- Posted by Phytomaniac
- On August 30, 2017
Vega began as the dream of one man: triathlete Brendan Brazier. When he realized that he performed best after incorporating plant-based meals into his diet, Brazier had an idea. He decided to make a vegan protein powder that provided the same clean nutrition he got from his meals. In 2001, Brazier and business partner Charles Chang started Vega, which has remained focused on giving its customers the nutrition they need and want ever since.
American plant-based foods conglomerate WhiteWave purchased Vega in 2015, and was itself purchased by the even larger French corporation Danone in April 2017. Danone was an early adopter of corporate responsibility in the 1970s, so Vega appears to have remained in good hands, and Brazier remains with his company. What can plant-based foods like Vega protein do for you? Read on to find out.
Protein is one of the three macronutrients that all humans need. They are the building blocks of any healthy diet. The other two macronutrients — carbohydrates and fats — are relatively easy for vegans to acquire through a plant-based diet, but protein can be problematic. As many plants lack the “complete” amino-acid profiles of animal-derived protein, vegans must mix and match plants with complementary profiles to ensure they acquire a full complement of aminos. Vega protein products provide all nine essential amino acids.
Vega Protein Powder
Vega protein powders make it simple for vegans to get their macronutrients each day. Protein powders are convenient, ready-to-eat meals in a jar. One of the basic tenets of fitness nutrition is to eat smaller meals, more often. Many of us struggle to eat so many meals, but foods like Vega protein make things easier. The quick-mixing protein powder is a staple in fitness and body building for a simple reason: It simplifies things.
Vega Protein Powders
#5 Vega Protein: Vega Protein Smoothie
What is it about a fresh fruit smoothie for breakfast? The bright fruit flavors seem to wake up the taste buds, while the jolt of energy from the natural sugars in the fruits and the kick of vitamins and minerals are as good as a cup of coffee. Vega Protein Smoothie serves as a perfect base for one of these breakfast staples. Just blend with water and fresh fruit, and you’ve got a fruit smoothie with a protein boost. At just 80 calories per serving, this Vega protein powder lets you add a half a banana and a handful of blueberries and still come in under 200 calories.
Vega Protein Smoothie contains 15 grams of plant-based protein per 22-gram serving. Pea protein makes up the bulk of the mixture, and brown rice, hemp and sacha inchi round out the protein ingredients. Vega Protein Smoothie supplies all the amino acids the human body requires. Fifteen grams of protein might not sound like much, but this Vega protein powder is not intended to replace a meal. Vega Protein Smoothie does its best work when consumed as part of a larger breakfast.
The stevia in Vega Protein Smoothie contains no calories and has a glycemic index of zero, meaning it does not raise blood sugar levels. However, Vega Protein Smoothie contains a high enough amount of stevia to detract from the taste of the product. If you have a sweet tooth, it may be just the addition to breakfast you’ve been looking for. Those who prefer less-sweet foods might want to look further down this list.
#4 Vega Protein: Vega Protein and Greens
Vega Protein and Greens is a nutritional protein powder with an emphasis on the protein. Unlike many protein powders on the market, Vega Protein and Greens provides two servings of leafy green veggies with each serving, but the vitamin content is not artificially boosted to abnormally high levels. It has 20 grams of protein versus just 2 grams of fat and 4 grams of carbs (1 gram of sugar), and contains none of the probiotics that other Vega products have.
The main protein ingredient in Vega Protein and Greens is pea protein, which is nearly complete on its own and provides all nine of the essential amino acids. Hemp seeds, brown rice protein and sacha inchi combine to make Vega Protein and Greens a source of complete protein. Its 20 grams of protein per 29-gram serving does not top this list, but it should suffice as a daily protein boost for all but the most highly trained athletes.
Green Leafy Veggies
Vega Protein and Greens combines alfalfa, spinach, broccoli and kale powders to provide a kick of green vegetables. None of these ingredients are present in overwhelming qualities, but their presence definitely improves the nutritional value. What Vega Protein and Greens lacks in vitamin content it makes up for with ease of digestion.
Taste and Mixing
So, what makes Vega Protein and Greens special if it doesn’t provide a super dose of vitamins or incredible amounts of protein? The answer is easy mixing and a smooth, subtly sweet taste. The stevia content is by no means overwhelming, and papaya powder provides a more natural sweetness than artificial sweeteners offer.
#3 Vega Protein: Vega One
This Vega protein product is more than just a protein powder. Vega One is a complete meal replacement powder, but one with a high plant-based protein content. In fact, it would be a tall order to replicate Vega One’s nutritional content with a whole-food prepared meal. Its protein content may not rise to the level of Vega Sport, but it makes up for it with the complete nutrition to feed the whole body, not just the muscles.
Each 46-gram serving of Vega One contains 20 grams of plant-based protein. While the majority of Vega One’s protein content comes from peas, a sizeable percentage comes from hemp seed as well. Hemp is a complete plant-based protein source. Its presence ensures this Vega protein powder has all the essential amino acids a body needs. Sacha inchi — or Incan peanut —is another key ingredient. It is a complete protein, and it is high in Omega 3, 6 and 9 fatty acids. Flaxseeds and hemp also contribute 1.5 grams of Omega 3s.
Vitamins and Minerals
Vega One contains 50 percent of the daily value of 12 different vitamins and minerals. That nutrition comes from whole-food sources like kale, spirulina, broccoli and chlorella. Vega One also contains a dried fruit and vegetable blend composed of beets, spinach, carrots, tomatoes, blueberries, strawberries, cranberries, oranges, cherries and shitake mushrooms. The greens — especially the kale — elevate this Vega protein powder’s vitamin K content to 70 percent of the daily value, while high levels of vitamins A, C and E contribute valuable antioxidants.
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that help humans achieve and maintain a healthy gut. Vega One contains 1 billion colony-forming units (CFUs) of bacillus coagulans, a probiotic with a long history of veterinary use and certified safe by the European Food Safety Authority. The bacteria in Vega protein powder is stable for a long shelf life, and it thrives in the human digestive tract. Taken over time, probiotics like bacillus coagulans form active colonies that aid in digestion, so you get more nutrients from all the foods you eat.
#2 Vega Protein: Vega Clean Protein – Apparently mostly pea protein.
Eating a clean, plant-based diet inevitably means consuming vitamin-rich and mineral-packed fruits and vegetables on a daily basis. For most vegans, especially those who live in pursuit of fitness; carbohydrates and fats are not an issue, protein is. Vega Clean Protein is a simple source of the one macronutrient that vegans struggle to adequately consume. Optimized for building muscle, this Vega protein powder gives athletes what they need to recover from exercise without forcing them to take megadoses of vitamins.
Vega Clean Protein provides 25 grams of protein in a single 35-gram serving. Like its stablemates, this Vega protein powder relies heavily on nearly complete pea protein. Hemp protein adds a complete amino acid profile. The remaining protein sources are pumpkin seed and alfalfa, and that’s really it as far as contributing ingredients.
Vega Clean Protein contains the typical 2:1:1 ratio of BCAAs per serving, though its 4 grams of these powerhouse amino acids is a bit lower than the normal 5-gram serving size typical of BCAA supplements. Athletes that wish to take in the normally recommended 3 grams of leucine before a workout will have to either add a BCAA supplement to a pre-workout shake or look elsewhere in the Vega product line. Luckily, one Vega protein powder hits all the right notes.
Glutamine exists in the human body in more abundance than any other amino acid. It is a nonessential amino acid, meaning the body produces it by catabolizing proteins. The problem comes when our level of exercise depletes the glutamine stores, leaving the body to break down muscle to synthesize it. Supplementation with 10 grams of glutamine per day may prevent that muscle catabolism in people who exercise heavily. One serving of Vega Clean Protein contains 6 grams of glutamine.
Taste and Mixing
There is no way around it; Vega Clean Protein is sweet. The stevia taste is unmistakable, though it will seem more pronounced to those who despise that natural sweetener. Also, the powder dissolves no better than most Vega protein products. But the taste is muted compared to some other brands of vegan protein, and it takes some time for the solids to settle out after it’s mixed. If consumed quickly after mixing, Vega Clean Protein is a palatable way to add quality protein to your diet without throwing off your other macronutrients.
#1 Vega Protein: Vega Sport Performance Protein
Vega Sport is a protein source geared toward athletes. Its ingredients read like a checklist for bodybuilders and fitness athletes, but this Vega protein powder contains only 100-percent clean, plant-based nutrition. There are no artificial sweeteners, colors or flavors in Vega Sport. What you see is what you get.
Vega Sport provides 30 grams of protein per 44-gram serving. Its proteins come from pea, pumpkin seed, sunflower seed and alfalfa. While none of these plants are complete proteins alone (pea protein has all the essential amino acids, but lacks in others), combined they have a complete amino acid score. Vega Sport also has 6 grams of carbs, 1 gram of which is natural sugar while 3 grams are dietary fiber. Vega Sport is intended to deliver a rapid dose of protein for recovery.
Vega Sport protein powder also delivers 6 grams of branched chain amino acids (BCAAs). These essential amino acids — leucine, isoleucine and valine — compose a common bodybuilding supplement that counters the catabolic (muscle-eating) effects of restriction dieting. The body requires all three of these amino acids to build muscle and recover from weightlifting. Vega Sport has the bodybuilder-preferred ratio of 2 grams of leucine to 1 gram each (2:1:1) of isoleucine and valine.
Taste and Mixing
Vega Sport has been one of the most popular Vega protein products for years, but a change in formulation after the WhiteWave takeover has left Vega Sport users with a bad taste in their mouths. In truth, this Vega protein powder is still superior product, just one that does best in a blender. When Vega Sport is mixed in a shaker cup, it will soon separate and settle, just like most plant-based protein powders. Vega Sport does not prioritize taste over results.
While the people making the business decisions at Vega may have changed, the people making and designing the products remain the same. This company has been vegan since day one, and nothing there has changed, despite the corporate takeover. Vega remains a company dedicated to providing its customers with quality, plant-based nutrition in its most convenient forms.
As for which Vega protein powder is the best, well, that depends on your needs. Weight-training athletes will want to look at Vega Clean Protein and Vega Sport, but the extra protein in Vega Sport makes it the clear winner there. Anyone looking to lose weight might consider Vega Protein and Greens, but Vega One is a better meal replacement. Ultimately, as a muscle-building supplement, Vega Sport clearly comes out on top. Building muscle and staying true to a plant-based diet has never been simpler.