Vegan protein powders are a great way to supplement the vegan diet. But not all are created alike, and nutritional quality can vary wildly–so it can be confusing to pick the vegan protein powder for your needs.
For a long time, I supplemented with soy protein powder just to make sure I got enough protein in my life. Recently, my life has changed and I am working out way more. In short, soy protein just isn’t going to cut it anymore and I needed to find something better to support my lifestyle change. I began doing research on some alternatives, and there are so many vegan protein powders to choose from that it can make your head spin. Dairy-based proteins like whey and casein are out of the question. I narrowed down my search to the 4 categories of vegan protein powder you should consider.
1. Soy- This is probably the most common, especially to vegan newbies. Soy protein is great for getting that extra boost because it’s a complete protein and doesn’t need any help from other plant sources. Unfortunately, there is a lot of controversy around soy that raises a lot of questions about its actual health benefits. In my opinion, soy protein powder is best if consumed in moderation. Make sure you are getting the best soy protein; look for organic, non-GMO soy protein isolate which has more protein and isoflavones.
2. Rice- Rice protein powder is made from extracting the very small amounts of protein from rice to make organic brown rice protein powder. Brown rice protein powder is great for people with allergies, especially to soy. The downside to rice protein is that it isn’t a complete protein source so if you choose this powder, make sure to choose one that is a blend of several types of plant proteins.
3. Hemp- Hemp contains all 10 essential amino acids that the body can’t produce on its own, so it is complete protein and, as an added bonus, has tons of fiber. So if you’re goal is to lose weight, this is a great protein powder for you. Hemp protein powder also has omega-6 fatty acids which help fight inflammation. So this is a great choice for athletes!
4. Pea- Pea protein is high in glutamic acid which helps convert carbs into energy, another great choice for athletes. This is also a great alternative for people with allergies but again you have to be careful to choose a blend since pea powder protein is also not a complete protein.
Since most types of plant proteins are not complete proteins, it is best to choose a vegan protein powder blend that will provide a complete amino acid profile. If you choose a plant based protein powder that also has antioxidants, probiotics and omega-3s, then you have one heck of a protein powder supplement. My protein powder of choice is PlantFusion in chocolate. PlantFusion protein powder is a blend of organic plant proteins from a variety of sources and it’s super tasty when mixed with almond milk, or in a peanut butter and banana smoothie. Vega protein powder is also another excellent brand that will give you complete nutrition.
There are three important things to keep in mind when you are choosing a vegan protein powder:
1. Satiety and Taste– Does it keep you satisfied and full? Does it taste good? If it doesn’t do either of these things, than move onto your next choice.
2. Affordability– Protein powders can be crazy expensive, so try to find one that fits your budget without sacrificing taste. Purchasing your vegan protein powder through Amazon tends to be a little cheaper than in the store and can save you a few bucks.
3. Is it designed to meet your fitness and nutritional goals– Determining what your health and fitness goals are can help in narrowing down the choices between different vegan protein powders.
What types of vegan protein powder do you like to use?
Also see: Protein for Vegan Athletes- Know Your Optimum Range
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Photo: Mary Hood