The Best Vegan Protein Powder for Bodybuilding
What is the best vegan protein powder for building muscle? Packing on quality lean muscle mass no longer means having to eat only animal-based protein products. From solid plant based foods to healthy plant based protein powder; many manufacturers now offer alternative nutrition options that vegetarians, vegans, and anyone else who enjoys adding variety to their diet can benefit from.
It does not matter if you are a dedicated vegan, vegetarian, or just someone who wants to get high quality plant matter in your diet to balance out the amount of animal products you consume. Vegan protein is a healthy dietary addition, and it also works great for packing on lean muscle mass!
Whether you are bodybuilding in a traditional competitive sense, or just looking build your body by packing on quality lean muscle mass, let’s discuss what is the best vegan protein powder for building muscle. If you are already familiar with what goes into making the best vegan protein powder for bodybuilding, you can skip straight down the page to our vegan protein powder review section. If you would like to learn more about what is the best vegan protein powder for building muscle before checking out our product reviews, read on!
Benefits of Plant Based Protein Powder
With more high quality options arriving on the market every day, adding healthy plant based protein powder to your diet has never been easier. It is also a very wise decision whether or not you live a vegan lifestyle, because are some amazing benefits of plant based protein powder. For anyone looking to pack lean muscle mass on the outside while staying healthy on the inside, three of the most important benefits of plant based protein powder are:
- Plant based protein powders are generally lower in fat and calories than animal based protein powders. This means we can pack on quality lean muscle mass instead of just random bulk (i.e. part muscle and part fat).
- Plant based protein powders are generally less allergenic and more healthful than animal based protein powders. This allows people with digestive sensitivities or allergies to animal proteins like eggs and milk to pack on lean muscle mass, while also potentially reducing health conditions including cardiovascular risk factors.
- Plant based protein powders help balance our natural pH levels. This is one of the very important benefits of plant based protein powder. Meat, dairy, refined carbs and sugars can all throw off our bodies’ natural pH levels by causing a rise in acidity. Healthy plant based protein powder can help restore our pH balance because they alkalinize in our bodies.
- Plant based protein powders can help regulate and facilitate healthy body functions. Some advantages of plant based protein powder include introducing higher levels of fiber into our diets, which helps keep bowel functioning healthy, as well as promoting a lower risk of diabetes, blood pressure and LDL cholesterol.
Healthy Plant Based Protein Powder
Despite the many great benefits of plant based protein powder, there are also some potential concerns depending on which type(s) of vegan protein you consume. If we are discussing the best vegan protein powder for bodybuilding for men and women alike, there is one ingredient we recommend limiting your intake of: Soy. We are not saying that taking in any kind of soy-based protein is unhealthy. However, there is no need to take in the high amounts of soy found in protein powder supplements. Some reasons for this are:
- High levels of soy protein powders can contain high amounts of phytoestrogens. Phytoestrogens can possibly affect estrogen production in men, women and children. This can also potentially affect sexual and social behavior in some cases.
- High levels of soy based protein powder may increase the risk bladder cancer. The National Institute of Health concluded that this could could be related to the kidneys excreting metabolites of soy protein.
- Soy protein powder can be almost as allergenic as animal proteins. Although the rate of allergy symptoms still appears to be lower than those of animal proteins, soy allergies are still among the top 8 allergies humans suffer from. This can cause nausea, vomiting, skin irritation, cramps and even life threatening anaphlyaxis.
These risk factors can potentially upset our bodies internally, while at the same time arrest our muscular development goals externally. Because of this, soy protein powder is just not worth consuming. The good thing is that there are plenty of high quality, healthy plant based protein powder blends that do not contain soy.
Pea Protein Please!
Many high quality plant based products that tout muscle building properties, including the ones we are about to review, contain a variety of plant based sources beginning with pea protein isolate. Pea protein is gaining an outstanding reputation for being the “whey protein” of the vegan world! This is because it is quickly digested by the body, while being clinically shown to help increase muscle thickness and overall muscular development.
The healthy plant based protein powder blends that follow are not only rich in pea protein, but also various other vegan protein sources that can help keep your body fueled to build muscle for hours. Most importantly for muscular development, the protein blends in the products we are about to review fill in amino acid gaps, which helps these products become complete proteins!
Now, let’s begin our vegan protein powder review….
Vegan Protein Powder Review
1. Vega Sport Protein Powder
Let’s start off our vegan protein powder review with one of the most well known vegan friendly brands. Vega has been making large strides in the sports nutrition industry with their high quality, vegan friendly products. These products are both healthy and very effective. Their most effective product for packing on lean muscle mass is the Vega Sport line. Some important specs of Vega Sport Protein Powder are:
- 30 grams of quality protein from pea, pumpkin seed, organic sunflower seed and alfalfa sources
- Tart cherry and turmeric to support recovery and regulate inflammation
- Non-GMO, gluten free and vegan certified
- Berry, Mocha, Vanilla and Chocolate flavors
- Comes in 12 single packet box, large and extra large tubs
- 5 grams of BCAAs and 5 grams of glutamic acid to support muscle growth
- Mixes well in water, very thick consistency, slightly chalky and naturally sweet taste
2. San Nutriton RawFusion Protein Powder
San Nutrition has been producing high quality sports nutrition supplements for over 20 years. More recently they began manufacturing products for vegetarian and vegan athletes who require effective supplements that compliment their dietary lifestyles. RawFusion is a high quality vegan protein powder blend following in the San tradition. Some important specs of San Nutrition RawFusion Protein Powder are:
- 21 grams of quality bio-fermented protein from pea, rice and artichoke sources
- All protein sources are non-GMO protein and hypoallergenic
- 4.5 grams of BCAAs per serving for muscle recovery and growth stimulation
- Comes in Chocolate, Vanilla, Peanut Chocolate Fudge, Banana Nut, Chocolate Strawberry and Unflavored
- Available in 1, 2 and 4 pound sizes
- Mixes well in water, medium consistency, slightly chalky, rich natural flavor
3. Optimum Nutrition Plant Protein Powder
Optimum Nutrition (ON) is one of the most recognized supplement companies in the sports nutrition industry. They were also one of the first major companies to begin producing natural supplements that do not contain artificial colors, fillers or sweeteners. More recently, ON has become vegan friendly thanks to its Gold Standard 100% plant based protein powder blend. Some important specs for Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Plant Based Protein Powder are:
- 24 grams of quality protein from pea, brown rice and sacha inchi sources
- All protein sources are Organic and non-GMO
- 4 grams of BCAAs and 4 grams of naturally occurring glutamine for muscle recovery and growth
- Comes in Vanilla, Chocolate and Berry flavors
- Comes in a 1.59 pound tub (approximately 19 servings per container)
- Mixes well in water, medium-thick consistency, chalky texture and natural taste
4. Garden of Life Sport Plant Based Protein
Garden of Life (GOL) has become well known for producing high quality natural supplements for vegans, vegetarians and omnivores alike. The Garden of Life Sport line features the most effective products the company offers for both competitive and everyday athletes looking to pack on and maintain quality, lean muscle mass. Some important specs for Garden of Life Sport Plant Based Protein Powder are:
- 30 grams of quality protein from pea, garbanzo and navy bean, lentils and cranberry seed sources
- All protein sources are organic and non-GMO
- NSF Certified for Sport clean dietary supplement
- Muscle recovery-antioxidant blend includes Organic Tart Cherries, Organic Apples, Organic Turmeric, Organic Gogi berries and Organic Blueberries
- 5.5 grams of BCAAs and 5 grams of glutamine for muscle recovery and growth stimulation
- Comes in Chocolate or Vanilla flavors
- Comes in 12 single serving packets or 1.14 pound tub
- Mixes well in water, chalky consistency and can be slightly clumpy, nice natural flavor
5. GAT Plant Protein Powder
German American Technologies, or GAT, is a very large, well known and established company in the sports nutrition industry. Many athletes, bodybuilders and other competitors tout the effectiveness of their diverse array of supplements. Recently, GAT entered the vegan friendly market with its all natural plant protein blend. Some important specs for the GAT Plant Protein Powder blend are:
- 20-21 grams of quality protein from pea, brown rice, quinoa, coconut and artichoke sources
- 20 grams of amino acids per serving
- Contains Omega 3-6-9 essential fatty acids
- Comes in Vanilla and Chocolate Peanut Butter flavors
- Available in a 1.48 pound tub
- Mixes well in water, very chalky texture and slightly clumpy, natural flavor
I have used all five products personally, and I prefer (in order):
- Vega Sport – I absolutely love Vega Sport Protein Powder! I love the way it mixes in water to almost a milkshake-like consistency. I love both the chocolate and vanilla flavors (I have not tried the berry yet). I love the way it fills me up but does not bloat me or upset my stomach at all. As for chalky texture that plant based protein powders are universally known for, the Vega Sport brand bothers me the least. The only thing with Vega is the price. Yes it is a bit expensive, but if you can afford it, the quality of the protein spectrum and other recovery/growth oriented ingredients makes the money spent well worth it. Buy Vega Sport Protein Powder Here!
- Garden of Life – Garden of Life is a very close second to Vega. In fact, in some ways, including the fully organic protein profile, high amount of BCAAs and the recovery-antioxidant properties it contains, it is #1. However, the texture, consistency and flavor just don’t do it for my taste buds like Vega does. Nevertheless, Garden of Life Sport plant protein is still a great product and I highly recommend it. It is similar in price to Vega Sport, and also similar in protein per scoop (both these brands give us the highest amount per serving). That alone makes the extra money spent more than worth it. Buy Garden of Life Sport Protein Powder Here!
- San Nutrition RawFusion – San Nutrition RawFusion was the first plant based protein powder I ever used. In this regard, it convinced me that plant protein can really work wonders physiologically speaking. But since then, brands like Vega and Garden of Life have come out with what I consider higher quality offerings. However, RawFusion can be more cost effective than the other two brands ranked above it. It also tastes very good and is not too chalky, but is a bit thinner in consistency than I prefer. People who prefer thinner consistency protein shakes may actually like this product better than Vega and GOL too. Buy San Nutrition RawFusion Protein Powder Here!
- Optimum Nutrition – As a company, I applaud ON for continually raising the natural quality bar for other large sports nutrition manufacturers to follow. However, the relatively slim protein source profile (only 3 kinds) is not as impressive or nutritionally sound as Vega or GOL. The 24 grams of protein per serving outrank RawFusion, but I cannot wrap my tastebuds around the ON plant protein after multiple tries. It is just a bit too chalky for me and also does not taste as natural to my senses as the 3 brands ranking above it. Nonetheless, if you are looking for an overall good quality product from a well known manufacturer, the ON plant might be the perfect choice for you. Buy Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Plant Protein Powder Here!
- GAT Plant – Let me start by saying that I like GAT as a company. They have many effective products for muscle building and fat loss. But I am just not a fan of the GAT Plant protein powder. A good friend of mine who runs a nutrition store loves it…. but I think it is too chalky, do not like that it is not non-GMO/organic, does not mix as well as the other 4 brands ranking above it, and just does not taste much like either vanilla or chocolate peanut butter. However, it is priced relatively low, has a great blend of protein sources, and may be a good introduction into plant based protein powders for anyone who is looking to add plant matter to their diet but does not want to commit the money to Vega, GOL or one of the other more expensive brands. Buy GAT Plant Protein Powder Here!
Try these products out for yourself and then drop us a line telling us what you think! If you have any questions about these products, or would like us to review another kind of healthy plant based protein powder…. or if you would like to get more information from us about what is the best vegan protein powder for building muscle, we welcome you to contact us directly!