Monday, June 10, 2013

Where Do I Get My Protein?

We all get asked the annoying "where do you get your protein?" question by non-vegans all the time. And I typically give the standard answer — tofu, tempeh, seitan, beans, nuts, seeds, peas, even many veggies. But lately, I've been adding another protein source to my list — Vega!

Okay, y'all probably know that I love, love, love Vega products and basically anything by vegan Ironman triathlete Brenden Brazier. So how could I say no when the Vega folks offered to send me a massive sample pack for review? Not only did I say yes, I probably screamed a bit at my desk when the package arrived.

Look at all this stuff!

And this! I wasn't expecting this much stuff!

Ever since I started increasing my running mileage earlier this year, I've been relying on Vega One nutritional shake powder in smoothies after my runs. And this sample pack contained all sorts of Vega Sport products and Vega One products that I'd never tried before.

I decided to give a few Vega Sport products a "test run" (no pun intended) before, during, and after a hour-long run.

Before my run, I mixed the Pre-Workout Energizer powder with water. This is made from green tea, yerba mate, coconut oil, and rhodiola, which are supposed to provide energy, endurance, and mental focus before a workout. It was Acai Berry flavored and pretty tasty. It's 70 calories per serving.

I typically have a homemade energy bar before my runs and that usually gives me enough energy to last the whole run. But my energy bars have more calories than the energizer, so I knew I'd get hungry mid-way through my run. I brought along an Orange Zest-flavored Vega Sport Endurance Gel to consume at the 30-minute mark. Unlike some gels that are made with maltodextrin and dried cane syrup, the Vega gels have more natural ingredients like dates (the main ingredient), coconut oil, and natural flavors. This 100-calorie gel was what I needed to power me through my run.

After running, I typically have coconut water to restore electrolytes. But in the Vega sample pack were these cute little Electrolyte Hydrator packs. It's a stevia-sweetened powder that you mix with water. I tried the Lemon-Lime flavor. Voila, electrolytes!

Turns out I enjoy this more than coconut water (it has a Gatorade-like taste), so I've been buying these for the past few weeks. They're calorie-free (unlike coconut water) and more economical. Plus the packs are travel-friendly.

Finally, I tried the Vega Sport Performance Protein Bar in Chocolate Saviseed Flavor about 30 minutes after my run. I usually have a Vega One smoothie for my post-run protein, but this chocolate-covered bar was a nice change. It has a ton of protein and it's designed to help your body recover faster after your workout. Those little white flecks are Vega Saviseeds (a.k.a. sacha inchi seeds).

I love how Vega has all these great products specifically designed for before, during, and after workouts. It takes all the guesswork out of trying to figure out the proper things to consume at workout time.

A few days after I sampled those products, I tried the Vega Sport Performance Protein Powder in a smoothie about 30 minutes after a run. This has 25 grams of protein compared with only 15 grams in my usual Vega One protein powder. I'm no sports nutritionist, but I would guess it's better to consume Vega Sport after longer runs. I'll save my Vega One sample packs for the shorter runs.

The Vega One All-In-One Nutrition Bars in my sample pack were new to me as well. I haven't seen those in stores around here. But these are amazing. I enjoyed one at my desk as a snack on a day when I knew I'd have to eat a very late lunch.

They come in Chocolate Almond, Chocolate Cherry, and Double Chocolate. And they're not lying about all that chocolate. Each bar is coated in dark chocolate, so they almost seem naughty. But under all that candy bar goodness is sprouted brown rice protein, pea protein, chia seeds, Vega Saviseeds, dates, pumpkin seed butter, all kinds of goodness. Each bar has 15 grams of protein, plus lots of other good stuff like fiber, omega-3s, antioxidants, probiotics, and greens.

Finally, let's talk about those Maca Chocolate Bars! They sent five of them! And it's one of my favorite chocolate bars. They're 70% cocoa, organic, and each bar contains 4,000 mg of maca, which is said to balance, invigorate, and energize. Honestly, you don't have to give me a healthy reason to eat chocolate. But hey, bonus!

I signed up for my first half-marathon on Friday — the Shelby Farms Greenline Half-Marathon in October. I know Vega will play a big part in my training.


Amey said...

Oh Bianca, I won't lie. I am super jealous of your glorious Vega Haul. That is amazing! I love the vega powders so much, and I LOVE those need nutrition / protein chocolate bars. I buy the pre and post performance stuff for my husband (he plays tennis), but I sometimes use the electrolyte stuff too. I loved your very thorough review!

Adriana Robles said...

I've been very curious about their products but haven't bought any yet. I think you did a great review though and the protein bars are really catching my attention. Especially because I'm a college student who rarely gets to eat breakfast in the mornings and I don't get out of school till 2 in the afternoon!

Jessica said...

I'm so jealous of your goodies from Vega! I use their products all the time for marathon/Ultra training, and I'd be absolutely lost without them as a vegan with an assortment of GI problems that mean I can't eat gluten, soy or almost every other vegan form of protein. I've been told to just give up on being vegan so many times but by using Vega I'm out to prove that it's possible to be a vegan runner/athlete even with other health problems.

It's so hard to get hold of the full range of Vega products in the UK where I live - I wish we had the amazing selection that you do in the US!

Caitlin said...

wow! look at all those goodies! i've only ever tried the vega one shakes and loved them. such a great review and i'm super jealous!

xvavaveganx said...

Wow, what an amazing sampler they sent you!! I love Vega protein powders too, I use them in smoothies all the time. I love that they add greens in there too. I've never seen those bars though! The flavors sound amazing! I like the electrolyte packets too. Have you tried the berry flavor yet? It's really good.

Hannah said...

Gena made the mistake of handing me her box of Vega maca chocolate when I arrived at her place last week. I can't be held accountable for how fast they're disappearing.

Lesley Eats said...

Holy cow, you hit the vegan jackpot. That stuff looks great!

"Where do you get your protein?" drives me nuts. Seriously, where do people think cows get protein?

Erin said...

That's an amazing amount of great stuff! When I was half marathon training I used their gels on long runs (every four miles for this slow poke), and the performance protein afterward. I prefer Ultima Replenisher for electrolytes, the Vega ones are good but I found they tasted too salty for what I wanted during a run.