Anyone who pushes their limits at the gym or on the race course knows the benefits of post-workout recovery drinks. Whether you’re replenishing electrolytes with BodyArmor or maximizing gains with a protein shake, how you rehydrate can affect how soon your body feels ready to get back in action. And while there are plenty of fancy waters out there—electrolyte water, hydrogenated water, oxygenated water, alkaline water, people are currently hyping up chlorophyll water as the latest miracle option. But do you really need to be chugging the green stuff? Here’s what the experts (and the science) say.
What exactly is chlorophyll water?
You actually already know what chlorophyll—it’s what makes plants green and keeps them healthy, and you probably haven’t thought about it since high school science class. Today, it’s growing in popularity as a dietary supplement thanks to “its high content of vitamins and antioxidants, which give it therapeutic health benefits,” says Keith Kantor, Ph.D., a nutritionist and dietitian and the CEO of the Nutritional Addiction Mitigation Eating and Drinking (NAMED) program.
You can get chlorophyll from plant-based foods (obviously)— wheatgrass, green beans, spinach, parsley, arugula, or leeks all contain higher amounts, says Kantor. But “supplements are more effective for digestion, because plant-based chlorophyll does not survive digestion long enough for absorption,” he adds. The supplement form of chlorophyll is actually chlorophyllin, a semi-synthetic mixture of sodium copper salts derived from chlorophyll, he explains. While chlorophyll is fat-soluble, chlorophyllin is water-soluble, which makes it easier for your system to absorb it.
Chlorophyll water is simply water with the supplement chlorophyllin added to it, typically via drops. Not surprisingly, it has a super intense green color that looks exactly like you’d imagine liquified spinach or parsley might look.
What’s the point of drinking chlorophyll water?
While the research is varied on how effective chlorophyll is, there has been a lot of research. “Chlorophyll water suppresses appetite, aids in weight loss, decreases spikes in insulin which lessens cravings, helps with skin healing, helps in detoxifying the blood, reduces the risk for cancer, increases energy, helps in eliminating odors (as a natural deodorant), and helps in boosting the immune system,” says Kantor.
That being said, it is not a “miracle pill” type of drink, says Jacobson. “If you’re eating a standard American diet (fries and pizza), it’s not a quick fix,” she explains. “It’s most likely to benefit you if you’re already eating a well balanced diet and using it as a superfood boost.” Consider it along the same lines as drinking a green juice or adding whole superfoods to your diet.
But can it help your performance?
“In a roundabout way yes, it can help you maintain a healthy weight, which can indirectly improve performance,” says Kantor. “The natural increase in energy from the vitamins and antioxidants will also boost your immune system while improving performance.”
Chlorophyll can also help neutralize the stress high-intensity training puts on your system, says Miriam Jacobson, RD, CNS, a functional medicine dietitian. “Its antioxidant properties help to neutralize oxidative stress and free radicals, so it can aid recovery.”
Plus, it could help you go faster for longer. “While I haven't seen direct studies linking chlorophyll consumption to athletic performance, increasing blood production helps better oxygenate cells, which is helpful for endurance sports,” says Jacobson.
But, again, it’s not going to turn you into Spartan stars Nicole Mericle or Veejay Jones overnight. So don’t rely on it as a dietary crutch in training.
Are there any drawbacks to chlorophyll water?
Chlorophyll and chlorophyllin are generally considered safe, and don’t come with any serious side effects. But “drinking it could cause digestive distress, diarrhea, or dark colored stool”, says Kanton. As with any supplements, though, “it’s important to check with your healthcare professional before taking it, especially if you are already taking medications.”
Consuming 100-300 milligrams up to three times per day is generally considered a safe dosage, he adds (1 tbsp. is approximately 100 mg).