they measure up
I’ve got to admit, their list of nutrients is extensive, so instead of rattling off their entire nutrition label, I’ll touch on the vitamins that actually exceed your recommended daily value in AG and how they compare to foods you eat.
When you get the sniffles you may have been told, “You need more Vitamin C!” But do you know why? Vitamin C plays a role in your immune system and promotes white blood cell activity – the mighty warriors in your bloodstream that fight off infection and disease (1).
Did you know one large orange will give you over 100% of your daily Vitamin C (2)?
Amount in AG
One scoop of AG delivers a whopping 420mg or 467% of your Daily Value. Not to worry though – large doses aren’t typically harmful unless you consume 2000 mg or more.
This vitamin supports your immune system and a few other functions in your body. You need enough, but more is not always better. In a large study, men actually had an increased risk of developing prostate cancer when they took 180 mg/day for many years (3).
You need 15 mg of Vitamin E every day, and you can get 45% from ¼ cup of almonds (4).
Amount in AG
One serving of AG has 83 mg or 553% of your Daily Value, which is far less than the amount in the study mentioned above.
This vitamin helps your body digest carbohydrates and turn them into energy you can use! (7) If you don’t have enough you can feel tired, and weak, and experience muscle weakness.
A single 6 oz lean pork chop provides 96% of your daily Vitamin B1 (5).
Amount in AG
A scoop will provide 3 mg or 250% of your Daily Value. Most people have no issue getting the amount needed from their food. Deficiency is possible, but it’s extremely rare (6).
You need this guy for cell growth, energy production, and breaking down fats, steroids, and certain medications.
A serving of fortified breakfast cereal will give you 100% of your Vitamin B2 (7).
Fun fact: Vitamin B2 is found in milk, but when sunlight hits it, the vitamin is deactivated and doesn’t provide nutritional value. To stop this from happening, milk was put in opaque jugs/cartons instead of glass jars (8).
Amount in AG
The 2mg of B2 in your scoop provides 154% of your Daily Value.
This vitamin builds DNA and RNA, which is why it’s so important for pregnant women to consume! A developing baby has a lot of growing to do. (9)
One cup of cooked lentils will meet 90% of your folate needs! (10)
Amount in AG
The folate in AG is 680 mg or 170% of your Daily Value.
Lamb, beef, or veal liver gives you 3000% of your daily requirement, but if you’re not a fan of liver, half of a salmon filet will provide 208%. (13)
Amount in AG
If you drink AG, you’ll get 22 mcg of this powerful vitamin or 917% of your Daily Value.
Are you surprised by how many nutrients are in the food you eat? Most of the food examples listed above are just one component of a meal. Just think how much more nutrition your food is delivering when you put together an entire balanced meal!
Other nutrients in Athletic Greens
So we just took a peek at the vitamins and minerals in one serving of Athletic Greens. Surprisingly, there are actually a few more nutrients to investigate before you decide if this product is worth it.
A serving will also give you a dose of their “Raw Superfood Complex” which is made from powders or extracts of 21 whole foods. Several of those ingredients also contain antioxidants, which may protect against free radicals that can cause heart disease and cancer. (14)
You can also get whole foods from, well, food. Each time you eat fruits, veggies, nuts, and seeds you’re ingesting antioxidants that can lower your risk of disease.
Athletic Greens also claims the combination of all of these ingredients can aid in digestion, especially with the help of probiotics. This bacterium found in their supplement actually already lives in the body as a “good bacteria” and is found in the mouth, and small intestine. (15)
Most studies that show probiotic benefits used 1 billion – 100 billion colony-forming units (CFUs) per day (16). Athletic Greens delivers 7.2 billion CFUs in a single scoop!
Adaptogens are herbs that may reduce fatigue, stress, and boost energy (17).
One study showed reduced anxiety and morning cortisol levels (the stress hormone) when participants took 240 mg of the adaptogen, Ashwagandha, for 2 months. (18)
AG contains Ashwagandha, Eleuthero Root, and Rhodiola, and although studies have shown benefits, it’s unclear how many milligrams are in each serving of Athletic Greens.
What does Athletic Greens taste like?
Their consumers have said the greens taste “sweet, refreshing, and earthy,” while others say “too sweet for me!” At the end of the day, everyone has a different preference, although we can all agree pizza is delicious…
Is the powder really able to boost my health?
The supplement contains many essential vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients, but no studies have been done to prove the health benefits of the combination of them in Athletic Greens.
Based on studies we talked about earlier, we know there are several beneficial ingredients, but I wouldn’t recommend this as your one-stop shop for daily nutrients, especially since dietary supplements aren’t regulated like other foods.
Proceed with caution
When you browse the grocery store aisles, it’s likely your food has been regulated for safety by the FDA or Health Canada, but this isn’t necessarily the case with supplements… especially in the US.
Now, this doesn’t mean there aren’t any standards for supplements. In fact, Athletic Greens has every batch tested to ensure they’re free of harmful substances and is also approved by the NSF for Sports. Basically, ensuring athletes don’t accidentally take a banned supplement (19).
However, dietary supplements aren’t as heavily regulated as foods in most countries and can actually contain ingredients that can cause harm when taken with certain medications (20). Before you consider taking any supplements, I recommend consulting your doctor first!
Athletic Greens vs other greens powders
Athletic Greens isn’t the only player in the game of greens! Several others like Macro Greens, Bloom, and Green Vibrance are also competing to be number one.
Other green powders have varying amounts of ingredients, added sweeteners, and fiber content by comparison. If you do decide to take a supplement, it’s wise to look at the label.
Athletic Greens’ claim to fame is their list of 75 ingredients that are rigorously tested and “obsessively improved.”
The combination of adaptogens, probiotics, and micronutrients supposedly reduces stress, eases digestion, and delivers the nutrients your body needs. And their high ingredient standards have a price tag to match.
Let’s talk about cost
If you want to give these greens a go, you can buy a 30-serving bag for $99. Or, pay $79 for the same bag and have it delivered to your door once a month.
If you want an even more convenient option, they sell a travel pack of 30 sachets for a one-time purchase of $109, or a monthly subscription of $89.
Does that price seem like a lot? I have good news for you – most people don’t need them since we already get most of our nutrients from the food we eat (21). The next time you go to the grocery store, take a peek at your grocery bill. Pay attention to how many nutrient-packed foods $99 can buy!
So, Athletic Greens are not inexpensive. They may – or may not – fit into your budget priorities. That’s totally OK.
What about multivitamins?
According to The Harvard School of Public Health, multivitamins can be useful to fill gaps in your nutrition if your diet falls short (22). However, they shouldn’t be relied on as a replacement for a healthy diet.
If you’re comparing the price of a multivitamin vs. a green supplement, you’ll notice multivitamins are usually much cheaper – typically ranging from $8-$20.
You can buy most other powders for $20 and up. But it’s important to note how many servings are in each, and what micronutrients they can provide when weighing your options.
Athletic Greens and other greens powders are unlikely to be harmful and might have some potential benefits.
For example, they might be a good source of micronutrients or probiotics, which aren’t always in abundance in some people’s diets. However, the price of a product like this and the lack of regulation on such supplements might make it tricky to justify.
If you like it and feel comfortable enjoying it, then you do you!
Most things with food and supplements are neutral; you get to make the best decisions for you. I just hope that after reading this post you feel that you are informed so that your decision is one based on science and your preferences, not on overblown promises.
If Athletic Greens feel out of budget, there are so many other things you can focus on to up your nutrition game and even ensure you’re supporting your health.
What I recommend instead
- First, always start with your doctor or personal dietitian if you’re concerned about your nutritional intake or considering new supplements
- Perhaps consider a standard multivitamin
- Eat more colorful fruits and vegetables, including frozen and canned
- Focus on the nutritional value of food… it can be helpful to do this without calorie counting if you’re working on your relationship with food
Some people may benefit from supplements when they’re used wisely, but we also need to remember that no single supplement will make or break our health.
And all those wild claims we see about greens powders on TikTok are likely untrue. Instead of relying on expensive trendy items, it’s always a worthwhile endeavor to focus on building healthier habits that stick.
Want to learn how to build lasting health without expensive supplements? I can help you break up with dieting and make all foods fit! Check out my free guide! Psst… It even includes the core tenants I teach to my clients.