Ordinarily, I’m not into supplements. I am a firm believer in eating right and fueling your body to sustain you through endurance activities. If you are eating a balanced diet and enough calories, you can make it through a roller derby practice with a brief break for a well-timed snack. This attitude was completely turned on its head when I joined Contenders, Rocky Mountain Rollergirls’ B-travel team. I found myself signed up for three-hour practices three days per week, with two of those practices shared with Fight Club. What?! Who does that?! It was quickly evident I needed something extra to get through practice because I was seriously dragging ass by the end of the second hour; the third was almost torture. I wasn’t skating safely by the end of the third hour, and have the scars on my shins to prove it. Enter Herbalife24™ Prepare, Extreme Edge Muscle Recharging Stack, and Vega Sport’s Electrolyte Hydrator and Recovery Accelerator. Herbalife24™ Prepare is for consumption prior to activity to boost nitric oxide production and support blood flow to working muscles. It contains creatine to support fast-twitch muscle contraction. Extreme Edge Pre-Workout formula also boasts blood flow enhancement and igniting explosive energy. In contrast, Vega Sport’s packaging highlights the antioxidant protection it provides in addition to enhancing your metabolism. I felt like a meathead looking at all three products. Herbalife and I started off on the wrong foot. It is so sweet. Please note: I can barely handle drinking soda because I think it is too sugary, so if you are of a similar mindset I would tread lightly with Herbalife. My face puckered instantly and stayed there, like I had a citrus Sour Patch Kid in my mouth. I thought the sweetness might wear off after a few swigs and repeated exposure, but it did not. To its credit, the citrus flavor was consistent throughout. As for its impact on my performance, I thought it improved my stamina. However, my struggle with the flavor means I would not drink this again.
- Pros: low-calorie, mixes well with water, citrus flavor is consistent.
- Cons: if you are averse to sweet drinks, this may not be a good choice for you.
Extreme Edge was a pleasant surprise after Herbalife. Its flavor is light and tastes like lemon-lime, not a shock of sweetness. I actually looked forward to drinking it between drills. The Rocky Mountain Rollergirls’ warehouse does not have air conditioning, which is trying in the brutally hot summer months. Extreme Edge kept me going through three hours of scrimmage in 95-degree heat. It does contain caffeine, though, to the extent that I would not use this product after about 12 noon and risk being unable to fall asleep at night.
- Pros: Easy on the taste buds, kept me going through practice.
- Cons: Caffeine – enough that I wanted to keep going long after practice ended.
Flavor-wise, Vega Sport was the clear winner. The Electrolyte Hydrator in berry kept me gulping my water. Sometimes I have to remind myself to keep drinking water but the Electrolyte Hydrator and the Recovery Accelerator kept me very interested in my Nalgene, both between drills and after practice. As for how it made me feel: I’m not sure if I felt great because the Vega Sport products were semi-magical or if I was flushing my system with so much water there was no way I wouldn’t recover after practice. Given the flavor, I’m willing to keep experimenting with it.
- Pros: Damn, does it taste good.
- Cons: Might be a tad expensive to drink it just for its flavor
After taking a year off from roller derby (the notorious “exretiree” over here), I decided to come back to Rocky Mountain and pick up where I left off. I figured, “Hey, I’ve run one and a half marathons, I did a few boot camps, I worked out 5-6 days a week in the last year, I’m definitely in shape for roller derby.” Not so shockingly, I was not. I spent the first two weeks after my return to play feeling so sore I convinced myself I was getting sick. No part of running 26.2 miles will ever prepare you for sprinting on roller skates, but I digress. It became pretty clear after weeks of waking up with quads as tight as BB King’s Lucielle’s strings, that I needed some additional help on the recovery front. I had always been a believer in supplements, but had bounced around from brand to brand and only purchased what was on sale or what was being advertised on fitness blogs. As someone who tries to live a pretty cruelty free lifestyle I found it difficult to find tasty plant based supplements that helped keep me going through tough workouts (or practices ran by Fight Club) or prevented the dreaded DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). That is, until I found Vega Sport’s line of sustain and recovery products. The combination of Berryflavored Electrolyte Hydrator and Recovery Accelerator in Apple Berry (don’t knock it ‘til you try it) had me feeling strong, even after practice, and ready for another round the following day. I refer to the Recovery Accelerator as a “magic eraser”. It was the only thing that got me through those first few brutal postretirement RMRG practices! Although I was on the Vega bandwagon, I was still intrigued by all the products on the market that make big claims. So I gave a couple a try
Herbalife24™ Prepare has just 60 calories per serving, tons of great vitamins and lots of potassium – it made for a nice refreshing drink before practice. Luckily I’m a heavy coffee drinker, so I didn’t seem to be affected by the 100mg of caffeine, but I definitely felt an added boost to my skating. I became less fatigued and was more focused. Though I felt like it did its job, it might have been a tad on the sweet side. I’m a savory kind of gal, so a little sweet goes a long way with me. All in all, I don’t think I’d buy the Herbalife24™ Prepare again, simply because it was too sweet and left an aftertaste that took several beers to erase.
- Pros: Light, low calorie, vegetarian, sustainable.
- Cons: Way too sweet. Expensive.
Extreme Edge Pre-Workout Muscle Recharging Stack, in lemon, was not great tasting either. It tasted very artificial, like sweet tarts. But I gave it the old college try and was amazed at how quickly it kicked in. Almost immediately after drinking down my first two gulps, I was off and running… and not surprisingly, I crashed mid-way through practice. Not an epic crash, but definitely noticeable. I gave it a few more tries and ended up with the same results. Huge burst of energy and a drop an hour in. I had high hopes as it came with great reviews from teammates and friends.
- Pros: Super low calorie, great for short quick workouts – sprints perhaps. Great packaging, low waste.
- Cons: Not sustainable, artificial tasting.
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