The Benefits and Practical Uses of Vegan Protein Powder
By Dani Taylor
The idea that consuming animal products is the only way to build muscle couldn’t be farther from the truth. A smooth transition to a plant-based diet is possible with basic knowledge of your body’s needs and how certain foods provide nutrition. The topic most likely to be brought up is protein. How do you get enough protein when eating a vegan diet? The reality is that plenty of plant-based foods contain protein and come with the added benefit of being cruelty-free.
In a well-rounded vegan diet, protein can be found in various foods. Legumes like black beans, chickpeas, and lentils are excellent protein sources, and hemp and chia seeds also pack a big protein punch. Grains including oats, quinoa, and barley are complete proteins to fill your plate. Tofu, cashews, edamame, plus countless other vegetables are vegan favorites that are easy additions to a protein-rich diet.
If you are new to veganism or just prefer convenience, one of the best ways to ensure a protein-rich diet is to supplement with a protein powder. Athletes have used this technique for many years. Since protein powder has become more mainstream, brands have taken notice, and a wide variety of choices are now available. You can order online, browse through store shelves, and even add a scoop of protein at your favorite smoothie cafe. While there are variations in sugar content, grams of protein, and even plant protein sources, finding a vegan protein powder you love should be no problem.
If you are still on the fence about whether or not vegan protein powder is suitable for you, consider these benefits:
Typical protein powders contain whey or casein proteins, which are dairy-based. Most people do not tolerate these ingredients well, especially if consumed heavily and for an extended time. Dairy sensitivity is prevalent and can lead to unpleasant side effects such as bloat, gas, constipation, or diarrhea. If you consume even one or two protein shakes a day, this dairy consumption could wreak havoc on both your digestive system and your workout or weight-loss results.
Choosing a vegan protein powder is a better choice since it is easier to digest while still providing necessary benefits. Some options are made with pea, rice, quinoa, algae, pumpkin, and hemp if you are sensitive to soy, and some are gluten-free and allergy-friendly as well. If acid reflux is an issue that you deal with, you will probably notice an improvement when switching to vegan protein powders since they are alkaline-forming instead of acid-forming. Remember- a happy gut positively affects your entire body.
Reduces Risk of Disease
A diet that incorporates a heavy dose of the nutrients plants provide is more likely to ward off chronic disease. While some may have a hard time switching from animal products to plant-based, choosing a vegan protein powder is one way to make the transition a little easier. Vegans generally consume more phytonutrients and fiber and less saturated fat than their meat-eating counterparts.
Individuals with heart concerns could significantly benefit from vegan protein powder. High consumption of animal products found in whey and casein powder could lead to cholesterol and blood pressure. By choosing a plant-based powder, you lower your risk of these issues and can still achieve positive results.
One prominent concern athletes may have when switching to a vegan protein powder is getting the same gains as they did with a dairy-based powder. The truth is that vegan protein is often equally effective at building muscle if they contain the same amounts of protein. Body composition and performance tests prove that similar results are possible when supplementing vegan protein powder vs. whey.
One additional benefit to consider is that since vegan protein is usually easier on the digestive system, you may increase your chance of getting better workouts. Less irritating stomach issues can lead to more time to focus on training. Supplementing with protein is meant to enhance your performance, and choosing a health-conscious powder can help you do that efficiently.
While most people think of a drink when they imagine protein powder consumption, vegan protein powder is versatile enough to use in plenty of other recipes as well. Since it is thicker and more absorbent, vegan protein is an excellent addition to treats you can chew. Some possible snacks to try including protein powder in:
Baked oatmeal squares
Black bean brownies
Many consumers are concerned about sustainability. If you are vegan, there are certainly benefits to choosing a plant-based powder. Animal products produce more greenhouse gasses, use more water, and pollute more in general than plant-based products. Plants make a minimal impact on the environment while significantly impacting your health.
Like any commercially produced product, you will want to read labels to ensure you buy a high-quality protein powder. Look for simple, plant-based ingredients and stay away from unnecessary additives. There are plenty of options that don’t contain sweeteners or specific flavors. If you have allergies, stick with a protein source you know your body will react to positively. Organic and non-GMO sources are best since they contain no pesticides.
Whether your goals are to build muscle, lose weight, or just live a healthier lifestyle, vegan protein powder can be a positive addition to your diet. Many of the foods that vegans eat contain excellent protein sources. Depending on activity levels, goals, and nutritional needs, supplementing can add valuable additional grams of plant-based protein to fuel the body. Since it is a great-tasting, convenient source of protein that does not negatively impact the environment and with the added benefit of being cruelty-free, it is easy to see why more and more consumers prefer vegan protein powder.