See details at the bottom of this post about the Vega Recovery Accelerator Giveaway!
A bit of a different What I Ate Wednesday today…
One of the most frequent questions I get as a gym rat and a vegan is what supplements I use to ensure my body is getting adequate nutrition. One thing I’d like to emphasize is that you can get all the nutrition you need from your daily food and water intake and be a very successful athlete without using any additional supplementation. That being said, there are a few reasons you might choose to supplement even when you eat a very healthy, balanced, whole foods diet:
1. You are concerned about a vitamin deficiency: such as vitamin B12: keep in mind that, although vegans are notorious for B12 deficiencies, there isn’t a lot of scientific evidence that vegans are any more likely to be B12 deficient than meat and dairy eaters. Approximately 39% of the population is B12 deficient regardless of their dietary intake, and deficiencies causing harmful effects are relatively rare.
To ensure I’m covered, however, I take a sublingual vitamin B12 pill a few times per week that I buy at Whole Foods. I mainly do this because other athletes I have talked with have said that they felt an increase in energy after starting supplementation. I have only been supplementing consistently for 2 weeks and have felt no difference yet.
2. You want more energy before your workout: in comes the infamous PREWORKOUT. Some athletes just have a cup of coffee, some swear by an apple and green tea, and others love their chemical laden, artificially sweetened, and carcinogenic blue-died preworkout formulas. I try to stay away from the really bad ones, but I do occasionally use a preworkout formula. My drink of choice is MRM Driven. I chose this one because it is naturally colored with beet juice and sweetened with stevia. It is by no means a health food, but on those rare days when I just do NOT want to drag my body to the gym, this stuff gets me so revved up that I feel like I could pull a double workout, but it doesn’t give me the jitters. I would highly recommend this if you need something on those slow days, especially if you aren’t a coffee drinker.
3. You want more energy immediately after your workout: many athletes tout the value of getting immediate energy to your body after a workout in the form of a post workout supplement. The benefits are feeling more energized, getting immediate calories to your muscles thereby supporting recovery and growth, having an easy to digest form of calories rather than a difficult to digest meal, and avoiding the famishing hunger that follows a workout if you can’t get access to food right away (e.g. your gym is 20 minutes from home where your smoothie awaits). For this need, I choose Vega Recovery Accelerator. It provides the perfect 4:1 ratio of carbs to protein that has been shown to be the optimal recovery ratio for muscles after a workout, it tastes delicious, it gives me a noticeable spike in energy, and it provides quick digesting calories in a small portion to hold me over to my next meal. Better yet, the ingredients are all natural, vegan, and it even contains a few super foods for you super-foodies out there.
This product has changed my workouts more than any other supplement, and I highly recommend it! See details below for a giveaway :)
4. You want to recover from your workouts faster or avoid soreness: in come Branch Chain Amino Acids. Shown to reduce soreness after a workout and have even been shown to reduce stress and promote healing. When I started lifting heavy, I would get extremely sore and noticed a big difference once I started supplementing with BCAAs. Now, about 2 years later, I’m more used to working out and don’t get quite as sore, so I’m not sure they have a huge effect, but I take them to help reduce soreness, promote recovery, and, let’s be real, make my water taste good! I supplement with MRM Reload. Again, no artificial flavors or sweeteners in this particular one, although I believe this brand makes others that have more calories and artificial sweeteners, so make sure you get this one!
5. You are concerned about a macronutrient deficiency: ok, deficiency is a strong word, but many athletes supplement with protein or a carboload mass gainer to get a lot of protein or carbs in at once. Protein powders have become commonplace in the fitness industry today among both women and men. As a high carb, low fat, low protein vegan, I have no need for a protein supplement. As I said before, I can get everything I need from a whole foods diet, BUT I choose to use a protein supplement for a couple reasons. First, I have personally found that including a scoop of protein in my post workout shake helps me feel more satisfied and stay satisfied longer. This is not calorie restriction as much as it is a convenience factor so that I don’t have to eat so often! Second, there is some science to support the idea that increased protein after a workout will aid in faster muscle growth, although you don’t need nearly as much as people think. I only have 1 scoop per day and don’t feel like I need it every day at all. My current protein of choice is Garden of Life Raw Vanilla Protein. The flavor is good, it’s raw and has a lot of sprouted ingredients (the benefits of sprouted foods are for another post), and it claims protein from very varied plant based sources. I will be giving Vega a try in the near future and will let you know what I think of it!
Those are the 5 supplements I take to give me the energy and recovery I need to train hard 5 days per week.
This is what I have found works for me, and I have experimented with MANY others and have tried using no supplementation at all. Just find what works for you!
Do you need supplementation to fuel your workouts? Are there supplements you use that you wish you didn’t have to?
But don’t forget…
One lucky reader will have the chance to win a tub of Vega Recovery Accelerator!
- Leave a comment below telling me why you’d love to try Recovery Accelerator or telling me what you did for a workout today
- Follow me on twitter and tweet “I am entering to win Recovery Accelerator from @AvocadoAthlete thanks to @VegaTeam!”
- Follow me on Instagram and comment on the Vega Recovery Accelerator photo that you would like to enter to win
- Follow me on my brand new Facebook page and leave a comment underneath the Facebook share of this blog post
- DO ALL FOUR FOR MULTIPLE ENTRIES!
You’ll have until end of day on Friday, October 24 to enter to win, and I’ll announce the winners on Monday!