Q&A: Vegan Protein & Vega

by hillarybiscay

Question from reader Maggie:

I have been vegan for almost a year after being vegetarian for 15 years. I noticed that you are moving towards living a more dairy and animal/gluten free lifestyle. Just wondering if you could speak to the Vega products as I noticed you mention these nutritional items on your blog? I have been to the Vega website and have read about Brendan Brazier so I am somewhat familiar with him and these products. My sister has turned me onto your website as a source for recipe ideas, etc… I have completed a few Ironmans as an age grouper (I lived in Madison for 10 years and have done several IM
Wisconsins). I took a break for a few years and focused on marathons and now I
find myself training for Coeur d’Alene in June. This will be my first race at this distance since changing my lifestyle significantly and am hoping to get
enough protein etc…Any advice would be great.

vega shake pic

My Answer:

Thanks for the great question, Maggie! I totally understand your concerns about the nutrition piece now that you are ramping up training to ironman levels, as your total weekly volume will inevitably be more than that for a marathon. I can tell you that the Vega vegan protein shakes are a key element in my daily nutrition. I do them once per day with about 1.5 scoops of the powder (Whole Food Health Optimizer, now called Vega One or a combination of this with the Shake-n-Go, as I think those are more flavorful, but they have less protein grams per serving) and a heap of everything I can fit into my vitamix, and this means greens, frozen fruit, etc. I mix the Vega with water as, unlike with many other protein powders, you don’t need milk, but it can definitely be mixed with rice milk, juice, whatever–if you need more calories.

vega shake ingredients

I can tell you that, probably like you, I have definitely decreased my protein intake since I have been eating a plant-based diet and I truly believe that we don’t need as much protein as many would suggest. I am primarily focused on total calorie consumption, carb-intake, especially during and after training, and protein quality. In my previous life, I used to pound crappy protein powder that had tons of grams that my body probably couldn’t use anyways. This is why Vega is so great: its protein is complete protein (contains all of the necessary amino acids) so your body can actually use all of it.

I think if anything, your issue will be just getting enough total calories in the day. I have found that I notice the difference if I skip a day of Vega shake as I end up hungry and eat junk later in the day!

One more question: Vega Whole Food Health Optimizer (now called Vega One) is a meal replacement? Is this something that you would take instead of a meal due to time?

Important question: No, I DEFINITELY do not use this as a meal replacement; that might work for someone who is less active than one who is training for ironman. For me, the shake is a post-workout replenishment thing, as in, I try to get this shake down within 20 mins of the completion of a training session. I usually eat a “meal” an hour or 2 later, depending on the time of day.

Hope this helps!


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