Updated: Aug 22
Searching for the truth about green powders and drinks? Find out here if supplements like Athletic Greens are worth trying, or if you should stick to eating your greens instead of sipping them.
If you’ve been on social media or listened to a podcast lately, it’s hard to escape companies like Athletic Greens. Green powders and drinks seem all the rage lately, with influencers claiming that this once-a-day habit has changed their health. However, do green powders and green drinks really work to decrease symptoms like bloating?
Keep reading to find out the truth about green powders and drinks, and what to be wary of if you choose to try them.
Disclaimer: This post includesaffiliate links, which may provide me a small commission for each sale. This allows me to keep providing helpful resources (such as this post). All opinions expressed are my own. All deals listed are limited time offers.
What are green powders and drinks?
Green powders, sometimes called “supergreens” or powdered greens, are powders made from various green foods (i.e. broccoli, spinach, or apple). Usually, these powders contain a variety of fruits and vegetables, along with some sort of flavoring to make them more pleasant to consume (such as in a drink form). However, some green powders contain added sugar or additives that can decrease the overall nutritional value.
Some popular brands offering green powders include:
Bloom (Greens & Superfoods)
Clean Simple Eats (Greens)
Live Conscious (Beyond Greens)
Vital Proteins (Collagen Beauty Greens)
Like most supplements, green powders vary greatly from one brand to another. To make matters more complicated, many brands publish health claims that aren’t supported by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This can make it hard to tell fact from fiction when shopping for a product.
Plus, many of these products claim to make life simpler while also having an ingredients list that ranges from 25-75 different plant-based ingredients (not to mention vitamins and minerals). Unless you have a dietitian on hand, it can be hard to decipher what each product contains when comparing one product to another.
Do Green Powders Work According to Research?
From intestinal health to immune health, do green powders really do all they claim to do?
When It Comes to Weight Loss…
In 2009, researchers conducted a study on a vegetable supplement drinks from a company called NanoGreens. After taking this supplement for 90 days, participants in the study had reduced blood pressure. However, there was no significant effect on body weight.
Since fruits and vegetables generally contain a higher antioxidant content, it may be possible that a concentrated form of these foods (like a green powder) can help introduce more antioxidants into the diet. More fruits and vegetables in the diet can ultimately help reduce your risk for chronic diseases, but it’s currently uncertain whether green powder can affect body weight.
Can Green Powders Control Bloating?
Some popular green powders on the market contain probiotics, which are known to support better digestion and gut health. On the other hand, green powders can contain natural sweeteners and other additives and ingredients irritating to those with a sensitive stomach and gut.
In other words, green powders may improve or worsen bloating based on your individual health status. For some people, an increase of greens in the diet may be just the key to slightly improving their digestive symptoms. For others, certain ingredients could cause inflammation and increase the amount of bloating they experience.
Method of Preparation May Be A Factor
Although somewhat outdated, a study conducted in the year 2000 still presents some valid points. It proposed that the method of preparation may factor into a green powder’s nutritional value.
Exposure to heat during the manufacturing process can alter a green powder’s nutrition significantly. For example, according to the above listed study, “cabinet-dried powders had better nutritive value than the sun-dried ones.” When looking for a green powder, it’s important to consider the type of processing involved, and whether those methods are adding or subtracting nutrients from the end product (the one you’re consuming).
More Research Is Needed
A recent study on mice models showed some promise concerning vegetable powders, although the results differed based on the type of vegetable powder consumed. It also warrants mentioning that mice are different from humans, so these results don’t directly translate into dietary tips for human lifestyles.
However, this study suggested that certain green powders (made from freeze-dried vegetables) may modulate immune health and the intestinal microbiome. Again, this study was conducted in animals, meaning we have a long way to go before establishing the benefits of green powders for human health.
Pros & Cons Of Green Powders
Here are a couple points to consider before purchasing powdered greens.
Turning vegetables into powders may be a method that reduces food waste, since “less attractive”, perishable produce can be converted into powder.
May be a way to make widely consumed products, like pastries from a bakery or pastas, more nutritious.
Some green powders contain probiotics, which may support better gut health and digestion.
Regularly purchasing these powders can become expensive.
Some powders contain caffeine or stimulants that can alter energy levels and affect sleep in a negative way.
Since fiber usually resides in places like the peel of a vegetable, concentrated powders aren’t always the best source of fiber.
Some green powder ingredients (i.e. chicory root) may cause digestive discomfort for those following a low-FODMAP diet or prone to intestinal issues.
Some powders may not be suitable for people who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
What To Look For On The Label
When available, look for a product that is third-party tested. This means that the product has been tested for purity and safety in a lab separate from the company that has produced the product. Especially when shopping for supplements to address a certain diagnosis or symptom, third-party testing is important.
Check for absolutes, too! Claims that include words like “100% effective” or “never any side effects” are red flags. In fact, these claims likely mean that these products are not entirely safe or effective.
Additionally, as with any other food or beverage you consume, it’s useful to check the ingredients list. Double check amounts, serving sizes, and any other information that seems relevant. Since green powders aren’t standardized, serving sizes may differ from “1 Tbsp” to “1 scoop” or “2 scoops”.
A Diet Tech’s Top Pick
As a diet technician, I generally recommend a “foods first” approach. When people ask me about green powders, I’ll ask them a question back: “How often do you consume fruits and vegetables?”
However, I understand people can’t always consume these foods straight from the source. Green powders can be convenient when traveling, easy to mix into a smoothie, and perfect for picky eaters who hate the taste of vegetables.
If you struggle to get enough servings of fruits and vegetables in a day, I would first suggest meeting with a dietitian. If green powders seem like a good fit for you, I would recommend Micro Ingredients. All of their ingredients come with USA lab test reports and their products are packed in a FDA registered manufacturing facility. Plus, they have organic options available.
Don’t know where to start? Try these:
The Bottom Line On Green Powders & Drinks
Similar to other supplements, green powders are by no means a miraculous cure. They can’t offset an otherwise bad diet, but may marginally improve your health when combined with a well-balanced diet and lifestyle. Be sure to become label-literate as you look for different options, and don’t forget to ask a dietitian if you have any questions about ingredients (although most will recommend a “food first” approach).
Largeman-Roth F. Are powdered greens a good substitute for vegetables? A dietitian weighs in. Today.com. Published June 2022.
Ligos L. Should You Take A Greens Powder? Thesassydietitian.com. Published January 2021.
Salehi F, Aghajanzadeh S. Effect of dried fruits and vegetable powder on cakes quality: A review. Trends Food Sci Technol. 2020;95:162-172.
Sharp A. Are Powdered Greens Good For You? Abbeyskitchen.com. Published April 2022.
Sobota A, Wirkijowska A, Zarzycki P. Application of vegetable concentrates and powders in coloured pasta production. Int J Food Sci Technol. 2020;55(6): 2677-2687.
Ying D, Sanguansri L, Cheng L, Augustin MA. Nutrient-Dense Shelf-Stable Vegetable Powders and Extruded Snacks Made from Carrots and Broccoli. Foods. 2021;10(10):2298.