by Will Grumke August 13, 2021 14 min read
Over the last few years, we have heard more and more about greens … and green superfoods.
We hear of all kinds of amazing benefits to drinking these powders. But see, one of the problems is that the supplement industry always makes huge claims.
This makes every product or ingredient sound like it will be THE ingredient or key to your success.
And with all of these huge claims, it’s hard to know what is fact and what is fiction...
What will work, and what will not.
So let’s just get a few things straight right out of the gate.
No matter what your goal is ... your nutrition plan, exercise routine, sleep, and drinking an adequate amount of water are the most important aspects to you actually reaching those goals.
Now, can supplements help that process? Absolutely!
High-quality supplements used at the right time can help make it easier to stick to your plan and ultimately earn the results you want.
Green superfood supplements are no exception. Do they have a lot of potential to offer some great benefits to you? Yes!
But only if you are taking a quality product and using it consistently along with your nutrition and workout routine.
In this article, I want to go over the benefits of greens and green superfood supplements, what they are, what they aren’t, how to use them, and really what you need to know when considering adding them to your routine!
So let’s jump in…
Greens supplements are typically a blend of vegetables, fruits, grasses, and sometimes algae that have been dehydrated, compacted, or distilled into powdered form.
Exact ingredients vary by brand, but some common greens ingredients are barley grass, wheat grass, spirulina, alfalfa, herbs, leafy greens, vegetables, legumes, and fruits.
Greens supplements can help supply your body with the nutrients that you're not getting through eating your fruits and vegetables.
But they will also supply your body with very beneficial phytonutrients (natural chemicals or compounds produced by plants. They keep plants healthy, and when you ingest them, they can help you stay healthy as well) that are found in foods, also sometimes referred to as superfoods, you don’t typically eat.
And once again … let’s be clear … greens supplements are not a substitute for actual food.
A supplement can help you get the great benefits of greens, but don’t fool yourself into believing that a few greens drinks a day can make up for your lack of eating your veggies!
Green superfoods supplements are important for many reasons. First and foremost, greens supplements can help augment, a.k.a. SUPPLEMENT, a diet that is low in fruits and vegetables.
Notice, I did not say replace vegetables. No, greens supplements are an addition to your plan and the vegetables you are eating!
Because once again, in many cases, you are going to get a wider range of nutrients than that of which you consume through whole foods alone … more to come on that.
Now, let’s define servings real quick. For decades, the belief and message was to eat 4-6 servings of fruits and veggies a day.
But as our society has evolved, as we have learned more, a more accurate number is shooting for 10 or more servings of fruits and veggies a day.
For most people, and I am guilty of this too, we fall short.
We also tend to consume a lot more protein and processed carbs than fruits and veggies. This can create an acid load in the body and potential acidosis.
Regular exercise training can increase acid production in the body due to repeated muscle contractions as well!
Introducing more vegetables and fruits, and supplementing with a high-quality greens powder, can help counteract this acid load, balance pH levels, preserve bone and muscle, as well as promote better overall health.
But greens supplements aren’t just a way to add any random ol’ vegetables into your daily nutrition plan.
Your greens supplements provide your body with powerful antioxidants.
Oxidative stress occurs when there is an overabundance of free radicals in your body.
For more detailed information on free radicals, check out this blog.
But to keep things short and simple here, when free radical levels are elevated for long periods of time, it can increase inflammation and the likelihood of degenerative diseases like arthritis, autoimmune disorders, delay recovery, a weakened immune system, and wreak havoc on your body.
That’s why antioxidants are so important. They can help combat oxidative stress, help regulate free radicals. and help your body operate more efficiently.
Greens supplements can also be helpful for traveling, or busy days in general when whole fruits and vegetables aren’t available!
Plus, a high-quality green superfoods supplement typically has some sort of digestive enzyme blend or probiotic blend to help improve digestion, gut health, and keep you regular ... which I know no one likes to talk about openly, but we all appreciate.
We don't like feeling constipated, bloated, or having trouble in the bathroom either.
That's one of the reasons why using a green superfoods powder every day, like Opti-Greens 50, can help improve your digestion and overall gut health.
This, in turn, can help improve your results since your body will be operating more efficiently.
Now, as you can see, there are quite a few reasons why greens powders are important, but not all greens supplements are created equal.
Therefore, let's look at what makes a high-quality green superfoods product.
As I am sure you can imagine, it comes down to the ingredients.
You want to use a green superfoods supplement that contains top-tier ingredients ... and enough of those ingredients, so you can actually get the benefits of the greens that are in the supplement.
Unfortunately, many companies will sprinkle ingredients in, so they can put it on the label, but there is not enough of the ingredient to actually get any benefit from it.
That's like knowing you need a full tank of gas to get to your vacation destination … but when you go to put gas in, you only put in a 1/4 of a tank, so you can check “get gas” off your to-do list before leaving town.
It’s ineffective and you won’t be happy with the results.
In the greens supplement world, always look for a product that utilizes organic greens and grasses for the powder.
This ensures the items listed are free of synthetic additives like pesticides, chemical fertilizers, and dyes.
Another marker of a high-quality greens supplement is one that utilizes low-temperature processed ingredients. This helps to ensure maximum bioavailability of the nutrients of the greens in the supplement.
You've probably heard that when you cook your vegetables, you denature some of the nutrients in them, rendering them useless for your body.
Because of this, eating fresh veggies is seen as a better option!
Well, a similar thing applies here. The less heat the greens and grasses are exposed to during the dehydration and manufacturing process, the better!
Now, one thing that not all greens supplements have, but is an indicator of a high-quality greens supplement (and a HUGE benefit to you) is the addition of a probiotic, which is a supplement containing healthy gut bacteria.
This can help ensure you have balanced, healthy bacteria in your gut, and can help improve overall gut health.
Because as we are learning more and more, your gut health plays a huge role in your overall health and immune health.
Your health, your results, your immune system, and even your mood are heavily influenced by your gut health.
Having a healthy gut, with the right balance of healthy bacteria and a healthy digestive tract, is imperative to staying healthy and fit.
Not only will the good bacteria help fight off illness, but when your digestive tract is operating effectively, you will likely be able to better utilize the vitamins and minerals from your greens - and your other food and supplements.
Another benefit of better gut health is weight loss.
When it comes to weight loss, there is more and more evidence to show that your overall gut health determines how your body stores the food you eat, how easy (or hard) it is for you to lose weight, and how well your metabolism functions.
There will be more to come on this later on in this blog ... but for now, the point is that a high-quality greens supplement will have digestive enzymes, probiotics, and ingredients to help with improving gut health.
Because the healthier your gut is, the better it can absorb and utilize the nutrients from the green superfoods, as well as the other supplements and foods that you eat!
So, that’s an overview on the quality of greens ingredients you should look for … now let’s jump into a few beneficial ingredients you want to make sure your green superfoods supplement has in it.
Well … there are quite a few. Actually, I could list off dozens and dozens.
But the truth of the matter is, if you understand what green superfoods deliver as far as phytonutrients go ... that you want a diverse profile of those nutrients …
And you understand that you need to have an effective dose of these nutrients in your greens supplement to get the benefits … you don’t need to know as much about each and every individual ingredient.
I do, however, want to just highlight a few for you!
With vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E, wheatgrass is a powerful antioxidant ingredient that can help reduce your risk of major diseases.
Many greens supplements have either wheatgrass or barley grass because they are so comparable in benefits and nutrition … but a great green superfood supplement will typically have both!
Because while there is some overlap, they both will have some unique phytonutrients that can benefit you.
It took me a long time to learn how to pronounce this one correctly, haha ... it is also one of the most nutrient-dense foods you can find. It’s a type of blue-green algae with a ton of great benefits!
Because of that, spirulina is one of the world’s most popular superfoods. Spirulina is a fantastic source of antioxidants, which can help protect against oxidative damage.
Its main active component is called phycocyanin. This antioxidant substance also gives spirulina its unique blue-green color.
Phycocyanin can help fight free radicals and inhibit the production of inflammatory signaling molecules, providing impressive antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
The body secretes different enzymes to help effectively and efficiently break down the foods that we eat.
These enzymes can be found in the mouth and all the way through the digestive system.
Lifestyle habits, as well as aging or medical conditions, can negatively impact your body's ability to produce enough digestive enzymes, which can lead to indigestion...
I mean, let's be honest ... no one wants to live with digestive issues like bloating, gas, nausea, constipation, or diarrhea.
So supplementing your lifestyle with a greens superfood supplement that contains digestive enzymes can help alleviate those uncomfortable and embarrassing symptoms of poor digestion.
Probiotics are bacteria that line your digestive tract and support your body’s ability to absorb nutrients and fight infection.
These healthy gut bacteria can help support your immune system, reduce inflammation, aid in digestion, improve proper hormone production, and can even increase your mood.
Several studies show that probiotics can also help with irritable bowel syndrome, gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, and other indicators of poor digestive health.
As I said above, each company's blend of ingredients will be a little different … and there are many great ingredients I did not mention here … but in my opinion, the ones listed above should definitely be in your green superfoods supplement.
Ok, so now, let’s really look at the benefits though … I mean does everyone need a greens supplement? … Need? Maybe not.
Could pretty much everyone still benefit from a high-quality greens superfood powder, YES!
For many, many people, utilizing a high-quality greens supplement can make a HUGE difference in their results.
Especially for those of us, myself included, who don’t have the time to prep and consume several servings of superfood vegetables every day … adding in one serving of greens powder can help fill in the nutritional gap.
There are many benefits of taking a greens supplement because as your body starts operating more efficiently, most of your body's systems and functions will improve ... leading to a lot of favorable benefits and changes in how you look and feel.
But, that is pretty broad ... so let’s dive in and look at 5 of the most common benefits of using a greens supplement!
In an ideal world, everyone would eat plenty of vegetables on a daily basis to get the nutrients they need. Given the reality of our busy lives though, it's rarely possible, if at all.
Between work, family commitments, and working out ... there's simply not enough time left over to shop around for a variety of vegetables and then take the time to sit down and eat them all.
Because of this, many people are undernourished. Then add in the stress that we put our body through due to the fast pace of society … the late nights … long days … hard workouts … and before long, we can create an unfavorable environment within our body.
Actually, creating an acid load within our bodies, throwing off our pH balance.
Most of us never consider the acid/alkaline balance of our blood, but a proper pH is a crucial aspect to overall health.
Having an improper pH can lead to you experiencing negative consequences such as:
Therefore, by supplementing with a green superfoods supplement, you can help balance PH levels in the body ... helping it to operate more efficiently every day.
This can happen for a few reasons, one of which being related to balancing PH levels, so let's start there.
When our pH levels are off and we have high degrees of acidity in our body, it forces our bodies to rob minerals from our bones, cells, organs, and tissues.
This means we can end up lacking enough minerals to properly dispose of waste within our body or carry out daily functions. Our ability to properly absorb and use nutrients decreases, and toxins in the body increase.
When this happens, it can lead to weight gain, hindering your ability to burn fat, and simply make it harder to reach your goals.
Now, another way greens superfood supplements can aid in fat loss is that they can help balance blood sugar levels.
Balanced blood sugar can help with less fat storage, more consistent and even energy levels throughout the day, and controlled cravings/appetite ... making it easier to stick to your nutrition plan.
Which as you know, your nutrition plan will be the biggest influence on the results you earn!
Once again … this comes down to getting your body back in balance by reducing the acid overload, improving gut health, and supplying your body with high quality nutrients.
By doing so, it makes it easier for your body to get the nutrients it needs to allow for healthy cellular activity and normal operations, which increases natural energy levels.
Therefore, if you're someone who is feeling run down or tired … it would behoove you to make sure your nutrition plan is on point, you are hydrated, andadd in greens!
We hear time and time again about the negative effects of inflammation … being a leading cause of many diseases and medical conditions.
It can also cause a lot of undesirable side effects and symptoms you might be experiencing, like fatigue or chronic pain.
But I want to say one thing real quick. Not all inflammation is bad. We need some!
The problem comes in when you have excessive amounts of inflammation for extended periods of time!Which in today’s fast-paced, on-the-go society, is very common.
Green superfood supplements can be a powerful addition to your plan when it comes to reducing inflammation.
Not only are they alkaline-forming, which can help reduce inflammation caused by acid overload, but they are also rich in antioxidants, which help fight free radicals, and have anti-inflammatory potential as well.
Many greens powders also contain magnesium and vitamin E, both of which possess potent anti-inflammatory powers.
Powdered green superfoods can be an excellent way to harness the beneficial anti-inflammatory effects of greens.
We live in a society based on convenience. If something is inconvenient to our lifestyle, we are substantially less likely to do it consistently ... no matter what it is.
Eating a lot of dark, leafy green vegetables every day is inconvenient … hence why most people don’t do it.
Therefore, adding in a high-quality powdered greens supplement is a great option. But once again, this is a great option to SUPPLEMENT your nutrition plan … not replace your vegetables.
And when you add in a greens supplement, you can easily and quickly get a concentrated serving of vitamins, minerals, probiotic, digestive enzymes and antioxidants.
All of which can help your body to operate more efficiently, helping you to look and feel your best!
Now, those 5 benefits are for greens alone … but as we discussed earlier, if your greens powder has ingredients such as digestive enzymes and probiotics in it, there are even more positive benefits!
Benefits such as improving your gut health ... which in improving your gut health, you will consequently improve your overall health.
That’s because your gut is responsible for crucial tasks such as the break down, absorption, and utilization of the foods and supplements you eat.
And by improving your digestion, you are helping your body to partition calories and nutrients effectively to fuel your body and reduce waste.
If you are someone who has an unhealthy gut or experiences negative symptoms such as bloating, gas, indigestion ... then your greens supplement can help alleviate those symptoms as well.
Your gut is also primarily responsible for your immune system and ability to fight off illness.
By increasing the healthy bacteria in your gut with probiotics, you can strengthen your immune system and increase your body's ability to fight off bacteria, microbes, germs, parasites, and other harmful invaders.
Your gut is also responsible for hormone creation such as serotonin (which heavily affects your mood) and other critical hormones.
Which is one more reason why a greens supplement can help improve your mood and natural energy levels for the day!
The short answer: "No." Nothing can replace the benefits that fresh, leafy greens have for you.
But that doesn’t mean a good supplement can’t help. A high-quality green superfoods supplement is a great addition to a solid nutrition plan!
We already know most people are not consuming enough vegetables … but it’s not just about “getting in more vegetables.”
The major benefits of a green superfoods supplement, and why it is a good addition to most everyone's plan, no matter how many veggies they eat ... are the phytonutrients you receive!
Well really ... there aren't really any negatives of taking a greens supplement when using a high-quality product, the right way.
What I mean is that some of the “negatives” would be self-induced.
For example, if you take a green superfoods supplement, and think you no longer need to eat your veggies or as many ... you are actually going to be hindering your progress, because you are cutting out your fiber intake for the day and we still need to focus on eating nutritious fruits and veggies every day.
Greens supplements typically don’t have high amounts of fiber in relation to the high amounts of nutrients you receive, therefore keeping regular vegetables in your diet will also help keep you regular 😀.
Really, the possibilities are almost endless here!
But if you need/want to mix up the taste, you can also add a greens supplement to a reds supplement … You can add your greens supplement to your BCAA powder or Essential Amino Acid Powder … You can add it to your pre-workout … favorite juice … and the list goes on and on.
The most important thing is to use your green superfoods supplement every single day.
It doesn’t matter as much when you get your greens in as it does to just make sure you are getting them in!
Greens supplements can be a great addition to almost everyone's nutrition plan!
They are not magic powders that will alleviate all of your symptoms, ailments, or issues … but they bring a host of benefits to your lifestyle when used consistently!
Greens supplements give you a significant serving of more vegetables and nutrients than most people could (or would) reasonably eat in one day.
By using a high-quality, nutrient-dense greens powder, you can reap the benefits of superfoods that you probably can’t buy fresh ... or have as regular parts of your nutrition plan.
But once again … green superfoods powders don’t replace your fruits and vegetables, or make up for a terrible nutrition plan.
If you truly want to look and feel your best, you need to be following a good nutrition plan, drinking plenty of water, and moving your body every day!
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Take care and thanks for reading.
NASM Certified Personal Trainer, NASM Certified Nutrition Coach, NASM Certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist, NASM Certified Weight Loss Specialist, NASM Certified Behavioral Change Specialist, NASM VCS Virtual Coaching Specialist, CrossFit Level 1 Trainer