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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?