Here are the best types of vegan protein powers along with suggested products:
- Pea protein—is as powerful as whey protein for enhancing muscle mass.
- Soy protein—is high in BCAAs, which are key ingredients for building muscles.
- Hemp seed protein—almost all amino acids and is similar to egg white protein.
- Brown rice protein—is a rich source of BCAAs and repairs muscles after training.
Here are the best vegan protein powder products that include one or more of the above ingredients:
Quick Product Roundup
Getting enough protein can be challenging for everyone, but for vegan athletes who want to build up their muscles and, at the same time, avoid consuming animal products, it can be a tougher challenge.
Plant-based food has less protein than meat. It’s often difficult to meet the daily needs of the body, let alone boost your muscle mass. That’s why vegan folk tend to consume protein powders as a way to compensate for their protein shortage.
Here’s everything you need to know about vegan protein powders.
Can You Build Muscle With Vegan Protein Powder?
Study after study has proved that protein works pretty well in building and repairing muscles (1). As the source material for muscle tissues, protein rebuilds broken muscles during exercise, makes them stronger, and increases muscle size.
Now it’s time to answer a question that’s often asked in the vegan world: Is a vegan protein powder also effective at promoting muscle integrity and building muscle tissue after training?
The answer is a big YES. Researchers have found that plant-based proteins can be as effective as animal proteins (2). Therefore, you can use plant-based powders as an alternative for whey-based protein products. The only factor you should take into consideration is what plant-based proteins you choose, and how much protein you consume each day.
Is Vegan Protein Powder Bad for You?
Although consuming protein powder is associated with some potential health risks, not consuming it may be a more dangerous threat for vegans because they can’t supply their protein requirements merely by eating plant-based foods.
By considering the following factors, you can minimize the health risks, and choose the best plant based protein powder.
Read the Ingredients
Buying a plant-based product doesn’t mean you’re buying the healthiest sustenance ever. As with any other synthetic product, protein powder may contain notable amounts of additives such as artificial colors and sweeteners, and may add extra calories to your diet.
Before buying the product, read the ingredients on the back of the package to get a full picture of what you’re consuming. If the powder includes any of the following substances, don’t trust it for your daily usage:
- Xylitol and erythritol, unnatural sweeteners that may provoke digestive issues (3)(4).
- Inulin, aka chicory root or guar gum, which can cause stomach issues such as bloating (5).
- Lecithin, which may cause allergic reactions, diarrhea, nausea, and other issues (6).
Carbs, fibers, and vitamins are other additional ingredients of these powders. Although beneficial, they can harm your health if you consume more than you need.
For example, the carbohydrate content shouldn’t exceed 7 grams per serving, and sugars should be no more than 1 or 2 grams. However, it’s always better to talk with a doctor before taking any daily supplements.
Buy From Certified Brands
Those brands that include a USDA organic label, and adhere to the Non-GMO Project requirements are more reliable than others (7). They don’t add genetically modified ingredients to their products and promise to contain at least 70 percent organic ingredients in their products (8).
Choose Single-Sourced Protein Powders
Although single-sourced powders may lack one or two essential amino acids, they’re proven to be healthier than blended powders. They are more absorbable and less likely to produce allergic reactions. So it’s better to combine single-sourced protein powder with a food-based protein rather than buying a multiple sourced powder.
Factors to Consider When Buying Vegan Protein Powder
Grams of Protein
The main reason for buying plant-based protein powder is that veggie foods usually fall short in terms of meeting your body’s protein requirements. Therefore, you must go for a product that contains all nine essential amino acids.
To live a healthy life, you need around 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight (9). This means that if you weigh 70 kilograms, you should consume 50 grams of protein each day.
Based on this rule, if your protein supplement powder contains 15 grams of protein per serving, you should consume it three times a day. Or you can simply opt for a richer supplement that includes 50 grams of protein per serving.
However, when it comes to building muscles, your protein consumption should be almost twice the regular requirement (10). Therefore, you may need a powder with more than 20 grams of protein per serving, and consume it several times per day.
Aside from the essential nutrients, a good protein powder should also have an enjoyable taste. While some folks are fine with unflavored products, others can’t stomach it and prefer to buy a flavored powder.
Fortunately, vegan protein powders are produced in a wide range of flavors. It doesn’t matter if you like vanilla, chocolate, mint, or strawberry flavors, you’ll always find something based on your preference.
Some vegetable protein powders, although rich in nutrients, aren’t budget-friendly at all. Before making your last call for buying a powder, you should compare the prices and find a balance between your needs and the cost.
Type of Protein
There are many types of protein out there, but not all of them are suitable for everyone. Based on your dietary restrictions, you can choose one or more of the following protein sources: pumpkin protein, soy protein, hemp seed protein, brown rice protein, sunflower protein, protein vega, etc.
What Is the Best Type of Plant-Based Protein Powder?
Now that you know all the benefits, risks, and necessary considerations, you may wonder which kind of protein powder is your best option.
The answer to this question can be challenging, because products are beneficial in their own way. However, read the following to get to know different kinds of plant-based protein powders.
Pea protein can be your top pick among plant-based proteins because it’s a complete protein and contains all nine amino acids. These include leucine and branched-chain amino acids (BCAA), which are powerhouses for building muscles (11).
A 2015 study showed that consuming pea protein after training can enhance the thickness of muscles, and is as beneficial as whey-based proteins (12).
Every 25 grams of pea protein has about 162 calories, 8.8 grams of carbohydrates, 25 grams of protein, 2.6 grams of fat, and 5.9 grams of BCAAs—which is very close to the gold standard of protein powder quality (13).
Just like pea, soy is another complete source of protein, which is rarely seen in other types of plants. Soy protein contains high amounts of branched-chain amino acids that contribute to the growth and strength of your muscles.
What makes soy protein a less favorable option than pea protein is that some people show allergic reactions to this plant. In addition, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, nearly 95 percent of American farms produce genetically modified soybeans (14).
Other studies have found that excessive consumption of GM foods can contribute to the development of cancer, increase the risk of breast cancer, and reduce our antibacterial resistance (15). However, as reported by WHO, the associated risks of GM foods are relatively low, and we can manage them by following some consumption guidelines (16).
Our suggestion is to avoid soy powders unless they’re organic.
Hemp Seed Protein
Although it might be slightly different for every brand, there are about 15 grams of protein and 120 calories in every 30-gram serving of hemp protein.
A study showed that hempseed contains nearly all nine essential amino acids, and is especially high in arginine amino acid, fiber, and iron. As a result, it’s pretty similar to high-quality animal protein sources such as egg white (17).
Although high in amino acid levels, this type of protein lacks enough lysine and, unlike soy and pea, is not a whole source of protein. However, it has some extra benefits.
Hemp seed protein contains large amounts of fiber, iron, magnesium, zinc, and omega fatty acids. It’s also packed with 6.8 percent leucine, 5.6 percent valine, and 4.5 percent isoleucine per serving, making it an excellent source of the three BCAAs—the key triangle for maintaining muscle (18).
Brown Rice Protein
Derived from sprouted brown rice, this type of protein is rich in BCAAs.
Compared to the options we mentioned above, brown rice powder is less effective for building muscles. They have all nine essential amino acids, but are low on lysine, and, therefore, we can’t take it as a whole protein powder.
However, a 2013 study at the University of Tampa showed that only eight weeks of consuming brown rice protein supports muscle growth, enhances muscle thickness, and contributes to muscle recovery after weight training (19).
With 24 grams of protein, 3 grams of carbs, and 2.4 grams of fiber totaling only 120 calories per serving, brown rice protein powder is still an option for vegans.
What Are the Best Vegan Protein Powders?
There are many options to choose from on the market, but here I’ve listed the top options. Check out these best vegan protein powders to see which one agrees with your individual needs.
Vega Sport Premium is a certified organic, non-GMO product that contains a whopping 30 grams of protein per serving and takes our top pick for its price and quality.
It’s a mixture of organic pea protein, sunflower protein, and pumpkin seed protein, and is available in various flavors such as berry, mocha, chocolate, vanilla, and peanut butter.
What’s more, in a national survey of 40,000 US consumers, participants picked Vega Sport Premium as the number one sports nutrition product of the year (20).
Nutritional information (per serving): 160 calories, 30 g protein, 3 g fat, 6 g carbs, 5 g BCAAs.
With 10 grams of fiber, 9 grams of protein, and 1.9 grams of omega-3 and omega-6 per serving, this product can be the right choice for those who prefer not to use sweetened powders.
The high amount of fiber in this product makes the power more digestible, prevents constipation, and meets most of your daily fiber requirements.
Another characteristic that makes Manitoba Harvest Hemp easier to absorb is that it’s made of just three ingredients, and is less likely to trigger digestive issues.
Being certified by USDA organic standards, this stevia-free product comes in unsweetened and flavored options to respect its customers’ preferences.
Nutritional information (per serving): 110 calories, 9 g protein, 10 g fiber, 15 g carbs, 2 g fat, 1.9 g omegas 3 and 6.
This product boasts a massive amount of protein (21 grams) and has 3 grams of net carbs, 0 grams of sugar, and 150 calories per serving. This is truly one of the best vegan protein powders that has all the essential amino acids.
Made from pea protein, brown rice, and chia seeds, this organic vegan protein powder is key to muscle recovery after your workouts and suitable for all types of trainers—including adult men, women, and teenagers.
Since there’s no sugar added to this product, we suggest mixing it with your favorite smoothie, juice, morning pancakes, or other sweetened snacks. The chocolate and vanilla flavors fit well with your after-workout drinks, but you can also pick the unflavored model.
Nutritional information (per serving): 150 calories, 21 g protein, 15 g carbs, 4 g fat, 5 g fiber.
If you’re allergic to soy, or simply avoid consuming soybeans because they’re genetically modified, Garden of Life is probably your best bet.
It boasts 20 grams of complete veganes protein derived from peas and 13 raw organic sprouts. It contains only 110 calories per serving and is a rich source of vitamins A, D, E, and K, as well as all essential amino acids.
Known for being organic, soy-free, gluten-free, and dairy-free, this unflavored protein powder is an excellent choice for vegan athletes.
Nutritional information (per serving): 110 calories, 22 g protein, 2 g carbs, 2.5 g fat, 4 g BCAAs.
This product is a winner for its desirable taste, positive customer feedback, and blended features. It features a combination of pea protein, sunflower seed protein, and pumpkin seed protein, and is a massive source of branched-chain amino acids.
It’s not only USDA compliant and non-GMO verified, but also approved for vegans who want to build up their muscle mass after exercise.
According to thousands of customer ratings, this product is proven to be useful for muscle-building efforts.
It comes in a variety of flavors and contains different kinds of vitamins, minerals, probiotics, antioxidants, and omega-3 fatty acids per serving.
Nutrition information (per serving): 150 calories, 20 g protein, 3.5 g fat, 12 g carbs, 6 g fiber.
My Choice for the Best Vegan Protein Powder
Protein powder is a simple way to add extra protein to your diet, which is especially helpful for vegans and those who like to work out. These days, there’s many different protein powder vegan options out there made from plant-based ingredients.
I’ve looked at the best options out there, and my favorite has to be the Vega Sport Premium Protein Powder. It comes in a variety of flavors, packs a large amount of protein and offers 5 grams of BCAAs too. What more could you want?