By Soji James, CPT, CSCS
My theme for this year has been “growth”—and for one month, I challenged myself to stick to a plant-based diet. This means focusing on foods primarily derived from plants, which includes not only vegetables and fruits, but also seeds, oils, nuts, whole grains, legumes, and beans. There are many types of protein powders, and people often overlook veggie protein options. Plant-based protein powders can help you hit your protein intake while sticking to your diet.
If you have ever considered trying to go plant-based, you clearly aren’t alone. It’s becoming an increasingly popular option, and there are a ton of potential benefits that include weight loss, improved digestion, more energy, lower blood sugar levels, and clearer skin.
When it comes to making changes that stick, I’m a huge fan of focusing on themes instead of resolutions. Resolutions can be rigid, while themes allow for flexibility and tend to resonate/inspire on a deeper level.
While it may sound simple, executing this plan has proven to be a challenging task that requires a good deal of planning. One of my biggest concerns initially was how I would get enough protein to support my gains. Also, growing up in a household where “meat” is life makes you think about and choose food in certain ways, so I had to step outside of my comfort zone in order to break these old patterns.
While following a plant-based diet doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to fully avoid animal products, I opted to try and stifle my old carnivore ways as much as possible. I relied on several plant-based protein powders to fuel my workouts, build lean muscle, and amplify my recovery process. Some were pretty bad, but to borrow some words from the great Jay-Z: Soj did that so hopefully, you won’t have to go through that.
Here are four powders that I enjoyed throughout the process and highly recommend.
I picked this one up at Vitamin Shoppe and was pleasantly surprised. It was delicious, blended really well, and left no bitter aftertaste. It’s a multi-source blend made up of pea protein isolate, cranberry seed, chia seed, and sacha inchi seed. Each scoop has 18g of protein and only 1g of sugar. You really can’t go wrong with this one. It was definitely my favorite.
Each serving of Gold Standard comes in at a whopping 24g of protein. It’s a blend of pea, brown rice, and sacha inchi proteins for a nice mixed nutrient profile.
It’s also free of artificial flavors and sweeteners, but it definitely doesn’t need them—because it tastes and blends well. It definitely competed with the plnt as my favorite variety of plant-based protein powders during the testing period. With more protein per serving, I wouldn’t knock it if you went with this one.
Nutiva’s hemp protein is gently cold-processed without the use of harsh chemicals. The protein found in hemp seeds is highly digestible, which was a breath of fresh air for me as an individual who possesses a sensitive stomach. Each serving possesses 15g of protein and 8g of fiber. To be honest, this wasn’t the best tasting of the group, but I expected that with hemp (as I’ve tasted some pretty awful variations). The Nutiva brand isn’t as gritty as some other hemps I’ve tried. Overall, it got the job done and kept me full for longer. I also noticed improved digestion and higher energy levels with its usage.
Okay; I know that this is a ready-to-drink product, and I promised powders—but hear me out. Living an active life where I am always on the go can be very difficult. Many times during this plant-based journey, I forgot my shaker bottle, and these Owyn ready-to-drink shakes were a godsend. They are delicious. This shake is a big deal.
It combines pea protein, organic pumpkin seeds, and organic flax oil for a magical, nutrient-rich combination. Each serving also contains a superfood blend of kale, spinach, and broccoli. Each shake possesses 20g of protein and is GMO-free. It’s-ready-to-drink, so it wouldn’t be fair to rate the taste against the powders above, but Owyn is in a league of its own.
Give these choices a try. In addition, try Tempeh and other veggie proteins, too.