Eating greens is a healthy thing to do – and for good reason. There is a LOT of research on the benefits of green vegetables. But, what if you don't like veggies? Can a supplement get the same benefits? Recently, I had the opportunity to meet a BeachBody coach who asked me my thoughts about “Ultimate Power Greens”, a mixture of several vegetables and other ingredients that are said to have health benefits. Power Greens are one of the many supplements available on the Beachbody website. In this review, I'll look at the research and ingredients in Power Greens, give my impressions about it and hopefully answer your questions about whether it's right for you.
What Are Power Greens?
The Ultimate Power Greens supplement is designed to improve the alkalinity of the body. Being more alkaline, its proponents say, leads to better health. Power Greens are usually a part of a program called Beach Body Ultimate Reset although it can also be purchased separately.
From what I was able to determine, Power Greens has replaced another product called Alkalinize, which is no longer sold.
The idea of a reset, reminds me of what Juicing maven, Joe Cross says when he talks about a “reboot.” Either way, you call it, it's the idea of returning the body to the way it was supposed to be.
Power Greens Research
The Beach Body website does not mention any research on the Power Greens supplement. The National Library of Medicine (Pubmed.gov) also reveals studies. Performing a basic online search for “BeachBody Power Greens Clinical studies” also revealed no research.
Research or not, because it contains food extracts, I'm sure it has some effects in the body. Power Greens can be considered a “whole food” supplement.
Power Greens Ingredients
The pack I have states every 5 grams (0.18 oz) of Beach Body Power Greens has a proprietary blend of the following ingredients:
|Ingredients in Proprietary Blend||Percent Daily Value|
|Spinach powder (leaf)||N/A|
|Cucumber powder (fruit)||N/A|
|Celery powder (stalk)||N/A|
|Brassica oleracea powder (leaf)||N/A|
While we are not told how much of each of these ingredients make up the proprietary blend, we can take a guess as to which makes up the most and least by remembering that ingredients at the top of the list make up most of the blend while those at the bottom of the list make up the least.
Since spinach leaf powder is the first ingredient, my hunch is that it's the most abundant ingredient. Brassica oleracea powder (AKA, kale) is the last ingredient so it's present in the lowest amount.
According to a pdf file I found, it's said Power Greens is “like eating 2/3 cup of leafy greens, 1/3rd cup of cucumber and 2/3rds large celery stalk.” It may be like eating those foods but since you can't fit all that food into just 5 grams, it's not exactly the same thing.
Spinach And Cucumber
Both of these foods are healthy. Many people eat, juice and blend these foods.
This is a type of blue-green algae that is renowned in some circles for its health benefits. It has protein as well as antioxidant properties. There is research on spirulina. For example, One study noted that spirulina improved fatigue and exercise ability.
In that study, researchers randomly gave 18 healthy men (18-43 years of age) either 3 grams of spirulina or a placebo. They noted “a small but statistically significant” improvement in exercise ability after 1 week. The men also reported improvements in fatigue too.
In a study, published in 2010, researchers noted that 6 grams of spirulina improved exercise ability and fat burning as well as a ramping up of the body's antioxidant levels.
In an earlier study, in 2010, researchers gave 7.5 grams of either spirulina platensis or soy to 16 college students. Students getting spirulina were able to exercise longer and showed less muscle damage.
One investigation noted that spirulina lowered iron levels in overweight people with high blood pressure. that study used 2 grams of Spirulina maxima. Theoretically, this might mean spirulina could be of benefit to those with iron overload disease as well as diabetes.
Overall, the amounts of Spirulina used in research studies appear to be greater than what is in Ultimate Power Greens. Would lower amounts work just as well? Maybe? It would take human research to know for sure.
Chlorella is also a type of blue-green algae. Like spirulina, it has protein too.
Researchers in Virginia noted chlorella reduced pain from fibromyalgia by 22%. This study involved 18 people who, each day, consumed 10g (50 tablets!) of Sun Chlorealla and 100 ml of liquid ‘Wakasa Gold' for 2 months. The type of chlorella used in this study was Chlorella pyrenoidosa.
The supplement ribose has also been shown to help fibromyalgia.
At least one investigation has shown improvements in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease from chlorella supplementation. This study used 1200 mg per day of chlorella vulgaris.
Celery And Kale
Ultimate Power Greens also contains both celery and kale powder. Like spinach and cucumber, these are both healthy foods.
How To Use Power Greens
The packet says to mix 1 packet in 4-6 oz of distilled water. If the idea is for “cleanse” or “maintenance,” then use once per day. The idea of a “cleanse” usually means to clean one out. To me, that says laxative. Whether or not Power Greens increases time in the bathroom, I cannot say.
Why distilled water? Distilling water removes minerals and other impurities that might be present in tap water. In theory, this might make it healthier but I think this could depend on the water quality of where you live.
Distilled water might also taste different than tap water and this might contribute to the taste of Power Greens (see the taste section below).
Overall, there doesn't appear to be any proof that distilled water is better than tap water if you are healthy. Many people say the pH of distilled water is 7.0 (neutral) although according to this study, the pH was found to be about 5.7, which makes it slightly on the acid side.
See the acidity/alkalinity section below for more on this topic.
How Much Fiber?
The product label does not tell how much fiber each packet has. If they are not listing fiber, my guess is, that there probably isn't much.
What Is Power Greens Boost?
Power Greens Boost, are supplements meant to be a “convenient and simple way to customize your (shakeology) Shake for your very specific needs.”
Basically, these products are added to Shakeology to give it additional benefits.
When I checked, there were 3 different types of Shakeololgy Boosts available:
- Focused Energy
- Digestive Health
- Power Greens
The Power Greens Boost is also touted to “support the body's acid/alkaline balance.”
Is Power Greens Boost the same or different than Ultimate Power Greens? Let's look at the ingredients side-by-side:
|Power Greens Boost (1 scoop = 5 g)||Ultimate Power Greens (5g)|
|Calories||20||amount not given|
|Carbohydrates||3g (1%DV)||amount not given|
|Protein||1g (2%DV)||amount not given|
|Spinach (Spinacia Oleracea) leaf powder||Spinach powder (leaf)|
|Cucumber (cucumis sativus) powder||Cucumber powder (fruit)|
|Chlorella spp||Chlorella powder|
|Spirulina (arthrospira platensis)||Spirulina powder|
|Celery (Apium graveolens) stalk powder||Celery powder (stalk)|
|Kale ( Brassica oleracea) leaf powder||Brassica oleracea powder (leaf)|
In the table above “spp” refers to several different species of chlorella.
So what are the differences between these two supplements? As I see it:
- The Power Greens Boost label tells us the amounts of calories, carbs and protein. Ultimate Power Greens do not (why?).
- The Ultimate Power Greens label uses the overly complicated word for kale (Brassica oleracea) while the Power Greens Boost supplement comes right out and tells us, it has kale.
Either way you slice it, these supplements appear to be the same thing with different names.
See the Shakeology review for more insights.
Does It Alkalize?
One of the key ideas of this product is that it “may help support the body’s acid/alkaline balance.” The idea of becoming more alkaline as way to improve health is quite popular. But, where exactly is Power Greens making us more alkaline?
- Is it the stomach
- the blood
- the liver, etc.?
They don't tell us.
The acidity /alkalinity of the body is determined by the pH Scale which goes from 0- 14. A rating of “0” is very acid (think sulfuric acid) and a rating of “14” is very alkaline (bleach is about 13 ). When it comes to pH, the lower the number, the more acid, and the higher the number, the more alkaline it is.
The pH of the body depends on what part of the body we are talking about. It's not a fixed thing. For example, a quick online search reveals normal pH values for different parts of the body:
|Blood||7.4 (slightly alkaline)|
|Skin||5.5 (a little acid)|
|Small intestine||about 6|
|Large intestine||5.5 - 7.0|
The thing to remember is different body tissues have different degrees of acidity or alkalinity. This is normal and healthy. For example, it's good for the skin to be slightly acid because this helps defend us from bacteria that might cause it harm.
The pH of the blood is slightly alkaline (about 7.4) and the body has mechanisms in place to stop the blood from moving significantly in either direction.
See the It Works Greens Review for more on this topic.
So, while I doubt the supplement produces any long-lasting change in alkalinity, that doesn't necessarily mean you can write it off. The product does have powdered extracts of healthy foods and some interesting blue-green algae. While I think the amounts of each are on the low side, I would not rule out that it might produce some favorable effects.
I think however those effects would be less than if you ate a salad or had a fruit/veggie smoothie or juice. Each person will have to consider this and the price and decide for themselves.
So why is everybody clambering about the benefits of being more alkaline? As I see it, by eating more alkaline foods – like vegetables for example – we flood the body with more antioxidants and other phytonutrients that in turn, protect us from disease. I think the power of being alkaline is just about eating better foods.
How Does It Taste?
I did not taste Ultimate Power Greens for this review. Watch this video from a Beach Body Coach to get an idea of how it tastes
Power Greens Side Effects
I think Ultimate Power Greens is safe for healthy people. Here are some things to consider for people who may not be “healthy” or have any health issues. This list is not complete.
- If you take blood thinner medications, talk to your doctor first. The same thing goes for kidney problems.
- Speak to your doctor if you are pregnant/breastfeeding.
- The product is intended for adults only. Not children. The Beachbody website mentions this too.
- Stop taking Power Greens at least 2 weeks before having surgery.
Bottom line: if you are healthy, I don't think you have anything to worry about. If you are not healthy, show the ingredients to your doctor and pharmacist first.
I think you will get much better health results by eating a salad or making a fruit and veggie smoothie using real food. I feel the same way about all other green drinks too. While I'm sure there are some health benefits from them, there is no way they provide the same spectrum of nutrients as food. Check out my quick smoothie recipe.
Does BB Power Greens Work?
Dollar for dollar, I think Beach Body Power Greens is much more expensive than a salad or fruit/vegetable smoothie or juice you can make yourself. I think juicing, smoothies, or eating a salad will each provide a broader spectrum of nutrients and antioxidants than Power Greens – and other green drinks too. If you like the product, great. Just don't use it as a substitute for eating vegetables.