Athletic Greens is a daily nutritional supplement that describes itself as “a comprehensive formula that helps you adapt as your daily needs change due to stress, sleep patterns, or an imperfect diet.” It’s packed with 75 “highly absorbable nutrients,” is designed for athletic lifestyles, and is considered diet-friendly. It’s also quite pricey– a monthly subscription runs $117+ shipping and handling per month.
In general, I consider myself an optimistic skeptic when it comes to nutrition supplements. You don’t have to comb through descriptions of bulging muscles, wild sex lives, and improbable results on most fitness brands’ products for very long to know that talk is cheap. Many brands sell an idealized image of wellness rather than a product that actually contributes to your wellness.
I first discovered Athletic Greens back in 2017 when I applied for a marketing job with them. I was rejected and my consolation prize for making it to the interview stage was a discount code. At the time, I was a little bit bitter and didn’t take advantage of the discount. Over time, however, I kept coming across Athletic Greens in my wellness research and saw it in publications like Tim Ferriss’ 4-Hour Body, and I finally decided to put my bitterness aside and give it a try.
So how does Athletic Greens stack up? Here’s our review.
- Great for making morning hydration part of your routine.
- Steadier energy throughout the day.
- Improved digestion and regularity.
- Efficiently fills diet gaps
- Pricing is very steep.
- The flavor is an acquired taste.
- Needs to be refrigerated, which can be inconvenient for travel if you don't purchase the travel packets.
- It is advised to take it first thing in the morning and waiting a full 30 minutes before consuming caffeine.
What is in Athletic Greens?
Let’s start by looking at what goes into Athletic Greens’ flagship product, the daily greens powder. In the past, I’ve written about one of the signs of a gimmicky product being a long list of ingredients you don’t recognize or “signature blends” with cheesy names that don’t tell you very much about what you’re taking or in what doses.
That’s why one of the things I love about Athletic Greens is that they list out their ingredients easily and accessibly on their website. In each serving of Athletic Greens, you’re getting everything featured in the image below:
I’ll confess that at first, I was somewhat skeptical of the sheer amount of ingredients listed. There are several that I’ve never heard of. What the heck is Hawthorn Root Extract or citrus bioflavonoids extract? But, there’s a pretty easy tool for figuring out what they are– Google. Since Athletic Greens doesn’t mask their ingredients behind proprietary blend names, it’s easy to look up exactly what you’re getting.
(For the record, citrus bioflavonoids are thought to be particularly beneficial for capillary strength, possibly by helping protect collagen, and they may also promote healthy circulation, as well as immune, cognitive and joint health. Hawthorn, according to WebMD, “is used for diseases of the heart and blood vessels such as congestive heart failure (CHF), chest pain, and irregular heartbeat. It is also used to treat both low blood pressure and high blood pressure, “hardening of the arteries” (atherosclerosis), and high cholesterol.”)
Digging into this extensive list of ingredients, it seems that Athletic Greens’ goal is to help drinkers fulfill many of their daily vitamin and nutrient recommended daily values (RDV) in a single drink. It’s not a meal replacement, so it shouldn’t be thought of as an alternative to eating a nutrient-rich diet, but as the above graphic shows, it provides more than 100% of the RDV for many necessary nutrients, along with trace amounts of other vitamins and minerals.
On top of that, it functions as both a prebiotic and probiotic supplement. Prebiotics are minerals and bacterial strains that help good bacteria, probiotics, survive in your gut. With many probiotics, a lot of bacteria are killed off in your digestive system before they have an opportunity to prove their benefit. Prebiotics help to make sure that more of those bacteria survive.
What Does Athletic Greens do?
Here it should be noted that the advised protocol for taking Athletic Greens is to mix them with cold water and drink it first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. It’s also advised to wait at least thirty minutes before eating or drinking anything else (yes, even coffee!).
According to the folks at Athletic Greens, drinking it on an empty stomach and waiting to eat or drink anything else helps ensure that your body is able to absorb as many nutrients as possible. Caffeine, for example, has been shown to limit your body’s ability to absorb b-vitamins, so pouring a cup of coffee immediately after drinking Athletic Greens can limit its effectiveness.
One of the main things that I’ve noticed with Athletic Greens is that I feel more alert more quickly in the mornings. There’s something to be said about hydrating immediately upon waking up on its own, but I find it’s particularly energizing to hydrate with Athletic Greens. I’ve also found that I’m able to hold myself more accountable to hydrating first thing in the morning now that I’m drinking Athletic Greens– my mindset is that I’m paying a lot of money for these supplements, so I’d be wasting money if I didn’t follow the advised protocol or drink it daily.
In general, I feel energized enough with Athletic Greens that I don’t feel the need to take caffeine-filled pre-workout supplements when I exercise first thing in the morning. My body is alert and energized enough from my Athletic Greens that I don’t have to pump myself full of skin-tingling Taurine and Caffeine just to go work up a sweat. Athletic Greens definitely doesn’t give you a buzz or make you jittery– I’m not saying that at all. It just helps you feel awake and alert, likely as a byproduct of its various b-vitamins.
Finally, I’ve noticed a pretty significant mental benefit of drinking Athletic Greens daily. It’s very much an example of one good habit having a domino effect and triggering other good habits. I’m not just frugal, I’m a tightwad. Knowing that I’m spending nearly $100 each month on a supplement that’s meant to help me live a healthier life sticks with me throughout the day. It motivates me to drink my Athletic Greens first thing each morning, which then has a waterfall effect. When I drink it, I’m more likely to remind myself to take breaks and walk around during the day. I’m more likely to choose my standing desk over the sofa. When it’s time to eat, I’m conscientious of what is in the food I’m eating and the amount of processed food I’ve had in a given day. All-in-all, because I can feel the effects of Athletic Greens physically and I can feel the cost of them financially, I have some skin in the game, so to speak, and have been more likely to follow through with the other things I like to do to take care of my body.
How does Athletic Greens Taste?
I’m going to be blunt… Athletic Greens is an acquired taste.
To be even blunter... It doesn't taste good. It's not revolting or particularly bad, but I also wouldn't acquire it as pleasant. Once you're used to it, though, it's easy enough to get down.
Upon my first sip, I thought they tasted like someone had collected a bunch of grass clippings and blended them up with a drop of bubblegum extract. It has an earthy flavor with hints of sweetness.
Over time, I’ve definitely gotten used to it. It’s similar to when I first started drinking coffee or dry red wines. At first, I was not a fan but drank them because I enjoyed the activities and atmospheres associated with each. The more I drank, the more I learned to love and appreciate both.
The same is true for Athletic Greens. Now that I’ve been drinking it daily for a while, I barely even notice the taste when I’m having them. It just tastes like morning to me!
Is Athletic Greens Worth It?
As I mentioned, a month of Athletic Greens will run you $117 plus shipping and handling. That’s no small fee. On their website, that will come out to above $120 depending upon where you live.
In the past, I've said that Athletic Greens is absolutely worth it. However, I'm not so sure anymore.
Don't get me wrong– it's still a really high-quality product, and if you can easily afford it, you should go for it. However, the price increase gives me pause in recommending it because I no longer feel comfortable spending that much money every month, and I only like to recommend products that I personally use or feel comfortable using.
If you have a cash surplus and don't mind investing roughly $120 per month in a greens supplement, then Athletic Greens could absolutely be a good choice for you. However, if your budget is a little bit tighter than that, a less expensive alternative like Swolverine would probably be the better route.