Best Vegan Protein Powder: Your Next Weight-Loss Recipe
We live in the era of diversity – yet veganism is still covered in controversy. Regardless if you choose this lifestyle or not, it definitely has benefits to offer to everyone – especially in terms of supplements. Choosing the best vegan protein powder, for example, can help you achieve your weight loss goals while delivering a healthy dose of amino acids.
However, before we get to that part, let’s have an insight to what veganism really means and the real pros and cons of opting for it. We’ll discover if this lifestyle choice really helps you lose weight, along with simple advice to follow if you want to reach your goals.
Last, but not least, we’ll learn how to distinguish high-quality products from unhealthy ones. But first, let’s answer the most important question on the list…
What is a vegan?
Veganism is a lifestyle choice that involves avoiding anything of animal origin. Vegan people avoid dairy, eggs, honey and, of course, meat, just like vegetarians. (1)
As to why people choose this diet, the reasons are to protect the environment, to save endangered species or the health benefits it offers. Note that, aside from the obvious stake or glass of milk, these people also avoid any ingredients that come from animals.
Some of the most commonly encountered ones include: casein, lactic acid, pepsin, vitamin D3 and whey. Among the most popular foods containing these ingredients are marshmallows, chewing gums, beer and certain types of wine. Therefore, being a vegan is more than it appears at first sight! To have a better understanding of this increasingly popular diet, check out this comprehensive post!
Can a vegan diet be risky?
Generally, this type of diet won’t cause any health issues. However, a concerning amount of people think veganism affects their health. It’s time to bust some of the most popular myths regarding this lifestyle choice.
First of all, people think this daily habit automatically translates into unhealthy weight fluctuations and lack of diversity. Gladly, today’s consumerism gives us so many options that one could hardly run out of meals – regardless of the diet they choose.
But if you’re getting rid of an entire food group, doesn’t that mean less vitamins and nutrients?
It’s true that cutting one of the basic food sources out of your diet seems drastic and risky. Studies suggest that one of the biggest problems encountered is the lack of vitamin B12 as it’s mostly found in animal products.
This vitamin is found in most natural sources too, including grass, raindrops and the earth itself. Unfortunately, though, most products available on the market are processed so much that there’s little to no B12 left in them. (2)
Here, some vegans may be advised by their specialist to take a B12 supplement that keeps blood cell production within normal limits.
Soy isn’t such a good idea after all
Another issue to address is the popularity of soy. While this ingredient is very healthy for everybody, over 90% of the quantity produced in the U.S. is genetically modified. Substances such as isoflavone found in processed soy can alternate estrogen production in both men and women.
In time, this can lead to a potentially dangerous hormone imbalance. That’s exactly why soy-based meals shouldn’t be anyone’s first choice. (3)
Overall, being vegan has its own risks, just like any other diet or lifestyle choice. However, having a healthy diet full of diversity can prevent vitamin deficiency, unhealthy weight loss or any other problem concerning veganism.
Do vegan people lose weight by default?
Some people may become vegan thinking it will help them lose weight.
Here is the harsh truth: junk food is available everywhere.
Potato chips, chocolate or tofu are all unhealthy options that can be easily consumed by vegans too. Considering how many things one can find at any food store nowadays, gaining weight is just as probable as losing it: it’s all up to your choices.
However, the content of most vegan foods is based on water; not only does it keep you hydrated, but it also leaves you feeling full. This reduces chances of consuming unnecessary calories throughout the day.
“Since you can only fit so much food in your gut at any meal, filling up on plant-based foods to satisfaction nearly always means consuming fewer calories than you would by filling up on animal-based foods,” says Tom Hritz, clinical nutrition manager at Pittsburgh Medical Center. (4)
Foods that don’t come from animal sources are high in fiber, a key-ingredient that keeps your body satisfied for longer. This is a major benefit for anyone struggling to give in to cravings and unhealthy snacks.
How to manage your vegan diet to lose weight
So we’ve established that keeping candy by your night stand won’t do much for your weight loss goals – regardless of your diet. However, there are a few things vegans can do differently to lose fat and increase their muscle mass naturally! (5)
Here are a few tips that help you reach your goals like a pro:
Snack on fiber-rich fruits. Keep an apple or a pear by your side as they have more fiber that keeps you full for longer. As a plus, fiber gives you the energy needed for muscle growth and recovery.
Always be on the move. Eating right and including a plant based protein powder to your diet is nothing without physical activity – and we’re not talking about long gym sessions here. Here’s an useful mantra: walk more than you stand, stand more than you sit and sit more than you lay flat. Many times, it’s tiny habits that make the difference.
Let go of junk food. Just because you’re a vegan, it doesn’t mean you’re out of the junk food zone. When shopping for dinner, it’s best to avoid processed foods and choose ailments that can rot instead. As for dessert, you might want to reduce the portion; after all, losing weight is 80% diet and 20% workout, so nothing beats good eating habits.
Calculate your protein intake. Whenever we want to grow, we need increased amounts of amino acids. However, creating a diet centered around this ingredient isn’t good for you either; that’s why it’s best to calculate the amount you need before anything else. (6)
The impact of macronutrients on weight loss
As we explained earlier, vegan diets have their perks and risks you should watch out for. Gladly, there’s one secret that helps you stay healthy regardless of the meal preferences: macronutrients.
Our body needs two types of nutrients to function correctly. Macronutrients are required in large quantities, while the other kind, micronutrients, are needed in smaller amounts. These are the main macronutrients everyone needs daily:
Known as the main source of energy, these nutrients are essential to get us through each day and put our organs to work.
Where to find them: grains, bread, fruits and starchy vegetables;
There are two types of fats: saturated and unsaturated. Our body already synthesizes saturated fats, so consuming too much of them can lead to high cholesterol and obesity. Unsaturated fats, though, can’t be produced by the body so we need them permanently to survive.
Where to find them: avocado, pulses, raw nuts;
Needless to say, water is essential for pretty much everything that makes our body function well. While you shouldn’t force yourself to drink tons of water daily, it’s best to stay hydrated by drinking it throughout the day.
The amount of macronutrients you should consume depends on your daily recommended calorie intake. The number of calories is calculated based on your age, height, weight and other important factors.
If you can’t reach a nutritionist for help, you could simply keep track of what you eat every day for a week; this would be how many calories you need to maintain your current weight.
The general rule for weight loss is to cut up to 500 calories of your daily food intake. However, all of these estimates are strongly influenced by each person’s body.
What are the benefits of vegan diets for non-vegan people?
“In the fitness world, there has been a misconception you can’t build muscle with plant protein because they are typically incomplete (low in one or more essential amino acid),” says Scarlett Full, R.D.N. (7)
However, she also states that combining sources in various ways can make them as healthy as animal-originated options. The best plant-based protein powder options contain about 15 to 22 grams per serving, which is very similar to what you’d find in non-vegan choices too.
Plant based protein powder also contains precious amounts of fiber. Aside from helping you (re)gain energy post-workout or grow muscle mass, fiber is slowly digested by the body. As your body works to metabolize the plant powder content, it also gets better at burning unnecessary fat!
One of the main complaints people have about dairy-originated protein powder is that it gives them digestion problems. No matter how healthy the product may be, milk-originated amino acids can still make people feel gassy, bloated or even nausea.
In time, these small symptoms can slowly damage the intestinal wall. Gladly, plant-based powder doesn’t have that effect.
Curious about what really happens when non-vegan people choose this way of life? This video says it all:
What does a complete protein mean?
The issue of complete and incomplete protein powders has been discussed for as long as this product exists. Basically, the human alimentation contains two types of protein: complete and incomplete.
Complete protein contains all the 9 essential amino acids needed to build and fix tissue in the body. Any other option that doesn’t have them all is considered incomplete. Although this criterium is given plenty of credit when choosing the best vegan protein powder for weight loss, it’s not as important as you think. (8)
Let’s put it this way. Any person, whether or not vegan, needs a diet that offers a good balance between nutrients, vitamins and fiber. As long as your diet gives you what your body needs, incomplete powder works just as fine. Let’s remember that powder is just an extra help to reach your weight loss goals. Like any other supplement, it would never work without the right diet.
Don’t think amino acids sound like something important? Read on.
What are the essential amino acids?
If you want to get more protein, amino acids are the blocks that build it. Now, considering that 20% of the human body is made of protein, understanding how they work is important.
There are 23 amino acids that help create protein itself. Out of this number, 9 are essential, 11 are nonessential and 3 aren’t found in the human body. The essential amino acids can’t be produced by our organism, which is why it’s essential to get them from outer sources. (9)
When delivered daily, amino acids become key-elements for weight loss, muscle repair and increased energy levels; this is just one of the reasons why choosing the best plant-based protein powder is so important.
What are the best sources of amino-acids?
Regardless if you want to lose weight, build muscle or both, your body needs all the essential amino acids to work at full capacity. One of the main issues with plant, though, is that it’s incomplete; therefore, getting every element required can seem challenging.
Thankfully, there are plenty of vegan foods you can combine to meet the needs of your organism. Beans, for instance, are low in lysine, but when mixed with rice (which has plenty of it), they create a complete source. Other examples of such combinations include peanut butter and whole wheat bread, hummus and pita or tofu and rice.
Because your body needs amino acids every 24 hours, you don’t even have to struggle to combine everything in one meal. You could have beans incorporated in your breakfast and rice for lunch, for example.
As for choosing the best plant based protein powder for weight loss, it should offer as many nutritional benefits as possible (10). Here are the main sources of amino acids you can choose from in terms of powders:
Pea. Yellow split pea is a high-fiber legume high in every essential amino acid except for methionine. It’s gluten-free, which makes it a great choice for those with a sensitive GI tract, and lactose-intolerant people. Studies found that the ingredient is absorbed slower than whey and faster than casein, which makes it fit for a meal replacement and a post-workout snack.
Soy. The number one benefit of this choice is that it is complete. Not only does soy contain every amino acid you need, but it also seems to stimulate muscle growth about the same way whey does! It’s a nourishing ingredient, so it helps you feel full for longer and prevent cravings. (11)
However, remember what we mentioned earlier: too much soy can disrupt hormone production. Specialists advise that if you consume lots of soy-based foods, it’s best to stay away from it as a powder base – therefore, this may not be on your list as the best vegan protein powder for weight loss.
Hemp. Before anything else, we should address the elephant in the room: yes, hemp is derived from cannabis. The amount of THC it contains is so small, though, it has zero effects on your body. What it does offer instead is a high content of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which are great for building muscle and burning fat.
This ingredient is easily digestible, which makes it friendly even for the most sensitive GI tracts. However, if you’re trying to lose weight without regular workouts, you should avoid hemp because of its slightly higher calorie count.
Brown rice. As we mentioned earlier, rice is a great source of essential amino acids. If you want to avoid products that contain gluten, this option is great for you. Studies proved that whey and rice offer nearly the same benefits, which is pretty great for a purely plant-based powder choice. (12)
What to look for in a vegan protein powder
Nowadays, powder producers add many ingredients to enhance their product benefits. It’s easy to think that the best vegan protein powder for weight loss is the one witht he most ingredients. Although extra vitamins and minerals are great for the organism, let’s remember our main goal here: to give your body the amount of amino acids it needs daily.
The dose available per serving is influenced by the level of physical activity you’ll perform. If you’re an active person, you might want to get as much as possible per serving. However, if you’re just starting out with sports (or not at all), you could choose something with less protein and more vitamins and nutrients included.
You can get more or less of the essential amino acids depending on your source choice. Some producers mix plant sources to get a complete product in terms of amino acids, which may also be beneficial.
Powders generally need certain additives so they can blend in liquids properly (emulsify). Depending on the base, some options also require sweeteners to enhance the flavor. (13) As long as the sweeteners come from organic (and not artificial) sources, they are completely safe. However, make sure to check the sugar quantity per serving; in this case, less is more!
While you’re checking the label, make sure that the product is free from genetically modified (GMO) sources.
However, the final decision should reflect your daily physical needs based on your lifestyle and weight loss goals.
What is the best vegan protein powder?
Now that we’ve gone through every detail on veganism, protein and products available on the market, one question still stands: what is the best plant based protein powder for weight loss?
As we’ve already stated, there are no two people alike and you should choose whatever you’re comfortable with. We put together a list of five popular products and we’re ready to show you their pros and cons and essential guidelines for each of them. Stick with us until the end to find our favorite!
Can’t get used to eating a healthy breakfast? This protein-packed option may be just what you need for a balanced diet – especially if you have an active lifestyle. Due to the mix of pea, brown rice and chia, you get all the essential amino acids needed in a single serving. The extra content of fiber and healthy carbs offers you the energy needed for a life on the go as well as a post-workout snack.
- Zero grams of sugar, making it perfect for any diet
- GMO-free and gluten-free
- Mixes easily in any beverage (including milk)
- Some customers claim the aftertaste is a bit chalky
The best plant based protein powder for weight loss promotes muscle growth in a healthy way. Free from genetically modified ingredients and USDA organic, this mix has no less than 24 grams of protein perfect for any time of the day. Every package is gluten-free and complete due to its mixed composition of pea and rice, both of which are completely organic.
- No artificial flavors, sweeteners or colors
- Gluten-free, which makes it fit any lifestyle habits
- Mixes quickly so it’s perfect for when you’re in a hurry
- Some customers reported that the flavors are too intense for their taste
This product is about as simple as powder can get – and sometimes, less truly means more. Each USDA certified organic serving provides you with fiber and fatty acids extracted right from GMO free hemp seeds. As we mentioned earlier, hemp is a great source of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which help in muscle recovery after a workout.
- 15 grams of protein and 8 grams of fiber for a plus of energy
- Easily digestible, so it’s great as a meal replacement too
- Contains additional fatty acids, which are essential for muscle recovery
- Certain customers claim the powder content settles out when kept unmoved for a longer time
Although it offers less per serving than other options available, this purely organic package has the extra vitamins and carbs your body needs. It’s already been proven that hemp doesn’t require pesticides, which increases the chances of growing in a healthy environment. Not only does hemp offer fatty acids, but it’s also pleasant for people prone to allergies or gluten intolerant.
If you’re looking for a healthy (and tasty!) mix of high-quality vegan protein sources and vitamins, this might be right choice. There are 20 grams of protein extracted from pea, potato and other veggies, all naturally sweetened using stevia. This product packs up vitamins C and D (essential for a strong bone structure) along with a healthy dose of B12 – another essential vitamin vegans often lack in their daily diets.
- Contains vitamins that create a healthy, balanced vegan diet
- 160 calories per serving (great for weight loss programs)
- Natural ingredients and plenty of micronutrients
- Some customers claim the flavors are too sweet for their taste
With 25 grams of protein per serving, this multi-source vegan blend is the final touch anyone’s diet can benefit from. The product is free from gluten and soy, thus keeping you safe from bloating and other digestive issues. Each package has 5,000mg of glutamine, which is beneficial for quick muscle recovery after every workout session.
- No sugar, which makes it safe to consume any time of the day
- Healthy mix of pea, brown rice and sacha inchi which makes the product complete
- Various flavors that can be enhanced with any beverage
- Some flavors may be a little too strong depending on how you want to consume them
When it comes to protein powder, vegan consumers have about as many options as non-vegans – and we’ve just proven that. Overall, as long as there are no genetically modified ingredients or too much sugar, there’s no right or wrong as to what you choose. However, we think the best plant-based protein powder is the Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard.
To begin with, this package includes a blend of sources that complement each other. While neither pea nor rice are complete in essential amino acids, each contains what the other lacks. At 24 grams of protein per serving, you can rest assured that you’ll meet your daily physical needs for amino acids.
Every ingredient is organic and free from gluten or genetically modified ingredients. Considering how many processed meals we eat without even realising, your body will thank you for a product without harmful substances in it.
Not only is this choice healthy, but it’s also practical; after all, nobody wants to spend half an hour just mixing powder in their shake, right? This option blends in quickly regardless if you mix it with almond milk or other liquid combinations.
As for the taste, you’re free to choose your favorite flavor and experiment while maintaining the product quality.
Considering that it packs all the essential amino acids in an organic, natural formula with diverse flavors and soft texture, Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard is our first choice of protein powder.