Athletic Greens Review: Why We're Unimpressed

Athletic Greens Review: Why We're Unimpressed


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Athletic Greens is a popular health brand that sells a green powder supplement called AG1 touted by health and fitness influencers like Joe Rogan and Andrew Huberman. The brand describes their product as "comprehensive nutrition and gut health support in one scoop."

But is Athletic Greens actually healthier than cheaper green powders or is it a waste of money? Does it contain any questionable additive ingredients? How do real users rate the taste and health effects? And is it likely to cause side effects?

In this article we'll answer all of these questions and more as we analyze every ingredient in Athletic Greens to give our take on whether it's really worth the money and if it contains any questionable additives.

We'll share our experience using AG1 for a month, give our take on whether the supplement may cause side effects, compare it to cheaper green powder brands and provide a cost comparison featuring the retailer that sells AG1 for the best price.

Ingredient Analysis

Athletic Greens ingredients

AG1 contains 75 ingredients, which makes its Nutrition Facts label too large to even share in this review.

Vitamins and minerals are included in a blend, and it may be illogical to take supplemental vitamins and minerals without evidence of deficiency in those vitamins and minerals.

A medical review published in the International Journal of Preventative Medicine analyzed clinical trials on multivitamin use and found they had no health benefit, and may slightly increase the risk of certain types of cancer.

In 2020 and 2021, another wellness shake brand called Isagenix had to recall its products from the market because the added vitamins were causing toxicity in some consumers. 

Superfood Complex provides a wide range of different plant compounds. Medical studies suggest that consuming a wide variety of plants can optimize gut health. Many of the plants in AG1's Superfood Complex have research backing for specific health benefits.

Spirulina is a good example, as it was shown in a 2017 clinical trial to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and gut-restoring properties.

Wheat grass powder was shown in a medical review published in the Journal of Food Science to contain various minerals, enzymes and phytochemicals that contribute positively to human health. The study authors concluded that wheat grass is an optimal ingredient for "nourishing human health."

The probiotic strain selections made by Athletic Greens are somewhat strange to us.

We can’t locate a single clinical trial suggesting that Bifidobacterium bifidum strain UABb-10 has any proven health benefit. Strain Bb-12 seems to be much better-studied.

The only clinical trial we could find on Lactobacillus acidophilus strain UALa-01 was a test tube study suggesting the probiotic may “inhibit cell invasion by enterovirulent bacteria,” which may be a good thing but likely isn't a major consideration of green powder customers.

While AG1 contains a number of research-backed plant ingredients for optimizing health, it also contains two additive ingredients that may be questionable from a health perspective.

Citric acid is a flavor enhancer and preservative that we recommend avoiding because it's been associated with inflammatory reactions in a small subset of individuals, as we documented in our Juice Plus reviews article on another supplement containing this ingredient.

Natural flavor is a broad term that fails to describe the specific chemical compounds used, and there are documented toxicity concerns regarding some flavoring compounds.

Overall, we consider AG1 likely to support gut health and nutritional status as the brand claims.

However, we don't currently recommend the supplement due to the additive ingredients.

But how do real users respond to AG1? We'll share our experience using the supplement and feature unsponsored user reviews from influencers in the next two sections of this article.

We Tried AG1 – Our Experience

Athletic Greens UGC

As one of the authors of this article (Calloway), I wanted to purchase and try AG1 myself for 30 days to give my take on whether it's worth the money.

I didn't notice any physical or mental benefits, but this was what I expected since I already eat a healthy diet and this product is marketed like a multivitamin to ensure proper nutrition and fill any nutritional gaps.

One of my main complaints is that the powder does not mix well, as shown in the above image that was taken after shaking the bottle multiple times. It tends to clump which is annoying as a consumer.

The taste of the product was pleasant and more mild than most supplements I've tried containing natural flavors.

It was extremely annoying to have to pay for shipping on an order that cost over $100.

I would not personally purchase this product again because I avoid supplements with added vitamins and minerals and I consider the price too high. I'd rather just buy whole fruits and vegetables.

Real, Unsponsored AG1 User Reviews

One of the most popular reviews of Athletic Greens comes from a YouTube creator called "Chase the Summit." The video has over 450,000 views:

A YouTube creator named "Hybrid Calisthenics" reviewed AG1 after trying the supplement for three months:

Should I Take Athletic Greens When Fasting?

Whether or not to use Athletic Greens when fasting depends on the goal of the fast.

If the goal is to promote longevity or other health benefits that involve cellular repair mechanisms, it probably doesn't make sense to use Athletic Greens during a fast.

This is because AG1 contains 50 calories, 6 grams (g) of carbohydrates and 2 g of protein per serving. This is enough to break a fast.

As documented in a medical review published in the Nature Aging journal, some of the therapeutic benefits of fasting require zero or insignificant calories to be consumed so that the body can focus on cellular repair and cell protection.

If the goal of the fast is less outcome-based and is more experience-based (some people feel lighter and more energetic while fasting), then AG1 may be a good supplement to take during the fast.

AG1 will provide substantial nutrition while being low-calorie enough to maintain the experiential benefits of fasting.

Does Athletic Greens Cause Side Effects?

Consumers are often curious about whether "superfood" supplements like Athletic Greens are likely to cause side effects.

This supplement does not appear to have been tested in any clinical trials, which makes it challenging to say for certain whether or not it causes side effects. However, we can make an educated guess based on its ingredients.

We do not consider Athletic Greens likely to cause side effects in otherwise healthy adults. The product is a blend of plants, vitamins and probiotics. The probiotic dose is relatively low, which reduces the risk of gastrointestinal side effects like gas or bloating.

When reviewing online customer reviews while researching this article, we did not come across very many claims of side effects.

Where to Buy AG1 for the Best Price

AG1 is only sold on Amazon and on the brand's website. Here's a price breakdown at the time of updating this article:

Amazon: $134.99 (free shipping, third-party seller, link)

Brand website: $79 (plus shipping, link)

Even taking into account the shipping fee, AG1 is currently around 33% cheaper on the brand's website than on Amazon. The Amazon listing is from a third-party seller which may increase the risk of counterfeit product.

The price of AG1 has dropped $20 since initially publishing this article.

Athletic Greens vs. Beyond Greens

One of the most popular green powders on the market is called Beyond Greens, so consumers are often curious about which product is a better option.

As we highlighted in our Live Conscious reviews article (on Beyond Greens' manufacturer), Beyond Greens contains natural flavor but is free of added vitamins and minerals and citric acid.

Beyond Greens costs only $39.99 while AG1 costs $79.

While we don't recommend either product, we would recommend Beyond Greens over Athletic Greens due to its superior inactive ingredient profile and its substantially lower cost.

Real Customers Review AG1

Amazon is a better resource for honest customer reviews than a brand's website in our opinion.

AG1 has been reviewed over 3,000 times on Amazon and currently has an average review rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars.

The top positive review from a verified purchaser comes from a user named "Ginger Lily" who claims the product tastes good and is a convenient way to improve nutrition:

"I was skeptical about Athletic Greens, first because of the price and second because I felt it really would not be any different, however the many positive reviews made me go for it. All I can say is that I was pleasantly surprised. The taste is almost creamy in texture and you can taste the slight undertone of the good healthy chocolate that they use. It has absolutely no grassy taste. I also love the fact that I need to add nothing to it (like protein powders), so this has made it great for me to take to work." 

The top negative review from a verified purchaser is written by a user named "SNS" who shares concerns over potential toxicity related to some of the ingredients:

"Stay Away from this product - Since their product contains Spirulina - I called Athletic Greens several times to see if they analyze their product for heavy metals (mercury, arsenic, lead) which can occur in Spirulina especially if sourced from China and also if they analyzed Microcystin content which can cause liver Toxicity. Athletic Greens could never give me an answer or report - there was a lot of stone walling. Since they are so reluctant to respond, I dont think they are analyzing their product for these toxins."

Our Clean Green Powder Picks

Complement Daily Greens is our top green powder pick.

This greens powder is extremely nutrient-dense without any added vitamins, providing 50% of the iron Daily Value (DV), 46% of the chromium DV and 35% of the vitamin A DV in one serving.

This powder uses organic stevia leaf extract and organic natural flavors to add flavoring, which meets our formulation standard given that organic natural flavors provide a higher standard of ingredient safety in our opinion than natural flavors or artificial flavors according to USDA flavoring guidelines.

Interested consumers can check out Complement Daily Greens at this link, where the product costs only $49 for a one-time purchase.

Green tea is a nutritionally-rich green powder that's shown in a 2006 medical review to have a number of health benefits, including:

"anti-hypertensive effect, body weight control, antibacterial and antivirasic activity, solar ultraviolet protection, bone mineral density increase, anti-fibrotic properties, and neuroprotective power."

Pique Japanese Sencha Green Tea is our top brand pick, because it only has one ingredient (organic green tea), is packaged in a convenient stick pack so it can be mixed into water and doesn't need to be prepared, and only costs $16. 

Interested consumers can check out Pique Japanese Sencha Green Tea at this link to the product page on the official brand's website.

Athletic Greens Pros and Cons

Here's our take on the pros and cons of Athletic Greens AG1.

Pros:

  • Contains wide variety of plants
  • Supports optimal gut health
  • Contains probiotics
  • No added sugar or artificial flavors
  • Environmentally-friendly packaging
  • Brand recently reduced pricing

Cons:

  • Contains citric acid
  • Contains natural flavor
  • Contains added vitamins and minerals
  • Expensive
  • Doesn't appear clinically tested
  • Shipping fees on brand website purchases
Stay up-to-date on our research reviews

Conclusion

Overall, we're somewhat disappointed in AG1's formulation given the hype and the price.

This supplement does contain a large number of plant ingredients and probiotics, and makes eating greens convenient, so it may be a good option for consumers who would otherwise avoid eating whole fruits and vegetables.

That being said, Athletic Greens is around 2x the price of most greens powders we've reviewed on Illuminate Health, and we don't consider it to be nutritionally superior to those products.

AG1 contains several ingredients that may be questionable from a health perspective like citric acid, natural flavors and added vitamins and minerals.

The green powder contains enough calories to break a fast, so it may be better for those fasting to take it with the first meal of the day.

For consumers interested in purchasing AG1, the best price can be had on the Athletic Greens website, which we've linked to in this article.