A Look at Health, Performance, and Why Supplements are Like Dungeons & Dragons
I get more questions about supplements than I do about anything else. Historically, most of these questions are about fat loss supplements; however, recently there’s been a big shift in the questions about preventing disease and improving health, usually citing specific supplements they’ve heard about in the media—everything from ground rhino horn to rhodiola and everything in between.
Having fielded so many questions about supplements over the past twelve years, and having done a lot of research (as well as having had a hand in designing a few), I feel comfortable saying that, unlike some fitness professionals, I don’t take a hard line against supplements.
I’m a meathead bro at heart, and I like supplements. I don’t love them, I don’t think they’re necessary, and I don’t think they’re for everybody. I just think that under the right set of circumstances, they can help—sometimes, they can help a lot.
Most of the time, it’s really just an issue of convenience: they tend to make life easy when it comes to getting enough protein, fat or fiber, or making pre/post workout nutrition easy.
In general, I like to keep things as simple as possible, and stick to just a few supplements. This ensures compliance (you’re more likely to get a client to take one supplement than five), cuts cost, and (with few exceptions) is just as effective.
That said, if my clients had a complete diet, I would feel comfortable recommending no supplements at all.
Quite the opposite, in fact.
We eat too much food with not enough nutrition. We don’t get enough micronutrients; we don’t eat enough vegetables. On a deeper level, we’re eating in a way that makes us too acidic and not alkaline enough.
All of this leaves a lot of “holes” in your diet that can lead to something as superficial as trouble losing fat, something more moderate like compromised sex drive, or something more serious, like digestive issues and frequent sickness.
To fill these holes, I think it’s generally easiest and most effective to prescribe a good supplementation plan, rather than try to get clients to eat three pounds of spinach and hope for the best.
While there are a lot of great options out there, as I mentioned earlier, I typically feel that investing in too many supplements at once isn’t really the right what to go (I’ll get into why below).
Instead, I want to focus on the one supplement you “need” for improved health and well being—which just so happens to have some additional benefits when it comes to fat loss.
But first, let’s talk about the reason you “need” it in the first place.
When it comes to health and fitness, an area of great concern is what scientists call “cellular damage” and nutrition geeks term “oxidative stress.” Whichever moniker you choose, this nasty bit of business is the result of increased free radical production.
So, just what is a free radical, and why is producing more free radicals bad?
It’s actually quite simple: a free radical is a chemically-reactive molecule or molecular fragment that contains at least one unpaired electron in its outer orbital or valence shell. Yeah, like I said: simple.
Speaking practically, a free radical is the crap resulting from all the chemistry that goes on in your body while you’re at the gym.
During exercise, most oxygen consumed by trainees combines with hydrogen to produce water. However, about 2-5% of this intake forms oxygen-containing free radicals, such as superoxide and hydroxyl.
This exercise-induced free radical formation is the result of at least two causes. The first of these is an electron leak in mitochondria—probably at the cytochrome level—that produces superoxide radicals; the second results from alterations in blood flow and oxygen supply, which also triggers free radical generation.
Once formed, free radicals interact with other compounds to create new free radical molecules.
The stress caused by free radicals increases the likelihood of cellular deterioration that comes with advanced aging—we’re talking wrinkles, cancer, diabetes, coronary artery disease, and a general decline in central nervous system and immune function.
Your body, of course, is not without its armor. You have a lot of what are called “scavenger enzymes” to defend you, compounds like catalase, glutathione peroxidase, superoxide dismutase, as well as certain metal-binding proteins.
But this mechanism is only so effective, and the fact that you substantially increase your free radical production from activities like intense exercise is a threat to overloading the body’s natural defenses.
When this happens, in addition to increasing the likelihood of cancer, you also step into counterproductive territory. Excess free radicals have also been shown to increase cortisol, hindering both fat loss and muscle gain.
As in most cases regarding your health, it’s better to be proactive than reactive. I mean, you could just wait around for your skin to shrivel and your heart to burst, but you’re probably better off taking steps to prevent free-radical production with the weapons you have available to you.
Antioxidants protect the plasma membrane of cells by reacting with and removing free radicals.
Not all supplements will have a synergistic, or even additive, effect when combined. Some will provide no additional benefit, and some will actually negate the effects of the compounds they are combined with.
For that reason, and those mentioned earlier, I like to keep it simple and just use the single supplement that gives you the most bang for your buck, a compound that isn’t simply just extremely effective in terms of antioxidants, but also possesses an array of other health benefits.
Again, I understand that sometimes practicality, finances, or even just plain laziness will inhibit you from taking advantage of all of the antioxidants available to you to protect your health, which is why I don’t recommend taking a bunch of supplements.
Instead, I like to take care of everything at once, which is why I just take a high-quality greens powder.
Greens powder, when you choose good ones, are packed full of raw greens, antioxidants, herbs, enzymes, co-factors, mushrooms, vitamins, scarce nutrients, adaptogens, trace elements, minerals, prebiotics, and probiotics.
Now, I know that sounds like I’m just rattling off a list of jargon, but, trust me—that shit’s important. In combination, those things give you an insane boost to your immune system, an increase in energy production, and a nudge towards alkaline balance, all while improving gut health and digestion.
To find a great one, look for a high ORAC rating.
Well, it’s the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity, of course! And as everyone knows, that’s the measurement of antioxidant capacity. Therefore, the higher the ORAC, the better a supplement will be at offsetting oxidative stress.
I know that might sound confusing, so let me put it another way.
There’s a point in Star Wars when, to the everlasting dismay of nerds everywhere, Qui-Gon reveals that the Force could be quantified by measuring something called midi-chlorians. The ORAC rating is like that, only without the glaring error of ruining the entire idea of mystical energy by adding numbers to the mix and making everyone hate George Lucas.
Star Wars aside, the ORAC is kinda like that—in some sense, it quantifies the degree to which a compound will be effective against free radicals.
Just as midi-clorians are a measurement of your skill with the Force, ORAC determines how well a supplement fights free radicals.
Now, if you’ll forgive me further descending further into my seemingly never-ending spiral of nerdiness, the way I see it, greens powders are like a really effective Dungeons & Dragons adventuring party.
As any geek off the street can tell you, variety is crucial in a good party. You need to have a well thought out mix of races and classes to ensure success across various types of challenging situations; while it’s fun to be a barbarian and smash Orcs with your giant war hammer, a group of five barbarians isn’t terribly versatile—if they run into an chaotic evil Archmage who can cast fireballs at a distance, chances are good they’re screwed. We’ve all been there before.
Instead, a good party will have a “tank” (a big guy with lots of health who can absorb equal lots of damage), a healer like a Cleric or Priest, an offensive magic-user, and an agile, distance based warrior like a rogue or ranger.
With all of these classes, you’re prepared, with each having a strength that shores up ther others weaknesses.
So, they’re like the perfect D&D party of the health world: no matter what you need in a given situation, you’re covered.
Need a lock picked? Your rogue is on it. Someone to pepper the enemy with arrows from afar as you rescue prisoners from a maze? Your ranger is already in position. Healing spells? No problem, the priest already cast it. Someone skilled at fighting the undead? Your Paladin is dual-wielding his Mace of Disruption and Holy Avenger—you’re set. Dragon about to blast you with his fiery breath? No sweat, your mage just covered your entire party with a fire resistant etherial shield.
Well, that’s exactly what greens drinks are like. Only instead of a bunch of nerds sitting around a table rolling 20-sided dice it’s a multitude of freeze-dried fruits, veggies, and vitamins to make your body healthy.
And instead of helping you fight dragons and deal with your general inability to talk to girls, the best super greens powders fights free radicals and patches the holes in your armor created by your less-than-perfect diet.
But you can see how they are similar.
The point is, no matter where your deficiency is coming from—whether it’s from too much acidity or too few micronutrients—greens can help fill the void and get you back on track to pristine intestinal health.
That’s because it’s packed with everything from fruits fun-to-say-and-fun-to-eat like pineapple and papaya to hard-to-prononuce probiotics like Lactobacillus acidophilus to even-harder-to-pronounce stuff I’ve never heard of like Eleutherococcus senticosus root extract and Astragulus Membranaceus Root Extract—and as everyone knows, if you can’t pronounce it it’s probably really important1.
So, if when you’re looking for a source of free radical fighting goodness, you have a bunch of options that you can read in our article on greens powders.
The long and short of it is this: when it comes to supplements, my goal is always to provide my clients with the most optimal set up.
For a lot of people, that means minimal effective dose—getting as much out of their supplement plan as possible, while using no more than is absolutely necessary. For others, I’m a bit more heavy-handed and recommend quite a few things.
Every client is different. But one thing that never changes is this: I recommend greens for every single client I work with, because just about everyone can benefit from it. It’s like a one-stop-shop for everything your body requires without you realizing it.
These supplements help us do what so many of us fail to do: cover all the bases. Think of it like nutritional insurance.
That’s why I love it. No matter how good the nutrition program we’re following is, all of us need a little extra help.
And with just one supplement, you can fill all of the nutrition “gaps” that invariably occur when dieting while helping boost immunity and improves gut health. These things are great on their own, but they also play heavily into fat loss—so greens actually helps you make progress faster.
As an added bonus, it’ll help improve your appearance in other ways: they’re great for skin health, and over time will help you look younger, healthier, and more vibrant.
A multivitamin, in theory, provides the same benefits as greens. But there is a key difference. Our body won’t absorb vitamins and minerals extracted for multivitamins because they’re separate from the delicate environment presents in Whole Foods that helps our body absorb them. The fancy word for this is “bioavailability.” Vitamins and minerals from whole food sources often have better bioavailability.
Now, multivitamins are not terrible, but they’re often not as effective, and it some cases harmful. For more on multivitamins, check out this guide from Examine.
Look, you can make your own juices. You can buy whole-food vegetable juice at Trader Joe’s. There are dozens of options for a greens supplement, and just about every major supplement company has a greens supplement because now it’s a cool thing to sell. However, make sure you’re choosing a good one.
Comments for This Entry
Mark- AKA: ErgoladI just had this reaction today, one of the first times I really took it on a totally empty stomach first thing upon waking. It's weird because AG doesn't seem to contain much more Niacin than any other multi (100% USRDA), actually less than most high-potency multis I've taken. Wonder if there's anything else in it that causes flushing? I only felt it in my face, ears and neck, which it's worth noting were somewhat sunburned from excessive exposure over the last few days.
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February 15, 2015 at 12:11 pm
John RomanielloDamn. Your Force powers must be unstoppable!
January 16, 2015 at 11:34 pm
John RomanielloFair enough.
January 16, 2015 at 11:32 pm
John RomanielloIf you're going that high, you'd want to buy a liquid fish oil. You can increase dose to a much higher place without it being expensive. Biotrust makes a good liquid one.
January 16, 2015 at 11:32 pm
Jeff MennaI used to take Athletic Greens religiously until I read "The Calcium Lie 2." I still love everything in the supplement except the vitamins. Turns out if you are not getting the whole vitamin molecule you are potentially harming yourself. For example, Ascorbic Acid in nothing close the actual Vitamin C molecule, it's just the binding molecule part of vitamin C. So by taking ascorbic acid all you do is clog up all the binding sites for calcium and thus end up in a calcium deficient state. Same goes for other vitamins like A (beta carotene) which is just a small portion of the vitamin A molecule. I contacted Athletic Greens to pass along this info but they never responded. I switched to a product from Garden of Live called Perfect Food Raw, which has all the organic green super foods but without the low quality harmful vitamins. Seriously, read The Calcium Lie 2.
January 16, 2015 at 7:02 pm
John RomanielloThis is super interesting. Will read. Thank you for this!
January 16, 2015 at 11:32 pm
Mark- AKA: ErgoladI'd be curious to hear your follow up on Jeff Menna's post about "The Calcium Lie 2."
May 10, 2015 at 6:29 am
Ace Kincaidproblem is, I cannot get them over here in Germany. :-/ so what can I do?
January 16, 2015 at 6:33 pm
John RomanielloYou can grab them here: http://euroathleticgreens.go2cloud.org/aff_c?offer_id=4&aff_id=68
January 16, 2015 at 11:33 pm
Nader QudimatI've noticed even before I read this article that super green supplements are a must for any athlete or weight lifter for that matter. Since I live in a place where fresh fruits and vegetables are easily accessible and cheap, I don't invest in green supplements. Here you can get a 5 pounds of tomatoes for a dollar or two! Obviously I don't have all the time in the world to eat 50 tomatoes to gain noticeable benefits, but we actually juice them, with the skin and everything so it's more convenient and easier to consume. Super greens is a great suggestion for traveling, I don't mean carrying the powder around. It's a overall great supplement for anyone. Thanks for the great read John!
January 16, 2015 at 3:10 pm
Doug AcquardBe sure to drink your Athletic Greens. Athletic Greens? A crummy commercial? Son of a bitch!
January 16, 2015 at 2:56 pm
John RomanielloHa! Well, played. But, I'd like to think the actual science and content in the blog supersede any promotional stuff in terms of value
January 16, 2015 at 11:34 pm
shaneyHi roman i have been wanting to try this for some time now but find it hard to get hold of in uk do you have any suggestions at all.
January 16, 2015 at 7:34 am
John RomanielloSure! You can grab AG in the UK here: http://euroathleticgreens.go2cloud.org/aff_c?offer_id=4&aff_id=68
January 16, 2015 at 11:34 pm
kongoRoman, Thanks for the article, as usual. A couple things: 1. The link to the banner at the bottom for 50% off is broken, I think. It opens the picture file, not a link to 50% off of AG. The other links work, but I can't seem to grab the 50% off deal. 2. I'm currently using Amazing Grass ORAC, and previously Green Vibrance. Due to your, Eric Cressey and others' recommendation for AG, I thought about it, but it was truly MANY times the price of the best reviewed stuff on Amazon. In your honest opinion, why is AG many times more expensive, and is it really worth it (I know that's a "it depends" question, but for average peeps). I'm for using greens, but at that monthly price, it's a tough one for me compared to other greens out there that seem to be well used. Thanks again, sir! I'm on Superhero Workout Phase 1 right now. It is brutal (but good).
January 16, 2015 at 12:33 am
John Romaniello1) Fixed! Thanks =) 2) Honestly, I'd need to look at the specs on both Amazing Grass and Green Vibrance, but I suspect the quality of the ingredients (where they're sourced, potency, etc) would be the main determinant in price differential.
January 16, 2015 at 11:36 pm
Nick FletcherI clicked on the banner and my browser just went to a bigger picture of the banner...
January 15, 2015 at 11:44 pm
January 16, 2015 at 11:36 pm
Leonardo FAOROMy #1 supplement is 2000mg of Vitamin C (considered scientifically the best anti-oxidant source available)
May 3, 2013 at 5:05 pm
FredHey, I'm the 60th comment!
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May 2, 2013 at 6:25 pm
SarettaHi Roman, Athletic Greens sounds wonderful, but they don't ship to Europe (where I happen to be...). Know anything similar on the European market? Thanks!
February 26, 2012 at 11:58 am
Hilda_dadaI am to submit a report on this niche your post has been very very helpfull super greens drink
November 15, 2011 at 4:42 am
ZMAThis is informative one. Thanks to the one who contributed.
November 9, 2011 at 11:24 pm
AaronHello John, After reading this post I decided to give Athletic Greens a try. I just had one question. I currently follow an IF eating plan and have tried the warrior diet as well. Also love the cheat day/fast day you recommend. Would taking the greens first thing in the morning break the fast? Would it be better taking it with the 1st meal of the day? Thank you
November 3, 2011 at 6:44 pm
ThomasNerd post. A high midi-chlorian count makes it easier to access the force but does not necessarily affect how powerful one is. One with 20,000 (really high) compared to one with 15,000 (still pretty high) may be equal in ability to the one with 15,000. It is not exactly proportionate to someone's force capabilities.
November 1, 2011 at 2:47 pm
Innis orourkeI couldn't figure out how to reply to your comment to me( if I can do that). Gains on beta vs gains off beta. Its hard to say really because I went whole hog when I dialed in my fitness approach . I went from a terrible self made BB split with more cheat days than good days, to a focused power lifting approach, cleaned up my diet, and added supplements . That being said, I can tell when I haven't had my beta alanine . I can't say the same for most of the other sups I'm on. I also would like to add Surge work out fuel to the must have list. After my first leg work out on it.... I may never go back! By the way, the complexes from the Superhero program make my heart explode out of my chest.
October 2, 2011 at 10:45 am
John RomanielloHey Tasha, welcome to the blog! Really appreciate your comment. Please let me know how you like the greens =)
October 2, 2011 at 7:28 am
tashaHi! I'm a brand new blog reader, and I think you've just turned me into a "greens" consumer. I have some friends that use it, but I never knew what for and I'm not entirely sure they do either. Very interesting post!
September 29, 2011 at 9:03 am
coach outlet onlineSo, with this topic, I just tested and summarized how to do it. If you really want to know, you may have to go to drupal forum in the link above and ask from there. Sorry that I can't help.
September 27, 2011 at 8:48 pm
CaseyI think I have found a new favorite blog -- reading about supplements has never been quite so fascinating! One supplement I take every single day is Vitamin D, and I do a rotation of fish oil and a multivitamin every other day.
September 27, 2011 at 5:57 pm
DeanBit of topic but you and cressey have convinced me to foam roll http://www.physioroom.com/product/PhysioRoom.com_Elite_Foam_Roller_15cm_x_90cm/2025/39001.html Do you think that one would be okay? Thanks man
September 26, 2011 at 6:18 am
Todd I StarkDisclaimer: I'm not intending to comment here on the specific products discussed or their value. I just wanted to mention that I found this related educational article in of all places Plant Physiology journal. It gives a great technical explanation for why it has been so hard to get any evidence for a real value for supplemental antioxidants even though the damage caused by free radicals is so well established as is the role of antioxidants in countering their effects. Turns out that there seems to already be a neccessary ongoing balancing act in the levels of free radicals and antioxidants in living cells and it is regulated tightly enough that supplemental antioxidants don't appear to influence it much from available evidence so far. So from this perspective it looks like the whole idea of taking antioxidants for health might be based on a perfectly reasonable but possibly incorrect inference. I was fascinated by the possibility. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1475431/
September 25, 2011 at 2:27 pm
John RomanielloHey Dean, Great news - Athletic Greens will be available in the UK within the month. As for krill oil - take it every day. I would say for most people, 10g is plenty. Jack3d, I would take only pre-workout.
September 24, 2011 at 8:17 pm
DeanWish they did atheltic greens in the uk :( on XFLD what dosage would you recommend for krill oil/fish oil and when? Would love your view on it for which days to take it on Plus thinking of getting some jacked 3D it doesn't have carbs in etc so in guessing can take it on all days? Sharing your blog to other trainers!
September 24, 2011 at 6:18 pm
John RomanielloThanks for stopping by, Innis; really appreciate it my friend. Good list. Have you seen good gains with the beta?
September 24, 2011 at 10:36 am
John RomanielloJarrow looks okay; solid overall. AG should be available by you soon. Regarding the spike in heartrate, that's unusual. Might be an adverse reaction. I would watch carefully and perhaps get tested for allergies.
September 24, 2011 at 10:35 am
John RomanielloWill check it out - thanks!
September 24, 2011 at 10:33 am
John RomanielloGreens Plus is a good product; I mainly just dislike the taste. Not sure why by the after taste just kills me. A greens product and Vit D wouldn't be overkill, to my mind (although I prefer to get my D from the sun) --no need to take a multi, though. Overall, your list looks great!
September 24, 2011 at 10:33 am
John RomanielloThanks, Stephanie! I have been looking for a good pro-bio. Been hearing great stuff. I'll check that out; thank you for the referral =)
September 24, 2011 at 10:30 am
John RomanielloPretty comprehensive list. Me likey - I also use a fiber supp. Well played, sir.
September 24, 2011 at 10:28 am
John RomanielloThanks, Leor =) The DBZ reference was my fav there; glad someone picked up on it.
September 24, 2011 at 10:27 am
John RomanielloThanks so much for the comment, Wanda. I think the easiest and most beneficial way to tell is just what you mentioned - the ease with which you fight off colds. Great point. Really appreciate the kind words!
September 24, 2011 at 10:26 am
John RomanielloHaha, you know, as I was writing the but about dual-wielding, I knew you'd get a kick out of this. Appreciate you stopping by, man.
September 24, 2011 at 10:25 am
John RomanielloThanks for stopping by, Mate! Appreciate the info =)
September 24, 2011 at 10:24 am
John RomanielloInteresting point. I suppose I'll have to concede that for travel, powders are pretty inconvenient; at least compared to pills. The only supplements I can think of that I've found to be more effective in powder form are greens, caffeine, and creatine. I'd have a hard time quantifying how much more effective; just my observations. Greens because taking it in pill form would be like 90 pills. Creatine because it dissolves better. Caffeine because it will hit the bloodstream faster.
September 24, 2011 at 10:15 am
John RomanielloAlas! For me, it is absolutely, positively, completely, and in all other ways totally fucking necessary for me to swear in order to get my point across. A grave character flaw, I'm certain. Thanks for the comment--vulgarity of questionable necessity notwithstanding, I'm glad you're enjoying the information.
September 24, 2011 at 10:11 am
John RomanielloHey Doc, GREAT comment! Really important info. I'm sure if you could post some resources where we could read about interactions (ie if we increase Vit D, what happens), we could all learn a lot. Thanks!
September 24, 2011 at 10:08 am
Chris SpiethWondering if swearing is absolutely necessary to get your points across? I think you share alot of awesome ideas that I implement for a healthy lifestyle.. Thanks for sharing your valuable information!
September 24, 2011 at 8:32 am
Innis orourkeI love beta alanine! also a big fan of fish oil and Vit D3
September 23, 2011 at 7:51 pm
Doc SheehanRoman: AS a holistic Dr for 23 years, I can note that taking one mineral or vitamin will change the balance of ALL vitamins or minerals. A notable exception is vit c; that raises sodium, but not significantly. Otherwise, most over-the-counter vitamin therapy will not often work well, and certainly, not for an extended length of time. Taking high-quality food, as you suggest, is first choice. Then, get tested by someone who actually understands nutrition to see what else you might need. The "shotgun" vitamin approach may cause more problems than they solve. All the best, Dude!
September 22, 2011 at 3:01 pm
Jini CiceroHi John, I think a greens drink like the one you're promoting is really important as well as the fish (I prefer Krill) oil and protein supplements that you also recommend. In addition to those, I also recommend a good probiotic to my clients. You make a lot of great points in this article; I'd like to add one thing...While taking the fewest number of supps is preferred, our diets indeed ARE deficient; often due to conditions beyond our control like soil depletion, pollution, pesticides, hormones and other chemical compounds that our bodies just don't know what to do with and that can create a compromised internal environment effecting everything from general health to fat loss (as you point out.) My suggestion is to get tested. Find out what your body and metabolism are lacking. As long as we're as devoted as we all are to optimal health, why not find out (through an alternative medicine practitioner), what your own body is lacking instead of wasting money on supps you may not even need.
September 22, 2011 at 2:30 pm
YlwaAnd it tastes like lawn in a bowl! Which, surprisingly is not bad at all. I like supps too, I do. My biggest problem is actually to rembember to take them. I've become significantly better at it since I started my contest prep, which has also upped my supplement intake by probably 200%. As long as I stay home I'm fine, but travelling, even for a day, really messes up my routine and my memory. Especially for the stuff that comes in powder form, which is also my biggest neg on AG. I hate powder stuff. It's messy, it's hard to measure out if you go by grams and don't have a scale, it's usually disgustingly flavored and it's inconvenient to bring with you. 9 times out of 10 if it's something I miss out on taking, it's the powder. So, in your opinion. Are there supps that actually work better if they're taken in powder form? Which ones, and why?
September 22, 2011 at 1:17 pm
Chris the KiwiAhhh Roman, You are one of a kind mate. Thanks for the post, hilarious (I do not know how you got D and D in there, but I like it) and I think you covered off the merits of Athletic Greens nicely. A few of your readers have posted questions, so assuming it is ok with you, I will cover off some of the answers, and try to do so in an explanatory manner rather than bashing other companies. How does Athletic Greens compare to other "greens" products? To Greens or Not To Greens That was the original question when naming this product, specifically, to call it "Greens" and have Greens somewhere in the title, or not. When naming this product (i was the least intelligent of the many people behind its creation, but I named it), i decided to call it Athletic Greens because is was full of green, whole-food sourced nutrition and it was designed for Athletes and active people. People like me, and if you read Roman's blog, people like you too. Not coming from the US of A, I was not aware that here, "Greens" are generally grass based (bad idea to load up, humans don't eat a lot of grass) blends of various land and sometimes sea vegetables, occasionally with the odd extract thrown in. In other words, a big pile of vegetables, hopefully "superfood" in nature, mixed up in a bottle, and generally tasting like grASS. Because we stacked so much more in to each bottle than the other greens guys (our goal really was the all in one, oil products exempted) as we progressed towards launch I realized my error in nomenclature. We are not just a "greens" product. We are the fucking rockstar of supplements (and yes, I am very biased) Each serve has every vitamin you could want in there, all 100% food sourced, with co-factors. We have minerals in there, each in a superior bioavailable form, then we went after anti-oxidants, superfoods (the bulk coming from New Zealand), both whole plant and extracts (there is a BIG difference with some ingredients), digestive enzymes (the papaya and pineapple Roman mentions help with this, as well as flavor, but we added others too), adaptagenic herbs, some mild liver cleansing ingredients, some interesting mushrooms, pre-biotics (to create an environment conducive for positive bacteria to thrive in), non-dairy pro-biotics (the actual good bacteria), we ensured (and 3rd party test) free of all common allergens, and we thought hard about amounts of each ingredient, form of each ingredient, with a view to ongoing, optimum daily intake. For each ingredient we went best in class, with a view towards amazing gut health, and absorption of the nutrients not just of the ingredients in this formula, but everything else you eat that day. Gut health, immunity, micro-nutrients, anti-oxidants, stuff for your brain, liver, cellular cleansing, blah blah blah i could bore you all day with this stuff. Suffice to say quality and quality control are not an issue, nor is wanting for anything. Did I mention it tastes good too? We weren't looking to have a superfoods based Greens product. We wanted a green, superfood containing whole-food sourced all in one health product, designed for active people, that would in effect, be the world's first SUPER SUPPLEMENT. No one else has done this, perhaps because it costs a ton of money and is extremely complex to manage and sort out. Or perhaps because to maintain typical supplement company margins (which we don't have) it would put the price in the the high 300's per bottle. Overall, I think they would rather you bought multiple, high-margin products, with a new "amazing" discovery every few months to keep the confusion (and profits) going, but I digress. In having Greens in the name I quickly grew tired of questions asking us how we compared to "other greens" supplements and I realized my error towards the end of last year, just before we launched. I was in a conversation with a pretty smart guy by the name of Timothy Ferriss and told him that I was looking to change the name, and why, and did he have any ideas, when he sealed it. "Kiwi, don't change the name, I love Athletic Greens, it is going in the 4 Hour Body, and the book has gone to the publishers" Ahh, right. I NEVER asked him to do that, and it was the first I had heard of it. Suddenly it became clear why he had been asking me so many questions about quality control and how and where we sourced our ingredients. Going in the book? Can't say I was unhappy. (ok, i was delighted!) But as a result, the name stuck (though we were looking at a name change to something gay but it in its own genre like Life Fuel right up until two months ago, but we are staying with Athletic Greens). As a result, new labels are in play, and a brand new website will be here before the end of the year. I agree with Roman, none of us really NEED to take any supplement. But convenience aside (food is first) I am a pretty big believer in stacking the deck in your favor, and I am also a big believer in Nutritional Insurance. AG, Fish Oil, and if you don't get enough sun (go get the sun), Vitamin D3, and you are seriously good to go. Incidentally, those three products are all we sell. Regarding your questions, below is the email that every customer gets after they order Athletic Greens. But firstly i should point out that I WANT you to take Athletic Greens on an empty stomach and no it won't make your tummy sore or your urine orange (hello "food" plus absorption). Expect some solid energy boosts, a more robust immune system, and record beating shit quality. And to be indicative on input, it costs us more to make each bottle of Athletic Greens than you can buy a Greens Plus bottle for, and we are doing 10,000 kg batches. I invite you to be the judge. We have the longest (60 day) guarantee for a reason, we don't use it much. And if you are unhappy in any way, I invite you to bleat here on my or Roman's facebook page, for the whole world to see. Over to you, mate. Sorry for the long post Roman! Hope you are enjoying India. Kiwi That email: "Hey mate, A quick note in response to the THE most common question I get about Athletic Greens…. Q: What other supplements should I be taking? With the exception of a quality fish oil the answer is….. well…. NONE really. One serving of athletic greens a day REMOVES the NEED for ANY of the following types of supplements ANY single vitamin product Vitamin A, B, C, E, K Multi-vitamins Stress complexes (B vitamins) Any mineral product Multi-minerals Calcium or Magnesium products Zinc products Antioxidant products “Longevity” formulas Anti-aging formulas Skin, Bone and Hair formulas Pro biotic formulas Pre biotic formulas Digestive enzymes Digestive “cleanses” Liver “cleanses” Co-factor formulas or products Power berry formulas Power mushroom formulas Adaptagenic herb formulas or tonics Daily Immunity boosters Alkaline formulas or products Greens products (any of them!) Chlorella/spirulina Vegetable formulas Superfood products (ANY of them, whether single products or bundles) …. And pretty much anything else unless you have a specific ailment and a nutritional professional has advised you to consume that product. We said Ultimate All in One, and we meant it We said The Ultimate Nutritional Insurance, and we meant that too We also said we would save you time, and MONEY, and we absolutely meant that. EVERY ingredient in Athletic Greens has been carefully selected for - Quality (each is best in class) - Optimum amount for daily health and performance - Optimum source (whole food sourced only) and type for absorption To buy all the ingredients in Athletic Greens and put them together yourself would cost you $1000 a month, easy (we priced it out at GNC). And that is assuming you could get the same quality ingredients, which I doubt. We said you would feel the difference, and we meant that too! Take your Athletic Greens every day, and YOU be the judge. And buy a ton of really good fish oil. (we couldn’t get that one in to the Athletic Greens formula as it needs to stay in an oil base, sorry!). If you live in a very cold clime or for whatever reason are not getting 30-60 minutes of sun a day, then something you should probably add is some high quality high dose Vitamin D3 (2000-5000 IU per day). I prefer the sun. That’s it. Anything else is going to be ailment or custom goal specific. "100% Focus On Happiness" That is my mantra, and it starts with phenomenal health. Best, Chris "the Kiwi" Ashenden"
September 22, 2011 at 11:18 am
Kristy RussHey Roman. Love FPFL workouts. I've had great success. And love reading your blogs- very entertaining- your sense of humor is like mine. As a pharmacist and nutritional medicine specialist, I have to disagree with you today tho. Everyone DOES need to take supplements if they want to be healthy and prevent future health problems. Even if you have a proper diet, it's physically impossible to get all the nutrients your body needs to function optimally just from food. AND the particular supplement you choose makes a huge difference. The market is flooded with extremely low quality products that usually don't do a thing- may as well throw your money away. I use and recommend only one brand. It took me a lot of research to find a high quality supplement- you can actually feel and see the difference. I've seen it over and over again. I looked into the Athletic Greens, and it seems pretty low quality. When you process raw food like that, you lose a lot of the nutrient value and as soon as you break the seal, the antioxidant activity of a product like that starts going down exponentially, so that by the time you get to the end, there's not much left. Using raw food is also difficult to control quality and guarantees that each batch is nutritionally different from the next. It's definitely not the worst product I've reviewed, but I don't think it's going to give you the results you're hoping for... It's so important that people learn why they need to supplement and that they choose a quality brand, that I created an information website to "spread the word". I invite you & your readers to check out the link.
September 22, 2011 at 11:17 am
Matt KittoeI loved this post so much...it's hard to put into words, really. So often when I'm reading your stuff, I think to myself "Why didn't I think of that!?" I take fish oil, superfood/greens powder and I take some zinc before bed.
September 22, 2011 at 10:29 am
WandaHey Roman, Great blog, i've been wanting to try those athletic greens - seems like they'd be very beneficial for me. I like to eat as healthy as possible but i don't like most vegi's so taking i'm currently taking the multi-vitamin VGF25 for women from prograde, that has been the best investment for me. Since i've taking it my body fights off colds & sickness, i highly recommend it. Thanks for your great info.
September 22, 2011 at 10:26 am
LeorThis may just be my favorite post of yours ever. The D&D, Star Wars, and DBZ references aside (amazing) I like that you're supporting a vegetable based supplement because balanced nutrition is really what people need more of these days, not 30 pills with individual goals.
September 22, 2011 at 9:46 am
StephanieThe one supplement I never forget to take is Super Shield Probiotic from Blue Rock Holistics. I also take their Vitalmega-3 Fish Oil supplement. Your blogs rock!
September 22, 2011 at 9:41 am
KristinLove your blogs! Can you substitute Garden of Life Perfect Foods Super Green? I have had so many problems with getting sick...as soon as I am on a jag of working out consistently and eating right...I will get a cold or get sick....it sucks! Am hoping this will help my immune system!
September 22, 2011 at 6:41 am
Tom RobertsonMy everyday supplement list includes a Multivitamin (currently using Animal Pak), Glucosamine Sulphate & Chondroitin Sulphate, Omega 3 fish oil (which includes EPA & DHA) and a ispaghula husk fibre supplement Play around with my pre workout/ creatine / protein supplements
September 22, 2011 at 6:08 am
CassRoman, How does this product compare to something like Greens Plus (which I think has a pretty solid reputation)? Also when taking Athletic Greens or Greens Plus, are you overdoing it if you are also taking a daily multi and some Vit D? And on the Fish Oil side, I take Nordic Naturals Omega-3, with the following stats: 2 soft gels contain EPA 330 mg DHA 220 mg Other Omega-3's 140 mg Total Omega-3's 690 mg Is this sufficient for overall health, fat loss, etc? Thanks! Good read :) Cass
September 22, 2011 at 5:38 am
AllieLuv your information style! I take Shark Liver Oil, 1000 mg of Vit D from October-May, Coq10 ( I'm over 40 and a fitness nutt), 25mg of Lutein ( my eyes are 20/10), and 1 1/2 tablespoons of Chlorophyll in my cereal per day. I drink 500mls of Cherry Juice daily ( usually b4 working out), one bottle of Zico Coconut water/day ( almost 500 mls), takes place of a couple of glasses of water. Lastly, Proteins + from Genuine Health after w/o and sometimes before. It's a protein isolate and tastes great! Also make my own jumbleberry smoothies each day. Am I a little crazy? Lol. Haven't had a sick day at all, in any way shape or form for at least 15 yrs. Now THATS something!
September 22, 2011 at 5:34 am
AdrianThanks for the info Roman. You might also want to check out earthing dot com for a way to eliminate free radicals 24/7.
September 22, 2011 at 4:44 am
AndrewAwesome post Roman. What do you think of Jarrow Green Defence, as I cant get AG in Hong Kong. On an unrelated note a female friend of mine took ZMA and felt her heartrate spike. is this a normal side effect?
September 22, 2011 at 2:50 am
John RomanielloTruth. Fish oil or bust.
September 22, 2011 at 12:45 am
John RomanielloThanks for the kind word, man. I'll say hi to Tim...no lions yet, though. YET.
September 22, 2011 at 12:45 am
John RomanielloVit D is seriously under valued. I'm a sun guy (surfing, beach bum, and the occasional tanning bed for photo shoots) so I get a lot, but I supplement with it in the winter. Excellent point, Tom. And thank you for the kind words on the blog!
September 22, 2011 at 12:44 am
John RomanielloI did NOT know that about mustard--that's super cool. I'm a big fan of curcumin; I'm lucky enough to get it from Biotest for free, and remember to take it about 3x per week. Since you mention skin, though, I'll try to be more diligent. I'll keep you posted, and glad gamer girlz dig the post.
September 22, 2011 at 12:42 am
John RomanielloHey Michelle, Welcome to the fold! Congrats on the weight loss so far, and thanks for picking up FPFL; your support means a lot to me. I'm pumped you liked the blog post =) Good luck and let me know how I can help!
September 22, 2011 at 12:41 am
John RomanielloAwesome. Superfood is legit, and has the added benefit of being a flavor that works with food. Shugart has some cool baking recipes where he adds it in. The blueberry superfood muffins are AWESOME.
September 22, 2011 at 12:40 am
John RomanielloFor. SURE. I don't consider fish oil necessary for "health." I consider it necessary for LIFE. It's not a supplement, it's like a staple. How anyone can not take fish oil is beyond me. 4g is solid. For fat loss, I like 1g per percentage point of fat. (So, if you're 10%, take 10g).
September 22, 2011 at 12:38 am
John RomanielloThanks so much, Christian; means a lot. I gotta book a trip to Oz and hang out with you guys -- would be epic.
September 22, 2011 at 12:37 am
John RomanielloThanks for the kind words, man! I don't take my multi anymore, now that I use AG. Most multis made my tummy ache and my pee fluorescent anyway, so I don't miss it. Lemme know what you think of Athletic Greens, though!
September 22, 2011 at 12:37 am
MichelleMultivitamin, vitamin D, fish oil, cla, and amino acids (GNC amino 1000). Roman, the fact that you can write a blog about supplements that makes me crack up is super cool. I stumbled upon your name and website about a month ago, and read at least one of your past blogs once a day! I am in week 3 of FPFL...have lost 65lbs this past year and hoping your program will get me to my ultimate goal - a flat belly @ 30yrs old after having 3 kids!
September 21, 2011 at 7:38 pm
GlennVit D3, Krill oil, Multivitamin. I use Biotest Superfood instead of AG as I haven't found anywhere I can buy AG in New Zealand.
September 21, 2011 at 5:12 pm
TomDefinitely vitamin D3 and fish oil. It's sad how deficient most of the population is in Vitamin D, EPA, and DHA. By the way, I love your site Roman!
September 21, 2011 at 2:40 pm
DarrenGreat writing and dammit you got Star Wars and D&D references into a blog containing free radical discussion...where were you during undergrad bio? Lol Like you I take AG daily, which means I no longer has a dresser looking like an aisle in vitamin shoppe. I also take krill oil twice a day, though it only recently replaced fish oil on my without list Say hi to Tim and the lions in India...I LOVE lions
September 21, 2011 at 12:48 pm
RebeccaI take a few supplements, including flaxseed oil because I can't stand the idea of taking fish oil. I'm a diehard fan of turmeric supplements, though. Turmeric-- well, curcumin specifically-- is being researched for everything from cancer prevention to Alzheimer's prevention. But I started taking it because it helps with healthy skin, both preventatively and recuperatively. (Did you know that if you get a mild burn and you put ordinary yellow mustard on it, the turmeric in it will ease the pain and speed healing?) Considering the stress that urban living and regular workouts can put on skin, this has definitely helped maintain my youthful glow. =) I bet the antiseptic/anti-inflammatory properties don't hurt when it comes to the fact that I almost never get sick and kick colds quickly on the rare occasions they do come on (though there's surely a lot of factors in play there). Also, laughed at all the geek humor. Gamer girl seal of approval. ;-)
September 21, 2011 at 9:55 am
RJFish oil. Hands down. We need them to balance out the overabundance of omega-6s in the diet and I just don't feel as good if I haven't had my daily fish oil for a week or so.
September 21, 2011 at 9:49 am
James4g of fish oil. DOMS sucks.
September 21, 2011 at 9:24 am
Christian BakerAhh I love your conversational style and your randomness... The info is spot on and I believe in green foods 100%. GREAT POST
September 21, 2011 at 9:22 am
AdamHey Roman, great post, very informative and comical too! My supplement is my multi vitamin, that's it. I feel so much better 30 - 45 mins after taking it, it improves every aspect in my life. Looks like I might have a new one, though after reading your post :)
September 21, 2011 at 3:32 am