One of the three macronutrients, along with fat and carbs, protein helps us feel full, achieve weight-loss goals and build muscle. However, most of us struggle to get enough in our diets, especially if we’re following a plant-based or vegan diet. An easy way to increase your daily protein intake is with protein powders because they are convenient and often inexpensive compared to high-protein, animal-based foods like meat, fish and dairy. Also, there are a variety of plant-based protein powders on the market that offer other health benefits, like fiber and omega-3 fatty acids.
Here are five plant-based protein powders worth tossing into your basket the next time you’re grocery shopping:
1. PEA PROTEIN
With 15 grams of protein per serving, pea protein is made from the yellow pea, a legume rich in fiber and micronutrients like B vitamins. Though it’s not a complete protein, pea protein is a good plant-based option for vegans and vegetarians. With an earthy flavor, pea protein is best used in recipes that have a lot of flavor, like this Ultimate Banana Berry Smoothie Bowl.
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2. BROWN RICE PROTEIN
Though brown rice protein isn’t a complete protein, it’s rich in complex carbohydrates and fiber and has 24 grams protein per serving. It’s also easily digestible and well suited for people with food allergies. Bonus: It has a neutral flavor that doesn’t overpower — or compete with — other flavors so feel free to mix it into your smoothie along with coffee, matcha or mango.
3. HEMP PROTEIN
Made with hemp seeds, hemp protein powder offers 15 grams of protein per serving and is high in fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. The upside is it’s one of the few plant-based proteins that is a complete protein source with 20 amino acids — making it especially good for vegans. One caveat: Because it’s high in fiber, hemp protein may be difficult to digest, especially if consumed before working out. With an earthy flavor, hemp pairs well with banana, unsweetened nut milk and a bit of honey in a smoothie.
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4. PUMPKIN SEED PROTEIN
Made from ground pumpkin seeds, pumpkin seed protein powder delivers 19 grams of protein per serving and also contains essential omega-3, -6 and -9 fatty acids. This vegan protein option also packs a extra nutritional punch, containing micronutrients like vitamin K, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese and other minerals including zinc, iron and copper.
5. SOY PROTEIN
Soy protein powder is one of a few plant sources that offers all of the essential amino acids and about 20 grams of protein per serving. This protein powder is a rich source of arginine, an amino acid important for immunity and cardiovascular health. In addition, several years ago, the Food and Drug Administration approved a health claim for soy protein stating that “25 grams of soy protein a day, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease.”
Tried and true in smoothies, these protein powders are an easy way to boost the protein quotient in bars and bites, too. With so many different options — whether you’re vegan, vegetarian, dairy-free or anything in between, these plant-based protein powders are a convenient and nutritious way to increase your protein intake.
Share your favorite protein powder in the comments below!