New Drinks for Runners
I am lucky to find increasingly cool stuff on my doorstep these days. Recently I got two new drinks, both of which are of interest to runners looking to improve their performance or recovery.
As I learn more about blogging and the laws surrounding disclosure, I feel compelled to let you know that this stuff was sent to me for free. But nobody’s paying me to write these reviews, so hopefully you’ll find my opinions trustworthy.
Vega Sport Performance Protein
For those who are late to the party, Vega is vegan pro-Ironman triathlete Brendan Brazier’s line of sports nutrition products. Brendan wrote Thrive, which is considered by me and others to be the undisputed bible of vegan sports nutrition.
I’ll go ahead and say it: Vega products are my absolute favorites. Every ingredient that goes into Vega products is there for a reason— usually high net-gain energy, alkalinity, digestion, inflammation reduction, muscle repair, or performance enhancement.
While the original Vega Sport is a high-carbohydrate drink for fueling workouts, Vega Sport Performance Protein contains very few carbs and is most useful as vegan means of meeting protein needs.
After reading Thrive last summer and learning that whey and soy protein powders are highly processed and acid-forming, I switched to hemp protein powder. Hemp is minimally processed, so it’s green (not white), it’s alkaline forming, and it’s as close to a whole food as protein powders get.
The problem: hemp protein powder contains only 13 grams of protein per 4 tablespoons. Now, I’m no protein-junkie, but that’s not a lot. Especially considering the cost.
But in each 2-tablespoon packet of Vega Sport Performance Protein, Brendan has somehow packed in 20 grams of the big-P. It comes from a seemingly-alchemistic combination of sprouted brown rice protein, organic green pea protein, hemp protein, and organic alfalfa juice protein. And there’s a complete, balanced amino-acid profile, plus some greens, glutamine, and digestive enzymes.
But how does it taste?
The drawback of such natural goodness is that it never tastes quite as good as a nice, terrible-for-you Gatorade. So how does Vega Sport Performance Protein do in the taste category?
Mixed with just water, I found it a little hard to drink. My samples are berry-flavored, and it also comes in vanilla-flavor, but the sweetness (which comes from stevia leaf) did little to mask a very raw flavor. It mixed well in a shaker cup, which was nice, but it tasted very—well, earthy.
In a smoothie, it was great. It tasted like the normal hemp protein I use does, just a little sweeter.
Vegan Smoothie Recipe
I’ll be sad when my Vega Sport Performance Protein samples are gone. If I could afford this stuff, I’d put it in my smoothie everyday.
Here’s the recipe for my daily smoothie, with Vega substituted for the usual hemp protein. Just combine the ingredients in a blender. It makes two smoothies.
- 1 packet (27 g) Vega Sport Performance Protein
- 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
- 1 tablespoon raw agave nectar
- 1 tablespoon hemp oil
- 1 banana
- 2 handfuls of frozen strawberries
- 6 ice cubes
- 1 1/2 cups water
Cheribundi Tart Cherry Juice
Ok, so this one’s not exclusively for runners. Cheribundi Tart Cherry Juice is billed as an antioxidant and nutrient drink, similar to the acai or pomegranate juices that you see at the grocery store.
But here’s the thing. I don’t think this sort of drink is really right for the sedentary individual looking to be healthy without exercise. There’s just too much sugar.
But in a post-workout drink, sugar is pretty good.
The ingredient list in Cheribundi is short, always a good thing: tart cherry juice, water, apple juice concentrate. An 8-ounce bottle contains 32 grams of carbohydrates (28 of which are sugar) and one gram of protein. So to follow proper post-workout guidelines, you should consume a small amount of protein with it. There’s a version of it that contains whey protein, but I say “no way” to whey.
I tried Cheribundi after my tempo run yesterday and found that it really hit the spot. The flavor is simple to describe: cherry-pie filling that’s tart, not sweet.
If you struggle with joint pain or general soreness, it’s worth a try. It’s definitely drinkable, and one a day would probably do you some good. Just as long you’re not total a couch potato.
That sounds like a pretty good product. I’m a hemp protein gal myself. I have a hunch that it’s not available in Canada yet. Do you know by any chance?
Vega has been available up here in Canada for ages you can buy it at GNC. Great stuff.
I like the sound of the Cherry juice drink. I love adding cherries to yogurt or a smooth for some potassium post run(I don’t care for bananas)
I wish Vega didn’t cost so much! It’s packed with so much nutrients, a vegan like myself could really benefit from it. Ok, anyone could benefit from it.
But I agree about the taste. I tried the vanilla and it wasn’t all that good. Definitely needed some dressing up! (Although, even if it tasted absolutely terrible, I’d still drink it!).
Thank you for the recipe :).
Ugh, again with the acid-alkaline garbage! This stuff is absolute pseudoscience. No food will change the acidity of anything in your body except your urine. If your body really were “slightly acidic” then you would get sick and die; the body is better than you are at regulating its pH.
Poppycock! How come the 5 leading dairy consuming countries in the world also have the highest rates of osteoporosis? While the lowest consuming ones (also the ones who dont eat daily meals of american made crappy instant corporate food) have the lowest incidence of osteoporosis. I have read case after case after case of people with illnesses who went raw vegan or just vegan and after a few months the illnesses that doctors could not fix, just went away. I myself subscribe to the benefit of eating alkalising foods
I love that i can trust your reviews. I’m still working out the right stuff to drink/eat while i do my long runs (you would think I would have figured it out while marathoning…) Thanks for your honesty!
Hi Matt! I’m a veg-head living in Whistler. I do a lot of backcountry ski touring, hiking, and climbing and have always struggled with protein sources. I just tried Vega a few days ago and want to THANK YOU for being the first honest person to say that it tastes like dirt! I know it’s good for me but have had a hard time choking the stuff down. I’m excited to try your smoothie and I’m hopeful this will solve my flavour issue. Great blog!
This smoothie recipe is delicious! Tastes like a milkshake:
Almond milk (maybe 1 cup?)
1 T cacao nibs
1 T Almond butter
1 serving Vega Protein Powder (I use Vega One Vanilla or Chocolate)
I’m a fellow veg’n athlete who adores the Vega. I am really a fan of the whole food optimizer and use it for post weight lifting. Although there isn’t a lot of evidence to support the pH issue there is a lot of other research and valid argument to support the use of a less refined sports products, which Vega is. Great post and nice to see people spreading the word.
Brendan has a very interesting video series called Thrive in 30 that summarizes his two books as well. Totally worth checking out.
Makes sense to me that plant based sources of nutrients would be healthier. Less toxins and all that. 🙂
I love all vega products, but putting them in a smoothie is definitely necessary! with plain water they are too grainy/earthlike to tolerate!
Thanks for the terrific review. You are right on – all three of our juices are not really for the “sit and take life in” lifestyle – they certainly are best for people who are active.
We do have a bunch of published research on our product that demonstrates its benefits for runners (London Marathon Study is a big one) as well as other athletes.
There’s a lot of additional information out there about the power of tart cherries and muscle recovery / prevention.
We do have a version of juice that contains 8g of Whey Protein too – so you get that “good” carb to protein ratio as well.
Enough of me – just appreciate the review – and good running to all!
(And I know whey is not plant based protein – no dietary offense intended there) 🙂
I also like vega products because most of them are gluten-free! They are perfect for people with allergies such as that. The only thing I don’t like, is like you said, the cost! $70 is too much to pay for 30 servings of that protein powder!
.-= Nicole @ Geek Turned Athlete´s last blog ..Baumholder Hills =-.
Hemp protein is my first protein choice. I really like the minimal processing it goes through, but I do always have to mask the taste. Sometimes it can be a bit earthy.
oooh I want to try that tart cherry drink! I like to throw dried, unsweetened tart cherries into smoothies after long runs for the anti-inflammatory properties.
.-= Catherine´s last blog ..Falafels in a box! =-.
I’m glad you tried it and wrote a review. I didn’t want to drop the cash on the Vega just in case it didn’t taste too good, but I never drink those with water anyway–love the smoothies. I found a protein that was somewhat similar, Life Basics, and was able to buy a small container. I think I’ll go with Vega next time. Thanks again!
.-= Mario´s last blog ..Homemade Nutrition/Energy Bars =-.
How I heart Vega products! I had the pleasure of meeting Brendan about a month ago – what a down-to-earth, humble guy. I haven’t had the chance to try the berry flavor in the sport protein because they don’t sell it at my store in the individual packets, only vanilla (truth be told, buying individually just enough for the workouts planned in the week is the only way I can afford it!). Making it in to a frothier shake with a 1/2 cup of light vanilla soy milk, 1/2 cup of water and lot of ice seems to make it go down a little bit easier.
BTW – thanks for a great blog… it really touches on what I need/want/didn’t yet know I needed or wanted to know. Thanks!
I mix one scoop of Vega Sport Performance Protein with soy yogurt, or with four ounces each of orange juice and water. Either of those does not require a blender and tastes great.
As a vegan triathlete training for my first Ironman, I’ve really found Vega to be a boost to my training for recovery.
Thank you for the Vegan Smoothie recipe – excited to try it out. I have recently started using Vega products and though it seems to be very healthy I have had a hard time trying to mask the flavor with fruits, tastes terrible to get it down.:)
If you are trying this for the first time, then I would recommend not using water as they suggest on the packaging. Felt it was not as bad when I tried it with a cup of light vanilla soy milk, 1/2 cup of water, a banana and some fruits with 1 scoop of vega sport vanilla flavor, 1 scoop of vega whole food health optimizer vanilla chai flavor, 1 scoop of green super foods. Though vega products come in all these different flavors, it still does not mask the taste, and I’ll still have it owing to the fact that it is a healthy plant protein drink.
Here is my secret recipe:
Add to the blender in this order
2 scoops VWFHO
2 scoops oatmeal
1 cup of frozen berrys
water (amount determines thickness)
Blend on high for 3-5 min
I take this every morning post run.
BTW I buy it for $52 (1029g) online, I buy 2 at a time to get free shipping.
Update 1 substitute 1 scoop of VWFHO with VS PP post run days
Hey I take almost all the Vega stuff and am so glad I gave the protein a second try. I could hardly drink the berry one but went out and decided to buy the vanilla and I am glad I did. It taste WAY better than the berry and if you read online reviews at amazon.com (which I should have done first) the Berry gets a 5 and the Vanilla gets a 9 based purely on the taste of the product. None of it compares with whey products like myofusion (amazing taste) but for us non-dairy folks and those who dont like sucralose, vega sport protein, esp Vanilla is wonderfull. Progressive Harmonized Vegan Protein is good too.
I was thinking about buying the normal Vega protein (the one with carbs), but the problem is that I have hair thinning problems. I read that, it is not good to take protein powders while your hair is thinning because it feeds the DHT to higher levels. I don’t know if Vega would be different from the rest, but I really do want to try it. The problem is the risk of more hair falling out.
Funny, I actually find the taste of the berry Vega protein not bad…I shake it up in about 9oz of cold water and drink it after biking, climbing, Pilates, etc. It has helped with adding much needed protein to my diet and with muscular recovery. Yes, it is expensive but for me it is worth it since I have had issues with being protein deficient and I don’t really like meat. I have also been using the Vega Whole Food Optimizer every other day or so and am happy with how easy it is to digest and with the excellent ingredients. It works well as a quick snack if you’re a little hungry right before a workout. Like everyone else, I just wish it cost less.
Really dislike the “new” protien powder. It is too powdery and tastes more like the mass produced grocery store protien. Please offer both versions for retail sales. Thanks!
Which vega sport protein powder flavor is your favorite?
Had a look at the Vega products at a local Vancouver store. Far too expensive. Would it not make sense to spend $15 on Hemp protein powder and just supplement your diet? I would rather spend the money on real food instead of powders. I also question the use of Stevia. The last protein powder I used that contained Stevia gave me heart palpitations and strange dull headaches until I discontinued use. No such headaches from either whey or help protein powders that do not use Stevia. If something needs to be sweetened, I’ll add honey or something else, even a small amount of real sugar.
The Vega berry one I find vile mixed with just water. The vanilla is quite nice with water though, a bit sweet but I usually just down it anyway. Chocolate is okay too but I still like the vanilla the most. I don’t like it much in smoothies though, I find it overpowers the flavour of everything else I put in there that I just prefer to drink it solo with water.
I don’t understand why every company thinks people want these types of products so sickeningly sweet. Everyone adds stevia, just because it’s natural. Ugh. Too sweet and has a nasty aftertaste, just like any artificial sweetener. Fruit sweetens things up just fine! If Vega would make a plain, unsweetened version, I would buy, but not until then.
I’v been a Vegan for 17 years and I’v been using Vega Protein powder for almost a year, twice daily as my main source of protein. I have notice good result, no discomfort.
I’m also using Spirulina powder once a day in the morning and wheat grass powder in the afternoon, I don’t use processed products like white rice or flour, no pastry,candy,soda or fries. I use only water,almond or rice milk. I use only coconut oil for cooking and coconut sugar. I don’t have money to eat out in restaurant. so I control everything that goes in my tank. I’m over forty five years old. By using these combined products and foods intake, I’v noticed improvements with my eyes sight, my skin looks healthier and radiant. I’m also using Kre-Alkalyn for muscle mass, can anyone tell me if Kre-Alkalyn is good for vegan ???
My point is: these products work well for me because of my combined nutritional intake.
My only complain is that Vega product is very popular, so if it is in mass production.,then why is it so freaking expansive. I’m thinking of cutting it down from three containers a month to one container because I can’t effort it anymore. But for me, it is a good product.
I used the protein powder for a year and I developed a nasty eye problem. It was an infection, it was an allergic reaction to the powder. It took me a year to figure it out and several doctors who never did. I still have red in my eye. I have read other stories regarding this happening. Do you know anything about it?
I meant is wasn’t an infection.
Hi, I am having eye problems too…red eyes and super dry eyes the drops do not touch. Also allergic to something but could be the coconut milk, almond milk or kefir I put in it. Super bloated and logy and white mucous in my stools. I have had none today and am feeling better already at 10 pm. Ackk!” Why don’t we just eat without all these designer foods!
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