“Strength doesn’t come from what you can do. It comes from overcoming the things you once thought you couldn’t.”
In order to build physical strength, one must put time and work into their bodies by either lifting weights, doing plyometrics, or other body movements to build muscle mass. As most of us know, protein is a critical macronutrient that our bodies need not only to survive, but to build muscle. Whether you’re vegan, vegetarian, or paleo, it’s important to understand that protein needs to be a staple in your diet. There are many forms of protein and different ways of getting enough in your diet. Protein powder is an excellent option for individuals on the go, in a rush, or who just don’t make the time to cook up chicken, eggs, or even quinoa on a regular basis.
Every single human needs protein in their diet each and every day, but the level of physical fitness that one is involved with will change the amount that they need. Generally 15-20 grams of protein is a standard serving size for powders. I’m not here to tell you how much protein you need to take post-workout, or how to fit it in your macros. I’m just here to discuss differences between whey and plant-based proteins and what are good, clean options for each of them.
This is my choice of protein powder for a variety of reasons. I’ve found that removing all forms of dairy from my diet has improved my complexion, digestion, and overall wellbeing. Just by switching my protein powder to a plant-based one, I noticed positive benefits. Now, I’m not saying that this should be everyone’s move. Every person digests food in different ways. Some bodies can take the dairy, while others struggle to break it down. I’m heavily involved in the fitness arena and surround myself around many individuals pumping down whey protein shakes left and right. I have nothing against it, it’s just not the option for me. Plus, many of the plant-based options available at health food stores include other important ingredients other than just protein. If you’re looking to increase your probiotic, green, and fiber intake, some of these plant-based options might be the perfect one for you!
- Amazing Grass
- USDA Organic, Raw, Vegan, Gluten-free, Non-GMO
- Flavor options: Chocolate and Vanilla Spice
- 14 g protein
- Protein sources: Hemp, brown rice, sprouted quinoa, and pumpkin seed
- 25 billion probiotics
- Includes: Spirulina and chlorella
So as you can see this isn’t just standard protein. It’s a high-quality protein powder that utilizes four different sources for its protein. It includes 25 billion probiotics, which is the friendly bacteria that helps with digestion and immunity. It includes spirulina and chlorella which are both high in protein, B vitamins, and have very good detoxifying properties. Don’t worry, I’ll explain algae in-depth in a future post! But one of the best things about this protein is the taste and texture. Whether you’re blending it into a smoothie or mixing it in a shaker bottle, the consistency of this protein powder is incredibly smooth. The taste is one of the best that I’ve tried between plant-based proteins, and it’s absolutely good enough mixed with just water.
- 18 g protein
- 21 whole food vitamins
- 17 g organic superfoods
- 6 g probiotics, greens, & fiber
- 4.4 g Omega 3-6-9
- Flavor options: Chocolate Caramel, and Vanilla
This has been the most recent plant-based protein powder I’ve tried and I really enjoy it. Chocolate Caramel is by far my favorite flavor, but Vanilla is an excellent option as well! If you’re looking for solely protein with nothing else added into it, this might not be the protein powder for you. Phood packs their powder with protein and a large array of superfoods and vitamins making it perfect for post-workout or as a meal replacement.
- 20 g protein
- 6 servings greens
- 50% daily vitamin and minerals
- 25% daily fiber
- 1.5 g Omega 3
- 1000 ORAC antioxidants
- 1 billion probiotics
This is the protein powder I use so my opinion might be a little biased, but I think this is one of the best options for plant-based protein powder. The details listed above are for the All-in-One Nutritional Shake. Vega also has the Protein Smoothie, and Sport protein as additional options. The Protein Smoothie is a great option for the entire family. It’s the stripped-down version of the all-in-one and contains digestive enzymes instead of probiotics, making it excellent for adults and children. The Sport protein is the perfect option for the athlete looking to recover from workouts and build muscle mass with the protein sources and branched chain amino acids. This powder doesn’t include any greens or probiotics, but it does have digestive enzymes to help your body break down the powder and absorb the nutrients.
Unlike plant-based proteins, whey is a complete source of protein. In order to be a complete protein, plant-based companies have to use multiple sources to complete the full protein profile. Just because I don’t do whey, doesn’t mean I don’t believe it’s a good option. It generally has a higher concentration of protein than plant-based options, and for those who aren’t lactose or dairy intolerant, it’s easily digestible. Coming from the fitness world and spending a lot of time in gyms, I see whey protein being utilized by almost all gym-goers. I’ve done some research on quality whey protein and below are two proteins that I completely support and think are great options for individuals looking for a clean whey protein.
- Tera’s Whey
- USDA Organic
- rBGH free (artificial growth hormone free)
- Flavor options: mixed berry, plain unsweetened, bourbon vanilla, and fair trade dark chocolate
The source of their protein is one of the main reasons why I find this protein to be an excellent choice for individuals looking to add whey protein powder into their diet. Tera’s whey is sourced from small family farms in Wisconsin. According to their website, their protein comes from “ethically treated cow or goat milk sources, paired with premium ingredients including antioxidant super fruits and low glycemic stevia to deliver a taste unlike any other.
- Essential Living Foods
- USDA Organic
- Pasture Raised Kosher
- Free of pesticides, hormones, and antibiotics
- rBGH free (artificial growth hormone free)
- BSE free (Bovine spongiform encephalopathy: Mad Cow Disease)
So why does this protein stand out from the rest? According to their website, they “start with pure, organic-certified, pasture-raised whey, and use a low-temperature process that doesn’t involve any acid-treatment, additives, or mineral-stripping. Typical whey powders are high-heat-treated, acid-flushed, and stripped of vital nutrients, creating an imbalanced, acidic “whey isolate” that’s frequently contaminated with synthetic additives, chemical detergents, and heavy metals.”
Regardless if you choose plant-based over whey, protein powder is a convenient way to get enough protein into your day. There are tons of options available on the market, but these few choices are high-quality powders that I know taste good and are nourishing for your body. Now that you have a clearer understanding of which protein you might be interested in, try out this recipe for a delicious chocolate protein shake.
Chocolate Protein Shake
- 1 frozen banana
- 1 1/2 cup almond milk
- 1 handful spinach (optional)
- 1 scoop Vega One Nutritional Shake, Chocolate
- 1/2 cup ice
- 1/2 teaspoon cocoa powder
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Directions: Blend all ingredients together and enjoy!