A plant-based protein powder that is easily digested, suitable for those with food allergies and all those adhering to a vegan diet.
What is vegan protein?
A vegan protein is a protein powder that has not been produced with the use of animal products. Regular whey protein is made from milk, thus it is vegetarian, but not vegan. Vegan protein, on the other hand, has been produced in a way that uses no animals products whatsoever. These alternative products are most commonly artichoke, brown rice, pea, pumpkin, quinoa and soy as a source of protein. Pea protein is currently the most popular and often the primary source of protein found in vegan protein.
What are the benefits of vegan protein?
Besides adhering to better animal rights consumption, one of the immediate benefits to those who are lactose intolerant is an improvement in digestion over whey protein, in particular, whey concentrate which is one of the most common forms of protein used today is relatively high in lactose content. With this said, vegan protein is not the only way to combat dairy sensitivity, whey isolate also supports ease of digestion due to further refinement than its concentrate counterpart, resulting in a whey protein that is better suited to those with food allergies.
Due to the absence of meat on a plant-based diet, it is hugely beneficial to supplement with a good protein powder supplement to ensure you are meeting your daily protein macronutrient intake. With insufficient protein in a diet, you may suffer from inadequate recovery, as well as muscle atrophy. This, in return, may result in loss of strength as well as a decrease in metabolism.
As with any form of protein, vegan protein can lead to an improved recovery which will result in increased muscle as well as strength. Finally, a great reason to supplement with vegan protein is the lack of antibiotics and hormones that are not present in plant-based protein.
How is vegan protein made?
Vegan protein is produced by extracting the protein from the source of which it came from, this means separating the protein from the carbohydrates and fats found in that source, this is achieved through the use of enzymes, filtration and solvents.
Once the protein has been extracted, the required ingredients are filtered and blended together into a powder to produce vegan protein powder.
What is the difference between vegan and whey protein?
The most obvious difference between vegan and whey protein is where they are sourced from. Whey protein comes from cows milk, whilst vegan protein is derived from plant-based proteins such as pea, rice and soy.
Not all protein is equal. There are 9 essential amino acids (EAAs), these are amino acids that your body cannot produce itself and that needs to be consumed from your diet. Whey protein is a “Complete Protein” because it contains all 9 essential amino acids, however, not all vegan proteins contain all 9 essential amino acids so be sure to look closely and take this into consideration when choosing a protein powder. To combat this, manufacturers will use different sources of plants in order to produce a plant-based protein powder that contains all 9 essential amino acids.
As a whole, whey protein is the superior protein when it comes to building muscle, for the most part, whey protein is higher in protein as well as the amino acid, leucine, this amino acid plays a critical role in stimulating muscle protein synthesis (MPS).
Whey protein is the fastest digesting form of protein powder available, due to varying protein sources in vegan protein, a definitive answer cannot be given as to the exact rate of absorption. The general consensus, however, is that vegan protein is a fast to intermediate-acting protein.
Lastly, between the 2 forms of protein, vegan protein is generally more expensive than whey protein. For a similar price that you would pay for a vegan protein powder, you could get a whey isolate protein which comes with the amino acid benefits of whey protein as well as ease of digestion due to the additional filtration that whey isolate goes through.
Am I achieving the same results using a vegan protein as I would whey protein?
While both are protein powders, they are unique in their own way. With vegan protein, you can expect slower digestion with less total protein content and a lower BCAA count in the amino acid profile when compared to whey protein.
Overall, vegan protein is less anabolic and more expensive than whey protein, but has superior digestion for those with food allergies and also adheres to the animal rights requirements associated with a vegan diet.