A high-quality greens powder can be a power-house supplement crafted with an impressive blend of ingredients, including vegetables, probiotics, and digestive enzymes.
Some greens powders can contain as many as 50 ingredients and potentially offer numerous health benefits, including improved energy and mood, better digestion, reduced risk of chronic disease, and more.
So when should you be drinking your greens powder?
In this article, we’ll walk you through some of the key dos and don'ts of consuming green powder and what you need to know about absorption, potential interactions, and more.
Can You Take Greens Powder On An Empty Stomach?
Some greens powders brands will advise taking your greens on an empty stomach, while others will advise drinking them before, during, or just after a meal.
So, is there a right way to consume your greens powder?
Once we’ve consumed a meal, our body will determine whether or not we got enough nourishment. If we haven’t, you’ll start to feel hungry sooner.
If you get enough nutrients, you'll remain fuller for longer. The size of your stomach will also determine how full you feel.
Decades ago, researchers used radiotracers on food and discovered that liquid and solid elements have different appearances on X-Ray images. (Sounds like a no-brainer, but stick with us).
It was discovered that liquid foods emptied faster than solid foods, but as technology developed, scientist Peter Mansfield developed rapid sequencing that developed pictures of the stomach using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI).
Ultimately, this research found that food divides into layers in the stomach. An example of this would be if you were to eat rice and drink a glass of water - the rice would move into the dependent part of the stomach, and the water would escape.
So, when you stop consuming food, the size of your stomach will shrink faster than if you mixed the two together.
If you mixed the two into a gruel (aka a smoothie), the separation of solid and liquid is impossible. The result? Feeling fuller for longer.
While this research wasn’t performed on powders, it suggests a similar phenomenon - that powders may make us feel fuller for longer, like smoothies.
So, how does this determine when we should consume them?
Most people report feeling more benefits when consuming greens powders on an empty stomach. If it’s satiety you’re after, this may be the best to consume your greens, too.
However, if you have a sensitive stomach, you might be better off drinking your green powder with a meal. Consuming smoothies, powdered drinks, or blended concoctions may be harsher on our digestive system.
Before we consume raw foods, our stomach and pancreas start to secrete fluid, ready to digest the food - also called the cephalic phase of eating. Essentially, the brain is engaged and ready to feed our gut.
This process is telling our gut to get ready for what’s coming. However, when we consume powders, smoothies, or blended products, we skip this part of the process.
This means that your green powder may take longer to digest, and if you have a sensitive stomach, this could cause symptoms like bloating or cramping.
Remember, though: green powders are designed to include the maximum amount of nutrition, so generally speaking - there’s no specific time of day you need to drink them.
You can drink your green powder whenever you feel comfortable.
If you want to feel fuller for longer (but you don’t want to drink your greens powder with a meal), try adding a scoop of protein powder into the mix to give you an extra sense of fullness.
Should I Drink My Greens Before Or After Coffee?
I personally don’t have anything before I have coffee, however, some reasearch indicates that caffeine may interfere with nutrient absorption - so it may be more effective to take your greens powder half an hour or so before you have your coffee.
While it may not be what you think of when you think of a greens powder blend such as barley and spirulina - there are such things as ‘green coffee powders’ which are made with raw and unroasted green coffee beans.
These green coffee powders contain high levels of chlorogenic acid, which has potential chemopreventive and antioxidant properties. In addition, chlorogenic acid is thought to help fight off free radicals in the body, which can prevent DNA damage and may even halt the induction of carcinogenesis.
When compared to drinking a cup of coffee from roasted coffee beans - opting for a green coffee powder may have more health benefits.
Should You Drink Greens Powder Instead Of Coffee?
Coffee is safe (& delicious) when consumed in moderation, and may actually impart health benefits of its own.
Moderation is the key though, with some research indicating that acute caffeine intake can temporarily increase blood pressure and have an effect on our heart rate. These physical symptoms contribute to that feeling of alertness we seek, and they pose no immediate threats to our health.
However, exceeding around four cups of coffee a day can produce unwanted side effects, including insomnia, restlessness, nausea, digestive upset, and more. In severe cases, excessive consumption may even cause hormonal imbalances.
Although research into the long-term effects of greens powder consumption is limited, so far, there’s no evidence to suggest that its unwanted side effects are as common as those experienced with excessive caffeine consumption.
So, if your coffee habit is giving you the jitters, why not try swapping it out for a high-quality greens powder like Athletic Greens AG1 or Vital Greens and seeing if it gives you a nicer energy support?
However, note that greens powders can still cause side effects in some users, especially those with sensitive stomachs.
Side effects are very rare, but when experienced may include:
- Stomach pain
If you have a sensitive stomach or an issue with your digestive system, start out with a small dose and try eating beforehand.
The Bottom Line
In an age where we’re surrounded by the temptations of fast food, processed sugars, and unhealthy habits, greens powders can be a great way to fill any nutritional gaps that happen in a fast-paced lifestyle.
If you’re concerned about your health or want to make a positive change to your lifestyle, incorporating a supplement like greens powders into your diet can give you a welcome support of nutrients and help keep your general wellness in check.
If you’re thinking of trying greens powder, you’ll be pleased to know that there are no hard and fast rules for when you should consume it.
Just make sure you a buying a high-qualirty powder from a trusted brand that welcomes 3rd party testing and is tranparent with their sourcing and production principles.