Looking for Athletic Greens reviews? Wondering, "is Athletic Greens worth it?" This Athletic Greens review (or AG1 review) from a registered dietitian helps take a look at the science so you can decide for yourself if it's a fit for your needs.
This post was first published December 21, 2021, but was updated after reviewing the current product and research in 2023.
If you're like the majority of adult Americans, you might have a problem with eating your fruits and vegetables.
So naturally, when you see and hear about greens powders, like Athletic Greens, in advertisements or all over your FYP or Instagram feed, you may be wondering if it could boost your own fruit/ vegetable/ nutrient intake.
With promises like, "the foundation of daily health," and "comprehensive nutrition and gut health support in one simple scoop," AG1 really does almost sound too good to be true. So is it?
- What is Athletic Greens?
- Athletic Greens Nutrition Facts
- AG1 Vitamins
- Athletic Greens Ingredients
- Benefits of Athletic Greens
- Athletic Greens Scientific Review
- Side Effects of Athletic Greens
- Athletic Greens Alternatives
- Is Athletic Greens worth it?
- Athletic Greens Reviews: TL; DR Version
- Want More Wellness & Nutrition Articles?
What is Athletic Greens?
Athletic Greens is a greens powder supplement that's a blend of dried and powdered vegetables and fruits, probiotics, digestive enzymes, vitamins, and minerals. It's sold as a powder with instructions to mix with water and drink daily.
Athletic Greens is also known as AG1 - they're one and the same product.
Athletic Greens Nutrition Facts
The nutrition facts for Athletic Greens indicate that one serving (one scoop) of AG1 contains 50 calories, 6 grams total carbohydrates, 2 grams dietary fiber, and 2 grams protein.
They also provide varying amounts of vitamins and minerals.
Athletic Greens says their greens powder consists of "75 vitamins, minerals, whole-food sourced superfoods, probiotics, and adaptogens in one convenient daily serving."
Here's a look at many of the vitamins and minerals added to AG1, as well as the percent of the recommended daily value (DV) of each micronutrient:
- Vitamin A (62% DV)
- Vitamin C (467% DV)
- Vitamin E (553% DV)
- Thiamin (250% DV)
- Riboflavin (154% DV)
- Niacin (125% DV)
- Vitamin B6 (176% DV)
- Folate (170% DV)
- Vitamin B12 (917% DV)
- Biotin (1100% DV)
- Pantothenic acid (80% DV)
- Calcium (9% DV)
- Phosphorus (10% DV)
- Magnesium (6% DV)
- Zinc (136% DV)
- Selenium (36% DV)
- Copper (22% DV)
- Manganese (17% DV)
- Chromium (71% DV)
- Sodium (2% DV)
- Potassium (6% DV)
So is AG1 a multivitamin? Well, with all of those vitamins and minerals it contains, yeah, kind of!
I would note that whether or not it's the best multivitamin for you is going to be highly individual. There are some micronutrients (like magnesium, calcium, copper, chromium, selenium) that are well under the recommended daily value.
There's also other essential nutrients, like iron, that are completely absent.
Depending on what you're looking for, you can find other multivitamins that offer more micronutrients (for a fraction of the price, too).
And also, just a quick note on the topic of multivitamins - the jury is out as to how helpful a broadscale, general multivitamin actually is. There are actually some large scale, randomized trials that have shown minimal or no benefit to taking general multivitamins for the majority of the general population.
Athletic Greens Ingredients
Athletic Greens ingredients are listed under several different proprietary blend complexes:
- Alkaline, Nutrient-Dense Raw Superfood Complex: organic spirulina, lecithin (65% phosphatides), organic apple powder, inulin (FOS prebiotics), organic wheat grass juice powder (leaf), organic alfalfa powder (leaf), organic chlorella powder, organic barley (Hordeum vulgare) leaf powder (leaf), acerola fruit juice powder extract (4:1), broccoli flower powder, papaya (Carica papaya) fruit powder, pineapple fruit concentrate (9:1), bilberry fruit extract (100:1), beet root powder, rose hip (Rosa canina) fruit powder (4:1), carrot root powder, spinach leaf powder, cocoa bean polyphenol extract, grape seed extract (120:1) (std. 95% OPC), green tea (Camellia sinensis) extract (leaf) (10:1), licorice root powder, lycium berry fruit extract (4:1), ginger rhizome powder, slippery elm (Ulmus rubra) bark powder, kelp whole plant powder.
- Nutrient-Dense Extracts, Herbs & Antioxidants: alkaline pea protein isolate, citrus bioflavonoids extract, artichoke leaf extract (15:1), citric acid (anhydrous), rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea) root dry extract (15:1), eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticosus) root extract (10:1), rosemark leaf extract (4:1), milk thistle seed extract (70:1), R,S alpha-lipoic acid, ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) root extract (5:1), dandelion whole plant dry concentrate (4:1), hawthorn berry extract (10:1), beta glucans, policosanol, coenzyme Q-10 (ubidecarenone), stevia (Stevia rebaundiana) leaf powder, Vitamin K2 (as menaquinone-7).
- Digestive Enzymes & Super Mushroom Complex: Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus) root powder extract (4:1), bromelain (dietary enzyme), burdock root powder (4:1), reishi mushroom powder, shiitake mushroom powder.
- Dairy-Free Probiotics: lactobacillus acidophilus - UALa-01, Bifidobacterium bifidum - UABb-10
- Other Ingredients: natural flavors
A Note on Proprietary Blends
Something to be aware of with proprietary blends is that we don't know exactly how much of each ingredient is used.
It's totally understandable that a company wants to keep their supplement formulas as their own trade secrets. I get that!
You as the consumer may check the ingredients and feel good about seeing those ingredients on the label. But how much are you actually getting? Are you getting the amounts used in clinical studies that showed potential benefits? Or did the company include an insignificant amount? Like enough to include it on the label, but not enough to give any benefit?
Again - proprietary blends are part of the business, they're not inherently bad. But as a consumer, I think it's important to have an awareness and to think critically.
And just to note, since we're chatting AG1 here: with 75 ingredients in a 12 gram serving, there's likely not a clinically significant amount of any ingredient.
With that in mind, let's check out some of the health claims and purported benefits of Athletic Greens and other greens powder supplements.
Benefits of Athletic Greens
Claimed benefits of Athletic Greens are that it:
- Boosts energy
- Helps recovery
- Aids digestion
- Supports immunity
- Promotes cognitive health
Many users of greens powders will also make general claims that they help with weight loss and detoxification.
Let's look into some of these potential benefits:
Is Athletic Greens energy boosting?
There are several ingredients in Athletic Greens that may contribute towards its energy boosting claims. It contains several B vitamins, which do help energy production at a cellular level. This doesn't necessarily mean that you'll feel a noticeable increase in energy - not unless you were deficient to begin with.
Athletic Greens also contains green tea extract and cocoa extract. These extracts technically contain caffeine, but because of the proprietary blends and unknown exact amounts, it's hard to say if they contribute any significant, or even noticeable amount of caffeine.
There is no caffeine amount listed on the nutrition label, so we can't know for certain. Making an educated guess here, I'm guessing there's a small/ insignificant amount of caffeine, but most of the "energizing" claims are likely related to the B vitamins.
Which - if that's something you need, it may be more economical to just supplement with the B vitamins you and your doctor think you need. There's no research that suggests there's anything about the greens powder itself that may contribute to energy.
Does Athletic Greens help with recovery and immune support?
But there are other supportive nutrients that Athletic Greens doesn't contain. Nutrients like protein for muscle recovery and vitamin D for immune support. (Note that AG1 does sell Vitamin D3+ K2 drops as an add option.)
So does Athletic Greens help promote muscle recovery and immune support? It may have some benefit, and it's likely not going to detract for most folks, but there are other foods and supplements that would be more beneficial (and more affordable, too).
Does Athletic Greens improve digestion?
Is it the greens in Athletic Greens that aids digestion? Or is it the added probiotics?
If you're noticing you have better digestion and less bloat, it could be related to the added probiotics. But there isn't a ton of probiotics in Athletic Greens. And just because some probiotics are there, doesn't mean they're helpful for everyone.
Probiotics are not one size fits all. There may be some health benefits, but there are potential side effects, too. Different probiotics can help different conditions - and some can worsen individual conditions, too.
What may be helping your digestion and bloat could be things not related to the greens powder itself. Like if you don't normally drink a lot of water first thing in the morning, hydrating with that cup of water you're mixing your greens in could be what's actually most helpful.
Basically, the greens powder itself is likely the lesser contributor to the benefits you're seeing.
Oh, and by the way - something that does help digestion? Fiber. AG1 does contain 2 grams of fiber per serving, but if gut health and fiber are concerns of yours, you're going to be better off increasing the fiber-containing foods in your diet, or even supplementing with a fiber supplement if needed.
Greens Powder Weight Loss
Will a greens powder lead to weight loss? Not really. It likely won't hinder weight loss, as most greens powders are relatively low in calories (Athletic Greens has just 50 calories a serving), but does it actually help you lose weight?
No. There is zero research that suggests any greens powder helps with weight loss. If you're losing weight taking greens powder, it's because you're in a caloric deficit. Maybe your overall eating habits have improved and you're eating less calorically dense foods. Or maybe you've swapped a higher calorie sugar and cream-laden coffee drink for Athletic Greens.
Bottom line: there's nothing magical about greens powder that will help with weight loss.
P.S. Remember how helpful fiber is for digestion? It can be helpful for weight management, too! And even with rising food costs, you're going to get more fiber bang for your buck if you spend $99 on fiber-rich foods (like seeds, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables) instead of a one month's supply of greens powder.
Athletic Greens Scientific Review
While no study explicitly mentions Athletic Greens, there are a few studies that suggest some benefits to greens powders.
One randomized, controlled trial found eight weeks of supplementing with an encapsulated fruit/ berry/ veggie powder reduced low-grade inflammation (note that the study had a small sample size of only 42 participants and it was funded by the makers of JuicePlus, the encapsulated powder used in the study).
Another very small study (only 10 participants) found slight reductions of oxidative stress when consuming high amounts (six teaspoons daily) of Greens+ (but negligible results associated with three teaspoons daily). The study was funded by Genuine Health, another maker of a greens powder.
However, another Greens+ study, this one a better quality 12 week double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized, controlled trial of 105 participants, found no conclusive evidence that Greens+ improved vitality and energy.
Another study found a decrease in blood pressure associated with greens powder supplementation, but the study was small and not great quality (it was not a blind study and the study couldn't account for any other variables - i.e. a participant knowing they're taking a greens powder and deciding/ being influenced to also start eating more fruits and vegetables, hydrating appropriately, sleeping better, taking better care of themselves, etc.). Oh yeah, and this study's author was the founder of the greens supplement used in the study.
In a general, a scientific review shows no trials supporting Athletic Greens, and extremely limited research with greens powder supplementation, period.
But how do greens supplements stack up to whole fruits and veggies?!
There is no research here. I would love to see a trial examining how greens supplements stack up to good old fashioned fruits and veggies (and other basic cornerstones of health, like stress management, adequate sleep, hydration, movement, etc.). Most of these studies compared greens supplementation in sedentary and sometimes overweight/ obese populations to nothing - and I have a feeling you would see similar, or significantly better improvements by adding more whole fruits, vegetables, and general self care practices.
Side Effects of Athletic Greens
Side effects of Athletic Greens and other greens powders may include nausea, bloating, and diarrhea. Some individuals also report allergy- and asthma-related side effects, too.
Digestive Side Effects
The most common side effect complaint is digestive issues. Concerns like nausea, diarrhea, bloating, and general upset stomach are frequently mentioned in consumer reviews. The cause? Potentially several, but very likely individually based on how your body responds to different ingredients.
Heavy Metal Contamination
The Food and Drug Administration does not regulate dietary supplements, including greens powders like Athletic Greens. One big concern for greens powders is the concern for potential heavy metal contaminants, like lead. In 2016 a ConsumerLabs.com independent study of greens and whole foods products found that four out of 13 products exceeded limits for lead. One of these four was also contaminated with arsenic and another contaminated with cadmium.
I want to note that AG1 was not one of the greens powders tested in that independent study. In fact, when it comes to greens powders, one big perk of Athletic Greens is that their products are independently third party tested by NSF International to make sure there are no unsafe levels of contaminants, including heavy metals. For my Australian friends, Athletic Greens is also made in a TGA-registered facility (TGA = Therapeutic Goods Administration, an Australian regulatory board).
Potential Medication Interactions
Greens are notoriously high in vitamin K, which is something anyone with blood clotting concerns or on blood thinner medications should be aware of (especially as Athletic Greens does not share the Vitamin K amount on the supplement nutrition facts label).
As important as vitamins and minerals are, they can still interact with certain medications. So, in general, if you're taking any medication, it's smart to check with your doctor. Especially because there are several nutrients in Athletic Greens that are well over the recommended daily value (like vitamin E and the B vitamins).
Potential Thyroid Lab Interactions
Athletic Greens is very high in biotin with one scoop providing 1,100% of the daily value. If you have thyroid disorders, biotin supplementation can cause false results with some thyroid labs.
Taking biotin supplements while getting thyroid lab work done can lead to falsely low levels of TSH and falsely high levels of T3 and T4. The American Thyroid Association recommends stopping biotin supplementation 2 days before lab work, but it's still a great idea to give your doctor a head's up.
Athletic Greens Alternatives
The best alternative to Athletic Greens is simply eating a balanced diet. A CDC analysis showed only 9% of American adults eat the recommended amount of vegetables and only 12% the recommended amount of fruits. For most adults, simply consuming more fruits and vegetables would likely lead to many of the same benefits Athletic Greens claims (for a fraction of the price).
If you're concerned about your nutrition and if you should take any supplements, I recommend discussing with your doctor and/ or dietitian. Dietary supplements should be supplemental, but they should also be personalized to your unique needs, health concerns, medications, and other considerations.
If you'd still like to take a greens powder supplement, my main piece of advice would be to look for one that is third party tested (like AG1).
Is Athletic Greens worth it?
Is Athletic Greens worth it? Well, you're the only one who can decide if it's worth it to you and how you want to spend your money.
There may be some benefits to Athletic Greens! But most benefits aren't even related to the greens powder at all, and are more related to the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients added.
Some claims may be a bit exaggerated, or made based on cherry picked research. Like some of AG1's statements, such as it being, "a better approach to providing your body with everything it needs for optimal performance" -- no, it doesn't. Let's think critically here. Don't you think your body needs far more to operate at its peak than what you get in 12 grams of powder?
And let's be clear....Athletic Greens clearly has a large marketing budget and a marketing team that knows what it's doing. There's a reason you've seen countless influencers and content creators in many niches parrot the same talking points about AG1 (usually around the same time). They're paid to tell you that! And if there's any sort of affiliate marketing in place, that means they earn a commission when you buy using their link.
This isn't necessarily a bad thing - I use affiliate links, too! But it's just something to be aware of as a consumer.
Is it dangerous to consume a greens powder? Probably not, for most folks. But it's also likely unnecessary as a daily supplement for most. Maybe save it for those busy travel days when your diet is a little low on veggies.
Or if you feel like saving a few bucks, just hit up your produce section regularly.
Athletic Greens Reviews: TL; DR Version
Is there evidence to support the benefits of consuming greens powders? Not really.
Would you get more nutritional bang for your buck by investing that $99 a month in the produce aisle and potentially a multivitamin? Probably (yes, even with rising food costs)!
What should you do if you still want to take a daily greens powder? Prioritize buying one that is third-party tested for safety.
Oh, and please run it by your doctor and/ or dietitian to make sure it's appropriate for you personally, and not going to interfere with any medications or medical conditions.
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