As we all know, one of the most common misconceptions about a vegan diet is that it doesn’t include enough protein.
Although some people might not be getting enough protein, this is certainly not a problem that is limited to those on a vegan diet. The truth is, if you eat a varied diet and deliberately include high-protein plant-based foods, then you’re unlikely to have a problem.
How to get more protein on a vegan diet
If you are following a vegan diet and you’re concerned about your protein, then there are several foods that you can include more frequently.
High-protein plant-based foods include:
- Hemp seeds
If you want to simplify the process, then you can also opt to include a dose of vegan protein powder each day. This is an effortless and effective way to consume more protein.
Is vegan protein powder good for you?
Many adults across the world—not just vegetarians and vegans—don’t consume adequate amounts of protein. This is often to do with our ever-growing reliance on convenience foods, which are generally of low nutritional value.
Although protein powders can be good for you in moderation, consuming high levels of protein can be harmful. So it’s never a good idea to exceed your recommended daily amount. This is between 46 and 56 grams of protein per day on average, with increased amounts required for those engaged in regular weight-training exercise.
Is vegan protein powder bad for you?
As with most things, consuming vegan protein powder in moderation is the best idea. Any type of health supplement should never serve as an alternative to pursuing a healthy diet and lifestyle.
A study from 2018 found a potential link between protein powder use and the presence of heavy metals in the body. This study found a particular link to plant-based protein powders due to the ingredients they are typically made from.
Despite the findings of the 2018 study, many experts are in agreement that one serving of protein powder a day is fine, and beneficial, to health. In fact, there has been a high level of pushback to the study findings, which you can read more about here.
The problem with some protein powders—that certainly isn’t exclusive to plant-based varieties—is that they can often contain hidden sugars and be high in calories. Thoroughly reading the ingredients list and ensuring that you truly understand it, is a great way to get around this problem.
As an example, Reflex Nutrition vegan protein powder is primarily made from a blend of peas, brown rice, and pumpkin seeds. It is low in sugar, contains no artificial ingredients, and is never made with aspartame.
Can you get zero-carb vegan protein powder?
As far as I’m aware, there’s no such thing as a zero-carb vegan protein powder. However, there are several low-carb options on the market.
A common problem with low-carb protein powders is that this is often mirrored by an inflated price. So do your research to find a decent option and be sure to check the ingredients for any added surprises.
Can you use vegan protein powder during pregnancy?
Pregnant people need to adjust their nutritional needs in a number of ways and protein is no exception. While pregnant, it’s a good idea to increase your protein intake to at least 60g each day, although this will vary depending on your weight—read here for more info.
While it’s generally considered safe and beneficial to supplement with a protein powder during pregnancy, it has been emphasised that those made from natural ingredients should be chosen.
During pregnancy, you will want to consider potential heavy metal contamination. So choose a vegan protein powder that has been certified through testing.
How much does protein powder cost?
The cost of protein powder can vary wildly depending on a number of factors. It’s important to be aware that a high price doesn’t necessarily equate to a better quality product.
For a 600g bag, you should expect to pay less than £30 on average. From a 600g bag, you will get approximately 20 servings, so it works out to £1.50 a serving on average. You will naturally find protein powders that cost much more and much less than this amount.
Is vegan protein powder worse than whey?
Whey is a dairy-milk protein and is commonly used to make protein powders. Whey protein contains all of the essential amino acids, and contains only low levels of lactose.
If you are comparing whey protein to vegan protein, then you will want to decide which one is the best fit for you. When following a plant-based diet, you’ll naturally want to avoid whey protein powders. However, if you adhere to a vegetarian diet, then many whey-based products will be suitable for you.
Protein powders made from whey may often be higher in calories than vegan alternatives. Whey varieties will also contain lower levels of iron than their plant-based counterparts.
On the other hand, whey protein will often have higher levels of calcium and be more palatable.
Will vegan protein powder go out of date?
As with the majority of edible things, vegan protein powder will eventually expire. However, if you’re using your protein powder regularly, then you shouldn’t have to worry about this.
It will not generally be harmful to consume out-of-date plant-based protein powder, but the quality of the protein itself will likely decrease.
For best results, store your vegan protein powder in a cool, dry place and aim to eat it within the suggested time period.
Can you add vegan protein powder to overnight oats?
Absolutely! This is one of my favourite ways to get an extra dose of protein into my diet.
Check out the following overnight oats recipe to get started!
Vegan Protein Overnight Oats
- 1/2 a cup of oats
- 2/3 a cup of plant-based milk
- 1 tablespoon of chia seeds
- 1 tablespoon of vegan protein powder
Simply combine all of the ingredients in a jar, stir together well, and place in the fridge overnight.
In the morning, take your oats out of the fridge and top with a scoop of vegan yogurt and your favourite fruit—delicious!
Can vegan protein powder cause constipation?
Due to the high fibre count in vegan protein powders, it’s unlikely that they would cause constipation. It’s much more likely that these products will contribute towards an efficient digestive system.
If you’re experiencing constipation while using a plant-based protein powder, then you may have an allergy or intolerance to one of the ingredients. Your constipation may also be caused by other culprits, so it’s important to assess your diet on the whole.
Short-term constipation isn’t really a serious issue and shouldn’t immediately be a cause for concern. If this is a problem that persists for you, then you may want to consider adding more high-fibre foods into your diet. If this still doesn’t resolve the problem, then you’ll want to speak to your GP or pharmacist.
Plant-based protein powder and cholesterol
As you age, it will become even more important that you pay attention to your cholesterol levels.
When your cholesterol levels become too high, then it becomes more likely that cholesterol will build up within your arteries. As this happens, the blood flow through your arteries may become inhibited, which can lead to further problems, such as:
- Heart attack
- Pain in the chest
Your diet has a huge role to play in avoiding this issue, and it’s wise to avoid high-cholesterol foods, such as:
- Processed meats
- Full-fat dairy products
- Fried foods
- Baked goods
If you are trying to reduce your cholesterol levels, then swapping to a plant-based protein powder, as opposed to one made from animal products, can be a good idea.
Although your diet is important, there are also a number of lifestyle factors that can help to prevent high cholesterol, these include:
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Not smoking cigarettes
- Not drinking alcohol to excess
- Exercising regularly
- Limiting stress