GAIN MUSCLE

Vegan Protein Powders: Best Choices for Bodybuilding in 2022

by Nader Qudimat
Updated May 11, 2022

The list below will show you the best vegan protein powders. 

 

When it comes to protein, it's a much needed macro for muscle building.

For vegans, this can be challenging when you're eating a plant based diet.

Because whey protein isn't something vegans can consume, as it comes from animal products, they need a plant based formula with enough protein.

Fortunately for you, it's easier today to find a vegan based protein.

There are a few high quality vegan protein powders to choose from.

SOLID PICK
Organic Plant Protein Powder by Transparent Labs

With 30 full servings of 24g vegan protein, Transparent Labs Organic Plant Based protein is a great pick.

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We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
EXOTIC FLAVORS
Vegan Protein by Huge Supplements

Huge Supplements Vegan Protein is a 20 gram per serving protein with only 109 calories.

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We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

The list below will show you the best vegan protein powders. 

A good vegan protein powder contains high content protein, nutrients and ingredients that are specifically beneficial for plant based eaters.

It'll also have less fats and carbs.

Vegan protein powders are limited because whey comes from dairy and it's a main ingredient in whey protein powders.

But luckily for you we've collected the best vegan protein powders.

Check them out below...

Best Vegan Protein Powders

BEST FLAVORS

Vegan Protein by Huge Nutrition

$39.99
on hugesupplements.com
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10% Off Discount CodeFITFREK
110 calories, 20g protein, 1.5g fat, 97.5mg Sodium, 3.5g Carbohydrate

If you're trying to lose weight and you'd like to reduce your calories, then this one has a fantastic macronutrient profile for anyone trying to lose fat. 

Vegan Protein's macros is fantastic for having way less fat and carbs than your average vegan protein. 

It has 20g protein, 3.5g carbs. 1.5g fat and only 110 calories per serving. 

The protein consists of a blend of pea, brown rice, fava beans and mung beans.

It's also dairy free, gluten free, and Non-GMO.

The protein blend is a patent blend trademarked by Nutravative and it's one of the most complete vegan protein we've seen to date. 

If you're looking for a vegan protein that has the least amount of calories, best macros, then Vegan Protein by Huge Supplements is a great pick. 

While it's great for burning fat, it isn't the best for bulking since it's low on calories. 

It's rare to see exotic flavors for vegan based protein powders, but Vegan Protein comes in 5 special flavors. 

The flavors include Graham Cracker, Marshmallow Madness, Cookies and Cream, Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Birthday Cake.

Use discount code FITFREK.

Contains pea, brown rice, fave beans and mung beans
Complete protein for vegans
None
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ORGANIC PICK

Organic Vegan by Transparent Labs

$49.99
on transparentlabs.com
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10% Off Discount CodeFITFREK
150 calories, 24g Protein, 2.5g Fat, 2g Sugar

If you're building muscle then it makes sense to go for a vegan protein that has the best macros. 

This one packs protein, goes light on the other macros, carbs fats and sugars. 

Organic Vegan Protein uses a 2:1 rice to pea protein ratio, making it a smoother texture. 

It also uses 24g of protein which is great considering it only has 2.5g fat, and 2g sugars. 

There are no artificial flavors or sweeteners, and it comes in two standard but tasty flavors, chocolate and French vanilla. 

This pick has the best taste for it's vanilla flavor, and you likely won't find anything that tastes better than this. 

Per serving there's 150 calories, making it great for muscle building and bulking. 

Use discount code FITFREK.

Offers the best tasting vanilla flavor
Best for muscle building for it's high calorie content
Great tasting overall
None
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BEST FOR FITNESS

Organic Vegan Protein Powder

$44.99
on futurekind.com
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85 calories, 20g protein, 1g carb

Vegans have specific needs and when it comes to nutrients, they need a little extra due to the nature of their diets. 

Iron for example, fewer carbs and fats, very few vegan protein powders fulfil these needs. 

Generally, vegan protein powders will be packed with carbs because the protein comes from vegan based foods like pea and rice. 

However, Future Kind has set themselves apart by only having 120 calories per serving, along with 20 grams of protein, 4 grams carbs, and 3 grams of fats. 

It's ratio is very similar to regular whey protein, making it an excellent pick for vegan bodybuilders. 

Although it comes in two flavors, chocolate and vanilla, its taste is great.

Low calorie count
Very light and easy to digest
Completely organic
Only uses pea protein
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BEST FOR FITNESS

Vegan Power Pro by 1st Phorm

$49.99
on 1stphorm.com
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100 calories, 19g protein, 3g carbs

Vegan Power Pro is a nice nutrient packed protein powder with minimal calories per serving. 

Each scoop only has 100 calories but it still has plenty of protein, with 19g per serving. 

Along with protein, it has various greens and antioxidant blends to ensure you're getting the most. 

100 calories per serving
Greens and antioxidant blends
None
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BEST FOR FITNESS

Plant Based Protein by Vega 

$37.99
on myvega.com
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120 Calories, 20g protein, 4g carbs

Vega protein powder is another choice that includes nutrients and vitamins that are specific to vegans.

Per scoop, it has 120 calories, along with 4g carbs and 0 fats.

This is a great pick due to it's greens content, it has various vegetables and greens that are helpful for people on vegan based diets. 

Includes spinach and greens
Various flavors
Uses nutrients vegans need
None
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When Is The Best Time To Take Vegan Protein Powder?

​When you hear the word protein, the first thing that comes to mind is meat, dairy, and protein powders.

This is not an issue for a good lot of fitness enthusiasts who just eat anything. 

However, the last decade has seen quite an uptick in plant-based eating, so it's only natural that hundreds of supplements are now coming out to get a piece of this growing pie.

With that said, it’s all too easy to get lost in all the buzzwords, the fancy labels, and celebrity endorsements, and choosing the right protein powder for your fitness needs is critical for long-term gains, whether you’re into whey or into plant proteins.

If you’re a plant-based muscle builder or just someone who prefers plant proteins, we wrote a quick and easy guide to help you get the right brand of vegan protein powder.

Why is Protein Necessary for Vegans?

Well, protein is important regardless of your dietary choices.

That’s just how the human body is built. Without protein, you’re not exactly going to be able to move, much less exercise

The importance stems from how there is a slight bias towards non-vegan protein supplements when it comes to quality and choices.

Because of this, vegans don’t really have that many to choose from regarding quality protein supplements. 

Then, there’s also the issue with plant proteins not exactly having the same amino acid makeup as typical animal proteins. 

What that means is, one gram of beef protein may have the same protein content, but its amino acid composition is more suited to humans as we are more related to animals than plants.

Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, and the body needs a certain amount of each one for its everyday function, including muscle growth.

Fortunately, plant-based supplements found a way to create protein powders with complete amino acid profiles, and that’s by blending various types of plant protein sources together.

How Much Protein Do You Need?

Just like protein is important regardless of your diet, so are the macros, especially protein intake.

The generally accepted range that is conducive to muscle growth is between 0.072 g to 1.0 g per pound bodyweight per day. [1]

That means if you’re around 150lbs, you should be taking up to 150 grams of protein per day.

While this may seem clear cut for most people, vegans tend to have a hard time matching the protein demand through diet alone.

The reason is, you require a bit of creativity to reach the same amount of protein a slice of steak can easily fill.

Not to mention the nutritional differences also need to be considered.

When Is The Best Time To Take Vegan Protein Powder?

The rule for protein timing is generally the same across all diets:

The best time to use them is between meals or around your workouts.

However, some protein supplements specialize in being taken at a specific period.

  • Some protein powders are best taken in the morning because of their impressive amino acid profile, setting you up for the day. 
  • Bedtime proteins capitalize on your body’s anabolic state while you sleep, mainly because you’re fasting from 7 to 9 hours. This greatly optimizes muscle recovery and where slow-release proteins, such as casein, come into play. [2]
  • Many protein supplements are taken after a challenging workout, and this is mainly to take advantage of that anabolic window we get where the muscles are on overdrive and actively absorbing nutrients for recovery.

For vegans specifically, taking protein supplements can be considered a way to fill in some of the pressing nutrient gaps due to their dietary choices.

How Much Is Vegan Protein Powder?

The costs of vegan protein powders depend on a lot of factors such as:

  • Ingredient quality
  • Use of patented or standardized ingredients
  • Number of ingredients per serving
  • Serving size
  • Company reputation

Ideally, you want the cost to be divided on a per-serving basis, and you generally don’t want to go over $2.00 per scoop because that can translate to at least $60.00 per month or $720.00 a year.

However, vegan protein powders tend to be more expensive than typical whey protein, and it’s due to how whey is mass-produced and has gotten to a point where it’s cheap to produce them en masse. 

Plant proteins require more work to get the protein out of them, plus some high-quality sources can also vary with their overall protein content.

Tick These 3 Boxes When Picking The Best Vegan Protein Powder

When you’re out buying vegan protein powder, make sure to keep an eye out for these three things:

1. Balanced Macronutrient Profile

Macronutrients refer to protein, fats, and carbs.

The body uses all three all the time, so it’s important to pick a vegan protein powder that doesn’t go all out on one macro and neglects the others. 

We already discussed protein. Carbs are used by the body, especially the muscles, for energy.

Fats help keep our hormones balanced, especially when it comes to testosterone and our hunger hormones. 

Having the right macros can help let you see the results of your intense lifts sooner, whereas the opposite is also true if you ignore your macros. 

2. Types of Protein

When it comes to protein powders, there are generally three types of protein:

  • Protein for optimal muscle gain: This is associated with whey powder and its derivatives, while some can also be attributed to specific plant protein combinations. It’s because whey powder is easier to mass-produce and has a high protein content per 100 grams.
  • Protein for weight loss: Losing weight can sometimes lead to muscle loss if you’re not careful. If you want to preserve muscle mass, taking casein should help maintain adequate amino acid circulation overnight. In fact, some experts say casein is better for muscle composition than whey if a lifter is cutting.
  • Plant proteins: These are the likes of hemp protein, brown rice protein, pea protein, chia and flax seeds, and alfalfa protein. Most high-quality vegan protein powders will mix and match various plant proteins to achieve a more complete amino acid profile, similar to animal protein sources. Apart from digestion and metabolism differences, research says the “gains” you’ll get with plant proteins are roughly the same.

3. Vitamins and Other Nutrients Content

Apart from macros, the body also requires a high quality source of micronutrients to function properly.

Whether it’s to replenish used up nutrient stores during training or to facilitate muscle recovery and other daily functions, you must get a supplement that addresses your micronutrient needs.

For vegans especially, their diet is often regarded as being low on B12, iron, zinc, calcium, vitamin D, and some critical fatty acids such as EPA and DHA.

High-quality vegan protein blends will always have some if not all these micronutrients in high doses to help fill your nutritional gaps. [3]

5 Common Sources of Vegan Protein

Below are the five most common vegan protein sources you’ll find in every vegan protein powder.

1. Hemp Protein

Sourced from cannabis, but with none of its psychoactive properties, Hemp protein is now considered a staple in the vegan protein supplement industry, and with good reason.

Unlike most of its vegan contemporaries, hemp protein is actually a complete protein source, much like your typical whey protein powder.

Because of this property, more and more vegan protein powders are incorporating hemp protein into their formulas.

Another benefit to hemp protein is its high fiber content, which helps with proper digestion and reduce food cravings.

It’s also rich in essential fatty acids.

2. Brown Rice Protein

Brown rice is known to have high protein content relative to other grains.

It’s not a complete protein, but it’s one of the common options for supplement companies because the extraction process produces high yields. 

It’s also dairy-free, lactose-free, and gluten-free unlike its dairy counterparts.

Another benefit is how fast the body digests it, despite its relatively high fiber content.

3. Pea Protein

Pea protein is exactly what it sounds like: Protein extracted from peas.

They are generally derived from yellow peas, also known as split peas.

When looking for a pea protein powder, make sure the company is using pea protein isolate as those with low “purity” might cause digestive problems. 

Pea protein is a complete protein like hemp, but isn’t particularly a good source of methionine, so most companies tend to blend it with other vegan sources depending on amino acid content.

4. Pumpkin Protein

Pumpkin protein is derived from pumpkin seeds.

It’s a byproduct of the pumpkin oil manufacturing process and goes through a cold extraction process. 

Pumpkin protein contains all nine essential amino acids, particularly rich in lysine, leucine, and arginine - the exact amino acids you want if you’re after bulking up.

It’s also rich in antioxidants and has been cited to even help improve sleep. 

5. Soy Protein

Soy Protein is one of the early plant proteins and is a high quality protein source, but some controversy over its purported testosterone effects made many users wary of this plant protein.

Another factor is how soy is also a common allergen. 

So, while soy protein is indeed one of the best plant-protein sources out there, many supplement companies steer clear from it because many consumers don’t like seeing the word “soy” on the label. 

While you can find these plant proteins as standalone protein supplements themselves, the mainstream formulas tend to combine two or more sources.

This is to create a higher quality protein source with the right mix of amino acids designed to specifically support muscle building.

Vegan Protein Bars and Vegan Cookies

As a vegan or fellow plant-based lifestyle enthusiast, you want to make sure your protein intake is adequate at all times.

This is especially true when you’re trying to build muscle or when you’re in the cutting phase of your bodybuilding program

Giving your body a constant supply of high quality protein speeds up muscle recovery and facilitates an environment conducive to anabolism, or the processes involved in growth and tissue building.

However, you can’t always have a protein shake in hand nor have the time to mix one up. This is where vegan protein bars and cookies come in. 

As the name implies, vegan protein bars and vegan cookies are excellent sources of protein that you can eat on-the-go, or when you just need something filling and healthy at the same time.

Like their vegan protein powder counterparts, there are far too many brands out there who want your money, and most of them aren’t exactly high quality.

That is why we recommend the following products for your vegan protein bar and cookie needs and cravings.

Vegan Protein Bars

  • Vega Sport Protein Bar
  • Lenny & Larry Plant Based Bar

Vegan Cookies

  • Lenny & Larry Cookie

FAQs

Is Whey Protein Vegan?

Whey protein is not vegan because it’s a byproduct of the cheese making process, and cheese is made of milk. 

What counts as vegan are plant, fungi, and algae sources.

In the case of protein, you’re looking at plant-based sources such as pea, rice, hemp, soy, and pumpkin.

What’s the difference between Vegan Protein and Whey Protein?

The primary difference between vegan protein and whey protein is their source.

Whey protein is sourced from cheese makers.

If you’ve ever opened a yogurt container, the liquid at the top is whey. 

Vegan protein, on the other hand, is sourced from plants, such as seeds.

They often undergo a “caking” process, which is when plants are refined and separated from the non-protein parts as much as possible.

The cake is then dehydrated and turned into powder. 

The resulting product is high in protein, but also often in fiber and other nutrients that passed through the rigorous extraction process.

Another difference is absorption time. 

Generally speaking, whey protein derivatives are absorbed the fastest while vegan protein takes longer to digest.

This is due to the presence of fiber in vegan protein as fiber makes it a bit tough for the stomach to metabolize protein.

This is also the reason why some vegan protein powders make people feel bloated or full.

Can I still bodybuild as a vegan?

Yes, you can still pack on muscle as a vegan.

Various studies suggest the differences in muscle composition between those who take vegan and whey protein are comparable if not negligible. 

The only advantage whey protein users have, most of the time, is the rate of absorption and metabolism of nutrients. 

Other than that, the typical vegan protein powder user should have the same quality of protein as those who use whey protein, especially when it comes to muscle-building amino acids.

What should my diet look like as a vegan bodybuilder?

Vegan bodybuilders tend to require more complex food compositions than omnivores, and it’s because plant sources tend to vary in terms of macros. 

As such, omnivores can just eat the usual broccoli and chicken breast and get their fair share of protein, fats, and carbs plus dietary fiber in one meal. 

Vegans would require a bit more recipe creativity and it often includes adding more nuts/seeds and healthy oils to get similar macro balance.

Can I replace food with vegan protein powder?

It’s not advisable to go all-in on protein powder, vegan or not. It’s because at its core, protein powder is not real food

The human body isn’t designed to get its nutrients from a powder.

Not to mention food sources have nutrients and other substances the body needs, and they’re not always supplied by their powder counterparts.

References:

  1. Iraki J, Fitschen P, Espinar S, Helms E. Nutrition Recommendations for Bodybuilders in the Off-Season: A Narrative Review. Sports (Basel). 2019 Jun 26;7(7):154. doi: 10.3390/sports7070154. PMID: 31247944; PMCID: PMC6680710.
  2. Antonio J, Ellerbroek A, Peacock C, Silver T. Casein Protein Supplementation in Trained Men and Women: Morning versus Evening. Int J Exerc Sci. 2017;10(3):479-486. Published 2017 May 1.
  3. Craig WJ. Nutrition concerns and health effects of vegetarian diets. Nutr Clin Pract. 2010 Dec;25(6):613-20. doi: 10.1177/0884533610385707. PMID: 21139125.

 

by Nader Qudimat

Forged by the iron and cold steel, Nader takes his knowledge and hulks it up into this site.

Having to be stuck as a 110lb skinny guy in the early days, he has had no choice but to keep improving himself until he cannot.

Click here to check out his 12 year transformation: Natural 12 Year Transformation

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