Firstly, let me just say that in no way am I suggesting that a plant-based diet needs to be supplemented with protein powder – it is now common knowledge in the health and wellness industry that we can get adequate protein from a wholesome and varied plant-based diet.
I personally choose to include protein powder in my diet because I’ve amped up my exercise load, I’m trying to increase my muscle mass and because I like to include it in smoothies to create more substantial and filling snacks and meals.
Whilst it is easy to get lost in the endless shelves of chemical laden protein powders and meal replacement shakes full of false promises, more and more natural alternatives are popping up in Australia. I definitely do not consider myself a protein powder connoisseur but in my search for a healthy AND palatable post workout drink (let’s face it, natural does not ALWAYS taste best – especially where protein powders are concerned) I’ve tried a few plant-based brands and would love to share my experiences with you. All of the below protein supplements are dairy, gluten, soy and refined sugar free.
First up is vanilla flavoured Sunwarrior Rice Protein: Bio-Fermented, Raw, Sprouted Whole Grain Brown Rice Protein sweetened with stevia, 16.8 g of protein per serve.
This was my introduction to the brown rice protein brigade and I have to admit, I nearly spat the first sip back out. I then pondered on how I was going to get rid of it and considered pushing it on to a friend. A month later I gave it another shot and actually slowly began to enjoy it. I think the trick with protein powders that are sweetened with stevia is to not mix them with sweet fruits, unless you’re after a total sweet taste bud assault. I enjoyed Sunwarrior blended with almond/soy/rice milk and loads of ice or with frozen raspberries. Once I learned to enjoy the taste the only downside I found was the slightly chalky texture. Which lead me on to my next tub…
Growing Naturals Organic Whole Grain Brown Rice Protein Isolate in Vanilla Blast, sweetened with brown rice syrup and stevia, 24 g of protein per serve.
I like the fact that this one is sweetened with brown rice syrup as I enjoy the taste more than stevia. This would also suit someone looking to include more carbohydrates in their diet as brown rice syrup contains both fast carbohydrates suitable for muscle recovery and complex carbohydrates for sustained energy. It has the same texture as other brown rice protein powders but I enjoyed the taste more. I also used it in a banana muffin recipe which turned out well.
Ezy Protein: Organic, Sprouted, Bio-Fermented, Raw, Wholegrain Brown Rice Protein sweetened with stevia, 25.8 g protein of per serve.
This has the same texture as Sunwarrior but is a little sweeter and tastier. I quite like the tub that it comes in as your hand doesn’t get coated in protein powder as you try and scoop out the last few serves.
Vega Sport Performance Protein in Chocolate and Vanilla: A complete multi-source, alkaline-forming, plant-based protein blend sweetened with stevia, 26 g of protein per serve.
This is a little different to the above proteins as it contains a mixture of yellow pea protein, SaviSeed protein, sprouted wholegrain brown rice protein, hemp protein and alfalfa protein as well as a branched chain amino acid complex, glutamine and a digestive enzyme blend.
I like the fact that this contains a variety of protein sources and includes other ingredients which assist recovery and improve digestion. I found the texture to be a lot smoother than plain brown rice protein powders and it blends far more easily. Chocolate is my flavour of choice, I’m not a big fan of Vega’s vanilla.
In the end none of these protein powders are delicious, but they do contain high quality healthy ingredients which can compliment your diet and exercise program, and possibly boost your results.
Overall Vega has been my favourite protein powder based on taste, texture and ingredients, but there are still other brands out there that I’m keen to try such as Garden of Life RAW Protein, Juice Plus Complete and David Wolfe’s Raw Sprouted Brown Rice Protein.
Have you tried any of these or ones I haven’t listed? If so, I’d love to hear about your experience.
Bonus: My Choc Raspberry Smoothie Recipe
♥ 1 scoop of vanilla or chocolate plant-based protein powder
♥ milk of choice (almond, rice etc) I used around 100 mL in the one above but I like mine super thick
♥ 1 cup of frozen raspberries
♥ 1 tbsp of raw cacao powder (less if using chocolate flavoured protein)
Blend, serve and enjoy