When you’re following a specific diet, it can sometimes be difficult to find the right products while still getting all the nutrition that you need. This is especially true for those who are trying to stick to a vegan diet since you need to avoid all kinds of animal products, not just meat.
If you’re an active person on a strength training journey, getting enough protein is crucial for making progress and recovering properly. This is when protein powders come in! But while whey protein powder is the most popular one, there are more options out there for those on a vegan diet or who simply need a different alternative.
In this article, we’ll talk about the different types of vegan protein powder and how you can choose the right protein powder for you.
Types of vegan protein powder
There are a lot of different vegan protein powders out there that you can choose from depending on your needs and preferences. Here are a few of the most popular ones:
Soy protein powder
Soy protein powder is the most popular and well-known vegan option. It makes for a great alternative to whey protein powder because soybeans are a complete protein just like animal products, containing all 9 essential amino acids!
This means you can get just as much protein without having to drop your vegan diet, but you need to be careful with how much soy you consume daily. Soybeans contain isoflavones, which can alter your hormone levels when consumed in excess quantities. So look out for that!
Pea protein powder
Even though it’s missing the essential amino acid methionine and thus isn’t considered a complete protein, pea protein powder is very rich in BCAAs (branched-chain amino acids). These amino acids, which are leucine, isoleucine, and valine, are the three main essential amino acids involved in muscle protein synthesis.
Because of its rich BCAA content, organic pea protein powder is a great vegan option for those who can’t have whey protein powder but still need to keep their protein levels high during their strength-training journey. Plus, it’s allergen-free!
Pumpkin protein powder
While also not a complete protein, pumpkin protein powder is still a good choice for your goals. Similar to pea protein powder, this powder has very low amounts of methionine, so while it technically has all 9 essential amino acids, it’s still not considered a complete protein.
That said, pumpkins are a good source of BCAAs, and they’re also rich in antioxidants, vitamin E, and magnesium. Plus, it’s a fast protein just like whey, meaning that your body absorbs it quicker!
Brown rice protein powder
Yet another great protein powder that’s missing a single essential amino acid, this time being lysine, so it’s not considered a complete protein. Still, brown rice protein powder contains all BCAAs, making it a great vegan alternative for your lean muscle-building goals and post-workout recovery!
Hemp protein powder
Hempseed protein powder is very rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, both great for heart health, and it’s also high in amino acids. However, this vegan protein powder is missing two of the essential amino acids, lysine, and leucine. So, while not considered a complete protein, hemp is still a very popular choice among gym-goers.
Something else that you should know about protein powders is that, regardless of the type, they all come in different varieties, and the one you pick will depend on the goals that you have. The three most common varieties are:
- Protein concentrate, which undergoes a filtering process and ends up being around 60-80% protein, and the rest is carbs and fat.
- Protein isolate, which goes through a deeper filtering process and contains around 90-95% protein.
- Protein hydrolysate, which undergoes a heating process in which the bonds between amino acids are broken to allow for quicker protein absorption.
How to choose a good vegan protein powder for you
Choosing a vegan protein powder isn’t as simple as going to the store and picking the better-looking one with the nice green label. Just like with any other supplement, there are a few things that you should keep in mind when buying protein powder…
What to look for
Here are the main things you should be aware of when buying vegan protein powders to make sure you’re actually supporting your muscle-building journey:
- A blend of different plant-based protein sources
Aside from soy, plant-based powders from a single source aren’t considered a complete protein – which is why you should look for blends instead!
Picking a blend of different vegan sources will ensure that you get all 9 essential amino acids for a complete protein, plus additional amino acids and other nutrients that you might not get from a single protein source.
- High protein content
This one should be a given, but it’s not always the case. When checking out the ingredients list, make sure that protein is at the top of the list and that it contains at least 20 grams of protein per serving. Some blends focus more on other ingredients and not on protein as much, lowering the quality.
- Organic sources
Just because vegan protein powders are plant-based doesn’t mean that they’re always organic. You should look for powders that are certified organic (and non-GMO) to avoid consuming protein powders from sources that have been exposed to pesticides.
- Nutrient-dense ingredients list
Protein powders shouldn’t just contain protein – or at least you should look for more than that! Look for blends that are rich in plenty of micronutrients, such as one that contains pumpkin or peas. Vegan diets that are poorly planned can have fewer nutrients than what you actually need, so always aim for higher nutritious content!
What to avoid
When it comes to things that you’ll want to avoid when choosing a vegan protein powder, it’s mostly ingredients that you need to beware of. Things like artificial sweeteners, artificial coloring, and other unnecessary additives can make more harm than good.
Always try to avoid very long ingredient lists unless those ingredients are micro and macronutrients that are actually beneficial for your health. Some added sugars that you should look out for are:
- Brown rice syrup
- Coconut sugar
If you’re on the hunt for the best-tasting vegan protein powder, look for those with natural flavoring instead and add your own healthy ingredients for a tasty protein shake! You can add some honey for sweetness, nut butter for some healthy fats and added flavor, or even some fruit for a dose of complex carbs and extra nutrients.
Stay vegan during your strength-training journey
Just because you need plenty of protein to reach your muscle-building goals doesn’t mean that you need to resort to animal products to get it. You can opt for vegan workout supplements like vegan protein powders that can effectively support both your goals and your lifestyle!
And if you’re looking for a high-quality vegan protein to try, check out 373 Lab’s Lemon Shake Vegan Protein Isolate! It’s a brown rice, pea, and pumpkin seed protein blend that together make up a complete protein, along with some extra nutrients. Plus, it has natural flavoring to make your protein shakes tastier!