Green smoothie recipes often call for protein powders. They keep you full and bring flavour. They help tone and keep you out of the pantry. But navigating the perfect product is actually really hard. You'd think that a billion dollar global industry with so many products would mean too many good options. Not the case.
By far the most popular products on the market are whey proteins. Whey, freeze dried into powder, comes from the production of cheese. Casein is the second most popular protein source on the market, also derived from dairy.
If you're regular consumers of Green Press you know we don't like dirty dairy. We're not baby cows so why are we drinking a product biologically designed for them? Of course it will help with muscle growth, cow's breast milk turns 40kg calfs into 450kg teenagers. The protein content looks great on paper, except that our body's have to fight to digestively assimilate it. It actually depletes our calcium storage.
But before you assume all vegan protein powders are better, you need to dive in deeper. Firstly, read the label. Processed sugars, artificial flavours and preservatives are prevalent in dairy and non-dairy options. And that doesn't even touch on the farming methods. Avoid anything made in China. The gross majority of brown rice protein, the most common ingredient, is farmed there. Which is a concern because 20% of the soil is contaminated with heavy metals. And soy, another popular plant protein, isn't any better. Even the US grown crops are renowned for pesticides.
Unfortunately, there isn't a perfect science to your protein powder selection. All you can look for is organic certification and trust your instinct. Research the company values online and see if you can pick up integrity. As the supplement industry has a reputation for being the wild wild west, you really have to dig deeper. Last year GNC, Target, Walgreens and Walmart all had to remove products from their shelves as the protein powders didn't contain what was in their label.
So What Do I Buy?
We've tried most of the top brands on the market. Which isn't easy as a lot of brands aren't available in multiple countries. We had to buy some of the best selling US proteins from bodybuilding.com because they don't exist here. Conversely, if you're not in Australia you're not going to enjoy our number one pick.
The best tasting plant protein that we've discovered on the market. Not too sweet, but dang delicious. Stevia and coconut flavours with organic brown rice, pea and sacha inca. There's also bromelain (natural enzyme found in pineapple) for recovery. These guys are Australian so we're afraid some readers won't have access to it, but it's well worth a google. Organic ingredients and coconut flavours is a perfect formula.
Rawfusion are the best sellers on bodybuilding.com and have a great reputation. Their products gets the highest recommendation from my local supplier who independently tests the nutritional properties. The chocolate is much subtler in flavour than the vanilla. We use this product for our acai bowls in store. It plays very well with peanut butter :).
Vega One is like a multi-vitamin. Their ingredient list runs deep, which is normally a bad thing. However, all of the extras (algae, broccoli, maca, probiotics) means one scoop is technically 50% of your vitamin and mineral needs.
A little more expensive in Australia but competitive in the US, PlantFusion have a great amino acid and flavour profile. Their recipes are made from pea, artichoke, amaranth and quinoa protein which brings a variety of nutritional properties.
Organic chia, hemp, pea and brown rice proteins make up this Amazon best seller. We love seeing hemp seeds on ingredient lists as it contains all of the essential amino acids. Versatile flavour plus 21g of protein and 5g of fibre per scoop.
Another monstrous ingredient list, in the Vega One vain. There's 14 protein sources alone! Plus another 50+ ingredients bringing vitamins. Love the organic certification and bonus micronutrients, and the flavour is decent.
Tremendously popular on bodybuilding.com. Everyone loves the mocha but it didn't resonate with me quite as well. Could be the Melbourne coffee snobbery in me coming through. Pea, brown rice, stevia and monk fruit make up most of the ingredient list. Which is clean and common.
Derived from pea, alfalfa, pumpkin and sunflower seeds. We like that unique combo, with the Vega Sport having more protein than the Vega One. There's also anti-inflammatory turmeric and gut health probiotics.
We used this one in store for our first 18 months. Loved the nutritional profile and bought into their reputation but the flavour is just too sweet. Great in a half scoop dosage but you can't have any more or it will take over. Just know you'll only get 8-10g of protein for that portion.
Amazonia are a growing Australian company who supply us with tremendous acai powder. We love their organic ethos and commitment to innovation. Their range is the first protein powder to be a prebiotic. But flavours aren't their strength. Plus they sell whey protein recipes as well, making us wonder if they are committed to plant based recipes or if they are just trying to serve trends.
Did we forget any winners? What's your favourite? We'd love to discover other plant based proteins as we think this niche will keep improving.