We know protein powder is helpful in getting healthier, stronger, and leaner.
When you have a regular workout routine, adding protein is just what your body needs to get the most out of your exercises.
A lot of people like protein powder because it is convenient and digests quickly, so it can be taken right after a WORKOUT.
Whey protein is most commonly used for this reason. What about people who are vegan, have food sensitivities, or have allergies to whey?
Vegan protein powder does exist and has been proven to be as good as whey protein in muscle growth.
Is Vegan Protein Powder Absorption As Good As Whey Protein Powder?
The short answer: Well, it’s complicated. The reason for this is that there is a variety of plant-based protein powders.
Each plant protein source, from soy to hemp, has a different absorption rate.
Experts say that pea protein has a faster absorption rate than other sources, but it isn’t as quick as whey.
To really get the big picture, it can be helpful to see differences between vegan protein sources. That way, you can make an educated decision about which protein powder is best for your goals.
Types of Vegan Protein Powders
- Pea protein can be digested slower than whey, but it is QUICKER than casein, another milk-based protein powder. Pea protein is a popular vegan protein powder.
- Soy protein is perhaps the only plant-based complete protein source.
- Brown rice protein contains all the amino acids, but it is low in lysine which is important for muscle growth.
- Hemp protein can be easily digested, and has all essential amino acids. Hemp is high in omega-3 fatty acids.
- Others include chia, flax, quinoa, alfalfa, pumpkin seeds, and any other seed, nut, or legume source.
Difference Between Vegan Protein Powder and Whey
Vegan protein powder can come from many plant sources. Whey, on the other hand, is derived from dairy.
When milk is processed, its liquid protein gets separated from the solid protein. Whey is the liquid portion, while casein is the solid.
Both can be used for protein powders, but whey is much more effective in digesting than casein.
While whey sounds great from a rapid muscle recovery perspective, it does AFFECT people differently.
Protein powders made of whey can have side effects like bloating, cramps, and diarrhea, especially if you have difficulty digesting milk and other lactose products.
Why Is Absorption Rate Important?
After a hard workout, your muscles are torn. In order to recover and grow stronger, muscles need essential amino acids, which is what protein powder provides.
The purpose of protein powder is to FUEL MUSCLES with fast-absorbing amino acids.
Let’s figure out what essential amino acids are. Protein, any type of protein, is made up of amino acids.
When you eat protein, whether from meat or plants, your body breaks it down into amino acids.
Once they are metabolized and absorbed, amino acids help your body grow, repair cells and tissues, and give you energy.
“Essential” amino acids can’t be made within the body. They can only come from protein sources that are “complete” proteins, meaning they contain all 9 essential amino acids.
Whey is a complete protein source, so that’s why it’s number one of protein powder choices. Combine that with its quick digestion, and it is quite productive in creating new muscle.
Not all plant-based proteins are complete proteins.
BUT there are plant-based protein powders that still give you the whole amino acid profile such as Vivo Life.
Also, because plants have high fiber content, it makes digestion and absorption a slower process.
But should you turn away from vegan protein powder so QUICKLY?
There are a lot of other factors that affect vegan protein powder’s effectiveness.
For example, there are vegan protein powders out there which are designed to increase absorption.
By adding certain enzymes to the mix, essential amino acids can be used by the body more quickly. Enzymes are meant to make digestive reactions more efficient.
Also, protein powders that have a combination of plant proteins are most effective. They can give your body all the essential amino acids and have a rapid digestion rate.
There are also the additional benefits of other plant nutrients. For example, a powder can have a mix of pea protein and brown rice, plus a bit of quinoa for extra nutrients and fiber.
The Good About Vegan Protein Powder
- Although most plant proteins don’t have all or enough essential amino acids, a combination of protein sources can get all of them in.
- Each protein plant source has its own benefits, like being rich in nutrients and fiber.
- Vegan protein sources tend to be great for satiety and appetite regulation.
- Plant protein sources can reduce inflammation, especially for people who are SENSITIVE to milk-based protein.
- It is also perfect for people with specific dietary constraints, like following a plant-based, gluten-free, or dairy/lactose-free diet.
- They are much quicker to digest.
The Not So Good About Vegan Protein Powder
- Some powders have a different, unpleasant taste or aftertaste than people are used to.
- The plant fiber can make the powder bulkier, and sometimes it can be difficult to blend it with a liquid.
- They tend to be more EXPENSIVE than their whey counterparts.
- Soy protein can be controversial since some soy-beans in the United States are genetically modified.
- The high fiber can be difficult to digest at first if you’re not used to it.
- It takes some trial and error to figure out which type is best for you.
So there you have it: vegan protein powder can be almost as fast in absorption as whey protein powder is.
However, that is NOT the only quality that can determine how good a protein powder is. It all depends on your needs and preferences.
It’s important to recognize that vegan protein powder is just as successful in producing muscle gains as whey or casein.
Don’t know what vegan protein powder to get?
My favorite protein powder is Vivo Life. There’s just soooo much good to say about them.
It’s hard not to be in love with their products as you’ll see.