Super Greens Powder Key Points:
- There is no evidence that super greens powder can inhibit muscle growth; there is, however, evidence that high-dose anti-oxidants can limit strength and muscle growth gains.
- A recent study found that 1000 mg of Vitamin C and 470 mg of Vitamin E did not result in enhanced muscle growth but tended to have worse outcomes than the placebo group.
- Whole foods are the best way to consume your vegetables rather than dietary supplements and daily greens powder.
Super Greens Powder
If you are a bodybuilder or someone who loves to exercise, you may be aware of the importance of proper nutrition for muscle gain. One popular supplement that has gained traction in recent years is super greens powder, green superfood, mega greens, and superfood greens powder. While these powders are known for their high nutrient and anti-oxidant content and organic ingredients in a convenient scoop, there have been concerns that they may inhibit long-term muscle gains and athletic performance.
In this blog post, we will take a deeper look at how super greens powder and other anti-oxidant powdered smoothies can potentially muscle growth and whether the benefits outweigh the potential drawbacks. We will also discuss the role of antioxidants in muscle hypertrophy and how high-dose antioxidants may hinder muscle growth.
The Impact of Super Greens Powder on Muscle Hypertrophy
Many individuals engaged in resistance training aim to achieve muscle hypertrophy, which represents an increase in muscle size. Nutrition, exercise regimen, and the body’s physiological response to stress all influence this complex process. Lately, researchers have explored the potential impact of antioxidant supplementation on muscle hypertrophy.
According to Muñoz Marín et al. (2018), proponents promote antioxidants for bodybuilding to reduce exercise-induced cell damage, muscle soreness, and fatigue. However, it’s important to remember that free radicals are crucial as signaling molecules for training adaptations. Blocking free radicals can prevent beneficial training adaptations (Gomez-Cabrera et al., 2012; Morales-Alamo & Calbet, 2016).
In other words, a certain amount of free radicals are necessary for your body to adapt to exercise stress and improve performance. This is a crucial consideration for those consuming superfood greens for their antioxidant properties
What are Anti-Oxidants
Antioxidants are substances that can prevent or slow damage to cells caused by free radicals, unstable molecules that the body produces as a reaction to environmental and other cellular stressors. A recent study investigated the effects of mannan oligosaccharides (MOSs), a type of antioxidant, on muscle function and muscle mass in mice. The study found that MOS supplementation improved muscle function and muscle mass. However, the study also found that MOS supplementation regulated gut microbiome and microbial metabolites, suggesting that the effects of MOS on muscle hypertrophy may be mediated through the gut microbiome. (Zhao et al., 2023)
While antioxidants are generally beneficial for health, high-dose antioxidant supplements have been suggested to potentially reduce muscle hypertrophy. (Canals-Garzón et al., 2022; Dutra et al., 2020; Krzysztofik et al., 2019; Martinez-Ferran et al., 2020; Merry & Ristow, 2016; Ranchordas et al., 2017)
Super Greens Powder: High-Powered Anti-Oxidants
Athletic greens and other super greens powders have been advocated to optimize health, support athletic performance, and enhance recovery by providing necessary nutrients, phytochemicals, and anti-inflammatory properties. Athletes consume powdered green supplements for a variety of reasons:
- Nutrient Supplementation: Green powders are a convenient way to increase nutrient intake if you don’t consume enough veggies. Greens blend contains a variety of ingredients, such as leafy greens, a blend of fruits and berries, seaweed, vegetables, fruits, probiotics, and herbs, which are rich in vitamins, minerals, and plant compounds with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
- Immune Support: Some green powders contain immune-boosting ingredients like spirulina and probiotics, which can help support the immune system and overall health.
- Convenience: Green powders offer a convenient way to supplement the daily intake of vitamins and minerals, especially for athletes who may have higher nutritional needs due to their intense training schedules. Most are typically used in a smoothie in conjunction with protein powders, etc.
- Performance Enhancement: Some supergreens powders are specifically designed for athletes, with ingredients that can support energy levels, recovery, and performance.
- Potential Health Benefits: Some research suggests that green powders may support healthy blood pressure, boost the immune system, prevent chronic diseases, and promote eye and cognitive health.
Benefits of Superfoods, Mega Greens Supplement, and Green Powders Smoothie
If you don’t consume fruits or vegetables on a regular basis, then incorporating mega greens and green powders into your diet can provide numerous health benefits. Superfoods powders contain ingredients like spirulina, chlorella, wheatgrass, kale, spinach, barley grass, alfalfa, and broccoli, which contain phytonutrients and antioxidants (i.e., vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, and zinc) that support gut health, digestion, boost immunity and energy levels. These green blends typically include probiotics, prebiotics, digestive enzymes, detoxification ingredients, and adaptogens like ashwagandha or reishi extract for overall wellness.
The Role of Superfood Greens and Performance Adaptations
Super greens powder is a great way to add nutrition to your diet in convenient packaging. However, it’s important to consume them moderately within the recommended daily limits, as overconsumption can lead to negative performance outcomes.
During exercise, the body produces reactive oxygen species (ROS) and reactive nitrogen species (RNS) as byproducts of energy metabolism. These molecules are crucial in cell signaling pathways and essential for muscle adaptation to exercise. However, an excess of these molecules can cause oxidative stress, leading to cellular damage. Antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E, are often used to counteract this oxidative stress to enhance performance and improve muscle mass.
Super Greens Powder Studies
However, recent studies suggest that high-dose antioxidant supplementation may hamper adaptations to exercise training, including muscle hypertrophy. This is because ROS and RNS, despite their potential for causing cellular damage, are important signals in the cellular adaptation process to stress. By neutralizing these molecules, antioxidants may interfere with these signaling pathways, potentially reducing the hypertrophic response to resistance training. (Kawamura & Muraoka, 2018)
The current literature suggests a complex relationship between antioxidants and muscle hypertrophy. While antioxidants can protect against oxidative stress and potentially enhance muscle mass and performance, high-dose antioxidant supplementation may interfere with the cellular signaling pathways crucial for muscle adaptation to exercise, potentially reducing muscle hypertrophy. This highlights the importance of maintaining a balance in antioxidant intake, as both deficiency and excess can have detrimental effects on muscle hypertrophy.
Other factors like the gut microbiome and immune cells might influence the effects of antioxidants on muscle hypertrophy. Different physiological processes can influence the complex connection between antioxidants and muscle hypertrophy.
High-Dose Antioxidants: Hindering Muscle Growth?
Antioxidants are compounds that protect our cells from unstable molecules known as free radicals, which can damage DNA, cell membranes, and other cellular components. While antioxidants are essential for health and wellness, bodybuilders and athletes often exceed the recommended daily allowance (RDA) in their quest for optimal performance.
This includes those who regularly consume mega greens or super greens powder. In fact, a previous study found that over half of elite endurance and male collegiate athletes consumed antioxidant supplements at doses higher than the RDA (Rodriguez et al., 2009).
Many bodybuilders believe that increasing their intake of antioxidants will enhance their health and physical performance. However, this assumption is not generally supported by scientific literature. In fact, recent research suggests that excessive intake of antioxidants, such as those found in mega greens or super greens powder, can actually hinder muscle gains.
- One study found that mega-doses of vitamin C reduced muscle hypertrophy in rats. The vitamin C group experienced about 11% less muscle growth than the placebo group. Antioxidants also correlated with reduced protein synthesis, suggesting that the diminished muscle growth was related to reduced anabolic signaling pathways (Makanae et al., 2013).
- Another study showed that combining vitamins C and E with resistance exercises reduced muscle growth. The antioxidant supplement blunted anabolic cellular responses to resistance exercise and hindered strength outcomes following training (Paulsen et al., 2014).
- In a similar study, young men were given either a high-dose vitamin C and E supplement or a placebo during 10 weeks of resistance training. The group receiving the vitamins had less muscle size gains than the placebo group (Dutra et al., 2019).
Newest Study on Anti-Oxidants and Muscle Hypertrophy
In a recent double-blind, randomized controlled trial that aimed to investigate the impact of Vitamin C and Vitamin E supplementation on muscle growth, performance, and body composition in response to 10 weeks of resistance training in healthy, trained individuals.
The participants were randomly allocated into two groups: one received Vitamin C and Vitamin E supplements (VIT), and the other received a placebo (PLA) during the 10-week intervention period. The intervention involved both groups undergoing a resistance training program, with the VIT group additionally consuming Vitamin C and Vitamin E (1000mg ascorbic acid + DL-alpha-tocopherol acetate 470mg) supplements.
The resistance training program was 4 days per week, consisting of two upper-body training sessions and two lower-body exercise sessions, including exercises for all the major muscle groups. The exact training protocol was not published, so their specific movements are unknown.
The study outcomes included maximal force, velocity, and power when executing an incremental test in the bench press (BP) and squat (SQ) on a Smith machine. Body composition (via DXA) and handgrip strength were also measured.
The study’s results suggest that vitamin C and E supplementation did not improve muscle strength or performance more than a placebo. Interestingly, when looking at percent changes, the placebo group had a slightly better response than the VIT group, suggesting that high-dose vitamins may actually interfere with muscle adaptations.(Martínez-Ferrán et al., 2023)
However, it’s important to note that this is based on one study. The effects of antioxidants on muscle growth may vary depending on other factors, such as the individual’s overall diet, exercise regimen, and health status. More research is needed to fully understand the relationship between antioxidant supplementation and muscle growth.
Factors to Consider When Using a Powdered Green Supplement
- Nutrient Imbalance and Overconsumption: Superfood powders can lead to an overconsumption of certain vitamins and minerals, which can result in nutrient imbalances and potential toxicity. These products often have several grams of bulk phytochemicals and anti-oxidant blends.
- Allergic Reactions: Some individuals may experience allergic reactions to specific ingredients in the powders. It’s important to read the label carefully to avoid any potential allergens.
- Medication Interactions: Greens powders containing high levels of Vitamin K may interact with blood thinners, reducing their effectiveness.
Factors to Consider When Using a Powdered Green Supplement
- Digestive Issues: Green powders often use berry sweeteners to improve the taste. Some people may experience digestive issues such as diarrhea or stomach irritation, particularly if the powders contain artificial sweeteners or if they are consumed in large amounts.
- Contamination Risks: There is a risk of contamination with harmful substances like heavy metals or harmful bacteria in some green powders. It’s advisable to choose powders that undergo rigorous testing to minimize this risk.
- Lack of Regulatory Oversight: The FDA does not evaluate the safety or efficacy of these powders, so it’s important to look for trusted third-party certifications when purchasing supplements.
- Not a Substitute for Whole Foods: While these powders can supplement a diet and provide some vegetable-derived nutrients, they should not be seen as a replacement for consuming whole vegetables. The exact vegetable content can vary widely, and the nutritional value may not be as high as that of whole vegetables.
Dr. Galpin’s Suggestions
In the podcast episode with Dr. Andy Galpin (i.e., a leading expert in muscle hypertrophy) on the Huberman Lab, the discussion about antioxidants is quite extensive and covers a range of topics. Here’s a summary of the key points related to antioxidants:
- Inflammation and Recovery: Dr. Galpin emphasizes that inflammation is a necessary part of the recovery process after exercise. This is why he advises against taking anti-inflammatory supplements immediately after training, as they could potentially interfere with the body’s natural recovery process.
- Supplementation: He recommends certain supplements like Omega-3s and curcumin for managing inflammation, but advises using them judiciously.
You can take Omega-3s in dosages of about 2-5 grams total, maintaining a 1:1 EPA to DHA ratio. While you can also consume curcumin, be cautious as it can reduce dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which might affect some people’s libido and mood due to their sensitivity..
- Overuse of Antioxidants: Dr. Galpin strongly discourages the use of any anti-inflammatory or antioxidant supplements unless there is a specific reason to do so. Overuse of these supplements can potentially cause more harm than good.
In the context of bodybuilding, these findings suggest that while antioxidants are beneficial for overall health, high-dose antioxidant supplements like mega greens and superfood greens powder may not be ideal for maximizing muscle growth. It’s important to remember that free radicals, which antioxidants combat, play a role in signaling muscle growth.
Therefore, completely neutralizing these molecules could potentially hinder the body’s natural muscle-building processes. In conclusion, while antioxidants are generally beneficial for health, their impact on muscle hypertrophy is complex and poorly understood.
Canals-Garzón, C., Guisado-Barrilao, R., Martínez-García, D., Chirosa-Ríos, I. J., Jerez-Mayorga, D., & Guisado-Requena, I. M. (2022). Effect of Antioxidant Supplementation on Markers of Oxidative Stress and Muscle Damage after Strength Exercise: A Systematic Review. Int J Environ Res Public Health, 19(3). https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19031803
Dutra, M. T., Martins, W. R., Ribeiro, A. L. A., & Bottaro, M. (2020). The Effects of Strength Training Combined with Vitamin C and E Supplementation on Skeletal Muscle Mass and Strength: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. J Sports Med (Hindawi Publ Corp), 2020, 3505209. https://doi.org/10.1155/2020/3505209
Kawamura, T., & Muraoka, I. (2018). Exercise-Induced Oxidative Stress and the Effects of Antioxidant Intake from a Physiological Viewpoint. Antioxidants, 7(9), 119. https://www.mdpi.com/2076-3921/7/9/119
Krzysztofik, M., Wilk, M., Wojdała, G., & Gołaś, A. (2019). Maximizing Muscle Hypertrophy: A Systematic Review of Advanced Resistance Training Techniques and Methods. Int J Environ Res Public Health, 16(24). https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16244897
Martínez-Ferrán, M., Berlanga, L. A., Barcelo-Guido, O., Matos-Duarte, M., Vicente-Campos, D., Sánchez-Jorge, S., Romero-Morales, C., Munguía-Izquierdo, D., & Pareja-Galeano, H. (2023). Antioxidant vitamin supplementation on muscle adaptations to resistance training: A double-blind, randomized controlled trial. Nutrition, 105, 111848. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nut.2022.111848
Martinez-Ferran, M., Sanchis-Gomar, F., Lavie, C. J., Lippi, G., & Pareja-Galeano, H. (2020). Do Antioxidant Vitamins Prevent Exercise-Induced Muscle Damage? A Systematic Review. Antioxidants (Basel, Switzerland), 9(5). https://doi.org/10.3390/antiox9050372
Merry, T. L., & Ristow, M. (2016). Do antioxidant supplements interfere with skeletal muscle adaptation to exercise training? J Physiol, 594(18), 5135-5147. https://doi.org/10.1113/jp270654
Ranchordas, M. K., Rogerson, D., Soltani, H., & Costello, J. T. (2017). Antioxidants for preventing and reducing muscle soreness after exercise. Cochrane Database Syst Rev, 12(12), Cd009789. https://doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD009789.pub2
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Zhao, W., Chen, L., Tan, W., Li, Y., Sun, L., Zhu, X., Wang, S., Gao, P., Zhu, C., Shu, G., Wang, L., & Jiang, Q. (2023). Mannan Oligosaccharides Promoted Skeletal Muscle Hypertrophy through the Gut Microbiome and Microbial Metabolites in Mice. Foods, 12(2), 357. https://www.mdpi.com/2304-8158/12/2/357