Maybe you realized about Athletic Greens on an episode of “Pod Save America,” or between grotesque tales on “Crime Junkie.” Perhaps you heard an advert for it on Dax Shepard’s podcast, “Armchair Expert,” or Conan O’Brien’s or, if it’s extra your fashion, Joe Rogan’s. You might need even caught wind of it on a New York Times podcast, like The Daily.
“The secret to creating a profitable podcast is you need to use Athletic Greens,” joked the author and editor Clint Carter in a tweet.
For an organization that’s been round for greater than a decade, it appears to have appeared out of nowhere. Athletic Greens aggressively advertises (and sells) just one product: AG1, a moss-toned powder that prices $99 for a 30-serving bag and claims to be “all you actually need, actually.”
But it isn’t a meal substitute neither is it a pre- or post-workout drink, because the model’s title implies. AG1 guarantees “75 nutritional vitamins, minerals, whole-food sourced superfoods, probiotics and adaptogens” in a single scoop. The ingredient listing is biblically lengthy and rife with parentheses, its parts categorized by wellness buzzwords: “Alkaline, Nutrient-Dense Raw Superfood Complex” (together with spirulina, wheatgrass and broccoli flower powder), “Nutrient Dense Extracts” (pea protein isolate, ashwagandha extract) and “Digestive Enzyme & Super Mushroom Complex” (like dietary enzymes and mushroom powders).
Simply put, it’s a drinkable multivitamin and probiotic.
Within the smooth, emerald packaging — designed, it appears, to make opening it really feel ceremonial — is a bag of AG1 and a transparent branded bottle. The directions suggest mixing one 12-gram scoop of powder with eight to 12 ounces of chilly water and consuming the concoction on an empty abdomen (“or as advisable by your well being care skilled”).
After a purchase order, Athletic Greens sends clients an electronic mail suggesting methods to make the dietary complement style higher: Add juice, combine it with plant-based milk or mix it right into a smoothie. Sweetened with stevia and flavored with pineapple and vanilla, the powder tastes precisely the way it sounds: like broccoli pretending to be a milkshake.
In a sponsored TikTok for the model, Callie Jardine, a fitness influencer, makes use of AG1 to make what she calls her “scorching woman inexperienced smoothie.” Adding the inexperienced powder, she says within the video, helps together with her “actually intense digestive issues.” (Everyone is aware of hot girls have stomach issues.)
But Athletic Greens is not only for warm women and athletes. Current clients are “50 % ladies and 50 % male,” and vary from ages 20 to 70, the corporate mentioned in an electronic mail, with the most important proportion of shoppers falling between 30 and 50 years outdated. The breadth of podcasts the product has appeared on makes one factor clear: Chris Ashenden, Athletic Greens’s founder, needs everybody to drink his product.
“There’s this cultural phenom the place individuals wish to be in command of their very own well being,” mentioned Mr. Ashenden, an entrepreneur from New Zealand, the place AG1 is produced. “And I don’t suppose the genie goes again within the bottle.”
As Covid-19 unfold in March 2020, gross sales for multivitamins within the United States rose by more than 50 percent in contrast with the identical interval the earlier 12 months, and the complement trade was valued at $151.9 billion in 2021 by Grand View Research, a market analysis firm. In January, it was announced that Athletic Greens, which Mr. Ashenden began in 2010, had raised $115 million in enterprise capital, and that the corporate’s valuation had hit $1.2 billion.
Influencer partnerships on TikTok, together with podcasts, appear to be a excessive precedence for the model’s advertising and marketing — posts bearing the hashtag #agpartner proliferated on the platform after the funding announcement and have been considered greater than 38 million occasions.
“It would actually pop up on all of my social medias,” mentioned Lexi Fadel, a 27-year-old bodily therapist in Los Angeles. After fighting hormonal zits and bloating, she mentioned, “I used to be keen to strive something.” Influencers satisfied her that AG1 was the reply. Ms. Fadel bought AG1 twice — regardless of the style. “Not the very best,” she mentioned. “It was to my profit, so I compelled it down.”
After three months with out modifications, she determined to present it up. “I devour sufficient greens by myself,” she mentioned.
There’s nothing novel about individuals craving management of their well being, and advertising and marketing meals and drinks as complete well being options just isn’t a brand new phenomenon: One-stop-shop predecessors embody Soylent, beloved by bio-hacking tech bros, and Daily Harvest, a smoothie firm and influencer darling lately embroiled in a recall scandal.
AG1’s purported advantages are obscure sufficient to compel credulous shoppers. It “promotes intestine well being,” “helps immunity,” “boosts vitality” and “helps restoration,” the corporate claims. Of course, there’s advantageous print: “These statements haven’t been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product just isn’t meant to diagnose, deal with, remedy or forestall any illness.”
“The overarching drive to purchase one thing like that’s not feeling adequate about your physique,” mentioned Christy Harrison, a dietitian and creator whose forthcoming e book focuses on the traps of the wellness trade. “It’s a slippery slope. You really feel unhealthy about your self, you wish to self-optimize and also you suppose that you are able to do that by way of this wellness phenomena, like Athletic Greens or Soylent or intermittent fasting.”
At the core of our obsession with wellness, and the proliferation of those merchandise, mentioned Alissa Rumsey, a dietitian and creator of the e book “Unapologetic Eating,” is the very human worry of dying and need for management. The wellness trade perpetuates each. “It could make individuals really feel like their well being is one hundred pc of their management,” she mentioned. “But it’s not.”
“We know what occurs once we eat the entire fruit or the entire vegetable,” Ms. Rumsey mentioned. “It’s not fairly as clear after they’re damaged down into the compounds in these powders.”
So how, within the quickly increasing and extremely unregulated world of wellness, is a client to make an knowledgeable selection?
Those who can afford to experiment with one thing like Athletic Greens — like Ms. Fadel — are in all probability consuming sufficient fruit and veggies, Ms. Harrison mentioned.
“Most individuals don’t want dietary supplements of any type — whether or not its inexperienced powders or tablet dietary supplements.”