Maybe you follow a completely vegan diet, or maybe you’re just interested in finding a vegan protein powder to replace that not-so-natural (nor organic) protein powder you have now. Whatever might have brought you here, we at team CrazyBulk did the research for you. We have the inside scoop on how to make your daily scoop of protein vegan-friendly.
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What are proteins?
Proteins: you know you want them, you know you need them, you know you love them. But do you know what proteins actually are?
Proteins are nutrients that are essential to your body and many of its functions. You probably know proteins as the things that give you power. They function as a fuel source, boosting your energy levels and helping you lift that extra bit of weight at the end of your rep.
Awesome stuff, but we’re not talking about a can of Red Bull here. Proteins do so much more…
The science. Proteins are made up of amino acids, which in turn are essential building blocks of the human body. After you digest protein it breaks up into these amino acids, which then start assisting your body in loads of important tasks. Some of the vital functions of amino acids are:
- Stimulating growth
- Building muscle
- Producing energy
- Assisting fat metabolism
- Regulating appetite
- Supporting the immune system
The list goes on and on, but you get the picture. And especially the top three in that list show why protein shakes are so popular among bodybuilders, gym-goers, and like-minded fit folks.
Proteins are – after water – the most abundant type of molecules in your entire body. They are present in every single cell, and they are in fact the key forming components of your cells; muscle cells in particular.
Your hair consists almost entirely of a protein called keratin
But protein is not just muscle. Did you know, for example, that your hair is made of the protein keratin? That’s right; without protein you would be bald as a cue ball. Is that it? Nope, far from it. Skin, organs, blood cells: protein is needed to make all of those. That’s how important protein is to your body!
Benefits of proteins for muscle building
The benefits of proteins for muscle building are simply enormous. Muscles consist of two different types of filaments (specific types of proteins):
Together, they form the building blocks of your muscles. So muscles are literally made up of proteins, and without enough of them you can kiss muscle growth goodbye.
Now the actual formation happens through a process called Muscle Protein Synthesis (MPS), which facilitates the creation and repair of muscles: it builds muscle protein. This MPS can be triggered by exercising, or by your protein intake through foods.
In other words: if you work out and/or take protein (either via protein shake, protein powder, or just by eating food that contains protein) you stimulate muscle growth.
Benefits of vegan protein powder
By now, you get the importance of protein and how it benefits your muscle growth. If not: scroll back to the top and read again, you clearly haven’t been paying attention to a word I said bro…
But, even if you did – thanks! – you might still be wondering what’s the deal with vegan protein powder? You get the protein part, but why should you pay attention to whether it’s vegan or not?
Because of moral issues
For many people, the main benefit of vegan protein powder is the fact that animals weren’t harmed in the process. Vegan protein powders don’t use meat, dairy (milk, yogurt, etc.), eggs, or other animal products. People often think of vegan powders being just for vegans, but that’s not true.
In fact, many people want their steaks to be bloody and their morning eggs to be, well, many, but they purposefully go for the vegan protein anyway. Personally, I can’t be without my bacon bro, but it doesn’t hurt me (or an animal) when my protein is made from plants. And let’s face it, no matter how f*cking swole and tough you might be bro, you gotta love animals.
Because of health issues
Getting some nice organic vegan protein powder is not only better for animals, it can also be a health choice. Most plant-based protein powders are free from allergens or other ingredients that people might be sensitive to.
Think about it, some people are lactose intolerant (meaning they can’t drink milk): they would definitely benefit from going for a vegan protein powder.
Best vegan protein powders
Whatever your reason; luckily for you there are loads of vegan-friendly protein powders.
Check out the list below for some of the best vegan protein powder out there to make sure you don’t end up getting a raw deal by getting the wrong stuff. Whether you’re looking for muscle growth or for the best vegan protein powder for weight loss: these list contains some of the top natural protein sources about.
I have to be honest with you though; I can’t promise you it will be the best tasting vegan protein powder. To make things a bit more enjoyable for your tastebuds I recommend adding something like sugar, cocao powder, or maple syrup to the mix.
Side note: be sure not to add honey though! I hate to be a buzzkill, but that’s an animal product too and therefore not vegan; just ask the bees…
Peas are a great source of protein; particularly the yellow split pea. Many of the pea protein powders are made from this yellow split pea. The powder is loaded with multiple branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs). These essential amino acids – valine, leucine and isoleucine to be precise – stimulate muscle growth and fuel your energy.
Brown rice protein
I hear you thinking; “guess I’m having my stir fry with brown rice next time”.
Brown rice protein powder is popular because it’s not expensive, yet jam-packed with proteins. Just like pea protein it contains a lot of BCAAs to assist your muscle building efforts. This stuff is so good, when researchers wanted to see the differences between rice protein and protein-superstar Whey protein they found that rice protein might be just as good as its more-popular protein pal.
Soy, the staple of any vegan diet, is actually really high in protein as well. In fact, soy protein is a so-called complete protein, meaning it contains optimal levels of all the necessary amino acids you need for muscle protein synthesis.
Sunflower seed protein
Researchers have found a way to isolate protein from sunflower seeds, and God are we happy they did. Aside from the amino acid lysine you can find all other necessary amino acids in your sunflower seed protein.
Just to make sure you don’t even have to lack that lysine some manifacturers combine sunflower seed protein powder with quinoa protein, making a powerful, complete protein blend.
Vegan protein blends
That brings us to the last point in my top 5 of best vegan protein powders: plant protein blends.
Most plant-based protein powders aren’t part of the elite group of “complete proteins”. They might be high in certain amino acids, but they don’t contain ALL amino acids.
To overcome that problem you can find so-called protein blends: mixes of different protein powders. A common example is the mix of quinoa and sunflower seed protein which I mentioned above, but for example pea and rice protein are often combined as well. Like that, you are sure you get your complete protein fix!
Natural protein sources for vegan bodybuilders
People often think it’s a struggle for vegans to get enough proteins in their diet, let alone if they want to regularly hit the gym, fitness like crazy, or lift weights to build a killer body. They think that a 100% plant-based diet can’t contain the daily reference intake (DRI) of protein. Well, science begs to differ.
Don’t get me wrong. When you’re vegan you definitely need to think a bit more about what you are eating. Basically, getting enough protein is a matter of making an effort.
It makes sense. Meat, dairy, eggs: they all contain protein. Once you stop eating them you lose a lot of protein-rich sources, and your protein levels will drop. What people often forget though is that there are other ways to boost your protein levels again. For example: the vegan protein powders we just discussed!
But that’s not all. To help you out, we at team CrazyBulk have compiled this top 10 list of natural protein sources for vegan bodybuilders, with their main benefits:
- Soybeans – complete protein source; contains all essential amino acids
- Seitan – made from gluten; main protein in wheat
- Lentils – protein, iron, fiber and more; a nutritional superstar
- Wild rice – jam-packed with protein to drive you wild
- Oats – perfect for a healthy vegan breakfast
- Peas – vitamin A, C, K, fibers, iron, zinc…and of course protein
- Quinoa – gluten-free grain; pseudocereal; superfood
- Nuts – great for protein and healthy fats; add to your diet and go nuts!
- Hempseed – protein, magnesium, iron, calcium, zinc and more; and no worries, you won’t get high!
- Beans – high in protein, fiber, iron, potassium, and many more
Make sure to add these to your vegan diet! And as a little extra, here is another nice little picture with some protein-filled tips. Vegan living doesn’t have to be that hard bro.
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Whatever your reason to look for vegan protein powder: you don’t have to worry it’s a difficult journey. Just bookmark this blog post in your browser and you’ll always have your protein-packed cheat-sheet at hand.
Until next time bro!