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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
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    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Why trust BestReviews?
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

    Shopping guide for best plant-based protein powders

    Last Updated October 2018

    Whether your goal is to build muscle, quell your appetite, or simply make sure you’re getting enough protein each day, a plant-based protein powder can help.

    If you're new to the world of protein powders or have always just opted for whichever kind you can find at your local store, choosing a plant-based protein powder can seem daunting. First, you have to decide which type of plant-based protein is right for you. Does it have the nutritional supplementation you need? Is it palatable? Are there any additives in the powder that you wish to embrace or avoid?

    At BestReviews, we focused our research on plant-based protein powders and put together this in-depth guide to help you find the perfect plant-based protein powder for your needs.

    While most people consume protein powder in shake form – added to milk or water – you can also sprinkle it over yogurt or breakfast cereal or add it to baked goods to boost your protein intake.

    Why choose a plant-based protein powder?

    If you follow a vegan or vegetarian diet, you've probably heard the question, "Where do you get your protein?" Well, if you're worried about your protein intake, a plant-based protein powder will help you out.

    Even if you're not vegan or vegetarian, however, you can benefit from this type of supplement. Plant-based proteins are effective at building muscle, and they're more environmentally friendly than foods that contain animal products.

    With a whopping 30g of protein per serving, Vega Sport Vegan Protein Powder is an excellent choice for anyone looking to build muscle. The bulk of the protein comes from peas, but it also contains sunflower seed protein, alfalfa protein, and pumpkin seed protein. This powder makes a thick shake with a pleasant chocolatey flavor.

    Types of plant-based protein powders

    Plant-based protein powders use various vegan sources of protein. Some of the most common sources are soy, peas, brown rice, and hemp, though these are by no means the only types available.

    Soy protein powder

    Soy protein isolate is an extremely common protein source for plant-based protein powders. It consists of 90% protein, from which much of the fat, carbohydrates, and other non-protein ingredients have been removed. As a result, soy protein has a neutral flavor that blends well with many other ingredients.

    Pea protein powder

    Containing plenty of soluble fiber and branched chain amino acids, pea protein powder is another excellent protein source for plant-based protein powders. Although it's slightly less protein-rich than soy, it's ideal for people who are allergic to soy or grains or who choose to avoid them.

    Brown rice protein powder

    While rice is naturally high in carbs and not especially high in protein, brown rice protein powder is created by removing about 80% of the starch from brown rice. Consequently, brown rice protein powder is high in protein and free of most allergens. Although brown rice protein powder contains an essential amino acid called methionine, it lacks other amino acids, so if you opt for it, make sure you eat a variety of other proteins as well.

    Hemp protein powder

    One of the few plant-based sources that contains 20 amino acids, including all nine essential amino acids, hemp protein powder is undoubtedly good for you. It also contains omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. On the downside, it has quite a strong taste that can be difficult to mask with other flavors.

    Mixed protein powder

    Many plant-based protein powders contain multiple protein sources rather than just one. Blending different types of protein gives you a more complete nutrient and amino acid profile, and it can improve the texture of a protein shake.

    EXPERT TIP

    Some people choose to avoid foods that contain genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. Fortunately, there are some GMO-free protein powders available on today’s market that are plant based.


    Staff  | BestReviews
    EXPERT TIP

    If you’re allergic to or intolerant of dairy products, a plant-based protein powder provides a viable alternative to consuming dairy and whey protein powder.


    Staff  | BestReviews

    Considerations for selecting a plant-based protein powder

    Flavor

    While you can find unflavored plant-based protein powders, most come pre-flavored. Vanilla and chocolate are perhaps the two most common protein powder flavors, but there are a wide range of other options as well, from peanut butter to fruity flavors.

    If you only intend to make simple shakes with non-dairy milk or water, just choose the flavor that most appeals to you. However, if you'll be adding your protein powder to smoothies, consider the flavor profile you're going for. For instance, chocolate protein powder might be nice in a smoothie with banana and nut butter, but it would taste out of place in a green smoothie.

    Protein content

    Since the whole point of protein powder is to consume more protein, you’ll of course want to consider the protein content of your chosen brand. Ideally, you should choose a brand that offers at least 20 grams of protein per serving. If you're trying to build a lot of muscle, however, you may wish to investigate options that have 30 grams of protein or more per serving. Also look at the serving size, as some brands may seem to have more protein than others while, in truth, the label is depicting a larger serving size.

    Although not as packed with protein as some alternatives, Orgain Organic Vegan Protein Powder still contains a respectable 21g of protein per serving, which isn't to be sniffed at. Not only does this option work out to be very affordable, it's also made with organic ingredients, which is a bonus for many buyers.

    Sweeteners

    It's rare for plant-based protein powders to contain refined sugar, but flavored options usually contain some kind of sweetener. These usually fall into one of two categories: natural sugars and artificial sweeteners.

    Natural sugars such as coconut sugar, maple syrup, molasses, fructose, and monk fruit may be slightly healthier than refined white sugar, but they are still essentially sugar, albeit in different forms.

    Artificial sweeteners such as xylitol and aspartame are sweet, but they don't contain sugar or add calories. However, many people prefer to avoid artificial sweeteners due to the taste and/or the unknown impact of artificial sweeteners on human health.

    Stevia is a natural sweetener made from the leaves of the Stevia rebaudiana plant. It bridges the gap between natural sugars and artificial sweeteners, as it's completely natural but doesn't contain calories or affect blood sugar.

    Other nutritional values

    Plant-based protein powders aren't 100% protein. They should also contain nutrients such as fiber, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. Check the nutritional information to see what you're getting from your protein powder. You may also want to check the calorie count.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    Do you prefer to consume foods that have not been treated with pesticides? If so, you can find a range of organic plant-based protein powders.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    A small handful of plant-based protein powders contain honey as a sweetener, making them unsuitable for vegans.

    Plant-based protein powder prices

    Since plant-based protein powders come in a variety of sizes, look at the price by weight to figure out if you're getting a good deal. The most affordable options work out to be less than $10 per pound, whereas the most expensive options can cost up to $30 per pound.

    Tips

    • Look for plant-based protein powders that contain branched chain amino acids. These help to speed up post-workout recovery.

    • Consider whether your chosen plant-based protein powder is sustainably sourced. If you choose to eat a plant-based diet for environmental reasons, this might be important to you.

    • Decide whether you want an all-natural option. You can find various all-natural and even raw plant-based protein powders, which is great if you try to avoid artificial additives.

    • Think about flavor. You might choose a plant-based protein powder with the best nutritional values, but if it tastes too bad to consume, it's money wasted. Check user reviews to find out how palatable your chosen option is.
    If you’re concerned about the environment and looking for a healthy meat alternative, consider a plant-based protein powder. Plant agriculture produces fewer greenhouse gases and requires less water and land than animal agriculture.

    FAQ

    Q. How much protein powder should I consume each day?

    A. The average person should probably only consume one serving of plant-based protein powder each day. However, if you exercise heavily or are looking to gain muscle as part of a workout routine, you may wish to consume two or three servings per day to help meet your protein requirements. Serving sizes vary between brands, so check the packaging to find out the appropriate amount to drink in each shake.

    Q. Can I replace meals with plant-based protein powder shakes?

    A. Protein powders are designed to be drunk in addition to a regular, healthy diet, particularly before or after workouts, to help meet the additional protein requirements for building muscle. You shouldn't replace full meals with protein powder alone because it doesn't contain the proper balance of nutrients (such as fiber, carbohydrates, and vitamins) to sustain your body. However, it's a fairly common practice to drink a smoothie for breakfast with a scoop or two of protein powder added in. If your plant-based protein powder is blended with fruits and/or veggies, you'll get enough nutrients to see you through to your next meal.

    Q. Can you buy grain-free protein powder?

    A. The vast majority of protein powders are grain free. Simply avoid brown rice protein, and your choice will most likely be free of any grains.

    The team that worked on this review
    • Devangana
      Devangana
      Web Producer
    • Eliza
      Eliza
      Production Manager
    • Lauren
      Lauren
      Writer
    • Linsay
      Linsay
      Editor
    • Melinda
      Melinda
      Web Producer
    • Melissa
      Melissa
      Senior Editor

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