Protein isn’t exactly the first thing you associate with vegans.
It can be difficult to get enough, especially if you’re an athlete. But, just like anybody else, we can turn to protein powders for a solution.
The only difference?
These vegan protein powders are plant based, not derived from dairy.
That might seem confusing at first. How on Earth can you extract enough protein from plant to make these powders?
Remember that there isn’t too much protein in milk either. Let’s compare 100 grams of whole milk to 100 grams of peas.
There’s really not too big of a difference, percentage wise.
By processing milk or plants, we can remove most of the fats and carbohydrates, and we’re left with nearly pure protein, either way.
What is Vegan Protein Powder Actually Made Of?
Protein powder consists of more than just the protein isolate, or it would taste terrible.
Companies have gone to great lengths to find vegan ingredient combinations that both have good macronutrient profiles, and taste good (some more than others).
To find out what’s really in vegan protein powder, I analyzed the ingredients of 10 of the top vegan protein powders from my list of the best vegan protein powders.
These are the most popular ingredients:
|Brown rice protein||6|
Want to see the complete list? Click here to access a copy of the data.
Analysis of Plant Based Protein Powder Ingredients
Pea protein was in 100% of powders. I’d presume that this is because it is cheaper to obtain than other plant protein isolates.
However, it wasn’t usually the sole protein, others were mixed in as well. Two other protein sources were also popular:
- Brown rice protein (6)
- Hemp protein (5)
The next interesting ingredient of note was stevia. It was used as a sweetener in every single powder. Others were used as well, but none nearly as popular.
The final popular ingredients fell into 3 categories:
- Nutritional - Flaxseed, chia seeds, kale
- Flavoring - “Natural flavors”, cocoa, vanilla
- Stabilizers - Guar gum, acacia gum, xanthan gum
To be honest, most “nutritional” ingredients added to protein powders are added in such small quantities that they really don’t do much.
Flavoring also doesn’t affect the nutritional content too much (unless a lot of cocoa is used).
Finally, stabilizers simply help with powder stability, but doesn’t affect the nutrition significantly.
Plant based protein powders typically get their protein content from pea protein, brown rice protein, and hemp protein.
On top of protein sources, powders also contain stabilizers (gums), flavor ingredients, and nutritional additives.
If you're curious about how they extra protein from ingredients like peas and soy, see my full post on how vegan protein powder is made.