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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 $77+ 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 of 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.
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 their 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.
Another benefit of Athletic Greens that I’ve experienced (TMI warning) is that my bowels are way more regular. I’m not one of those people who is pretty much guaranteed to have a daily bowel movement. I’m prone to needing to take fiber and probiotic supplements even when I’m doing meat-free months and eating a high-fiber, mainly vegan diet. Since I’ve been starting my day with Athletic Greens, it’s almost like clockwork that I have to step away from my office every day around 11:00 AM or noon for a trip to the bathroom. I suspect that the greens, prebiotics, and probiotics in the Athletic Greens– along with the rush of cold water to kickstart my colon first thing in the morning– are major contributing factors here.
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.
I’m going to be blunt… Athletic Greens is an acquired taste.
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. It’s not a bad flavor, but I’d say it’s not a good flavor either.
Over time, however, 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!
As I mentioned, a month of Athletic Greens will run you $77 plus shipping and handling. That’s no small fee.
In my opinion though, if you have some flexibility in your budget, it’s absolutely worth it. I think my daily bowel movements are the clearest indicators that it is doing something beneficial for my body. Plus, as mentioned, it relies on the quality of its ingredients rather than flashy gimmicks.
Maybe I didn’t get a job with them, but they still make one damn good product. I love it, and at this point, it is an integral part of my wellness routine.
As a part of our mission to empower folks to design their ideal life, we occasionally feature products like this one, which we believe can be a part of that journey. You can't build your ideal life if you're not also caring for your body, and Athletic Greens is a great step toward doing that.
He/ Him/ His pronouns. Blake is a writer, gym addict, dog dad, researcher, and general life enthusiast. He's passionate about helping others reach their goals and live happier, more fulfilling lives.
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