Plant based protein powders are a great choice for people following a vegan diet, or those who find their tummies a little sensitive to lactose. But how do they stack up against traditional protein powders? Let’s dive in.
What is plant based protein powder?
Let’s start off with a quick rundown on exactly what plant based protein powders are. High protein plant sources - like soy and pea - are processed to remove a lot of the carbs - leaving behind pure protein. If you have ever tried a raw form of this - it’s not nice! So most companies will add ingredients to make the powder into tasty beverages - and this is what you most commonly buy as plan based protein powder.
Why use plant based protein powder?
There are many reasons to use a plant based protein powder. The most common one is that you don’t want to consume animal products. There are many benefits to increasing your protein intake. It can help you reach your weight loss goals, help you gain muscle and keep you fuller for longer between meals. You may also find that you prefer plant based protein powder if you are lactose intolerant.
Plant based protein vs whey protein
Plant based protein is not as fast absorbing as whey protein. However, this may not be an entirely bad thing. Fast absorbing proteins are available to your muscles quicker, however a slower absorbing powder can act as a drip feed, supplying your muscles with a steady stream of nutrition. This can help minimise muscle breakdown making them ideal for a calorie deficit.
Is plant based protein powder better?
That really depends on your goals. The best option is to find a plant based protein powder that works best for you. So if you are eating a vegan diet or avoiding dairy - then plant based protein powders are a good choice. If you just want to give them a go, we would suggest starting with a blend like Protein Switch.
Do plant based protein powders work?
As long as your plant based protein has a complete amino acid profile then they will work to help you build muscle - if that is your goal. If you are looking for a way to boost your protein intake to achieve some other goal - then that answer is a resounding yes!
Which plant based protein powder is better?
Not all plant proteins are created equal. There are many different types, each with their own pros and cons. Here are some of the most popular plant protein options.
Pea protein is made from yellow split peas, similar to the ones you would use for cooking. They have one of the highest protein content in comparison to other vegan protein options. It is also one of the fastest absorbing. Downside - it isn’t exactly the tastiest. Most pea proteins are part of a blend so they are effective and delicious.
Hemp protein is full of fibre, and has the added bonus of Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, which are good for your heart and skin. It is made from seeds of the hemp plant and is therefore more nutritious than other plant based protein sources. Don’t get excited - it won’t get you high! Unless you count gym highs
Brown rice protein tends to be less expensive than other vegan forms of protein plus it’s relatively high in protein too. Add to that, it also tends to be easy to digest. After all, our body has a lot of practise digesting rice! The downside is that it is not a complete protein. More on that later.
Pumpkin seed protein is exactly as it sounds - it is made from pumpkin seeds! It retains some of the nutritional benefits of the seeds themselves, however most of the fat is removed. The result is a protein powder with a hit of fibre and goodness. The downside is it is lower in protein than most plant based powders.
Soy cops a bad wrap. That is mainly due to the phytoestrogens it contains, which are thought to affect thyroid function. Despite this, there are many studies to show that soy has little to no effect on thyroid function. It is however the highest protein plant based protein powder, and the only one with a complete amino acids profile.
Which plant based proteins are complete?
There are many sources of plant based complete protein, including hemp, soy, quinoa, buckwheat and spirulina (which you find in most greens powders). Complete protein sources have a full amino acid profile, which is important for muscle synthesis.
What is the best plant based protein powder?
That depends on what you prioritise in your goals. If you prioritise taste, the best one is the one you like the most. This is, in our opinion, the best tasting plant based protein powder. But, if we stop beating around the bush, the best plant protein is a blend of different ones. That way you can get the best of everything - high protein content, lots of nutrients and a great taste. Most plant proteins will have a blend that contains pea and rice protein.
Low Carb plant based protein powder
This is the struggle of any plant based diet. Most plant based protein sources come with a big hit of carbs. Not so for plant based protein powders. They have been refined to maximise the protein content and have a pretty similar protein content to traditional protein powders.
So if you are struggling to get adequate protein in your plant based diet, try adding a protein powder. Because they are more stable than a whey protein, they are exceptionally good for baking!
Does plant based protein cause gas?
If you are sensitive to dairy, you may find that whey causes a certain amount of erm… intestinal discomfort. Not so with a plant based protein. They are normally much better tolerated than dairy based protein shakes. Many people find that they experience less gas and bloating when they switch to plant based protein powders.
Will plant based protein powder help me lose weight?
As long as your plant protein powder is part of a balanced diet then yes, it will help you lose weight. However - if you are taking a protein supplement on top of your regular diet, it may lead to weight gain - so be careful! Have a look at our guide to protein powder for weight loss for tips on how to get the best results.
Will plant based protein powder help me build muscle?
Plant based protein powders can be very effective for building muscle - especially if they have a complete amino acid profile. What is more important than the type of protein you have is the amount and timing. If you want to figure out how much protein you should be having, take a look at our guide to protein intake.
If you are curious about mixing up your protein routine, or you are eating a plant based diet and want to make sure you are getting enough protein, browse our collection of Plant Based Protein Powders. Modern vegan proteins are delicious and effective for achieving your health and fitness goals.