There are dozens of different brands of greens powders, but few reach the level of popularity enjoyed by Athletic Greens and Shakeology.
When attempting to explain why so many people love them, we’ll be honest: a lot of it has to do with the taste. Greens powders are products that are widely known for tasting like lawn clippings and both Athletic Greens and Shakeology managed to come up with pretty tasty flavor profiles. But they also have enormous marketing machines fueling their success: Athletic Greens has gotten the thumbs up from influencer juggernauts like Tim Ferriss and Shakeology is part of Beachbody, the fitness titan helmed by Tony Horton.
Suffice to say these are big-name brands with very sizable followings. Which is better for you? Do they serve different purposes? Well, Athletic Greens is low in calories while Shakeology delivers a hit of protein and carbohydrates. But that’s not all.
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.
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.MoreLess
Athletic Greens: Many greens powders taste suspiciously like soil, but the good news is that both of these products are delicious.
Athletic Greens’ main flavors are tropical and vanilla: it’s like a slightly creamy pineapple flavor with a hint of ginger. It’s the first greens powder I’ve actually wanted to savor. It’s no exaggeration to say that I look forward to drinking this.
[Check out our full Athletic Greens review!]
Shakeology: This supplement actually comes in five different flavors: chocolate, strawberry, vanilla, coffee, and greenberry. We’ve only tried the chocolate, but it’s very tasty. It’s clear that this chocolate flavor is extra earthy in order to balance the earthiness of the greens — the spirulina and chlorella in particular. The result is a shake that’s rich and cocoa-y, not too sweet but not too bitter.
Some greens powders add a lot of sweeteners to cover up the bitterness of the algae and grasses that form their base. These two included tasty, slightly bitter flavors — ginger and cocoa, respectively — to work with the bitterness and make it more palatable. That said, I found Athletic Greens is more subtle and enjoyable, so it’s more likely to appeal to more people.
[Check out our full Shakeology review!]
Winner: Athletic Greens
Athletic Greens: This is a product that really benefits from a subscriber model: if you sign up for one bag per month delivered to your door, you’re looking at somewhere between $70 and $80 per bag, or roughly $2.50 per scoop. If you’d rather just get a one-off tester bag, it’ll come out to well over $3 per scoop. In either case you get a money back guarantee if you hate it, which is nice.
Shakeology: A 2.78-pound bag of Shakeology provides thirty servings for between $120 and $150, which is somewhere around $4 to $4.50 per serving. Now, here you can sign up for a monthly shipment but the cost of a bag doesn’t decrease, you just pay about ten dollars less for shipping. (Normally, shipping is about $15.)
Whether or not you get that discount, this is a very, very expensive product.
Winner: Athletic Greens
Athletic Greens: It has seventy-five ingredients, with spirulina, wheatgrass, alfalfa, and chlorella coming first on the list. Other standouts include rhodiola rosea (which may support cognitive function), milk thistle (which may support liver function), and more than seven billion probiotic bacteria, which is more than many dedicated gut health supplements. Finally, there’s a blend of adaptogenic mushrooms to improve stress response and digestive enzymes to improve nutrient absorption.
Shakeology: It doesn’t have quite as many ingredients as Athletic Greens, but there are still many of the most popular greens powder additions: spirulina, chlorella, green tea, probiotics, and adaptogenic mushrooms and herbs.
Here it’s important to talk about proprietary blends: both products have them, so we don’t know the exact amount of each ingredient. However, Athletic Greens tells you the weight of four different blends so you get a rough idea. Shakeology puts everything into one blend, so they’re even less transparent. We aren’t fans of proprietary blends but Shakeology is the bigger offender here.
This is why the edge goes to Athletic Greens.
Winner: Athletic Greens
Athletic Greens: Both greens powders are much, much more nutritious than most of their competitors. When compared with one another, they have similar ingredients but different strengths.
Athletic Greens contains more than twice the Vitamin C and zinc, more of many B-vitamins (there’s five times the Vitamin B12), six times more Vitamin E, and probably more probiotics — remember there’s no information about ingredient quantities in Shakeology.
So Athletic Greens delivers vitamins and minerals in addition to the antioxidants, enzymes, and probiotic bacteria. It’s really important to note that probiotic bacteria have been linked to a wide variety of benefits that include better immunity and better nutrient absorption. And while greens powders themselves don’t have a ton of studies on them, two studies from the Journal of Chiropractic Medicine concluded that different brands of green superfood powders significantly lowered blood pressure in the test subjects.(1)(2)
Unlike Athletic Greens, which is about 40 calories comprised mostly of carbs, it contains a hefty dose of protein and carbohydrates: one scoop delivers 110 calories and 17 grams each of protein and carbs.
Because of the emphasis on minerals and protein, one could argue that Shakeology is more geared toward people who are physically active and Athletic Greens is more geared toward general wellness. In that regard, it’s a little like comparing apples and oranges, but as far as what most people purchase greens powders for — vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and probiotics — Athletic Greens does a better job of convincing me that it delivers on all fronts.
Winner: Athletic Greens
The Overall Winner: Athletic Greens
While Athletic Greens won every category, I should emphasize that it was a very tight race, particularly with regard to benefits and effectiveness — Shakeology delivers considerably more minerals and protein than its competitor.
However, Shakeology is far more expensive, has fewer vitamins, and doesn’t contain information about probiotics and antioxidants. For those reasons, Athletic Greens is a more transparent and more effective supplement.
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.