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The Good, the Bad, the Mediocre: Vega

I was lucky enough to be sent a big selection from Vega's sports nutrition line about a month ago, and initially I was pretty excited. They offer a lot of nutritional supplements like protein powders and energy gels, but everything is plant based.

I'm not vegan by a long shot, but plant-based sounds good to me.  Everything is divided up into three main groups: prepare, sustain and recover. So that you can, you know...prepare for a workout, sustain your workout, and recover after the workout. Got it? You guys are geniuses.

I have already read a few reviews for Vega's products online, and most reviewers seem to be in love with the stuff. Me? I have my moments, but for the most part it wasn't a hit. Here's my take on some of their products:

The only item in the "prepare" section is called the Pre-workout energizer. You mix it with water to drink 20 minutes before your workout for energy. It's full of all the buzz words: ginger, green tea, kombucha leaf and coconut. I did enjoy the taste of the lemon lime, but bottom line = it is 70 calories of sugar in the form of brown rice syrup and organic palm nectar.

For the sustain category, there are three different products: an endurance gel, an electrolyte hydrator and an endurance bar.

Endurance Gel: This is similar to your Gu or any gels you might take along for a long run. They are 100 calories and the main ingredients are dates, which I did like. The flavors I tried were raspberry and orange zest. Did they taste HORRIBLE? No. Did they taste AWESOME? Also no. Just mediocre, in my opinion.

Endurance Bar: This was not a success in my home. In fact, I still have half a bar in a ziploc bag that I refuse to throw away because it's wasteful. I also refuse it eat it because it's horrible. I can imagine that it would be fine to eat on a longer bike ride, if you handle the taste. The mocha bar, in fairness, was fine. But the acai berry I actually spit out. I'm sure it's good for you, but I couldn't keep it down. Life is too short.

Electrolyte Hydrator: Ok, I like this. Really, I do! They are tiny packets of powder to mix in your water for longer runs/rides, and they were tasty without being too sweet and zero calories. You get all your sodium/electrolytes, and they reminded me a lot of nuun. I liked both flavors I was sent, very fruity.

For post-workout, Vega has three items again: performance protein, protein bars and a recovery accelerator.

Performance Protein: Oh, I hate doing this. I really do. Not a fan. I tried vanilla and I couldn't get the "green" taste out, even after making it into a smoothie with tons of peanut butter. I put chocolate protein powder in my oats every morning, but Vega's chocolate powder made me contemplate throwing the bowl out. The nutrition seems great (120 calories, 26 grams of protein) but I just wasn't a fan of the taste. 

Protein Bars: Vega's redemption is these bars. Actually, one bar in particular. There were two flavors, saviseed and chocolate coconut. That chocolate coconut bar? Heaven. Genuinely one of the best tasting bars I have had in a long time. Sweet, filling, and great nutritional stats. If you buy anything from Vega, get one of these bars.

Recovery Accelerator: This powder is meant to be mixed with water and consumed after a workout to help you recover faster and reduce inflammation. I used it after a run of 8.5 miles and didn't notice anything drastic, but the apple berry flavor was refreshing after a workout.

Final Verdict: I love the idea of Vega Sport. Plant based, great ingredients, easy to use. I don't love most of the flavors. I know I have a sweet tooth, so there's a good chance other people like it more that I do. I also can't imagine actually using ALL of these products. It definitely seems like overkill. In the future I would definitely buy some more of the chocolate protein bars and the electrolyte hydrator.

So, your turn. What nutritional supplements/powders/bars/etc do you need for a typical long run? Do you think it's all that necessary?
I'm a sucker for anything that could potentially make me run faster/longer, but even I have to draw the line somewhere. Before a run it's typically just normal food for me, but during a long run I often have gels/nuun. After a run, more real food. 

What are your honest thoughts about reviews on blogs? Here are your options
a) Love them! Wish people would be more honest though. 
b) Skip them entirely. 
c) Skim through in case there's a giveaway at the end. 
For me, it's a. I like to see what people think of things before I try them myself, but I get frustrated when EVERYTHING is always awesome. I will say that I have sent items back that I don't like rather than give them a negative review, but I'm trying this out just to see the response. Would you guys rather read a bad review, or none at all?


  1. THANK YOU for an honest review (not that you usually aren't). I don't run long enough to need "endurance" bars, etc., but just reading this review would help me choose "smarter" if I did. So many bloggers get items to review for free... and act like it's all delicious and perfect. I'm glad you told us what you really think!

  2. one of the reasons i haven't run a marathon yet is because i HATE eating on runs, but i know you sort of have to do it in order to stay alive and stuff. but i don't want to eat weird gooey gel things during a run or weird "recovery accelerator" powder after one-- i would rather eat an entire tub of mint chocolate chip ice cream, thanks.

    but i'm glad vega exists-- if i do end up stock-piling weird powders and gels, they will probably be vega's.

  3. Bummer they don't taste good! I bet they are kind of pricey too, right? I use Clif shot blocks and gels, I think they are super delicious and I only use them if I need them for like say a 20 miler. Probably not really needed for a run under 15 miles in my case. I'm with you about the reviews, I wish people would be more honest, but I know that would be hard to do if a company is sending your free stuff.

  4. I like the beans and bloks for longer. I haven't had a very long run in a while though. I'm peaking at 6 lately. It's winter and all....

    Reviews. I actually read the reviews. I want people to be honest and sometimes I think that I can read through their lack of an actual review by summing it up that it probably isn't a very good product. I was given one thing for review that I feel I am just not going to review because I went into it sort of blindly and I left it not liking it at all. It wasn't my kind of thing and so apparently I just didn't like it (it was food). I have nothing to compare it to either. I'm pretty sure they would rather I don't review it over writing a bad review with not much nice to say. I'm sure their product is great, it just was not at all for me.

  5. Thanks for the info. I'm with you though, I'll use the supplements during a workout, but before and after it's real food for me!

    I like product reviews if I feel the person writing it is being honest about their opinions. I like to know about new products and don't want to waste my money on something that isn't going to worth it.

  6. I like reviews athat are honest. I have actually bought some things based off reivews and email with people who reviewed them.

    I try to be honest when I do a review, but like you stress this is just your thought and somemone else might like it.

  7. Hi Vanessa! I miss you! I really liked reading this even though it wasn't 100% positive. I actually enjoyed all of Vega's products but like you, don't think I would use every single one to fuel a workout! It's A LOT of stuff and I would probably pick and choose my favorites because I like real food too! I did like the taste of everything though :)

    I like reading honest reviews. Yours are my favorite because you don't try to pretend everything is perfect. Your thoughts are always there whether they are good ones or bad ones!

  8. Appreciate the honesty! I think reviews are good occasionally, as long as they don't turn into one of those blogs where it's obvious the blogger is just a free-sample slave.

  9. That's so funny how much you didn't like the taste and I freaking LOVED all of it. Crazy.

    I like reviews, they're better than reading the fluff a company comes up with to sell a product.

    Now I really want one of those protein bars.

  10. i use shaklee for my workouts....

    i don't mind reviews but i want honest. i don't like a blog that reviews too many products b/c i do feel it loses the honesty....i almost rather the blog just tell what they like - it makes more of an impression if the person is paying for the product b/c they like it, then they got it for free

  11. Yes I think fuel on long runs is necessary. For me at least.

    I like reviews as well. I've tried the Vega protein shake at the health food store. They are smart to sell sample packages. lol. I thought it was ok because I tasted another vegan protein shake that was very gritty so it was better imo.

  12. I love hearing honest reviews and appreciate it when people report the good and the bad so you can read about it before you try it. As for what I use for running, I like to eat something light and fairly small before a run and I like to get a little energy - coffee or Zipfizz and then I like to get some calories during a run, but I always feel as though I need less than the recommended amount and I prefer water to sports drinks, although during a race, I will opt for sports drinks during the last half or at least alternate because I think it's the wise thing to do. Thanks for being honest!

  13. I like reviews on blogs, it is one of the main ways I hear about new things. I do appreciate the honest review. I read a few Vega reviews and having tried it myself was kind of surprised that the reviewers seemed to like it so much. Made me think maybe I was crazy. The gel had such a strange texture I couldn't finish it. After not enjoying the other items, I had not cracked into the choc-coconut bar. I'll go back and try it now (same as you, I did not want to throw anything out as it felt wasteful - ha ha).

  14. Love that you gave a very honest review.. It's refreshing. I really can't stomach hardly any supplemental products!

  15. It is very refreshing to read a *real* review. Too many times it's all roses and unicorns, and that drives me nuts!

  16. Love love love the review. I think a lot of bloggers paint a prettier picture of products without meaning to do so - reciprocity theory at work. I appreciate the honesty, and I totally know what you mean about that plant-like flavor. My hemp protein is more plant than vanilla, and it grosses me out.

  17. Sounds very interesting that these are all plant based. I generally skim through reviews unless its something I'm interested in.

    I must say that I think a lot of people "sugar coat" the reviews. For example everyone talked about how great Tommie Copper was and I tried it out and hated it so incredibly bad I sent it back. Just can't always believe everything we read I guess.

  18. To be honest, I usually totally skip reviews because I find them boring and not authentic at all. Like you said, a lot of them are all just "yay, I love it, it was awesome" because the product was free and that bores me. Obviously, yours was one of the few I actually read, since I can trust that it will be an honest review. I take Gu while running, but I really think most of the other sports nutrition stuff is a huge waste of money, specifically before and after products. So far, peanut butter and bananas work fine for me before runs, and eating whatever is in my kitchen after runs has been successful. Maybe I'd be super fast and run a 2:30 marathon if I used the special supplements, but I doubt it.

  19. Honest reviews. There's no point in reviewing something if the reviewer is going to say everything rocks, that's exactly what the company is telling us!

    I don't have companies send me stuff, but if I find something I absolutely love, I will rave about it. I found a running backpack for long runs and a few of my readers loved my review, bought one of their own and loved it too. That's what reviewing is all about. :)

  20. I love blog reviews! they keep me from buying a lot of expensive food items :) like the Vega bar you didn't like, it's expensive so I'm excited I won't be tempted to purchase it!
    I like to eat crazzin's during training runs, and gels while racing...although I'm still in pursuit to perfecting my fueling techniques!

  21. Skip the reviews on things you are just "testing out". I prefer reviews on items/products that bloggers have been using for a long time or that they consider a vital part of training.

  22. i love blog reviews too, especially honest ones. i liked some of the stuff you didn't and gagged on the gel I did try so far. i liked the protein powder though. I agree the recovery coconut bar is the best thing they have.

  23. Thank you for the honest review. I prefer honesty because I don't have the extra to go out and buy something that people rave about and then it sucks!

  24. I love your review! I am with everyone else that I would prefer to read an honest review, reading only positive things makes it seem fake. Not everything is 100% perfect!

    With that said, if I had the opportunity to try it I would because like you said the taste might be a difference for me. I hated GU tri-berry flavor and that is one reason I haven't tried GU since then, but my mom just bought me mint chocolate and I'm hoping I like it better!

  25. Honest reviews. Not everyone will like everything, right? A company is not going to bite the dust if they get some poor reviews (unless their stuff really is quite crappy!).

    I appreciate your honesty as I have come close to shelling out beaucoup bucks to get a few Vega products based on all of the glowing reviews I have read.

  26. I'd rather read honest reviews. I have been contemplating Vega for a while but couldn't justify the price, now I have a guide on what to try should I decide to spend the $. Thank you!

  27. Oh noooooo! Now I'm conflicted. One blogger I read & trust said she liked the Performance Protein, but now you say it's a no-go. Blech. I guess worst case scenario I can buy the smallest tub they have and hope I can find someone at the gym to trade with, right?!

  28. This review made me actually laugh out loud. THANK YOU for being honest. I know exactly what "green" taste you're referring to and that's why I skip stuff like this. Also, for my pre workout, I like to have my HFCS in the form of a Coke. :)

  29. Thanks for your honesty. I hate reading review after review about how AWESOME things are when they can't ALL be AWESOME to EVERYONE! Hurray for honesty.

    We have different tastes. That is what makes the world go around and allows for competition.

    Good for you, Vanessa. It takes guts to be honest.

  30. LOL i love honest reviews, so love your take on these bars :) I will def. tell my readers if I don't like something, I wont trash the company or anything but I'll say what I think for sure :) and if it's not awesome, or I wouldn't pay money to buy it, I'd tell you! :)

  31. Let me start by just saying HOWDY!

    I LOVE your reviews. I love that you actually said you didn't like it. I'm not sure I've actually ever read a blogger say they didn't like it (or in your case "I'm not a fan"). LOVE the honesty!

    Keep up the honesty and the reviews and of course, blogging in general - highlight of my day!

  32. It's too bad the stuff that's good for you often tastes YUCKY!

    My Running Shortz

  33. Try salted oatmeal or rice on long runs. Slightly fewer calories but you can get your sodium back up. It's my cheap substitute - I save gels for races 'cause I'm cheap.

  34. hmmm, ya, not gonna lie i'd prolly be a little leery of trying those. i'm like u and like sweet things, i'm sure some of the flavors would be okay but i'd prolly pick something else i like more. but if it's free....haha.

    i really appreciate when people give their honest thoughts, and i usually gauge if they're honest if they add in some negatives...thanks for being honest, not that i ever would suspect YOU to do otherwise. ;)

  35. I appreciate the honest review. I picked some of their pre workout stuff at whole foods about 6 months ago - luckily it was just 2 individual packets. It tasted gross, and I didn't notice any difference in performance. I might still have one of the packets left.

    I like powerbar berry smoothie pre long run and generation UCan for post long run recovery. (it's what Meb uses). I also like the berry flavored "fluid" for recovery too.

  36. I got the chocolate coconut bar for Christmas but I haven't tried it yet... I also used a gift card to buy the vanilla protein powder but I haven't tried it yet either! I love the Vega "Vanilla Chai" Whole Food Optimizer though, so I'm hopeful!!

  37. BEST REVIEW EVER....I have yet to even try the ones I was I'm not as excited :P lol

  38. confession, I can't stand their powders! i tried! But I do like their green vibrancy bars! Good stuff.

  39. ANSWER: A

    Thank you Vanessa, I LOVE how you were so honest in this recap. Refreshing!!

    I do wish more people were more honest in their recaps, that's for sure. I know that some people feel like they have a responsibility to be nice to the brand because the brand provided the free goods...but honestly the brand is getting a TON of free advertising so they need to be OK with whatever is said by the reviewer.

    Speaking of annoying things, your comment about skimming made me sad that a lot of people actually do this. I haven't mastered/learned this skipping/skimming skill. I pretty much always read each word of the blogs that I read. So perhaps if I were to read more blogs I'd have to start skimming, but for now I mostly just stick to the ones I like. I understand that there are a lot of blogs out there, but people should just skip the ones that they don't like! Or if time is an issue, they could just read one per week or something.

  40. thanks for the honesty. i get sick of only hearing the most bright and sunshiny reviews of every dang thing. be honest, it may be free but that doesnt mean its sunshine and rainbows

  41. I'm with you. I generally fuel with normal, real food before and after. Occasionally, on long runs, I might bring a gel or two.

    This was a great review! I'll be honest that I'm often guilty of C (skimming to see if there is a giveaway, 'cuz I'm a sucker for FREE).

  42. I know I am WAAY late on this but I am a fan of A. When I read so many amazing reviews on something and then I get it and it's terrible I can't help but wonder if all those bloggers were honest in their reviews so thank you for being honest!


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