If you’ve spent time in the gym, you’ve likely heard that vegan protein powder doesn’t measure up to its animal-based counterpart. That’s a myth. The truth is, plant powders can be just as effective as traditional animal protein as long as they contain all nine essential amino acids among other things.
Wondering what to look for when selecting a vegan protein powder?
Read on as we breakdown 7 important things to keep in mind on your quest for vegan supplementation.
1. Complete Protein
One of the reasons plant-based powders get a bad rap is because they are seen as being an incomplete protein source.
A protein is termed “complete” when it includes all nine essential amino acids.
These acids include:
Since our bodies cannot make these acids on their own, we must rely on our diets to provide them.
Many vegan powders can be combined to provide a “complete” profile. For example, gym-goers can pair brown rice and pea protein to aid in recovery and provide all essential acids.
2. Vegan Protein Powder with BCAA
So, you’ve found a vegan protein powder or powders with all nine essential amino acids… let the dumbell presses begin right?
Not so fast.
Research suggests that adding the combination of Isoleucine, Leucine, and Valine otherwise known as Branch Chain Amino Acids to your vegan supplementation may boost your results even further.
These three essential acids, in particular, help with recovery and lessen the chance of your muscles breaking down.
A good plant-based protein to choose is PlantFusion Complete Plant Protein. It provides 4500mg of BCAA.
3. Blended Protein Powders
While we are on the topic of adding, let’s talk about one category of vegan protein powders called blends. Another factor in choosing your protein powders is deciding which form you want it in.
Yet, another factor in choosing your powder is deciding which form you want it in.
Basically, two forms exist for vegan protein powder.
One is a protein formula from a single plant source, the other is a blend of various plant proteins.
Blends are the more popular choice for a couple of reasons.
Namely, by blending the proteins you get a more complete nutrient profile and added health benefits.
Also, blended powders usually have a better texture and mix well.
A quick word of warning, make sure you look at the labels on any blended powder. Since more ingredients are required to make the combinations it can be easy to miss unhealthy fillers.
4. Vegan Protein Sources
Which vegan protein powder source is best?
This determination will likely be based on a variety of factors. Everything from your preference in texture, taste and what you are hoping to get from your powder.
Everything from your preference in texture, taste to what you are hoping to get from your powder can influence which is best suited for you.
As we discussed previously you’ll want to look for a vegan protein powder that includes all nine essential amino acids and comes as a complete protein source.
Here are plant-based proteins that offer provide both the above requirements:
- Pea: These little green guys pack a protein punch. They aren’t your average grocery store pea but a more robust, field variety. Peas are a low glycemic food and contain high levels of l-arginine, great for adding muscle.
- Hemp: Hemp is another excellent source of protein. And don’t worry THC levels are low so there’s little chance of getting a buzz. Hemp contains a whopping 20 amino acids! It also contains more fiber and omega fatty acids than most other vegan protein powders.
- Chia: No doubt you’ve seen the pudding recipes. Known as the super seed, chia’s nutritional profile includes all nine essential acids and more than twice the fiber of a bowl of oatmeal.
- Quinoa: This plant-sourced protein has gotten a lot of hype in the past and for good reason. It offers more protein than any other grain and contains a higher amount of Leucine, the muscle-building amino acid.
Other plant-based powders to consider include potato, chlorella and brown rice, though these may not form a complete protein.
5. Quality Control
All vegan protein powder is not created equal.
Whether you are putting in lots of time at the gym or hoping to lose a few pounds, finding a high-quality protein is crucial to your success.
So how can you weed out the inferior proteins?
Focus on these things:
1. How many ingredients does it have? If the list of ingredients it takes to make the protein powder is longer than an inch, move on.
2. What the masses are saying about it. Reviews save you time and money. Look at comments for taste, ease of blending and any mention of GI issues.
3. Price. This doesn’t mean you need the most expensive vegan protein powder on the market but usually, the cheaper they are, the less- quality ingredients they have.
4. Shelf Life. What’s the shelf life of the vegan protein powder? Are there added preservatives to make it last longer? Should it be kept in the fridge to extend its’ viability? The answers to these questions can help you decide which powder will give you the best bang for your buck.
6. Maximize Recovery
Plant-based proteins have the ability to deliver a higher amount of nutrients to the body due to a better absorption rate compared to animal-based proteins.
The faster absorption rate generally leads to an accelerated recovery time.
An added benefit, research suggests plant-based diets are lower in saturated fats and lead to better cardiovascular health, a factor that can also aid in recovery.
7. Aligns with Diet Restrictions
Finally, when looking for a vegan protein powder it’s important to consider your overall health and fitness routine as well as any food allergies. Then base your choice off those guidelines.
Some whey protein users have made the switch to vegan powders because of GI issues. While others were feeling inflammation in their joints and needed something less processed.
Now that you know what to look for, you can find the perfect protein powder whether you’re lifting heavy or focused on weight loss.
Still not sure? Check out our vegan protein powder reviews.