Pump Up Your Workouts With Vegan Protein Powder
A little while ago, I set out on a mission to find the best vegan protein powders and supplements. I was searching for products that are the best in what they do, whether it’s providing lean protein, hydration, or essential nutrients or replacing a meal. I then sampled each product in various ways to determine the best way to consume each one as well as for whom each one is best suited. If you’re unsure about what protein powder or nutritional supplement is for you, this is your guide.
Vega Protein Smoothie (Tropical Mango, Bodacious Berry, Choc-o-lat, Oh Natural, or Viva Vanilla)
Nutrition: 100 calories, 15 g protein, gluten- and soy-free
Protein base: pea, SaviSeed, hemp, and brown-rice blend
Expert tips: This would be a good choice for anyone needing a protein boost while counting calories. It mixes well enough with water that I would use the Choc-o-lat flavor at the gym. The fruit flavors will mix really well with your favorite fruit-smoothie recipe.
Vega One Nutritional Shake (French Vanilla, Chocolate, Natural, Berry, or Vanilla Chai)
Nutrition: 135 calories, 15 g protein, gluten- and soy-free
Protein base: pea, SaviSeed, hemp, and brown-rice blend
Expert tips: This powder added more flavor and texture to smoothies than the regular protein powder, but I thought it didn’t mix as well with plain water or nondairy milk. I made a smoothie with the vanilla powder, plain almond milk, and a frozen banana. I could definitely see it becoming my regular breakfast to go. This option is especially nice since it comes blended with omega-3, antioxidant, and super-green additives that supply 50 percent of your daily vitamins and minerals.
Sunwarrior: Classic Protein (Vanilla, Chocolate, or Natural)
Nutrition: 80 calories, 15 g protein, gluten- and soy-free
Protein base: brown-rice protein
Expert tips: All the flavors are pretty good, but the Chocolate has the best taste and consistency. This shake would be great for mixing into a smoothie or even just with some nondairy milk and a banana or other fruit.
Sunwarrior: Warrior Blend Raw Vegan Protein (Chocolate, Vanilla, or Natural)
Nutrition: 100 calories, 20 g protein, gluten- and soy-free
Protein base: pea, cranberry, and hemp-seed protein blend
Expert tips: I found that this version tasted much better than the classic protein. It even tastes good mixed with 8 oz. of water, which is really quite extraordinary and makes it a great option to take with you to the gym.
PlantFusion (Vanilla, Chocolate, Chocolate Raspberry, Unflavored, or Cookies and Cream)
Nutrition: 120 calories, 21 g protein
Protein base: pea, artichoke, amaranth, and quinoa protein blend
Expert tips: My favorite thing about PlantFusion is how silky-smooth it is, which is perfect for anyone who usually has texture issues with protein powder. I found that the Chocolate and Chocolate Raspberry flavors were very tasty and mixed well with the plant flavors. The Chocolate Raspberry flavor mixed in a shake with frozen berries tastes delicious.
PlantFusion: Phood (Chocolate Caramel or Vanilla)
Nutrition: 200 calories, 18 g protein, gluten- and soy-free
Protein Base: pea, artichoke, amaranth, quinoa, and amino-acid protein blend
Expert tips: I would highly recommend this option for anyone searching for more of a meal replacement than a basic protein powder. Instead of just protein, it simulates the nutrition of a healthy meal, with 17 g of complex carbs and 7 g of essential fats. The Chocolate Caramel smells and tastes like a little cup of heaven.
Navitas Naturals Hemp Powder
Nutrition: 120 calories, 15 g of protein
Protein base: hemp
Expert tips: This hemp powder tastes fine alone or with a glass of soy milk, and it’s almost flavorless, except for a pleasant earthy undertone. If you already have a go-to smoothie that you make for breakfast or between meals, I would recommend adding several tablespoons of this hemp powder for extra protein and omega-3 fatty acids. If taste is an issue for you with other types of protein, give this one a try!
EPIC Plant-Based Protein (Original Pumpkin Seed, Chocolate Maca, Vanilla Lucuma, or Green Kingdom)
Nutrition: 100–110 calories, 19 g protein, gluten-, nut-, and soy-free
Protein base: brown-rice protein, mesquite pod powder
Expert tips: These powders all had very light, pleasant flavors. I really loved the consistency—they had a little bit of grit to them that made them taste like you were drinking a real, raw, and fresh smoothie (attributable in part to the fact that each flavor is mixed with an additional super-food blend). The company has a new formulation on the way that is even more nutrient-dense and tastier than the current options. The Chocolate Maca flavor tasted like a delicious chocolate shake, and I think some delicious smoothies could be made with the Original Pumpkin Seed flavor.
Paradise ORAC-Energy Greens
Nutrition: 113 calories, 22 g of protein
Protein base: pea, wheat grass, spirulina, spinach, broccoli, and kale
Expert Tips: If you enjoy green smoothies or juices, this supplement would be a good protein-packed greens substitute in your drinks. I found that it had the best taste and texture when used in a substantial smoothie.
Puritan’s Pride Soy Protein Isolate Powder
Nutrition: 110 calories, 24 g protein
Protein base: Soy protein
Expert tips: This protein supplement has a fine texture and mixes best with a blender ball. I’d suggest mixing it with a nondairy milk other than soy so that you’re getting nutrients from a mixture of sources. It would also be a good, simple option to take with you to the gym.
Puritan’s Pride Good ‘n Natural Vegan Protein Powder (Chocolate)
Nutrition: 200 calories, 17 g protein
Protein base: oat and quinoa protein
Expert tips: Mix it in a blender ball with nondairy milk for a rich chocolate protein shake. The taste and texture are excellent and make it a great meal between meals. It’ll fill you up for a while but not so much that you’ll want to skip dinner!
MRM Veggie Elite Performance Protein (Chocolate Mocha)
Nutrition: 130 calories, 24 g protein
Protein Base: pea and brown-rice protein blend
Expert tips: The taste of this supplement was really exceptional, and it mixed well with everything I tried it with. I even sprinkled in half a scoop with my oatmeal one morning, which in all honesty was a really great choice.
MRM Veggie Protein (Vanilla Bean)
Nutrition: 130 calories, 22 g protein
Protein base: pea, brown-rice, hemp, flax seed, and chia-seed protein
Expert tips: Between the two MRM options, I would definitely choose the Chocolate Mocha flavor because of the taste and the additional nutrition. This option would be great to take to the gym for a light post-workout drink.
Philosophie Green Dream
Nutrition: 60 calories, 10 g protein
Protein base: hemp, spirulina, chia seeds, maca root
Expert tips: I would definitely use the recipe on the package for a Green Dream smoothie (1 Tbsp. of the supplement, 1 cup of dairy-free milk, 1 cup of spinach, and one banana). The smoothie, which would be great for a breakfast on the go, was very delicious, and it feels really healthy and empowering to drink a whole cup of spinach!
Naturade Pea Protein
Nutrition: 130 calories, 20 g protein
Protein base: pea protein
Expert tips: With a blender ball, the consistency is very light and frothy, so use it to follow up an intense gym workout. The flavor mixes great with vanilla almond or soy milk if you have it around, but it works just as nicely with water, too!
Ka’Chava (Chocolate, Vanilla)
Nutrition: 200 calories, 24 g protein
Protein base: vegan protein blend, omega-3 fiber blend, super-fruit blend, adaptogen herb blend, super-greens blend, digestive enzymes, and probiotics
Expert tips: This shake is absolutely delicious. (I prefer the Vanilla flavor, but the Chocolate was good, too.) I could see myself drinking it just for the flavor. The best part of Ka’Chava is that it’s very thick in consistency, which makes you feel like you’re drinking a big rich smoothie without actually having to make one, and it actually keeps you full for several hours. If you have a fast-paced lifestyle and need a truly delicious meal substitute, this is what you’ve been waiting for.
Ultima Replenisher (Lemonade, Orange, Red Raspberry, Grape)
Nutrition: 15 calories
Expert tips: This electrolyte drink is packed full of nutrients, without any added sugar. It truly tastes great, and I would suggest mixing different flavors together (like the Red Raspberry with the Lemonade). If you’re training for a race or doing lots of cardio, try this replenisher to stay hydrated.
Big Tree Farms Coco Hydro
Expert tips: This product is pretty remarkable. I love coconut water but find it can be expensive and inconvenient to find at times. With these packets, you can turn any bottle of water into coconut water, which has a good amount of potassium and electrolytes.
Big Tree Farms Coco Hydro Sport (Original, Lemon-Lime, Pineapple)
Expert tips: This version is specifically formulated for athletes to help balance pH and electrolytes. The Lemon-Lime flavor has the best taste, and I’ll definitely be using it in the future to stay hydrated and for potassium as I train for long-distance races.
Clean Machine Clean BCAA
Nutrition: 5,000 mg of clean BCAAs, all-natural, gluten- and soy-free
Expert tips: If you’re doing a lot of cardio and don’t want to lose any muscle mass, give this product a try. I would mix it with an electrolyte drink for the best taste and effect.
Navitas Naturals Acai Powder
Nutrition: 15 calories
Expert tips: Although it doesn’t contain any protein, I would recommend adding this powder to a fruit smoothie or oatmeal for additional antioxidants and amino acids. It has a light, almost blueberry flavor that can be a very pleasant additive.
Navitas Naturals Cacao Powder
Nutrition: 60 calories
Expert tips: This unsweetened cacao powder is also a great choice for increasing antioxidants. I would recommend adding it to one of the chocolate protein powders on this list for additional rich chocolaty flavor that’s healthy!
Note: All samples were provided to me by the companies for an honest review.