Last year I made a really awesome and health forward New Years resolution. I decided I wanted to attempt supplementing with a greens powder drink every day in 2017. Honestly, I pretty much made it! I probably missed about 40 days, but in the big picture of 365 days, that’s damn good right? My body thanks me for it.
There’s something to be said about a freshly pressed green juice. I’m not talking about the juice with a green tint that’s basically all apple (i.e. way too much sugar for the average person). I mean the freshly pressed juice that’s predominantly green vegetable based. They’re incredibly nutritious for the body, especially if they’re organic! But they’re not exactly a feasible everyday option for the majority of people. They come in at $8 plus per bottle…greens powder steps in at around $1-$3 per serving. Fresh pressed juice is a great option, but greens powder is a wonderful and nutritious budget friendly option that I recommend to every client of mine.
WHAT IS GREENS POWDER?
Greens powder is essentially a whole foods multivitamin! There are many different products on the market, and they all contain a variety of green vegetables intended to provide your body with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that you may not otherwise be obtaining efficiently through your diet. They pack in a significant number of vegetable ‘servings’ in a single scoop. Often times greens powder will also contain fruits, herbs, sea vegetables, probiotics, enzymes, and other nutrients beneficial to the body.
Contains Micronutrients – The vitamins and minerals in greens powder come from whole foods. Whole foods contain nutrients that work synergistically – i.e. they enhance one another’s absorption and utilization within the body.
Contains Antioxidants – Antioxidants help to prevent free radical damage within the body. Free radicals cause damage to cells resulting in an increased susceptibility to disease. Consuming adequate antioxidants is essential to good health.
Alkalinizes the Body – Illness thrives in acidity, so we want to consume alkaline foods (vegetables and other plant based foods) to prevent the body from becoming overly acidic.
Enhances Detoxification – Chlorophyll (the green pigment in plant foods) helps to cleanse the blood, binds to heavy metals and encourages the removal of toxins from the body.
Encourages Hydration – Making a conscious effort to drink greens powder with water every day can in turn help to keep you hydrated!
WHEN SHOULD I DRINK IT?
Drinking your greens powder first thing in the morning is great because you’ll be covering your nutrition bases from the get go! In my experience, drinking it on empty stomach is best, but you can choose to follow the instructions on the label of your own greens powder.
Drink it a couple hours away from your workouts if you are training intensely. There has been research confirming that consuming high doses of antioxidants close to your workouts can actually defer your fitness progress.
HOW SHOULD I DRINK IT?
Depending on where you stand with your taste preferences, you can drink your greens the classic way (mixed with water) or you can enhance the taste to your liking. I personally like to add other things to make the drink even more beneficial for my body, while also enhancing the taste!
I never suggest mixing your greens powder with fruit juices, as they are most often very high in sugar and can result in blood sugar imbalances.
Try mixing your greens powder with:
Electrolytes (I like Vega Sport Electrolyte Hydrator)
Collagen (I like the flavoured Progressive Complete Collagen or Organika Enhanced Collagen)
Magnesium (I like CanPrev ElectroMag or activating a serving of Natural Calm in a separate mug with a little bit of boiling water, and then adding it to the already mixed greens powder drink)
Vitamin C powder
BCAA’s if you are drinking them away from your workout (I like ATP Lab IBCAA)
Cold chaga tea, or any other beneficial herbal teas
HOW TO PICK A GREENS POWDER
Organic is best – opt for products with mostly organic ingredients as often as possible
Be attentive to ingredients – avoid artificial flavours, colours, sweeteners, and allergenic ingredients
Alternate products – switch up your greens powder once in a while so your body can get a taste of something different!
GREENS POWDER PRODUCTS I RECOMMEND
Super Greens – PaleoEthics
Sport Greens – Biosteel
Greens + Original – Genuine Health
Green and Red Whole Foods – ATP lab
The Super Elixir Super Greens – WelleCo
Green Juice – Organifi
VegeGreens – Progressive
Macro Greens – Macrolife Naturals
Green Superfood – Amazing Grass
Organic Whole Greens – Ergogenics Organics
Perfect Food Super Green Formula – Garden of Life
CytoGreens – NovaForme
- PharmaFreak Greens Freak Greens Powder Review
- Greens Freak
- Drinkables Fruits and Vegetables
- Uses of Drinkables Fruits and Vegetables:
- What do I need to tell my doctor BEFORE I take Drinkables Fruits and Vegetables?
- What are some things I need to know or do while I take Drinkables Fruits and Vegetables?
- How is this medicine (Drinkables Fruits and Vegetables) best taken?
- What are some side effects that I need to call my doctor about right away?
- What are some other side effects of Drinkables Fruits and Vegetables?
- If OVERDOSE is suspected:
- How do I store and/or throw out Drinkables Fruits and Vegetables?
- Consumer information use
- Further information
- More about multivitamin
- What Are Drinkable Greens and Are They As Healthy As the Real Thing?
- Food Trends: Is the Future of Food Drinkable Nutrients?
- Everything About Whole Foods Protein Powder
- What are whole foods protein powder supplements?
- Athletic Greens – a true superfood
- About Athletic Greens
- The Benefits of Greens Powders + 5 Faves From a Fitness Pro
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PharmaFreak Greens Freak Greens Powder Review
With promises like one scoop delivering the antioxidants of a dozen serves of vegetables, the greens powder industry seems intent on replacing the multivitamin. Made from the freeze-dried or light-dried remains of fruits, vegetables and herbs, the powders can provide a very concentrated dose of vitamins and minerals, but their benefits are prone to exaggeration.
I tried the top-selling greens powder on Bodybuilding.com and one of the bestsellers from Amazon, Greens Freak, to see how it stacked up. Check out my review below.
Buy Greens Freak on Amazon
Greens Freak Ingredients
The branding strongly emphasizes the presence of spirulina and chlorella, two types of algae, and each serve also contains a combined 1.5 grams of alfalfa, barley, and wheatgrass.
Because the amount of the product is so small and concentrated, there’s minimal fiber, but while that aspect won’t improve your digestion there are five strains of probiotic bacteria, which are linked to digestive health.
(We tried 47 brands: check out our best green superfood powder picks!)
There are some three dozen other ingredients that receive less emphasis from the company, including apple pectin, sprouted brown rice bran, bee pollen and royal jelly, parsley, beetroot juice (labeled as a “red super food”), green tea extract, and bromelain. I tried their green apple flavor, which is flavored with “natural green apple flavor,” stevia, and peppermint leaf extract.
Greens Freak Carbs
The packaging doesn’t actually come with a breakdown of macronutrients or micronutrients, just the ingredients it contains and the RDI of each. Of course, the USDA has not set a recommended daily intake of apple pectin, milk thistle, and every single other ingredient in the product besides Vitamin E, so the RDI has an asterisk under each one.
According to MyFitnessPal, one serving contains thirty-five calories, two grams of protein, five grams of carbs, two grams of fiber, and no fat.
Is Greens Freak Gluten-Free?
No. The packaging is misleading in this regard. You can see on the front of the tub “Greens Freak gf.” The “gf” just stands for “Greens Freak,” not “gluten-free.” Nowhere on the packaging does it suggest that it’s free from gluten, and barley (one of the ingredients) is a known source of the stuff.
Greens Freak Benefits
The benefits of the star ingredients, spirulina and chlorella, do tend to be exaggerated in some circles but they’re great sources of iron, zinc, and antioxidants, and they appear to help improve immunity as well.
The alfalfa, barley, and wheatgrass, contain vitamins C, E, K, and B-vitamins, plus they contain a lot of chlorophyll, which can be beneficial for blood health. (Think clotting and wound healing.)
The five strains of probiotics are perhaps the strongest addition. They’re useful for a host of reasons: this beneficial bacteria can improve digestion, fat loss, inflammation levels, and possibly even our susceptibility to depression and anxiety.
I tried the green apple flavor, though vanilla chai is also available. I’ve tried a lot of greens powders (my mom stockpiles them like there’s an imminent apocalypse), and this has the best taste I’ve ever tried. Greens powders have a well-earned reputation for tasting like dirt (they’re mostly ground up vegetables and seaweed, after all) and while I’d never call this product delicious, it’s far more palatable than most and it’s probably the best taste you can expect.
When there’s no macronutrient or micronutrient breakdown on the packaging, it gets a little hard to maintain credibility as a vitamin and mineral supplement. Sure, many of the ingredients are known to contain Vitamin C and iron, but how much vitamin C is in a serving? How much iron? There’s no way to know. MyFitnessPal says one serve delivers 36% of the RDI of Vitamin C and 17% of your iron. That’s a decent amount, but far less than a dedicated supplement and perhaps less than a multivitamin. But of course, it’s hard to know where MyFitnessPal gets their data from.
The huge number of times the meaningless words “superfood,” “super grain,” and “detox” appear on the package also harm the product’s credibility.
PharmaFreak’s main selling point isn’t so much the vitamin content as the ingredients themselves and the probiotics and antioxidants they deliver. These are important components of any diet, they’re found in plants (or can result from eating them), and this product contains them in spades.
For a product that many see as a multivitamin supplement, it’s hard to look past the fact that there’s no breakdown of the vitamins and minerals in the product.
But the fact is that some people focus a little too much on vitamins (which aren’t very hard to get from food) and not enough on probiotics and antioxidant density, which can be harder to consume in high quantities. If you’re eating a well-balanced diet, this product can certainly help fill in your nutritional gaps. But don’t take it as a replacement for eating plants.
Buy Greens Freak on Amazon
$1.00 Per Serving 7.9
8.0/10 9.0/10 6.5/10 8.0/10
- Wide variety of ingredients
- Good source of probiotic bacteria and digestive enzymes
- No information about vitamin and mineral content
- Antioxidant content isn’t quantified
Drinkables Fruits and Vegetables
Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Jul 20, 2019.
- Side Effects
If your product has iron in it:
- Accidental overdose of drugs that have iron in them is a leading cause of deadly poisoning in children younger than 6 years of age. Keep away from children. If this medicine (Drinkables Fruits and Vegetables) is taken by accident, call a doctor or poison control center right away.
Uses of Drinkables Fruits and Vegetables:
- It is used to help growth and good health.
- It may be given to you for other reasons. Talk with the doctor.
What do I need to tell my doctor BEFORE I take Drinkables Fruits and Vegetables?
- If you have an allergy to this medicine (Drinkables Fruits and Vegetables) or any part of this medicine (Drinkables Fruits and Vegetables).
- If you are allergic to any drugs like this one, any other drugs, foods, or other substances. Tell your doctor about the allergy and what signs you had, like rash; hives; itching; shortness of breath; wheezing; cough; swelling of face, lips, tongue, or throat; or any other signs.
If your product has iron in it:
- If you have too much iron in your body.
This is not a list of all drugs or health problems that interact with this medicine (Drinkables Fruits and Vegetables).
Tell your doctor and pharmacist about all of your drugs (prescription or OTC, natural products, vitamins) and health problems. You must check to make sure that it is safe for you to take this medicine (Drinkables Fruits and Vegetables) with all of your drugs and health problems. Do not start, stop, or change the dose of any drug without checking with your doctor.
What are some things I need to know or do while I take Drinkables Fruits and Vegetables?
- Tell all of your health care providers that you take this medicine (Drinkables Fruits and Vegetables). This includes your doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and dentists.
- This medicine may affect certain lab tests. Tell all of your health care providers and lab workers that you take this medicine (Drinkables Fruits and Vegetables).
- If you are allergic to soy, talk with your doctor. Some products have soy.
- If you are allergic to tartrazine, talk with your doctor. Some products have tartrazine.
- Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan on getting pregnant. You will need to talk about the benefits and risks of using this medicine (Drinkables Fruits and Vegetables) while you are pregnant.
- Tell your doctor if you are breast-feeding. You will need to talk about any risks to your baby.
How is this medicine (Drinkables Fruits and Vegetables) best taken?
Use this medicine (Drinkables Fruits and Vegetables) as ordered by your doctor. Read all information given to you. Follow all instructions closely.
- Take with or without food. Take with food if it causes an upset stomach.
- Swallow whole. Do not chew, break, or crush.
- Measure liquid doses carefully. Use the measuring device that comes with this medicine (Drinkables Fruits and Vegetables). If there is none, ask the pharmacist for a device to measure this medicine (Drinkables Fruits and Vegetables).
- Chew well before swallowing.
What do I do if I miss a dose?
- If you take this medicine (Drinkables Fruits and Vegetables) on a regular basis, take a missed dose as soon as you think about it.
- If it is close to the time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your normal time.
- Do not take 2 doses at the same time or extra doses.
What are some side effects that I need to call my doctor about right away?
WARNING/CAUTION: Even though it may be rare, some people may have very bad and sometimes deadly side effects when taking a drug. Tell your doctor or get medical help right away if you have any of the following signs or symptoms that may be related to a very bad side effect:
- Signs of an allergic reaction, like rash; hives; itching; red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin with or without fever; wheezing; tightness in the chest or throat; trouble breathing, swallowing, or talking; unusual hoarseness; or swelling of the mouth, face, lips, tongue, or throat.
If your product has iron in it:
- Black, tarry, or bloody stools.
- Very upset stomach or throwing up.
- Very bad belly pain.
- Throwing up blood or throw up that looks like coffee grounds.
- Stomach cramps.
What are some other side effects of Drinkables Fruits and Vegetables?
All drugs may cause side effects. However, many people have no side effects or only have minor side effects. Call your doctor or get medical help if any of these side effects or any other side effects bother you or do not go away:
- Upset stomach or throwing up.
If your product has iron in it:
- Change in color of stool to green.
- Belly pain.
These are not all of the side effects that may occur. If you have questions about side effects, call your doctor. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects.
You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088. You may also report side effects at http://www.fda.gov/medwatch.
If OVERDOSE is suspected:
If you think there has been an overdose, call your poison control center or get medical care right away. Be ready to tell or show what was taken, how much, and when it happened.
How do I store and/or throw out Drinkables Fruits and Vegetables?
- Store at room temperature.
- Store in a dry place. Do not store in a bathroom.
- Keep all drugs in a safe place. Keep all drugs out of the reach of children and pets.
- Throw away unused or expired drugs. Do not flush down a toilet or pour down a drain unless you are told to do so. Check with your pharmacist if you have questions about the best way to throw out drugs. There may be drug take-back programs in your area.
Consumer information use
- If your symptoms or health problems do not get better or if they become worse, call your doctor.
- Do not share your drugs with others and do not take anyone else’s drugs.
- Keep a list of all your drugs (prescription, natural products, vitamins, OTC) with you. Give this list to your doctor.
- Talk with the doctor before starting any new drug, including prescription or OTC, natural products, or vitamins.
- Some drugs may have another patient information leaflet. Check with your pharmacist. If you have any questions about this medicine (Drinkables Fruits and Vegetables), please talk with your doctor, nurse, pharmacist, or other health care provider.
- If you think there has been an overdose, call your poison control center or get medical care right away. Be ready to tell or show what was taken, how much, and when it happened.
Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.
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What Are Drinkable Greens and Are They As Healthy As the Real Thing?
If you step into any vitamin or supplement store, you’ll likely notice a growing section of drinkable greens. They’re marketed as a way to get in the majority of daily nutrients your body requires in one simple step, adding to the ever-growing (and confusing) list of supplements you don’t know if you ~really~ need.
While these drinks sound healthy, in theory, at a basic level, they’re still a processed version of the real, whole foods. But do drinkable green powdered have health benefits? Are they necessary? Or are they just another “convenience item” you don’t really need?
What Are Drinkable Greens?
These products are made from freeze-drying juiced ingredients such as wheat and barley grass and leafy greens, fruits, and vegetables to turn them into a green powder that you mix with water. The powders usually come in tubs, similar to protein powder, or resealable bags that require refrigeration after opening.
Some powders have dozens of ingredients. For example, Athletic Greens has a whopping 75 ingredients: things like organic apple powder, artichoke leaf extract and dandelion root extract for digestion support; pea protein isolate, organic spirulina and chlorella powder to support healthy aging; and a bunch of root extracts you’ve probably never heard of that claim to support your endocrine system. Other brands have nutrition labels with wide-ranging “superfood blends” in addition to all the greens. The greens-only powders usually add a few grams of plant-based protein per scoop (Athletic Greens adds three grams, for example), and there are others marketed as actual “greens-based protein powder” that have as much protein as other protein-specific powders (20 or so grams per scoop). Some other drinkable greens have supplemental fiber to help with motility.
So, what do these drinkable greens even taste like? Well, depending on your taste for other powdered mixes (think: collagen, protein powder), they can be a bit chalky or pulp-like or have a strong grassiness. Most mix relatively well with water if you toss a scoop into a shaker bottle or use a whisk to mix in a glass (a spoon won’t cut it, though). An easy fix: Blend them into your morning smoothie as you would protein powder. For that matter, you can add both powdered greens and powdered protein to your smoothie, unless your greens or other smoothie ingredients offer up sufficient protein.
Are There Health Benefits to Drinkable Greens?
Many companies that produce these nutrient-dense powders, such as Athletic Greens, say that drinkable greens are easier for your body to break down and absorb than consuming the green ingredients in their raw, plant form. In addition, other common health claims are that powdered, drinkable greens can support your nervous and immune systems, help with digestion, increase your energy levels, and promote healthy aging, among numerous other claims mentioned above.
One note: Athletic Greens was the only brand we came across that gave high detailed information on its ingredients and their purported health benefits. Others don’t offer much of an explanation for why you should be ingesting their products. What’s more, because these greens fall into the category of dietary supplements, which are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), you can’t even be entirely certain what ingredients are in these products let alone the supposed health benefits. (Related: Are Dietary Supplements Really Safe?)
How Drinkable Greens Compare to Whole Foods
Starting your morning with a glass of greens on an empty stomach—which may promote better nutrient absorption—can feel virtuous, like you’re setting yourself up for a day of healthful choices. While there’s nothing wrong with that, some nutrition experts aren’t convinced these powders are worth the money. (By the way, these are the best times to take dietary supplements.)
“I always tell my clients that chewing is better than drinking,” says Brigitte Zeitlin, R.D., owner of Manhattan-based BZ Nutrition. “You get so much more nutritional bang for your buck by eating produce rather than drinking supplements.”
For one, Zeitlin says, dietary supplements aren’t regulated by the FDA, so there’s no real way of knowing if you’re actually getting all of the nutrition listed on the package in every scoop. Conversely, when you eat a cup of spinach, for example, you know exactly how much iron, calcium, fiber, and vitamins you’re getting. Second, your body is more satisfied by chewing than drinking, so you obviously end up feeling fuller and more satiated from eating a big green salad instead of drinking one, says Zeitlin.
When You Might Want to Reach for Drinkable Greens
There are a few instances where these drinkable greens come in handy though. If you’re unable to chew (say, you recently had a root canal)—then drinking your greens might be a great way to get in all your proper nutrients, says Zeitlin. Second, since vitamins and minerals play a big role in your immunity, especially when you’re traveling, drinking your greens could help you fend off illness when you’re on the go (then again, so can not touching those gross airplane trays). Finally, green powders can also come in handy when you have limited access to healthy, whole foods—or simply don’t get enough fruits and vegetables in your daily diet, period. In fact, only one in 10 adults consumes the recommended amount of fruits (two cups per day) and vegetables (two to three cups per day), according to the CDC.
Though Zeitlin says she would never recommend green powders instead of eating fresh produce, they’re not going to cause harm. “If people are using them and liking them and feeling good, then that’s great—they don’t have to stop,” she says.
Want to give green powders a go? Here are five to try:
Organic Vegan Greens & Reds Superfoods
With 2,000 milligrams of organic prebiotic fiber added to the greens, this powder is meant to be taken first thing in the morning to help keep things moving along.
Buy It, $55, 1upnutrition.com
Athletic Greens Ultimate Daily
This product, developed in New Zealand, is the result of 10 years of research and development, according to the company. It comes in a resealable bag or single-serving packets perfect for travel.
Buy It, $97-$107, amazon.com
Bone Broth Protein Greens in Pineapple
Made with organic alfalfa and oat grass juices, which support bone and cardiovascular health in particular, this protein powder also contains beef collagen, giving it 20 grams of protein per scoop. (Related: 8 Bone Broth Benefits That Will Convince You to Try the Trend)
Buy It, $43, amazon.com
Green SuperFood Drink Powder
Refrigeration after opening is recommended for this powder, which also contains added fiber made from flax seed powder and apple pectin, as well as a pre- and probiotic blend.
Buy It, $38, puritan.com
Earth Grown Nutrients All-in-One Greens Mix
This powder’s blend of organic wheat grass, kale, barley grass, oat grass, and kelp comes in two flavors that are easy to mix into smoothies: black cherry and lemon mint. (Related: How to Cook with Seaweed That Has Nothing to Do with Sushi)
Buy It, $40, amazon.com
- By Kelsey Ogletree
Food Trends: Is the Future of Food Drinkable Nutrients?
I just returned from the annual Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo where registered dietitians have a chance to get some of their continuing education requirements met and also learn about new foods and products coming into the market. It’s a large conference, with about 11,000 in attendance this year.
Food Product Expo
In addition to attending lecture sessions, I always enjoy walking the Product Expo floor because it’s a chance to see what’s new, and get immediate information about the emerging product market. As I walked through the Expo, it appeared that like years before, products touting protein and gut health benefits (probiotics and prebiotics) were hot, but drinkable products were taking up a large portion of the floor.
Tropicana® orange juice with 1 billion live probiotic cultures per serving
Good Belly® probiotic drinks contain live and active lactobacillus cultures.
A few years ago, activist groups were up in arms that “Big Food” was on the Expo floor, and put pressure on the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to remove those brands as sponsors. The result was definitely apparent this year where many smaller, Certified Organic brands with “free-from” labels were showcased. This doesn’t mean however, that this made the Expo any better, especially since so many of the brands showcased are only available online or at Whole Foods Market (which only serves metropolitan areas), and at a high price point. After all, it’s not nutrition until you eat (or drink) it. And if foods aren’t available to a large part of the population, they don’t help improve health.
Fairlife Smart Snack® – milk with added oats and honey, boasting 15 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber.
Like so many other issues we discuss in our country today, food goes to extremes.
- On the one end there are many animal-free products fashioned to meet the “plant-based philosophy” and vegan markets, while on the other there are high protein products meeting the Paleo market.
- The Organic packaged food space is definitely expanding, with more processed and individually-packaged products than ever. Many of these are marketed as “alternatives to Big Food” brands, but most are no better nutritionally, nor for the environment.
- The liquids, probiotic products, and supplements, in the Expo definitely outnumbered the whole foods or beverages that support the DASH Diet market (dairy, vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, a few whole grains, and unsaturated oils).
Folks Want Convenience
There were some interesting products designed to make eating healthier easier. The drinkable oatmeal from Fair Life? Quick oats are pretty easy, and while I love Fair Life milk, I don’t see the appeal of this oat product. I also sampled these frozen sweet potatoes and cauliflower products. The Caulipower® products are serving the market who is either gluten-free or trying to reduce carbohydrate in their diet. The sweet potato toasts (slices) are to be served as you would a cracker (topped with something), and the cauliflower pizza crust is self explanatory. However, I can also see the sweet potato slices serving as a time-saving way to add vegetables to your diet, even if you still also want to eat crackers or crostini on occasion. I sampled a bottled soup product, that tasted good, was low in sodium and high in vegetables – another on- the-go, and drinkable, nutrition item.
Pureed soup in an on-the-go bottle.
Drinking Your Diet
The number of bottled products was astounding. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to drink my diet. I have teeth, I want to chew. Supplemental foods in liquid form can have their place (people with poor dentition, people who can’t eat and need nutrients for illness or recovery), but to replace sitting down to regular meals with drinking food from a bottle?
Some of these liquids tout themselves as supplements in the “functional foods” category, and others just alternative beverages. The “dairy alternative” category continues to grow.
All of these products, in my opinion, add to the confusion of “what’s good for me”, or as some may perceive it, “what’s good for the planet”.
Let’s start with dairy alternatives. Unlike cow’s milk that is a high protein, high calcium, high potassium nutrient-dense beverage, most plant alternative are not (but may be fortified – or have nutrients added to them). Have you been to the dairy case lately? It’s mind-boggling. Almond milk. Soy milk. Coconut Milk. Cashew Milk. Hemp milk (stay tuned – the dairy industry is fighting to maintain the identity of cow’s milk, and feel they have dibs on the term “milk”).
And now, enter Banana milk. (Whaaaat?)
Banana milk? Well it’s not milk. And it’s not nutrient rich. But it’s only 60 calories a cup and it’s certified organic. Big whoop.
Many brands continue to use the term “milk” when marketing their products, but this product really had me asking myself “Why?”. It’s nut-free, organic, and dairy-free, yet calls itself “milk”, even using the term “mooala” (aka, cow sounds). They even have the audacity to use a cow-look-alike image on their packaging.
This product really annoyed me. They take a high potassium banana, dilute it with water, and serve it as a drink (milk substitute no less) in a plastic bottle. But since you’ve diluted it, there’s less potassium per serving. I even asked if they use brown bananas (perhaps this product helped reduce waste?) but she said no, they use bananas that are yellow but just slightly green (in other words – perfect bananas!).
This isn’t banana-flavored milk. This would be better termed “Banana Water” because it’s basically pureed bananas with water added (and a few sunflower seeds). Not only does this water dilute the nutrition of the banana, but it also doesn’t taste great. I asked the vendor representative if this drink would benefit those who need more potassium (like those with high blood pressure), or if could act like a potassium supplement. Since it’s been diluted, the answer is – no. Interestingly she said the company was considering fortifying the product with potassium next year. Are you shaking your head yet?
(You may be asking yourself – Why not just eat bananas? I’m pretty sure they are a universally tolerated food, and if you don’t like bananas because of taste, you probably aren’t going to like banana water either).
Another product that left me scratching my head was Drink Simple® Maple Water. This is a product that takes the water (maple sap) from maple trees and purifies it and bottles it. This water claims to offer some electrolytes and minerals including manganese. I think it’s a waste of good pure maple syrup ingredients.
How’d it taste? Like water, with a teeny tiny drop of maple flavor. Oh and yeah, it’s non-GMO (because they want to be in Whole Foods stores. There are no GMO maple trees FYI).
Maple water. Yeah, it’s a thing.
Both the dairy industry and milk-alternatives were present at the Expo. Chocolate milk is still popular and marketed as a sports recovery drink (which works well for many athletes). There were some goat milk products, and many types of yogurts featuring probiotic cultures.
Dairy free milk alternatives
Artisan goat milk kefir and yogurt. I don’t know why, but at a glance this graphic appeared as a unicorn to me.
What About All of the Plastic?
What really impressed me was the sheer number of beverages in single serving bottles. Remember the environmental crusade to reduce plastic by producing reusable, BPA-free water bottles? It appears to me that we are replacing whatever plastic we’ve saved with more single serving beverages touted as functional nutrition.
I find it interesting that there seems to be a “cool hipster factor” when it comes to being drawn to these types of products. Often those who are drawn to milk alternatives (dairy-free, plant-based products) or the health halo of the Certified Organic and GMO free labels, are also interested in the environment, reducing food waste, and conserving resources. It’s ironic to me that so many who would purchase all of these single serving bottled products, yet may also feel that reducing animal agriculture (hence, milk-alternatives) is an answer to controlling climate change. Something to think about.
While there may be a market for them, we need to consider reducing single-serving product packaging.
In any case, I really can’t think of a single good reason for banana water or maple water in a bottle.
Everything About Whole Foods Protein Powder
Table of Contents
What are whole foods protein powder supplements?
Whole foods protein powder supplements are intended as an ideal supplement to your daily diet and come in the form of tablets, capsules, powders, drops and drinks. All these substances contain various ingredients such as vitamins, herbs and minerals. Components of whole foods superfood powder are, for example, vitamin B, ginkgo biloba, turmeric and CBD oil. The Online Drugstore has thousands of nutritional supplements from the best brands. Curious?
The products offered – full of (multi) vitamins, minerals – have the same effect as the vitamins and minerals that generally occur in your diet. The advantage of whole foods greens superfood supplements is that the body better absorbs these substances than the nutrients from eating and drinking.
The best brands of whole foods green supplements
Well-known brands such as Metagenics, A.Vogel, Lucovitaal, Orthica, Athletic Greens, Vitals and many other high-quality brands (more than 500 brands!) present their food supplements in the display window of the most significant supplement stores in the USA. Online stores have categorised all these supplements by topic. For example, dietary supplements are subdivided into:
The most popular supplements of 2018: What are the most popular whole foods vegetable powder supplements this year? The Online Drugstore has a list of supplements, which include turmeric, probiotics, amino acids, enzymes and green-lipped mussel.
Supplements and subject: To make it easier for you as a visitor to choose between all supplements, De Online Drogist also added topics. Tablets, capsules and drops are sorted on subjects such as cholesterol supplements, stomach supplements and beauty supplements.
Ingredient: If you are looking for a specific component that the whole foods protein powder supplement must contain, then this chemist also has an extensive list of options for you. In this overview options such as Boswellia, cranberry, garlic and red yeast rice appear.
User type: In addition to searching by subject or ingredient, the kind of user can also be searched. In this distribution, a distinction is made between athletes ( magnesium ), pregnant women (folic acid and vitamin D), babies and children (calcium, vitamin D) and people over 50 (vitamin D, joints supplements).
Therapy: Finally, De Online Drogist has also divided supplements among popular treatments, such as phytotherapy, biotherapy and energetic therapy.
Athletic Greens – The best whole foods super greens energy supplement
As our title mentions, some manufacturers promote their green whole foods powder supplement as a substitute to whole foods and this creates a misconception in our mind. Dietary supplements as especailly created to help in weight loss and not for providing nutrition for the whole body. But there is a supplement that works as a dietary supplement along with being a whole food substitute. Athletic Greens adds more than 75 ingredients that provide all the vital nutrients that are essential for our body and overall health maintenance, surely that includes weight loss. Checkout Mygreensdaily.com reviews page, to find out more about Athletic Greens.
Athletic Greens – a true superfood
If you have been a fan of Focused on Fit over the years, you are probably wondering where we have been these last few months. I think you can all relate – sometimes life just gets in the way – of even your favorite things, your passion projects. We apologize for going dark for so long. We are grateful for our fans, our readers, and our followers – we hope you will continue to stay engaged with us on this journey to stay Focused on Fit.
One of our latest discoveries has been a real game changer in our household and we had to share it with our Focused on Fit family. We don’t endorse a lot of products, but we continue to be impressed with this amazing new supplement and what it has done for our family. Athletic Greens – a Premium Superfood Cocktail – is a whole food supplement designed to help you fill the gaps in your nutrition through a single drink that contains the antioxidant equivalent of 12 servings of vegetables.
Athletic Greens – Another Green Drink
I know what you’re thinking – it’s just another green drink, a green smoothie – what’s the big deal??!! Aren’t they all supposed to be good for you. Just add a little kale to any drink, and it will be all good. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Even if you are eating clean, and focused on whole foods, you may still be missing out on countless nutrients. Still getting sick, feeling sluggish, and hitting up Starbucks at 3pm everyday. Why? The founder of Athletic Greens was convinced that modern farming has stripped many of our foods of the countless nutrients that should be available to us; even those that eat only whole organic foods are often still tired everyday or sick all the time. He created this drink to create a single whole foods daily supplement for his health, and in the end created this fabulous tasting drink that is being used by thousands!
Athletic Greens – Ingredients
Made with 75 different superfood ingredients, this powder is gonna help you rock your day. I promise. It contains 25 alkaline, raw nutrient dense superfoods, like spirulina, chlorella, green tea extract, and red beet root powder. It contains 17 natural herbs, extracts and antioxidants like pea protein isolate, milk thistle seed extract, and ashwaghanda, a proven natural stress manager. It also contains 5 digestive enzymes and 2 probiotics. And finally it also houses 22 essential vitamins and minerals. Well geez, I guess I don’t have to swallow all those vitamins and supplements every morning! Maybe I will save some money in the end??!!
Athletic Greens – Health Claims
So what can this amazing product do for you? First of all, the formulation of a powder is essential for ensuring that you if you drink it, you will be able to absorb all of those nutrient dense ingredients. Often, we pay hundreds of dollars on a variety of supplements, and our body cannot even process all those vitamins. We just simply can’t absorb them and use them as we should. Athletic Greens was formulated as a powder to ensure it was not only easy to use (no excuses), but easily available to the body.
- All those natural vitamins and minerals from the fruit and vegetables in Athletic Greens help to support a strong nervous and immune system.
- The addition of digestive enzymes, bromelain and papain assist with protein digestion, maximum absorption, and help to reduct with everyday bloating.
- Milk thistle and dandelion root are known supplements to help support a healthy a liver, which in turn helps detoxify the body and minimize fat. Yes, please!
- The ideal balance of prebiotic and probiotic ingredients help to achieve optimum gut flora benefits. This is critical for a strong immune system.
- Amazing adaptogens, a class of herbs known to provide what your body needs when it needs it. Ashwaghanda, Rhodiola and Siberian Gingseng all come together in this amazing drink to help your body manage stress, aiding in sleep and energy levels.
Athletic Greens – Nate’s Personal Testimony
“First things first, I don’t endorse products quickly, and all that often. But I will say that this nutritional supplement is truly life-changing. I started drinking Athletic Greens in early February, so I can personally attest to nearly 3 months of the benefits. Not only do I have the peace of mind that I have consumed the nutrition of so many fruits and vegetables, I know that my body is actually absorbing it, and I have seen a real difference in my daily function. I have more energy everyday, I feel more full throughout the day, which has limited my snacking significantly, and I am able to limit the number of vitamins and supplements that I have to take everyday because I know that the Athletic Greens includes everything I need.”
In the end, if you are looking for a quick and easy way to boost your energy, support your immune system, and ensure that you are hitting your nutritional goals, you must try Athletic Greens. At less than $3.23 a serving, you are getting a real bargain, when you think about replacing all your vitamins, probiotics and even afternoon coffee. Aren’t you worth it?
Please comment below with your questions or share with us if you try Athletic Greens. We would love to hear your feedback!
***As fans of Athletic Greens, we are part of their affiliate program. We do receive a small percentage of the sale of this product if you order through the links on this page. Thanks!***
About Athletic Greens
By Anthony Dugarte, M.D., C.S.C.S Updated on: Jan 17, 2020
What Is Athletic Greens?
Athletic Greens is a dietary supplement that blends 75 vitamins, minerals and whole food-sourced ingredients in powder form. One heaping tablespoon mixed with water each day allegedly increases energy, boost your immune system, support recovery, and aid digestion.
Produced in a Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) Certified facility in New Zealand, Athletic Greens claims to be committed to quality and transparency.
They back this claim by providing full batch manufacturing records; this means that you’ll know every stop along your supplement’s journey from where it was grown to your front door.
Additionally, Athletic Greens promises to offer a product that meets FDA guidelines, and is free of harmful chemicals and preservatives.
You can also expect a supplement that works with most dietary restrictions as their formula is free from wheat, dairy, gluten, corn, lactose, sucrose, dextrose, egg, yeast, peanuts and animal products.
Does Athletic Greens offer the nutritional support your diet is lacking?
In this review, we highlight the major ingredient categories included in this supplement, and discuss the scientific support for its safety and efficacy to help you answer this question.
The Ingredients: Do They Work?
Created to fill in the nutritional gaps that may exist in your diet, Athletic Greens is said to offer its reported benefits through the 75 ingredients included in each serving. These ingredients fall into 3 main categories:
1) Vitamins and Minerals:
Athletic Greens offers well beyond the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for most essential vitamins and minerals. These nutrients are vital for the proper functioning of your nervous and immune systems.
However, they have a role in the vast majority of biochemical reactions occurring in your body at any given moment.
Offering an insurance plan that guarantees you get the nutrients you need may be a good idea as vitamins A-E top the list of most common deficiencies in the US.
Replacing Your B Vitamins
While your B vitamins are commonly deficient in those without dietary restrictions, those that opt for plant-based nutrition are most at risk. Low levels of these nutrients can have many negative effects, ranging from dry, itchy skin to impaired mental capacity and nerve issues.
Athletic Greens can be valuable in this regard as it offers 7 B vitamins.
The folate offered in this supplement is vital for growth and development, as well as preventing birth defects.
B12 supports the development of red blood cells; deficiency is associated with anemia.
Support for the proposed energy boosting effects of B vitamins is limited, however.
Replacing Your Zinc
Zinc is an essential mineral that is found in many of the same foods that offer B vitamins. Thus, deficiency is common in those with dietary restrictions related to animal products or nut allergies. Athletic Greens offers 100% of the RDA per serving.
As zinc is involved in essential bodily functions related to protein synthesis, immune support and wound healing, deficiency leads to many unwanted effects.
A review of 7 randomized trials found that daily zinc doses ranging from 80-207mg reduced the duration of the common cold by 33-35% when compared to placebo.
A randomized trial found that 200mg of zinc daily reduced the size of foot ulceration in diabetic patients.
2. Alkaline Nutrient-Dense Superfoods, Natural Extracts, Herbs, and Antioxidants
Athletic Greens claims their blend of prebiotics, fruit, and vegetable extracts offer the amount of antioxidants that would be found in 12 servings of fruits and vegetables, well beyond federal recommendations.
These antioxidants serve to combat free radicals; these molecules cause oxidative stress that is associated with a wide variety of negative effects ranging from ageing to cancer.
You can find many ingredients that have reported antioxidant effects, as well as many others, in Athletic Greens Superfoods blend. We will highlight a couple here.
Cardiovascular disease is associated with elevations in blood lipids after a meal. Red wine may benefit this event, though support is mixed. Grapeseed extract may be another option.
Eight healthy subjects consumed fatty meals with or without 300mg of grapeseed extract; oxidative damage was 1.5x higher in those that did not receive grapeseed extract.
In 87 subjects receiving coronary bypass surgery, those randomized to receive grapeseed extract at 100mg every 6 hours had reduced oxidative stress when compared to the control group.
Alpha-Lipoic Acid (ALA)
Thought to be a powerful antioxidant, potential therapeutic roles for ALA sparked academic interests for quite some time.
Free radicals cause overproduction of S. Malondialdehyde – the presence of this molecule is an indicator of oxidative stress.
A study examined the presence of S. Malondialdehyde and ALA in 100 smokers, as compared to 100 non-smokers. In those with a history of tobacco use, S. Malondialdehyde was significantly higher, while ALA was substantially lower when compared to non-smokers.
Oxidative stress may limit Interleukin-15 (IL-15), a protein thought to play an essential role in fat loss and energy metabolism during exercise. ALA may support these roles.
Healthy and active males randomized to pre-exercise treatment with an antioxidant supplement that included 600mg of ALA, in addition to vitamins C and E, experienced an increase in IL-15 levels.
3. Probiotics and Digestive Enzymes
Probiotics are friendly gut bacteria that play a crucial role in digestion, immune support, and overall health.
Balance is important – low numbers can be cause gas or bloating, as well as increase the risk for obesity or heart disease.
Athletic Greens offers 2 probiotics per serving:
L. Acidophilus UALa and Bifidobacterium Bifidum UABb-10
L. acidophilus may relieve diarrhea and bloating, as well as support immune function. B. bifidum strains may benefit inflammation, immune support, and allergies.
Though different strains, doses, and probiotic combinations were studied, a review of 20 randomized trials found Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium strains to be associated with fewer days of illness and shorter duration of illness from acute respiratory infections.
L. Acidophilus LB reduced the duration and severity of diarrhea. A meta analysis confirmed this benefit and found that different strains had different efficacy.
Compared to placebo, stomach pain and discomfort with bowel movements was significantly better in subjects with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) randomized to receive a 2×1010 CFU mixture of probiotics that included B. bifidum BGN4 administered twice each day for 8-weeks.
Vitamin and mineral deficiency is common for all US dietary choices, though vegetarians and vegans are at a higher risk for not meeting dietary recommendations. Adequate intake is essential to support the proper functioning of the immune and nervous systems.
Athletic Greens is one way of ensuring you’re covered, as they offer more than the RDA for most of the included vitamins.
The potential benefits for antioxidant supplements remain a hot topic as they may be able to slow aging and ward off disease. Athletic Greens offers many extracts with these proposed effects.
The company does not provide the amounts for each individual ingredient included in Athletic Greens. Thus we can’t predict the efficacy based on doses used in the research currently available.
Lastly, Athletic Greens offers 2 probiotics. These friendly bacteria are well studied and support digestive, immune, and overall health.
Each strain for a given probiotic behaves differently, however. Promising results for similar strains do not guarantee the same results for those included in Athletic Greens.
Is Athletic Greens Safe?
While Athletic Greens offers 22mcg of B12, studies that included 1500mcg daily without serious adverse events. B vitamins are water soluble and easily removed through the urine.
Toxicity is, therefore, less common, though the risk is increased in those taking supplements. Reported side effects may include nausea, vomiting, and skin flushing.
Daily Zinc at more than 200mg/day (more than 10x the dose found in Athletic Greens) was not associated with adverse events, though dosing beyond 100mg is probably unnecessary. Reported side effects are typically related to digestive issues.
Probiotics behave in a strain-dependent manner. Testing is often done at doses in the order of billions, or tens of billions, CFU; serious adverse effects are rarely reported.
Athletic Greens offers comparable dosing for the combined probiotic ingredients, though they do not share the amount for each individual ingredient.
Side effects with probiotic use typically resolve on their own. Reported symptoms include stomach pain, gas, bloating, and diarrhea.
Serious side effects are rare in nutraceuticals. More often, mild digestive symptoms are reported.
Replacing nutrients that aren’t deficient (especially those that aren’t water soluble) may lead to stomach pain, cramping, and diarrhea. For this reason, consult with your doctor before using this supplement.
One pack includes thirty 12g servings; this represents a 1-month supply. Athletic Greens backs all orders with a 60-day guarantee – if you’re unsatisfied, call 1-888-390-4029 to get your money back. They also offer a Live Chat option.
Purchasing options on their website are straight-forward:
- One-Time Purchase: 1 pack at $97 + an estimated $9 for shipping
- Subscription Plan (Monthly Payment Pricing): 1 pack at $77 + an estimated $9 for shipping OR 2 packs at $147 + an estimated $9 for shipping
This supplement is not inexpensive by any means, though you do save 21-24% with a subscription plan. Don’t expect free shipping in addition to these savings, however.
Subscription is not auto-enrollment, and you can postpone or cancel at any time. With their flexible plan, you choose the delivery day and frequency. You’re also permitted to adjust these settings at any time.
Athletic Greens is also offered on Amazon – Prime members can pick up 1 pack at $97 with free shipping. Subscribing through Amazon means you’ll only save about $5/order, however.
Are There Any Alternatives?
One option would be obtaining each ingredient individually.
The vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, probiotics, etc. are all relatively easy to obtain. However, this process would almost certainly be time consuming, inconvenient, and potentially more expensive than an already costly pack of Athletic Greens.
The 75 ingredients are mostly attainable naturally, though some (B Vitamins, for example) can be challenging to obtain if you have a nut allergy, are gluten-sensitive, or follow a plant-based diet.
Ensuring you get most of what Athletic Greens offers would require selecting a variety of citrus fruits, green leafy vegetables, fermented foods, nuts, lean meats, and dairy products.
Though obtaining nutrients naturally is ideal, those who prefer convenience are unlikely to prefer the preparation component of this option.
In terms of products that offer a comprehensive nutrition supplement similar to Athletic Greens, Green Superfood from Amazing Grass provides a blend of vitamins, minerals, superfoods, and probiotics.
Priced at $23.99 per 30 serving tub, you’ll pay a fraction of the cost for Athletic Greens, though you’ll also get a fraction of the nutrients.
What Are Users Saying?
On Amazon, reviews for Athletic Greens are generally favorable. At 4.2 out of 5-stars, 65% of reviewers rate Athletic Greens at 5/5.
Reviewers that rated Athletic Greens the highest most often reported increased energy to be the most significant benefit of this product. Other positive reviews included symptom relief from IBS, reduced stomach cramping, and great taste.
One out of 5-stars ratings were about 9% of all reviews. Those that rated this product low cited negative experiences regarding lack of results, constipation that resolved after discontinued use, poor packaging, and cost.
The Bottom Line
Athletic Greens offers a nutrient-dense formula to ensure your needs are covered, regardless of your dietary restrictions. This can be of great benefit to those that refrain from consuming animal products, dairy, wheat, and nuts as some vital nutrients are only found in these food sources.
Athletic Greens offers amounts equal to or greater than the RDA for most vitamins included in the formulation; these amounts are likely effective when used as directed.
The superfood, antioxidant, and probiotic blends offer total amounts per serving, though the company does not provide details for the dosage amount of each ingredient.
Therefore, it’s challenging to describe the safety and efficacy compared to doses used in research studies. These blends are generally safe, however.
Though expensive, Athletic Greens may replace the need for utilizing a variety of different supplements; the combined use of superfood blends, vitamins, pre- and probiotics, and fiber supplements can be pricey and inconvenient when purchased separately.
Additionally, similar comprehensive supplements are available. However, they don’t seem to include as many ingredients, or as much of each, as compared to Athletic Greens.
As many of the ingredients range from 2% (sodium) to 700% (Vitamin C) of the RDA per serving, it is wise to consult a physician before use.
Supplementing nutrients that aren’t deficient may lead to unwanted side effects.
The Benefits of Greens Powders + 5 Faves From a Fitness Pro
Mrs. Fitness July 31, 2018 Sports and Fitness Email Print Twitter Pinterest Facebook
This post was most recently updated on March 9th, 2019
You’re working out hard, you’re eating right—you’ve got this whole health thing down pat. So why would you need to include a greens powder into your day?
Super greens are a hot commodity these days and for good reasons. Greens powders are packed with many healthy nutrients, some of the more common ingredients being, kale, spirulina (an algae), chlorella, wheat grass, kelp and beets.
Several benefits for athletes using a protein/greens powder duo are: they alkalize the body helping restore pH balance, aid in digestive health, improve energy, endurance, exercise performance, repair muscles, reduce appetite and they are full of antioxidants.
Greens powders are so easy and convenient to use there’s really no excuse not to have implement a daily scoop into your routine. Below are my top five favorite powders for athletes:
1. Vital Proteins Collagen Sports Greens
No need to buy extra protein powder when you can have it all in one shake. Vital Proteins not only has 26 grams of protein per serving along with amino acids but contains 10 grams collagen per serving, 28 CFU probiotics and is rich in vitamin A and hyaluronic acid. The naturally occurring amino acids in the collagen peptides help improve digestion while the collagen proteins, organic greens and organic fruits boost energy. Plus, the combo of hyaluronic acid with collagen enhances, skin, hair and nails. Blend it with juice, cold water or in smoothies.
2. GAT Sports Greens
Just one scoop of GAT Sport Greens is a great way to add fruits and vegetable into your daily diet. This powder is packed with 20 superfoods that include antioxidants, fiber, vitamins and minerals. These sport greens contain blends of juice, protein, whole foods, berry antioxidants and digestive enzymes that are good sources of phytonutrients, which alkalize and detoxify the body. Sport Greens uses a freeze-dried method to process their superfoods. Using this method guarantees minimal oxidation and loss of phytonutrient potency which helps the nutrients stay close to their natural state. Another added bonus, these greens are non-GMO and gluten-free.
3. Vega Protein & Greens
This plant-based powder offers 20 grams multisource protein and amino acid blend to help during your recovery phase. One scoop satisfies two servings of greens made from over one cup of veggies (alfalfa, spinach, broccoli and kale). Low in calories and sugar, this option is also non-GMO and gluten-free.
4. Garden of Life Organic RAW Protein & Greens™
Organic and clean is the key here! This wonderful organic plant protein is raw, vegan, dairy-free, kosher and non-GMO touting 20 grams protein and less than 1 gram sugar. With six veggies (alfalfa grass juice, spinach, kale, broccoli, carrot and beet), and the 1.5 billion live probiotics and 13 enzymes to aid with digestion, you have yourself a power shake for breakfast, post-workout or as a snack!
5. Orgain Organic Protein™ & Greens
The founder of Orgain, Dr. Andrew Abraham, believes in celebrating high standards and emphasizes that we all should live more vibrant lives through nutrition. That’s why just one serving of this protein powder supplies 15 organic spinach leaves, 1/2 cup organic kale and two organic broccoli florets along with 21 grams of an organic protein blend. Lactose-free, dairy-free, non-GMO, USDA organic and vegan means everyone can enjoy a daily shake. Just blend a scoop with almond or coconut milk, fruit and your choice of any natural nut butter and you have a healthy, nutritious meal or snack.
Inspired to put your greens powders to good use? Try this simple Super-Green Superfood Smoothie or a sweet Chocolate & Greens Detox Smoothie.
IFBB figure professional Melissa Transou, is a NASM-certified Women’s Fitness Speicalist, wife and mother. She blogs about the unique sports and nutrition needs of women and female athletes exclusively for Vitacost.com. Email her at [email protected]
IFBB figure professional Melissa Transou, is a NASM-certified Women’s Fitness Speicalist, wife and mother. She blogs about the unique sports and nutrition needs of women and female athletes exclusively for Vitacost.com. Email her at [email protected]
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The 3 Best and Worst Greens Supplements
If you want know which supplements found in greens supplements are legitimate, and which are simply veggie scraps, then you want to read this article.
- “Greens supplements” are blends of nutritious plants that are designed to supplement a diet that’s low in fruits and vegetables.
- There’s very little scientific research behind most greens supplements. Instead, people buy them because they just assume they’re good for you.
- There are a few compounds and herbs you can find in these supplements that are proven to improve your health but, for the most part, greens supplements are uninteresting and unappetizing salad replacements.
“Superfoods,” “greens supplements,” “veggie blends;” lots of ways to refer to a simple dehydrated mix of plant powder.
There’s quite a bit of confusion around these supplements, and you probably have quite a few questions yourself, such as:
Do you need to take greens supplements even if you eat veggies?
Are some greens supplements better than others, or are they all pretty much the same?
Are they as healthy as everyone seems to think?
Why do people even take them?
I personally find this category of supplements one of the most vital, yet one of the most confusing, mostly because of that last question; why would you even want to take these things?
Time and time again, many companies never offer a convincing pitch for why they’re worthwhile. I like to think optimistically but, at the end of the day, it’s likely because people are easily duped into buying things based on vague, fantastic claims of better health and more energy.
Hopefully, in this article, I can tell you a bit more about this surprisingly deceitful section of supplements and how, if you want benefits from greens supplements, the label matters and which things you should look for.
What Are Greens Supplements?
Greens supplements, also called vegetable extracts or “superfoods” (ugh), are supplements that are usually dehydrated vegetables and things similar to them.
Initially starting out as vegetables, they’ve taken on a new sort of role where many “greens supplements” are just vessels for the latest and greatest fruit or herb that people are looking for. I think recently it’s Camu camu or something like that?
They often include ingredients like…
- Fruits like acai and blueberry
- Algae like chlorella and spirulina
- Mushrooms like reishi and turkey tail
- And probiotics of the lactobacillus and acidophilus type
They also contain things that also follow the “vegetable motif” of consuming it because a smart person told you to and you don’t question them. You know, like probiotics! They’re in a lot of products and nobody really knows why you need them but everybody knows that you do need them.
That sort of thing.
Why Do People Buy Greens Supplements?
The reasons that people seek out greens supplements are pretty over the map. There is a lot of confusion about why we would want to take these supplements, if they’re necessary, if they’re worth the cost; etc.
I think this is mostly due to how we all view vegetables. We’re told to eat veggies “because they’re good for you” without any further scientific elaboration. If we’re supposed to take that on faith, and when you’re offered powdered vegetables, of course we’re gonna take that on faith as well!
To some people greens have reached a level of necessity similar to multivitamins; you don’t take them for a reason, you just take them… because.
It’s not the best state to be in but, eh, what can you do?
Beyond the consumers who take greens “because they’re green” there are a lot of places that conflate the benefits of vegetables with the benefits of these vegetable supplements.
It’s reasonable to see why. After all, these supplements are just dehydrated veggies (without the fiber) and similar stuff, but associations seen in large scale epidemiological evidence is not the same as a claim that can be applied to a powder.
For example, the fact that vegetable and fruit intake is associated with reduced all cause mortality is not really evidence that “our vegetable powder will save your life.”
Regardless, greens supplements are claimed to do everything under the sun from reducing the risk of most diseases associated with lifestyle (obesity, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease), improving immune function, reducing oxidation, and reducing the risk of cancer.
Furthermore, they seem to be relatively close to the “dark side” of supplements: the homeopaths and pseudoscientists who bring us great shame to be associated with. Due to this, greens supplements are also at times claimed to “reduce pH” or “restore REDOX balance” (do people just see acronyms and think they can plop them anywhere?).
But they’re just veggies, my brosephs and brosephinas. Veggies are nice but still…
Why Should We Use Greens Supplements?
Honestly, there’s never a reason that you need to use a greens supplement. Hell, I can’t even think of a blanket statement that would help direct you to use a greens supplement.
If you want to build muscle, use a muscle building supplement.
If you want to lose fat, use a fat loss supplement.
If you want… umm… something… use a greens supplement?
There is really no reason, outright, why we would ever want to use a greens supplement.
That is, unless, you looked at the label and said “oh cool, that’s a bunch of stuff that I want in my body for some reason or another and they all happen to be put together into one convenient supplement.”
Maybe you heard a bunch of good things about sulforaphane in broccoli extract, or about resveratrol in grapes and wine. You could go out and buy supplements containing just them but, what if there was a supplement that had many of these ingredients in it?
That is, at least in my mind, what a greens supplement is; or at least the only self-respecting thing it could be. An excuse to get some beneficial and interesting compounds into your body that you would otherwise not consume in your diet or would cost more money to buy them by themselves.
Or in short, greens supplements are just an excuse to get some goodies in your body to experiment with in the hopes of feeling a tad better.
Scientifically speaking we don’t have much evidence on “greens supplements” themselves, and formulations change too drastically from one company to the next to compare them all directly. All we can do is look at the individual components in the supplements and see how they rank up.
A greens supplement that has good doses of the best compounds? Great—that’s honest and simple and lets you get these goodies in at known doses.
A greens supplement that has a proprietary blend and hides the bioactives behind labels and filler? Wow, thanks for the deception bud, I wanted something FOR my headache not something to give me a second one.
Greens supplements are, like all supplements, only as good as the sum of their parts. This requires disclosure, a good label, and scientific support.
So, what ingredients should you be looking for?
Let’s go over the best and worst three.
The Best 3 Greens Supplements
The supplements that appear in this section are those that, while commonly seen in greens supplements and products, are just generally good things to put in your mouth. Compounds that have a low chance of being “filler” in the product.
Spirulina is my baby. Back when I first started researching it, I just assumed that anything that was green and associated with hippies was a mistake but… I was mistaken.
Spirulina is a blue-green algae that has a long history of safe use, which is weird to say since blue-green algae normally give you a slight case of a severely painful death. The toxins that blue-green algae make, microcystins, are oddly absent from spirulina and it’s produced en masse to great benefit.
Hell, it’s even been explored as a potential protein source for famine-stricken third world countries. If starved children stricken with Kwashiorkor can handle spirulina then you sure as heck can!
Supplementing spirulina is hypothesized to mimic Gilbert’s Syndrome, a genetic disorder of elevated bilirubin in the blood, which is associated with such horrible side effects such as increased longevity, lower risk of diabetes, lower risk of obesity, improved cognition during aging, and such. Oh the humanity.
But more to the point of benefits, spirulina contains a group of immunostimulants called Braun proteins and also a very interesting molecule known as C-phycocyanin. C-phycocyanin is seen as the main component of spirulina and is a bile acid mimetic. This means that we have a reason to believe that it can mimic the horrible syndrome of Gilbert that increases lifespan.
It works by inhibiting an enzyme known as NADPH oxidase which is basically the immune cell’s assault rifle against infections. You know how immune cells can kill infections? Yeah, neutrophils light them up like the fourth of July with this enzyme.
Of course, excessive firing can cause problems by hitting cells that aren’t the target so curtailing this enzyme a bit can be useful at times. The worst case scenario here, suppressing immune function, seems to be curtailed a bit by the aforementioned Braun proteins.
Now, in regards to the scientific research on spirulina…
It’s still somewhat limited. It would easily be taken by everybody if it had more robust human studies but for now we only have a handful (to be fair, a decent amount) of studies on the topic. The thing is, they all show oddly potent effects for a dietary supplement.
Here are a few examples of what happens when people take spirulina:
- Natural killer cells can be increased by up to 55%.
- It can mitigate viral infections to the same degree as Milk thistle (which is sometimes seen as the “best” liver supplement)
- There’s a 40% reduction in liver fat in three months in case studies in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
Small studies but, damn, the magnitude of those benefits are crazy.
And personally speaking, it clears my nose like rotting fish clears an elevator (large potency has been seen in studies on allergic rhinitis), and it simply makes me feel a wee bit better each and every day.
Ultimately, Spirulina contains some micronutrients and protein but also contains unique compounds that interact with the immune system. Studies are still rather preliminary but, when studied, Spirulina shows much more wide-spread promise than other herbs did in their preliminary trials. Safe and very promising.
Chlorella is a green algae that, similar to spirulina, is chock full of various nutrients. Due to its chlorophyll content it actually has evidence for removing some toxins (ex. dioxins and HCAs) from the body.
However, there’s nothing really unique about chlorella. It’s high in nutrients including magnesium and is generally quite high in chlorophyll and protein content compared to other vegetable powders, but unlike spirulina, it doesn’t have a known unique bioactive.
However, that’s not really that big of an issue in retrospect.
There are definitely times where you want to include plants that have unique and potent actions in the body to improve health but, at times, you just want an excuse to plop something in there that gives you some nice dietary minerals.
Chlorella can do this relatively well and on the cheap.
Despite being not that interesting and not having a unique bioactive compound, chlorella is relatively cheap, safe, and high in micronutrients.
Cruciferous vegetables are a group of plants that belong to the brassicaceae family of plants, also known as the Cruciferae family which led to their name. Named initially because they tend to grow their petals in a cross shape, nowadays we only know of them because broccoli is one and everybody knows broccoli is healthy.
Yeah, I’m bitter; almost as bitter as cruciferous vegetables al dente.
They’re high in healthy compounds like magnesium, vitamin C, and have some nice fermentable soluble fiber sources but that’s not the reason why they are good in green supplements; we’re talking about those delicious, unique, amazing compounds.
Please welcome: Sulforaphane and the Isothiocyanates (ft. PEITC on drums) presenting their number one hit, “Actually promising (Goodbye Cancer, my old friend).”
Jokes aside, cruciferous sources here include the classic broccoli extract but also:
- Moringa oleifera (fairly good source of sulforaphane)
- Cabbage and all its variants (like bok choy)
And while spinach is not technically considered a cruciferous vegetable, it also deserves to be mentioned here since it shares the same bioactives we’re interested in.
Any greens supplement that provides these vegetables in decent doses (10 mg of sulforaphane and/or 50+ mg of combined isothiocyanates) gets a thumbs up.
Anyways, these compounds are heralded for their benefits mostly because of how they interact with antioxidant defenses and detoxification processes in the body. By putting them in your body your natural antioxidant enzymes (such as glutathione) and detoxification enzymes in your liver are supported.
While not doing much inherently, if you were to come across some manner of toxin (perhaps in the atmosphere, or in the food supply, or perhaps you just burnt the heck out of your meat) they can assist your body in removing the toxins to a better degree than your body normally could.
When you have a good dietary intake of isothiocyanates, from the vegetables or supplements, toxins and other foreign compounds are processed more efficiently and effectively.
While you are unlikely to see any benefits in the short term, this supposed “detoxification support” effect is thought to be quite cancer preventative in the long term.
Sulforaphane has an additional anti-cancer role, and some other benefits, potentially related to its role as an HDAC inhibitor and microRNA influence, but that’s a topic for another day. For now just understand both the isothiocyanate class and sulforaphane are things you would want to get in your body.
Cruciferous vegetables, in general, are among the best vegetables to get in a greens supplement secondary to the isothiocyanates and sulforaphane that they provide.
The Worst 3 Greens Supplements
While you can find almost any vegetable under the sun in a greens supplement, there are some that keep on making appearances despite having no major benefits. These compounds, which have little promise for helping the body to any degree, are more likely than not mere “filler.”
Hemp is a term that refers to the plant cannabis sativa, which many people may know better as marijuana. The terms aren’t exactly interchangeable, though.
“Marijuana” refers to cannabis sativa that’s about to be consumed to get high, while hemp usually would refer to industrial use of the plant in textiles and such.
Of course, you could eat hemp if you want. It does indeed have nutrients and protein in it. Only one major problem though, due to regulations any hemp produced needs to be selectively bred to produce damn near no cannabinoids.
You know all the beneficial compounds in marijuana that underlie the antiinflammatory and potentially cognitive protecting effects? Yeah, they’re not in hemp. Nothing unique or interesting is in hemp, and the protein content isn’t even that impressive.
The only real reason hemp is used in some greens products is due to a low cost to include it and the association with marijuana giving it undeserved praise. It’s not completely useless as it provides some micronutrients, but it’s generally overhyped.
Non-Dark Leafy Greens
Ever heard somebody mocking lettuce for being “crunchy water”? Well, it’s sort of true when you look at the nutrition label. When it comes to micronutrition a lot of these lighter-colored leafies just don’t have much to them in terms of nutrients.
Here are some examples:
- Swiss chard
Beyond the nutrition label they do contain some nitrates which are beneficial compounds for circulation. The thing is, though, that the dose is pretty variable (likely due to growing and processing of the vegetable) and nitrates are in literally every vegetable.
But they’re super cheap and are used as filler at times. They provide next to nothing to the body, and especially nothing unique like the cruciferous veggies provide isothiocyanates, and really have no place in a greens supplement.
If your greens supplement has “Lettuce” in it as one of the major players, buy another supplement.
Light color leafy vegetables, except for those that double dip into the cruciferous vegetables (ie. cabbages), only have their redeeming value in their taste and texture. When you take that away by making it a powder they become boring and useless low-nutrient options for a green supplement. Most likely filler.
Carrot is a well known source of provitamin A, otherwise known as beta-carotene, and that’s pretty much it. It can be delicious in stews and a versatile vegetable, but carrots have never been linked to any unique health claims (the only one being a WWII lie that they improved eyesight in the dark).
This lack of praise coincides with the scientific evidence on carrots which is lackluster because they have just never been interesting.
So, why do they show up in greens supplements with relatively high frequency? They aren’t even classified as a “superfood.”
Honestly, no clue. It’s not like we have a large database of carrot studies to fall back upon.
It’s most likely a financial reason, though. Carrots are dirt cheap, which is why you’ll sometimes see them as the first ingredient on many proprietary blends (which, as I’ve covered before, means it’s the main ingredient). It’s a good way to add bulk to greens supplements.
There’s absolutely nothing impressive about carrot, carrot extract, or carrot juices that set it apart from other vegetables. It’s just a vegetable that’s cheap and doesn’t taste bitter so more likely than not, it’s being used as filler.
Are Greens Supplements Safe?
Greens supplements are, on average, quite safe. They tend to include ingredients that are subject to more stringent regulations, so on the whole, you could say they’re safer than your average supplement.
Supplements that can double dip as food products tend to have more restrictions and regulations applied to them which, from a consumer point of view, is pretty nice. Extra levels of safety.
Plus, at the end of the day, they are fruits and vegetables. If the stuff added is stuff you would otherwise eat, they’re theoretically just as safe.
There are only a few issues where greens supplements could be a problem:
- When it comes to blue-green algae, know that spirulina is the only blue-green algae that is cleared for human consumption. The other algaes of this color classification are actually toxic and not fit for human consumption, and to confirm chlorella is a “green” algae rather than blue-green.
- As these products are rich in protein, nutrients, and trace carbohydrates, so it’s reasonable to assume that they spoil faster if not properly stored. Even if you have a habit of saying “Oh, it’s only a week past expiration, it should be fine,” this is probably the group of supplements you want to risk the least.
- The more exotic the compounds included the more it should be seen as a “dietary supplement” and less like a food product.
To elaborate on that last part, greens supplements are totally safe for pregnancy/lactation if everything on the label was a household vegetable that you would otherwise consume.
Putting in bioactive levels of spirulina, foreign mushrooms like reishi, and other potent compounds may make the issue of safety during pregnancy/lactation a bit more fuzzy. It’s why we cannot confidently say that Genesis is safe during pregnancy. There’s no evidence it isn’t, but there’s no evidence it is, either.
And if the company is only throwing in the fanciest sounding Tibetan Monk Acai Acai Camu Camu berry roots, then they probably don’t care about safety as much as you’d like.
Ultimately the more “basic” greens supplements are very safe, even for pregnancy and lactation. However, when they start to get more potent (as is the case with Genesis) they are still safe for most people but it may be prudent to not use it while pregnant or lactating.
What Should I Avoid When Buying Greens Supplements?
When buying a greens supplements you should look out for three main “warning signs”:
- Proprietary blends.
- Many ingredients instead of effective ingredients.
- Bad taste.
Let’s go over each.
Proprietary blends are the scum of the industry.
They’re legal ways to avoid disclosing how much of something you give in a product in a biological field where the dose means everything.
Honestly, I don’t personally buy anything with a proprietary blend on principle, but to each their own. At the very least, if you want to get a proprietary blend, pay heed to the following advice.
According to FDA regulations, the first ingredient in the blend must be the most prominent by weight. The second one the second most prominent, etc.
So the further down the list the ingredient you want is, the more likely the blend is using filler.
If you get a proprietary blend that starts with spirulina and cruciferous sources, that’s not as bad as it could be, but if that first ingredient is carrot or lettuce then… yeah… legally that one ingredient could be 99% of the entire product and you’d never know.
Trust me on this one. If a company says they’re using a proprietary blend to “protect their industry secrets and the hidden benefits of the certain ratios they use,” it’s absolute bullshit, especially when it comes to vegetables. There’s no hidden ratio of carrot to brussel sprouts, much like the word “obfuscation,” these blends are intentional obfuscation.
Many Ingredients Instead of Effective Ingredients
Remember that, unless you’re fine with eating dehydrated kitchen scraps, there should be at least one thing in the product that’s backed by good science.
In other words, something you want to put in your mouth anyways and wouldn’t normally get in your diet to make your day to day life better.
For Genesis this is most likely spirulina, but Astragalus and reishi could also apply. The other stuff in the product? It’s not as eye-catching, but hey look at all the isothiocyanate sources.
If you get a product that has at least one major player in a good dose that’s both scientifically supported and, more importantly, actually has a serving size listed on the label, then that’s great.
If you look at the label and you don’t know what you’re getting or why you want the stuff, and are left more confused than before, then maybe pass it up. If the people who made the product can’t even do a decent job bragging about one ingredient, they they probably don’t have any grounds to brag about the other 30+ ingredients.
And seriously, there’s no damn reason for a vegetable supplement to have a list of over 20 to 30 different vegetable compounds and brag about a “more is better” approach to this stuff.
Regardless of how many plants are in there, a 20 gram serving is still 20 grams, and the more stuff you have to cram in there, the lower amount of any single ingredient you get. In other words, it’s much better to get a large dose or several highly effective ingredients than baby doses of 30 mediocre or useless ones.
Warning Sign #3
Most greens supplements have to be taken in large doses.
That means that a) they’re usually powders that you can taste, and b) if they taste awful, you won’t keep taking them.
It’s a major reason why “superfruit” supplements came onto the scene. They may be less beneficial without some of the greens but, hey, they taste like a nice berry mix that pairs well with vanilla protein powder.
For greens supplements, check out user reviews and see what people think of the taste. If you’re reviewing a product yourself, don’t forget to mention whether or not it was a struggle to get it down! Such feedback is greatly appreciated (and something we take into consideration with Genesis which, honestly, tastes pretty good).
The Bottom Line on Greens Supplements
At the end of the day you don’t need greens supplements.
You can get all of the vitamins, minerals, and other micronutrients you need by eating a healthy diet.
Furthermore, you should never take a greens supplement “just because.” Don’t fall into the trap that leads so many people to take multivitamins without knowing why.
That said, if you’re restricting your calorie intake for weight loss, and want to patch any holes that might appear in your diet, or you just want to ensure that you’re doing everything you can to feel vibrant, stay healthy, and avoid disease, then a greens supplement may help.
Should you decide to take one, look at the label carefully. If it’s from a brand you trust and the ingredients tick all of the right boxes, then go ahead and buy it.
Many greens supplements prey on people who don’t question their worthless ingredients and products chock full of filler, so don’t be one of them.
If you’re looking for a greens supplement, that’s far more than just another boring blend of fruit and vegetable powders, then you want to try Genesis.
It’s a unique combination of greens, superfoods, adaptogens, herbs, and other phytonutrients that are proven to increase immunity, heart and circulatory health, energy levels, libido, mood, and more.
For example, it contains clinically effective doses of spirulina, reishi mushroom, moringa, and maca, as well as several others that confer a variety of desirable health and performance effects but aren’t exactly easy to work into your diet without supplementation.
Genesis is also naturally sweetened and flavored and contains no artificial food dyes, fillers, or other unnecessary junk.
So, if you want to be healthier, feel better, train harder, and increase immunity and longevity, then you want to try Genesis today.
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