Thanks to everyone who entered the giveaway for Dick’s Sporting Goods and Bath & Body Works gift cards. There were three people who posted an entry as a blog comment that didn’t get past the spam filter and thus didn’t make it into the giveaway before it ended. I was able to manually add those three people in before I selected a random winner through Rafflecopter. I’ve notified the winner. Congrats to Meranda S.!
Today’s post is a review of spirulina powder and nutritional yeast flakes from Sari Foods.
I first heard about the benefits of spirulina for endurance running two summers ago through Kristy, a Pittsburgh runner who used to blog at Pittsburgh Runner. Many of you probably know Kristy–she is a very fast and accomplished runner and races frequently. She took spirulina both before and during her races, and she swore it helped. I tried it based on her reviews. Spirulina is a blue-green algae and considered a superfood (see below). The spirulina I tried came in pill form, and the directions were to take 25-30 pills before running and then during. Considering how I choke on a single pill, taking 30 pills at once just didn’t work for me. So then I made the mistake of chewing them. I’m not going to even try to describe the taste. It was a different taste than I’d ever experienced, and it was not good. It was the opposite of good. It was so bad that I nearly vomited. That ended my experiment with spirulina.
Fast forward to a few weeks ago when I was contacted by Sari Foods to see if I wanted to try their products, including a spirulina powder. Hmmm–a powder? I thought that would work much better for me, so I agreed. I also agreed to try their nutritional yeast flakes. I was gifted these products, but the opinions in the following review are my own.
With so many foods claiming to be a superfood these days, just how much of a superfood is spirulina? It’s pretty amazing, actually. Containing vitamins B1, B2, and B3, copper, iron, magnesium, potassium, manganese, and small amounts of almost every nutrient we need, it’s considered to be the most nutrient-dense food on earth. It’s been shown to have powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, lower LDL cholesterol, guard against cancer, reduce blood pressure, and control blood sugar, just to name a few benefits (the full list is in this article). It contains 4 grams of plant-based protein per tablespoon and is considered an excellent source of protein containing all the essential amino acids we need. Pretty amazing, right?
But wait! There’s more! The most interesting thing for us runners is that it’s been shown in several studies to increase muscle strength and endurance. Runner’s World reported that, “A study was performed where nine runners were asked to run at 75% VO2 max for two hours followed by 95% VO2 max to exhaustion. The runners were tested with a placebo and after using spirulina. They were able to run an average of 30 percent longer after having been supplemented with spirulina. An increase in fat oxidation and decrease in carbohydrate oxidation was also noted. These findings suggest that spirulina supports the body’s ability to preserve glycogen stores and utilize fat for energy more efficiently. Spirulina also reduced oxidative damage and promoted antioxidant activity after exercise.”
For the past week and a half, I’ve been consuming the organic, vegan spirulina powder from Sari Foods before my runs. I added one tablespoon of the powder either to 8 ounces of fruit juice or to a smoothie. There is just a hint of the taste in both the juice and smoothie. I wouldn’t say you can’t taste it at all, but the taste was mild enough for me to not mind it–and remember, I do not like the taste of it. The powder blended easily into both the juice and smoothie.
In 9 out of 11 runs where I consumed spirulina before my runs, my paces were either faster at the same heart rate or the runs felt easier or both. My easy run paces were between 30 seconds and a minute faster than usual. My long run pace over 12 miles was 10 seconds faster. My 9.5-mile workout last week with long repeats went by quickly with no problem, and I wasn’t tired at all later in the day. The only runs it didn’t seem to help was a race pace run where I felt tired and sluggish after two nights of not getting enough sleep beforehand and then one just yesterday when my body was very tired from coming off my highest mileage week ever. Monday I did a little experiment. I headed out for my 6-mile easy run without taking spirulina. My pace was a full minute slower than my easy run paces all last week when I was taking spirulina.
Of course, there are always other factors at play when it comes to paces–weather, sleep, fueling, and just how the body is feeling on that day. But I was pleasantly surprised that the majority of my runs were better when I had spirulina. So, I’m pretty sold on it! Even if it’s all in my mind and I’m experiencing some sort of placebo effect, there are so many nutritional benefits from spirulina that I’m definitely going to continue taking it every day.
Nutritional yeast is a mainstay for vegans and those with lactose intolerance. It has a slightly cheesy taste and is used in most vegan cheeses and in place of eggs like in vegan quiches and tofu scrambles. It also has many nutritional benefits as it contains vegan “protein, all 18 amino acids, minerals (including iron, selenium and zinc), a natural vitamin B-complex, and Beta-glucans, known for their extreme immune enhancing properties plus their ability to lower bad cholesterol.” I eat nutritional yeast just about every day, so I was excited to try a new brand. What I learned when I received the Sari Foods brand was that most other versions of nutritional yeast contain excessive amounts of synthetic vitamins. Sari Foods believes these man-made vitamins “can be harmful and toxic to our bodies, causing nutrient imbalances and forcing our kidneys and liver to work overtime while our bodies struggle to absorb them.” I had no idea!
I liked the taste of the Sari Foods brand of nutritional yeast. I thought it tasted a little less strong than the Red Star brand I usually eat, which might be great for those who find the taste of nutritional yeast overwhelming.
Where to Buy + Discount
Sari Foods has a third product, a 100% food-based Vitamin C powder, that I chose not to review because I do not currently take vitamin C. But I was very impressed with both the spirulina powder and the nutritional yeast flakes and will definitely be purchasing more. I should also say that both came in large, resealable bags.
You can only purchase these products on the Sari Foods website. You get a free recipe e-book with purchase, and there is a current promotion for new customers to receive 25% off (code is on the website).