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These Are the Best Vegan Protein Powders to Build Strong Muscles
When it comes to increasing your sports performance and building muscle, there's no better time to follow a vegan, vegetarian, or plant-based diet. From hemp to pea protein to power blends of plant proteins, there's no shortage of vegan protein powders out there.
But you're probably wondering how much protein you are actually getting, and do they contain complete proteins? The average plant-based protein powder has about 20 grams of protein per two-scoop serving compared to 24 grams of protein in a serving of whey protein powder. Although you're getting more protein in whey- or casein-based protein powders, vegan protein powders have the added benefit of supplying fiber and other important nutrients. And while not all vegan protein powders will be complete proteins, soy protein powders and some plant-based protein powder blends are.
How to shop for the best vegan protein powders
Shopping for the best vegan protein powders can be tricky because you want to ensure you're getting quality ingredients, so we tapped Amy Shapiro, MS, RD, CND, and founder of Real Nutrition, for her advice. Here's what to consider when looking for a vegan protein powder at the grocery store:
• Go for certified USDA organic and non-GMO brands: This ensures there are no fillers of artificial sweeteners or ingredients in the protein powder.
• Try to select single sourced protein powders, like soy, pea protein, or hemp isolate. "Sure, they're not complete proteins, but over the course of the day, your amino acids will balance out. You don't need to have complementary proteins at one meal. It can happen throughout the day," Shapiro says.
• Avoid powder blends with added sugars and artificial sweeteners, such as sucralose. "I'm OK with products sweetened with Stevia or monk fruit, though," Shapiro says.
• Choose protein powders with 15 to 21 grams of protein per serving. "This is within the window I recommend for satiety, staying power, and repleting the muscles," she adds. "Total carbohydrates should be fairly low at about seven grams or less, and sugars at one to two grams per serving."
• Look out for caffeine, in case you don't expect it and want to cut back on your daily intake.
• Watch out for fiber fillers, such as guar gum and chicory root. "In high quantities, they can cause your stomach to become upset," Shapiro warns. But it doesn't hurt to find vegan protein powders with superfood ingredients, like flax seed, cranberry seeds, probiotics, and digestive enzymes.
Now that you know what to look for when shopping for vegan protein powders, check out some of our top picks.
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1) Vegan Protein Powder
Ora Organic's GMO-free vegan protein powders boast a whopping 22 grams of muscle-building protein and only five grams of carbs per serving. Made with a blend of pea protein, rice protein, and hemp, this protein powder also has digestive enzymes to help make it easier to break it down and absorb the nutrients. What's more, it has zero grams of sugar and is lightly sweetened with monk fruit extract and Stevia. Choose from chocolate, vanilla, and vanilla chai for your high-protein smoothies.
Nutrition info per 2-scoop serving: 130 calories, 3 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat), 5 g carbs (0 g sugar), 22 g protein, 390 mg sodium
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2) Organic, Cold-Processed Hemp Seed Protein
What sets Nutiva's hemp protein powders apart is its cold-processed technique of extracting the protein from the hemp plant without using harmful chemicals. Amazon customers have added Nutiva's hemp protein powders to pasta sauces as well as yogurt dressings and baked goods. But they also warn that the earthy taste of hemp could be a little overpowering so a little goes a long way. "Great way to add protein to food but only in very small quantities. It leaves an overpowering earthy taste that tends to mask all other flavors—and I love to cook with garlic!" one Amazon reviewer says.
Nutrition info (per 3-tablespoon serving): 90 calories, 3 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 9 g carbs (8 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 15 g protein, 0 mg sodium
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3) Bulksupplemets Soy Protein Isolate Powder (1 Kilogram)
To get the high-quality plant-based complete protein, soy isolate protein powders, like this one from BulkSupplements, is your best bet. With zero grams of carbs or sugars, it's also a good option for those who are following a low-carb diet. And since it's flavorless, it can seamlessly blend into your smoothies, protein balls, or overnight oats.
Nutrition info per 30 grams: 112 calories,
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4) Hemp Yeah! Balanced Protein + Fiber Powder
With 15 grams of protein and eight grams of fiber in one serving, this hemp-based protein powder will fill you right up. Because hemp is a wonderful source of omega-3 fatty acids, you get a dose of heart-healthy fats, too, in addition to iron, potassium, and magnesium—all essential nutrients for maintaining and building strong muscles.
Nutrition info (per 4-tablespoon serving): 110 calories, 3 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 8 g carbs (8 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 15 g protein, 0 mg sodium)
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5) 100% Pea Protein Powder
You're getting 100% yellow pea protein with no artificial sweeteners, flavors, or colors in this super-clean vegan protein powder. Two scoops will get you 27 grams of protein and just two grams of carbs, so it's a good choice for people who are following a Paleo or low-carb diet.
Nutrition info (per 2-scoop serving): 120 calories, 0.5 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 2 g carbs (0 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 27 g protein, 110 mg sodium
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6) Organic Plant-Based Protein
Garden of Life
One scoop of this plant-based powder gets you 15 grams of protein. It's also got organic tart cherries, turmeric, and goji berries to support muscle recovery after a tough workout. An Amazon reviewer says, "I've been using it in my smoothies for the past 10 days, and I'm happy to report it doesn't cause any discomfort, bloat, or stomach aches, as I experienced with some other protein powders."
Nutrition info (per 2-scoop serving): 160 calories, 3 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 4 g carbs (2 g fiber, less than 1 g sugar), 30 g protein, 160 mg sodium
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7) All-in-One French Vanilla Protein Powder
Vega One's vegan protein powders have more than 6,500 positive reviews on Amazon, and there's a good reason for it. It provides 20 grams of protein and six grams of fiber. Plus, it's packed with probiotics, spirulina, and maca for a boost of health-promoting nutrients. It comes in berry, chocolate, coconut almond, mocha, vanilla chai, and chocolate mint flavors. There's also a plain, unsweetened variety as well.
Nutrition info (per 1-scoop serving): 140 calories, 3.5 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 10 g carbs (6 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 20 g protein, 210 mg sodium
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8) Orgain Organic Plant Based Protein Powder
This organic protein powder features a blend of pea, brown rice protein, and chia seeds, so it's super satisfying. Amazon reviewers like it because it doesn't have a gritty aftertaste and instead has a creamy chocolate-y taste. "I have been buying this for a couple of years now. An amazing product for so many reasons: taste, ease of mixing, and plant based. I go through 1-2 per month," one Amazon reviewer says.
Nutrition info (per 2-scoop serving): 150 calories, 4 g fat (
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9) Organic Plant-Based Vegan Protein Superfood Powder
Organic pea protein, hemp, chia, and quinoa combine with the antioxidant powder of wheat grass, alfalfa, spinach, and spirulina in this protein powder and greens blend. With just one scoop, you get 20 grams of hunger-curbing protein and four grams of fiber. When you're craving something sweet, you can whip up a dessert smoothie with this protein powder and feel good about it. One Amazon reviewer says, "I love to mix one scoop of the vanilla protein powder with three tablespoons of peanut butter powder, almond milk, and a little bit of water. On my goodness, it's so tasty!"
Nutrition info (per 1-scoop serving): 120 calories, 2.5 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 6 g carbs (4 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 20 g protein, 250 mg sodium
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10) Plant-Based Protein Powder
This protein powder from Pure Food is free of fiber fills, added sugars, and GMOs, and delivers one billion CFU of probiotics and three grams of fiber per serving. Packed with a blend of organic proteins from hemp protein, brown rice, and peas to provide a good amount of amino acids and fiber. One Amazon customer says: "I love this product. It doesn't taste sweet because it is 100% natural. The cocoa flavoring is just right when mixed with water and it keeps me full through breakfast and lunch 'til halfway between lunch and dinner. And I love the way my body feels: energized and healthy so I'm ready to tackle the day."
Nutrition info (per 1-scoop serving): 120 calories, 2 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 7 g carbs (4 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 20 g protein, 154 mg sodium
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11) Gold Standard 100% Plant Based Protein Powder
Not only does this vegan protein powder boast 24 grams of protein, but it also has an organic grain blend that includes quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat, millet, and chia for added nutrition. "This protein powder as a shake is pretty delicious. No weird aftertaste like many other powders, and it's really filling," one Amazon reviewer wrote.
Nutrition info (per 1-scoop serving): 150 calories, 3 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat), 7 g carbs (2 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 24 g protein, 210 mg sodium
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12) Organic Plant Protein Powder
This organic protein powder from KOS is packed with 20 grams of protein per serving from flax seeds, quinoa, and peas—plus it's naturally tasty thanks to other ingredients like cacao, monk fruit, and coconut. Another bonus? This chocolately protein powder contains beneficial vitamins from fruits and veggies, essentially replacing the general multi-vitamin. "This is the only protein powder that has such a delicious balanced taste, and I tend to not like sweet or flavored protein powders at all!" writes one Amazon customer. "I look forward to drinking this before and after my workouts and absolutely love that it is plant-based."
Nutrition info (per 2-scoop serving): 170 calories, 6 g fat (4 g saturated fat), 9 g carbs (2 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 20 g protein, 190 mg sodium
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13) Warrior Blend Protein Powder
Sunwarrior's all-natural ingredient list features yellow peas, hemp seeds, and goji berries racking up 19 grams of protein and as little as 1 gram of carbs in just one scoop. It's also rich in amino acids, filled with isoleucine, leucine, and valine, which are essential to building lean muscle. An Amazon customer says she this is the "best breakfast ever," adding it to she shake in the A.M. "I love this protein powder. Every day for the past three or four years, I mix one scoop of Sunwarrior with vanilla almond milk and a splash of water to make my favorite breakfast shake," she says. "It tastes great, is not grainy in texture, and contains no extra hormones from things like whey because it is vegan."
Nutrition info (per 1-scoop serving): 100 calories, 2 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat), 1 g carbs (1 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 19 g protein, 264 mg sodium
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14) Pea Protein Powder
This vegan protein powder from Now Sports is made of a yellow pea protein isolate and provides over 4,000 mg of branch-chain amino acids in one helping. Free of GMOs, this unflavored option is is easily digestible when mixed with water or in your favorite smoothie without the chalkiness of other protein powders out there. "As a vegan who exercises hard, I need a good protein source for after workout recovery," says one Amazon customer. "I've used so many different brands and flavors, but always come back to this pea protein. Not only is it the lowest cost of anything out there, but it only has one ingredient with an excellent protein to total calorie ratio."
Nutrition info (per 1-scoop serving): 120 calories, 2 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 1 g carbs (0 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 24 g protein, 320 mg sodium
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15) Plant Based Protein Powder
When it comes to the ingredients in your protein powder, this phrase still rings true: "less is more." It's why Amazon customers love the fact that this vanilla-flavored pick has only five ingredients and still delivers 20 grams of protein. So what's in it? Organic proteins from peas, pumpkin seeds, and chia seeds, plus vanilla powder and monk fruit for flavoring. Truvani also has a chocolate flavor, which tends to also be a hit for a ton of Amazon customers. "I love the ingredients in this product. So pure and simple," writes one Amazon customer. "The taste is great and I feel confident about this protein powder which is a big deal! It doesn’t have all the added stuff that isn’t good for you, like almost all other protein powders. It is a little pricey but I guess you get what you pay for. Quality over quantity."
Nutrition info (per 1-scoop serving): 130 calories, 3 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 5 g carbs (2 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 20 g protein, 220 mg sodium