When it comes to vegan protein powder, we have been thinking about it all wrong. Commonly mistaken for being the weaker sibling of animal based proteins, vegan options can be just as beneficial if you choose the right supplement for you.
As an easy, fuss-free way to boost your protein intake, a good vegan protein powder can help make up for diet deficiencies. And contrary to popular belief, if you opt for a complete organic protein powder, it can also aid your muscle recovery process and can help boost your muscle synthesis for those summer pins you have been working on.
So whether you want to avoid animal products out of choice or out of necessity, you can still reach your daily protein needs with healthy and equally beneficial vegan protein powders.
So what does vegan protein powder mean and how can you choose the best one for your needs?
Opting for a vegan protein powder means that your protein is coming from a plant based source such as nuts, seeds, grains and legumes rather than animal products such as dairy and meat. However, unlike animal based protein powders, plant based sources don’t always offer a complete amino acid profile.
Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and are crucial to every aspect of our being. Made up of 9 essential and 11 non essential profiles, amino acids help build and repair our muscles, boost our immunity, help speed up our metabolism, promote healthy skin, hair and nails and deliver a host of other benefits. While the body produces non-essential amino acids naturally, essential amino acids need to be obtained through diet.
A complete protein source contains all 9 essential amino acids in adequate proportions. We know that all animal sources of protein such as meat and dairy are complete proteins and offer a complete amino acid profile. However when it comes to plant based protein, not all choices are made equal. If you are looking to boost your complete protein intake, it is important to get to know your plant based sources and how they work.
Hemp protein powder
With more than 25% of its total calories coming from protein, hemp provides the base for one of the most popular vegan protein powders on the market.
Produced from Cannabis sativa, hemp protein powder not only delivers a complete amino acid profile but it also packs a punch in added nutritional value. Now before you get too excited, this plant native to Asia is unlike other plants belonging to the Cannabaceae family. Containing little to no THC, it offers plenty of benefits without any psychoactive effects (sorry kids). What this plant source does offer is plenty of health benefits.
As one of the more easily digestible sources of protein, hemp protein powder offers a welcome alternative for individuals who can’t stomach whey sources of protein. Packed full of fibre, with around 8 grams contained in every scoop, hemp vegan protein powder also aids in digestion and promotes satiety. That means if you are looking to manage your weight, hemp as a protein supplement could be the choice for you.
Aside from aiding in digestive health, hemp is packed full of healthy omega-3 fatty acids. These healthy fats are not only heart friendly but they are also shown to reduce inflammation. Perfect for those sore and inflamed muscles following your workout.
How to maximise the results from your hemp protein powder…
Although hemp contains all the key essential and non-essential amino acids needed to make up complete protein, it is generally lower in leucine than all other sources of protein. To get the most out of your hemp protein powder smoothie, why not add a scoop of the Happy Way vegan BCAA mix. This concentrated supplement of branched-chain amino acids is high in leucine and is shown to speed up the muscle recovery and muscle synthesis process. If you recipe doesn’t permit for a fruit flavour, supplement your leucine with a BCAA drink prior to exercising or as an alternative to your mid-afternoon coffee.
Pea Protein Powder
As one of the most popular and hardest working vegan supplements on the market, pea protein powder is a popular choice amongst bodybuilders and those looking to build on their lean muscle mass. Made by extracting protein from yellow split peas, and not their green siblings, pea protein supplements have been shown to provide the same muscle building benefits as their tougher sounding whey counterparts.
As a complete protein, it contains all the essential amino acids you would find in animal based products. Packed full of branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) leucine, isoleucine and valine, pea protein powder is known for helping fuel muscles and for stimulating the body to produce muscle protein.
Aside from being a heavy hitter in the muscle-building department, pea protein powder is hypoallergenic, making it a suitable alternative for individuals who experience food allergies and digestive issues. Being naturally gluten, dairy, and soy free, it meets most special dietary requirement needs. As an iron rich supplement, containing around 5-7mg of iron per serving, it can help reach your daily iron needs and increase oxygen delivery to muscles during exercise
How to maximise the results from your pea protein powder
Although pea protein is considered a complete protein, it is lower in methionine. An amino acid involved in the production of cartilage, it forms a key component of any fitness devotee’s diet. Aside from strengthening all those key joints, methionine is also crucial for hair health, has been shown to reduce the risk of cancer and is vital for optimum liver function. If you are opting for a pea based vegan protein, adding Brazil nuts into your diet can help supplement this.
Alternatively opt for a Happy Way vegan protein powder, which provides a combination of both pea, and rice protein in each packet delivering a rich dose of all essential and non-essential amino acids.
Rice protein Powder
As one of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet, brown rice offers plenty of health benefits, one of which is delivering protein. However, while it is generally high in most amino acids, it is too low in lysine to be considered a complete protein.
What it lacks in lysine compared to its powerful hemp and pea counterparts, rice protein powder makes up for in additional benefits. Rich in vitamins B, E, fiber and carbohydrates, rice protein can aid the post workout recovery, as well as supporting a healthy immune system, hair, skin and nails. Additionally, rice protein powder is bioavailable, making it easily absorbable into the bloodstream. This means a quicker deliver of protein to those depleted and sore muscles following a workout.
How to maximise the results from your rice protein powder
If you are opting for a rice protein powder you can increase your lysine intake with the addition lysine rich vegan foods such as avocados, beets, leeks, dried apricots and pears. As an amino acid that helps stabilise hormones, aids in sleep regulation, and helps restore cell health, ensuring you supplement this amino acid in your diet is key.
Alternatively, if mixing and counting your amino acids is not quite for you, opt for a vegan protein powder that combines both rice and pea sources. The Happy Way vegan range takes the worry out of mix and matching and combines both.