AG1 by Athletic Greens Supplement Review
Over the years, I had heard Athletic Greens come up a few times in books, blogs, and podcasts. People like Tim Ferris always recommended it highly and looking at their website painted a pretty compelling picture: high-quality ingredients, a simplified nutrient routine, and fueling your body for an athletic lifestyle.
Being in the fitness and wellness space, I was naturally curious about it as a product, so I decided to check it out.
When evaluating a supplement, I take a look at the ingredients, nutrient density, ease of use, taste, price, and observed outcomes. Here’s how Athletic Greens measures up.
What is in Athletic Greens?
The ingredients list for Athletic Greens is abundant. For the sake of simplicity, I’m not going to list out every single ingredient mentioned on the packaging. Instead, list out the proprietary blends that make up the greens powder, and then outline the first five ingredients listed with those blends.
On supplement packaging, when you see a long list of ingredients under a proprietary blend, you don’t know how much you’re getting of each ingredient. But, labels are supposed to display the ingredients in order by quantity included, so naming the first five should let us know what we’re getting the most of in each serving.
With that said, Athletic Greens is comprised of:
- Alkaline, Nutrient-Dense Raw Superfood Complex in which the key ingredients include spirulina (nutrient-dense algae), lecithin (a mixture of fats essential to cell health), apple powder, inulin (a dietary fiber), and wheat grass juice powder.
- Nutrient Dense Extracts, Herbs & Antioxidants, which include alkaline pea protein isolate, citrus bioflavonoids extract (thought to be beneficial for capillary strength), artichoke leaf extract, citric acid, and Rhodiola root dry extract (a medicinal plant considered to be an adaptogen).
- Digestive Enzyme & Super Mushroom Complex in which the primary ingredients are astragalus root powder extract (Huang qi or milk vetch, an herb used in traditional Chinese medicine to fortify the immune system), bromelain (dietary enzyme), burdock root powder (a vegetable used in traditional medicine as a diuretic), reishi mushroom powder, and shiitake mushroom powder. Note that these are all of the ingredients in this blend, and the only actual mushrooms in the “super mushroom complex” are in the smallest amounts out of all the ingredients.
- Dairy Free Probiotics
How Nutritious is Athletic Greens
With all of these ingredients, you are getting a lot of nutrients in each glass. Within the 50 calories of each serving, you’re getting more than 100% of your daily Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Thiamin (B1), Riboflavin (B2), Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Vitamin B12, Biotin, and Zinc.
Alongside that, you also get decent portions of your daily Vitamin A (62% recommended daily value) and Pantothenic Acid (40% recommended daily value).
Additionally, you get smaller amounts (less than 40% RDV) of carbohydrates, protein, calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, selenium, copper, manganese, chromium, sodium, and potassium.
In my experience, I felt good about getting as many nutrients as I was, but I also noticed that an hour after taking AG-1, I'd have neon yellow urine, which suggests that I was getting more vitamins than my body could process. So, there is at least a little bit of waste.
The levels of vitamins C and B, in particular, are insane. For example, a single large orange would satisfy your daily vitamin C needs with 97.9mg of vitamin C. Athletic Greens contains 420mg, or almost 700%, of your daily recommended dosage. You can reach your daily recommended levels of B vitamins by eating a diet rich in seeds, leafy greens, and fish (particularly salmon).
One area where Athletic Greens is particularly helpful in filling dietary gaps is with vitamin E. Vitamin E is a nutrient that's important to vision, reproduction, and the health of your blood, brain, and skin; it can be hard to get the daily recommended doses of vitamin E if you’re not eating a diet high in foods like sunflower seeds, almonds, or wheat germ oil.
That said, one of the downsides of Athletic Greens containing such high amounts of vitamins E, C, and B is that you’re consuming them faster than your body is able to process and absorb them. As a result, about thirty minutes to an hour after taking AG1 in the morning, I ended up going to the bathroom and (TMI Warning) having very bright yellow, asparagus-scented urine.
Athletic Greens’ AG1 powder is not cheap– more on that in a moment– so it often felt like I was quite literally flushing money down the toilet.
Alongside the vitamins and minerals, having a combo of fiber and healthy bacteria can help improve your digestion and how well you can absorb nutrients, but it didn’t seem to help enough. The probiotics did seem to make me have more regular bowel movements, but because this was observational and not a controlled test, I can’t rule out extra hydration as the root of the improved regularity.
What Does Athletic Greens Taste Like?
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. After drinking it for a few weeks, though, I barely even noticed the taste. Drinking it became a morning ritual, and the taste became much less noticeable– especially when mixing the powder with very cold water, giving it a vigorous mix, and downing it quickly.
Athletic Greens is Expensive
At the time of updating this article, you can buy a one-off bag of Athletic Greens for $99 plus shipping and handling, or you can subscribe for a single bag each month for $79 plus shipping and handling (prices are in USD).
There are more expensive supplements you can take, but there are also many, many good greens supplements that are much, much cheaper. I canceled my Athletic Greens subscription over the price, but at the time that I canceled it, once shipping and handling were factored in, I was paying a little over $100 per month for it.
Right off the bat, that makes AG1 an inaccessible product for many. That, combined with the fact that I felt like I was flushing half of it down the toilet each morning, made me feel like it ultimately wasn’t worth the investment.
Why is Athletic Greens so Expensive?
Part of what makes Athletic Greens so expensive is their sense of quality control and ingredient sourcing.
Because of the way AG1 is produced, it contains no herbicides or pesticides, no artificial colors, no artificial flavors, no preservatives, no sweeteners, and no GMOs. It’s also marketed as fitting in with a variety of “lifestyles,” AKA diets: vegetarian, vegan, paleo, keto, Mind, Dash, and low-carb.
My tinfoil hat theory (as in, this is my conspiracy theory and not something backed up by evidence) is that Athletic Greens is as expensive as it is not because it’s that costly for them to produce, but because they know their audience will pay for it. People who gravitate towards organic foods and the branding around organic foods are often willing to pay extra for that label. Personally, I’m more aligned with brands like Soylent, which label themselves as “proudly GMO.” For me, there’s too much pseudoscience and a lack of evidence around the purported benefits of all organic, non-GMO foods for it to feel worth it, so I’m not going to go out of my way to pay for it.
But Does it Work Though?
Regardless of your thoughts on elements of their branding or how you feel about GMOs, any time you’re taking a supplement, you ultimately want to know if it actually works.
For me, while taking Athletic Greens’ powder daily and as advised, I did notice the following benefits:
- I felt alert and awake first thing in the morning.
- I was having more regular bowel movements without additional bloating or gas.
- My fingernails seemed to grow faster– likely a byproduct of increased biotin intake.
As I’ve already mentioned elsewhere in this article, this was purely observational. I did not do a formal experiment, isolate variables, and the whole shebang. I cannot say with certainty that Athletic Greens caused these outcomes– they’re just what I observed while taking Athletic Greens daily without intentionally changing other parts of my routine.
Overall, is Athletic Greens Worth it?
Whether or not Athletic Greens is right for you is going to depend upon your goals and why you’re taking it. If you’re expecting some kind of superhuman outcome (which, by the way, is how it's often talked about), then you’re going to be let down. If you just want to do away with taking multiple vitamins on a daily basis and don’t mind the cost, then yeah, it’s probably a decent choice.
For me, it ultimately wasn’t worth the investment. As I mentioned, I’m not too concerned with organic products or dietary restrictions, so I was able to get the necessary vitamins and minerals that I needed on a daily basis with a standard multivitamin, and I can supplement it with things like fish oil, glucosamine, fiber, and prebiotics while still keeping my monthly costs lower than what I was paying for Athletic Greens. But, I don’t mind taking multiple pills. If you do, then my routine probably wouldn’t work for you.
Why Take a Daily Greens Supplement?
No supplement can replace a good diet. We say this all the time because it's true. The bulk of your vitamin and mineral intake should come from the foods that you eat.
However, it can be difficult to eat adequate amounts of greens in a day. Convenience, cost, and personal preferences all factor into how easy it is for you to get enough veggies and leafy greens in your diet. Greens supplements, like Athletic Greens, are one way to counteract this.
These supplements seek to fill the gaps in your diet caused by not eating enough vegetables and greens. They aren't a replacement but can be a nutritional defense when there are shortcomings.
What are Some Athletic Greens Alternatives Worth Checking Out?
I’ve actually written an entire article on alternatives to Athletic Greens that are pretty good. Some highlights:
- My overall pick is Swolverine’s Greens and Reds. The flavor and price are much better than AG1, and, while the nutrient density could be better, if you’re eating a well-rounded diet, it’s a perfect compliment.
- If you’re comfortable with an expensive product but don’t want to feel like you’re peeing away nutrition, Viome is a good choice. It’s expensive and requires doing some at-home health testing, but you end up with a product that’s made specifically for you and is sequenced so that you’re not taking it all at once, faster than your body can process it.
Are there Greens Powders You Should Avoid?
Yes. Not every AG1 alternative is going to be a good choice. As a general rule of thumb:
- Avoid any greens supplement sold through an MLM (network marketing). MLMs, first and foremost, are inherently predatory. Plus, they almost always upcharge on the product and try to sell it in a way that would justify the price. They’re not special. They’re just expensive ways to ruin friendships.
- Organifi. I tried Organifi greens juice and really liked the flavor (it’s kind of like a minty, citrus sweet tea flavor) but wasn’t impressed with the nutrient density. Worst of all, after purchasing it, I started getting bombarded with spammy emails about skinny teas, detox products, and all kinds of other pseudoscientific BS.
Athletic Greens FAQ
You are Supposed to Refrigerate Athletic Greens. Why?
Don’t toss AG1 into your medicine cabinet if you purchase it. After opening, you are supposed to refrigerate your greens (note that this does not apply to the single-serving pouches).
The probiotic bacteria in Athletic Greens are living organisms. Storing them in the refrigerator helps ensure that they don’t die off too quickly. They will die over time, but refrigeration slows down the process and helps ensure that some of the bacteria are still alive when you drink it.
Does Athletic Greens Break a Fast?
For some reason, a lot of folks who do intermittent fasting are drawn to Athletic Greens and have this question.
Yes, AG1 does break a fast. It contains 50 calories per serving, so if you’re extra compliant with your fasting restrictions, it would break a fast. Personally, I don’t think 50 calories and a ton of nutrients is that big of a deal, but for people who fast, it’s worth considering.
Does Athletic Greens Contain Caffeine?
The nutrition label does not include any caffeine in Athletic Greens. There is some green tea extract, so it’s possible that there’s a very tiny trace amount of caffeine in the product, but we’re talking about a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a milligram.
Can I Have Caffeine/ Coffee Before AG1?
You’re not supposed to drink caffeine before taking the greens supplement, and Athletic Greens’ resources suggest waiting at least thirty minutes after drinking the greens before you have your first coffee or other caffeine sources.
Some studies suggest that caffeine inhibits your body’s ability to absorb some nutrients, particularly B vitamins. Nothing bad will happen if you consume coffee in close proximity to your greens– you’re not going to have an adverse reaction or anything like that– but it may limit the effectiveness of the supplement.
Can You Mix Athletic Greens In a Smoothie or Does it Have to Be Water?
If you can’t get over the earthy-semi-sweet taste, you can make a smoothie with your greens powders. What’s important is that you’re not mixing them with anything caffeinated, given the above callout.
In my opinion, smoothies don’t help too much. They still always came out tasting muddy to me. I, personally, found it easier to use really cold water and drink it fast.
One thing to note about drinking it in straight water is that you’re going to have to shake or stir a lot for it to not be chunky. Additionally, if you don’t drink it quickly, the greens will settle at the bottom of your glass and need to be mixed again.