Let’s Talk About Supplements
I’ve been deep in the weeds with more things that I can count lately, but I wanted to pop in and share a few things with all of you before I disappear into the wild again.
Since I gave birth to my youngest last summer, I’ve been back in the gym hitting it hard. With all of the talk about supplements and if they are truly worth it, I wanted to weigh in with my own opinions and experience with vegan supplements. As always, I value your opinion and would love to hear about your own experience or recommendations in the comments. I’ve going to dive head first into the nitty gritty here – enjoy!
Vegan Supplements for Athletes
EnergyBits – Quite a while back (like, embarrassingly long ago), I received a sample of EnergyBits to try out. EnergyBits are a very simple item – algae in pill form. From their site, EnergyBits are, “Made from 100% organically grown, non-GMO spirulina algae and loaded with 40 nutrients.” The best part is that EnergyBits algae tabs have the highest concentration of protein in the world (64%) all for just one calorie per tab.
In addition to being a great source of accessible protein, the tabs also provide energy that is long-lasting, so you eliminate the need for caffeine or high-sugar post/pre-workout drinks. Taking them is a bit weird – you essentially swallow 30 tabs as a serving. I definitely recommend breaking that down into about 10 tabs at a time, but by consuming them this way they have no taste, which is nice if you are leery of how algae tastes.
When I used them pre-workout, there was a recognizable boost in energy and I felt as though recovery was much faster. I have been using these on and off throughout my training recently, but that’s mostly due to cost than anything else – a bag of about 33 servings is $115.
Verdict: If you have the means, I definitely recommend using this supplement to boost your pre-workout energy without all of the sugar and other additives.
Yuve – When I was approached about trying out this new protein/nutritional powder, I wasn’t optimistic. My go-to protein powder is Sun Warrior, and I have never found another that I like quite as much. However, I have to say that Yuve is a worthy rival. They only have one flavor – Raw Chia with Cocoa – and it blended very well into my usual green smoothie (spinach, pumpkin puree, protein powder, and almond milk). I really enjoyed the flavor, and felt the chia seeds gave it a nice texture. The flavor almost had a bit of a raspberry undertone, which was a nice change from my normal vanilla flavor.
Their powders have a ton of nutrients, and they are packaged in a mostly clean powder that mixes well with just about anything. A serving has 16g of protein and 2g of sugar, which is a fantastic ratio – especially for a plant-based powder.
Verdict: The cost is comparable to other vegan protein powders, and the protein-to-sugar ratio makes this a must-try for any vegan athlete.
Vega Bars and Pre-Workout drinks – One of my staples is the Vega Pre-Workout Energizer. This mix is something I have before and during workouts to help boost my energy and aid in recovery. I have found that I truly feel a boost in energy (thanks to the 12g of sugar) and my recovery time seems quicker. I do try to limit my sugar intake, but having it pre-workout for me is the optimal time to load up.
In addition to the pre-workout, I also love their Recovery Protein Bars. They taste delicious and provide a mix of nutrients that aid in recovery and help build muscle. My only rub with Vega products is that they are quite expensive, so I don’t stock them on a regular basis.
Verdict: If you are just getting started as a vegan athlete, then Vega has the most comprehensive line of products for you that take the guesswork out of which supplements you should take. However, much of what they sell is only necessary if you aren’t eating a well-rounded diet to begin with, so you should start there to help save some cash.
Lypo-Spheric Vitamin C – This is kind of an odd one, but one that actually works. I was hesitant to try this because, well, 1) it has a very weird texture, and 2) I was skeptical that it would improve my health. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome.
For one, my recovery time greatly improved and even my overall health improved. At the slightest hint of sickness, I drank 1-2 packets of this gel each day mixed with water and the next day the sickness dissipated. If you do get this, be aware that it doesn’t actually dissolve, so the gel texture can be off-putting, as well as the odd aftertaste. From what I’ve read, the gel is actually liposomes that help keep the vitamin C intact as it travels through your body so you receive all the nutrient has to offer.
Verdict: Although a bit odd, I recommend keeping this on hand to help aid with recovery on particularly hard days as well as for when you start feeling a bit of a cold coming on.
In addition to my protein powders and other performance supplements, I also take a few supplements in pill-form. These are not necessarily directly for performance, but they help keep me closer to optimal health on a day-to-day basis.
Vegan CLA by Deva – Supposedly helps aid in fat loss. I have noticed that it seems to help when I want to lean out a bit, but since I don’t measure body fat, I can’t with any certainty attest to whether or not it actually works. I do continue to take it though because I have noticed a visible difference in my body composition while taking it.
Multi-Vitamin by Deva – To support my overall health, I take a multi-vitamin. Even if you eat a very health, balanced diet full of nutrient-dense foods, I still recommend taking a multi-vitamin to fill in the gaps.
Raw Probiotic by Garden of Life – I have had some gut issues for years (as you can read on my about page), so the raw probiotic helps keep my gut bacteria in check. I swear by this probiotic and know that it keeps my digestion moving in the right direction.
Vida Vegan Con III
On a completely different note, I’ll be attending my second Vida Vegan Con in a week or so! I’m beyond excited to meet up with old friends and get to know some new ones. Also, the food – always the food. Word has it that Austin, TX is the taco city, and also, breakfast tacos are a thing. Which, let’s be honest, you had me at vegan breakfast tacos! If you are going to VVC, please feel free to come up and say hi – I only bite when provoked. See you there!
Disclosure: I was provided a few of these products (where noted) free of charge, however, all opinions are my own.