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How to choose the right Plant-Based Protein PowderUpdated 3 months ago

Protein is a hot topic today, and for good reason. As health & fitness become bigger priorities in our lives, protein naturally gets talked about more and more.

Protein is important for the repair and growth of muscle tissue, but it goes so much deeper than that! Almost everything in your body is made from different types of proteins.

Muscle tissue? Yup.

Bones? Yes.

Your internal organs? Hormones? Hair, skin, and nails? Again, yes ... these are all made with different proteins.

So, I’d say making sure you are eating enough protein is essential to your health, and should be a priority. This is especially true if you exercise regularly. Exercise breaks down muscle, so this increases the amount of protein you need even more.

If you are following a plant-based diet, getting enough protein can be pretty difficult. This is because plant-based foods are a lot higher in carbohydrates, and lower in protein.

That said, if you follow a plant-based diet, there's no need to panic.

There are some awesome plant-based protein powders out there for you, and they’re actually becoming more popular as more people shift toward plant-based diets!

There was a 600% increase in people following plant-based diets from 2014-2018 (1).

...and as more people are going plant-based, they need a quality source of protein.

The good news is ... plant-based protein powders are a great option to make it easy and convenient for you to get the protein you need daily.

They have some great benefits too! Let’s talk about them.

BENEFITS OF PLANT-BASED PROTEIN POWDERS

While the most popular protein powders come from milk, they aren’t for everyone. Plant-based proteins, however, can be ... so long as you don’t have a rare allergy.

Let’s take a look at some of the benefits you get when consuming a plant-based protein powder.

PLANT-BASED PROTEIN POWDERS HAVE NO LACTOSE

Remember when I said the most common protein powders come from milk, and they aren’t for everyone? Well, it’s estimated that about 36% of all people in the US are lactose intolerant (2).

That means over 120 million people in the US cannot tolerate a milk-based protein powder. If you have digestive issues with dairy, a plant-based protein powder could be a great option for you!

It can help you get more protein in your diet without having to get an upset stomach whenever you drink it ... which will be pretty often. No one wants to feel uncomfortable, and this could be a good solution for you.

PLANT-BASED PROTEIN POWDERS HAVE NO ANIMAL PRODUCTS

If you follow a vegan lifestyle, this is the protein powder for you!

But why do you need protein in the first place?

Well, when you exercise, you break down your muscles and other tissues around your body. We must do this for long-term health, but it means we need to eat more protein to repair the damage.

As I mentioned earlier, plant foods consist mostly of carbohydrates. As a result, they aren’t typically high in the essential amino acids we need to build and repair muscle.

The essential amino acids are the amino acids we can’t make in the body, so we have to get them from the foods & supplements we eat or drink throughout the day.

Without eating animal products, it can be difficult to get the quality protein we need to function at our best. It’s not impossible though.

The best plant-based protein powders use more than one plant protein source to improve the quality. That’s crucial in order to even the playing field when comparing them to traditional whey protein powders.

In a quality vegan protein powder, any essential amino acids that one plant protein lacks, another provides. This makes it a complete protein source to give your body what it needs for growth and repair!

This makes it an easy way to get the protein you need without compromising on your vegan lifestyle!

PLANT-BASED PROTEIN POWDERS CAN HELP YOU BUILD MUSCLE LIKE ANIMAL-BASED PROTEINS DO

This goes in line with the last benefit, but it’s the truth!

It’s well known that animal proteins can help you build muscle. This is because of how high quality many of these proteins are.

When it comes to quality in proteins, it's all about the essential amino acids in them. If a protein has all 9 essential amino acids, it can be a high-quality, complete protein source.

Most complete proteins come from animal sources.

...and while that's true, it has led many people to think that plant proteins can’t help you build muscle, and this isn’t true. Studies show that gains in muscle are the same whether the protein eaten is from plant or animal sources (3).

Allow me to clarify that a little further.

This does not mean that all plant proteins are of equal value to animal proteins.

It’s a little more complicated than that.

This is only true when the essential amino acid content is equal between the proteins eaten. So, protein powder from peas and rice can help muscle growth as well as chicken can, if enough protein is eaten in both cases.

As long as you use a high-quality plant-based protein powder with a complete amino acid profile, you can build muscle just as well as anyone else.

PLANT-BASED PROTEIN POWDERS HAVE MORE FIBER AND VITAMINS

This is a good benefit for anyone! Fiber is important for gut health, and obviously, vitamins are good too.

Because plants have a lot of fiber, vitamins, and minerals ... some of it makes its way into the protein powder. Animal-sourced proteins might have some vitamins and minerals, but they won’t have fiber.

Fiber has a ton of benefits too! Fiber can help improve bowel health, lower cholesterol levels, and more (4).

Now, a plant-based protein powder is not going to give you ALL of the fiber and vitamins you need in a day, but it certainly can help you get there!

HOW MUCH PROTEIN DO YOU NEED?

This is going to be different for everyone, but it’s not too difficult to figure out.

If you were to look at the RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance) for protein, it’s only 0.8 g per kg bodyweight (5). So if you weigh 200 pounds, that means the RDA says you need around 73 grams of protein per day.

Let me just say that is extremely low. This recommendation is basically the amount of protein you need to prevent malnutrition. That in no way means it’s all you need to maintain optimal health.

This is especially true if you exercise and don’t want to lose muscle. If you are trying to lose weight, you may benefit from even more protein.

For instance, a study compared eating 1 g of protein per kg bodyweight to 2.3 g of protein per kg when losing weight. With the calories equated, they found similar weight loss in both groups.

The difference here is that they found significantly more muscle mass loss in the group eating 1 g per kg (6). If they only ate the RDA amount, they would likely have lost even more muscle.

You see, your muscle tissue has 2 processes that determine if the muscle is lost or gained.

These are called muscle protein synthesis (MPS) and muscle protein breakdown (MPB). Both processes are happening all the time, but in different amounts.

When you eat a good amount of quality protein, the amount of MPS goes up. MPB increases when you exercise, and you need protein to reverse that process.

If you don’t eat enough protein, like in the study, MPB will exceed MPS. When this happens you will lose muscle tissue over time.

So, in this case, 2.3 g of protein per kg of body weight is much more ideal to follow.

That’s about 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight.

I like to follow a little rule of thumb that has always worked for me and all that I’ve trained in the past.

Shoot for no less than 1 g protein per pound of your goal body weight if you are wanting to lose weight. If you want to gain weight then shoot for no less than 1 g protein per pound of your current body weight.

So, if you are 200 pounds and want to lose 15 pounds, eat no less than 185 g of protein. If you follow this rule of thumb, you won't have a problem getting the protein you need on a consistent basis!

CHOOSING THE RIGHT PLANT-BASED PROTEIN POWDER

Not every plant protein is equally as valuable, so you’ll need to check the nutrition label.

As I mentioned earlier, most plant proteins are not complete proteins. Therefore,  it's necessary to mix two or more protein sources to make it a complete protein source. While that sounds simple enough, not every plant-based protein powder will give you this ... so keep an eye out when selecting your vegan protein powder.

If you check the ingredients and you only see one source of protein on it, I’d personally look elsewhere. Let me elaborate a bit.

Peas are one of the better plant sources of protein. They have many of the amino acids we need, but they're low in methionine and cysteine. Because of this, if I found a nice vegan protein powder with just pea protein, I wouldn’t be giving my body a complete protein source.

Vegan Power Pro Chocolate Frost

To make it much more effective, you’d need to add a protein source that contains those missing amino acids. This is why I recommend the Vegan Power Pro to anyone looking for a high-quality plant-based protein.

It has pea protein, but is blended with rice protein, which is rich in methionine and cysteine ... so the blend will give you all of the amino acids you need to build and repair muscle.

…or anything else your body needs more protein for.

That’s not all that makes it good though. It also has digestive enzymes and a fruit + veggie blend to benefit your overall health.

On top of that, it tastes better than any other vegan protein I’ve ever tried. If you don’t believe me, check out the reviews for yourself!

FINAL THOUGHTS

When it comes to protein intake, it’s an important thing to pay attention to. If you are vegan or follow a plant-based diet, you should pay attention to it even more.

For many people who follow a plant-based lifestyle, they use plant-based protein powders to supplement what they need. It's important to remember that not all of them are created equal though.

Be sure that you do your research on which one you take. It must have a complete amino acid profile if you want the maximum benefit.

For most vegan protein powders, that means it will have at least 2 different sources of protein in it. That way they fill in the gaps of what the other amino acids are missing.

The best ones may even have other added benefits, like digestive enzymes or whole-food blends.

This is important because protein isn’t all you need to maximize your health or see real results.

Every other aspect of your diet and exercise routine matters a lot too. If the other pieces aren’t on point, your results may suffer as well.

I know it can seem complicated and hard to navigate, but that’s where we can help!

If you are serious about wanting to see results in your fitness and stay healthy, check out the 1st Phorm App.

We give you every tool you need to be successful through tracking your food and your workouts, but that’s not all. We set you up with an advisor who will coach you, answer your questions, and teach you all you need to know to earn the results you're looking for!

If you have trouble holding yourself accountable, we will be there for you! Trust me, we can help you get the best results you’ve ever had!

If you have any questions about anything I talked about here, reach out to our customer service team! They are full of certified personal trainers, and will answer any questions that you have!

All you have to do is either call us at 1-800-409-9732. You can also email [email protected] and we’ll get you taken care of!

REFERENCES:

(1) Clem J, Barthel B. A Look at Plant-Based Diets. Mo Med. 2021 May-Jun;118(3):233-238. PMID: 34149083; PMCID: PMC8210981.

(2) Kaufman EJ, Tan C. White as milk: Biocentric bias in the framing of lactose intolerance and lactase persistence. Sociol Health Illn. 2022 Nov;44(9):1533-1550. doi: 10.1111/1467-9566.13528. Epub 2022 Aug 26. PMID: 36018892.

(3) Pinckaers PJM, Trommelen J, Snijders T, van Loon LJC. The Anabolic Response to Plant-Based Protein Ingestion. Sports Med. 2021 Sep;51(Suppl 1):59-74. doi: 10.1007/s40279-021-01540-8. Epub 2021 Sep 13. PMID: 34515966; PMCID: PMC8566416.

(4) Akbar A, Shreenath AP. High Fiber Diet. [Updated 2023 May 1]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK559033/

(5) Lonnie M, Hooker E, Brunstrom JM, Corfe BM, Green MA, Watson AW, Williams EA, Stevenson EJ, Penson S, Johnstone AM. Protein for Life: Review of Optimal Protein Intake, Sustainable Dietary Sources and the Effect on Appetite in Ageing Adults. Nutrients. 2018 Mar 16;10(3):360. doi: 10.3390/nu10030360. PMID: 29547523; PMCID: PMC5872778.

(6) Mettler S, Mitchell N, Tipton KD. Increased protein intake reduces lean body mass loss during weight loss in athletes. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2010 Feb;42(2):326-37. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e3181b2ef8e. PMID: 19927027.

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