'There are protein powders on the market for plant-based eaters?' Move over animal products! Traditionally whey protein (dairy) had been the go-to. But today the variety for plant based protein powders is endless, and did I mention also delicious, creamy and flavoursome!
So, in the short answer 'YES' vegans do have the option of adding in protein powders to their diets.
Adding in a Vegan Protein Powder is not a necessity for a plant-based diet, but it adds a whole lot of help reaching your daily protein intake. Especially for those living a busy lifestyle, or working on them 'gains' in the gym.
A scoop full of protein powder added to your breaky smoothie will definitely get you going for the day.
Why does the body need protein?
Just like we need oxygen to breath, protein plays a very important role in the body. Our bodies need protein to function properly. Enough protein allows the body to repair cells, in fact every one of our little cells contain protein. It also supports proper immune system function.
The body can not store protein, this is why it's important to get enough during the day.
Digging a little deeper, protein is made up of building blocks called Amino Acids. There are around 20 amino acids. The body uses them to create new proteins like bone, muscle and hormones.
Protein synthesis, pretty important stuff really!
There are 9 essential amino acids that our bodies need to receive through the foods we eat. The others are created in the body.
How much Protein do we need?
There is no one-size fits all with daily protein requirements. Many factors have to be considered like age, weight, lifestyle health and fitness goals, ect.
According to the Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand, the average adult needs about 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.
So for example someone who weighs 75 kilograms needs about 60 grams of protein per day. But like I said, many factors need to be considered. If you're after muscle growth your body may need more than this.
Please consult your healthcare professional to find your perfect protein requirement.
Animal-based protein Vs. Plant Powered Protein.
Let's compare the pair.
If you've been following a plant-based diet for a while, I'm sure you have heard the term 'Complete Protein'. The biggest debate has been whether vegans are getting enough of the full amino acid profile through plant proteins in their diet.
It is said that animal proteins contain a good balance of the amino acid profile we need. Animal proteins and dairy products contain higher amounts of Vitamin B 12. (B 12 can be something vegans and vegetarians may be lacking from their plant proteins. Vegans can find B12 in Nutritional Yeast and fortified cereals or a good quality Vitamin B 12 supplement).
Certain studies have shown that red meat has been associated with an increased risk of disease in the body.
Diets high in plant proteins are linked to many benefits. Vegan and vegetarians tend to have lower blood pressure levels, lower cholesterol and a lower body weight.
They also have a lower risk of cancer than non-vegetarians.
The main essential aminos that may be lacking with a vegan diet are methionine, lysine tryptophan and isoleucine.
Variety, variety, variety! Mix up those plant foods! Meals with many different natural plant based protein sources, natural whole grains, whole foods and plenty of fresh vegetables is one way to help combat this problem.
For example, lentils are considered high in lysine. Combine lentils with rice which is said to be low in lysine and you're well on your way to finding a balance of essential amino acids.
After a little extra kick of Essential Amino Acids?
So, Why add protein powder to your herbivore diet?
Here are a few reasons why you may want to incorporate vegan protein powders into your diet:
- Quick access to over 20g of protein (depending on plant protein powder source)
- Helps to build muscle or maintain muscle
- Aids recovery after exercise
- May assist with weight loss (higher protein helps us to feel fuller for longer and may speed up metabolism)
- High protein baked goods are easily achieved by adding in a scoop of your plant based powder
- Adds a good dose of essential amino acids
- Vegan protein shakes blended with your favourite plant milk are great to curb the 3pm sweet tooth. Try our delicious Plant Based Custard for a guilt-free treat. Its also keto friendly.
Vegan Protein Powder Sources
Pea Protein Powder
Pea protein (made from yellow peas) is the most common one found on the market today. It is classed as a complete protein as it does contain the full amino acid profile. Although it is quite low in methionine. One 30 gram scoop of pea protein will give you around 15-20 grams of protein per serve depending on brand.
Many vegan protein powders will contain some amount of pea protein.
People who are prone to upset stomachs usually opt for a pea protein as it is quite easily digestible and allergen free. PLEASE still always check the labels if you have any allergies!
A high quality yellow pea protein has a very smooth texture which makes it ideal for smoothies.
Hemp Seed Protein
Hemp Protein contains all nine essential amino acids, as well as fibre, healthy fats and minerals. Is another popular one on the market today. Although containing all nine essential aminos it is still quite low in Lysine. The protein content is around 15 grams per 30 gram serve.
It is a little lower than the well known pea protein but as an added bonus hemp protein also contains an ideal ratio of omega's 3 & 6 that help to promote better heart health.
It's taste is quite earthy and nutty.
Watermelon Seed Protein
Watermelon seeds are very nutritiously dense, packed with B Vitamins, magnesium, omega 3 & 6 plus zinc and copper. It is gluten-free and Paleo-friendly. This plant protein will generally give you around 16 grams of plant powered protein per 30 gram serving. These little seeds are also classed as a 'complete protein'.
It has a slightly nutty taste with a smooth texture.
Pumpkin Seed Protein
Pumpkin Seeds are packed with plenty of nutrients as well as being high in protein. These little green seeds are full of antioxidants, Vitamin K, B6, folate, iron, zinc, and high in fibre. Providing around 14 grams per 30 gram serve.
Much like watermelon seed protein, pumpkin seed protein also has a pleasant nutty taste.
Also classed as a complete protein, soy protein is another well known vegan protein powder. If opting for this protein sticking to a NON-GMO organic one may be better. This protein will give you 20 grams per 30 gram serve.
Although many people do seem to steer clear of soy based proteins or soy products in general due to their high phytoestrogen content. Phytoestrogens may disrupt natural hormone levels in the body.
Brown Rice Protein
This protein is not classed as a complete protein source due to its very low Lysine content. You will generally get 23 grams per 30 gram serve.
Brown Rice protein has been known to have a slightly gritty texture.
A few others:
- Peanut Protein
- Chia Seed Protein
- Flaxseed Protein
- Sunflower Seed Protein
Whats your flavour?
When vegan protein powders first began popping up on the shelves the flavours were very limited and well, I can't say you'd be excited for your protein shake every day. It was hard to find any that compared with the consistency and taste of whey proteins.
Today many plant based protein powders are so delicious and creamy, most people can't tell the difference between vegan protein or whey protein. Even people who consume animal products, many now choose a plant based protein.
What a long way we've come!
Your protein shake could be peanut butter, banana cinnamon or coconut rough flavour. Your best vegan protein powder for you is out there. Truly endless opportunities.
- When choosing a vegan protein powder, opting for one with multiple plant protein sources will give you a better opportunity of filling in the essential amino acid profile. Check out our Natural and Lean Plant Blend HERE
- Always be sure to read the labels. Steer clear of artificial sweeteners, flavours and preservatives.
- Check for third party testing. This will ensure what you see is what you're digesting.
- No added sugars. Natural sweeteners like stevia or xylitol will do the trick.
- Keep in mind if you have any food allergies. Gluten free ect.
- Many aminos are Non-vegan so be sure they are sourced from plants.
Move Over Whey
Vegan Protein powders are a great add in for people following a vegan diet. Whether your goal is to lose weight, muscle gain, or you're living a busy lifestyle, your daily protein intake could be reached a little easier with a scoop of delicious vegan protein powder.
Protein powders are the perfect complement to a vegan diet and these days they are able to enjoy a huge exciting range of variety and flavours.
Always consult your healthcare professional before supplementing protein powder into your diet.