Vegan and protein powders: Everything you need to know

Whether you're a vegetarian and thinking of taking things to the next level of animal-free eating, or a long-time carnivore getting ready to start a completely plant-based diet, going vegan is a major life change. It's more than just a decision about taking strict control of what goes into your stomach and making sure to not consume any animal-derived products. 

What happens to your body when you go vegan?

Before switching over to veganism, you should be aware of the major biological shifts that will likely happen when changing your diet in such a drastic manner. Don't be alarmed when these changes go down—they're all perfectly natural and normal.

This is what may happen to your body when you go vegan;

  • You'll decrease your risk of heart disease
  • You'll probably lose weight
  • There will be some bloating
  • Things might taste weird
  • Your muscles will need a bit of patience

Going vegan is a major life change: However powders can help

One of the biggest repercussions most people worry about is the effect of the reduction in protein. You already know that protein is necessary for building up and maintaining your muscles. Meat and eggs contain high amounts of protein compared to most other foods, so it's important as a vegan to get it from the likes of beans, nuts, tofu, and leafy greens and supplementation. If you're not getting any protein, the muscles can weaken and shrink.

Vegan protein powder - do you really need them?

As just mentioned vegans can get protein from a wide range of foods such as beans, nuts, tofu, and leafy greens but “How do you get enough protein?” is a common question that vegans are asked. Some vegans turn to vegan protein powders because they make it easy to get in your daily protein requirements. You can throw the powder into smoothies or into mixtures for baked goods and sweets. Though protein powders can be great dietary supplements, are they really necessary? 

If you eat a vegan diet with protein-rich foods, it might be unnecessary to add protein powder to the mix. However, if you don't have time to make a full balanced meal but have time to make a smoothie/shake using protein powders can be extremely convenient. Also, people who are working out frequently or doing athletic activities are burning more calories throughout the day, so their protein intake should be much higher.

Furthermore, if you're looking to build lean muscle or bulk up your protein intake needs to be considerably more. Vegan protein powders will become inevitable then.

Related article - How much protein do I need a day?

Vegans can get protein from beans, nuts, tofu, and leafy greens and supplementation

How much protein do you really need as a vegan? 

“How much protein do I need per day?” - This is probably one of the most hotly debated areas within bodybuilding and sport and it can become downright controversial when you include misconceptions from the general population. I’m sure you’ve heard that too much protein can damage the kidneys and that the body can’t absorb more than 30g of protein in one sitting? These among many other myths are just scratching the surface of the protein controversy. Read this in-depth article on how much protein you really need.

What type of vegan protein powders can you get?

Vegetarian protein powders contain all of the essential muscle-building components needed to get ripped and reap the rewards of hours at the gym. CSN recommends using protein powders in your pre- and post-workout, and as vegans and vegetarians, it’s especially important to mix up your powders, rotating through several types in order to consume a variety of nutrients from different sources.

Some of the best types of plant-based protein to look for include:

  • Hemp
  • Brown rice
  • Pea
  • Protein blend

Other great plant protein sources include Artichoke, Amaranth, Potato, Cranberry, Garbanzo, Pumpkin Seed, and countless other sprouted seeds and legumes.

What to look for in vegan protein powders?

There are a number of things to consider that help define a 'good' vegan protein powders that will give you the best ingredients for recovery and building lean muscle mass. While it's best to review specific products to see what works for you, these a few key considerations.

1. Soy-free Vegan Protein Powders
2. Highly Concentrated Protein Powders 
3. Vegan Protein Powders with BCAAs and Eaa's

A vegan diet can help you lose weight

1 -Soy-free Vegan Protein Powders

Fermented organic soy like miso, tempeh, and certain soy sauces are quality proteins with rich amino acid profiles. However, certain forms of unfermented soy should be avoided, such as whole, green, or fresh soybeans, soy sprouts, tofu, soy flour, soy nuts, and soy milk. This includes avoiding the soy protein found in most protein powders.

This unfermented soy product is a dried, powdered protein that’s isolated, or separated, from the soybean. Unfortunately, it's most often the soy of choice in soy protein powders, protein bars, soy foods, baked goods, and even infant formulas

Instead, look for vegan protein powders and supplements that offer a complete protein and a high concentration of amino acids

2- Highly Concentrated Protein Powders

Unlike concentrates (which remain in their most natural form,) protein isolates are processed and stripped away from their nutritional cofactors. Depending on the extent of the processing, this can manipulate the amino acid and nutritional profile of the protein.
It’s best to try and consume products with highly concentrated proteins. This is because

  • Most protein isolates are exposed to acid-based processing.
  • Over-processed proteins can have severely altered nutritional co-factors and amino acids.
  • The body is unable to assimilate proteins in an isolated form.

3 - Vegan Protein Powders with BCAAs

For both individuals to optimise recovery and build/maintain (or prevent loss of) muscle mass, it's vital to consume a vegan protein with BCAAs. These are essential in aiding recovery after exertion as well as building or maintaining lean muscle.

In addition, some protein powders include L-Glutamine, which studies have shown improves protein metabolism and mitigates the breakdown of muscle. When it comes to performance, opting for vegan protein powders with BCAAs (and if available, L-Glutamine) is an important component.

Related article - How to maximise muscle growth as a vegan

Final word

Vegan proteins have come a long way since the beginning, so not only do you have a variety of bases to choose from, but they also come in a variety of flavours as well, many of which mix nicely with plain water or almond milk. 

With all this information in mind, you’ll have no problem finding the best vegan protein powder that’s best aligned with your lifestyle and goals. Take the time to review the ingredients and nutritional profiles of the product you're interested in, and try to stick with organic sources whenever possible.

As always Team CSN are here to help, call or email us today and we can give you professional, unbiased advice on all your nutrition and supplement needs.