Supplementing athletic workouts with protein supplements is not a new concept to the fitness community. In fact the use of protein supplements has over the past decade been a vastly growing business targeting those athletes who want to increase their own athletic potential by fueling their bodies both pre and post workout in the absolutely best way possible. It has been proven nutritionally that when protein is consumed prior to a workout it causes the individuals metabolism to increase and enables the athlete to burn more calories throughout the workout. Using protein supplements before a workout can be an excellent way for an athlete to lose weight (in a healthy way) and gain lean muscle. Protein supplements are also a convenient alternative to the post workout recharge needed for an athletes muscles within a half hour of completing a workout. In order to gain more muscle and become stronger, taking a protein supplement directly after a workout has proven to help rebuild muscle and increase strength potential and size. Unfortunately, it is not as easy for us vegans out there to find a protein supplement that can revile our non-vegan counterparts both nutritionally and in the taste category. However, if you are a vegan athlete out there looking to find a killer protein supplement to add into your workout routine I have managed to compile a list of some of my favorite varieties to try and avoid some of the confusion when picking the best supplement that is right for you.
Pea protein is probably my favorite protein when it comes to the vegan protein options. Delivering large volumes of all of the necessary branched-chain amino acids pea protein has high beneficial effects in the categories of helping to relieve hypertension and decrease the potential for kidney disease. As someone who has a ton of food allergies, I can say from experience that pea protein seems to be one of the best for those who have allergies to certain proteins (especially whey protein or soy protein). If this sounds like some of the issues you face when trying to find a high quality vegan protein then Pea protein powder may be the perfect natural alternative for you. Not only is it a great all natural and completely vegan way to get the high servings of protein you need, it also tends to have a less gritty taste. I personally love the Arbonne brands protein powder in both vanilla and chocolate.
Brown Rice Protein
Another one of my personal favorites Brown Rice Protein provides a convenient source of protein nutrients for vegetarians, vegans, and others who tend to follow restricted diets. Since brown rice protein powder is considered hypoallergenic, it may also make an excellent choice for individuals with dairy, soy and/or gluten allergies. Like any other protein, brown rice contains amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins structures in your muscles and critical in muscle recovery and growth. Intense physical training or simply every day activities cause muscles to breakdown, however by using dietary proteins to provide the amino acids for rebuilding your muscles, the body can easily recover and become even stronger over time. The Sun Warrior brand of brown rice protein is by far my favorite in this category. Like the Pea Protein it also tastes great and packs an amazing nutritional protein punch, perfect for pre or post workout.
Unlike some of the other more well known vegan protein options, hemp seems to be forgotten. However, organic hemp may be one of the best vegan protein options out there since it is very environmentally friendly, and is always grown without pesticides and herbicides. Not only are these environmentally friendly factors great for our environment, the practices associated with growing hemp are also very positive for our bodies. Amazingly, Hemp protein gets absorbed faster than any other protein and 15g of organic hemp protein powder is more anabolic than 50g of the traditional non-vegan whey protein. These factors make hemp protein a perfect supplement for DNA and cellular growth. Hemp protein is also high in Omega 6 and Omega 3 fatty acids as well as high in fiber. Basically you cant go wrong when supplementing with Hemp Protein and one of my personal favorites is the Nutiva brand of products which come in a whole variety of tasty flavors. Don’t let the green color sway you, trust me it will taste good in the end and your body will thank you.
While there are many conflicting opinions regarding the use of Soy as a staple supplement in a persons diet, many results have provided scientific evidence of the positive affects of soy which show that soy can help prevent heart disease, osteoporosis, and the risk of certain cancers. Soy products carry a powerhouse of nutrients that range from protein, vitamins, and minerals, to all the essential amino acids and iron. Soy is also generally high in calcium, which is a very important mineral especially for all of our female athletes out there. Unfortunately, many people tend to have some adverse reactions to soy making it not one of the easiest vegan proteins to digest. It is also very important to pay attention to where your soy products are coming from and that they are organically produced, ideally without any genetic modification. One of my all time favorite soy protein supplements is Bob Red Mills Soy Protein which can be sprinkled in soups, over cereal, or even added to baked good such as pancakes or muffins for a protein packed kick to the average recipe.