Add these plant-based powders to smoothies, oats, and more for a filling boost.
When it comes to increasing your sports performance and building muscle, there's no better time to follow a vegan, vegetarian, or plant-based diet. From hemp to pea protein to power blends of plant proteins, there's no shortage of vegan protein powders out there.
But you're probably wondering how much protein you are actually getting, and do they contain complete proteins? The average plant-based protein powder has about 20 grams of protein per two-scoop serving compared to 24 grams of protein in a serving of whey protein powder. Although you're getting more protein in whey- or casein-based protein powders, vegan protein powders have the added benefit of supplying fiber and other important nutrients. And while not all vegan protein powders will be complete proteins, soy protein powders and some plant-based protein powder blends are.
Shopping for the best vegan protein powders can be tricky because you want to ensure you're getting quality ingredients, so we tapped Amy Shapiro, MS, RD, CND, and founder of Real Nutrition, for her advice. Here's what to consider when looking for a vegan protein powder at the grocery store:
• Go for certified USDA organic and non-GMO brands: This ensures there are no fillers of artificial sweeteners or ingredients in the protein powder.
• Try to select single sourced protein powders, like soy, pea protein, or hemp isolate. "Sure, they're not complete proteins, but over the course of the day, your amino acids will balance out. You don't need to have complementary proteins at one meal. It can happen throughout the day," Shapiro says.
• Avoid powder blends with added sugars and artificial sweeteners, such as sucralose. "I'm OK with products sweetened with Stevia or monk fruit, though," Shapiro says.
• Choose protein powders with 15 to 21 grams of protein per serving. "This is within the window I recommend for satiety, staying power, and repleting the muscles," she adds. "Total carbohydrates should be fairly low at about seven grams or less, and sugars at one to two grams per serving."
• Look out for caffeine, in case you don't expect it and want to cut back on your daily intake.
• Watch out for fiber fillers, such as guar gum and chicory root. "In high quantities, they can cause your stomach to become upset," Shapiro warns. But it doesn't hurt to find vegan protein powders with superfood ingredients, like flax seed, cranberry seeds, probiotics, and digestive enzymes.
Now that you know what to look for when shopping for vegan protein powders, check out some of our top picks.