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.
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.