I have been a buyer and researcher of new food items and supplements in the Health Food & Supplement Industry for the past 15 years. During that time many products and fads have come and gone. When I was asked to write a review for Vega Sports Sugar-Free Energizer, I was a bit apprehensive.
I have worked with many Vega representatives and their products for a very long time, and I believe they do an excellent job at providing a high-quality, clean, plant-sourced product. So why was I hesitant? It had to do with the word “Energizer.” I believed they had sold themselves out to a fad. The entire country seems to be running on fumes. Were they just another one to jump on the wagon to try and make a dime?
I decided to put my prejudices aside and jump in wholeheartedly to test this product for two months. When I was first introduced to this product, people raved about how great it was. I wanted to make sure I had the most unbiased review I could.
Let’s look at the Ingredients
First off I was happy I could read and pronounce every ingredient on the list. When I assess a product, the first thing I ask myself is “What are they selling”? In this case, it was a Sugar-Free Energizer. Whenever I see these two combinations, a red flag goes off for me. Immediately I flip over the container and start reading the ingredients. I am looking to see what are they using for stimulants and what are they substituting for sugar. In this case, it’s stevia.
First off, sugar-free products usually taste disgusting. Many are unpalatable and depending on the sugar substitute the nastier the taste, and the more associated risk. Over the past few years, I have been able to allow myself to lean towards Stevia in recommending products. This is because of the product itself; it is a plant.
International Guidelines For Extracting Stevia
1. Stevia leaf extracts must adhere to the established specifications for identification and purity to be used in food by various national and global food safety authorities.
2. The process of purifying stevia into high purity stevia leaf extract is similar to how other plant-based ingredients, such as cane sugar or natural vanilla extract, are made through a series of steps beginning with the harvested, raw plant material through to the end product.
3. The process starts by drying the leaves and then steeping them in water. Next, the liquid extract is filtered and separated from the leaves and stems.
4.The plant extract is further purified with water or food grade alcohol. If food grade alcohol is used, it is later removed.
Once this is complete, stevia extract compounds are the same compounds as found in the leaves, that is, they are molecularly identical. The extraction and purification process gives purified stevia leaf extract a cleaner, more sugar-like taste. The end product is a highly purified stevia glycoside sweetener or flavor suitable for use in a range of foods and beverages. Depending on the sweetener glycoside mixture, the sweetness level can be 200 to 350 times sweeter than traditional table sugar.
Now that doesn’t mean it gets a green light. I believe, if I am going to substitute sugar, then this one is my choice on an ingredient list. I rarely eat sugar in any form other than fruits. I am also a believer our bodies can handle small amounts of pure sugar better than some alternatives.
Also Chemical extraction is not permitted in retrieving Stevia compounds.
Stimulants & Energy Boosters – What You Need to Know
This product is designed to give you energy, so don’t be surprised to see a list of stimulants. To say one stimulant is better or worse for you is a bit of mumbo jumbo. Either you can choose to take stimulants, or avoid them entirely. To put a list of “ifs” and “buts” when it comes to stimulants you are doing nothing but fooling yourself. A Stimulant is a Stimulant no matter what form it assumes.
What is important to look if you are taking a product with stimulants is to see what types of effects they have on the body. Are they found growing in nature or are they manmade and extracted in an unnatural form. I focus on anything that claims to be “all natural.” These two words have no regulation and can very dangerous and misleading.
Natural stimulants are types of stimulants that produce increased energy, reduced appetite or improved mental focus and clarity naturally. The most common natural stimulants include caffeine, cocaine, and nicotine but many other natural stimulants also exist. Most of the stimulants are roots, herbs or foods such as Guarana, Ginseng, L-Tyrosine, Gotu Kula, Fo-Ti, B Vitamins, Chlorophyll, Coconut Oil, Taurine, DHEA, Ginkgo, Hoodia, Iodine, Arginine.
The dangers of natural stimulants may be seemingly minute compared to certain synthetic stimulants, but this doesn’t make these drugs any safer. A user could suffer from an immediate heart attack; there could be a stroke, or there could be other serious side effects that may occur.
There are two stimulants I will not use, first is Guarana and the second is Taurine, nor will I recommend a product that has them listed as ingredients. This is my personal belief. I believe they have been overused to stimulate the body and are now being investigated by health officials; not enough long-term research has been done on these products, and the side effects can be severe for many, especially when taken improperly or in excessiveness.
The other stimulants that are listed in root form, I find; based on the current research, customer feedback and personal experience, deemed safe to use in moderation. Any risks are so small; I equate them no dangerous than taking an aspirin.
The main Medical ingredients as stimulants used in this product are
These are all low dosage amounts <200mg per 3.4-gram scoop, except for Coconut Oil
Powder Sodium Citrate, Tumeric, Potassium Citrate, and Ginger are the other listed medical ingredients.
Ease Of Use
Vega Sports Sugar-Free Energizer product fell a little flat for me in the beginning. On day one, I added it to my cold water, and it wouldn’t mix properly. I was annoyed since most of the product stuck to the side of the glass. On day two I thought I must need to add the water to the product, the same thing occurred again; it did not dissolve. Day three I put it in a water bottle and had shaken it to mix it, again I wasn’t happy. So I contacted Vega to see if there was a problem, or if something as simple as this requires a skill level I didn’t possess.
They were very quick to respond and said it best dissolves in a little bit of warm water then add cold water. It worked perfectly after that, and from then on I had no problems. I have come to find out later this is due to individual ingredients and how they dissolve.
How Does It Work
When I first tried this, I had very low energy levels. Even though I am a very healthy person, I was recovering from a very high-stress job. I could barely get through my work day. When I would get home, I would need a nap, before cooking dinner so I could eat and go to bed. I had no energy for the gym, social activities and could barely get my day to day chores done without it being a daunting task.
Day one, I did not get this super burst of energy like many other energy drinks, which is great. I didn’t want to be jittery with a racing heartbeat or have so much energy I wanted to jump out of my skin. I experienced something very different. I didn’t feel I could go running a marathon, but I no longer felt exhausted; my brain fog was gone. I had mental clarity and ability to work out. I was happy I wasn’t feeling exhausted. I almost felt normal for the first time in nearly a year.
I work out at 5:00 pm until 6:30 pm and I would take this around 4:30 pm. After my workout, I had the energy to cook dinner, do my tasks around the house, and socialize. Gradually I could feel myself getting tired again around 10:00 pm.
For the first three weeks, I took this product every day to go to the gym only. I needed it. I needed a boost to help get my energy back. I wasn’t going crazy at the gym; I had simple weight lifting goals and no cardio. This product was my first step. I was feeling like my energy I had five years ago was back. I was very focused on working out and would look forward to the end of the day knowing I would feel great during the evening. I did not use this product any other time other than before going to the gym, at this point.
Some might think this change had to do with my diet. I am a very healthy eater in general, during this stressful time I would over eat and binge, go back for the second plate and in some cases the third plate. I will say my appetite stabilized somewhat. I no longer had the cravings for “something.” The other contributing factor could have been I changed jobs and wasn’t feeling stressed and overwhelmed, but my energy was still low on the days I did not go to the gym (weekend), but that could have been part of my rest phase of working out and being off from work.
The fourth week, I changed things up a bit. Being aware of the long-term effects of stimulants, I wanted to move away from them. I now started taking this every another day and wanted to know how was I being affected by the stimulants. I noticed a big difference on the day’s I did not take the Sugar-Free Energizer. I wasn’t motivated to go to the gym, but I went; my workouts were lackluster, I was distracted and wouldn’t always do my full sets and would rush to get home so I could eat. This was a deliberate choice for me. I wanted to know how I was going to react. I also knew I needed to build my energy up in other ways, including small changes in my diet and workout routine. I also knew I had to rebuild some of my mental clarity and ability to focus.
The sixth week, I was now only taking it twice a week, mainly Tuesday and Thursdays. This was so I could work out extra hard twice a week. My energy levels were beginning to come back to normal, so now I wanted a booster to intensify my workouts, and that is what I got in on those days. It seemed to have even more energy now and was also doing cardio for 30 minutes in addition to my one-hour weight lifting. There were a few nights I had a difficult time getting to sleep.
I also tried taking it without going to the gym; I had a few social functions on the weekends that required more energy than I felt I had. This was ten times better than having a cup of coffee. I did not mix alcohol with it, again I didn’t feel jittery, or over stimulated, I just didn’t feel tired.
The eighth week, I stopped taking the product on a regular basis. Again was to make sure I wasn’t relying on stimulants to regain my energy. I was taking it only on days I was exhausted and felt I needed it to motivate me to go to the gym. I have now found that my energy levels have returned and my tiredness is a normal result of working out, normal daily activity and regular activities in life.
I can honestly say it gives me a great level of energy now that my energy levels are back to normal. I would even go so far as to recommend this not just for workouts, but for individuals who need the energy to study or concentrate for an unusually short period. I would suggest it to people who had a bad nights sleep and needed to be focused at work the next day. I had taken it when I started to feel cold coming on, and no it does not cure my cold, but what it does it lessen the effect of it, I didn’t feel like I was dragging my butt at work all day.
How Does It Rate Overall
If I were rating it out of five stars, I think I would have to give it 4 to 4 1/2. First, the dissolving of the product was a bit tricky in the beginning and was annoying. I can see why people complained, and I do find it a little pricey for a small container, but there are also expensive ingredients and no fillers or crap.
Don’t get me wrong, for my experiment and what I need it to do; it was worth every penny! I have repurchased it to have on hand and use it 6 to 8 times a month. When I want that extra push at the gym, or when I’m feeling a little tired, and I need to work late or go to a social function that requires me to be up a bit later. I am sure I will use it more especially during the winter months when I tend to be prone to be more tired, due to weather and lack of sunshine. It is better than any other comparative product I have tried over the years, especially compared to the generic brands at GNC and other such stores that are selling you sugar.
If you need a little pick me up in the afternoon, then I recommend it over an Energy Drink from a can or a cup of coffee. It doesn’t have a crash like the others do, and you can mix as much or as little water you need and change the dosage to suit your needs.
Check it out here on Amazon to save 20%.