Athletic Greens’ AG1 is a greens supplement hailed by many as an elixir of wellness.
Despite a slew of celebrity endorsements and heaps of positive user reviews, however, not everyone is sold.
Some shrewd commentators have questioned its formulation, ingredients, and price tag, leading many to wonder whether Athletics Greens is worth it.
In this article, you’ll learn what AG1 is, AG1’s ingredients, why it’s so heavily hyped, whether it’s a good product for you or if an Athletic Greens alternative would be better, and more.
AG1 (formerly called Athletic Greens) is a type of dietary supplement known as a “greens supplement.”
Greens supplements typically contain:
- Powdered forms of vegetables like leafy greens, broccoli, and beets
- Fruit such as blueberries, raspberries, and goji
- Other nutrient-dense ingredients like seaweed, probiotic blends, and plant-based digestive enzymes
AG1 greens supplement contains 75 ingredients grouped into 5 categories:
- Vitamins and minerals
- A “Superfood Complex” (containing various organic ingredients and plant-based compounds)
- A “Mushroom Complex” (containing reishi mushroom powder and shiitake mushroom powder)
- Dairy-free probiotics
- Herb and plant extracts
The powder is vegetarian, vegan, and keto friendly. It’s also free from GMOs, gluten, dairy, corn, egg, peanuts, lactose, sucrose, animal byproducts, herbicides or pesticides, artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, or sweeteners.
Athletic Greens, AG1’s manufacturer, claims taking AG1 daily fills nutritional gaps in your diet, promotes gut health, supports whole-body vitality, and boosts immune function, energy levels, and recovery.
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One serving (12 grams) of AG1 contains the following vitamins and minerals:
- Vitamin A: 62% of the Daily Value (DV)
- Vitamin C: 467% DV
- Vitamin E: 553% DV
- Thiamine (vitamin B1): 250% DV
- Riboflavin (vitamin B2): 154% DV
- Niacin (vitamin B3): 125% DV
- Vitamin B6: 176% DV
- Folate: 170% DV
- Vitamin B12: 917% DV
- Biotin: 1,100% DV
- Pantothenic acid: 80% DV
- Calcium: 9% DV
- Phosphorus: 10% DV
- Magnesium: 6% DV
- Zinc: 136% DV
- Selenium: 36% DV
- Copper: 22% DV
- Manganese: 17% DV
- Chromium: 71% DV
- Sodium: 2% DV
- Potassium: 6% DV
For the remaining ingredients, Athletic Greens uses a “proprietary blend” or “complex.”
A proprietary blend is a unique mix of ingredients that a particular supplement manufacturer uses.
In the ingredients panel of a supplement containing a proprietary blend, manufacturers list the individual components of the mixture but don’t disclose how much of each ingredient they include.
Manufacturers often say they use proprietary blends to keep competitors from replicating their formulas.
Many savvy consumers doubt this reasoning.
Most see proprietary formulations as a way for manufacturers to obfuscate what their supplements contain. Doing so allows them to underdose expensive ingredients and pad out their formulations with cheap, ineffective ones.
While we can’t say for certain that Athletic Greens is guilty of this misdirection, there are reasons to be suspicious.
Athletic Greens is a US-based company, which means it must adhere to FDA regulations. One such regulation stipulates that companies must list ingredients in order of “percentage of the Daily Value” or by weight.
Since Athletic Greens doesn’t list the ingredients by percentage of Daily Value, we can infer they list the ingredients by weight, starting with the most abundant.
The first ingredient on AG1’s ingredients list is spirulina, which means AG1 contains more spirulina than any other ingredient.
Spirulina is highly nutritious and confers numerous health benefits, but you have to take 5-to-10 grams to get these effects.
Assuming AG1 contains 5 grams, which is the minimum amount it could contain and still be beneficial, almost half of each serving is spirulina, greatly reducing the room for the other 40+ ingredients in each serving. If it contains more than this, the doses of its other ingredients will be even smaller.
Thus, either AG1 contains enough spirulina but skimps on the rest, or it doesn’t contain enough spirulina to boost health.
The following three ingredients listed are lecithin, alkaline pea protein isolate, and apple powder.
Lecithin may aid digestion in people with digestive disorders, and apple powder may have antioxidant effects, but neither is particularly potent health-wise. And while pea protein is a good supplement, taking just a few grams will do next-to-nothing to boost well-being. Yet, these are some of the most amply dosed ingredients in AG1.
Fifth on the list is inulin, a form of fiber.
We know from the ingredients panel that each serving of AG1 contains a total of 2 grams of fiber, which is a decent indicator that AG1 contains around 2 grams of inulin.
Hypothetically, if AG1 also contains 2 grams of each ingredient preceding inulin, then these five ingredients take up approximately 10 grams of each 12-gram serving. This leaves a meager 2 grams for the remaining ingredients.
When you factor in the sweeteners, flavorings, and anti-caking agents that make AG1 palatable but confer no health benefits, it’s safe to assume that many of AG1’s most appealing ingredients, like rhodiola rosea, ashwagandha, and bifidobacteria, are severely underdosed.
This is a very conservative estimate, too. Realistically, the first 4 ingredients likely account for more than 10 grams per serving, leaving even less room for the remaining ingredients.
In other words, AG1 boasts a long and impressive list of ingredients, many of which enhance well-being when consumed in large enough doses. These compounds make Athletic Greens’ ingredients list look compelling.
However, close inspection reveals that it’s almost impossible for AG1 to contain effective doses of most, if not all, of these ingredients, raising questions about AG1’s overall efficacy.
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Many notable podcasters and social media influencers endorse AG1 as a top-tier greens supplement. According to them, it’s uniquely capable of optimizing your health and plugging any nutritional gaps in your diet.
This raises the question: why do so many “experts” promote a suboptimal product?
Two likely reasons.
First, Athletic Greens are almost certainly paying influencers handsomely to cosign AG1.
For example, Athletic Greens pays affiliates a 30% commission per sale. Some major podcasts that recommend AG1 get around 1 million downloads per episode. If just 0.001% of their listeners bought AG1, these podcasters would make about $30,000 per episode in commissions.
If they broadcast weekly, yearly earnings could surpass $1.5 million. In other words, they have a significant financial incentive to back AG1, regardless of how good it is.
Second, most of these people are experts in their domain, but few, if any, are registered dietitians or experts in nutrition. As such, they probably haven’t researched AG1 themselves and instead parrot Athletic Greens’ marketing material.
Most AG1 reviews online are positive, with many users reporting a boost in well-being within days of consistent use.
Given AG1’s apparent dosing issues, these reviews are puzzling.
One theory for why people review AG1 so favorably is the placebo effect: consuming a daily green drink touted for its health benefits might make you feel subjectively healthier, even if it doesn’t actually improve your well-being.
Additionally, there’s a high likelihood that people are falling victim to the bandwagon effect. That is, rather than acknowledging that a pricey purchase didn’t deliver, some might say it did simply to “fit in.”
Moreover, committing to taking an upmarket greens supplement might inspire you to make other healthy lifestyle choices. For instance, you might think twice before eating junk food, skipping the gym, or sacrificing sleep while taking AG1, for fear doing these things will undermine the benefits of drinking your greens supplement.
Or, perhaps investing in an expensive supplement is just one of a collection of new behaviors someone has adopted, such as sleeping more, working out, and eating healthier, and they’re giving AG1 too much credit.
If that’s the case, it’s more likely that these positive habits, not the supplement, are enhancing your well-being.
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There are many alternatives to Athletic Greens’ AG1 available.
Popular choices include Amazing Grass Greens Blend, Bloom Greens & Superfoods, and Vibrant Health Green Vibrance.
However, like AG1, these products often contain proprietary blends or bear a hefty price tag.
If you’re looking for a reasonably priced greens supplement containing scientifically proven ingredients that’s . . .
- Transparent about doses
- Made with natural ingredients
- Vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free
- Third-party tested for purity and potency
. . . and contains no artificial sweeteners, flavors, food dyes, or other chemical junk, try Genesis.
Genesis is Legion’s all-natural greens supplement that contains clinically effective doses of 5 ingredients for better energy levels, mood, libido, cardiovascular health, and immunity.
If you aren’t sure if Genesis is right for you or if another supplement might better fit your budget, circumstances, and goals, then take the Legion Supplement Finder Quiz. In less than a minute, it’ll tell you exactly what supplements are right for you. Click here to check it out.
While AG1’s ingredient list initially looks impressive, closer inspection reveals many of its ingredients are poorly dosed.
Perhaps the only upside is that it boasts a commendable amount of vitamins and minerals, though a simple (and much less expensive) multivitamin would offer similar benefits at a much lower cost.
Why is this lackluster product so popular?
A combination of intelligent marketing, paid promotions, and the momentum of crowds. Remember, too, that Athletic Greens has been around quite a long time and there are many people who would buy whatever they released (similar to Herbalife).
If you’re serious about your health, don’t buy AG1. Buy a more effective greens supplement with better, property dosed ingredients.
+ Scientific References
- Stremmel, Wolfgang, et al. “Phosphatidylcholine (Lecithin) and the Mucus Layer: Evidence of Therapeutic Efficacy in Ulcerative Colitis?” Digestive Diseases (Basel, Switzerland), vol. 28, no. 3, 2010, pp. 490–496, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20926877/, https://doi.org/10.1159/000320407. Accessed 14 May 2023.
- Wolfe, Kelly L., and Rui Hai Liu. “Apple Peels as a Value-Added Food Ingredient.” Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, vol. 51, no. 6, 19 Feb. 2003, pp. 1676–1683, https://doi.org/10.1021/jf025916z. Accessed 25 Jan. 2022.
- Bindra, Sunali, et al. “Bandwagon Effect Revisited: A Systematic Review to Develop Future Research Agenda.” Journal of Business Research, vol. 143, Apr. 2022, pp. 305–317, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbusres.2022.01.085.