Brendan Brazier, Vegan Triathlete...his story

The Story behind Vega

I first experimented with a vegan diet in 1990. At the age of 15, not knowing the intricacies of what I was getting into, mistakes were made. Initially, I can attribute my interest in eating plant-based foods exclusively to my belief that they might improve athletic performance. It was not to be, not yet. With Vega nor its concept not yet even on the horizon; I feasted on refined, denatured carbohydrates and manufactured fats in an attempt to satisfy my seemingly insatiable appetite. Eating from the first onset of light, until dark I was having difficulty maintaining nourishment despite the fact that my stomach was full. Trouble mustering energy to get through the day, my cognitive ability also became compromised.

An unmistakable decline in athletic performance caught the eye of my high school track coach. In addition, my teachers were less than enthused by lethargy and impaired concentration that I now exhibited. I needed encouragement, and I got it. Encouraged by many to start "eating normal", it was not the kind I was looking for.

As a persistent 15 year old, resistance to my plan seemed to lend it a certain allure. "It can't be done" is what I was being told. "You have to choose. Do you want to be an athlete or a vegan?" This seemed to be popular opinion. In retrospect I realize that lack of encouragement was exactly what I needed to fuel my curiosity. Could it be done? I decide to see if I could make it work.

I began to investigate. Medical journals, applied dietary studies and health and nutrition publications were my sources of choice. Initially there were not any studies to be found that supported exclusive plant-based nutrition for the athlete. However, there was also very little to discourage it! Encouraged by the lack of discouragement, I was optimistic. That said, I realized that I'd have to be my own test subject and carefully track my findings - first hand research at its best.

Upon additional investigation I learned that several nutrients of great importance, and commonly lacking for vegans, were nonexistent in my diet. This was a good start and just what I wanted to hear. I now had a reason for my malaise; the hardest part was behind me. I had identified the deficiencies: Complete protein, iron, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium and vitamin b 12 were all lacking in my diet.

As a means to fulfilling my dietary shortcomings, I began making a blender drink with several of my newfound favourite foods. It was easy to do and it worked. Over time the constant hunger, fatigue and a poor recovery rate all dissipated. I was more than satisfied with what I had achieved. Now performing at a higher level, I felt as though my persistence and hard work had paid off. Several years passed and as they did my satisfaction turned into complacency. I was still performing well, but believed that further gains could be made.

My interest in further improving athletic performance through diet was rekindled when I heard an ad on the radio for maca. "Maca has an amazing attribute-it can help reduce cortisol levels caused by stress", the announcer went on to say more but that's all I needed to investigate further since adrenal fatigue was a constant concern during periods of heavy training. I researched maca thoroughly and found it was for real; certainly not a "magic pill" or a cure for all problems, but a nutrient dense whole food with a "modern world" application. It helped to know native Peruvians had been taking maca for centuries for greater energy, strength and stamina and to this day it's still their #1 health food. I began adding the suggested daily teaspoon to my evolving blender drink.

As a firm believer in the value of replenishment as apposed to stimulation for energy production, I knew that maca was the type of addition I had been looking for. Acknowledging the value of a balanced endocrine system from previous research, I knew that if I were able to rejuvenate my hormonal system, my energy level would also improve. No longer would it fluctuate in accordance with, nor be dependent upon recently consumed caffeine and sugar containing products. Pleased with my discovery of maca, I wondered if there were other whole foods that could further improve health. The answer was yes.

Intriguing from the onset as a natural alternative to vitamin B-12 supplementation, chlorella stood out as a great addition to my daily regimen. Its highly alkaline nature, derived from densely packed chlorophyll, made it a new favourite of mine. Furthermore, its unique Chlorella Growth Factor (CGF) intrigued me, eventually leading to my understanding of its amazing effect on cellular regeneration.

I began adding a teaspoon of chlorella to my ever-evolving daily blender drink. Not only did chlorella look good on paper, it actually delivered. Very pleased with the results, I could now eliminate the few remaining tablets that I had been taking. Vitamin B-12 and calcium were the last to go at the hands of chlorella.

I'm pleased to say that by this time several studies and clinical trials had been conducted on plant-based nutrition. Many highly respected medical doctors, nutritionists, and dietary researchers had begun encouraging the substitution of many animal products for plant-based ones.

Vega was born

Impressed with both the MacaSure brand of maca and ChlorEssence brand of chlorella that I had been using, I approached Sequel Naturals, the manufacturer, and met with the owner, Charles Chang. Starting from the beginning, I told Charles my story. I proposed my idea of combining my blender drink formula with MacaSure and ChlorEssence in a commercial version that anyone could take.

Since my blender drink formula had proven its self on a daily basis over the last eight years, it was clear that it delivered. Providing all the nutrition that a professional Ironman triathlete needed while maintaining a vegan diet spoke for itself. Charles liked the fact that I not only was able to "exist" on a vegan diet, but actually thrive on one. Charles pondered the implications. "If this formula can fulfill the nutritional needs of a professional vegan athlete who doesn't take supplements and is pushing his body to the limit each day, imagine what could it do for the average person!"

Appreciating the obvious value, Charles was excited about the possibilities. Also a bit tentative because nothing like this had been replicated before, Charles wondered if it was possible. A great concept on paper, but could it be done? Charles and I committed ourselves to the necessary research and development. Over the course of about a year and a half, we answered all the questions earlier posed to us - by us.

Charles gave me complete control of the formulation process. "I'm giving you a blank slate, go to it without compromise" he said. Exactley the words I wanted to hear. We spared no expense and Vega was made with the goal of replicating my proven blender drink as closely as possible. Thus, Vega was born.

The launch of Vega was rewarding. Knowing it will help thousands of people achieve a better quality of life through improved health is tremendously satisfying.

Why Vega works

Healthy, convenient food for everyone and anyone
The reason for my rapid fitness gains were due to the fact that I was simply recovering at a faster rate than I previously had. As a result I was able to train again sooner and harder, inevitably leading to a greater level of fitness in a shorter amount of time. Making the connection, it became apparent that expedited recovery was a result of nothing more than the removal of stress from my body. I saw the wide spread implication. Having learned first hand that the body's response to stress is the same regardless of its source, I knew that Vega could help people curtail it and reap the benefits.

One of the most promising aspects of the formula was its potential to benefit a wide variety of people. Experienced first hand, stress rises when life gets busy. The busier a person becomes the less time remains to prepare healthy food, most usually leading to the creation of a vicious circle. Sometimes referred to as the "high achiever's paradox", the situation can lead to premature burnout. When good nutrition is most necessary is the very time when it's usually gone without. Being too busy to prepare wholesome food, coupled with the integration of denatured convenience food options is a recipe for elevated stress.  As an alternative,
Vega can help busy people reduce nutritional stress through providing nutrient rich whole foods in a convenient and enjoyable form.

Additional energy through conservation, not consumption
Reducing the amount of energy expended on digestion, assimilation, and absorption allows for a greater net gain than traditional foods can offer. Because Vega contains natural digestive enzymes, is alkaline forming and is in liquid form, energy is conserved in its utilization. As you read earlier, conservation is another way to obtain more energy. Efficiency in spending becomes the determining factor as to how much energy we have. By consuming Vega, a large part of the first energy boost noticed can be attributed to conservation not consumption, and of course not to stimulation.

Improved performance through rejuvenation, not stimulation
The second way in which Vega provides more energy is by nourishing the adrenal glands and the endocrine system as a whole. By requiring fewer resources to utilize its nutrients, Vega allows the body to spend its energy elsewhere. As a result, the body can now put more of its resources into improving immune system function, recovering from exercise and coping with stress.

By spending energy on stress tolerance, cortisol levels become reduced. Once cortisol levels decline the body is better able to maintain lean muscle and shed fat. In addition, the ability to fall asleep and quickly slip into the deep regenerative phase known as Delta is only possible when cortisol levels are low. Once the body is able to spend a greater amount of time in the Delta phase of sleep, effectively improving sleep efficiency, waking up will be easier.

Rested and restored will be the result and, as such the desire to stimulate by consuming sugary, starchy and caffeine containing foods will be reduced. As this process transpires it will set off a complimentary circle, a positive chain of events. Some describe the effect this way, "When I sleep I'm more asleep, consequently when I'm awake I'm more awake". The line between being asleep and being awake becomes starkly defined, certainly a deviation from our current cultural norm.

Now that the desire to "borrow" energy from sugar, starch and caffeine has begun to dissipate, sleep will continue to improve since the cortisol rising attributes of sugar, starch and caffeine will have been further reduced.

Five synergistic sources of protein
By synergistically combining five protein sources, I found that my ability to recover dramatically improved. Improved recovery is of course an indication that stress has been relived from the body. Amino acid levels vary in all protein sources. By synergistically selecting complementary sources and amounts, we can achieve what is referred to as a "flat line profile". An indicator that all amino acids are being met in substantial quantities, the "flat line profile" of properly combined amino acids is indicative of a broad-spectrum source of protein.

Found predominantly in hemp, Edestin is an easily digestible form of protein. Beneficial for the structural integrity of our cell's DNA, Edestin more closely resembles human protein than any other in the plant kingdom.

The branch chain amino acids leucine, isoleucine and valine are prevalent in hemp protein. Essential for the repair and building of lean muscle tissue these, branch chain amino acids are also an integral part of maintaining a healthy metabolic rate.

Hemp protein by itself is complete, but there is still room for improvement. Relatively low in the essential amino acid tryptophan, hemp protein is nicely complemented by the addition of rice protein. Naturally prominent in rice protein, tryptophan helps the body fabricate serotonin. With more readily available serotonin in the system, mood will be elevated, resulting in fewer sugar and starch cravings.

Relatively hard to find in the plant kingdom, the amino acid lysine is exceptionally high in yellow pea protein. An essential amino acid, lysine is a critical factor in the production of enzymes, antibodies and hormones. The body's ability to maintain correct nitrogen balance and absorb calcium is also reliant on the presence of lysine in the diet. During times of augmented stress, the maintenance of lean muscle tissue is assisted by the consumption of lysine rich foods.

Not only complete, this combination is complementary and synergistic, it's structured better than any single protein source can ever be. As a direct result from the "flat line" amino acid profile, I noticed immediate gains in strength and lean muscle retention, even during times of elevated stress. The desire to consume more food dissipated as well, leaving me leaner.

No common allergens
A standard practice in naturopathic medicine is to first eliminate all sources of common allergens from the diet. This is a logical way to determine if the patient has an allergy or sensitivity to commonly eaten foods that can produce a wide range of symptoms. Ranging from mild flu like symptoms, to headaches, difficulty with sleeping, bloating and fatigue, food sensitivities are becoming increasingly common. Since foods such as wheat, dairy, soy, corn, and gluten have become so common in our food chain; the body can develop an intolerance, which often results in the manifestation of symptoms.

In my opinion, food allergies are not a major problem because they become evident immediately after consumption. There's no mistaking it, the symptoms occur almost immediately. Stop consuming the-problem-forming food: problem solved. Conversely, food sensitivities can be extremely difficult to ascertain, therefore they are much more difficult to eliminate. The symptoms of a food sensitivity might not become evident for a few days or a week after being consumed, making its exact origin difficult to trace.

For a few years in a row I had what I thought to be a bad case of hay fever each spring. A logical possibility since pollen counts increase that time of year therefore I didn't think much of it. The following year, after learning more about food sensitivities, I tried eliminating all common allergens from my diet. As springtime arrived this time, surprise-no hay fever. Confirmed later, the congestion that I had previously exhibited was a sensitivity to corn, and not to rising pollen counts. Once spring arrived I began cycling more, therefore began consuming large quantities of a so-called endurance enhancing sport drink. The first ingredient was maltodextrin, a cheap sugar derivative made from corn, and as I found out, the precipitator of my hay fever-like symptoms.

Alkaline forming
It amazes me how little attention the value of balanced pH has garnered from the mainstream medical world. In my opinion, positive acid/alkaline balance is one of the most important factors in athletic performance. By disregarding this factor, sport supplement manufactures have significantly reduced the effectiveness of their products.

After a hard training session the body will have increased its acidity due to lactic acid accumulation caused by muscle contractions. For recovery to be expedited, alkalizing foods, especially those rich in chlorophyll, need to be consumed soon after. Protein must also be consumed to help repair broken down muscle tissue. Many sport supplements touted as post-work-out recovery agents contain highly processed, manufactured proteins usually in the form of denatured isolates, which are acid forming. Suggesting they be consumed soon after a workout will certainly fulfil the body's need for protein, but completely neglect its need for pH balancing.

The paradox is this: most protein sources are highly acid forming, yet the majority of  highly alkaline forming foods are low in protein. As I found, this can be overcome if the protein sources are chosen carefully. Raw, unprocessed, natural, hemp protein powder, for example, contains about 50% protein, yet is greatly less acid forming than common soy or whey protein products. Hemp's higher pH level can be attributed in part to its chlorophyll content, responsible for its green colour. Chlorella is another one, almost 70% protein and highly alkalizing. Whole micro-milled flax seeds, enzymes, stevia, probiotics, and the berry complex contained in Vega also help increase its alkalinity.

By consuming natural, non-denatured proteins after my training sessions I noticed a vast improvement in my ability to fight infection, proving my immune system's effectiveness had greatly improved. My body no longer created a safe haven for bacteria, viruses or disease. In addition, my protein requirements were being met so I was able to maintain and build lean muscle tissue and strength.

Article courtesy of Brendan Brazier's site, found here. To find all the great Vega products he created, click here.

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