Hi all! Today I’m going to review a few products by Sunwarrior – a company that produces plant-based vegan protein powders and various other biologically active supplements. I’m not usually big on taking protein powders and supplements, but this time I decided to test a few products by Sunwarrior after learning that they are an all-vegan company, and aim to use only ‘clean’ ingredients.
The subject of vegan athletic nutrition rings close to home for me these days as I’m getting closer to my second marathon since going vegan (third marathon overall). It’s been proven many times over, including with my own experience, that being vegan is in no way going to put limitations on how well we can perform in endurance sports including running marathons. But one thing I often see people getting confused over is whether or not they should use supplements while training for endurance events, from 5k to ultramarathons.
Perhaps the most puzzling product is protein powder. I recently saw somebody asking in some forum about when he or she should start taking protein powder – before, during or after a workout – now that that person started doing the Couch to 5k program. Hmm, puzzling indeed…
I have to admit that I’ve never taken protein powder as I was training for my 2 previous marathons and 7 half-marathons because I never felt the need. In fact, since I try to stick to the idea of ‘eating clean’ for best recovery, I make an effort to eat as much whole, minimally processed plant foods as possible as I’m getting ready for Rock’n’Roll Seattle marathon in less than a month. One of my next posts will be about what I eat on a long run day that helps me recover so quickly that I can have a strength training workout at the gym the very next day (stick around!), but for now let’s just say that I give a lot of credit for my speedy recovery to eating plant-based.
The biggest issue I see with most protein powders? Their ingredients list! Yes, the ingredients have to be processed in order to fit into that bottle and remain shelf-stable for years, but it seems like some brands go overboard with adding unpronounceable chemicals, preservatives, etc. Besides, as a plant-based vegan I want to see only vegan-friendly components list on the package.
I’ve heard of a couple all-vegan brands that are widely used by other fitness-inclined vegans, but haven’t tried those until Sunwarrior reached out to me and sent me a sampling of their most popular products to try out. I was a bit skeptical at first, but then I checked out their ingredients lists online (they are legit) and decided to give it a go.
Here’s what Sunwarrior sent me (you can see samples of all of these products above):
Warrior Blend Chocolate and Vanilla protein powders – based on a blend of raw pea, cranberry and hemp proteins, a combination that forms a complete amino acid profile high in Arginine, Lysine, Leucine, and branched chain amino acids; free of gluten, solvents, GMOs, radiation, artificial flavors, artificial preservatives, or artificial colors(according to their site);
Activated Sprouted Barley powder – barley is “taken to the brink of germination before being powdered. This suspends it at the highest point of bio-energy where it contains the best mix of fiber, enzymes, and the ultimate slow burning carbohydrate.” (Site quote)
Raw Organic Ormus Supergreens powder – a mix of cold-dried organic Alfalfa, Barley Grass, Wheat Grass, Oat Grass, Spinach, Parsley, Moringa, and Ginger Root. The cold-drying process allows to retain the delicate heat-sensitive enzymes and phytonutrients, which ensures that the final product is “a superior green superfood beverage that is alive, raw, and bio-available”. I’m saving a pack of Ormus Supergreens to take in right after my marathon in a month to kick-start recovery.
A blender bottle with a wire whisk – a leak-proof seal and a ball-shaped wire whisk make it easier than ever to mix any of the above mentioned powders with liquid. You’ve probably seen every jock at the gym carrying one of those bottles around.
What I Made with My Sunwarrior Samples
The easiest way to add my supplement samples to food was to use them in smoothies (a shocker, right?!). Both the chocolate and vanilla-flavored protein powders turned out to taste pretty good in my breakfast smoothies, and I especially appreciated the extra protein after my Sunday morning long runs.
I tend to put too much stuff into my smoothies, sometimes stopping just short of dumping in leftover mashed potatoes (hey, that’s healthy carbs!). As a result, often my smoothies taste quite funky, to say the least, which causes Rob to make smartypants comments and even refuse drinking them. Thankfully, the Sunwarrior protein powders added just enough of a nice chocolate/vanilla flavor boost to my smoothies, and Rob even went on to compliment them! That was like music to my ears :). I used about half of a single-serving packet per smoothie.
Another great use for Sunwarrior protein powder – making a quick postworkout shake. The majority of my workouts happen after work between 5 and 6 pm, so by the time I get home I’m usually quite ravenous, and that’s all before I even start making dinner. Naturally the demand of pre-dinner snacks is high in our house. Trouble is, I often just dive straight into the peanut butter jar to kill off that hungry feeling quickly (plus, who doesn’t love to eat peanut butter by the spoon?), and proceed to make dinner. As a result, the cold, fatty peanut butter mass in my empty stomach causes it to feel less than happy. I’ve been experimenting with other types of food as a postworkout/pre-dinner snack. This is when I discovered that half of a packet (1/2 serving)of Sunwarrior protein powder mixed with about a cup of almond milk agree with my stomach nicely and diminish my hunger until the dinner is ready. The blender bottle makes mixing them together a breeze.
There was also a time when I got adventurous and mixed in some chia seeds. Let’s just say that my proportions weren’t perfect, but the potential for a protein-chia seed pudding was there! If you decide to make this pudding at home, use no more than ½ cup of nondairy milk, 1-2 Tbsp of chia seeds, and 1-2 Tbsp of Sunwarrior protein powder. Let sit for 5-10 minutes to allow the chia seeds to plump up, and enjoy!
As for the sprouted barley and Ormus supergreens powders, I found them the easiest to use in smoothies as well. I can see that they can be mixed with water/nondairy milk for a postworkout recovery drink, but I used up my samples in smoothies before I ever got a thought of making them into a drink after my exercise sessions.
All in all, I had a positive experience with Sunwarrior products. I found that the flavors were pleasant, the ingredients lists not too confusing, and most importantly, the powders agreed well with my stomach that can be quite fussy at times. I also appreciate the fact that Sunwarrior makes it a point to create only plant-based products that can benefit everyone, vegan or not.
I’ll admit though that I’m not a big consumer of protein powders or supplements overall, and I don’t believe that we HAVE TO consume them to be healthy. To each his own, of course: if you decide that you’d like to add a protein powder to your vegan/plant-based diet, you can be sure that Sunwarrior most likely has a product fit for your needs.
Question for you: Have you ever used any nutritional supplements – protein powders, multivitamins, etc.? Please share your experience in the comments below!
Disclaimer: Sunwarrior provided me with a free sampling of their select products for free in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own.
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