The Vega Sport performance system: a way around whey

One of the perks of being a fitness blogger and FitFluential Ambassador is the opportunity to try new workout products.

Several weeks ago, Vega Sport emailed me asking if I might be interested in trying their sports nutrition system; a combination of supplements to support the nutritional needs of athletes before, during and after their workouts. The products are completely plant-based making them appealing to athletes looking for an alternative to whey.

Given that (1) they’re a local company (Vancouver, B.C.), (2) my friend Mel had just finished raving to me about their protein bars and powders and (3) I’ve been looking for a product to help me get through the second of two back-to-back cardio classes, I was happy to agree!

The box that arrived in the mail was quite small, but ingeniously packed. Check out this video for my initial reaction.

Inside I found enough product to Prepare (pre-workout energy powders), Sustain (gels, electrolyte hydrators, bars) and Recover (recovery accelerator, performance protein powder, protein bars) for three complete workouts, and then some.

Along with the product was a small manual explaining what each product was for and when (before, during or after a training session)┬áit should be taken. (This is a big selling point for me; I’m one of those people that reads the manual cover to cover before trying to set up the new PVR machine. I appreciate a well-written manual!).

The handy guide suggested that since I typically work out for under 90 minutes at a moderate to high intensity, I should take a pre-workout energizer (20 min prior), the post-workout recovery accelerator (immediately after) and protein powder (60 minutes later). On days when I teach two classes back-to-back, I can also include one of the sustain products (between classes).

Click on the photo to see the entire chart

The verdict?

To be honest, I didn’t notice much of an effect of the pre-workout energizer. This might be because I’m usually jacked up on espresso before a morning workout. It might also be due to the energy-enhancers in my daily GNC multivitamin. There’s only so ‘up’ I can get!

However, I loved the protein powders (chocolate > vanilla > berry). I tried two of them shaken with water and the third blended into my standard fruit and spinach shake. I found the powders to mix well and not to have that chalky flavor that cheaper brands often do. What’s more, they weren’t as sweet as some others I’ve tried (they’re sweetened with Stevia rather than sucralose or sugar). I can’t stand an overly sweet after-workout drink.

What’s different about Vega’s Performance Protein (in addition to it being plant- rather than whey-based and being gluten and soy free) is the inclusion of recovery enhancing BCAA’s (branched chain amino acids; 5 500 mg) and glutamine (5 000 mg per serving).

While I already include glutamine in my post-workout recovery plan, this is the first time I’ve tried BCAA’s. Surprisingly, the delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMs) that I usually experience the day following a heavy leg workout was greatly reduced. Coincidence? I think not!

While I like the idea of a recovery accelerator, and I’m sure it played a part in the enhanced recovery I experienced, I found it a pain to have to wait another hour after taking it before drinking my protein shake. For me, it would be easier to have those products combined; I’m usually with a client or teaching a class an hour after my workout and am unable to eat or drink then. I’m wondering if it’s possible to mix up both in the same drink (providing of course, one chooses complementary flavors; Tropical + Chocolate anyone?).

If you only try one product from this line, it’s got to be the Recovery Protein Bars. Both flavors (Chocolate Coconut and Chocolate SaviSeed) were out of this world! I felt like I was having a ‘cheat’ meal. Probably because they were sweetened with sugar (which I’m not supposed to be eating anymore :) ) and had calorie-counts in the low 200′s. For long distance runners or cyclists, those extra calories are unlikely to be a problem and the 15 g of protein and 30 g of carbs a great way to recover from a long workout.

I didn’t try the gel or electrolyte replenishers. Frankly, I’m not an endurance athlete and didn’t see them as necessary for me. I’ll be passing them on to the husband of a client who’s training for an Ironman (and is already a big fan of Vega Sport!).

Do you currently take sports nutrition supplements?

Have you ever tried any of Vega Sport’s products?

Disclaimer: Vega Sport generously provided me with samples of their sport performance system. All comments and opinions expressed in this review are mine alone.

Bye-bye burpees, hello (just a little) sugar and a pretty package from Arbonne

January is my least favorite month of the year. Short days, too much rain and the financial aftermath of the holidays always make me long for February.

This year there are two extra reasons to be happy that January is finally over; no more burpees (at least for a little while) and the end of the no sugar challenge!

Although both challenges went well, I’m looking forward to a little slice of something sweet come dessert night (always Friday and Sunday in my house). And my group fitness classes are certainly looking forward to more variety in their plyometrics training! (I’ve promised them that the entire month of February will be burpee-less and I’m certain they will hold me to my word!).

I’ve been taking my new GNC vitamins religiously and although it’s probably too soon to tell, I do feel like they’re giving me more energy. In fact, after Monday morning’s Step and Weights class, several of my participants wanted to know if I’d had an extra shot of coffee that morning (I believe the exact words were ‘did you take something before class?’). I’ll write a review post once I’ve finished my month’s supply.

And all my Tweeting about vitamins and energy did not go unnoticed by my friend Lyndsy, who happens to be a sales consultant for Arbonne. She asked me if I’d be interested in trying some of their supplements. Now you will pardon my ignorance, but I had NO IDEA that Arbonne sold health products. I always associated them with skin care and makeup (I probably need some help in that department too, but I digress). Of course, I said YES, and just look at what Lyndsy dropped off in the weight room for me (thanks so much Lyndsy!);

Protein powder, fibre supplements, energy fizz tablets, vitamin packs, tea and kids chewable vitamins. I’m planning to try the chocolate protein after my morning workout (it’s legs day, today), but will hold off on the vitamins and energy tablets until my current vitamin experiment is finished (otherwise, I won’t know which product is responsible for what; science experiments 101). In the mean time, I’ve given my 7-year old one of the kid’s vita-chews to try. Here’s his review!

P.S. Still haunted by that age old question, cardio before or after weights? Check out my take on it over at Bite Size Wellness!

Did you take your vitamins today?

What do you love about February?

Disclaimer: GNC vitamins were purchased by me. Arbonne samples were a gift. All comments and opinions are my own (and those of my son!).