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Quick Bites #6: Hammer Nutrition Vegan Bar

I was super lucky to win a contest a couple weeks back on Hammer Nutrition’s Instagram page. Shortly after, two cases of Hammer Nutrition’s Vegan Protein Bar arrived and I broke one open right away. I’ve used some of their products in the past and really enjoyed them so I was looking forward to trying these bars out; they didn’t disappoint.

It’s purely ironic that this this contest happened and things worked out in my favor; I’d been searching for a way to add to my protein macros. Being constantly on the move I can’t always prepare something on the go so these bars are doing great things for my recovery right now. Between work, coaching one of my sons soccer teams, my workout routine and just the rest of life it’s not been easy to help my body recover; I’m always active.

What’s awesome about these bars is they taste incredible. They taste so good I actually feel a bit guilty sometimes. The chocolate on the outside is indulgent and the peanut butter inside is moist and not chalky. I’ve tried bars in the past that were either way to dry or they were super tough and barely chew-able.

The macro profile is pretty decent on these with 24g of carbs, 12g of fats and a solid 14g of protein. The protein is derived from peas and the sacha inchi seed. I had no idea what that was and had to look it up. It’s from a seed that grows in the rainforest and is loaded with plant based goodness. I was in the dark on this stuff for sure and am going to look more into it, with it’s nutty flavor profile it might be fun to bake with.

I’m extremely happy with these bars and can;t be more grateful to Hammer for hooking me up with them via the contest. These would be great for hikes, after a long run or for keeping in the workvan for a quick bite during the day; I know I’ve done that latter! haha!

 

About Time Ve

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A guy I shared a VT mountain with for about 20 hours this past winter, at the Winter Death Race, has been ranting and raving online about an awesome protein supplement company. In pics he is always sporting their shirts, etc. I’m pretty sure he’s one of those cool ambassador types, lol! So, I started digging around and reading what people thought about it, and then I noticed they had a plant based line of proteins on top of the other protein mixes they carry. Hmmm…

About Time was gracious enough to send some samples over to test out and here’s what I got for ya.

First, let’s knock out the nutrition facts, which I poached from the About Time website:

About Time Ve™ contains: 24 grams of plant based protein from peas, pumpkins, and brown rice
Essential branch chain amino acids
Infusions of coconut oil powder for healthy essential fatty acids
Digestive enzyme blend
No gluten, no sugar, and just 1 gram of carbs Sweetened with Stevia
Natural flavorings, including Vanilla, Chocolate and Cinnamon Spice

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Review: Ergogenics Hemp Protein

Hemp_sm_Unflavorued_1024x1024For the longest time, plant based protein powder was hard to get a hold of. With the movement growing each day, and more people are becoming aware of the benefits of a plant based diet, powders are becoming more and more abundant. With protein coming from a wide array of plant based products, it is believed that one of the most nutrient rich forms are those made from hemp protein.

Ergogenics is a Canadian based company founded by Richard Mehta. After working in one of the big box health stores for a time, Richard started questioning the products he was asked to sell. With so many artificial, and questionable, ingredients it became clear to him; his mission to provide a cleaner option had begun.

I’m new to hemp protein, and to be honest, it scared me. I work in an industry where all it takes is one person to hit into my work truck and I have to go pee in a cup. Yeah, I was scared of drug tests. Heck, I am so far from taking drugs I barely take ibuprofen or anything at all for headaches or other pains. I don’t like taking manufactured medicines. But anyway, I stayed away from hemp because of the possibility that THC may register. In Canada, the standards are set at 10 PPM (parts per million) which they believe is safe and will not cause any adverse effects. Not that I feel like I’m rolling the dice, but there’s a part of me that is still a bit worried about granny tapping my bumper…

On to what you are here for… how does it taste, mix, etc…

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Review: Vega

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The past year has been a bit of a struggle diet wise. After dealing with some health issues, ie. high cholesterol, and some shifting personal opinions, I went whole food plant based. I have not been perfect, it’s taken some major steps to get where I’m at now. I’m not going to go into that whole thing about plant based, veganism or vegetarianism and try to sway your opinion on it, what you believe is what you believe and you have the right to eat whatever you want. This review, like any other review on this site, is meant to make you aware of a product that has worked for someone. I’m sure with the over 3,600 members that there will be another #WFPB person, so hopefully this review will help them when it comes to supplementation.

PHEW!

mac-200x300Vega has been used far and wide by some of the worlds greatest plant based athletes. Ranging from the NFL, the MLB, the NHL to Triathletes, Runners, Olympians, Ultra Runners and even MMA fighters; Vega has become the supplement of choice for them. These are not the type of folks you think of when you think WFPB athlete, there is still that image in everyone’s mind that we are frail and skinny. It’s not the case, look to your left at Mac Danzig, season 6 winner of the Ultimate Fighter. That guy fights with the best of them now and has been a contender year in and year out.

So, Vega… Yes, if you know anything about this product line one of the first things that jumps out to you is the price. In doing research about Vega I saw all sorts of people talking about how pricey it is and how they can get this or that somewhere else. Having used the product now, and other companies products, there is a major difference in quality. Not only the quality of ingredients, but the quality of taste. There’s a reason why it costs a little more; it works. To hammer home that point, you get what you pay for. Having tested others and dealing with gas, bloating and a general bad gut feeling, I’m going to put down a few extra dollars to make sure I’m getting what I want out of a product.

unnamedLately I’ve been using VegaOne on a daily basis. I have found I have more energy, I’ve been more alert and focused. The biggest thing is my recovery from running has been lessened. I’m not an every day runner, as I sometimes wish I could be. So if I go a couple days between runs my legs are toast. Since using VegaOne that time has been cut in half! That’s amazing results and helps me get out there more. Here just a brief bit of whats in it…

  • 50% daily intake of vitamins and minerals
  • 15 grams protein
  • 6 grams fiber
  • 1.5 grams Omega-3s
  • Antioxidants
  • Probiotics
  • 3 servings of greens (the new formula has 6 servings of greens per scoop)

ProductPage_PreWorkout_Family_LemonLimeThey don’t just make VegaOne though, they have products that every supplement company has, including a pre-workout energizer. I’ve used it a few times to get me out the door when my “Procrasti..N8” brain gets going. It’s a clean energy, as you can imagine. There are no jitters, no sugar crashes. If you’re a gym person looking for a pump, this is not it. If you are looking for a stim, this is not it. It IS clean energy without any artificial stuff, it’s meant to do one thing and that is to help you push through your workout, whatever type of workout that is.

I’ve used a bunch of different products in this genre and have to say, hands down, Vega is my favorite. Not only are the products great, but so are the folks that work for them. Whenever I’ve had questions or concern, whether it be via e-mail or even on Twitter, they are always gracious and extremely helpful.

Find them on the web at http://myvega.com/ or follow them on Twitter https://twitter.com/VegaTeam

Review: Tailwind

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After running the Leadville 100 and coping with what the founder of Tailwind, Jeff, calls a “gut bomb”; Tailwind was born.

Some of us can cope with just water or electrolytes in our hydration packs and supplement calories with gels, gummies and bars. Hell some guys like Dean Karnazes can run all night, order a pizza  and have it delivered to him while running, and still not puke all over his shoes. For others that dang GI tract is not happy with that mess and can create a mess all of its own.

Tailwind was created to not only hydrate runners, swimmers and adventurers but to also provide clean calories that would settle decently and allow an athlete to perform at their best.

tailwindbagI’ve used Tailwind on a couple runs now and tested it to its full capacity at the 2014 Spartan Race World Championship Beast in Vermont. We all know “on paper” it said the race was 13-14 miles, but GPS data shows it was really anywhere from 16-17 miles. Regardless, it was grueling and if you were not prepared it was going to be a long day. Who am I kidding? For those of us that WERE prepared it WAS still a long day ! But I digress…

I filled my hydration pack with 70oz of water and 2 scoops of Tailwinds Organic Berry flavor and headed toward the starting line. Because it was hard to carry around the whole bag of Organic Berry, I brought along a couple sleeves of the one serving pouches to add later on. One of them had caffeine, how exciting! The flavors were clean, not overwhelmingly sweet which can be a detriment at times, I’m not looking for good taste to be honest, I am looking for results.

I was using a different product two weeks earlier and while that product claims it fought off cramps and the like, I still found myself cramping a bit. That worries me as I knew this Beast course was going to be nearly double the distance and a million times harder as far as elevation goes. I had come to terms with the fact I was going to cramp at some point, even with this new product I assumed it had to happen at some point.

Am I glad I was wrong! I did not cramp, not even once!!

nutritionfactstwHow did it settle as far as digestion went? Well I didn’t barf, so that’s a good thing, right? Honestly, I wasn’t sure about Tailwinds ability to supply the amount of calories I was going to need so I did bring a few Quest bars with me. For these types of races ole Quest bars and I have been inseparable so, yeah I had a few. That said, the calories I got from Tailwind helped keep a continuous stream of energy coming. I really only ate the bars when I knew I was going to need them. It took my 10 hours to finish the race, I didn’t think I wasn’t surviving on the liquid alone. Although, it’s been pointed out to me, had I added more scoops throughout the day I could very well have received my caloric needs.

Hydration? I felt great! I did play it safe and started hydrating days before the event, with Tailwind even that way my system wouldn’t be shocked with a new product on race day. Not once during the race did I feel like I was becoming dehydrated or anything, I felt great. Now if Tailwind could only do something about all the downhill descents and the damage it can do to one’s knees, I can dream right?

Like I said though, it was great to have a constant source of energy coming in, so hydration and calories? Yeah, that’s a no brainer!

I like the fact it is a small outfit over there at Tailwind. They take the time to listen and understand what your needs are. Heck, my bag even had my name hand written on it, made me feel all warm and tingly! lol!

I know one thing for certain, Tailwind will have my back this January at the Winter Death Race, it will be the only thing (minus the water) in my hydration pack!

Product info: http://www.tailwindnutrition.com/

Rating: Excellent, highly recommended!

 

Review: Pacific Health Labs

pacific-health-logooriginally posed on nespahtens.com

Took me a couple months to give these products a true test. Pacific Health Labs were extremely generous and I really wanted to put the products they sent through a complete evaluation process. Having enough, I was able to stack them when necessary to see the true benefits.

First, a little about Pacific Health Labs, taken from their site:

Pacific Health Laboratories, founded in 1996 by two prominent scientists, started with a singular purpose – to help athletes achieve their personal goals. We never lost sight of that mission. Collaborating with some of the world’s top nutritionists, biochemists and sports scientists, our research and products have reshaped sports nutrition. Our discoveries help muscles work stronger, faster and longer and are an integral part of the daily training and race regimens of athletes at all levels.

One thing that needs to be said, and probably has your ears perked up a bit, although they are a “lab” and do “scientific research” to develop these products, it doesn’t mean they are synthetic. You can skim their ingredients and see most, if not all, of the ingredients are natural. The last thing I want to put in my body is some unnecessary chemical. Every time I take a supplement that is what concerns me most, as I try to eat as cleanly as I can. With that to the side now…

pacificenergyshotLet’s get into it with the Body Glove Energy Shots. These look a lot like 5-Hour Energy drinks because in theory, they are. Of course they are exclusive to Pacific Health, and their team came up with the concoction, but the idea is the same. When you need a pop of energy it’s simple, open the top, slam it back and wait. The rush that comes on is clean and non-jittery. For whatever I was doing, whether it was a work-out, a run or headed off to work with a sleepy head – these shots made a difference. Loaded with 140mg of caffeine I sure as hope they would have!! Without the jitters, and not feeling like I was completely tweaked out I could focus and get done the things I set out to do.

pacificgelNext up we have some gels. At this point I have tried a variety of different gels from a multitude of companies. Some are really thick, some to runny, some are just outright gross! Pacific sent a variety of flavors of their standard gels and a pack of their 2nd Surge gels which were chocolate espresso flavor. The latter was absolutely amazing. Let me stress that, ABSOLUTELY AMAZING. The flavor was fantastic and the boost was spot on. Consistency was great, nice and smooth and not gritty or to watery. Easily you can take these out of a pack, open them and squeeze em all while running or staying in motion. The flavor variety pack was great and came in chocolate, key lime, citrus orange, raspberry cream, strawberry kiwi and vanilla. The only one I really couldn’t get on board with was the orange which was kind of acidic. I loved the key lime and it was probably my favorite, besides the 2nd Surge chocolate espresso of course!

pacificbarThey sent a bar too, the Accel Recover Bar. They reminded me of a brownie bar. Nice and thick, not extremely dry which happens a lot with packaged bars. They were amazingly nourishing and I felt full after a run or workout. rather than down a recovery drink I had these bars with a glass of water and felt more than happy with them. These are not meal replacement bars, or breakfast bars, they are meant to be eaten after exerting yourself ie. a workout, a run or any other sort of physical activity. They are for recovery and having had a bunch of them, felt like they achieved their goal. I do not have the science to prove it, they are the scientists, but what I can do, and am talking about here, is based on experience.

detahraceboxSome of the products, such as the gels and bars, even made their way to the Winter Death Race via the Spahten Express. I had put some gels in, bars, energy shots and some Accelerade in the care package. Keith Glass, Death Race veteran, had this to say “I consumed everything they (the Spahten volunteers) put in front of my face. They were fantastic… Gels were great on the trail, instant energy boosts…” Death Race tested, Death Racer approved!

One other product worth mentioning is Accelerade. This is a powder and when mixed with water tastes like Tang and is supposed to work like Gatorade or other similar products. Like they say on their site “why waste money on glorified sugar water”. That said, coming from Pacific Health the mix is meant to support you not fatten their bottom line. Here’s a couple bullet points from their site in regards to Accelerade:

pacificaccelerade• You will have 29% more endurance.

• You will rehydrate 40% better.

• Your muscles will recover 40% faster.

• You will lower your perceived exertion.

It comes in a variety of flavors. Besides mixing in a bottle it can be added to a bladder and I did just that many times in my hydration pack for long runs. With Accelerade added I felt like I could run longer, and did. My longest run to date came when I had this in the pack. Take that for what it’s worth.

As with anything, these products may not be for you. I know lots of people that are all about supplementing and then those that aren’t. You choose. For me, based on my experience with these products, I know they work and will gladly use them again. I hope you found this review helpful. For more info and discount use NESPAHTENS15 for 15% off and free shipping, check out http://www.pacifichealthlabs.com/

Review: Hammer Nutrition Gels, Recoverite, Bars and Fizz

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originally posted on nespahtens.com

Hammer Nutrition has become synonymous with fuel, energy and recovery products for endurance athletes from all sports and genres. Having started in 1987 it has always been their mission to provide athletes with healthy, safe, natural and legal products to help them achieve their goals. Whether it’s on a bike, on foot or in the water, Hammer is there to help.

I was given the opportunity to try a variety of their products and here is my review on them. I tried my best to be a tedious as possible about them because I found that I really enjoyed them and will stand them 100%

gelsGels: I’ve tried a bunch of gels at this point. Some are uber sweet, others are chalky and super thick and others taste completely synthetic. It’s extremely difficult to find the right gel, a decent gel even. That said, I found Hammer’s gels to be smooth, not too sweet and tasted as natural as a gel can possibly taste. Mind you, gels are not made to be snacks or to replace foods. Gels are meant to give you vital nutrients during endurance exercise. Whether that’s on a run, biking, hiking or in our case, obstacle racing – they were made to help sustain energy. We’re not talking something jammed with sugar that’s just going to cause you to crash later, no, we are talking complex carbs, 4 essential amino acids and all-natural ingredients. The gels are vegan friendly, contain no MSG and no artificial flavors or sweeteners. So far these are some of the best gels I have had, here’s a run down on the flavors.

Banana – This one was amazing. While it did taste like it could have been artificially flavored, because the banana flavor was so clean and pronounced, Hammer swears they are not and are made only with real fruit. I believe them, cause this stuff was good and was probably my favorite.

Apple Cinnamon – Lord almighty, this was like my wife’s Apple Pie in gel form. It helped during a run when I was wearing down, not only for the energy but in hopes that magically there was a home-made applie pie waiting for me at home. Alas, no pie but the gel was seriously good!

Vanilla – What can you really say about Vanilla? I mean, it’s good and all but it’s vanilla. I mixed this one with one of the recoverite packages to get a few more carbs in it, and while the taste was slightly diluted, I liked that it was a blank flavor canvas to work with.

Chocolate – The only gel that had a slightly chalky-ness to it, but we will blame that one the fact it’s chocolate. And saying that, it’s chocolate, should be enough for any of you. It’s flippin’ chocolate!!

Montana Huckleberry – I had to dig deep to figure out what these things were, I’d never even heard of a huckleberry before. These particular one’s are Montana specific, obviously, and cannot be grown in a commercial environment as they are particular to the mountainous regions of Montana. But enough about the history, how did it taste? Surprisingly tart, but sweet at the same time. Reminded me of a blueberry, but at times a cranberry. Either way, it was delicious!!

Raspberry – Not a huge fan of anything raspberry flavored, except the real thing. It’s just a hard flavor to capture. There’s got to be a certain level of tart and sweet, you know? Well, this gel was close and was tasty, but alas didn’t quite capture the flavor, although they are made with all natural ingredients.

Orange – I was hoping for something like an orange cream-sicle type of flavor and I should have known better. It was quite acidic, true to a citrus fruit and nothing like a cream-sicle. Yeah, I know that is an artificial flavor, but my taste buds can hope right? That said, I eat and orange a day so I appreciated the realistic flavor in this gel.

Peanut Butter – Whooo boy, this hit the mark. I swear I was squeezing out pure peanut butter and not a gel. The taste was there, it was super creamy and because it’s a gel the was no grit. Ok, so I guess with this flavor a little grit would have been acceptable, but it was not and for good reason, it wasn’t supposed to.

All in all these things were great. I used some on runs and various training sessions. They helped to perk me up when I needed it and sustained me for a good amount of time energy wise. They are super convenient and can be tucked in a pack, a pocket or wherever.

recoveriteRecoverite: This product, obviously, is a recovery drink mix. Each serving has 10g of protein, which seems low but being isolated whey protein it is easily digestible and hits the sore spots sooner. With a 3:1 ratio of complex carbs and amino acids the claim is that muscle soreness after training will be lessened. They hike up the amount of glutamine as well which is believed to be one of the most important amino acid in recovery.

There were a few packets of this stuff so by the third or fourth day I did notice less time to heal my soreness. Instead of taking a year for my out of shape self to recover it only took 6 months… I jest, I jest. I did notice the difference though, placebo affect or not, I found it did work and will use the product again.

There were a few different flavors such as vanilla, strawberry, chocolate and citrus. My favorite had to be the chocolate as it had the best flavor. The others weren’t bad, I just preferred this the most. Although, the strawberry was spot on too!

barsBars: Again, they sent a good variety to try out. I preferred some more than other, and will get into that, but as far as their selling points here a little info from their site, which to me are some of the most important bits.

  • Natural, all-organic ingredients
  • Delicious taste, moist texture, easy to digest
  • No preservatives, trans fats, additives, coatings, soy, peanuts, refined sugars, or dairy
  • Gluten-free, vegan friendly, and GMO-free
  • Contains no MSG
  • Almond Raisin, Oatmeal Apple, & Cranberry (Kosher Certified)
  • Chocolate Chip & Cashew Coconut Chocolate Chip – (Kosher Dairy Certified)

I’m not here to preach food cleanliness and all, my words are mine alone based on the way I choose to eat. That said, the list above is key to how I eat. I understand that yes, it comes from a package, but as far as packaged foods go you can’t get any better.

Hands down my favorite was the Almond Raisin. The Cashew Coconut gave it quite a run for the money though and was amazing in it’s own right. I didn’t have the opportunity to try every single flavor, but did try many of them. All the rest were great as well, and are not standard packed tight bars. These are somewhat chewy and easy to swallow. I find that some protein and energy bars are so thick that you need to sip something to help get them down. These taste and feel like they were cooked in the kitchen.

In all honesty, not all of them had a pleasant flavor. I found that the Almond Cacao Vegan bar was very gross. Not sure if these things have a shelf life, I am pretty sure it wasn’t bad though, just not something I would want to eat again.

If you are looking for good clean energy, or just looking for a snack, I highly recommend you try these out.

fizzEndurolytes Fizz: Lastly, we have something I’d never tried, nor thought of. It’s kind of a genius idea actually. Fizz is a compressed tablet of electrolytes that you drop in water and it dissolves into a tasty drink. It’s not artificially sweetened and does not contain any refined sugars. I found I cramped less when I put these in my hydration pack on runs. Muscle fatigue also seemed to be lessened a good amount on top of the fatigue. These are as straight up and practical as you can get. I not only used them during training and or runs, but I used a few on long work shifts. Usually at the end of the day I feel really wiped out physically. Having popped these in water I felt less burnt out when I got home. Obviously at work I couldn’t rock my hydration pack, so I broke them in half to drop in a water bottle. For shame, I use water bottles, but the tablets are too big and had to be broken to get them in the bottle regardless. I absolutely loved the grapefruit flavor the most. With these I did try them all, and have no complaints about any of them. The flavor was not over powering, if anything they could use a bit more. Maybe I was popping them into too much water? Not sure, but I liked em anyway and found they proved their worth.

So what to do next? If you click http://www.hammernutrition.com/ and click the “begin shopping” button you will get 15% off your order. They have some great programs where if you find you like the product and you do lots of races, training, etc than you can set up auto-shipments and receive your order each month or whatever time frame you choose. I’m down with it and will be getting on it once race season really picks up.