here are many myths around the vegan diet and proteins, especially in relation to the quality and quantity of these nutrients. It is true that vegan protein is not as complete as that of animal origin, with some exceptions such as quinoa and amaranth. But does every vegan person need a protein supplement?
The only unavoidable supplement for vegans is vitamin B12. The problem is that, with today’s hectic pace of life, sometimes the diet becomes very monotonous and, without variety, it is very difficult not to have a protein deficiency. In such a case, vegan protein supplements are crucial to maintaining health and muscle mass.
- Vegan protein: what are the best products of 2020?
- The most important
- The best vegan protein supplements on the market: our recommendations
- The best organic vegan protein
- The best vegan soy protein
- The best mix of proteins, peas, rice, sunflower and hemp
- The best vegan protein for celiacs
- The best hemp protein
- Shopping Guide: Everything You Should Know About Vegan ProteinVegan protein supplements can have an excellent amino acid profile.
- What exactly are vegan protein supplements?
- What are the functions of proteins in the human body?
- What is the nutritional composition of vegan protein supplements?
- In what situations are vegan protein supplements recommended?
- What does it mean for a protein to have a good amino acid profile?
- How to choose a good vegan protein?
- Does a protein supplement guarantee an increase in muscle mass?
- Why are BCAAs (branched-chain amino acids) so important for athletes?
- Are vegan protein supplements exclusive for vegans?
- What are the differences between vegan protein and Whey protein?
- What are the differences between vegan protein bars and vegan protein powder?
- Does vegan protein powder help you lose weight?
- What is the best time of day to consume vegan protein?
The most important
- Vegan protein supplements are recommended for vegan athletes who perform workouts of considerable intensity and duration. In addition, they can be used as supplements to unbalanced or monotonous vegan diets.
- Plant proteins are of lower biological value than animal proteins because they are usually deficient in one or more essential amino acids. These absent amino acids are called “limiting.” Each vegetable group (cereals, legumes, nuts) has different limiting amino acids.
- Vegan protein supplements are usually made from pea, rice, or soy protein. Pea protein is widely used for its richness in BCAAs (branched-chain amino acids), which promote the development of muscle mass.
The best vegan protein supplements on the market: our recommendations
Finding a vegan protein supplement of high nutritional quality and good taste is no easy task. Sometimes the nutritional value leaves a lot to be desired, while at other times the composition is excellent, but the taste is very unpleasant. To avoid disappointment, you can opt for the best vegan proteins on the market:
- The best organic vegan protein
- The best vegan soy protein
- The best mix of proteins, peas, rice, sunflower, and hemp
- The best vegan protein for celiacs
- The best hemp protein
The best organic vegan protein
Vegan organic pea protein, powder, presented in a hermetic bag of 1 kilogram. Neutral flavor. Can be used in smoothies, soups, desserts, and pancakes. It is preferable to add it to drinks and hot recipes, avoiding overcooking the pea protein. Product suitable for vegans, celiacs and lactose intolerant.
This supplement contains 82% protein and is rich in branched chain amino acids (BCAAs). It favors the increase of muscle mass, being ideal for athletes. It lacks the amino acid cysteine (non-essential) and, although it contains the amino acid methionine (essential), it is in low concentration.
The best vegan soy protein
Soy protein powder isolate, presented in a 1 kilogram bottle. The daily serving recommended by the manufacturer is 30 grams. Excellent texture, dissolves easily in water. The flavors available are: vanilla, banana, strawberry and chocolate. Soy is free of GMO (genetically modified organisms).
Product suitable for vegans, celiacs, lactose intolerant and allergic to cow’s milk protein. Soy provides the 8 essential amino acids, its protein is more complete than that of peas or rice. This supplement is an excellent replacement for those who cannot consume or do not feel good about Whey protein.
The best mix of proteins, peas, rice, sunflower and hemp
This Foodspring® plant protein combines pea, hemp, rice and sunflower protein to provide varied and balanced nutrition. It is especially recommended for those people who want to avoid consuming excessive soy.
Most consumers are satisfied with this protein, which they define as effective and easily digestible. The coffee and chocolate flavors are the best valued.
The best vegan protein for celiacs
Mix of 3 organic vegan protein powders, packed in a 1 kilogram hermetic bag. Organic product. Contains 68% protein. Cocoa, cinnamon or natural flavor. Provides the 8 essential amino acids. This supplement is certified gluten-free. Suitable for celiacs and vegans. It does not contain soy or lactose.
The manufacturer recommends taking a daily dose of 33 grams, mixed with 300-350 milliliters of water, vegetable drink or other liquid. Contains no added sugars. It dissolves very well in water. It has a high digestibility. Helps increase muscle mass. It allows to improve the protein intake of people of all ages.
The best hemp protein
Organic hemp protein powder, presented in a 600 gram self-closing bag. Natural, pleasant flavor, slightly similar to that of walnut. Hemp seeds provide all essential amino acids, including branched amino acids (BCAAs). This supplement is an excellent option for recovery after physical exercise.
The serving recommended by the manufacturer is 20 grams, which must be dissolved in 250 milliliters of water, almond milk, oat milk or other liquid. It can also be used to make baked goods. Supplement suitable for vegans, celiacs, lactose intolerant and allergic to cow’s milk protein.
Shopping Guide: Everything You Should Know About Vegan Protein
Vegan protein supplements can have an excellent amino acid profile.
Although they are specially designed for vegan athletes, non-vegetarians can also benefit from consuming these supplements. In this section, you will discover which vegan protein to choose and how to get the most out of these products.
What exactly are vegan protein supplements?
Vegan protein supplements are products made from the best vegetable protein sources. The most used ingredients are soy, amaranth, hemp, rice, or pea. In general, the raw material is pressed to extract the oils and the remaining mass is dried and crushed into a powder.
Vegan protein supplements can be made from a single protein source (soy, hemp, rice, pea, pumpkin seed) or combine several types of plant proteins (mix of pea, hemp, and rice). Its ingredients are usually organic and even the added colors and flavorings are natural.
What are the functions of proteins in the human body?
Proteins are nutrients whose best-known function is STRUCTURAL, that is, to provide support, elasticity and resistance to body tissues (tendons, muscles, skin). Proteins are also part of digestive enzymes, hormones, and antibodies. Proteins facilitate the transport of substances, for example, oxygen.
What is the nutritional composition of vegan protein supplements?
The percentage of protein present in this type of supplement varies according to the ingredients used. Therefore, each brand name can provide a different protein intake that will be reflected on the nutritional label. However, a good vegan protein supplement will have:
- 50-86% protein, sources of essential amino acids.
- 1-10% carbohydrates.
- 1-11% fat.
- 4-13% dietary fiber.
- When it comes to energy, the recommended serving of vegan protein powder (between 20 and 30 grams) provides between 100 and 130 Calories.
As can be seen, the nutritional composition of vegan protein-based products is highly variable. This is why it is essential to read the nutrition label and ideally consult a nutrition professional before beginning these supplements. Higher protein content does not always mean better quality.
In what situations are vegan protein supplements recommended?
Vegan protein supplements are formulated to improve the protein intake (quantity and quality) of vegan athletes and promote the increase of muscle mass. While conventional plant foods can provide all the necessary protein, supplements are easy to take and better assimilated.
Non-vegan athletes may have an intolerance to milk protein supplements and experience bloating, flatulence or diarrhea after consumption. In these situations, vegan protein is helpful. Some older adults can also use these supplements to get enough protein.
What does it mean for a protein to have a good amino acid profile?
There is a standard protein, or FAO protein, whose amino acid profile is optimal to meet human needs. If the profile of a vegan protein supplement is similar to that of FAO protein, it is worth consuming. The following table lists the essential amino acid content of this standard protein.
How to choose a good vegan protein?
It is recommended that the product has at least 50% protein, but, as we already mentioned, it is not always true that “the more protein, the better”. The key is the amino acid profile, which are the basic units of proteins. Essential amino acids are those that the human body cannot produce on its own.
When a protein contains all the amino acids (essential and non-essential) it is called complete or of high biological value. For the increase in muscle mass, there are 3 particularly important essential amino acids, called branched (BCAA), which are leucine, isoleucine, and valine.
As an example, a pure pea protein supplement may contain more than 80% protein, but it lacks methionine, which is an essential amino acid. In contrast, a mix of pea, rice and hemp protein that is only 65% protein can provide ALL amino acids, including methionine and branched ones.
Does a protein supplement guarantee an increase in muscle mass?
No. A protein supplement ensures that all the amino acids required to create muscle protein are available in the amount needed at the time of synthesis. However, without physical exercise that generates a load of force on the muscle fibers, the increase in the size of the muscle (hypertrophy) will not occur.
Now, if you do physical strength training, -for example, lifting weights-, but you do not consume enough protein, the existing muscle will break down. It should also be considered that carbohydrates are very important to maintain adequate levels of glycogen, the fuel for muscle cells.
Why are BCAAs (branched-chain amino acids) so important for athletes?
Although all amino acids are essential for the formation of new proteins, branched ones (leucine, isoleucine, and valine) are particularly important in sport. The BCAA facilitate recovery after intense exercise and mitigate the destruction of muscle protein.
BCAAs promote muscle mass gain by stimulating the release of growth hormone and insulin, both related to anabolism. In this case, the construction of proteins from amino acids. However, these supplements should not be abused because they can put cardiovascular health at risk.
Are vegan protein supplements exclusive for vegans?
No. Many athletes who follow an omnivorous diet do not tolerate Whey protein well because it causes digestive discomfort and they decide to supplement their diet with vegetable proteins. People allergic to cow’s milk protein may find soy protein an excellent source of essential amino acids.
The elderly may have a poor protein intake and supplements are a tool to solve this problem. Since lactase deficiency (an enzyme that digests lactose) is common in older adults, they may have diarrhea and flatulence when consuming Whey protein.
What are the differences between vegan protein and Whey protein?
First of all, its origin. Whey protein is obtained from whey from cow’s milk, while vegan protein comes from seeds, legumes, or cereals. In addition, Whey protein is richer in branched-chain amino acids (BCAA), dissolves more easily, and has a more pleasant texture than the vegetable protein supplement.
Vegan protein typically contains 100% organic ingredients, including colors and flavors. For its part, whey protein commonly contains many artificial additives. The vegan supplement, unlike the Whey protein, is suitable for lactose intolerant and dairy protein allergy.
What are the differences between vegan protein bars and vegan protein powder?
The protein bars vegan have greater satiating ability vegan protein powder. The latter is diluted in water (or another drink) and liquids remain in the stomach for less time than solid foods. On the other hand, the protein bar can be consumed anywhere and this is a great advantage.
In terms of digestibility, vegan protein powder requires virtually no digestion and is quickly absorbed. On the contrary, the protein bar can take 2 to 3 hours to be digested, depending on its composition. In the following table, we summarize some differences between these two products.
Does vegan protein powder help you lose weight?
No, it does not encourage the use of fat as an energy source, something that is commonly mentioned in the advertising of these products. The only advantage is that the protein powder helps to slightly increase the satiety value of the diet and, therefore, to feel less appetite thanks to its protein and fiber. But it is a mild effect.
How should vegan protein powder be consumed?
Neutral or natural flavored vegan protein can be added to smoothies, soups, pancakes, or waffles. Those that have an added flavor just mix them with water. Usually, 30 grams of powder is diluted in 250-300 milliliters of liquid. It is convenient to first place the liquid in the glass, then add the powder and stir it well.
What is the best time of day to consume vegan protein?
The best time is 1 hour before physical training or 30 minutes to 1 hour after finishing physical activity. It is important that the consumption of vegan protein is not delayed after exercise to take advantage of the metabolic window and that the nutrients are assimilated in a greater proportion.
Can a vegan protein shake replace a main meal?
No, the shake is only recommended as a pre or post physical activity snack. The main meals for breakfast, noon, snack, or dinner should include other foods that provide carbohydrates, fiber, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals, in addition to protein. Remember that no supplement is a substitute for a balanced diet.
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Are there any contraindications or adverse effects related to vegan protein?
When the recommended dose of 20-40 grams per day is respected, there are usually no adverse effects. If protein is ingested in excess, long-term liver and kidney problems can occur, since these organs are in charge of metabolizing proteins and their waste, respectively. As is popularly said, all excess is bad.
An abuse of BCAAs (branched-chain amino acids) has been linked to cardiovascular conditions. An excess of protein can also cause headaches and dizziness. As for allergens, people who suffer from an allergy to soy protein should avoid consuming supplements that contain this legume.
What kind of vegan protein supplements are there and which one is right for me?
Vegan protein supplements can be divided into two large groups: protein mix and pure protein. This not only influences its composition, but also its flavor and texture. Throughout this guide, we have mentioned their differences, and then we will add some peculiarities regarding the amino acid profile:
- Protein Blend – The most common blend is pea, rice, and hemp. They come in delicious flavors. Its quality is excellent because while pea lacks methionine and rice lacks lysine when mixed they mutually compensate for their limiting amino acids. The hemp seed is complete, it has all the amino acids.
- Pure proteins: the most commonly used protein sources in supplements are peas, soybeans, rice, and hemp. Pure pea, rice, and hemp protein is typically available in its natural flavor, while soy protein is available in various flavors (chocolate, strawberry, vanilla, and banana).
Soy and hemp contain all amino acids (essential and non-essential), while pea is deficient in methionine and rice in lysine. Soy supplements dissolve easily in water and have a smooth, palatable texture. Hemp has a nutty flavor.
Pure pea protein shakes in their natural flavor are not very popular if only mixed with water, but they combine very well with vegetable drinks (oatmeal or almond), cocoa, and cinnamon. Pure rice protein is neutral.
Vegan protein supplements can be as complete in their amino acid profile as Whey protein. There is a great variety of flavors, brands, and combinations. The most used ingredients are soybeans, peas, hemp, and rice, which are marketed as pure protein or as part of a protein mix.
These products are consumed with the aim of supplying all the necessary amino acids, in terms of quality and quantity, to promote muscle mass gain. In this article we have provided you with all the necessary information for you to choose and use them correctly.
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