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Plant-based protein powders – are they all the same?

May 12, 2020 4 min read

Plant-based protein powders – are they all the same?

If you’re on the go, or trying to refuel after a workout, protein powder can be a useful supplement. Because most protein powders are made from whey (dairy), what should you do if you’re following a plant based diet?

Plant foods like rice, soy and seeds can be turned into plant-based protein powders by removing the fat and carbs. This process “isolates” the protein from the plant food to create plant protein powder.

There are many types of vegan, or plant-based protein powders including soy, pea, rice, pumpkin seed, and Sacha Inchi. Plant-based protein powders are ideal if you are vegan or unable to consume dairy products. Anyone looking to get more protein variety in their diet can use plant protein powders. Using a plant-based protein powder with digestive enzymes will increase the amount of protein that you can absorb. Because plant proteins are not digested as quickly as whey they make a snack between meals.

What is a complete protein?

All proteins, whether plant or animal are made up of chains of amino acids. Because they have all nine of the essential amino acids, animal proteins are complete proteins. Most plant proteins lack one or more of these nine building blocks. However, if you eat a range of plant foods over the day, you will still get an adequate supply of essential amino acids. Your liver helps by storing various essential amino acids over the course of a day for use when they are needed.

Single source plant protein vs plant protein blends

Because single source plant proteins are not complete proteins, it is important to choose a plant protein blend. The best plant-based proteins will blend proteins from multiple sources providing you with all 20 amino acids. This is what makes VPA®Premium Plant vegan protein the best protein powder if you are following a plant-based diet. Not only is it nutritious but it exceptional value for money. VPA® Premium Plant blends four different plant-based protein sources which we will discuss below.

Pea protein powder

Peas are a great plant-based source of protein that helps to repair your body and build lean muscle. One cup of green peas contains around 8 grams of protein—about the same as a cup of dairy milk.

Yellow peas are the source of pea protein isolate. Pea plant powder is high in essential branch chain amino acids (BCAAs) – leucine, isoleucine and valine. These 3 BCAAs are important for building muscle protein. In one study of 161 young males supplementation with pea protein after strength training led to a 20% increase in muscle thickness. This was the same result as achieved by the group consuming whey protein.

Rice protein powder

Brown rice is the source of rice protein powder. The rice protein is separated from the carbohydrates by treating it with enzymes. While rice protein is high in cysteine and methionine amino acids, it is lower in lysine than pea protein. Therefore, a combination of pea and rice protein makes for a more complete protein combination.

Pumpkin seed protein powder

Pumpkin seeds (pepitas) are cold pressed to produce pumpkin seed protein. It is an animal free, high-quality protein source. It is rich in nutrients and the amino acids necessary for recovery and optimal health.

Sacha Inchi plant protein powder

Sasha Inchi, (plukenetia) is a Amazon rainforest vine with high protein seeds. Sasha Inchi contains all of the essential amino acids, making it a complete protein source. What makes Sacha Inchi protein so special is that it is one of the highest digestible plant proteins. Furthermore, Sacha Inchi also contains very high levels of omega-3.

Plant protein with digestive enzymes

Plant-based protein powders have a much lower bio-availability than whey proteins. This means that they are not as easily digested or absorbed and this could result in not being able to make use of the full serve of protein. The best plant-based protein powders have added digestive enzymes to maximise your uptake of protein. This is what makes VPA® Premium Plant one of the highest quality plant proteins on the market.

Premium Plant Vegan Protein-VPA Australia
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Is your plant-based protein actually vegan?

Not all things plant-based are actually vegan. What do we mean by this? When you look at the ingredients list of plant-based products it will often appear that all of the ingredients are vegan. However, a glance at the ingredients list doesn’t take into account that some of the less obvious ingredients such as colours, flavours, and other additives such as binding ingredients are not vegan. Similarly, some food processing steps may involve animal derived products, which actually don’t have to be listed on the ingredients list at all.

For this reason you should never rely on the manufacturers of a product simply telling you that it is vegan. Instead you should look for the Vegan Certified logo. VPA® Premium Plant protein is a certified vegan protein powder so you can trust that you are buying a truly vegan product.

The vegan certification process is not easy! It’s not as simple as submitting an ingredients list and receiving the tick of approval. To achieve vegan certification every one of our ingredients and their production process is scrutinised to ensure that they are truly vegan. You should always look for the Certified Vegan logo when choosing your plant-based protein powder.

How to choose the best plant-based protein powder

What should you consider when deciding on what what plant protein powder to buy? First you should look for a blend of at least two protein sources which contains added digestive enzymes. However, one of the biggest risks when choosing a vegan protein is purchasing one that is very expensive despite having a very low protein content per serve. Your plant protein powder should contain at least 25g of protein in a reasonable size serve, and should be low in carbohydrates. This is where our Premium Plant vegan protein really comes into it’s own. At only $1.64 per serve and packing 28.5g of protein per serve, VPA® Premium Plant really is the best protein powder on the market.

You can find product information on our Premium Plant protein here.

Sally Mitchell

Sally Mitchell (BSc, MHumNut) is a scientist, university qualified nutritionist and VPA staff member. She brings a nerdy love of numbers, data, and science wit her to VPA. Her favourite VPA product is coffee Breakfast Shake. She enjoys powerlifting and running but, sadly, does both poorly.

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