According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only 12% of US adults are getting the daily amount of fruits & vegetables that they need in their diets. Knowing how critical the correct amounts of the right nutrients are to living a healthy life, it’s great to see the growing popularity of Athletic Greens (now re-branded as AG1). While Athletic Greens is the most popular greens supplement in the world at the moment, it’s not quite for everyone.
Because we would like to see as many people as possible taking greens supplements to get the adequate (and then some) amounts of nutrients that they need in their daily diets, we are going to use this article to walk through some of the great (and great tasting) alternatives to Athletic Greens. We also don’t want to waste any time on moving you into a healthier lifestyle, so let’s get started!
Why Look for an Alternative?
Whether it was the marketing campaigns, celebrity endorsements, or ads running on The Joe Rogan Experience, something about Athletic Greens finally convinced an enormous number of people to be concerned enough about their health to begin taking greens supplements, and for that we applaud them.
But there are a few places in which Athletic Greens may not be the best greens supplement for people that is currently on the market, although it may be the most popular. To begin with, those marketing campaigns and celebrity endorsements are not free, which is perhaps one of the reasons that Athletic Greens is also the most expensive greens supplement currently available. At nearly $100 per bag, which breaks down to about $3 per scoop, and $1160 per year if you make it a part of your daily diet, the cost puts it out of reach for some.
It’s true that if you were to go buy all of the ingredients that are contained in Athletic Greens, it would cost you far more than $100 per bag – it may even cost more than $100 on a single grocery store trip! But therein lies part of the problem: while Athletic Greens does contain a lot of great things, it has some ingredients that people may not want, care about, or be able to consume, and also leaves some pretty important ingredients out.
To that point, while Athletic Greens does show you how much of the standard nutrients and ingredients are contained in their greens supplement along with their percentage of your daily recommended doses, the main part of this product is comprised of “proprietary formulas” which they call complexes. They do list the total mg makeup of the complex, but consumers have no idea how much of the ingredients actually make up these complexes (which are arguably the most important part of the entire mix).
Another great addition that Athletic Greens contains is probiotics, but they are a tad lacking if we are being honest. Probiotics are important to those who want to stay in optimal health, especially women. People on western diets are starting to have quite a few digestive issues like leaky gut, and probiotics are one way to help that. Females may find the right probiotic supplements to be the most beneficial, as these probiotics can help ensure their flora & fauna stays at the optimal levels.
While Athletic Greens does contain probiotics, they only contain one strain of probiotics and only 7.2 billion CFUs of that one strain. While this may sound like a lot and a huge benefit to those who don’t know very much about probiotics, we found other companies like Vibrant Health whose Green Vibrance greens supplement contains 25 billion CFUs from twelve different strains of probiotics.
Finally, those who are in the market for greens supplements to help them achieve optimal health are also the type who exercise often and are more likely than not to drink protein shakes as well. Most people would prefer a “one-stop-shop” supplement rather than having to drink multiple shakes a day, and if you are expecting that from Athletic Greens you will be sorely mistaken.
The Athletic Greens supplement only includes 2g of protein, which means that it’s hardly enough to add any of the protein levels that are essential for an active person. Maximum Vibrance by Vibrant Health, however, contains 20g of plant-based, vegan-friendly, dairy & soy-free, and Non-GMO protein to your daily diet.
What Makes a Good Green Foods Supplement
Green foods supplements are touted as “providing all of your daily needed greens,” which means people will typically expect these supplements to provide everything that they need in their diet to be healthy. While many are good, there are some vital nutrients, minerals, and additional benefits that you should always look for in a greens supplement that you are considering.
Did you know that most of our immune system actually resides within our gut (about 75-80%)? Billions of bacteria reside within our gut and intestines, where they are in a constant state of battle with “bad” bacteria that will make us sick (or worse) if they are allowed to proliferate to high enough levels. Probiotics help to supplement our flora of bacteria that reside within our gut with plenty of “good” bacteria. This helps by keeping our gut and intestines within a certain pH balance that makes it difficult for the “bad” bacteria and other microbes to grow. Some studies have shown that probiotics may actually latch on to bad bacteria, and potentially even cancer cells, to help our body fend off the bad stuff.
Spirulina may be one of the oldest living organisms on the planet and was considered a superfood by the Aztecs. Brought into popularity in our modern culture when NASA began looking at these algae that grow in both salt and freshwater, phycocyanin (the plant pigment that gives spirulina its color) is an extremely powerful source of antioxidants, pain relief, anti-inflammatory, and brain-protective properties. Spirulina contains Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, protein, vitamin B1, B2, B3, copper, iron, magnesium, potassium, manganese, and small amounts of nearly every other nutrient that you need.
Another superfood that can assist with attaining optimal health, wheatgrass comes from the newly sprouted (7-10 days after planting) leaves of Triticum aestivum, the common wheat plant. With all of the gluten sensitivities that have entered our society of late, it is easy for many of us to shun all things wheat, but it’s important to differentiate that wheatgrass is not the same thing, and does not contain gluten.
Wheatgrass contains antioxidant, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties. It helps your body to eliminate toxins, aids your digestion, boosts your metabolism, helps to lower your cholesterol, boosts your immune system, and can help your body fight off cancer.
L-Glutamine is a building block of protein, and so it is often only associated with the exercise crowd and bodybuilders as a way to add muscle. Recent studies have shown, however, that this essential amino acid is also an important tool that can help in muscle recovery, our immune system, burn victims, brain health, intestinal health, heart health, and digestion.
Whether you exercise a lot or not, the human body needs a certain amount of protein on a daily basis. Protein supplementation aids muscle recovery after strenuous workouts, which is why you will see people who frequent the gym with protein shakers wherever they go, but we all need protein whether we fit into that group or not. Protein also helps you feel fuller longer, so if your diet is lacking protein, a daily supplement with protein may help prevent the frequent snacking that you find yourself partaking in between meals.
Cardiologists have been warning that the meat-heavy western diet may be the cause of the rapid increase in weight gain, heart disease, and other issues that have been plaguing our society of late. This is the focus of the documentary Forks Over Knives, which investigates the potential of diets with less or no meat and the possible health effects. If your body does not receive enough protein from your daily diet, it will begin to sap what it needs from other bodily systems, like your muscles. To prevent this, a good greens supplement that includes plenty of plant-based protein can provide enough protein without worrying about potential damage.
The biggest issue that most doctors and dieticians have with drink-based diets is that they lack one of the main things that nature provides in fruits and vegetables that allow us to fully absorb the nutrients that they contain: fiber. While some people may see the pulp of fruit juice as unpleasant, it is also the part of the fruit that allows our body to actually benefit from the things other than sugar that the juice contains.
Most westerners do not have enough fiber in their diets as it is, which just adds more reason that you want to find a good greens supplement that contains enough fiber to allow your body to take advantage of the goodness within it.
The Top Athletic Greens Alternatives
Now that we’ve covered what you should be looking for in a good greens supplement, and the places in which Athletic Greens may be lacking, let’s go through some of the best examples of Athletic Greens alternatives that we found available on the market today.
The Best Overall Greens Supplement
Out of all of the greens supplements that we looked at as alternatives to Athletic Greens, Green Vibrance by Vibrant Health was the only one that contained nearly everything that we were looking for, in more than adequate amounts for your daily health. With 25 billion CFUs of probiotics from 12 different strains, wheatgrass & other cereal grasses, spirulina, antioxidants, plenty of fiber, L-glutamine, and 2730mg of plant-based nutrition, this Non-GMO certified, gluten, soy, and dairy-free vegan-friendly supplement has everything you need.
Best Greens Supplement with Plant-Based Protein
Literally, the only ingredient that we wish Green Vibrance had more of is protein, but the Maximum Vibrance greens supplement from the same company (Vibrant Health) includes 20g of plant-based protein along with all of the other ingredients that put Green Vibrance at the top of our list. If you are looking for the best greens supplement that you can find, an alternative to Athletic Greens and you want it to include as much plant-based protein as athletic shakes do, this is the product for you. Maximum Vibrance is also available in a variety of flavors like chocolate, chocolate coconut, and vanilla for you to choose from.
Best for Beauty
Our physical form and beauty are a physiological representation of our overall health, as a way for our body to signal to others of the opposite sex that we are good partners for mating (people tend to forget that under all of it we are just mammals). Different greens supplements will each contain a massive amount of nutrients from fruits & vegetables, but the additional ingredients will differ. While Vibrant Health greens supplements focus on things like probiotics, protein, or spirulina, WellCo focuses on ingredients that help to assist you in maintaining radiant, youthful beauty. If you want an alternative to Athletic Greens that can also help with your complexion, hair, nails, and physical appearance, this may be the greens supplement that you’ve been looking for.
Best for Taste
Let’s face it: sometimes healthy food really, really, really tastes like health food. Some of us prefer that taste, and the comments on many greens supplements that serve as great alternatives to Athletic Greens will allude to the fact that some customers want their greens supplements to taste natural or earthy. Not everyone prefers to taste the wheatgrass or spirulina in their shakes, however, and if that describes you then Nested Naturals may have just the shake that you are looking for. Nested Naturals has nearly all of the ingredients that we’ve listed as important for a good Athletic Greens alternative, although in lower amounts than the Vibrant Health options. They do have plenty of iodine, however, which is critical to optimal thyroid health (and most Americans don’t get enough iodine). This product is vegan, Non-GMO, and USDA certified 100% organic.
The CDC has stated that only 12% of Americans are getting their daily needed nutrition, which is a major issue and means that over 80% of us have an insufficient diet. Whether it’s the cost, time, or distaste for healthy food that has us lacking, this is a serious issue that we all need to fix (well, 88% of us at least).
Athletic Greens is the most popular greens supplement on the market today, but still leaves some things to be desired based on their price, hidden ingredient mixtures, lack of protein, and lack of probiotics. The greens supplements on the list above will all serve as excellent alternatives to Athletic Greens to add to your daily diet. No matter which you pick, any of them will help you supercharge your nutrient intake and have you on the road to optimal health (and that top 12% of healthy people) in no time!