Should You Be Using Greens Supplements?
"Dear Professor Schanz,
I want to know all about greens supplementation. Is it bullshit? Is it necessary? Is it easier to just eat my fucking vegetables? Are there any products that are legit, and which ones are the worst?”
Let us first define what greens supplementation is. Most greens supplements are a combination of dried vegetables and fruit powder with various plant extracts added in. Some of the more fancy versions may include other compounds such as prebiotics, probiotics, fiber and additional vitamins and minerals.
Is it bullshit?
The benefits of consuming whole vegetables and fruits in a freeze dried powdered form as opposed to something like a multi-vitamin would be as follows:
- Whole vegetables and fruits contain enzymes, coenzymes, and cofactors that support digestion and assimilation of nutrients. Most multi-vitamins do not come with these extra bits, which may impede the body’s ability to properly assimilate nutrients contained within the multi.
- Multi-vitamins may have arbitrary amounts of vitamins and minerals, or they may try to squeeze your entire Recommended Daily Intake into 1 serving, which may overwhelm the body’s capacity for absorption. Vegetables and fruits have amounts that our bodies have adapted to eat and absorb over hundreds or even thousands of years. In a phrase, nature generally knows what’s best.
- There are a boatload of phytonutrients such as polyphenols, flavanoids, carotenoids, etc. in vegetables and fruits that are not likely to be contained in multi-vitamins.
Is it necessary?
Is wiping your own ass necessary? I mean, you could probably get away with it for awhile, but ultimately, if you don’t want to be ruining multiple pairs of undergarments per week, or to be known as the “dude who is always itching his asshole”, wiping your ass may be a good idea. Much like ass wiping, you could probably get away without using a greens supplement or even eating vegetables and fruits for a while, but here at Massenomics, we are not about half-assing, or half ass-wiping, for that matter. I’m talking to you, itchy-asshole dude.
There seems to be a de-emphasis on micronutrients in the fitness world. It is always macros this, or protein that. What fails to be grasped is the importance of micronutrients, which are found abundantly in vegetables and fruits, and are vitally important for the proper assimilation of said macronutrients. Not to mention, the untold amount of bodily processes that micronutrients play a role in performing. Magnesium alone is needed for over 300 biochemical processes in the body, and athletes tend to be woefully deficient in magnesium. Do you know what a good source of magnesium is? Spinach. Do you eat spinach? No? Maybe a little? I bet you could find it in a greens supplement if exploding cans of spinach into your mouth like Popeye isn’t quite your thing.
Is it easier to just eat my fucking vegetables?
Most nutrition experts recommend consuming a combined 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables. Considering the average American wouldn’t recognize a floret of broccoli unless it was drowning in cheese and triple wrapped in bacon, it may be easier to meet all your recommended daily servings with a greens supplement.
Also, let’s be honest, the amount of vegetables and fruits that should be consumed by athletes (especially the larger athletes) can be a daunting undertaking.
(Who really has time for upwards of 10 servings of these, along with all the other food needed to maintain and recover?)
Are there any products that are legit? Which ones are the worst?
I would stick to whole food powders that are composed primarily of freeze-dried vegetables and fruits without any of the “extras” (such as added minerals, vitamins, probiotics, etc). When a product has more of the extras, there is a chance you are getting less of the actual vegetables and fruits. You also may be forced to pay more for the extras when they aren’t really a part of what you are trying to accomplish with that particular supplement. Looking for “freeze-dried” also lends the benefit of maximum nutrient retention from the vegetables and fruits contained in the supplement.
Keep it simple and use a greens powder to supplement your intake of vegetables and fruits. Don’t buy one that contains everything imaginable including the freeze-dried feces of a Buddhist monk.
If you struggle to get in all your servings of fruits and vegetables, then a greens supplement may be beneficial to you no matter your goal. Pay attention to the label and remember that less is more in this situation.