Eat / Nutritional Supplements

Everything You Need to Know Before Trying Athletic Greens

Research Based

Research Based

This article was rigorously researched and fact checked. We use peer-reviewed journals and reputable medical sources (think: CDC, WHO, NIH, and the like) to back up every claim we make, and also reach out to experts in the field to ensure we’re covering things the right way. We apply these principles to everything we cover—including brands we partner with—and we’ll always disclose sponsorships, ads, and any kind of financial relationship with anything featured on The Nessie. You deserve the best, most straightforward information on health and wellness, and we think this is the right way to do it. You can read more about our testing and review process here.

If something doesn’t seem quite right, let us know at [email protected].

everything you need to know before trying athletic greens
Avatar photo

Written by Colleen Stinchcombe
Reviewed by Rebecca Valdez, MS, RDN

We write for people looking for the best health and wellness gear (not for brands). All products and services are independently selected and tested to provide recommendations you can trust. You can read more about our process here. We may receive commission on purchases made from some of our links, but that’s not why we’re here. We just want to help you find good stuff.

Greens powders aren’t exactly new. They’ve been hanging out at health food stores, promising things like “enhanced vitality!” and “better energy!” for a while now. But greens powders are now gaining a lot more attention online than they ever could in the supplement section, due to increased advertising, influencers, and new products on the market. One of the most recognizable powders is Athletic Greens. (It’s only been promoted on what seems like every single podcast out there.) It also partners with a ton of influencers on TikTok, gaining over 107 million views on the hashtag #athleticgreens as of this writing. 

So if it feels like you’ve seen this product everywhere, you’re not wrong. But just because a brand is nailing its marketing doesn’t necessarily make it good for you. We tested several different greens powders for taste, health claims, and third-party certifications, and Athletic Greens fell slightly short of our top pick, Ora Organic. Still, it has a lot to offer—if you’re willing to pay up, of course. 

What is Athletic Greens?

athletic greens on counter with shaker bottle
Colleen Stinchcombe

Athletic Greens is a green, dissolvable supplement powder that contains over 75 nutrients. That’s enough that it should replace other multivitamins you might be taking. (In fact, the company recommends that you stop taking said multivitamins when you start Athletic Greens.) Although the name itself might make you think it’s intended for hardcore athletes, the company website says they’re for “everybody” because “life itself is athletics.” (Deep.) It’s also NSF-certified for Sport. This means a third party verifies that the powder doesn’t contain harmful levels of contaminants and that it doesn’t have any substances banned from major athletic competitions.

The company sells a few products as add-ons, but the only thing immediately available in the shop is the greens powder, which comes in a 12.7-ounce pouch or 30 12-gram travel pouches. And that powder comes at a hefty price: $99 for a one-time pouch order and $109 for a one-time travel pack order. If you sign up for a monthly subscription, that price goes down to $79 or $89 a month, respectively. My first order came with a shaker bottle included, so you can factor that in when thinking about the price. (Does it justify it? Probably not to most, but it’s nice to get things that feel like they’re free.)

Athletic Greens Ingredients

As mentioned, the brand claims to have 75 vitamins, minerals, superfoods, probiotics, and adaptogens per serving. That said, only 13 of them icon-trusted-source NIH National Institute on Aging “Vitamins and Minerals in Older Adults” View Source are “essential” to human health. Ready for them all? 

Athletic Greens separates its ingredient list into different types of “blends” it contains. There are four. “Alkaline, Nutrient Dense Raw-Superfood Complex” (which mostly consists of fruits and green vegetables like spinach and pineapple), “Nutrient Dense Extracts, Herbs & Antioxidant” (which contains herbs you’ve likely seen as supplements, like ashwagandha), “Digestive Enzyme & Super Mushroom Complex” (medicinal mushrooms akin to what you might find in a mushroom coffee blend), and “Dairy-Free Probiotics” (probiotic strains that are similar to most over-the-counter blends).

In the “Alkaline, Nutrient-Dense Raw Superfood Complex,” AG includes organic spirulina, lecithin, organic apple powder, inulin, organic wheat grass juice powder, organic alfalfa powder, organic chlorella powder, organic barley leaf powder, acerola fruit juice powder extract, broccoli flower powder, papaya fruit powder, pineapple fruit concentrate, bilberry fruit extract, beet root powder, rose hip fruit powder, carrot root powder, spinach leaf powder, cocoa bean polyphenol extract, grape seed extract, green tea extract, licorice root powder, lycium berry fruit extract, ginger rhizome powder, slippery elm bark powder, and kelp whole plant powder.

The “Nutrient Dense Extracts, Herbs, & Antioxidant” blend contains alkaline pea protein isolate, citrus bioflavonoids extract, artichoke leaf extract, citric acid, rhodiola root dry extract, eleuthero root extract, rosemary leaf extract, milk thistle seed extract, R,S alpha-lipoic acid, ashwagandha root extract, dandelion whole plant dry concentrate, hawthorn berry extract, beta glucans, policosanol, coenzyme Q-10, stevia leaf powder, and vitamin K2.

In the “Digestive Enzyme & Super Mushroom Complex,” there’s: astragalus root powder extract, bromelain, burdock root powder, reishi mushroom powder, shiitake mushroom powder.

The blend also features two “dairy free probiotics,” 7.2 billion CFU lactobacillus acidophilus and bifidobacterium bifidum. Most supplements contain 1-10 billion CFU, so this is in line with other probiotic supplements. 

Does Athletic Greens Have Enough Vitamin D?

Nope. Athletic Greens doesn’t have any vitamin D, which is one of the 13 essential vitamins. It also doesn’t include omega-3 or vitamin K. Instead, the company offers these as separate products for purchase. 

Most multivitamins, by contrast, contain at least vitamin D, though omega 3 and vitamin K are often taken separately.

What Does Athletic Greens Taste Like?

Athletic Greens, to my tongue, tastes like a slightly-sweet diluted vanilla chalk. It has some grit to it, even after it’s mixed. I thought the vanilla powder flavor was a little intense—a lot like a protein shake—and wished it tasted more like the fruits and vegetables it contains. But everyone’s going to like something different, and lots of reviewers on Athletic Greens’ site specifically call out the flavor as a feature they love. Ultimately, it came second in terms of taste during our initial greens powder tests. Slightly chalky vanilla is a lot better than pond water, which is, unfortunately, what one contender tasted like to me.  

OK, But Does Athletic Greens Work?

Like a lot of supplements, it’s a little tricky to pin down all the claims Athletic Greens makes because they’re quite vague. For example, the purported benefits of daily use include “promotes gut health, “supports immunity,” “boosts energy,” and “helps recovery.”

By that standard, I can say that while I took the greens—a week during the test, and for a few weeks after the test (I didn’t want it to go to waste)—I didn’t notice any of those benefits. My digestion wasn’t any better, I didn’t feel more energetic, and recovery wasn’t any faster after I worked out. As far as immunity, I didn’t get sick while taking the powder—but I also didn’t get sick in the weeks I wasn’t drinking it. 

You’re encouraged to drink it first thing in the morning, so one thing I can definitely say is that it helped me drink a glass of water first thing in the day, rather than going directly to coffee or tea. And I had fun shaking it up in the provided bottle.

In any case, getting a bunch more vitamins than usual can’t be a bad thing, right? Well, not exactly. One major concern about Athletic Greens is that many of its vitamins way exceed the daily recommended dose. We’re talking 553% daily value for vitamin E, 917% daily value of B12, and 1100% daily value for biotin. 

While those levels aren’t toxic, more vitamins doesn’t necessarily mean more health. Most vitamins you’ll pee out. Others, like A, D, E, and K, are stored as fat. This can be problematic over time. High doses of vitamin A can cause liver damage icon-trusted-source Mayo Clinic “Vitamin A” View Source . Moderate excesses of vitamin E may increase the risk of prostate cancer icon-trusted-source National Institutes of Health “Prostate Cancer Risk from Vitamin E Supplements” View Source . Vitamin E can also thin the blood. This means taking it with blood thinning medication like aspirin can increase your risk of stroke icon-trusted-source U.S. Food & Drug Administration “Mixing Medications and Dietary Supplements Can Endanger Your Health” View Source or internal bleeding. Athletic Greens contains dandelion icon-trusted-source Mount Sinai “Dandelion” View Source , too, which can have negative interactions with some medications, including diuretics and blood thinners.

All told, it’s a good idea to discuss Athletic Greens with a doctor if you’re thinking of taking it. This is especially true if you rely on medication and aren’t sure how it will interact with the supplement. You should also avoid it if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, unless you’re cleared by your doctor. In fact, it’s a good idea to discuss all supplements with a doctor before taking them, especially if you experience kidney or liver problems.  

Is Athletic Greens Worth It?

In general, it’s best to turn to whole foods before any supplement. Real foods provide fiber and protein, which you can’t find in Athletic Greens.  Unless you’re addressing a specific health issue, a diet rich in a variety of foods and food groups, like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, legumes, and nuts is adequate to get the nutrients you need to be healthy. 

Athletic Greens is also seriously expensive at $99 for a 30-day supply. That’s significantly more expensive than many greens powders and most multivitamins. Still, if money isn’t an issue, and your doctor says it’s OK, it’s worth a try. Just don’t expect it to change your life. 

What’s a Good Athletic Greens Alternative?

ora organics greens powder
Colleen Stinchcombe

If you’re just looking for a greens powder—rather than a multivitamin greens powder—our favorite testing pick was the Ora Organic Greens Powder ($34.99). It’s about a third of the price, tastes great, and doesn’t contain more than 10% daily value of any vitamin. If you’re curious about greens powder, but don’t want to shell out $100 to do so, it’s a nice way to enter the (green, powdery) waters.

Sourcing:

Want more?

Subscribe to Nessie Sightings. Our newsletter highlights wellness finds to live better, not perfectly. We promise to dive deep (while steering clear of pseudoscience and Goopy price tags), and surface with accessible and affordable recommendations you can actually use. And it’s not just about goods and services. We have a point of view—and takes to spare—too.

The emails are free, the finds are priceless.

 

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.