Protein is an incredibly important macronutrient for our bodies, providing the building blocks needed to maintain healthy bones and skin, grow muscle mass, immune cells, and produce hormones. Many vegans and vegetarians may need help in meeting their daily protein requirements through food alone - so they turn to supplemental sources like protein powders, bars, or snacks as a way of adding back what's missing from their diet. Athletes may also explore ways to boost their protein intake to help build muscle mass.
If you're evaluating the wide range of supplemental protein sources available, it's essential to examine both taste and texture as well as whether the source is a complete or incomplete protein. An incomplete protein needs to be paired with complementary proteins to provide all essential amino acids. Additionally, be aware that seed-based options are lower in protein. Below is a review of the many protein supplement options to help make your choice easier.
LEGUME PROTEIN SOURCES
Did you know that pea protein powder isn't made of sweet green peas but their higher-protein cousins, yellow split peas? A quarter-cup serving contains an impressive 21 grams of vegan protein and 100 calories. Plus, pea protein is hypoallergenic compared to other proteins like soy. It's also especially rich in branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), which are essential for energizing your muscles while building muscle mass.
With just a few months of pea protein incorporation along with regular exercise programs, you could see serious gains in muscle-building results. A 12-week study found that men who incorporated pea protein into their routine realized an impressive level of growth compared to those taking whey isolate.*
The downsides of pea protein? Flavor – it’s described as bitter or chalky – and it has a gritty texture. These characteristics combined make pea protein less appealing and challenging to blend into a palatable protein bar or snack.
In a previous blog, we discussed how most soy protein sources are GMO and why that matters. Some people find it difficult to digest, plus it’s the protein source you’re most likely to be allergic to, compared to most others. One of the benefits of soy, however, is that it is one of the few plant-based complete protein sources, and it’s relatively inexpensive.
SEED PROTEIN SOURCES
Chia is having its moment in the spotlight, but mostly for reasons other than being a protein powerhouse; it only has about half the protein of soy when compared head to head. It’s best used in a powder form for better digestibility, although, unfortunately, it's not a complete source due to lacking lysine. On the plus side, it’s popular for its other benefits, like 8 grams of fiber plus some biotin, chromium, and other vitamins & minerals. And in case you’re curious… no, you can’t eat your chia pet!
Hemp seed protein powder is a unique option for those looking to add high-quality, plant-based proteins to their diet. Like chia, it offers a range of health benefits but is a less concentrated source of protein. It only contains 12g of protein per quarter cup serving. Still, it boasts healthy levels of omega 3 fatty acid ALA and some minerals such as iron, zinc, and magnesium with every scoop. Even though some people claim its taste is reminiscent of nuts, others describe it as “earthy”… in other words, it tastes like dirt.
Hemp plants are from the cannabis family, but don’t worry about THC or CBD – there isn’t any in the hemp plant's seed. To make sure you get the most out of hemp's potential health benefits, be aware that due to lysine deficiency, this one isn't complete – so it needs to be combined with other complementary sources.
DAIRY PROTEIN SOURCES
Whey is a nutrient-dense liquid that forms as a byproduct during cheese production. It contains all essential amino acids, making it a rich source of complete protein for those looking to increase muscle mass and strength. Whey boasts healthy levels of the growth-promoting amino acid leucine, but for some people, it can be difficult to tolerate due to variable levels of lactose (milk sugar).
Milk Protein Isolate
With all these protein sources to choose from, we selected milk protein isolate for our Go Wild Power Ppuffs because it provides an unbeatable combination of flavor and nutrition. It integrates well with our Power Ppuff flavors and is more palatable than most protein sources, therefore, it doesn't need a hefty dose of added sugars. Not only that; milk isolate is a complete protein source, so it has everything your body needs for building muscle. Every quarter cup is loaded with 25 grams of protein – making it the perfect alternative to soy or whey. This peptide-packed powerhouse is crafted from skim milk powder and unlike whey protein, contains negligible lactose. Not only does it deliver key muscle building proteins that can help keep energy levels high – its slow digestion keeps hunger pangs at bay by releasing essential amino acids over time. Read more about how Power Ppuffs stack up against a popular soy-based protein bar here.
With so many protein-packed products on the market, it can take time to decide which to choose. But when it comes to finding a protein that offers the best of all worlds, we think milk protein isolate is the clear winner. If you're looking for a convenient and nutritious snack that will help keep you fueled throughout the day, try one of the five flavors of Power Ppuffs protein snacks. They're high in protein and are sure to give you the boost you need to power through your day!
- *Citation: Babault N, Païzis C, Deley G, Guérin-Deremaux L, Saniez MH, Lefranc-Millot C, Allaert FA. Pea proteins oral supplementation promotes muscle thickness gains during resistance training: a double-blind, randomized, Placebo-controlled clinical trial vs. whey protein. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2015 Jan 21;12(1):3. doi:10.1186/s12970-014-0064-5 PMID:25628520