The Best Plant-Based Protein Powders for the Plant-Based Warrior
What most don't know, is that plants carry within them the power of protein. It's why many herbivores are able to sustain their gigantic stature through plant diets. That said though, no matter your diet, if you live an active lifestyle, you may want to supplement your protein intake, and some prefer to do it without the downsides of dairy protein products. Below is a list of some of the best plant based proteins, but first, let's chat about where it comes from.
What is a Plant Protein?
The human body needs a certain amount of protein to survive and thrive. If you are an athletic person, protein post-workout can also help to rebuild and repair the muscles after strenuous exercise. Certain elements in animal-based proteins can also help to reduce lactic acid and post-workout soreness. Those who are athletic, active, or even who pay attention to health & wellness know that protein shakes and bars are an enormous part of the lives of those who work hard to maintain their physical form because protein plays such an important role in building or maintaining muscle.
But protein is important to far more than just those in the gym scene. As natural omnivores, the human body is built to take in certain nutrients from both plants and animals. Recent studies have shown that at least 5% of the US population has moved to a vegan or vegetarian diet, meaning that there is a large group of people who need their necessary daily protein but aren’t going to get it from animal-based sources.
Plant-based protein is becoming more popular within the supplement industry because of this growing segment, as it is difficult to find enough protein through plants alone to survive and thrive. Plant-based protein can come from a variety of sources - sprouts, legumes, certain superfoods, mushrooms, and even some vegetables. The supplements that provide plant-based protein in large amounts often source these plants that provide ample protein and combine them into a single supplement, providing those who are vegan, vegetarian, or simply trying to cut down on meat consumption with a single place to receive the daily protein that they need.
Do Plant Proteins Provide the Same Benefit as Animal-Based?
This is a substantially more difficult question than can be answered with a simple yes or no. In short, some do, and some don’t. There are certain elements of animal-based proteins that only come from animal sources. There are also certain cholesterols that only come from animal-based proteins that are essential to maintaining a healthy body, whether it be your brain function, muscle development, or internal enzymes & processes.
There is also a wide variety of elements that are essential for the human body that has a similar component within some plant sources, but these are often not converted within the human body in the same way as animal ones are, with some not even being able to be used by the human body at all.
Unfortunately, there are some health food gurus out there who either don’t understand these scientific facts or are purposely misleading people by telling them the opposite. While the human body can get everything that it needs from a plant-based diet, this is often either not possible or would be extremely time-consuming and expensive to do by eating plants alone.
There are some plant-based supplements and proteins that understand the science behind the human body and do take great care to ensure their products contain everything that a person following a plant-based diet needs to be healthy. We’ve reviewed many of the best that are available on the market and will list them for you below.
Where Do Plant-Based Proteins Come From?
There are many different plants that do contain some protein, but as we mentioned above their levels of protein are often small, and some of their components cannot even be used by the human body. If you understand the way that diet and digestion fuel the human body, you understand that many parts of our diet are far more complicated than simply calories and protein.
Where these aspects of our diet come from can be more important than their listed percentage of suggested daily values or even what broad nutritional group they come from. For example, for much of our history, humans have had to constantly search for calorie-rich foods. Before the dawn of grocery stores and fast food restaurants, humans had to be concerned about simply finding enough calories to keep their bodies going.
In terms of calorie-rich foods, soda would seem like a great one. A compact, 12 oz can of soda has a ton of calories, but when you break those calories down and realize that most of them come from sugar and other chemicals, you realize that those calories alone will not help to drive your health. Additionally, the quick pep and resulting sugar crash can often be detrimental to an active person.
By understanding that, you may have an easier time understanding that just because a certain plant has a large amount of protein, doesn’t necessarily mean that protein is all good for the human body. If the body can’t use it, or it doesn’t contain the components of that protein like casein or cholesterols, then it really doesn’t provide all of the benefits that would be expected to come from a different protein source.
To take another example, we are all familiar with the health experts’ advice regarding milk and eggs over the past several decades. At first, they were good for you, and then they were bad, and then skim milk & egg whites were supposed to be the healthy way to go. In only the past decade researchers have discovered that the cholesterols that were once deemed dangerous in these foods are now known to be vital to parts of the human body.
As our society and bodies evolve, so does our understanding of what our bodies need to thrive. Thankfully, the plant-based protein supplement companies listed below have a firm understanding of that science and take great care to ensure their products contain not only plant-based protein but also the other various enzymes and nutrients that our bodies need to process it and stay healthy.
What Are the Best Plant-Based Protein Supplements?
Not all plant-based protein supplements are created equal. The human body is a complicated machine, and we were built to consume our needed nutrients from a variety of sources. The companies and their plant-based protein supplements listed below are on our list because they include a wide variety of nutrients within their supplements, which ensures not only that the protein contained within is bioavailable to the human body, but also that it is supplemented with everything else that we need to survive and thrive.Maximum Vibrance by Vibrant Health
Within the world of plant-based protein powders, you would be hard pressed to find a better one than Maximum Vibrance by Vibrant Health. Even within the animal-based protein supplement industry, you often find that many of the powders created to deliver protein may deliver that and a few other ingredients that are good, but not quite everything that the body needs.
Maximum Vibrance, on the other hand, is a single plant-based protein powder that not only delivers that needed protein, but also every other nutrient that your body needs to operate at maximum efficiency. On top of the non-GMO, vegan-friendly protein, gluten-free, and soy-free aspects of Maximum Vibrance, it also packs in multiple other aspects of daily nutrition that are often overlooked by other protein powders, whether they are animal or plant-based.
Maximum Vibrance harnesses the power of a wide swath of superfoods and nutrition to help you supercharge your diet and life. It includes the benefits of three different cereal grasses in two different forms each (oat grass, wheatgrass, and barley grass - each in both powder and juice powder form). Maximum Vibrance also boasts organic protein from multiple plant-based sources, plant-based micronutrition, powerful antioxidants, 12 different superfruits, adaptogens (that help your body handle stress), immune support, skeletal support, fiber (which also serves as a prebiotic), liver support, enzymes, and 25 billion CFUs of probiotics taken from 12 different strains.RAW Protein & Greens Chocolate Cacao Powder by Garden of Life
As people in western cultures began to ascribe more to the vegan, vegetarian, and superfood-based diets, another type of nutritional lifestyle began to emerge: the raw diet. Certain nutritional aspects of foods can be denatured when heat is applied (when they’re cooked), so the raw diet is exactly what the name implies: they don’t cook anything.
Plant-based protein supplements like the RAW Protein & Greens Chocolate Cacao Powder by Garden of Life take this understanding to heart for this plant-based protein powder, as none of the ingredients are cooked or heated during processing. This is another way that the company ensures that those nutrients listed on the ingredients label are not only the kind that can be used by the human body, but also that they don’t lose any nutritional value in the process of making this powder.
KA’CHAVA Plant-based Protein Powder
The KA’CHAVA plant-based protein powder is finding a rapid rise in popularity because it purports to provide a substantial amount of health benefits to the consumer. The powder provides over 85 superfoods, nutrients, and plant-based ingredients to help fuel your body. Also vegan-friendly with no artificial ingredients, this plant-based protein powder provides its protein from a wide variety of sources, contains Omega-3s and fiber, antioxidants derived from super fruits, adaptogens, super greens, and probiotics.
While this plant-based protein powder does provide a lot of health benefits, there are two main drawbacks that we found. Firstly, it doesn’t taste great - you may have to add this to something else or spruce it up with additional fruit, as the taste is quite bland. On top of that, the ingredients list is broken down into “blends,” meaning that you don’t know exactly how much of each ingredient is contained within the drink - just a broad listing by blend. Whatever the breakdowns, this plant-based protein powder does provide an exceptional range of nutrients and additional health perks, which is why we included it on our list.
Gainful Personalized Plant-based Protein Powder
This is an interesting one that we didn’t even know existed until we started researching and testing for our list. Gainful creates each bag of plant-based protein powder specifically for each customer, based on aspects of their life such as diet, body composition, and lifestyle habits. To get your own personalized plant-based protein powder, you take a simple quiz on their website, and your product is tailored just for your needs.
Each bag contains the basics: all nine essential amino acids needed for a healthy body, 19 to 27g of protein based on you and your lifestyle, the option to choose whey, keto, or plant-based protein depending on your dietary choices, and none of them contain any gluten, soy, fillers, or artificial ingredients.
These Personalized Plant-based Protein Powders from Gainful are available on a subscription basis, formulated to fit your body and goals, and they come in a variety of different (yummy) flavors. If you’re the type of person who sees yourself as unique and want a plant-based protein that is just for you, Gainful has what you need.
The movie Forks Over Knives turned quite a few people onto the vegan lifestyle, or at the very least the health benefits that could be derived by reducing their meat consumption. Our society has not always been as meat-heavy as it is now, as the industrial-level animal industry has led to a preponderance of meat in our diets. If you were to correlate the rise of industrial ranches being introduced to the increase in heart attacks, obesity, diabetes, and other epidemics that have been plaguing our society of late, you may understand why so many have begun to move meat off their plate.
There is, however, a lot of misinformation out there. Humans were built to be omnivores, which means there are certain things our bodies need that are derived from animal sources. The plant-based protein powders above understand the science behind the human diet and have worked hard to ensure their products contain everything that you need to survive and thrive.
If you’ve chosen a meat-free and plant-based diet for health or any other reason, add the supplements on our list to keep your health at the highest level possible without sacrificing taste!