Vegan Shopping Essentials: Plant-Based Protein Powders

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I’m starting a new series called Vegan Shopping Essentials because I get a lot of emails asking for vegan and/plant-based products. I love trying new products and so why I thought…why not share my thoughts about them with you. If it helps you figure out which products you like too, then great! Today’s topic? Plant-Based Protein Powders. If you like learning about vegan products, check out my Dairy-Free Chocolate Chips Guide. Or you might enjoy my Vegan Baking Guide as well.

Vegan Shopping Essentials: Plant-Based Protein Powders

Today we’re talking about Plant-Based Protein Powders. Look, I’ve been a slow moving creature toward protein powders. I thought they were all mostly chalky substances served in a cup. I also didn’t quite understand the value of including more protein in my diet.

But I’ve been reading up on the value of increased protein. I’ve been reading up on diets a lot lately, in fact because I’ve been trying to lose a few pounds. Weight is something that’s followed me most of my life. My siblings seemed naturally skinny as kids, but not me. I was the chubby child. It seems like if you’re chubby as a child, you’re set up for a lifetime of focus on the topic of weight. I mean, I’ve definitely had periods where I’ve felt like I’ve had this whole weight situation under control. And other times? Not so much so.

Lately I’ve realized that the pounds have slipped on over the years, so much so that my favorite jeans have been gathering a little dust.

And so lately I’ve been reading two books that have been really helpful for me: The Four-Hour Body by Tim Ferris and the MD Factor Diet.

Both books talk about the importance of keeping your blood sugar regulated, the impact of insulin on your metabolism and weight, and how to lose weight as a result of increasing protein in your diet.

Ugh, the old “where do you get your protein” discussion.

As a vegan I have talked about protein a lot. Both of these books have suggested increasing your protein game, and keeping a keen eye on reducing carbs. Then I spoke with pediatrician and food blogger Dr. Julia Nordgren (she’ll be coming up on the podcast soon) about children, like me, who have naturally skinny siblings but who struggle with their weight. My question? Have they determined that children with weight issues have corresponding blood sugar issues? In other words, do children (and adults for that matter) who find it easier to maintain a lower weight, also have lower blood sugar? She agreed with this statement.

So, if blood sugar is better regulated by lower carbs and increases in protein, I decided to go about adding more protein to my diet. And one of my favorite ways to add protein is through plant-based protein powders. I have tried a lot of them, and these are some of my favorites.

But before we go there, let’s just talk a little bit about what makes something a plant-based protein powders.

Is Whey Protein Powder A Dairy Product?

Milk made from cows has two kinds of proteins, whey and casein. That means both casein and whey are dairy products and not part of a vegan diet. And if you are like the majority of adults, you have lost the enzymes necessary to break down proteins from dairy, otherwise known as lactose intolerant.

So if you are lactose intolerant, drinking a shake with whey proteins is going to cause the same side effects as other dairy intolerances, like cramping, digestive issues, and more.

What Kind of Plant-Based Protein Powders are Best?

There are lots of different sources of protein in plant-based protein powders. Proteins are classified as either complete or incomplete, based on whether or not they include all 9 Essential Amino Acids. It takes all 9 to be considered complete. It use to be that we thought there were no sources of plant-based proteins that were complete. However, today we know that’s not true. But it doesn’t really matter, because by combining protein sources, today’s plant-based protein powders are teeming with essential proteins. Here are some of the best plant-based protein sources I’m aware of:

  • Pea Protein
  • Hemp Protein
  • Brown Rice Protein
  • Mixed Plant Protein
  • Sacha Inchi Seed Protein

Knowing that all of these sources of protein have an impact is one of the reasons I like to have more than one kind of plant-based protein powder mix at my ready.

My Favorite Plant-Based Protein Powders

Yes, it’s true you should pick plant-based protein powders based on their ingredients. That’s really important. But what about something else that’s really important…flavor? Because finding perfect plant-based protein powders must have both, nutritional benefits and flavors that will keep you coming back for more.

Vega Plant-Based Protein

 

Vega Sports Shake Protein Powder

Created by professional triathlete Brendan Brazier, Vega is one of the most readily available plant-based protein powders around. Vega products focus a lot on performance, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be used as a weight loss tool as well. I mean, because think about it, being fit and trim is important to athletes as well. Anyway, I’ve experimented with a few of the Vega Protein Powders and right now my favorite is their Vega Sport line. It boasts 30 grams of protein per serving with only 6 grams of carbs. The Vega Sport Vanilla Flavor is my favorite, and I mix it with half water and half unsweetened almond milk. I also add a little bit of ice to make it like a thick, shake.

Vega protein sources include:

  • Pumpkin Seed Protein
  • Sunflower Seed Protein
  • Alfalfa Protein
  • Pea Protein
  • Sacha Inchie Protein
  • Hemp Seed Protein
  • Whole Grain Brown Rice Protein

I love to drink this shake before one of my tennis matches. I had trouble figuring out what to eat before a match that would help me feel my best. These protein powders really work. I also use this shake as a meal replacer when I’m on the run and just don’t have time to eat. I love them because they’re tasty and satisfying and I don’t feel hungry for hours afterwards. Perfection!

I also like the Vega Protein Smoothie Choc-A-Lot served as an afternoon snack or added to my Chocolate Chia Pudding.

PlantFusion Complete Plant Protein

Plant Fusion Protein Powder

I recently tried the PlantFusion Complete Plant Protein powders. I tried the Chocolate, Natural, Vanilla, and Chocolate Raspberry flavors. They were all really good, although with the Natural I had to add something else to provide some decent flavor, like a banana, or pumpkin-pie spice. I prepared this by adding water to one serving and a little bit of ice in a blender. That created a nice, thick shake that I drank as a meal replacement or before a tennis match. Each serving provides 21 grams of protein and only 4 grams of carbs.

My favorite was definitely the PlantFusion Complete Plant Protein Chocolate Raspberry. I could drink that one on repeat it was so good. And I definitely want to make a Chocolate Raspberry Chia pudding with it as a nice, light, but protein-infused dessert!

Less Naked Pea

Naked Pea Protein Powder

I’ve had the big bottle of Less Naked Chocolate Pea Protein for quite awhile before having this realization that I could being adding these to my morning smoothies. I love getting the added pea-based protein while still enjoying the health benefits of a green smoothie. I’ve talked about this before, the health benefits of green smoothies, so check that previous discussion out.

I have not yet tried the Less Naked Pea Protein Powder by itself with just water and ice. But I definitely recommend it as a protein boost for your morning smoothie. It has a subtle chocolate flavor to it, but I’m never one to complain about that. Sometimes I’ll add some peanut butter powder to or maybe even some additional cocoa powder to give it added flavor. It boasts 25 grams of protein and only 8 grams of carbs per serving. I usually make a double batch of smoothies each morning for both Shawn and me. Follow Namely Marly on Instagram and you’ll see my Stories posts with our smoothies.

Anyway, I like to get 30 grams of protein in the morning so that means I put in 4 scoops of the Less Naked Chocolate Pea Protein and then usually a tablespoon or two of peanut butter powder or some other protein powder to get us up to 30 grams of protein. Of course, I usually put a couple of scoops of ground flax seed too which adds a little protein as well. According to my MyFitness Pal report of my breakfast this morning I had a smoothie with the following nutrients:

  • 33 grams of protein
  • 25 grams of carbs
  • 3 grams of fiber
  • 4 grams of fat

Here’s what was in those smoothies: 4 scoops Less Naked Pea Protein Powder, 2 – 3 cups of Super Greens (baby spinach, chard, and kale), 2 tablespoons ground flax seed, 1 tablespoon cocoa powder, 1 banana, 1 tablespoon protein powder. I also added some pumpkin pie spice to add a little more flavor. I poured this into two glasses — one for me and one for Shawn.

Forever Body Solutions Plant Protein Powder

Vegan German Chocolate Overnight Oats

 

I originally posted about Forever Body Solutions Prebiotic Protein Powder in my Vegan German Chocolate Overnight Oats recipe (with video). I think the thing that made that such a winning recipe s that this protein powder mix has a malted milk flavor to it that is really appealing. It’s protein source is pea protein, sprouted fermented amaranth, and Sacha Inchi, and Hemp Seeds. Each serving provides 20 grams of protein and only 4 grams of carbs. In addition, this protein powder is also a prebiotic, meaning it includes ingredients that promotes beneficial microorganism growth in the gut. That’s a mouthful. Literally.

Obviously, I love to add this to overnight oats, but it’s also good as a meal replacement drink too. I’ve added a couple of scoops to some water with ice and blended it for a nice, malted milk shake. It’s very tasty, full of nutrients, and keeps me full for hours.

Sometimes my entire day feels like it can be focused on food so having an opportunity to keep things simple while still tasty works great for me.

Ka’Chava Tribal Superfood

KaChava Vegan Shake

Ka’Chava describes its protein powder as the whole body meal. That’s because they put a lot of work into finding an important mix of nutrients and protein to create a delicious, healthy drink. Each serving of Ka’Chava Tribal Superfood protein powder provides over 24 grams of protein and 21 grams of carbs. That’s a higher carb to protein ratio than we’ve seen with other mixes and it definitely shows. This is a sweeter mix than some of the others and I oftentimes will add a little bit of Ka’Chava to Shawn’s smoothie in the morning.

Let me explain. I’m the one trying to lose weight. Shawn is just along for the ride. He wants to be healthy, but he’s one of those people who is pretty much blessed with a metabolism that keeps him slim and trim. So, I will make our joint smoothie, and I make it on the unsweet (low carb) side for me. And then I’ll pour mine into my glass and then add a tablespoon of Kachava and blend for a second or two before pouring Shawn’s glass. I think the added flavor from the Kachava makes it tastier.

I should explain even more. Shawn is one of those super tasters. He was a super picky eater as a child. So for him to drink a smoothie for breakfast, chockfull of baby kale, spinach, and swiss chard, is kind of a transformation. But he’s doing it. Of course, he also notices the green aftertaste more than I do. So that’s another way I think the Ka’Chava makes a difference.

I have not tried this as a meal replacement drink.

Shakeology

Shakeology Vegan Drinks

Have you listened to the interview with Darin Olien on the Rich Roll Podcast? Rich basically describes Darin as the Super Food Hunter. The Indiana Jones of Superfoods. That’s because Darin has traveled the globe looking for the plants that provide the biggest impact on health. He is the founder of Shakeology along with other health focused companies. And the really good news is that Shakeology recently came out with a line of Vegan Protein Powders.

Shakeology now offer the following vegan flavors:

  • Chocolate
  • Tropical Strawberry
  • Vanilla
  • Cafe Latte

Shakeology suggests it can be used as a weight loss aid by replacing one meal a day with a protein shake. I could definitely see this as both a great way to lose weight but also a way to just simplify life. Things get busy and complicated and sometimes, especially when you’re in a hurry, having a simple meal like a vegan protein powder shake, can be a welcomed convenience.

If you’re wanting to lose some weight, the Shakeology 3-Day Refresh with Vegan Chocolate Protein Powder is a tool for that.

Better Body Foods LivFit Plant Protein

Better Body Foods LivFit Plant Protein Powder

Another protein powder I enjoy using is the Better Body Foods LivFit Plant Protein. I add this to my morning smoothie to add a little more protein. Each serving has 15 grams of protein 3 grams of carbohydrates. This is not a flavored product so that’s why I use it as a protein booster for my smoothies that are flavored with bananas or some other fruit.

Speaking of protein boost, I also use Better Body Peanut Butter Powder in my smoothies as well, for that same purpose. I love that I can find Better Body Foods products at Walmart, Target, our local health food store, Amazon and more. It’s just very convenient and so healthy.

Garden of Life Vegan Meal Replacement

Garden of Life Protein Powder

I also tried the Garden of Life Vegan Meal Replacement Powders.  My favorite is the Garden of Life Vegan Meal Replacement Chocolate mix. It had a very nice, chocolatey flavor and I enjoyed it a lot. I made the shake by simply adding water and a few ice cubes in a blender and creating a shake. Shawn shared it with me and we both liked it. Again, this is a great way to minimize time and effort on dinner when you’re in a hurry. It has 20 grams of protein and 6 grams of fiber in each serving, in addition to containing ingredients from over 40 super foods.

Summarizing Plant-Based Protein Powders

I recommend using plant-based protein powders as meal replacements, in your smoothies, and even in things like light desserts or smoothies. As you can see, some of these protein powders are supplemented with super foods and nutrients that might be hard for you to add to your diet otherwise. But, of course, I truly believe that the use of protein powders in your diet needs to be part of a complete, health-focused diet and active lifestyle. In addition, I’m not a doctor and don’t pretend to be one. I’m simply sharing with you some things I’m trying and discovering. I highly recommend consulting with your own doctor before making changes. This is especially true noting the emergence of bioindividuality. In fact, I listened to Dr. Rhonda Patrick on a recent podcast talk about how the diet of a person’s ancestry can make a difference. And if you think about it, celiac disease is genetic autoimmune disease. People with celiac cannot eat gluten as  result. That’s a perfect case in point of how individual our diets can be. So, what works for me? May not work for you.

So, I’m simply sharing a little bit about what’s working for me. And I’m enjoying adding plant-based protein powders to my diet.

What are some of the weirdest ways I’ve used plant-based protein powders? That’s a great question. Well, I have added a teaspoon or two of vanilla flavored protein powder to my morning chai tea. I figure it adds a creamy texture and a little protein to boost. Can’t go wrong with that. Right?

I’ve also been experimenting with adding protein powders to my Chia Pudding recipe. It’s a perfect, light dessert, but with added protein and nutrients. I have even added protein powders to my vegan cake mixes, because it adds some nice structure to my vegan baking.

I am definitely planning to try a few other treats with protein powders, including:

  • High-Protein Frozen Popsicles
  • Protein Chocolate-Covered Peanut Butter Balls
  • Protein Energy Bites

That’s all for now. I hope you like this roundup of plant-based protein powders. I’ve been enjoying adding more protein to my day every day and am finding my jeans to be a little less dusty…which is a great feeling!

Health + Happiness,

Marly

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