If you follow a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle and love to exercise, the chances are you might not be getting enough protein from food sources alone. Cue: vegan protein powder.
A supplement like vegan protein powder is worth adding to your diet to aid in muscle recovery and refuel your body post-workout. Over the last few years, plant-based protein supplements have become much more accessible (and better-tasting), so there’s really no excuse to not fuel your body with the right kind of nutrients.
Read on as we unpack everything you need to know about vegan protein powders and how you can incorporate it into your diet.
First up, what is protein and why do we need it?
Protein is required in your diet to support your overall health and aid with fat loss and muscle gain, meaning if you’re someone who likes to exercise, protein should be a key part of your diet. Our main source of protein comes from food sources like meat, fish, eggs, beans, nuts, dairy and seeds — however, it can be hard to get enough protein through food alone, especially if you’re plant-based. That’s where supplementing your diet with protein powder comes in. You can add protein powders to a range of foods like yoghurts, porridge and smoothies to ensure you’re getting the right amount of essential amino acids without having to binge a bunch of chickpeas.
So what exactly is vegan protein powder?
Vegan protein powder is just like your regular protein powder just without animal biproducts. Regular protein powders like whey and casein typically contain dairy, whereas vegan protein is usually derived from things like soy, pea and brown rice.
Are all vegan protein powders the same?
Short answer, no. While they are all vegan formulas, they’re all derived from different plant-based sources including mixed, and deliver a different variety of essential amino acids and protein servings. When choosing a vegan protein powder that’s suited to your diet, there are a few key things to keep in mind: Look for powders with at least 15-20 grams of protein per serve, check that they have a clean ingredients list, cater to any intolerances and have been tested by a reputable third party.
Below, we unpack different plant-based protein powders so you can pick the right on for you.
Soy protein powder
Soy-based protein powders are known as a complete protein, meaning that it contains all the essential amino acids that the body can’t make but needs when it comes to protecting your muscle tissue. Although the protein count varies between brands, most soy protein powders have around 20 grams per serve and have much of the fat and carbs removed.
Pea protein powder
If you prefer to avoid soy-based products, pea protein powder has fast become another popular plant-based alternative. Pea protein comes from split peas, a legume that’s high in essential amino acids and particularly high in branched-chain amino acids or BCAAs, which is great for repairing muscle damage caused by intense or strenuous exercise.
- Nature’s Plus, Organic Pea Protein Powder, $28.35
- Now Foods Sports Pea Protein, $29.78
- Vega Sport Premium Protein, $78.81
Hemp protein powder
Hemp protein is a vegan superfood powder made from ground hemp seeds and tends to contain less protein per 100g than milk-derived protein. So you might need to incorporate a little more into your morning smoothie to make sure you’re getting enough.
- Healthy Care Pure Vegan Hemp Protein & Greens Powder, $27.99
- Sunfood, Raw Organic, Hemp Protein Powder, $81.16
- Manitoba Harvest Organic Hemp Yeah! Protein Powder, $38.21
Mixed protein powders
Many vegan protein powders are made from a mixture of different plant-based proteins, like brown rice, pea, hemp, chia seeds, flax seeds, and quinoa. Vegan protein powders often combine a variety of plant-based protein sources so that you can receive the right amount of essential amino acids and protein necessary for a well-balanced diet.
- Vital Protein Pea & Hemp Powder Blend, $35.10
- California Gold Nutrition, Chocolate Plant-Based Protein, $35.42
- Biochem 100% Vegan Protein, $45.27