As many of you know, I tried to go Plant Based last year. January through May were easy peasy. I loved trying all these new recipies and I love veggies like crazy so it was super fun to read new books and gain some knowledge. To those thinking about or leaning that direction, I suggest the following:

– Book: The China Study

– Book: Cook Food

– Books: Clean Food and Clean Start

-Movie: Forks over Knives

Movie: Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead

Now those are great links if you need knowledge on general Plant Based Radtasticness. But what if you train 25-20 hours a week, you live on your bike, in the pool, and on the road? What if you don’t have time to chop chop chop and chomp chomp chomp? Well, you need a few more resources. So, start stalking:

– Book: Engine2Diet

– Book: jaiseed

– Book: Thrive

In spite of reading all this, I still didn’t make it through the year Plant Based. I struggled on several fronts, the main being affordable protein, the second being cravings. Meat is cheep and quick to get on the table. I didn’t quite have the systems in place to make it through the crunch months of serious IM training. But there is always 2012. Of the triathletes that are plant based that I have stalked followed (this is not a short list) through the years, Brendan has gone APE-CRAZY all over the Plant Based for Athletes vibe.

He created Vega which was a supplement line so that Plant Based people could make sure they were getting all they needed in terms of nutrients on a daily basis. But to me, that wasn’t where plant based endurance athletes were lacking solutions. It’s the training fuel, or mainly the large quantity of soy protein out there. If you are Plant Based, good luck finding a recovery drink on the market without whey in it, or a good quality protein bar.

I was stoked to see that Vega launched a new line called Vega Sport a few months ago. I begged to try it out and they let me..because they are nice like that. I got the box in the mail and it was really light. I kinda did a “tsk-tsk, don’t they know I’m an endurance athlete?” in my mind before I opened it. There was  cute little box inside. I was a like, Ummm….this will barely feed me during 2 Ironman training sessions.

Then I opened it up and shazam, it was an exploding box full of every single product and flavor they were putting out. It got to try it ALL (muh-ah-hah-hah). In short, I can say that if you are trying to stay vegan with your sport nutrition, this is your new best friend.

Here’s a little break down of what I think, based on the hard core endurance athlete.

PREPARE

– Pre Workout Energizer: This is for before training. I thought it tasted like Flinstones vitamins. It comes in at 70 calories which is a mere drop in the bucket compared to what I would get down before a large training session. But I liked that it was digestible. I did a double shot and blended it with a banana (about 240 calories) and I felt ready to get into my training day. Taste…strange. Effective…seemed to be.

SUSTAIN

– Electrolyte Hydrator: A NUUN type of product. It’s a no calorie little pouch of powdered goodness. It doesn’t fizz like NUUN though. I found this to be divine. They nailed the taste and I really really dug both the lemon lime and the pom berry flavors. I used this for a 2 hour easy spin and it worked.

– Endurance Gel: I’m not a fan of gels, I prefer the gummies that are on the market. However, most all those gummies have horse hooves in them so again if you are super jazzed about being plant based, you are probably stuck with gels any ways. These were two of the last things I tried. Mine were cold and they had little crunchy balls in the them…I think it’s the coconut oil. If I’m going to gag down a gel, I should probably gag down one of these, they are made with dates.

– Endurance Bar: Well shiver me timbers. I’m not a big “bar” gal, unless it’s those evil little White Chocolate Macadamia Candy Luna bars. Well, I loved these. They are clean tasting, but good, and they really hit the spot. I had them on a really long 5 hour traininer ride and they really performed well for me.

** During training I will most likely stick to my First Endurance EFS or NUUN in my bottles, but will add in the Endurance Bar and the Electrolyte Hydrator (to have a flavor contrast from NUUN) going forward. I really liked these bars.

RECOVER

– Recovery Accelerator: I was confused about this at first. It’s 80 calories and I was like “How is 80 calories going to get me anywhere after a hard session, I need like 300. ” Again, a mere drop in the bucket. But it tastes really good. I REALLY liked the Apple Berry. I read up and realized, I needed to add one of the next products….

– Performance Protein: 26 grams of Plant Based protein. I add this to the Recovery Accelerator and now  I’m in plant based recovery heaven. I liked the berry flavor the best because it made sense with the Apple Berry Recovery Accelerator. I didn’t want to add chocolate to Apple Berry, that sounded not so good. This combo made for 200 calories of recovery drink, but at 23 grams of carbs, and 26 grams of protein I would probably have a banana in addition to this. giving me 300 calories with adequate carb replacement. This seems like a lot, but this is what I’m looking at directly after 5 or 6 hours on the bike with an hour running afterwards. I’ve most likely skipped lunch and so this has to pack a punch.

– Protein Bar: Are you kidding me. These were amazing. You can tell they sourced the really really GOOD chocolate. I will be ordering two boxes of these stat. They were amazing. The Chocolate Coconut (and I dont’ really like chocolate) should win some sort of best bar award. Major Nom Nom.

** So I have been using First Endurance Ultragen as my recovery drink of choice. The cappuccino has a bit of a cult following in endurance circles and I will admit, it is divine. But it has Whey Protein Isolate and it’s not plant based. Even after trying the VegaSport products, the Ultragen is still the best tasting recovery drink on the market. I would switch to VegaSport if I am committed to remaining Plant Strong. Am I? There are certainly no excuses now that VegSport is on the market.

Also, apparently tomorrow Vega Sport is launching a huge sweepstakes. The prizes are pretty MAC-DADDY with a 15 day trip to awesome places and 30K in prizes. You can enter that at www.vegasportsweepstakes.com I will be entering for sure.

And lastly…Vega didn’t pay me for this review, they just gave me the tiny little box of stuff that I thought wouldn’t be enough, but ended up packing a punch. Good stuff, really, quite good stuff.

So, thoughts on the whole Plant Based thing? Are any of you hoping to go more this direction in 2012?

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Cooking, health, Ironman, Triathlon

7 Comments

  1. Ciao,

    i tried teh vegetarian way (so still eggs and cheese), but 2 months b4 my IM I fell ill and barely recovered in time.
    So I tried again, but with the right supplementation, at least i thought. I had a few very detailed blood tests and it seems I had huge deficiencies in B12, B6 and folate. In the end the doc said I had the choice: take industrial supplementation or add meat again to my diet.
    I went for the meat (grass fed organic beef, chickens we buy but the farmer grows up for us etc …).
    Needles to say I did a lot of research as well. As far as I can say the china study you mention is just not statistically sound (“correlation is no causation”, but read up on it on this site http://rawfoodsos.com/the-china-study/ ). So first big rebuttal.
    Second one: “fathead the movie” – quite an informative 2hrs. And it will give you a lot of leads to follow. http://www.fathead-movie.com/
    At the moment I am reading “Good calories, bad calories” from Taubes. And next up is “the vegetarian myth”.
    Don’t catch me wrong, I’d like to not participate in this industrially organised mistreatment of animals and by consequence humans. But as far as I have come in my research for myself, it seems I personally can not do without meat. I suppose it is different for everyone, so if you succeed: thumbs up! Go Sonja!!!

  2. I find it so interesting how much our lives revolve around what we eat. It is so much a part of who we are, it’s incredible. People get inspired, defensive, reminiscent… all sorts of emotions are driven by food. Food is definitely a journey, and I love it! While I don’t plan on going plant-based anytime soon, I find myself eating out much less and making my own from-scratch meals, and really enjoying the exploration of cooking. It’s such a great way to find oneself! :)

  3. I am a vegetarian and have had great success with it as an athlete! I haven’t tried any of the Vega products, mainly because they are sooo expensive, but I may have to try them out this year. I did IMAZ last year and didn’t feel like I needed any meat protein. I’ve done a lot of researching and through trial and error have come up with some great things using chia seeds. Have you tried chia seeds yet? They are amazing! I use them as part of a pre-workout meal, post-workout smoothie, in homemade energy bars, as an egg replacer in my baked goods, etc. Let me know if you want any of my recipes!

  4. Just wanted to point out that “Fat, Forty, and Nearly Dead” and “Forks Over Knives” are both available on Netflix streaming. Just finished the first one – SO good. Can’t wait to watch Forks over Knives next.

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