This is the first in a series on Fueling the Vegan Athlete. After seven years as a vegetarian, and four years following a completely plant based diet, I feel confident that I am eating a variety of foods that help support me as an athlete. Over the next few weeks, I will share some of the products and foods that I love.
When my husband and I decided to become vegetarian, one of the things we were both concerned about was whether we would be able to fuel ourselves properly without meat. At the time, Alan was training for his first Ironman triathlon, and I was doing my usual combo of running, cycling, and strength training. Was meat necessary? As newbie ethical vegetarians (the vegan part came later), we certainly hoped not.
Remember, this was all new to us, before I knew anything about plant based athletes like Rich Roll, Brendan Brazier, Robert Cheek, and so many others. In fact, almost every sport has high level performers who are fueled by plants. Some, like local boxer Timothy Bradley, the former WBO welterweight champion, use a vegan diet specifically while training because he feels it boosts his energy and clears his mind.
As all vegans know, the most common question about a plant based diet is, “where do you get your protein?” My answer, memorized after years of repeating it, focuses on how much protein our bodies actually need, that many plant foods, including beans, rice, soy products, nuts, seeds, quinoa, lentils, and wheat gluten, contain high levels of protein, and that as a general rule, most people who are eating enough calories and eating a variety of food are getting enough protein.
Fueling the Vegan Athlete
That being said, I sometimes like to use a protein powder to add to my morning smoothies, just to help me get an extra boost after a tough workout. Remember, I’m not a nutritionist, but I do know that protein is recommended, along with replacing carbohydrates, to enhance recovery. There are a variety of plant based proteins to choose from, including pea, soy, and rice proteins.
I was recently given the opportunity through my relationship with Fit Approach as a Sweat Pink Ambassador to try out and review Manitoba Harvest Hemp Pro 70 protein powder. What, hemp? Not the kind you smoke, but hemp the super plant that has been used for centuries for food, clothing, rope, building materials, and more. In fact, every part of the hemp plant can be used. Yes, hemp is a species of cannabis sativa, but it has no psychoactive effect and will not cause a positive drug test.
What hemp does have is a great taste while providing all the essential amino acids, making it the most complete protein in the plant kingdom. It also provides essential fatty acids omega 3 and 6. And Manitoba Harvest Hemp Pro 70 combines all of these benefits in a water soluble powder that comes in three flavors, vanilla, chocolate, and original. It has about 20 grams of protein per serving (original version) and because it is water soluble, it can be mixed or shaken (no blender necessary!).
But how does it taste? I received a sample of both the chocolate and vanilla Hemp Pro 70. I used the vanilla to make two smoothies. I tested out the water solubility by adding the powder to a bottled green smoothie that I brought with me to Blogfest. I simply poured the packet into the bottle and shook it up.
It was a perfect combination! The powder blended thoroughly, and added a rich flavor to the green smoothie. I felt confident that I was adding not only extra protein to my smoothie, but the omega 3 and 6 that hemp protein provides. Yes! It tasted good.
Once home I got a little more creative and used the vanilla Hemp Pro 70 in a delicious peach and vanilla smoothie. With bananas, peaches, vanilla NuStevia, and almond milk, it was smooth and delicious. The recipe is posted in full on Instagram.
For more information on Manitoba Harvest and their hemp products, check their website. In addition to their high protein Hemp Pro 70, their product line includes Hemp Hearts, a deliciously crunchy protein that can be added to yogurt, oatmeal or salads, Hemp Pro 50, which is high in protein and fiber, and Hemp Pro Fibre, which has 13 grams of fiber per serving.
Using a protein powder like Manitoba Harvest Hemp Pro 70 is an easy and delicious way to make sure that you are getting enough healthy, plant based protein in your diet.
Do you use protein powder in your smoothies? Have you tried hemp protein?
Disclosure: I was provided with a couple packet of Hemp Pro 70 in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.