I’m guessing many of you will be wanting to eat healthier and exercise more in 2016 which is totally doable. It’s never too late to start focusing on your health, you only get one body so you might as well take the best care of it you can. I’m not saying you need to change your diet drastically or start running every day because, let’s be real, that probably won’t last very long. Little steps are the way to a long term goal. Make them simple, you could try a resolution to replace one unhealthy snack a day with something packed with protein and fiber. Thats totally doable
I recently posted a photo on Instagram of my Vega One Nutritional Shake collection and figured I needed to follow that up with a full length review. I have been using Vega products exclusively for about 6 months now and I have no intention of stopping. I have seen a big change in my energy level all day as well as a decline in my need to snack all day long. Everyone has a different experience but for me it’s been a positive one that was totally unexpected because I was not into this type of product before trying it. We do use a lot of their products at home but I’m just going to be talking about the Vega One all-in-one protein powder.
We try to eat clean in our house which means that we eat food in its natural state with minimal processing. This means that we make a lot of things from scratch and try not to eat a lot of processed grains like breads and pastas and go for their minimally processed counterparts (Ezekiel bread for instance). Finding a protein product that supports this was difficult so when I found out about Vega products I knew I had to try them. I mean does it get any better than 100% clean burning fuel for you body?
Let me be very clear, health is my number one goal. I don’t count calories, I don’t diet, and I don’t have “cheat days.” Mainly because I like to eliminate the negative thinking and connotations the word “cheat” implies. It’s more important to listen to my body and be mindful of what I am eating than to be so strict that I feel like I need to “cheat”. Having a healthy relationship to food is the number one way to be successful! Love your body and love the food you put in it, look at the ingredients and know what you’re eating- don’t focus on numbers.
I thought I’d just touch on the things I look for in my protein powders as well as why I love Vega One so much
Ingredients are the number one thing I look at when selecting a product because its important to understand the ingredient list so you know what you are putting into your body. I also look to see if it’s going to be meeting my needs, I always look at the amount of protein, sugar, and sodium because those are all deal breakers.
The first thing you should notice about it is that it has a nutritional label rather than a supplement label. This is huge because it means that everything in it is derived from a whole food source and not from concentrates or synthetics like you see on many of other protein powders. The second thing you will notice is that you can read the entire ingredient list and recognize everything in it. Every ingredient comes from a whole food source of things you can find at the store that are formulated together to give you a product that is easy to use and is cheaper than buying them all separately.
As the name might imply, Vega is 100% vegan! It’s a plant based product that is gluten free, dairy free, and soy free with no added sugar. Vega One all-in-one Protein Powder is a meal replacement. Yeah, you heard me right! You’re getting protein, greens, daily vitamins and minerals, fiber, probiotics, and so much more packed into one serving of a healthy meal replacement. Now let me be clear, I am not someone who replaces meals for any kind of weight loss fad. My goal is not to lose weight but to stay healthy by eating the right kind of nutrition and the right amount of it. Eating healthy and exercising often is the way to lose weight and if you replace an otherwise unhealthy meal with a meal replacement shake it can lead to weight loss. I make fruit and veggie smoothies and add Vega to them so that I have a balanced meal packed with protein to keep me full.
The 20 grams of protein per serving come from a varied plant sources: pea protein, hemp protein, flax seed, and saviseed (sacha inchi). The varied source gives Vega One a well rounded amino acid profile that is high in omega 3s. I’ll break it down so you can see all the great benefits of each choice.
- Pea Protein: Yellow pea protein is an easy to digest plant-based protein source that has a complementary amino acid profile to hemp protein. Pea protein makes up the bulk of the protein formula in Vega One. Pea protein is a great source of iron as well and you get 35% of your daily value in each scoop from it alone.
- Hemp Protein: Hemp is an easy to digest plant-based protein. It contains 65% edestin protein, a globular protein, which most resembles the proteins found in your muscle and organ tissue, enzymes, hormones and more! Hemp protein contains all amino acids— including all essential amino acids—making it a complete protein on its own. To offer a well-balanced amino acid profile it is paired with the other plant proteins.The hemp protein is always cold-pressed with no heat applied during processing. It is also sourced from a family farm with sustainable growing practices. The plants are grown naturally and every part of the plant is used, from the seed to the roots (which are used to replenish the soil).
- Flax Seed Protein: Flaxseeds are well known for their Omega-3 content, as well as their soluble and insoluble fiber but they are also a great source of protein. They are 15-23% protein by weight, making them a perfect addition to Vega One’s protein blend.
- SaviSeed (Sacha Inchi) Protein: SaviSeeds are sometimes referred to as Inca Peanuts but they’re not actually nuts. They are native to Peru where they are grown sustainably in the Amazon Rainforest by Peruvian farmers. They are and are the richest known source of plant-based Omega-3s and with 9 grams of protein per serving (1 ounce/28 grams) they offer more than most other nuts and seeds which make them a great source of protein. SaviSeeds are a source of the amino acid tryptophan, a precursor to the “feel-good” hormone, serotonin.
You’re also getting 6 servings of green from organic spinach, organic broccoli, chlorella, and spirulina which is a whole lot of greens packed into one little scoop.
The quality of the ingredients is also important, I try to look for organic and non-GMO certified products when I can. What it all comes down to is the things you put in your body are important for your short term and long term health. Vega is non-GMO certified and is currently working on their organic certification. In order to be qualified, a product must be 92% organic and they are just below that line. Of the ingredients 87% are sourced in North America with the SaviSeed (Sacha Inchi) coming from South America.
I’ve tried some other brands (Garden of Life, etc.) that make similar products that are certifies organic and I was very disappointed in the results. Not only did they not taste great but they were chocked full of sodium, had the worst sandy texture to them, and made my stomach hurt. The plant blend didn’t work for me and was too rough on my stomach. People are always asking me how “Shakeology” compares to Vega and I have to say that it doesn’t. For starters, Shakeology is a PYRAMID SCHEME which means that its all about the money and not about creating a healthy product. It does contain some good things but those are overshadowed by the fact that it’s packed with sodium (180 mg per servings is a ridiculously high amount) and sugar (6g per serving is a lot to begin with and will skyrocket if you add any fruit to your smoothie). I’m not trying to bash the product or anyone who uses it, I’m just a little biased is all. The fact is that it contains over 11 times the amount of sodium and 6 times the amount of sugar per serving of Vega One and that is something you can’t ignore.
How a product performs for me is major. I wanted to put this category first because its that important but realistically I wouldn’t know how a product performs until I tried it and I wouldn’t try something that didn’t have great ingredients and quality. If you want to read my full health story it will be up here soon, I can’t cover everything in this one post.
I’ve always lived a pretty healthy lifestyle, I exercise and eat foods that are good for me. My son was born in May 2014 and by the end of my pregnancy I had gained 45 pounds. That doesn’t seem like that much but that was exactly 50% of my starting weight. I gained half of my body weight! I’m not a big girl, I’m only 5’2″ so the weight had a huge effect on my body. After my son was born I knew I needed to get healthy again and fast. It wasn’t just about how I looked, I was down to my starting weight by 8 weeks and looked like I did pre-pregnancy at 12 weeks post-partum, it was about how I felt. It took me a few months of eating right and exercising consistently to really feel like myself again but I still felt like there was something missing.
As a busy new mom I was constantly skipping meals out of sheer exhaustion and found myself grabbing a quick snack instead of eating breakfast or lunch. I still was buying healthy food and eating right but I wasn’t getting enough. I didn’t have a lot of energy, I was constantly irritable, and not motivated to workout and sweat it out. I was lacking the proper amount of protein to sustain me throughout the day and it was actually having an affect on my body (and possibly those around me who were suffering from me being “hangry” all the time.)
I started using Vega One because its a meal replacement. I’m not a big fan of replacing meals because I think the act of preparing food is part of the ritual of living a healthy life. You are so much more aware of your food when you take the time to handle it and prepare it into a beautiful meal before putting it into your body, thats the essence of my reasoning. It’s not wrong to use it as a meal replacement at all, thats what its made for! I replace my breakfast with a smoothie or shake somethings and I know there are plenty of people out there who do it daily out of necessity, do what works for you and your lifestyle! I make my husband a breakfast shake EVERY SINGLE MORNING. He is not a breakfast eater, first thing in the morning he isn’t hungry and usually can’t stomach solid food without feel nauseous but he can handle a smoothie.
Since I started using Vega I’ve noticed that I have more energy throughout the day because I have the proper balance of protein in my diet to sustain activity. I’ve noticed that I snack less because I’m more full throughout the day. This is not to say that I don’t ever snack but when I’ve had a 16 oz smoothie packed with protein and yummy fruits I am full for so much longer and don’t find myself reaching for a handful of something crunchy. How its affected me physically is so significant and is the reason I started writing this post.
Taste is an important factor but its one of the last ones on the list because I felt like the others factors really trumped this one. As much as I care how things taste, when it comes to something like protein powder that I will be adding into a smoothie with almond or coconut milk, fruits, and veggies it doesn’t matter as much. I can make the smoothie taste however I want and mask the flavor almost completely.
There are things I don’t like about the taste, to be honest. There is a little too much stevia (sweetener) for my liking but I can easily mask that by adding something to the smoothie. A squeeze of lemon will cut the flavor of the stevia a lot and even masks the aftertaste. It also makes an excellent addition to blueberries to offset the sweetness and build the flavor a little more. Think blueberry pie. Additionally, something creamy can mask the sweetness. Avocado is great for this because its packed with omega 3s and protein and has a silky smooth texture. The creaminess cuts through the stevia better than anything and really takes the edge off of it. Take half an avocado that has been pitted and peeled, toss it in the freezer, once its frozen throw it into your smoothie and it will give you the most decadent, rich smoothie ever.
This is one category that can apply to different things. It applies to the variety of flavors offered because I get bored eating or drinking the same thing day in and day out. I want to be able to switch things up depending on my mood and what fruits and veggies are in season at that time. There are 7 flavors: vanilla, chocolate, natural, berry, vanilla chai, mocha, and coconut almond (the last two are only available at Whole Foods).
- At the end of summer when peaches are in season I live on the vanilla flavor. One scoop of Vega One vanilla, 16 oz almond milk, one ripe peach, one banana, 1/2 cup raspberries, 1 cup ice (omit if using frozen raspberries).
- When its cold and crisp I like the vanilla chai flavor because the flavors are spicy and warm. One scoop of Vega One vanilla chai, 16 oz almond milk, 1 banana, 1 cup pumpkin puree (homemade is best), 1/4 teaspoon vanilla, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 1/2 cups of ice.
This also applies to the variety the brand itself offers. Vega offers a full Sport Performance line as well (post coming soon) that includes everything from pre-workouts to my all time favorite AH-fricking-MAZING Recovery Sport Protein which they recently improved. They offer bars for meal replacements as well as energizing bars for athletes on the go. It’s all inclusive and I LOVE that I don’t have to mix and match brands. All the products are formulated by the same company so I know the type of quality and ingredients I am getting when I buy a new product.
I use the full line at home. This morning I took the Sugar-Free Energizer about 20 minutes before my Barre class to get pumped up and ready to workout; I refueled afterwards with a Sport Performance Protein shake packed with fruits and veggies. When I go on hikes I always bring a bottle of water with a scoop of Electrolyte Hydrator to help replenish any salts I’m losing as I sweat and to keep my fully hydrated. Aside from the proteins the product I love the most is the Recovery Hydrator because it helps me to rehydrate and it also decreases swelling in my muscles and joints. I will do a workup of the Sport Recovery line if you want.
Lastly, it applies to how you can use the product itself. Not only can you use it in a smoothie but you can cook and bake with it. For example: you can make protein pancakes, muffins, donuts, shakes, smoothies, and yummy protein bites. If I make oatmeal I sprinkle some on top along with a handful of nuts or granola for a little flavor and protein boost in place of sugar or honey. The Vega website has so many ideas for recipes and is a great resource for information as well. For any protein recipe you have you can easily swap out the protein for Vega One. It’s uses are endless.
I could spent pages and pages talking about all the health benefits of this one product but I felt like it was more beneficial to give you a little bit of info and then talk about how its been working for me. Overall I have seen an incredible change in my energy level and healthy eating habits that has made an impact in my attitude overall. When I eat right and I feel right I am happier.
If you are interested in trying Vega One you can head to any of your health food retailers. Places like Whole Foods, Sprouts, Nugget, and your small health food stores should carry it and if they don’t carry the full line you can always find it on their website.
Now is a great time to get to know these products because they are ON SALE and I guarantee the next time you see these on the shelf at Whole Foods or your local healthy food retailer you will think twice because you now know a little more about it.