Vegan Protein Powders: The Differences
There are quite a few different vegan protein powders out there. Some better than the others. We’ve narrowed the best vegan protein powders down to three and focus on the best of the best. And while nearly all plant-based protein powders offer similar benefits, due to the fact that they’re made from plants, we often are asked “which vegan protein powder is right for me?”
Since different vegan protein powders offer many of the same benefits, you might have found yourself struggling with choosing the best option to help you achieve your fitness goals. Don’t worry, we’re here to help! We’re going to take a look what all of our plant-based proteins have in common and what exactly separates them from each other. That way, you’ll know which one you need to use to achieve your fitness goal.
Vegan Protein Powders: What They Have in Common
1. Save Animals – I didn’t intend to write this article in any particular order, but since the majority of people who search for vegan protein powders are vegans. And the vast majority of people who go vegan, go vegan to save animals from unnecessary cruelty and deal. This unnecessary cruelty and death would be greatly reduced if everyone who used an animal-based protein like whey switched to a vegan protein powder. We’ve covered this topic several times before so I’ll keep it simple here. The short version is that because whey is a by-product of milk, producing it requires that cows spend their entire lives captive, impregnated and milked. By no surprise, the lifespan of captive milk cows is significantly lower than those of free cows.
2. Help the Planet – Another big difference between plant-based protein powders and animal-based protein powders is that plant-based protein powders are significantly better for the environment. Creating plant-based protein powders require much less land, water and resources than creating animal-based protein powders. Additionally, plants are biodegradable which creates minimal waste. On the other side, animals create an enormous amount of waste and are one of the causes of harmful greenhouse gas emissions.
3. USDA Certified Organic – While there are various organic certifications out there, the USDA certified organic label is the one that identifies truly organic products. Products that are USDA certified organic label contain at least 95% organic ingredients. USDA certified organic plant-based products must also meet stringent criteria such as the quality of the soil, which fertilizers are used, how sewage is drained and how weeds and pest are controlled. To put it simply, USDA certified organic products, including vegan protein powders, are made of the highest quality organic products.
4. High in Fiber – There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Insoluble fiber is what allows the digestive system to operate smoothly. While soluble fiber helps us feel full and satisfied. Vegan protein powders are a great source of both types of fiber. Some protein powders out there may contain additives which allow them to be marketed as ‘meal replacement’ shakes. But vegan protein powders natural help you feel satisfied, which aids in weight loss – without any potentially harmful additives!
5. Boosts Metabolism – Our diets consist of three macronutrients: carbs, fat and protein. Of these, protein takes the longest to digest. This causes our metabolism to work longer and ultimately aids weight loss. While protein is commonly associated with building muscle mass, its actually very effective when it comes to losing weight. This makes it the perfect option for building lean muscle mass and cutting excess fat.
6. Allergy Free – Whey protein often causes bloating and gas, especially in those people with milk related allergies. Approximately 65% of the population in America suffers from these symptoms when using whey protein supplements regularly. This is one of the reasons why regular whey consumers are switching to plant-based proteins.
7. Loaded with Vitamins – Plant-based proteins naturally contain a wide assortment of healthy vitamins and minerals. This is especially beneficial for people who often eat at fast food restaurants, consume a heavy animal-based diet, or don’t consume enough fruits and vegetables through their daily diet.
8. Clean Eating – When it comes to eating clean, there’s no better option than plant-based proteins. Animals are usually treated with hormones and antibiotics which eventually work their way into whey protein powders. USDA certified protein powders guarantee that there aren’t any pesticides, hormones or antibiotics added to the powder. Vegan protein powders also are free of the chemicals or additives that are usually found in whey proteins.
9. Little to No Saturated Fats – There are fats and then there are unhealthy fats. The unhealthy fats fall into two categories: trans fats and saturated fats. Plant-based vegan protein powders typically include little to no trans fats or saturated fats.
10. Low Calorie – Many people turn to protein shakes as a low-calorie meal replacement option. Vegan protein powders offer great protein to carb ratios. This makes them an ideal choice for people who are looking to lose weight or build lean muscle.
11. Taste – Chia, hemp and pea protein powders all share a common taste. They all have an earthy, nutty flavor (although, they definitely don’t taste exactly the same). This makes them ideal for mixing with chocolate and peanut butter recipes or smoothies.
12. Complete Protein Sources – Not all plant-based proteins are complete protein sources. However, chia, hemp and pea proteins are. Complete proteins are proteins that contain all nine of the essential amino acids that human body requires – but is unable to produce.
Now that we’ve looked at the similarities, let’s look at what sets these vegan protein powders apart from each other.
Pea Protein Powder: It Builds Muscle
When it comes to comparing vegan protein powders to whey protein – pea protein is definitely the most comparable. Many athletes who suffer from side effects of whey protein, such as bloating and gas, are making the switch to pea protein powder. Because of the simple process that creates pea protein powder, it is able to retain nearly all of its natural nutritional value without any of the additives or chemicals that can be found in whey protein. This leaves a powder that is high in protein and nutritional content while being highly soluble without the side-effects.
It contains the highest amount of protein per serving at 12 grams per serving. Now, if you’ve used common whey protein supplements before, you might be thinking “only 12 grams of protein?” But, keep in mind that the serving size of whey protein is significantly smaller than the serving size for pea protein powder.
For instance, Optimum Nutrition’s Gold Standard whey protein powder recommends a serving size of 30.4 grams and contains 24 grams of protein. Whereas pea protein powder recommends a serving size of 14 grams and contains 12 grams of protein. If you were to consume the same amount of whey protein powder and pea protein powder, pea protein powder contains 2 additional grams of protein (26 grams of protein total).
That’s a ridiculously high 80% of protein per serving! Pea protein powder is perfect for anyone that wants to build muscle.
Chia Protein Powder: It Makes Baked Goods Super Healthy
Chia protein powder is the vegan protein powder that is the polar opposite of pea protein. It offers just 35% of protein per serving. So, while it’s not the go-to vegan protein powder for muscle building – it does offer a very unique benefit that makes it an excellent addition to the kitchen for any athlete who cooks or bakes (especially vegans!).
Chia protein powder makes an excellent egg replacement option. Simply mixing one tablespoon of chia protein powder with three tablespoons of water leaves you with one highly nutrition egg substitute. The substitute that contains protein, fiber, vitamin, minerals, anti-oxidants and amino acids without any harmful fats.
Chia protein powder is sort of a ‘secret weapon’ for those who often cook or bake and want to make their recipes healthier. If you’re a meal prepper or a vegan, then it’s a must have.
Hemp Protein Powder: It’s the Swiss Army Knife
Hemp has been considered one of the most nutritional foods on earth since practically the beginning of time. And it has unique background. It’s usage dates back to around 10,000 B.C. It became popular in the United States and was even farmed by George Washington. Eventually, Controlled Substances Act put an end to hemp farming in the United States in 1970. Now, hemp protein powder isn’t illegal and offers none of the effects of hemp-based products like marijuana. But since growing hemp isn’t allowed in the United States it has to be imported from other countries – such as Canada.
This vegan protein powder offers a great blend that promotes muscle growth while aiding weight loss. Hemp protein powder contains 7 grams of protein per serving which amounts to 50% of protein per serving (and keep in mind, that the serving size of hemp protein powder is also significantly smaller than those of whey protein powders).
Hemp protein powder also contains 3 grams of carbohydrates and 2.5 grams of fiber. It’s widely considered one of the most nutritious food sources on earth and offers a wide assortment of vitamins, minerals, omegas and amino acids.
Hemp protein powder is the ideal vegan protein powder for anyone who wants to build lean muscle, lose weight or improve their overall health.
Vegan Protein Powders: Which One is Right for You?
To pick the best vegan protein powder for you, you have to start by identifying what your goal is. Once you do that, picking the best vegan protein powder is easy. Here’s how we associate our protein powders with goals:
Muscle Building – If your primary goal is to build muscle, you’re going to want to start with pea protein powder. It’s the vegan protein powder that offers the highest amount of protein per serving which makes it great for building muscle. It’s also great for those that are looking to switch from whey protein powder to a plant-based protein powder. Its by far the best plant-based alternative to whey protein.
Bakers and Meal Preppers – We encourage everyone to fall into this category. As on-the-go protein snacks become increasingly popular, it’s important to note what these products contain. If they’re not fresh baked, or if you’re finding them packaged on a store shelf, then there is a very high probability that these snacks that are marketed as ‘healthy’ are full of preservatives, additives or chemicals that could potentially be harmful. If you’re serious about achieving your fitness goals then cooking, baking and prepping your own meals is a must. To make those meals as healthy as possible, chia protein is the ideal choice.
Health Conscious – Those that are looking for a vegan protein powder that will greatly boost their intake of vital vitamins, minerals, amino acids, omegas, protein and fiber should consider hemp protein powder. Hemp protein is an all-around great choice to improve your general health. It has become the most popular vegan protein powder due to its ability to aid weight loss while building lean muscle mass.
Still on the fence? Check out our three pack of chia, hemp and protein powders and test them out for yourself!