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5 Best Vegan Protein Powders You Need to Taste

Posted on September 24, 2018

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In a market flooded with brands, it can all get a little overwhelming when you're looking for a product that tastes great and delivers quality nutrition. But what's the best vegan protein powder?



It's important to take it back to the basics, and looks at things like the ingredients listing and nutrition panel. It might sound a little tedious and boring, but this is where a product, for all its flashy marketing, will reveal its secrets.

 

Protein powder companies have tonnes of raw materials to choose from these days. Because so many people are getting excited about plant-based protein—and yes, even meat eaters—it's no surprise that raw material suppliers are looking for better ways all the time to extract and process vegan proteins from plant, like legumes and seeds.


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This way, the brands we see in sports stores, health food stores, gyms and supermarkets have always got something different to offer you
the prospective consumer. And this process won’t be slowing down any time soon, especially given the economic, environmental, ethical, and even spiritual, reasons why so many are turning to plant-based diets.


We each have our own unique set of reasons why we are stalking the best vegan protein powder. We could all agree, however, that we need a plant-based protein supplement that can deliver quality nutrition, and that is clean and safe, and does not taste like sawdust.


 

The Fusion of Science and Plants

We are blessed to have such an awesome range of vegan protein powders available. Let's face it, keeping our protein status up on a vegan or vegetarian diet has never been simpler. With the best vegan protein powder at hand, we can be sure that we are covering one of the most important nutrients for the human body, and all with a simple shake.



Think about it.



What are the most important nutrients that we need to survive, and even better, thrive? We all know that we can’t do too long without oxygen, and not so long without water either. And after this it comes down to the nine essential amino acids, which are found in quality protein sources. That's right, quality protein, containing the essential amino acids, clocks in at number 3, after oxygen and water! Then come the essential fatty acids. And on and on from there throughout all the nutrients we need, some of which scientists probably haven’t even discovered yet ...


 

Proteins are complex 3-dimensional structures. They are made up of chains of amino acids joined together by peptide bonds. If you picture a long chain, where each link in the chain is an amino acid, and then gather that chain up into a big ball, that’s kind of what proteins look like under a microscope. They are not perfectly straight lines, all laid out and ready for digestion. They are big jumbled messes that our digestive system has to unravel like a rubik’s cube.


 

After we eat or drink some protein, it first needs to be unfolded (denatured) by stomach acid, which also helps to destroy harmful bacteria that may be present. Then, specific enzymes (pepsin and protease) start breaking the links in the chain—the peptide bonds. This creates smaller and smaller units. When the proteins are broken down enough (dipeptides, tripeptides and single amino acids), they are ready for absorption from the intestines into the blood. From here, once past the liver, they are circulated to the organs, muscles and the brain.


 

Given the countless roles of essential amino acids in the body, the importance of good protein nutrition cannot be overstated. The fact that protein shakes are so well known these days, tends to take the shine off of just how helpful they really can be ... like the boy who cried wolf ... or the girl who cried tiger.


 

Fortunately, Sportys Health stocks an impressive range of sports nutrition and wellness products, each with their own point of difference. In fact, we definitely have a product that will qualify as the best vegan protein powder for you. So, let’s take a closer look at the 5 best vegan protein powders on the market in 2018.



Balance Plant Protein

Balance was is one of the latest sports nutrition companies to release a protein for vegans in Australia. But as the old saying goes, good things come to those who wait. Does it rate as the best vegan protein powder? Let’s take a look.



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Balance took their sweet time in putting together this product, though they have found the best blend of quality ingredients, ensuring that it has an awesome taste and texture. Balance Plant Protein is certainly a smooth and delicious plant protein powder, and is currently available in chocolate, vanilla and berry flavours.


When it comes to plant-based protein powder, we need to consider texture as much as flavour, as some of them can be quite rough on the palate. Balance, however, have done one of the best flavour and texture jobs that we’ve come across. This product works superbly in smoothies, shakes, for baking or simply mixed in a glass with water and a spoon. Could this be the best vegan protein powder? It is a leading contender, that’s for sure.



Of course, protein is not just about how good they make our morning smoothie taste. We have to consider the nutritional impact on our body, and the financial impact as well, of chugging down these shakes. After all, some drink these protein shakes daily, for decades. And, a simple calculations reveal that a 30 gram serve taken once daily for 10 years equates to almost 110 kilograms of powder! Just imagine how much of a difference it would make putting 110 kg of a low quality product versus something that’s premium sourced? And how this would impact quality of life …


 

The protein in Balance Plant Protein is extracted from 4 plants, which are pea protein, organic brown rice protein powder, chia seed and sacha inchi seed. And though this ingredients list all sounds very natural and impressive, we do have to consider the essential amino acid (EAAs) values of the finished product. And if we really want to dig a little deeper, take the time to ponder the bioavailability of this profile.



Bioavailability takes into consideration not just the total amount of EAAs in a product, but the balance between them. For instance, grains, such as wheat and rice, tend to be low in an essential amino acid called lysine. As the EAAs work well as a team, a low lysine value limits how we uptake the other essential amino acids. Fortunately, Balance Plant Protein has a healthy 5% lysine content, even though some of the protein is derived from rice. A lysine content like this is comparable to egg white powder, which has an excellent biological value.


 

Balance Plant Protein also contains a solid 70% protein, with 20.9 grams of protein per 30 gram serve, and delivers a mere 0.3 grams of fat per serve, along with 2.5 grams of carbohydrates per serve. A small amount of glutamine and branched chain amino acids have also been added, as well as the bromelains and papains digestive enzymes, derived from pineapple and paw paw, respectively. This product is also naturally sweetened with stevia and thaumatin.


 

We were impressed to say the least with this addition to the Balance Sports Nutrition range. It tastes great and delivers the quality nutrition that we have come to expect from this leading brand. Does this sound like the absolute best vegan protein powder to you?

 

Gold Standard 100% Plant

Optimum Nutrition, owned by Glanbia, are the biggest protein powder supplement company in the world. So it goes without saying that the staff of Sportys Health were more than a little excited when they heard about this product release. Gold Standard 100% Plant is a natural protein powder that contains all natural sweeteners and flavours. It is made from pea protein, organic brown rice protein powder and organic sacha inchi protein, which is a common though effective blend in a dairy-free protein powder.



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Optimum Nutrition have gone the extra mile and added an organic grain blend, including amaranth, quinoa, buckwheat, millet and chia. Carb alarm bells ringing? Despite these wholefoods grains, the carbohydrate content is still only a mere 4 grams per serve, 1 gram of which is sugars. So this product is still an excellent low carbohydrate and low fat option.



And given that Optimum Nutrition have won best protein powder for their whey products many years in a row, puts Gold Standard 100% Plant in good contention for the best vegan protein powder.


                         

Providing 24 grams of solid protein nutrition per serve, Gold Standard 100% Plant contains plenty of essential amino acids. In addition, pomegranate powder has been added, as well as vitamin B12 and vitamin C. Pomegranate is a fruit which has some great health benefits associated with it. Research published in Advanced Biomedical Research in 2014 indicated that pomegranate is a great source of antioxidants, which will assist in quenching free-radicals that are especially generated during aerobic exercise.



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Gold Standard 100% Plant also contains a generous amount of naturally occurring iron and calcium. This is great news for people on plant-based diets, as these two nutrients can be difficult to get enough of. Each serve contains 4.6mg of iron and 100mg of calcium. Another key point that impressed was the near equal potassium to sodium ratio. Most pea protein containing products tend to be higher on sodium content. However, the team of experts at Glanbia have accommodated for this nutritional “discrepancy” and somehow managed to boost up the potassium content. As you may be aware, most westerners tend to get far too much sodium, and not enough potassium, which can have adverse health effects.

 

 

Despite the products slightly earthy flavour, the Sportys Health team were impressed with the quality of protein, and the added benefits of the whole food extracts and micronutrients.


 

Bodyscience Organic Vegan Protein

Bodyscience are a tried and trusted brand that focus on natural protein powder ingredients and banned substance free assurance. Their products undergo rigorous testing to ensure they are free from prohibited substances, allowing peace of mind for sports professionals and athletes.


This protein for vegans, and omnivores too, is a blend of pea protein and brown rice protein powder, with natural vanilla flavour and the natural sweetener stevia. These two protein sources are often used in a plant-based protein powder, as they tend to complement each other with regards to taste, texture, and amino acid profile.



Body-Science-Organic-Vegan-Protein.jpgBodyscience Organic Vegan Protein has a pleasant taste, is gluten free and all natural. Each serve delivers just under 20 grams of protein, less than 1 gram of fat, and 1.4 grams of carbohydrates, 0.1 grams of which are sugars. This means each serve is a mere 95 calories!


One serve surely won’t break the banks of the calorie dam.


Bodyscience have kept this product nice and simple, not adding any other ingredients. In fact, vanilla flavour contains only 4 ingredients. So if its clean and simple you like, then this is the best vegan protein powder for you.

 

Organic Vegan Protein is a great addition to the Bodyscience range, providing a clean, simple and natural product that will certainly help you hit those macronutrient targets. This is certainly a product in good contention for the best vegan protein powder.

 

Amazonia Raw Protein Isolate

Amazonia are well known for their range of sprouted and bio-fermented proteins, and do a great job at maintaining as many organic ingredients as possible. The Pea protein powder and rice protein powder are both certified organic, making this as close as you will get to a 100% organic product. This is the best vegan protein powder if your focus is organic.



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Amazonia seem to really hone-in on the power of digestion with this product, capitalising on the bio-fermentation process and the addition of a digestive enzyme blend. The bio-fermentation process should make this product lighter on the digestive system.


On the other hand, the enzymes added, particularly protease, are responsible for physically breaking down proteins into smaller units that can then be absorbed. This means less hard work for the digestive system, which is a great thing for anyone prone to digestive difficulties.


Amazonia Raw Protein Isolate contains natural sweeteners and flavours, including organic vanilla bean and stevia extract, and a healthy amount of iron, at around 6 to 9 mg per serve, depending on the flavour. This is a decent amount of iron, given that the recommended dietary intake is 8 mg per day for men, and women over the age of 50, while young women need quite a bit more at 18 mg per day. With one Amazonia Raw Protein Isolate protein shake per day, anywhere between 35% and 100% of the RDI for iron can be covered, depending of course on age, gender and the flavour used.


This product contains all of the essential amino acids, including a healthy branched chain amino acid percentage of 19.23% (cacao coconut flavour), which is comparable to whey protein isolate. And these are naturally occurring BCAAs derived from plants too, not added as free form amino acids. Add in the greater than 20 grams of protein per serve, with minimal calories, fat and carbs, and you’ve got a wholesome plant-based product that is light on digestion and delivers unsurpassed quality vegan protein.  

 

Prana Power Plant Protein

Prana are a market leader in sports nutrition and wellness, especially when it comes to gourmet flavour. For so many, the hardest part of switching to a plant-based protein powder is finding a product that tastes good. Plain unflavoured whey protein tastes quite neutral, making it easy to flavour.



Pea protein and rice proteins, however, have a harder flavour and texture profile to work with. Prana have weaved some magic when it comes to flavour and texture, which sets is apart from all others in the industry. In fact, they’re so good that we’ve heard reports of people mixing them in water and eating them as dessert.



prana-power-plant-protein.jpgPrana Power Plant Protein is a blend of pea, rice protein powder and sacha inchi protein, fortified with leucine, glutamine, arginine and beta alanine. The fortified amino acids total 1.64 grams per serve, and are an interesting nutritional addition to the powder. Extra leucine for a protein powder is certainly not a bad thing.


In fact, it may improve the ability of the essential amino acids to stimulate muscle repair and healing, given that leucine triggers mTOR, an important part of the muscle protein synthesis process. Furthermore, research into leucine fortified whey protein doses show that its potency is increased quite remarkably with the addition of extra leucine. Given plant-protein's excellent essential amino acid profile, there's no reason the same results could not be achieved with it instead of whey. Check out the snippet of research below.



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Beta alanine is an amino acid mostly found in the diets of meat-eaters, so its inclusion in this formula, from vegan sources, is a great thing for muscle health. Beta alanine supports carnosine synthesis, a small protein that helps to alkalise acids in muscle tissue and has a muscle-specific antioxidant role.

 

 

This product also contains probiotics and protein digestive enzymes. Though it does contain a small amount of artificial sweetener (sucralose) along with its natural sweetener stevia. If flavour and texture are a big issue for you, look no further than Prana Power Plant Protein. There are more than a few people who class this as the best vegan protein powder.

 

And the Winner is … (drum roll please)


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It can be a tricky affair pulling apart a protein powder to see how they compare. But if you are after a simple formula with minimal ingredients that is banned substance tested, then Bodyscience have the best vegan protein powder for you. However, if organic and wholistic is your thing, then we suggest Amazonia. If the best vegan protein powder should taste amazing with a smooth texture, and be all natural, then Balance certainly ticks all of the boxes. Worried about quality and getting some extra nutrition with your protein? If so, the best vegan protein powder for you is Gold Standard. And finally, if you want to keep your sodium low and want a gourmet taste second to none, Prana will bring home the mushrooms and fry them in the pan. As with anything, what the best vegan protein actually is comes down to individual needs and preferences.