Is Vegan Protein Powder Right For You?

Pssst! Want to know a secret? You don’t have to be a bodybuilder, a fitness fanatic or even, gasp, a vegan to benefit from supplementing your diet with a little plant-based protein powder.

Crucial for everything from building a baby to healthy ageing, protein is made up of amino acids. These act as the building blocks for everything we regard as essential to good health, like lean muscle, strong bones and a fully-functioning immune system. They even play a role in maintaining our appearance: we’re talking lustrous hair, strong nails and healthy skin.

Choosing a good quality protein powder can shuttle a regular (and tasty) supply of amino acids to where your body needs it most, even on days when you’re too busy to cook a meal. And, unlike powders made from animal products, vegan powders are ethical and environmentally friendly, for a massive helping of feel-good vibes.

So whether your body is a temple, or your idea of clean eating is cutting down to two packets of Wotsits a day, these hard-working plant-based powders really earn their place in your kitchen cupboard. 

Not sure if they’re right for your own particular goals or lifestyle? Read on to find out. (Spoiler alert: they almost certainly are.)

In this guide we’ll be covering:

Vegan protein powder for weight loss 

Protein is a dieter’s best friend. A worthy winner of the world’s most-satiating nutrient award, it helps to keep your appetite under control and your blood sugar levels stable. 

Protein-rich foods curb the hunger hormones that lead to overeating, and have a higher thermic effect, meaning you’re actually burning more calories just to process it. There’s also the theory that protein is so essential to the human body that we’ll overeat carbs and fat (and therefore get more calories than we burn) just to ensure we get enough of it. 

Of course, you could get protein’s weight-loss benefits from eating protein-rich plant-based whole foods. So do protein powders have any extra advantages for those trying to fit into their skinny jeans?

Choosing a low-calorie, low-sugar protein powder means you can smash your macronutrient goals without breaking your diet. For example, our RITUAL: Vegan Protein Powder provides 20g of satiating, hunger-curbing protein plus a complete amino acid profile for the grand total of just 115 calories.

It also contains pea protein (along with quinoa and hemp), something that might give it a slight edge when it comes to reducing your calorie intake during the course of the day. In one study examining different sources of protein and their effects on fullness, pea protein showed one of the strongest effects on lowering appetite, second only to milk-derived casein.

Read more tips for easy fat loss

Vegan protein powder for muscle gain 

From warding off osteoporosis and protecting your joints to boosting your metabolism, adding strength training to your gym sessions offers impressive health benefits for people of all ages.

To lay down more lean muscle, you need to lift loads that are heavy enough to create micro-tears in your existing muscle tissue, then rest the muscle so it has the chance to repair itself. But there’s a caveat. To grow back stronger and bigger than before, your muscles need a good supply of the right kind of proteins to rebuild, and that’s where powders really come into their own. 

 

 

Adding a vegan protein powder specifically formulated for muscle gain such as PERFORM: Vegan Protein Powder can give you a type of amino acids known as branched chain (BCAAs). These play a particularly important part in triggering muscle synthesis. 

Read our nutritionist’s guide to a vegan bodybuilding diet for more.

Vegan protein powder for bodybuilders 

Both amateur and competitive bodybuilders take their nutrition seriously. But whether they’re cutting, bulking or maintaining, you’ll almost always find a tub of protein powder nestled on their shelves, and here’s why.

  • Protein powder for cutting
  • Want to lose a bit of body fat to show off those rippling abs? Protein powder preserves lean muscle when you’re in a calorie deficit and can provide a high dose of protein for as little as 115 calories per serving. 

  • Protein powder for bulking
  • Looking to get gainsy? Bodybuilders eat surplus calories and focus on foods that are great for building muscle. They have to eat a lot more protein, something that makes it difficult if they’re following a vegan diet. Of course it’s possible to get enough protein from wholefoods, but plant-based protein powders are portable and tasty, making it easier to consume the amounts of the macronutrient they need.

    Read our insider’s guide to bodybuilding supplements

    Vegan protein powder for runners and athletes

    Want to run harder, for longer? There’s a vegan protein powder for that. Whether you’re training for a 5k or a triathlon, when you run your body breaks down its branched chain amino acid reserves to use as energy in a process called catabolism.

    Taking BCAAs before you head out on your run can prevent catabolism of your body’s existing stores, preventing soreness and fatigue. Post-workout, BCAAs increase tryptophan levels, which decreases the perception of your efforts, basically tricking your body into working harder.

    Even non-vegans use vegan BCAAs because animal-based BCAA supplements are often derived from duck feathers and even human hair. Yuck. Luckily, vegan BCAA supplements are mostly made by fermenting plant matter. The best supplements contain all three BCAAs, and should be taken about one hour before and after you run.

    Find out what your BCAAs are really made of.

    Vegan protein powder for hair 

    Want lustrous locks? Forget shampoos that you slather on while chanting under the light of the moon and get right to the source of what you need - a healthy diet full of protein. 

    All of the 100,000 hairs on your head need the right nourishment in order to grow. But because your body doesn’t consider shiny locks vital to your survival, it will never prioritise hair’s nutritional needs over other organs or bodily processes. 

    Due to hair’s expendable nature, a nutritional imbalance will often show up first in the form of hair loss. And what’s hair made of? Protein. Including adequate amounts in your diet is vital, and both whole foods and protein powders will ensure every strand is getting enough.

    Discover the best vegan protein sources here

    Vegan protein powder for women 

    Who runs the world? Girls. On protein powder, as part of a healthy diet and exercise plan. OK, so it once had a bit of a macho image (those massive tubs with pictures of bodybuilders on them didn’t help). But with strong being the new skinny, more and more women are discovering the power of the powder to help them reach their nutrition and body composition goals.

    But that’s not plant-based powder’s only benefits...

  • Pregnancy 
  • Protein is a true pregnancy essential, because it’s the building blocks that make a brand new human. While it’s always best to prioritise eating a wide range of foods, drinking a protein shake when you’re pregnant can give you peace of mind that you're really getting enough, even while you’re struggling with loss of appetite or nausea. RITUAL: Vegan Protein Powder is formulated so it’s suitable for pregnancy. And because it’s unflavoured you can put it in anything, even in baked goods, making it even easier to get down.

  • Breastfeeding
  • Protein is not only essential for the production of breast milk, it also passes from mama to bubba to nourish and support the growth of your little one. For this reason, breastfeeding women need to consume an extra 25g of protein per day. 

    Clearly if you’re sticking to plant-based sources this would involve a lot of healthy meal prep - something that’s not quite so easy when you’re pinned to the sofa by a hungry baby. Shaking up a vegan protein powder can be done one-handed (just about!) so it can really help plant-based mums and their babies reach their protein goals.

  • PCOS
  • Characterised by irregular periods and excess androgens that can lead to unwanted body hair, insulin resistance plays a part in developing PCOS. The condition can also lead to weight gain which in turn, makes PCOS worse. Restoring insulin sensitivity by increasing lean muscle can help, while a weight loss of just 5% can lead to a significant improvement in PCOS symptoms. 

    Combined with healthy eating and resistance training, protein powders can play a role in muscle building and weight loss, while one study found that supplementing with protein could manage the symptoms of PCOS by improving blood glucose levels.

    Vegan protein powder for seniors

    Lean muscle mass starts to decline when you’re over 30 and even happens to athletes who continue to train hard well in their golden years. 

    So what happens if you’re more of a couch potato than an elite athlete as you age? This muscle atrophy will happen more rapidly, bringing with it frailty and instability which raises the risk of serious falls. 

    It is estimated that in 10% of individuals over the age of 60, this muscle frailty will progress to a condition known as sarcopenia - a lack of skeletal muscle mass and strength that’s correlated with physical disability.   

    Luckily, it’s never too late to make improvements. In a study looking at sarcopenic biomarkers in older adults, a daily protein shake improved muscle signaling - although, unsurprisingly, combining shakes with exercise improved them even more.

     

    Vegan protein powder for diabetes

    Increasing muscle and reducing body fat can help decrease the symptoms of type 2 diabetes. And as we’ve seen above, protein powder can help you do both.

    In type 2 diabetes, your cells don’t respond well to the hormone insulin and, as a result, your pancreas makes more and more of it as it struggles to control the levels of sugar in your blood. When you weigh less, your pancreas is better able to keep up with your body's need for insulin. In some cases, weight loss alone is enough to restore blood sugar to a normal level.

    And then there’s muscle. Lean muscle is not only incredibly sensitive to insulin. it’s also hungry for glucose.The more muscle mass you have, the more sensitive your body will be to insulin.

    If you’re planning to take a protein shake to help you increase muscle and reduce your body fat, you’ll need to choose carefully so that you’re not getting too many carbs or sugar alongside your protein. Luckily PERFORM: Vegan Protein Powder contains no sugar and is suitable for diabetics. 

    It also comes with turmeric which is thought to have even more benefits for diabetes. The curcuminoids (antioxidants) in turmeric have been found to decrease blood glucose levels and improve insulin resistance by reducing serum free fatty acids and increasing fatty acid oxidation within the body. 

    Vegan protein powder for the keto diet 

    Vegan on a keto diet? You’re not just a nightmare dinner party guest, you’re also going to find getting enough protein extremely challenging. That’s because a lot of wholesome plant-based protein sources are also high in carbs, with beans, pulses, chickpeas and lentils some ketosis-kicking culprits.

    But that’s not to say it can’t be done. Sticking to non-starchy vegetables, fats in the form of nuts and supplementing your protein intake with plant-based protein powders will keep you firmly in the fat-burning zone. 

    At Vivo Life, all our plant-based protein powders are very low in carbohydrates. In fact RITUAL: Vegan Protein Powder has just 1.9g of carbs in each serving, making it a delicious, convenient way to boost your protein consumption while meeting your nutrition goals.

    Vegan protein powder for cooking

    Love to bake? Vegan protein powder won’t let you down. Cooking with protein powder lets you get guilt-free, nutrition-packed snacks without the added sugar or calories. But unlike the whey kind, your treats will be both ethically sourced, environmentally friendly and they don’t get rubbery, meaning they’re even better when you’re whipping up brownies, cakes or muffins.

    Learn eight new ways to cook with our PERFORM protein powder

    Liked this article? Then find out more about protein of the plant-based kind with our ultimate guide to vegan protein.

     

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