I’m a vegan. I didn’t mean to be, but it just kinda happened. And I’m really happy with it, and find it easy to maintain, much to the shock and surprise of others. I’m also an athlete who has been very focused on getting a lot of protein in my diet. The top question I get is the age old, “So how do you get protein if you don’t eat meat?”
I get it lots of ways without really having to try. I love quinoa, lentils, black beans, hemp seeds, chia seeds, nuts, nut butters, and many other foods that are good sources of protein. But sometimes when I’m training hard, I like to ensure I’m getting more protein, so I use protein shakes. Some naysayers out there might call me out for cheating to get protein where a ‘normal’ person eating meat and eggs wouldn’t need a supplemental shake. I beg to differ – when I was a meat eater who had two to three eggs for breakfast (plus lentils), I still used a protein shake every day. If anything, I actually supplement less now than I used to.
What has changed is the way I supplement. Or I could be clever and say, “the whey I supplement.” I used to use dairy-based protein shakes using whey or casein. Those are the two main proteins in dairy, with whey being a fast-digesting protein that’s ideal for times when your muscles are working hard or just worked hard (recovery). Casein is a slow-digesting protein that’s ideal for times when you don’t have a strong physical demand, like with dinner, before bed. I used to eat a cup of cottage cheese before bed (cottage cheese is basically just casein plus milk fat and some lactose, or dairy sugar).
But being vegan means no dairy, so I turned to a few brands of plant-based protein powders. These powders rely on soy, pea, hemp and brown rice proteins, but I’ve always tried to avoid soy protein because it has a hormonal impact (it increases estrogen levels) that men or women with a high risk of breast cancer should be mindful of. The two brands I mainly used are Vega (Vega One and Protein+Greens were the two I used, though I didn’t like either due to their overly-fake taste and relatively low protein for a high volume of powder) and Garden of Life RAW Protein. I much prefer the GoL stuff because, unlike the Vega, it’s organic. That’s really important to me to avoid the chemicals used in non-organic agriculture. The protein load is also better than the Vega, and the pricing is better, too (you can get it on subscribe and save through Amazon for a good price). The taste isn’t bad, but it’s not great, either. And I have a different issue with the GoL products that means I need to stay near a bathroom right after drinking it, and I can’t drink it and start working out. Let’s leave that point there.
So my main options I’ve relied on weren’t great options. As a FitFluential ambassador, I became aware of Healthy Skoop (see their full line at Amazon). It immediately caught my attention. Their B-Strong Protein is plant-based, aka vegan. It’s organic. It’s low sugar (3g per scoop, which is less than Vega but slightly more than GoL). And it doesn’t have soy in it. Check check check. The protein content is pretty good at 16g per scoop, but not the best. It’s certainly sufficient, though. Healthy Skoop was offering to provide a container of their powder for some social media love, which I agreed to do. So, yes, full disclosure – I didn’t pay for this product. What wasn’t asked of me, though, is to write a blog post – I’m doing that totally of my own volition because of how strongly I feel about the product.
I got the Choco-lot flavor, which is flavored using organic cocoa plus some coconut sugar and stevia, both also organic. Every item in the short ingredient list is organic. It’s not too sweet at all, and not chalky or bitter as some chocolate protein powders can be. It’s really the perfect balance of sweet without being too strong or fake.
I put a scoop in my blender bottle as soon as I got the package in the mail because I was so anxious to try it. One issue I’ve had with different protein powders is that some don’t blend well. They clump or stick to the walls of the bottle or blender. This stuff mixed really well, really quickly. It’s a minor point, but it matters – that’s wasted product and a more involved cleanup process if it sticks or clumps.
I took a swig. Wow. It tastes like melting chocolate ice cream (though not quite as sweet). It has a light creaminess to it that was just so nice. It went down smoothly without coating my mouth (or the cup, which didn’t have the typical protein shake residue left on it).
Next step was to wait to see if I needed to rush to the bathroom like I would with Garden of Life. Five minutes…10 minutes…20 minutes. All clear. So that was the last test, and it passed.
Then the test was how it did at fueling me. Without drawing blood or doing muscle tissue samples over time, my sense of how it worked isn’t scientific, but I can say I was not feeling great this morning and was strongly considering not exercising. I had a shake, and definitely felt a little better. Better enough to decide to run just a mile on the treadmill for the sake of getting some movement. Usually my first mile of any run is sort of a throwaway. I’m just getting in the groove, and it generally feels like it takes for ever for my Garmin to vibrate to tell me I hit my first mile. Not only did the first mile go quickly this morning, I actually didn’t feel my usual sluggishness. That’s saying a lot since I was feeling really sluggish before lacing up. I ended up doing two miles, but felt like I could have gone much longer. Unfortunately, I had a time constraint, so I couldn’t run longer.
Is that 100% because of the Healthy Skoop B-Strong Protein? Yes, of course. No, I’m kidding. I don’t know if it was. But it certainly was an a-typical morning for me, both in terms of feeling so physically low, and for rebounding from that feeling so quickly and strongly. The only fuel I had was the protein shake, so it wasn’t from anything else. I’d need way more time with the product to be certain, but every sign points to this being a great product. None of the problems or issues I’ve had with other products, all of the ingredient choices I’d make, great taste, and apparently a positive impact on my performance.
Last thing I needed to check was the price. Most protein powders are expensive. Most are crazy expensive. Organic ones are even more expensive. A grass-fed, organic whey protein I used to use costs about $100 – if you can find it on sale! After drinking my first shake, I was expecting Healthy Skoop to run somewhere around $60 per container, which is similar to Vega (GoL is usually in the low to mid $40s, with deals to get it to about $28). I was shocked to see that regular retail price is $45, with a subscribe and save auto-delivery price of $38.25 shipped! They have a non-organic version that sells for $30 or $25.50 with auto-delivery.
And that’s when I decided I need to write about this product and spread the word. No question I’ve concluded that I’m switching to Healthy Skoop for my own use. They’re a small company who makes a product that’s 100% in sync with what I want in a protein powder, and they care about what I care about. I feel really good using their product physically, but also personally as I’m supporting a company that’s supporting what I care about, too. That’s a win all around.
I should add that they’re socially and societally conscious about something that’s very important to me. Childhood obesity is out of control. It’s so bad, Adult Onset Diabetes has been renamed Type II Diabetes because kids are getting it. This is a lifestyle-induced diabetes due to poor diet. Healthy Skoop donates 3% of their sales (not profit, but top-line sales) to Project Produce to help get veggies into school lunches in the US. 30 million kids eat lunch provided by school, and if you’ve seen what they’re served, you know that something needs to be done to help these kids get better nutrition and eating habits.
So I’ll leave it there for now. I also got a container of their organic, plant-based greens (for cooking, adding to smoothies, etc), which I will try soon and will write about if I feel strongly in either direction, so stay tuned for that. In the meantime, you can get the organic Healthy Skoop protein from their website with a great free-shipping offer on any orders over $100 (you can stock up to get over the $100 mark) for just $45 per container, or you can get free shipping if you do the subscription plan where you get the product for just $38.25 per container. You can also get it from Amazon, if you prefer, for even less ($35.28, though no subscribe-and-save option on the all-organic version). If you’re not sure you want to commit, they have three sampler kits you can try out, too. I have no doubt you’ll be pleased when you do.
Using high-quality, clean nutrition is one of the most literal ways to enlighten.your.body.