Vegan Protein Powders: What to Look For (and What to Avoid!)
So, you’ve decided to check out vegan protein powders. It can be tough to know what to look for, especially when you learn they aren’t all exactly healthy. And who has time for decoding all those long ingredient lists?
Psst… you shouldn’t have to.
The four very basic things you should look for in a vegan protein powder are:
- Protein (obviously!). That is, the primary macro in the mix should be protein by quite some way. Look for at least 60% protein content (60+g protein per 100g on the nutritional info).
- Ingredients you can pronounce. Well, that just narrowed the field a bit, didn’t it?
- No added sugar or artificial sweeteners.
- Zero animal products and derivatives.
But if you want a vegan protein powder that truly supports your wellness and fitness goals, there’s a little more to it.
Let’s dive in!
What is vegan protein powder
If you’ve ever stepped foot in a gym, you’ve heard of protein powders (aka ‘protein shakes’, after how they’re usually consumed). Designed to give you a concentrated hit of – you’ve guessed it – protein, they contain powdered forms of this macronutrient.
And why are these powders so popular with athletes?
It’s probably nothing new to you that protein is king when it comes to gains. It’s the building block for muscle, helps repair tissue and is the key ingredient for making enzymes and hormones. Protein powders are a fast and easy way to load up on protein before and after working out.
How much protein do I need?
Daily protein intake recommendations are per kilogram of body weight. So, choose the following description that suits you best, multiply the recommendation by your weight in kilos and boom. That’s how much protein in grams you should aim for.
If your protein from diet comes in lower than your recommended daily amount, you might want to consider a protein powder.
- Average adult: 0.8 grams protein per kilogram of body weight per day1.
- Recreational athlete: 1.1-1.4g per kg per day1.
- Competitive/endurance athlete: 1.2-2g per kg per day1.
- Mass-building athlete: 1.5-2g per kg per day2.
- Athlete losing weight while maintaining strength/endurance training: 2g+ per kg per day3.
It’s not all about quantity, though. For vegan athletes and non-athletes alike, ‘complete’ sources of protein can be hard to find. Quality plant-based protein powders are a great shortcut to getting all nine essential amino acids each day.
Do vegan protein powders actually work?
Research backs up the power of protein powders. Amongst other gains, studies suggest athletes undertaking strength and cardio training lose more fat mass and gain more muscle when taking protein supplements4.
And those gains apply whether the protein powder is whey-based or vegan5. So yep, vegan protein powders really work!
What’s in vegan protein powder?
Most commonly, protein powders are casein and whey based, both of which come from cow’s milk. Meanwhile, vegan protein powders only ever come from plant sources.
They can also contain other plant-based ingredients for flavour, nutrition and texture. Some of these are fine (we’re never mad at vitamins and minerals!) but others…not so much.
What to avoid in vegan protein powders:
Knowing what you don’t want is just as important as knowing what you do. Firstly, if you’re plant-powered you want to avoid animal products and derivatives. As some of these might have unfamiliar names, the best way to do this is to look for products that are labelled vegan.
Here’s what else to swerve:
Sweeteners and Flavourings
Calorie-dense and nutrient-poor, added sugar is a no-no if you’re looking for a healthful shake. Other artificial sweeteners condition your brain to crave sweet food and have questionable health credentials.
Of course, ingredients that bring flavour and nutrition are just fine. For example, Profusion Peanut Cacao Protein Blend contains cacao, notorious for its natural energy-boosting power thanks to caffeine (not to mention all its health-promoting flavonoids!). Plus, its deep, chocolatey flavour makes everything taste like an indulgent treat. Bonus!
Bulking Agents, Thickeners and Preservatives
If a protein powder doesn’t have percentages next to each ingredient, beware. The product could be bulked out with fillers such as maltodextrin – a cheap, carb-based protein often sourced from GMO crops. There’s no way of knowing that each dose will actually give you a complete amino acid profile, either.
Look out too for thickeners, such as Xanthan gum, which are added to improve the texture of cheap products but can cause digestive issues.
Synthetic Pesticides, Fertilisers and GMOs
Non-organic protein sources often come from GMO crops and may contain residual chemicals from the synthetic pesticides and fertilisers used in their production. No thanks!
Which protein powder is best for vegans
Now you’re clued up, you can choose the best vegan protein powder for you. To recap, you’re looking for:
- 60% protein content from a variety of quality, plant-based sources. It should hit all nine of your essential amino acids (if the packaging doesn’t specify ‘complete’, a quick internet search should tell you whether the combined ingredients are).
- Organic ingredients, to ensure you’re not getting a dose of residual chemicals and GMOs with your protein. (Plus, you’re doing the environment and wildlife a favour supporting organic agriculture.)
- Percentages by each ingredient. Now you know about fillers and bulking agents, knowing you’re not chugging a shake made up of them will feel so much better.
- No artificial sweeteners.
- No ingredients you can’t pronounce.
- Zero animal products.
And we’re here to make it even easier. Two products that tick every box and taste naturally delicious…? Sure!
Profusion Vegan Protein Blends
We developed our vegan blends to make supplementing protein a no brainer. Let’s take a look:
Our original flavour protein blend. Complete with all nine amino acids, and made without soy to make life easier for those who avoid it.
What it contains: Rice Protein* (35%), Pea Protein* (30%), Hemp Protein* (20%), Almond Protein* (15%)
How much protein: 70% (and a protein density score of 17.6!)
How we like it: Mixed up with almond milk and a squeeze of agave syrup in a gym bottle for a mildly nutty quick-shake that’s ready for the recovery window.
Our classic recipe, remixed with chocolatey cacao and peanut flour in place of almond protein.
What it contains: Rice Protein* (34.9%), Pea Protein* (30%), Peanut Flour* (20%), Cacao Powder* (10%), Hemp Protein* (5%), Sea Salt
How much protein: 67% (and a protein density score of 16.7!)
How we like it: Whizzed up with a banana, a handful of spinach and unsweetened oat milk and served with ice. Add a little date syrup if you’re feeling really decadent. Like dessert in a glass!
*All starred ingredients are organic.
Whether your goal is muscle gain or ensuring your daily diet is complete with all the amino acids you need, both Profusion Vegan Protein Blends have you covered.
Get yours from any one of our on- and off-line stockists.