person holding sliced vegetable
Nutrition and Food, Personal Care

New Course Alert!

I’m so excited to announce that my first educational course, Getting Started on a Plant-based Diet, is here!

I designed this course with you in mind. It’s designed for everyone because everyone can benefit from adding more plants to their diet. As a Registered Dietitian you know I’m passionate about evidence-based practice and this course has been designed to be equivalent to a 1:1 session with me. It covers macro and micronutrients, supplementation, and so much more!

So what are you waiting for? Check out my Teachable content and let me know what you think! What should my next course be? Comment below or send me a message!

Personal Care, Product Reviews

Vegan Friendly Workout Gear

On a recent hike with my friend Wayne I learned that the workout gear he’s been wearing all this time is vegan-friendly! Needless to say I was so excited because he always looks comfortable, stylish and not super sweaty when we take our dogs out together. I asked him to share with me a little bit about the brand, Skins. He was kind enough to send a full review PLUS a discount code and link to shop for you guys!

Wayne’s Review

I have been using their compression products for many years for working out at the gym, cycling, and running. Skins offers different series of compression based on the type of activity and I have found their line of recovery products to be extremely effective, eliminating post-workout soreness. Their products are Vegan Friendly and sizing is to the T. I would recommend following the sizing chart exactly for a perfect fit. If you click this link  and use code wc35 at checkout you will receive 35% off purchases made from now until March 7th! Feel free to follow me (Wayne) on Instagram where I will be posting updates and future discount codes https://www.instagram.com/chathamws79/

Please note that Wayne is affiliated with Skins compression, however his thoughts and opinions above are 100% his own.

Try them out and let us know what you think!

Nutrition and Food, Product Reviews

Vitalura Labs Pre-Workout Review

Pre-workout is a supplement that I had never tried. Vitalura Labs sent me their new strawberry sorbetto and limoncello flavored pre-workout supplement. I’m an affiliate with Vitalura Labs, however my thoughts and opinions are 100% my own. If you’re new here, I’m a Registered Dietitian with a passion for nutrition and wellness.

What is Pre-Workout?

Pre-workout supplements are used with the intent of maximizing your performance during your chosen activity. They generally contain caffeine and electrolytes to give you a boost of energy, enhance performance and improve your focus. Some pre-workout supplements have ingredients like creatine added to them to also jump start your recovery process.

The Details

  1. First timers: This was my first time trying a pre-workout supplement. I’ve always had coffee in the morning before my workouts so I never felt the need. My schedule has been a little all over the place lately so I went ahead and tried the pre-workout. Don’t make the same mistakes I did the first time I tried them. I’ll explain as we go.
  2. Flavors and ingredients: There are two flavors, strawberry sorbetto and limoncello. Both have a bit of a salty taste but are overwhelmingly the flavors of strawberry or lemon, respectively. Ingredients include vitamin C and B12, sodium, potassium, caffeine, l-theanine, rhodiola extract, theacrine and l-methylfolate calcium. This supplement is vegetarian and vegan friendly.
  3. Caffeine: There is 150mg of caffeine per serving. If you are caffeine sensitive you’ll definitely want to pay attention to your total caffeine intake for the rest of the day. I’m someone who is caffeine sensitive and gets very jittery if I consume too much. The days I drank pre-workout I only had 1 coffee that day instead of my usual 2.
  4. Suggested use: 1 scoop of pre-workout mixed with 4 oz water about 30 minutes before your workout/activity.
  5. NSF: like all of their other products, the pre-workout is NSF certified so you can rest assured that you’re consuming what’s listed on the label and nothing more or less. 

Drink Up

If this is your first time taking pre-workout pay attention: don’t plan on savoring and sipping this like you would your morning coffee. I mean, I guess you could if you really want to, but I mistakenly made a tall glass and savored mine the first time.  I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I failed so hard on my first taste test, but if you’ve never taken pre-workout it’s an easy mistake to make! I thought maybe this product isn’t for me. Not every product or experience is for everyone, right? I’m so glad that when the Vitalura Labs Dietitian, Kylie, reached out to me that I wrote back and asked for some tips. She definitely delivered. I followed her advice and it made for an awesome experience and changed my mind about the product.

Know that you really only need 4 oz of water and not a full glass. I suggest using cold water, mixing 1 scoop well and then start drinking, don’t savor. The flavor on your tongue ends up being mostly the sweet tasting strawberry or lemon instead of the salt added for electrolytes. Treat it more like you would a shot of alcohol and drink up.

My Experience

Each time I’ve consumed the pre-workout was first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. I was a little nervous about drinking 150mg caffeine on an empty stomach but 30 minutes prior to when you plan to workout is perfect. Each time that I’ve used the pre-workout I definitely noticed a nice perk-up effect starting about 20 minutes after drinking. 

1 serving of pre-workout

The best part is that I never felt regret for my empty stomach- I haven’t experienced any jitters, nausea, or other unwanted side-effects. No crash, either! I felt energized and awake, ready for my workout. I even noticed that my focus was improved and I felt better connected to my muscles and attention on the muscle(s) I was exercising. My mind had that same focus I get from drinking coffee! And since I only needed to drink 4oz I didn’t have a bunch of liquid sloshing around in my stomach; an unpleasant experience I’m sure many of us have had after drinking too much fluid before a workout.

Strawberry or Limoncello?

I prefer the strawberry sorbetto flavor to the limoncello. Both are perfectly named and taste like you would expect, but the strawberry one has a sort of energizing taste and smell that I like more than the limoncello. It’s difficult to describe but after having both I feel like the strawberry one just tastes better to me. If you’re not sure I recommend you try both to start; they’re of the same quality and ingredients and once you chose a favorite you can add that to your supplement subscription so that you never run out.

Final Thoughts- Is Pre-Workout Essential?

Is pre-workout for everyone? No, it’s likely not. If you’re pregnant definitely check with your Doctor before taking any supplements to make sure it’s safe for you and your pregnancy. Pre-workout is definitely a nice to have supplement and not something that is required to achieve better results. If I had to choose only 1 supplement to take I would likely take creatine daily and skip pre-workout.

You can read my other Vitalura Lab supplement reviews including creatine and protein (whey and plant-based) to help you decide your optimal supplement routine. You can shop through my links or go directly to the Vitalura Labs website. Make sure to use code “SARAHMILLER” to get free shipping on your order!

Need help deciding what supplements to use or skip? Consider working with a Registered Dietitian to optimize your nutrition and wellness plan! Start here if you’re not sure why a Registered Dietitian is an expert in all things nutrition.

Nutrition and Food, Product Reviews

Is Creatine Worth Supplementing?

I’ve always been very choosy with my supplements both for safety and quality reasons but also for financial. There are many supplements on the market that can be overkill when someone is eating a balanced diet that result in creating expensive urine.

Why would I spend extra money on something that I’m already getting plenty of in my dietary habits? Additionally being picky has meant that many supplements just didn’t appeal to me since they didn’t have the third- party certifications I look for.

Except that I’m probably not getting plenty of creatine because of my choice of diet. I follow a vegan diet, and as I’ll explain later this means I would likely benefit from supplementation of creatine. It’s also worth noting here that creatine monohydrate is vegan-friendly. If you follow a vegetarian diet of any type you’ll also want to keep reading.

If you’re new to supplements or don’t really know the quality/safety specifics I recommend checking out my previous post Let’s Chat: Supplements to learn more.

Some Science

Creatine is a naturally occurring substance. Your body makes creatine in the liver, kidneys and pancreas and converts it into creatine phosphate (or phosphocreatine) and stored in your muscles where it can be used for energy. When you engage in short duration, high intensity bursts of activity (think HIIT, sprinting, weight lifting) phosphocreatine is used in your body.

Despite there being numerous studies looking at creatine’s ability to improve athletic performance, not all bodies are the same and therefore not everyone’s body responds to creatine the same way. Dietary intake of creatine can also influence your body’s response to supplementation. Some individuals may have more naturally occurring creatine in their body from their diet and therefore not see the same benefit from supplementation as someone who has a lower storage amount.

Vegans and vegetarians are a population who tend to have lower overall creatine stores; likely because of the omission of meat and fish from their diets. It has been demonstrated that increasing creatine through supplementation may be more beneficial for vegetarians (all types who avoid meat and fish) when compared to non-vegetarians.

Some studies have demonstrated that creatine supplementation can be helpful for people with muscle weakness due to illness. However, the majority of people interested in taking creatine are here because they want to improve their athletic performance.

It’s important to reiterate that creatine has been demonstrated to improve exercise associated with high bursts of energy in short durations and not necessarily in endurance based exercise. Study results looking into its ability to improve endurance based activity performance has been mixed.

My Experience

My first time trying creatine was honestly because Vitalura Labs released one. I immediately bought theirs to try, one because I practice what I preach and I want to support this amazing company, but two because I knew it would be top quality. Every product in their product line has been top notch with NSF certification so I knew their creatine would be no different.

Scoop size next to a coffee cup for reference.

I started taking it about 7 weeks ago. Honestly, at first I didn’t notice much. It was easy to mix into just about anything since it’s a small amount of powder.

But like any change it takes time to notice anything, good or bad. I kept with it and have now been taking it regularly for a little over a month. By about week 5 of taking 5g creatine daily I noticed a significant development that kept me going on the creatine train.

What I Found

While doing my usual lower body routine one day I decided to try increasing the weight stack, just to see if I could complete a rep or 2 at the higher weight. To my surprise, not only was I able to complete 2 reps, I was able to do my entire planned set at that higher weight. The weight isn’t a lot when compared to body builders and hardcore weight lifters, but it was a weight level that I have never successfully been able to lift for more than 1 set of 3 reps. Let me tell you, I was so excited that I immediately checked the weight stack again just to be sure that I wasn’t hallucinating.

Of course there’s a bit to unpack here. Obviously I’ve been very consistently working out and working toward a specific goal. I’m not belittling the effect that consistent strength work can have on your ability to lift more weight. What I think is important to share here is that I didn’t experience the expected and usual fatigue that would set in so quickly whenever I had previously tried to lift the same amount of weight. That ability to push more is where I give the creatine credit.

Another side effect that I did notice was a slight increase in my body weight, very likely due to water retention. This is a known creatine side effect and not one to fear. Water weight gain isn’t real mass and will leave when you stop using it. My own experience of stopping creatine to see if the water retention disappeared worked and I was at my “normal” weight within a week.

It’s important to note that the amount of water retention someone experiences is also relative and different for everyone. The water retention level that someone experiences will depend on their muscle mass and the type of muscle. The majority of creatine is found in your type II (aka fast twitch) muscle. Logically this makes sense as creatine has been found to improve athletic performance for shorter bursts of power. So if you’re someone who is powerful for shorter bursts of time you may find that you also retain a little more water.

As always I want to disclose that I’m an affiliate with Vitalura Labs. I was super excited to find that they sent me my own bag of creatine to try about a week after I bought mine. Thank you to everyone who shops through my links; if you missed it this post might help you understand how important you are.

Are you ready to try creatine with me? You can shop all things Vitalura Labs and even set up subscriptions of their products so you never run out. Use code “SARAHMILLER” for free shipping.

Nutrition and Food

Vegan on a Budget

Food budgeting is a common household need, regardless of what type of diet you follow. There is a common misconception that eating vegan or plant-based is inherently more expensive. This post is here to help you navigate your local grocery store and show you that eating more plant-based doesn’t have to mean eating more expensive.

Beans

Beans are one of the most inexpensive sources of protein you will find at your local grocery store. I recommend purchasing dried beans in bulk to prepare as needed, or canned with no added sodium. Dried beans also have a long shelf life so you’re likely to reduce your total food waste.

Nutritional Yeast

A common way to impart umami flavoring for savory dishes, nutritional yeast is a vegan source of protein that is also a great source of vitamin B12. You can find this at most grocery stores and even online.

Not sure what nutritional yeast is or how to use it? Read more about this awesome product and why you should consume it while following a vegan diet.

Lentils

Tired of beans? Lentils are an excellent source of plant-based protein that can be used in a myriad of ways. If you have a Trader Joe’s (TJ’s) near you, they also sell ready-to-use lentils to save you time. You can find them in the refrigerated section near the produce at most TJ’s locations.

Seitan

This meatless alternative is super versatile and has a similar texture to meat. It is made from wheat gluten so if you have celiac this is NOT a product for you. For individuals who don’t have a wheat allergy this is an excellent and inexpensive source of protein. You can even find many different recipes to make your own seitan using a few items you may already have in your pantry.

Tofu

Tofu is probably one of my favorite foods. Tofu is made using soy beans which have all 9 essential amino acids, so it is classified as a complete protein. Depending on the type of tofu you buy the protein content may vary. Many Asian markets sell tofu for much less than a traditional grocery store, too, so I recommend seeing what shops are in your area and comparing prices.

Many people who don’t care for tofu have honestly not had it prepared correctly or in a way that they like yet. The texture and ways to best prepare tofu are determined by the type that you choose to purchase. For “beginner” tofu eaters I generally recommend eating the firmer varieties as the squish of softer, silken tofu may put some people off to its mouth-feel.

Note: tofu is similar to chicken, meaning that it has practically no taste on its own. Eating plain tofu is another behavior I would consider more “advanced” and not recommended for newbies. Most people who enjoy tofu will tell you that marinating and sauces go a long way with this versatile protein source.

Fruits/Vegetables

There’s a common misconception that fresh fruits/vegetables are always the most superior form, when compared to frozen or canned. However, frozen fruits and vegetables are harvested and processed at their peak meaning that many times they are better tasting and at peak nutritional value when compared to fresh produce.

Like any food product there are some options that are more healthful than others. I generally recommend avoiding frozen produce that has large amounts of added sodium and/or added sauces. This way you still have control over the spices and additives in your fruits/vegetables.

If canned is your preferred or only available option, try to choose varieties of fruits/vegetables that have no or minimal added sodium as well as avoiding fruits in added syrups. This will help limit your intake of added salt and sugars. I also recommend rinsing canned vegetables and beans to help remove some of the sodium that may have been added.

Shop the Sales

Another great way to stay within your weekly grocery budget is to try and make meals based on the items on sale that week at your local grocer. This strategy can sometimes be a bit difficult for fresh items, but definitely one you want to use when shopping for pantry staples and shelf stable food items.

Happy Shopping

Hope you found this information helpful! Check out this previous blog post for tips on transitioning to a plant-based diet.

Nutrition and Food

Let’s Chat: Supplements

A common concern when I work with clients is whether or not they’re getting all of the nutrition that they need from their diet. While the majority of us are likely consuming plenty of protein, carbohydrates, and fat there are some people who have higher needs than the general population. Examples include individuals who have a chronic disease that necessitates higher intakes of specific nutrients (such as a patient on dialysis or an individual with COPD), people who are very athletic and training for a specific goal or body composition, and people who are still growing or going through puberty. Even individuals who may have a poor appetite at baseline may find that supplementation helps them meet their nutrient needs to maintain optimal health.

As a Registered Dietitian I always recommend that food be your first source of the macro and micronutrients. But since we don’t live in an ideal world many of us may benefit from certain supplements such as vitamins or protein.

TL;DR

Supplementation is an individual choice and one that should be discussed with your healthcare providers. Be aware that not all supplements are created equal; choose those that are third party certified.

I personally recommend Vitalura Labs supplements as they are third party certified (NSF). You can read more about my thoughts on their whey protein supplement and their plant-protein supplement. You can also shop directly on Vitalura Labs website- get free shipping on your order using the code SARAHMILLER.

Factors to Consider

The recommendation to supplement is very individual. There is no one size fits all with anything nutrition related. However there are a couple of supplements that are very popular and you’ve likely considered taking but wondered if it’s necessary for your goals/health.

The information in this post is general and not to be taken as medical or nutrition related advice. Anytime you are considering a supplement you should discuss with your Medical Doctor and your Registered Dietitian. Especially if you are currently taking any pharmaceuticals as some over the counter (OTC) products including supplements may interact with some prescribed medications. Always disclose your use of dietary supplements to your medical providers. You can also check with your Pharmacist about any medication/supplement interactions. Additionally a Registered Dietitian would be most appropriate to evaluate your individual need for specific supplements such as protein or high calorie products.

Supplement Safety

Did you know that supplements are not regulated the same way that your food or medications are? Many people in the US are shocked to learn that there is no required testing to ensure that a supplement is providing exactly what it says on the label with no more and no less.

The FDA (Food & Drug Administration) has in place Good Manufacturing Processes (GMPs for short) that companies must follow which can help prevent having a wrong ingredient added and reduces the chances that your supplement is contaminated. It’s worth noting that the FDA doesn’t require companies to report or audit these facilities. Supplements are generally pulled from the market only after enough consumer complaints have been submitted that warrant the FDA to step in. The FDA does not require approval of a supplement BEFORE it can be sold unless it contains a “new dietary ingredient”.

However, there are independent organizations that offer quality testing to ensure that the label on your supplement is accurate with nothing hidden or added. These include NSF International, U.S. Pharmacopeia and ConsumerLab.com.

To ensure that the supplement you are buying is labeled correctly and contains what it says it contains (with no more and no less) is to look for the seal of one of the above listed organizations.

Third- party certification of a product means that an independent organization reviewed the manufacturing process and independently determined that the final product complies with safety, quality or performance standards. Companies pay to have their product go through testing. This means that when you purchase a product that has one of those 3 independent seals you are definitely purchasing from a company who is putting their money where their mouth is and wants you to know that you can trust what is on their label.

Now What?

As a Registered Dietitian I highly recommend supplements that have been through third party testing over supplements that don’t have that quality seal.

Many of you know that I’m a huge fan of Vitalura Labs supplements because they are NSF certified to prove that they are as high quality as they claim to be. You can read my thoughts on their whey protein powder and their vegan protein powder on my other blog posts. They’ve even recently released a creatine monohydrate supplement that I’m currently taking and would also recommend to people interested in improving their physical performance.

To remain completely transparent I’m a part of their affiliate program but this has not altered my professional analysis of their products. You will not find me recommending products that I don’t consider to be of the utmost quality and safety. I have personally purchased their products for my own consumption because I truly believe in what they’re putting on the market.

Vitalura recently released a new creatine monohydrate supplement. For the first time I’m currently using a creatine supplement. Can you believe it?! There are many reasons I never tried creatine before and why I decided to try it now, but I’ll leave that for my upcoming review/post to discuss.

Further Reading

I highly recommend that anyone considering supplementation take a moment to review the additional links I have provided here:

Dietary Supplements: What You Need to Know Fact Sheet for Consumers (from NIH)

National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Dietary Supplements

NSF Certification

Have Questions?

Comment below or fill out a form! I love hearing which topics are interesting and mysterious to you so that I can help you make informed decisions for your wellness journey.

Personal Care

An End to Ads, 1 Click at a Time

This morning I decided I wanted to find a recipe for an easy, vegan caramel date sauce. A friend had sent me one a few months ago, but alas I couldn’t remember where it was or which site she had sent. Of course there are a million recipes online, so like most people I simply clicked on the first one from my Google search. That’s when my frustration began.

Ads. Every site you visit is so over run with advertisements that it’s almost impossible to actually read or use the content the person created. Eventually I gave up with that first Google hit and went back to select the next. And you know what? More of the same. So many advertisements and pop-ups that I couldn’t even read the recipe.

Rather than having this be a purely negative post, I decided I wanted to take this opportunity to thank all of you. I understand that I’m in a privileged position choosing to avoid pop-up ads and other annoyances that help monetize a site so that the creator can get paid. A big part of why I can do this is because of you.

Every time you “buy me a coffee”, make a purchase through one of my affiliate links, pass along my promo code(s), or refer a friend to me for Dietitian services I get paid. Some of these options obviously return more than others, but ALL of them are ways to help me keep this site advertisement and tracker free. And YOU make that possible.

So thank you; from the bottom of my heart. I truly appreciate your contribution to keeping this site and my brand how I envision it to be: a safe space where people can come to find evidence-based, credible information from a professional who is truly passionate about nutrition for health.

Nutrition and Food, Product Reviews

Meal kit face-off Hello Fresh vs. Purple Carrot

Meal delivery services and kits are one of the greatest ideas to have evolved in the last decade; especially for people who have a super busy schedule. Not only do these services take care of the grocery shopping but the mental fatigue involved with deciding, “what should we have for dinner” is also happily handed off.

I’ve always been curious about meal kit services but never tried one. Since I follow a pretty specific diet I wasn’t able to find a service that would meet my dietary requirements when they first came out. Luckily most delivery kits have some sort of plant-based option(s) available making cooking for me in my multi picky eater household a little easier. There are many out there to choose from but I decided to give Hello Fresh and Purple Carrot a chance.

Hello Fresh

I decided to try Hello Fresh when a friend of mine passed along a discounted trial coupon.

Pros of Hello Fresh

  1. No grocery shopping- huge time saver
  2. App was easy to use to modify and make changes to my delivery
  3. Meals designed to be crowd pleasers 
  4. Priced well
     

Cons of Hello Fresh

  1. Not enough vegan options 
  2. Menu was a bit boring and repetitive

Ultimately the deal breaker for me was the lack of vegan options. This meant I had to micromanage our delivery every week to make sure I was either choosing things I could later veganize, were already vegan, or needed to skip. Their menu options of plant-based items usually involved dairy, which is great for some people but a no for me. Price point was pretty good and I did feel that Hello Fresh is one of the best priced options available. If you follow a lacto-ovo or lactovegetarian diet then Hello Fresh might work better for you than it did for me. 


Purple Carrot

I can’t even remember anymore where I first heard of Purple Carrot. The decision to try came from a random day of me looking up new recipes to cook at home. One of the recipes was from the Purple Carrot website and next thing I knew I was signing up for a trial box.

Pros of Purple Carrot

  1. Entirely plant-based vegan menu- no need to micromanage delivery
  2. Exciting recipes and variable flavor profiles
  3. High quality ingredients
  4. Also offers a pre-made meal option and “plantry”

Cons of Purple Carrot

  1. A bit more expensive than Hello Fresh

The only con I’ve experienced is that Purple Carrot is a tad more expensive than Hello Fresh. However, the price point is on par with what you would pay at the grocery store for the week’s worth of groceries. And you didn’t have to go to the store, plan the menu, or micromanage the meals arriving in the box. Purple Carrot even offers pre-made meals and a “plantry” so you can include extras you would’ve picked up at the store.

Winner: Purple Carrot

If you’re vegan or vegan curious, or follow a mostly plant-based diet  I highly recommend Purple Carrot. The menu selection is huge- and it’s all vegan. All of it. There’s no need to micromanage or worry that you’re accidentally forgetting to swap an ingredient. The recipes range from easy to more advanced both in flavor profile and cooking skill. They even started including some produce items pre-chopped making it even quicker for you to make dinner on a busy night. Purple Carrot is great for people who like to taste new flavors- every meal I’ve made has been delicious. The recipe developers are amazing. 

 

Nutrition and Food, Product Reviews

Vitalura Labs Whey Protein Isolate Review

The product in this review was gifted to me by Vitalura Labs. My professional opinion and analysis in this article are my own.

Vitalura Labs is the new kid on the block in the protein supplement world, but they are definitely here to stay.  Their plant-based vanilla gelato flavor is, in my professional opinion, one of the best on the market. So when they reached out to me about their new whey protein powder, I couldn’t wait to try it even though it’s not vegan.

If you are vegan, you can read my previous review of their vegan protein powder.

Yes, I identify as vegan but…

The Registered Dietitian side of me recognizes that not everyone can or has an interest in following a vegan or plant-based only diet.  For that reason I like to stay informed about non-vegan products in addition to vegan products. Honestly, how is anyone supposed to know what’s out there on the market if they aren’t checking for it or reading about it? This is true for Dietitians, too. Staying informed helps me better serve my clients, no matter where they are in their health journey.

As a Registered Dietitian I also recognize that not every product is of high quality. There are oodles of supplements on the market that don’t have any third party testing or certifications to validate and back-up their label’s statements. The supplement industry is a lot like the wild wild west that way in that the burden is on the consumer to find a product that is what it claims to be. The scary part is many consumers don’t know that supplements aren’t required to go through testing or forced to prove that they are safe before they are sold on store shelves. 

TLDR; The new Vitalura Labs whey protein supplement has the quality we have come to expect from Anna Victoria’s brands and has the taste, nutrition quality and third-party testing that makes it an unstoppable new comer with the power to take on big name brands who have been around for a while. 

Product breakdown

1. Taste- I tend to prefer vanilla flavored protein powders, simply because the chocolate ones usually have this strange protein after taste that sort of coats your tongue. I’m sure many of you know what I’m trying to describe. I wasn’t always vegan so I have tried many whey based protein drinks and powders in my past and they all had this weird, lingering smell and taste. Not Vitalura Labs. The two flavors for their whey protein powder are chocolate gelato and vanilla gelato. I personally preferred the chocolate gelato flavor for the first time in probably a decade. 

Upon opening the package and taking my first whiff, I legit felt like I was transported back to Italy in one of the many gelato shops my husband and I stopped inside of to snack. The powder is uniformly smooth, free of any visible clumping, making it appealing to your eyes, too. There is no unpleasant aftertaste and there definitely is no weird smell or coating on my tongue after eating or drinking. 

The chocolate is so good that I’ve been using it nightly to make banana chocolate nice-cream and meet my protein goals. It actually feels like I’m eating an Americanized chocolate gelato. I know what you’re all thinking, “What?! A protein powder so good that you’re making it into desserts?! No way.”  Believe it. I also made black bean brownies using this powder and was not disappointed.  The taste is unbeatable compared to competitors currently on the market. 

2. Quality- Vitalura Labs whey protein is NSF certified just like their plant-based protein powder. You may remember from my previous review that NSF certified means you can fully trust the label on the product. Vitalura Labs has paid to have their product tested by a third company who is in no way affiliated with them, to test and determine if their product has exactly what they claim it has and nothing more or less. 

Real talk- many protein powders, especially of the whey variety, can cause bloating. This usually speaks to the quality (or lack of) in the whey used, or the additives. I fully prepared myself for possible whey bloat considering I also haven’t consumed dairy in a few years now. The bloat never came. I was shocked to have consumed a whey protein product that didn’t upset my stomach even in the slightest. 

3. Nutrition (vanilla gelato flavor)- In 1 scoop of powder there is 110 calories with 0g fat, 0g saturated fat (hello heart health), 0g sugar and 0g added sugar, 25g of protein and only 90mg of sodium. I don’t know if I’m more impressed with the 0g added sugar or the 90mg sodium. Both are incredible considering that they didn’t use a million sugar alcohols (there is monk fruit, stevia leaf extract and natural flavors) to give it a delicious, truly gelato reminiscent flavor and they somehow only have 90mg of sodium in the product. 

The clinical side of my dietitian brain is so excited for what this protein powder might mean for individuals who have a medical need for higher protein, such as a patient undergoing dialysis, because many people in that situation also need to monitor their sodium intake, sugar intake, and/or total calories. If I were still working in peritoneal dialysis, I can tell you this is a product I would be telling my patients about. In my opinion, this product would be beneficial for both the general, healthy population AND would likely be beneficial for patients who have specific nutrient needs makes this a true industry disrupting product. As a reminder- nothing I say here is medical advice and you should always discuss any supplements with your Doctor and your Registered Dietitian. The thoughts contained here are not meant to be taken as individual medical or dietary advice.

4. Cost- According to their website, the new whey protein isolate will be priced at $59.99, same as their plant-based protein powder.  There are 30 servings in each container, making it less than $2/serving. For 25g of high quality protein. That’s a steal.

Whey protein isolate vs whey protein concentrate

The whey protein has pure whey protein isolate- this is different than whey protein concentrate. Whey protein isolate has had more processing, which sounds scary but is actually a good thing in this situation. More processing of the whey means that more fat and carbs have been removed while retaining that higher protein content, ie you get high quality, purer protein with less “stuff” you don’t want. Whey protein isolate is also more expensive to use as an ingredient. The amino acid (think protein) content of whey concentrate and isolate are similar, however if you have any dairy intolerance you are more likely to tolerate whey protein isolate because it is a purer form of the milk protein. So yes, cost is higher but so is quality! Vitalura Labs is definitely proving that you don’t need to compromise on quality to have an affordable whey protein product.

Final thoughts

Whether you’re looking for a high-quality vegan or whey based protein powder, Vitalura Labs products do not disappoint. Go shop their products and see for yourself! While you’re there use promo code SARAHMILLER for free shipping!

Stay tuned for a follow-up blog post where I share all of the different recipes and ways that I tried their protein powders.

Personal Care, Product Reviews

Brand watch: Kitsch

To know me is to know that I baby my hair. Since growing it out during covid, I have become obsessed with finding and trying tons of hair accessories on the market searching for ways to style my hair without stressing the strands to keep the ends as healthy as possible.

TL;DR

Kitsch is a women-owned business committed to creating high quality products- and they don’t disappoint. You can shop their products here and here.

The MVP

I have dozens of Kitsch products including their satin sleep bonnet, butterfly clips, satin scrunchies and satin pillow cases. They have ingenious products to help you style your hair that are so easy to use anyone can create a beautiful look. My absolute favorite lazy-girl hair style is their heatless curling set. If you haven’t tried this viral hack yet, consider this is your sign to give your hair a break from heat.

This is the ultimate lazy girl way to curl your hair especially if like me you grew up using sponge curlers after your shower to wake up with ringlets in the morning.

My how-to guide

My favorite way to use this is to first wrap the front section of hair around a large curler and use a clip to secure in place on the top of my head. This will help with volume later. I then thread the flexible satin rod (yay for no tugging on my precious hair/ends) and wrap section by section down the rod until I run out of hair. I then secure the ends with a satin scrunchie (included) and repeat on the other side. Once both sides are done, I then tie both rod ends together behind my head using a single satin scrunchie and let it do it’s thing.

Tips I’ve learned through trial and error

  1. Use on damp hair. Not soaking wet and not bone dry. You need some moisture on your strands to ensure that the curls hold. I like to use this sometimes on dry hair by spraying it down with salt spray first for texture.
  2. This is a great opportunity to load your hair up with leave-in conditioner. I usually spray down the sides just to help encourage my hair to cooperate with me later and avoid frizz.
  3. I recommend using a salt spray if you have fine textured hair like me and could use a texture boost for beauty waves. Keep in mind this will also make your hair more tangle prone so it’s best to save the salt spray for the day before your next wash, or at least try to avoid brushing and combing since you’ll likely snap and snag your hair a bit more than usual.
  4. Leave-in place until hair is dry and then at least 1 hour longer. Sometimes I sleep with this on and other days I wake-up and start this while I’m getting ready for the day. By the time I leave the house it’s been in for a couple of hours and removing the rod leaves me with perfect curls. 

Have you tried a heatless curling rod or other viral air drying hair hacks? Try this one and let me know what you think in the comments below!

Don’t forget to use this link to shop