Tuesday, March 10, 2009

My Search for the Perfect (Vegan) Protein Powder - Part 1

Because I have been trying to eat primarily vegan for the past couple of months without much success, I felt buying a good vegan protein powder was in order.

To preface, I hate the taste of whey protein powders. My brother and I overdosed on vanilla and chocolate flavored whey powder in the past- the smoothies tasted great at first, but after 6 months-1 year, I couldn't handle it anymore!

I also wanted to avoid a soy protein powder, because I already consume a lot of soy and don't want to develop an allergy/intolerance to it.

So my protein powder search began with hemp from Living Harvest. Each 4 tbsp contains 120 calories, 3 g total fat, 10 g total carbohydrates, 9 g fiber, 13 g protein, 600 mg of omega-3's, and all of the essential amino acids! The only thing about hemp protein is that it has a very strong and characteristic greens taste.

Next I tried Life Time Life's Basic Plant Protein with my friend Elizabeth. She really liked it! This powder was nice because it contains a variety of plant proteins (rice, pea, hemp, and chia), with each scoop containing 120 calories and 22 g protein. The chia also helped the powder to form a gel when it was only mixed with water! However, to me, this vanilla flavored protein powder (which was sweetened with stevia) was reminiscent of whey powder (I hope I'm not scarred for life!)

Via Elizabeth's recommendation, I tried the natural flavored and chocolate flavored protein powder by Vega next. It also has a nice combination of plant proteins, from hemp, yellow peas, brown rice, and flax. Each serving contains 26 g protein and 15 g fiber! Both powders had very "earthy" tastes to them, and I was not particularly fond of either. And even though Vega calls one of its powders "natural," vanilla flavor and stevia are still added.

Last but not least, I tried PB2, which has been receiving a lot of buzz lately. Verdict- I actually liked it!! Each 2 tbsp serving has 53.2 calories, 1.87 g total fat, 3.4 g carbs, and 5.65 g protein. However, PB2 is used mostly as a low-fat alternative to peanut butter, rather than as a protein powder/supplement. You just add 1 part water to two parts PB2, stir, and presto! You have some low-fat peanut butter. And PB2 even looks and spreads somewhat like real peanut butter! Although PB2 can never truly replace real peanut butter in flavor and taste, it can be great when you're hiking, in baked goods, or if you are a peanut butter junkie. I would not recommend eating PB2 by itself, however. For full enjoyment, eat it with something- such in a PB&J sandwich or in a smoothie.

Unfortunately, there are a few cons:
  • PB2 is only sold in a few select locations or online.
  • PB2 is expensive!!!, and can come out to around $6ish each when you include shipping costs. I picked mine up at My Healthy Fit in Woburn, MA, but it still costs $7 for one. This is about 3 times the cost of regular peanut butter! (and it's not like it's organic, either)
  • PB2 is sweetened with sugar. There are currently no sugar-free or salt-free versions of PB2! Contact Bell Plantation so we can increase customer demand so this will change! :)
Look for my post tomorrow about my overall comments and thoughts on this protein powder adventure!


Elizabeth Jarrard said...

:( someday you will find the perfect vegan protein powder!!!
I can't wait to try PB2!!!!!! we're going to have to ration it out at that price though! I'm going to keep harassing them about making one without sugar-its ridiculous that they don't have any.
miss my foodie friends!!

Nick said...

Add All-Pro Science to the list of vegan proteins you're giving a tryout. From the website it looks pretty athlete-centric, but they've got a really good vegan protein powder. Like Vega, it's a mix of organic Pea, Hemp, and Brown Rice so you get a range of plant proteins & they add in some flax seed so you get that plant based fat that a vegan's skin loves so much.


The quality that I look for in a powder is a nice smooth blend using just a little spoon stirring. So far All-Pro has been the smoothest. I think the stuff tastes great, but can't offer any advice on how it compares to whey protein, didn't make the move to protein powders until after I made the swith to a vegan diet. A vegan buddy of mine recomended this after he started to get into Crossfit but was burning more muscle than he was adding. Just spoon stir a scoop into some Rice Dream, no blender or shaker needed, and then remind yourself not to over do it, the body only needs so much protein and this combo is addictive.

1 Scoop is 23 grams of protein, 107 calories,8 essential amino acids, and 10 ohter conditional & nonessential aminos.

Unknown said...

try true protein for a vegan protein powder. they have several flavors too.