Greens powders have taken the internet by storm this year. If you’ve been searching for solutions to improve your gut health, clear up your skin, or reduce bloating, you’ve likely come across the idea of boosting your diet with as many antioxidant-rich ingredients as possible.
And if your social media feed is anything like mine – filled with food, fitness, and even more food – then you probably haven’t escaped the wave of fitness influencers promoting the supplement industry’s answer to improving gut health: consuming a daily greens powder.
As a fitness writer, I’ve come across my fair share of dietary trends over the years. It’s my responsibility to steer clear of quick-fix nutritional solutions and, instead, focus on identifying the foods and habits that genuinely benefit both exercise and everyday well-being. So, I’ll be honest and admit that I had my doubts about said greens powders that various influencers were labeling as a ‘non-negotiable’ part of their daily routine.
It got me wondering just how transformative a powder made from dehydrated vegetables can be. That’s when I decided to hop on the greens powder trend and give it a try myself.
What are greens powders?
Several of the popular greens powders available today undoubtedly feature very clean and attractive packaging, much like the results they are trying to sell, but when you take a look at the product labels, you are met with an overwhelming list of many syllabled ingredients.
Thankfully, gut health specialist and registered dietician at The Gut Health Clinic, Dr Emily Porter, is here to cut through the noise. “Greens powders are dietary supplements made up of dehydrated or powdered fruits, vegetables and other ingredients such as probiotics (beneficial bacteria), vitamins, minerals and other plant compounds,” she explains. “They promise a quick and easy way to boost energy, support the immune system and digestion.”
Given their high level of plant derived ingredients, green powders can be high in antioxidants, substances that protect our cells from damage due to chemical reactions within the body.
So for those who don’t enjoy eating meals that contain any nutrient-dense foods such as beetroot, kale, spinach — all those colorful veggies your parents told you to eat when you were younger — you can see the appeal of being able to mix a powder form into a glass of water.
Dr Emily Porter, PhD, is a UK based registered dietitian with a background in scientific research. She completed her PhD at the University of Bristol in veterinary virology and immunology before re-training as a dietitian to embrace her love of science, people and food. She started her career as a gastroenterology dietitian within the NHS and now sees private patients at The Gut Health Clinic, as well as working as an NHS specialist diabetes dietitian and a freelance health and science writer.
I took a greens powder every day for 2 weeks — here’s what happened to my body
Two weeks ago, I started adding the mango-flavored FS-Greens powder to a glass of water every morning.
I had recently completed a half marathon training block, was giving myself a break from any intense training, and was in the midst of moving to a new house. Amidst this period, maintaining any sort of routine or healthy habits took a back seat, except for my daily greens.
Here are my thoughts…
Texture = 0 Taste = 1
I am the least fussy eater you will meet, and this covers drinks too. However, I can’t say I had too much fun getting down the half-powdery gunk that gathered at the bottom of my glass every morning.
I think if I wanted to enjoy a greens drink for its taste, I’d much prefer a freshly blended juice packed with fresh greens. That being said, this was one of the main selling points for me when trying out a greens powder — I didn’t have to mess around chopping up things like celery and ginger to then juice it myself.
I will say, that the flavor was really quite nice, but I was trying a mango-flavored option, which covered up the earthy tones that are probably less palatable in an unflavored greens powder.
Like with any health product marketed as ‘natural’ or ‘nutritious’ and offering various flavor options, I always take a moment to inspect the ingredients used to ensure they are genuinely healthy and not undermining the promised health benefits. The FS-Greens powder that I tested is flavored with Stevia, a plant-based sugar substitute that is often found in things like iced teas, yogurts and diet sodas.
It’s reassuring to know that stevia is recognized as safe by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). But as Dr. Porter highlights, “Dietary supplements don’t have to pass through the FDA so always do your research before committing to a particular product.”
I loved the convenience of it
In an ideal world, I’d grow all my own fruit and vegetables or at least only buy organic produce, I’d spend my mornings juicing my freshly grown greens, and cook absolutely everything I eat from scratch every day. Is this my reality? No, I simply don’t have enough hours in the day to do this. So, I do have to cut corners when it comes to trying my best to eat well.
This is one of the reasons I really liked incorporating a greens powder into my daily routine. I drink a lot of water daily anyway, so it was just a case of remembering to fling a teaspoon of greens into my morning glass of water. I already have a mini electric whisk that I use to froth milk for my coffees, so this came in handy when minimizing the build-up of powder at the bottom of the glass. But you really just need a teaspoon if you are thinking of trying a powder yourself.
As I mentioned earlier, I was in the process of moving to a new home when I began testing the greens powder. During this period, my diet was less structured because I didn’t have access to all my usual kitchen equipment, and I was constantly on the move, making it difficult to plan my meals as meticulously as I like to. However, the knowledge that I was supposedly getting the benefits of 21 greens from a simple glass of water before starting my day did bring me some reassurance.
I would like to point out that I wasn’t and don’t ever plan on solely relying on a health supplement to nurture my body. As Dr. Porter puts it, “You should be able to get most of the micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) you need from the food you eat.”
Dr. Porter suggests that if you’re already including the “super six” (fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts, seeds, herbs, and spices) in your daily meals and actively maintaining your overall health by staying physically active, managing stress, and ensuring sufficient sleep, you likely don’t need a greens powder. As she puts it, “There are more budget-friendly methods to enhance your well-being in this case.”
It encouraged healthy habits
I’d love to tell you that I saw amazing, instant results like glowing skin, no bloating, and a burst of energy, but to be completely honest, I didn’t notice anything majorly significant in these areas. But as with most dietary changes, results often take time and I’d be curious to revisit things after a few months of taking a greens powder.
However, where I did notice a positive difference was in the impact that incorporating a daily greens powder had on my mindset. Starting my day with something that I knew looked visibly healthy for my body inspired me to make healthier choices throughout the day. It’s a bit like when you overindulge in something sweet and sickly and then end up craving more sugary foods for the rest of the day and beyond. In this case, though, I was setting myself up to make better choices.
We often hear that coffee shouldn’t be the first thing we consume in the morning. Meanwhile, my brain is channeled into thinking that a flat white is absolutely the first thing I need to function. With the greens powder becoming a part of my morning routine, I broke this habit and now ensure that a glass of water comes first before a sip of coffee.
Is it worth it?
Drinking a greens powder did seem to have a kind of placebo effect on me. I felt naturally inclined to make healthier dietary choices after having a glass of it every morning. I don’t see a placebo effect as a negative thing if it encourages you to make better decisions for your health.
I didn’t experience any groundbreaking changes in my typical issues with bloating, nor did I suddenly resemble Jennifer Aniston when I looked in the mirror after two weeks. However, as a fitness writer who has explored various health trends over the years, I never expect one thing to be a magic solution for my health. I am an advocate for staying healthy via a well-balanced diet and sustainable habits.
If you are considering trying a greens powder for yourself, Dr Porter recommends speaking to a registered dietician or nutritionist first to safely explore what is best for your body.
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