Well, I’m glad you asked. I’m sure you’ll find this shocking but I actually tend to scrutinize any label of anything I eat, especially if it claims to help me power through a workout, or recover like a boss. I don’t fall for a lot of hype and I know what works and doesn’t for my body. When it comes to adding “unnatural” (powder) protein, I usually stay away from it. I also don’t take multi vitamins because I truly believe I can get all the nutrients I need from eating healthy, whole foods.
However, when it comes to extreme training, like what I’m doing now, I know that I can use a little extra boost and something that is in bar or liquid form is preferable since I’m probably late for whatever I’m supposed to be doing next, and need to grab and go! You can’t relate to that, can you?
When Vega Sport offered the opportunity through Sweat Pink to test out their Protein Recovery bars – I couldn’t type my request fast enough. Partly because I’m a huge skeptic, and you know I will not endorse a product unless I really like it and it works. Period.
A big box of bars showed up in my mailbox a few weeks later, just as I was headed out to do a 10 miler. Good timing. I put a few bars in the fridge (because I like ’em cold) and went out for my long, sweaty run. Afterward, they did not disappoint! I love the peanut butter chocolate combo without it being too sweet. I have a low tolerance for sweetness – I think most desserts are too sweet and I don’t eat the icing on a cake – yes, I’m that jerk. So they passed my sweet test.
I was so happy they were good tasting and kept me full for about an hour and half (which is a long time, trust me!) that I just took one with me for every workout and ate one promptly after completing each.
Then a funny thing happened – someone asked me what was in them. I’m sure she could almost see the hamster in my head come to a complete stop. I never even checked the label! What?? How could I have so massively dropped the ball on this? I mean, I checked the protein, fat and calories but for all I knew, I was fueling with dopamine and 17 other ingredients that are made in a power plant and are known carcinogens. Ok, so maybe not that bad since it was endorsed by Sweat Pink, but still!
So, I decided I needed to go hyper-active on this one and really scrutinize each ingredient, since I so massively screwed up. You get to be the beneficiaries of what I uncovered:
1. Complete Protein Blend – organic sprouted whole grain brown rice, pea protein
Pretty straight forward here and “pea protein” is dairy, gluten and soy free! These bars pack 15 grams of protein each. So far, so good.
2. Dark Chocolate Coating – organic cane sugar, chocolate liquor, cooca butter, sunflower lecithin
Chocolate liquor? Bonus!
3. Organic Tapioca Syrup
Don’t you just love how putting “organic” in front of something like tapioca syrup makes it almost sound healthy. That’s on purpose.
4. Organic Brown Rice Syrup
5. Organic Peanut Butter
6. Organic Peanuts
7. Vega Saviseed oil
Confused? I was too! Apparently this is a protein and they’re now using just the oil (not the complete protein) for better digestion. Plus, plus, plus! No one wants to make unwanted stops on the run, and to me, any stop is unwanted.
8. Inulin – from Chicory Root
Inulins are a group of naturally occurring polysaccharides (carbs) produced by many types of plants. Don’t you think it would be infinitely better to put “plant-based carbs” instead of inulins? Speak English people!
9. Brown Rice Crisps
More sugar? Really? This is where I check the sugar content – 16g. Not bad, considering this is a recovery bar.
10. Organic Peanut Flour
11. Organic Agave Syrup
Ok now I’m checking the Vega Sport site for why all this sugar and, it’s a popular question. What’s the answer? “During product reformulation, the goal was to choose sweeteners that were organic, gluten-free, vegan, minimally-refined, with a low-glycemic index.” Goal achieved! Next.
12. Sea Salt
13. Organic Peanut Extract
14. Sunflower Lecithin
According to one site I visited, sunflower lecithin is best source of vegetable lecithin for the food market! Um, yes I would like the best one to be in my protein bars please.
So there you have it. And, yes, I know there’s some unwritten rule about anything you eat should have no more then 3 ingredients but, when you put all this goodness into a recovery bar – remember that it has a lot of work to do. Trust me, if you saw me after my run/bike/run/bike/run/bike (that is not a typo – I did each one three times!) this past Sunday you would have thrown four of these at me with a gallon of water!
What’s your favorite protein bar?
Do you have a go-to snack?
Have you ever eaten something without checking the ingredient list (gasp!)?