Vegan Protein Powders – Why Should You Use Them?
Vegan protein powders are revolutionising the fitness, diet, nutrition industries and the way we think about food in general. In a world where time is of the essence and the strains on the environment are making everyone think more seriously about a vegan diet, vegan protein powders are a great solution for everyone.
It’s incredible to think that in the history of human civilisation, diet has been a limiting factor on the lengths of peoples’ lives. Consider the hunter-gatherer days where survival depended on the next meal and thousands of years of human history, where a lack of knowledge on the existence of vitamins lead to a whole host of diseases such as scurvy and rickets. Well now we can survive entirely on powders and herbal supplements and get all the nutrients we need!
Even with the knowledge we now have on health and nutrition, modern-day life can be jam-packed with work and social obligations and it can be difficult to find the time and energy to prepare and cook nutritionally complete meals.
More and more people are turning to protein powders and herbal supplements to provide a fast and filling meal with the assurance of knowing that what they’re putting into their bodies is great for their health. The nutritional content of meal replacement and protein powders also make it super easy to measure the intake of calories, fats and proteins to formulate easy to follow diet and/or muscle gain plans. The question is, which protein powders are the best?
Animal and Plant-based Protein – What’s the difference?
Protein powders are used in fitness to build muscle, recover after a workout and can help with weight loss.
The most common types of protein powders available are:
· Whey Protein
· Casein Protein
· Beef Protein
· Egg or Egg White Protein
· Plant-Based Protein
The benefits of animal protein powders compared to plant-based, vegan protein powders are largely debated in the fitness industry since animal-based whey protein is the most popular and cheapest option, but as the environmental benefits of switching to a vegan diet become more clear, more research is going into the health benefits of vegan protein powders.
Whey is a by-product of cheese-making, produced when milk is separated into curds and whey.
The curds are used to make cheese or casein protein powder and the whey can be processed into protein rich powders which are a popular supplement, as they allow the body to build mass quickly, are easily absorbed into the body, help decrease appetite and are available widely and cheaply. Casein protein is absorbed very slowly and so is usually taken before sleep as a meal replacement.
Whey protein is available as a concentrate, an isolate or a hydrolysate depending on the levels of processing. It contains all nine essential amino acids, making it a complete protein and this is the reason why some might consider it to be better than plant-based protein powders.
Of course, there are also downsides to whey protein. As allergies increase in the population, many people looking for a protein powder would need to consider an alternative. The lactose in whey can cause flatulence and even bloating and diarrhoea when consumed in excess or by those with a lactose intolerance. Whey protein Isolate can be a substitute in this case since the processing removes a significant amount of fat and lactose, but the process can destroy some of the protein, making it less effective.
It is now well known that livestock is a large contributor to global carbon emissions. In fact, livestock is responsible for 14.5% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, a similar proportion to transport emissions, with 65% of that from cows used for beef and dairy farming. According to studies, cutting meat and dairy from your diet could reduce your carbon footprint from food by two-thirds. There is also the question of animal welfare.
You can buy organic whey protein but that doesn’t mean the cows that produced the milk were free-range. It just means that the cows weren’t pumped full of hormones and antibiotics to make them milk and beef producing machines.
This practise is now illegal in the UK but if you’re purchasing animal protein from another country, make sure to check the regulations, especially since those hormones could end up in you. It could take some difficult research to make sure your animal protein powder came from a cruelty free source.
By choosing a plant-based protein powder, you can contribute to a kinder, cleaner environment.
The Benefits of Using Vegan Protein
Plant-based, vegan protein powders such as brown rice, pea and soy are a great alternative if you have a sensitive gut or are trying to do your bit in reducing the impact of human food production on the environment. They do everything a protein powder should, build and repair muscle and help with weight loss and all nine essential amino acids can be had by combining varieties of vegan protein powder and herbal supplements.
A single plant type does not typically contain all the essential amino acids, as animal protein does, and therefore needs to be combined with others.
A 2011 study conducted on 24 college-aged, resistance-trained males tested brown rice protein against whey protein on the perceived recovery, soreness and readiness to train in the individuals, over 8 weeks of training 3 days per week, and found no detectable differences. Both groups showed similarly improved body composition and exercise performance.
A 2015 study compared the effects of pea protein against whey on 161 males, aged 10 to 35, over 12 weeks of resistance training on upper limb muscles. Whey and Pea protein showed a similar increase in muscle thickness in the subjects, both greater than the placebo group, who unknowingly had not ingested protein after exercise.
With the growing popularity of vegetarian and vegan diets, there have been many studies into the health benefits of a plant-based diet. Studies have shown that these diets can reduce the risk of several diseases and be beneficial to people with diseases such as:
· Type 2 Diabetes
· Heart disease
· High blood pressure
Plant-based protein powders can be easily mixed and combined with other herbal supplements to make them complete. Brown rice and pea protein powders can be combined to complete the amino acid profile and our own herbal living vegan protein powders are packed with phytonutrients to make them great for your health.
Common sources of vegan protein that can be mixed to form a complete protein powder are:
· Sacha Inchi – A seed with lots of health benefits
· Sunflower Seed
· Pumpkin Seed
· Brown Rice
However, there could even be a better alternative, potentially the best vegan protein powder, Hemp.
Hemp Protein – A Complete Protein
Don’t be fooled, hemp protein won’t get you high. In fact, hemp is an incredibly useful product that is often misunderstood. Check out our post on everything hemp can do here… https://www.herbal-living.co.uk/an-introduction-to-hemp/
Hemp protein powder is made by grinding hemp seeds and it has all nine of those essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. It is naturally high in fibre and contains a balance of fatty acids that are essential to good health. Due to its association with the high-inducing chemical THC from the cannabis plant, there has been relatively little study into the extra advantages of hemp protein, but studies have suggested that hemp protein could have the following benefits:
· Lowers cholesterol levels through antioxidant activity and therefore reduces the risk of heart disease
· Reduces high blood pressure
· Reduces kidney damage
· Promotes healthy weight loss
· High fibre improves gut health and allows more time for the absorption of nutrients in the gut
· Easy to digest so all those essential amino acids can be absorbed and repair and maintain the body
As the popularity of hemp protein powder increases, more and more studies are being planned. This could be the best vegan protein powder out there.
So which proteins best?
When it comes to protein powders, it’s not all about building muscle and losing weight. Protein powders as meal replacements make life easier and save time in a busy day. They are quick and easy to prepare, come in a variety of flavours and ensure that you get all those essential nutrients that your body needs to thrive. And of course, if you do want to beef up or slim down, protein powders make this super easy and convenient. Choosing a vegan protein powder and herbal supplements will not only contribute to easing pressure on the environment but can provide you with extra fibre and vitamins needed to boost your health. There’s really no reason not to switch to plant-based goodness.
NCBI: Pea proteins oral supplementation promotes muscle thickness gains during resistance training: a double-blind, randomized, Placebo-controlled clinical trial vs. Whey protein
NCBI: Protein – Which is Best?