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Greens supplements are one of those hard-to-define nutritional products that look healthy and sound healthy…but what they do aside from being generally “good for you” can be pretty hard to define. 

Some people swear they simply feel better when taking the best greens powders. Others say they feel a jolt of energy, an immune system boost, or other overall health benefits. And others swear that adding high-quality greens to their routine is the secret to finally being able to poop predictably.

If you struggle with constipation or digestive health, it’s easy to see how greens could help! They can supercharge your smoothie with the equivalent of a large pile of leafy greens, packed with digestive enzymes, probiotics, prebiotics, fruit extracts, and other poop-friendly ingredients. And all you have to do is add a scoop (or two, or three) every day, rather than having to build a top-to-bottom healthy diet or follow a wellness-obsessed lifestyle. 

But talk is cheap and ingredient lists can be misleading. Do greens make you poop? Here’s what you need to know before you buy. 

Medical disclaimer: This article is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for medical advice. For health advice, contact a licensed healthcare provider.

Do Greens Make You Poop?

If a lack of fiber or an unbalanced, unhealthy diet is to blame for your irregularity, then, yes, taking a greens powder could help kick-start a daily poop routine for you. Most of them are packed with a long list of veggies and healthy foods. 

But it’s no sure thing that greens are going to create bowel movements for you. And a greens powder definitely isn’t sufficient treatment for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or other medical conditions. 

Here’s why it’s so hard to say “yes” or “no” to the question of whether or not greens make you poop: Every greens powder is dramatically different in what ingredients it contains and the quantities of the superfoods its label brags about. And many of the most popular greens powders (we’re looking at you, Athletic Greens AG1) hide their exact ingredients and dosages in proprietary blends and mysterious “complexes.”

That said, the average American only eats about half of the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables each day, according to a study from the U.S. Department of Agriculture1 (USDA). For this person, who may or may not be you, a greens powder is probably better than no fruits and veggies at all. 

What Ingredients Affect Bowel Movements?

Constipation is one of the most prevalent digestive problems, affecting as much as 16 percent of adults worldwide, according to an August 2021 meta-analysis2 published in Lancet. And a February 2023 meta-analysis3 published in the journal Wiener Klinische Wochenschrift found that number to rise dramatically as people get older. 

So yes, it’s a big deal, and researchers worldwide are perpetually looking for nutritional solutions to help “move things along.” Here’s some of what they’ve found to be most effective.  

Fruit: Some fruits, like prunes, are legendary for helping people poop. Others, like kiwi, have been studied plenty but don’t get the same amount of attention. A March 2019 study4 published in Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics concluded that kiwi was an effective alternative to traditional laxatives, and increased the frequency, volume, and consistency of subjects’ bowel movements. 

However, it’s highly unlikely that any greens powder contains enough of either of these fruits to impact your digestive system. If they did, thousands of Amazon commenters would share horror stories about needing new pants. If you’re looking for a poop-promoting shake, add some kiwi or prunes to your greens smoothie. 

Fiber: Increasing the amount of fiber in your diet is the classic doctor-recommended strategy for treating constipation. However, a greens supplement will never match the fiber content of a diet that’s actually rich in green vegetables, nuts, and seeds. 

RELATED: Best Fiber Supplement

An image of the best fiber supplement

Surprisingly, a more common source for fiber these days is protein bars. For example, Onnit Protein Bites, which our reviewers picked as one of the best low-calorie protein bars, contain a solid 7 grams of fiber

Probiotics: Numerous studies have reinforced the connection between gut health, or the bacteria living in your digestive tract, and constipation. And a number of them, including a February 2022 animal study5 in the journal Molecules, have found that high-dose probiotics can be effective in helping relieve constipation. 

Here are the problems: Human studies haven’t been nearly as conclusive as animal studies in establishing the how, why, and what of using probiotics to treat constipation. And while many greens powders claim to contain probiotics, it’s often a “dusting” far below the effective doses—and, honestly, in a less-than-ideal environment for the probiotics to survive and thrive. 

At this point, probiotics alone aren’t a compelling reason to take a greens powder. Consider supplementing your greens by eating more fermented foods, or by taking a well-designed, higher-dose probiotic supplement

Prebiotic fiber: Prebiotics6 are a special kind of insoluble fiber that provides food for the probiotic organisms living in your intestines and elsewhere in your gut. Some prebiotics, like inulin, show significant potential in helping control constipation, concluded a December 2022 integrative study7 in Frontiers in Nutrition. 

Prebiotic fiber is often found in small amounts in greens powders, with some notable exceptions like Transparent Labs Prebiotic Greens, which our reviewers picked as one of the best greens for bloating that includes a prebiotic. One serving of this potent powder contains 6 grams of fiber, including 1 gram of inulin-rich Jerusalem artichoke fiber. 

Other Side Effects of Greens Powders

If your diet has been relatively low-fiber and you start taking a high-fiber supplement, you have a pretty fair chance of feeling gassy as your body adapts to this new digestive challenge. This is especially true if you’re taking in more prebiotic fiber, according to an April 2017 study8 in Neurogastroenterology & Motility.  

However, the same study found that gassiness, bloating, and stomach pain decrease and usually disappear in just a few days. So be patient, and maybe warn your friends and loved ones to keep their distance. 

Do Greens Make You Poop? Final Thoughts 

A greens supplement alone isn’t likely to be the key to making you have predictable, satisfying bowel movements. However, it can be part of an overall strategy to include more veggies and fiber in your life. And over a period of weeks or months, sticking with this healthy lifestyle could help you poop more often. 

Just keep these thoughts in mind:

  • If you’re accustomed to a low-fiber diet, consider taking a higher-fiber greens supplement or mixing high-fiber fruits or seeds with your smoothie
  • Don’t forget about fruit! Kiwis, prunes, and other fruit can be your best pooping pals, and they’re not included in most greens powders
  • When you introduce a lot of fiber into your diet, expect to be gassy and uncomfortable for a few days as you get accustomed to it
  • If you eat protein bars, consider prioritizing high-fiber bars to help you poop

Do Super Greens Make You Poop? FAQ

Can greens powders give you diarrhea?

If you have diarrhea, and the only thing that’s changed recently is that you started taking greens powder, it’s possible that your body is struggling to adjust to all the new nutrients you’re taking in. Check the label and cut your dose back by half for a few days. If that doesn’t work, stop taking the powder and try a different one.

Can Supergreens make you poop?

While greens powders don’t contain laxatives, certain condensed fruits and vegetables that might be in your greens powder can definitely cause you to poop a little more than usual. Increasing your daily fiber intake by drinking greens can also help you to be more regular.

What happens when you drink greens every day?

When you drink greens every day, you introduce numerous micronutrients, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that might be low or missing altogether from your diet. You might see an increase in your energy level, focus, exercise recovery… and yes, better regularity in the bathroom.

Should you take greens powder in the morning or at night?

Whether you take a greens powder in the morning or at night has little to no effect on how it works. The effects of greens are gradual, not immediate, and only occur when you take a product for weeks or months straight. Choose whatever time of day is easiest for you to stick with.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any diseases.

References

  1. Stewart H, Hyman J. Americans Still Can Meet Fruit and Vegetable Dietary Guidelines for $2.10-$2.60 per Day. USDA Economic Research Service. 2019 June 3. 
  2. Barberio B, Judge C, Savarino EV, Ford AC. Global prevalence of functional constipation according to the Rome criteria: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Lancet Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2021;6(8):638-648. doi:10.1016/S2468-1253(21)00111-4
  3. Salari N, Ghasemianrad M, Ammari-Allahyari M, Rasoulpoor S, Shohaimi S, Mohammadi M. Global prevalence of constipation in older adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis [published online ahead of print, 2023 Feb 24]. Wien Klin Wochenschr. 2023;10.1007/s00508-023-02156-w. doi:10.1007/s00508-023-02156-w
  4. Wilkinson-Smith V, Dellschaft N, Ansell J, et al. Mechanisms underlying effects of kiwifruit on intestinal function shown by MRI in healthy volunteers. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2019;49(6):759-768. doi:10.1111/apt.15127
  5. He Y, Zhu L, Chen J, et al. Efficacy of Probiotic Compounds in Relieving Constipation and Their Colonization in Gut Microbiota. Molecules. 2022;27(3):666. Published 2022 Jan 20. doi:10.3390/molecules27030666
  6. Davani-Davari D, Negahdaripour M, Karimzadeh I, et al. Prebiotics: Definition, Types, Sources, Mechanisms, and Clinical Applications. Foods. 2019;8(3):92. Published 2019 Mar 9. doi:10.3390/foods8030092
  7. Araújo MM, Botelho PB. Probiotics, prebiotics, and synbiotics in chronic constipation: Outstanding aspects to be considered for the current evidence. Front Nutr. 2022;9:935830. Published 2022 Dec 8. doi:10.3389/fnut.2022.935830
  8. Mego M, Accarino A, Tzortzis G, et al. Colonic gas homeostasis: Mechanisms of adaptation following HOST-G904 galactooligosaccharide use in humans. Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2017;29(9):10.1111/nmo.13080. doi:10.1111/nmo.13080

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