Macro Greens and Athletic Greens, two popular superfood powder drinks compared and contrasted

If you’re in the market for a green superfood powder, there’s a good chance you’ve considered Athletic Greens and Macro Greens. Athletic Greens is quite possibly the most famous of the two and deservedly so: it’s got significantly more vitamins and minerals than your average competitor.

But Macro Greens is a worthy foe. It’s jam packed with vitamins, it’s got one of the highest probiotic bacteria counts we’ve ever seen, plus it’s cheaper.

That’s not where the story ends. They both have ingredients that may produce cognitive benefits and there’s even a chance they support healthy immunity and liver function. So which one comes out on top?

Comparing the two is a difficult task, but we think we have a good idea.

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Athletic Greens Ultimate Daily
Athletic Greens Ultimate Daily

Extraordinarily nutritious greens powder with quantified health benefits. Also one of the best-tasting greens powders on the market. Get 20 free travel packs with your order.

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MacroLife Naturals
MacroLife Naturals
One of the tastiest and most nutritious greens powder son the market, this also delivers more probiotics than almost any of its competitors — and it's very inexpensive.MoreLess
 

Taste

Athletic Greens

In a world of soily, grassy greens powders, Athletic Greens is a breath of fresh air. Despite the wheatgrass content the flavor is vaguely tropical, with notes of papaya, vanilla, and carrot. There’s also a hint of ginger, which helps to balance out the barely noticeable bitterness of the greens themselves.

Macro Greens

Macro Greens tastes quite similar to Athletic Greens; they’re both smooth and slightly tropical, but Macro Greens is a little creamier, lighter on the ginger, and has a hint of mixed berry flavor. I’d say it tastes like watered down mixed berry yogurt but that doesn’t sound that appealing — Macro Greens is really enjoyable and it’s extremely rare to have two greens powders that taste this good.

They both taste great, but I found I enjoyed savoring the complex taste of Athletic Greens just a little more.

Winner: Athletic Greens

Athletic Greens Superfood

Price

Athletic Greens

This company is well known for its subscription model: if you sign up for a monthly bag of 30 servings it comes out to between $70 and $80 a bag or about $2.50 per scoop. That’s a pretty serious discount from the cost of a one-off purchase, which is well over $3 per scoop.

Macro Greens

At between $60 and $70 for 90 servings, or roughly 75 cents per scoop, it’s extremely well-priced, particularly since most other green superfood powders don’t have anywhere near the same level of nutrition. Note that you’ll get a significantly cheaper price on Amazon than on Macro Greens’ own website.

Winner: Macro Greens

MacroLife's Macro Greens
MacroLife’s Macro Greens

Ingredients

Athletic Greens

With seventy-five ingredients, Athletic Greens contains a very wide variety of fruits, vegetables, roots, and herbs.

It includes the regular green superfood ingredients wheat grass, chlorella, and spirulina, but there are also ingredients with more unusual properties like rhodiola rosea (which may support cognitive function and lower stress), milk thistle (which is linked to liver health), and more than seven billion probiotic bacteria, which is more than many dedicated gut health supplements.

Finally, there’s a blend of adaptogenic mushrooms that are intended to improve stress response and digestive enzymes to improve nutrient absorption.

Macro Greens

There are thirty-eight ingredients (roughly half as many as Athletic Greens) and there are a lot of similarities between the two products. They both have the spirulina and chlorella, various grasses, adaptogens, milk thistle, probiotics, and digestive enzymes.

There are some key differences, however: Macro Greens has more than twice as many probiotic bacteria from more than twice as many strains. However, while Macro Greens does contain some ingredients linked to cognitive performance, Athletic Greens outperforms it in this regard with its rhodiola rosea, astragalus, and ashwagandha.

Winner: Athletic Greens

Benefits and Effectiveness

Athletic Greens

So what are the real benefits? One serving of Athletic Greens contains as many antioxidants as can be found in twelve serves of vegetables and provides 700 percent of your daily Vitamin C, 100 percent or more of most B-vitamins (including B12), K2, and zinc; at least twenty percent of your RDI of selenium, manganese, and chromium; and even eleven percent of your daily calcium.

For many green superfood drinks, the antioxidants and probiotics are the main source of benefits. Athletic Greens has plenty of those, but it can also double as a vitamin supplement, in addition to being a pretty solid cognitive booster as well. It’s also really important to note that it has 7.2 billion probiotic bacteria per serving, which may have implications for immunity, digestive health, and maybe even mental health.

It’s true that there’s not quite as much research supporting the benefits of greens powders as there are multivitamins, but two studies published in the Journal of Chiropractic Medicine found that different brands of green superfood powders significantly lowered blood pressure in the test subjects.(1)(2)

Macro Greens

One serving contains 790 percent of your recommended intake of Vitamin C, 330 percent of your Vitamin E, 50 percent of your Vitamin B12, 8 percent of your daily iron, and 8 percent of your Vitamin A. There’s a small amount of magnesium (1 percent), calcium (2 percent), and sodium (2 percent). So that’s more Vitamin C than you’ll get in Athletic Greens, but overall it does have fewer vitamins and minerals.

But it does have some advantages over Athletic Greens: it’s cheaper, it has more digestive enzymes, and it has over two times the probiotic bacteria. Now when it comes to greens powders, it’s important to remember that it’s not actually that hard to find vitamins and minerals in whole foods, whereas it’s pretty hard to get probiotics, enzymes, and adaptogens. So the fact that Athletic Greens has more vitamins doesn’t necessarily make it the best.

So we’ll say this: if your goal is to take a green superfood powder to improve your digestive health, it’s hard to argue against Macro Greens. It has way more probiotics and enzymes. But Athletic Greens has more micronutrients, and it’s also higher in a lot of ingredients linked to cognitive benefits, plus it appears to be a little higher in antioxidants. And after all, with 7.2 billion of them it’s still very high in probiotics for a greens powder.

Winner: Athletic Greens

Overall Winner: Athletic Greens

When compared to Athletic Greens, Macro Greens has more digestive benefits and a little more vitamin C, but it’s not as potent in regards to vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and cognitive benefits. Macro Greens is still an outstanding product and significantly cheaper, but if we were to pick one supplement we’d take every day, it would be Athletic Greens.

References

1. Zhang, J. et al. Taking nutritional supplements for three months reduced blood pressure but not blood lipid levels in students. J Chiropr Med. 2006 Summer;5(2):53-9.
2. Zhang J, et al. The effect of fruit and vegetable powder mix on hypertensive subjects: a pilot study. J Chiropr Med. 2009 Sep;8(3):101-6.

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Nick is a content producer and journalist with over seven years’ experience reporting on four continents. His first articles about health were on a cholera outbreak in rural Kenya while he was reporting for a French humanitarian organization. His next writing job was covering the nightlife scene in Shanghai. He’s written on a lot of things.After Shanghai, he went on to produce a radio documentary about bodybuilding in Australia before finishing his Master’s degrees in Journalism and International Relations and heading to New York City. Here, he’s been writing on health full time for more than five years for outlets like BarBend, Men's Health, VICE, and Popular Science.No fan of writing in the third person, Nick’s passion for health stems from an interest in self improvement: How do we reach our potential?Questions like these took him through a lot of different areas of health and fitness like gymnastics, vegetarianism, kettlebell training, fasting, CrossFit, Paleo, and so on, until he realized (or decided) that strength training fit best with the ideas of continuous, measurable self improvement.At BarBend his writing focuses a little more on nutrition and long-form content with a heaping dose of strength training. His underlying belief is in the middle path: you don’t have to count every calorie and complete every workout in order to benefit from a healthy lifestyle and a stronger body. Plus, big traps are cool.