Whether you are lactose intolerant, sensitive to dairy or have ditched dairy all together, don’t give up on using protein powders. Not only are protein powders a convenient source of the muscle-building macronutrient, there are plenty of new vegan options out there—most of which are made up of superfood ingredients that are full of protein and rich in phytonutrients. Consider using one of these vegan proteins in your next smoothie instead of traditional dairy or even soy powders.
Pea Protein is isolated from yellow split peas and offers up an easily digested source of natural vegan protein, providing 26 g of protein per serving, 0 g of saturated fat, 3 g of carbohydrates and 1 g of fiber. Pea protein is high in the essential muscle building Branched Chain Amino Acid Lysine, pump promoting Arginine and recovery amino Glutamine making its profile very similar to the dairy protein whey. Pea protein is also a low allergen, which means most people can tolerate this protein, unlike dairy proteins. Research has shown that pea protein use in humans has a positive effect on satiety and reduces food intake after consumption.
Pea protein is available at most health food stores these days. NOW makes a popular version, which is available HERE.
Hemp Protein is extracted from the Cannabis sativa plant by grinding the seeds using cold-pressing technique. Hemp protein offers up a complete spectrum of all the essential amino acids, and in the ratios that are most preferred and useable by the body. Hemp protein also delivers a source of essential fatty acids, including omega-3 and omega-6. Essential fatty acids are important for controlling the inflammatory process and promoting a healthy hormonal balance. One 30 g serving of hemp protein provides 15 g of protein, 2.5 g of polyunsaturated fats, along with a source of vitamin C, calcium and 20% of your daily value of iron.
A popular brand of Hemp Protein is Nutiva, available HERE.
Sacha Inchi Protein
The sacha inchi protein is harvested from the star-shaped seedpods. This vine plant is native to the Peruvian rainforest, where indigenous people have long used it as an energizing source of food. Sachi inchi protein delivers a high content of essential aminos, including a great source of mood elevating tryptophan. Tryptophan is a precursor to the neurotransmitter serotonin. When serotonin is elevated, not only is your mood positive, appetite and cravings can be reduced. It’s also high in fiber and a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids. Sacha inchi protein delivers 18 g of protein in a 30 g serving along with 3 g of fiber.
A less common vegan protein, there aren’t as many options on the market, but HERE is one to try.
Chia Protein Powder
This ancient Aztec and Mayan superfood delivers not just protein but also an abundant source of omega-3 fatty acids. The most intriguing benefit of Chia is its ability to suck up water! It’s highly soluble, forming a gel like substance once it absorbs water. This swelling action fills the gut and slows down digestion, which can help decrease appetite and cravings. Slower digestion allows for a sustained release of nutrients to the body keeping blood sugar levels maintained. Chia is also rich in minerals including calcium, iron and magnesium. This protein source isn’t as rich as other proteins on this list, providing just 6 g in 30 g serving, along with 10 g of fat and 12 g of carbs and 10 g of fiber. Consider blending a half serving with another protein sources.
Like sacha inchi, there aren’t many options of pure chia protein products, but HERE is one to try.
Rice Protein Powder
Extracted from whole grain brown rice, this protein delivers 24 g of protein in a 30 g serving. Considered one of the least allergenic of all vegetable-based proteins, rice protein powder is also a source of calcium and iron. One of the most interesting qualities of rice protein is its ability to digest at an intermediate rate, between that of whey and casein, which means it can provide a steady supply of aminos to your muscles. In one study, it was shown that no detectable differences in recovery were noticed between Rice and Whey protein, when used in resistance-trained athletes. After 8-weeks of supplementation with either Rice or Whey protein powder on training days, both groups experienced improvements in indices of body composition and exercise performance.
A popular brand of brown rice protein powder is Sun Warrior – available HERE.
Joy JM, et al. The effects of 8 weeks of whey or rice protein supplementation on body composition and exercise performance. Nutr J. 2013. 12:86.
Geraedts MCP, et al. Intraduodenal administration of intact pea protein effectively reduces food intake in both lean and obese male subjects. PLoS One. 2011. 6(9): e24878.