Vega Sport review

I haven’t written many reviews on this blog in the past (in fact I think just one before now). Opportunities have come up but I have been particular about only wanting to try products that I’m truly interested in and match the content of my blog. I hope that being selective will ensure that any reviews I end up doing will be optimally helpful to both of us and keep you from having to read forced reviews of every type of product under the sun.

I recently got the opportunity to review Vega Sport products through my Sweat Pink ambassadorship. I didn’t hesitate to volunteer because I have already been using a few Vega Sport products for several months and have had a really good experience with the brand.

A while ago, I was on the hunt for a decent tasting protein powder with more natural, plant-based, ingredients and bought a big jug of the Vega Sport Performance Protein powder in chocolate. I have been using it since and love it in my smoothies after workouts.

Next, I found myself buying the Vega Sport Recovery Accelerator in apple berry flavor the day before my recent Midtown Raleigh 10k. I was sore from a week of workouts and was worried about how much of a struggle the race would be. I was impressed by how good I felt the following morning and, while I’m sure other factors like a solid rest day contributed to my recovery also, I do think the drink sped things up.

Vega Sport Performance Protein in chocolate and Recovery Accelerator in apple berry.

Vega Sport Performance Protein in chocolate and Recovery Accelerator in apple berry.

I had been wanting to try the Vega Sport Pre-Workout Energizer so that is what I chose for my review. I have been using it before all my workouts this week, which on most days has been a short treadmill run followed by strength training. I may give it a try on a medium to long run at some point but more-so was interested to see how it improved my strength training sessions. I don’t typically have caffeine or energy supplements before longer runs because I don’t want to get my heart rate up too high and because running is so rough on my stomach that I tend to be afraid to ingest anything new pre-run.

But based on my experience with the Pre-Workout Energizer so far, here are my thoughts on the pros and cons:

Vega Sport Pre-Workout Energizer in acai berry.

Vega Sport Pre-Workout Energizer in acai berry.

Pros:

  • It really seems to work! I exercise in the morning and sometimes summoning energy and getting into it is hard. I have noticed that when I drink the Energizer first thing I feel much more alert by the time I get to the gym and start my workout.
  • The ingredient list. The Vega Sport Pre-Workout Energizer formula is plant-based, contains no added sugar, and is dairy, gluten, and soy free. Much better than any other pre-workout energy formula I have ever heard of.
  • Because of the plant-based formula, I have found that my body responds better to Vega Sport supplements over anything else I have tried that has a long, and completely unpronounceable ingredient list. I have a pretty sensitive stomach and digest real food-derived supplements much better for obvious reasons. Vega Sport doesn’t leave me feeling nauseous, bloated, or with an upset stomach.
  • The taste isn’t bad. It’s not the best tasting drink in the world but has a decent flavor and isn’t overly sweet. The flavor I was sent was acai berry but the Energizer also comes in lemon-lime.

Cons

  • It is kind of difficult to mix. The first time I tried it I was just mixing it in a glass with a spoon and found it was almost impossible to get the powder fully incorporated. It wasn’t a huge problem because the powder is so fine it doesn’t taste gross and chunky even when you can’t get it fully mixed in. Every time since, I have put the Energizer in a blender bottle, which works perfectly. I recommend using a blender bottle to mix this product if you’ve got one.
  • One particular morning when I started my workout with an intense plyometric circuit I felt like the drink gave me a little TOO much energy. I got a bit dizzy and queezy. I’m not entirely sure whether this was because of the Energizer. It could have been a result of having a bit too much liquid sloshing around in my stomach and making me nauseous. Or just as easily a result of the fact that plyo circuits are brutal and I haven’t done them in a few weeks.

Overall

I’m glad I got a chance to try out the Vega Sport Pre-Workout Energizer. I was very happy with it and will definitely be using it and the other products in the Vega Sport line in the future. If you’re on the look-out for plant-based nutrition and workout supplements I recommend giving Vega a shot.

Have you tried any of the Vega products? Or any other plant-based supplements?

Note: I was provided free samples of the Pre-Workout Energizer for the purpose of this review. The other two products mentioned I purchased on my own. All opinions are my own.

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Juice cleanse fail

I never thought I would see the day where I would attempt a juice cleanse. I think about food more times a day than I think a normal person should, that’s how much I love it. But I got this hardcore industrial strength Ninja blender for my birthday and suddenly I found myself flirting with the idea, and it materialized pretty quickly from there.

I didn’t want to do it to lose weight. It was really just something new to try and I was interested to see how my body would do for several straight days without caffeine, processed foods, added sugar, etc.

I will qualify that the ‘cleanse’ that I created was modified and did involve a healthy solid food dinner every evening. I didn’t think it would be remotely healthy for me to only drink juice because I knew I would still be exercising to some extent throughout the week. But breakfast and lunch would be three different veggie/fruit juices. The cleanse was supposed to last three days.

I found some recipes and bought essentially an entire grocery cart filled with produce. I did what anyone who is trying something potentially crazy does and enlisted a friend to do it with me (thanks, Chelsea!).

Juice cleanse, Day 1

I was ready to go with my pre-blended juices for the day lined up in the fridge. I drank one before work and strategically planned to drink my other ones every 3 hours or so.

By 1:30 PM on Day 1, Chelsea and I were sending each other cranky text messages. They only escalated as the day went on.

I hate you.

I hate you.

By 5:00 PM on Day 1, I caved and ate crackers and some guacamole and then texted Chelsea to confess.

Pretty sure I ate more than 9. But who counts?

Ate way more than 9. But who counts?

By 6:00 PM on Day 1, Chelsea and I had reached a mutual agreement that juice cleanses suck and we were going to jump ship and have to find a whole lot of clever ways to utilize a whole lot of produce.

Juice cleanse fail, Day 2

I ate a black bean burrito for lunch, pawned the remaining beets in my fridge off on a co-worker because I had no idea what the hell to do with them, and roasted all the carrots to eat as a side dish for dinner.

I have heard some people say that juice cleanses are great – but they definitely aren’t for me. It wasn’t that I was hungry all of Day 1 (at least not until my late afternoon whiny texts and snack), it was just the way my body and brain reacted that I didn’t care for. I thought about food WAY too much – yes, even more than I normally do. My mind felt really foggy most of the day and my energy level was all over the place.

If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. So I think the decision to claim juice cleanse defeat was the right one. But I guess it was worth the experiment.

Have you ever tried a juice cleanse? Ever failed at a juice cleanse on day 1 like me?

Recipes on repeat

I love to cook at home because it saves money and allows me to know exactly what I am eating and how healthy it is. I typically cook dinner at home 5 or 6 nights out of the week. But this doesn’t mean that I am some kind of creative genius in the kitchen. In fact, I would consider myself kind of the opposite. I don’t experiment and make my own recipes, I just follow everyone else’s. And when I say I follow recipes, I do mean it in the strictest sense of the word because I follow recipes to a tee – measuring cups and spoons are used pretty unashamedly, even if I am recreating a dish I have made several times before.

cookingecard

Since I am less than confident and adventurous in the kitchen, I have a pretty set collection of meals that have proven successful and I am 98% sure I can make every time without screwing up. The options used to include maybe 8 things that Jeremy and I both got insanely sick of. But recently that collection has expanded significantly and I owe it all to a number of bloggers who are infinitely more skilled in recipe experimentation and creation than I will ever be.

Here are several of the recipes that I have been making repeatedly over the past several months and really love. All of them require fairly minimal ingredients, time, and cooking skills which should have been a given based on how I just described my cooking prowess.

Roasted Red Pepper Chili

Chili

Edamame and Black Bean Salad

Oatmeal Cookie Dough Overnight Oats

Quinoa Enchilada Bowls

Black Bean Chili Burgers

Burger

Bacon Wrapped Chicken with Goat Cheese and Asparagus

Curried Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos

Quinoa Breakfast Bars

Chicken Cacciotore

I hope these links will help you to mix up your meal selection as well.

Are you really creative/experimental when it comes to cooking or do you like to stick to recipes? What is one of your favorite, go-to recipes or meals?

Looking beyond calories – seeing food as fuel

When I start typing a post that has anything to do with nutrition, diets, or something in that vein, I feel the need to preface it with a disclaimer. This isn’t because I feel like I need to justify what I say – my opinions are my own and that is what this blog is about so I don’t want to apologize for that. It is because the topics of food, dieting, and disordered eating are so sensitive to so many AND because what works and doesn’t work in regards to nutrition habits varies so much from person to person.

So my disclaimer before writing this post is that I understand what is true for me isn’t true for everyone. I know that counting calories works for a lot of people who are trying to get a better handle on portion control etc. I welcome everyone’s comments about their viewpoints on this issue because I think it is something that needs to be discussed, not preached by me or anyone else.

Moving on…

The other day as I was perusing social media I came across a post where someone was laying out their new eating plan in order to lose weight (not a very large amount of weight, per say). They were aiming for around 1300 calories per day. As a knee-jerk reaction, the number made my eyebrows raise a bit.

My reaction was partially due to my own nutrition habits. I probably eat over 1,000 calories before lunch time most days and if someone told me to live off of 1,300 calories per day my instinct would be to laugh at them. Because… just, no. Granted, I am a little more active than the average bear, particularly when training for a race, and I am not attempting to shed pounds so I am not having to focus on calorie deficits or anything like that. I do have factors working against me including an underactive thyroid (which can often lead to weight gain) and a 9 to 5 job sitting at a desk, so I cannot just eat whatever I want whenever I want. Everything about this part of my reaction is very “me, me, me” oriented.

Hunger Meme

But, both in stepping back from my personally focused reaction and in realizing how many personal consideration go into my and every other individuals dietary needs, the second reaction that came to me is, ‘Where do these diet-minded calorie numbers come from?’ I had very recently read a thoughtful post that Sarah wrote that only further encouraged my mind to wander around this topic.

I feel like there are certain calorie quantities that have been jammed down our throats by way too many media sources for way too long. For example, the 2,000 calorie number that is on every nutrition label ever. Or the 1,200 to 1,500 calorie number that seems to be pushed on women as the magic amount to eat if you want to lose weight. I question whether 1,200 calories is enough to even keep someone’s body functioning properly. This information from the Institute of Medicine would suggest that the answer is no… unless that someone is a sedentary 4 to 8 year old girl.

There are two important things to realize about these media-stimulated magic numbers:

1. They don’t even remotely take into consideration the infinite factors that impact each of our individual dietary needs.

2. Calorie numbers mean nothing if the food being consumed to fill those calories is nutrient-void crap that can’t properly fuel your body.

As an experiment to speak specifically to these points, I went on the Special K website and made a ‘personalized’ meal plan. There were several diet options including maintaining current weight but I selected the option to do the ‘Special K Challenge’ since that is what they promote all over TV ads and magazines as a way to lose 6 pounds in 2 weeks. After choosing this option, I go to an ‘About Me’ page where I would expect to fill out some important information like my age, height, weight, sex, and how active I am or plan to be. Nope. It just asks me how much effort I am willing to put into my meals and what date I want to start my diet and, poof, out pops a meal plan. According to this website I should be eating just over 1,200 calories a day: a bowl of cereal for breakfast, a fruit crisp bar as a snack, a meal bar plus 12 almonds for lunch, 20 multigrain crackers as a snack, and then a 500 calorie dinner.

It doesn’t seem to me like this kind of diet is healthy for someone who wants to incorporate regular exercise into their life – which I honestly believe everyone should. And do I even need to point out the fact that, under a meal plan like this, the person following it wouldn’t consume a SINGLE fruit or vegetable until dinner time? Those 1,200 calories are even more marginalized when they are worthless, empty calories. This type of quick-fix diet is something that myself and many others would likely immediately dismiss as unhealthy and impractical, but this is the type of diet message that is pushed on our society hundreds of times a day!

The point that I am trying to make in this quasi-long-winded post is that everyone needs to get past these delusional magic calorie and/or weight numbers. If calorie counting is something that works well for someone in a healthy, beneficial way then I am not saying that person should disregard calories. I am suggesting that if a diet is going to be based on numbers then they should be numbers specific to the needs and variables that are true to the individual using them.

People who are thinking about making drastic diet and exercise changes should probably talk to a dietitian or nutritionist if they can. But I think everyone could stand to do some research on their BMR (basal metabolic rate – the amount of calories a person should likely consume to sustain their height, weight, and activity level) and put hard thought into the best way to fuel their life with quality foods in a way that is sustainable for them. Our health is far too important to trust completely to a person, company, or ideology that attempts to cram us all into the same uniform box in order to sell more bars, shakes, and books.

No questions but please respond with any and all comments, thoughts, etc.

Good links lately

It’s been one of those kind of weeks for me. Not great, not bad, just a week. I was pretty cranky on and off and it wasn’t the type of week where I was full of brilliant blogging ideas.

On weeks like these, when my creative juices are stagnant, I enjoy reading my favorite blogs and websites even more. Since I’m in much more of a reading mood then a writing mood I’m going to take it as an opportunity to share some of the best posts and articles I’ve come across lately with you.

Recipes

Edamame Black Bean Salad – I’ve made two batches of this in a very short period and Jeremy and I crushed it both times. It’s so delicious!

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Dessert Hummus – I was skeptical but decided to give this recipe a shot. I modified it slightly by using four tablespoons of regular peanut butter instead of powdered and two teaspoons of stevia and two teaspoons of honey to sweeten it. Turns out that I love it. I made it Wednesday and just finished polishing off the whole bowl all by myself. Don’t judge me. It actually tastes like chocolate chip cookie dough to me. Jeremy wasn’t impressed but I think that’s because he saw it was made from chickpeas and it weirded him out. If you’re going to make it for husbands or children I would suggest making it in secret and letting them think it’s bad for them.

Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Overnight Oats – I was 100 percent sure that I would never be a big fan of overnight oatmeal, until I found this recipe. Now I’ve been making it several times a week, every week. It’s so simple but so good.

Running and Fitness

Perform Your Best with the Proper Warm Up before Running – After reading this post I became a lot more conscious about the need to do a better warm up before my tough runs. It has great recommendations of a series of dynamic stretches to try.

Fitness Friday on Taking a Break from Running – Whenever I have to or want to take some time off of running my obsessive compulsive runner side always wonders how much of my running fitness I will lose in the process. This post has some good resources to ease the worried voices of the obsessive runner in all of us.

Tempos vs. Intervals – When I first started incorporating speed work into my training, I was really confused by what tempo runs were supposed to be like and what they were meant to accomplish. I also despised them so for a while I just didn’t do them at all and did all interval training. Well… I still don’t like tempo runs. But now I know why they’re important and how to scale them based on what distance I am training for. I really wish that this post had been written a year ago to help me figure out what I was doing that much faster. Any runners who are just getting into speed training should check this post out.

5 Phases of Endurance Training – A great run down of all the components of training for an endurance event and how long they should last. It can be hard to know how long to base build, when the best time to peak is when training for a race, or how long you need to recover afterwards before you can start training again. This post is a good reference for answering those types of questions.

5 Reasons Why I Practice Yoga – For anyone wondering if you should take up yoga or work it into your cross-training routine, the answer is definitely yes!

Other Stuff

Help, I’m Married to a Blogger – If you’re a blogger or know and love one and want a good laugh, you should probably read this.