Your Guide to The Best Plant-Based Protein Powders: We Tasted 10 Bestsellers
When people go plant-based they suddenly become obsessed with where to get their protein. Whether you consider yourself an athlete or you're just trying to slim down, and whether you want to get leaner or build stronger muscles, protein powders can be your secret weapon. But they are not all created equal and with the huge selection of choices, it can be confusing to know what to buy.
First a note about protein sources. Traditionally protein powders are either whey or soy. But now there is an explosion of plant-based protein that includes blended sources from pea protein, hemp, and other clean plant foods.
You might not expect plant-based protein powders to be as effective as whey but that's not the case. Not only do these powders have tons of protein, but most of them also have cleaner ingredients. We picked powders with a high ratio of protein to carbs, to make sure that no matter what your goal, you'll get plenty of protein in every sip. For more on how to pick the right protein powder for you, check out The Beet's article on picking the best protein powders by a sports nutritionist. Here we tell you which ones taste great and offer the healthiest mix of benefits.
So you won't have to spend time or money searching for the best tasting plant-based protein powder, The Beet editors taste-tested 9 of the most popular powders. Not only are these expensive to buy -- some of them as much as $60 for a large canister -- but many of them are hard to swallow because of the chalky consistency. So we are only reviewing the ones we liked and would recommend.
We tell you which powders to mix with water, which ones are better when you add them to a smoothie and which are better mixed into your oatmeal. You can even add them o your pancake or muffin batter! All the powders are either soy, hemp, pea or rice-based. To be fair, we made sure the powders were all vanilla flavored to make it a level playing field. But often the chocolate or other flavors are actually tastier -- so it's up to you when purchasing.
The base of Vega is pea protein, brown rice protein, and sacha inchi (a seed eaten like a nut) protein. One serving of Vega has only 80 calories and 15g of protein. Vega's protein powder is a great choice for anyone who struggles to get enough greens in their diet. The proteins are combined with alfalfa powder, spinach powder, broccoli powder, and organic kale powder giving you 2 servings of veggies in one scoop. The taste of this protein was described as "artificial" whereas others thought it tasted like birthday cake. We recommend adding this into a smoothie, but luckily all you have to add is fruit since Vega has the greens covered. This low-cal powder won't break the bank at $1.20 a scoop.
Tom Brady's TB12 pea protein powder consists of simple ingredients with no additives. For anyone who is allergic to soy or nuts, TB12's pea protein-based powder is a great option. It's hard to say no to this powder with 24 grams of protein. Don't hide this powder in a smoothie, mix it with water and you will immediately see a thick consistency resembling a vanilla milkshake. Not only does it look like a milkshake, but it tastes like it too. TB12 recommends drinking this powder up to 20 minutes after a workout for the best recovery. You have to order this powder on the TB12 website since it isn't available in stores or on Amazon. Less than $2 per serving!
PlantFusion is a blend of peas, artichokes, algae, and superfoods. The deep yellow-gold coloring of PlantFusion's protein powder set this brand apart from the rest. Some testers found the flavor wasn't overwhelming, making it a great addition to a smoothie, whereas others felt the powder was sweet. For those of you who aren't a fan of Stevia, buy the natural, no-stevia blend. This protein powder is low in fat, and carbs, making it a great choice for anyone wanting to lose weight while still getting enough protein (21g a serving). PlantFusion's powder has a sweetness not everyone enjoyed since Stevia is an ingredient. $1.20 a scoop, makes this a deal!
4. Vivo Perform
Vivo Perform is the most superfood-packed protein powder of this bunch. Athletes will appreciate this protein powder made of pea protein, hemp protein, plant-based BCAA (branched-chain amino acids), reishi mushrooms, acai berries, lucuma fruit powder, maca powder, and turmeric extract. Vivo Perform is $59 on Amazon so go straight to their website for a cheaper price at $51 for the pouch pictured below.
With 25g of protein and a complete amino acid profile helps athletes to build, perform, recover, and absorb. If you want a quick protein drink after a workout, use a shaker bottle when mixing or this powder will stick to the sides of the cup. In the mood for a protein-filled breakfast? Add to your oatmeal or smoothie bowl with this recipe.
Elevate is a pea and hemp protein-based powder that also is made with sweet potato powder. For anyone looking to convert from whey protein powders, Elevate is the plant-based protein for you. This powder is meant to be used in beverages such as smoothies. The thin consistency doesn't mix well with water and becomes chalky. If you aren't in the mood for a protein smoothie, add a scoop to your pancake batter. For a complete recipe check out Elevate's Chocolate Chip Banana Protein Pancakes. This powder is another affordable choice at $1.60 a scoop.
Momentous protein powder is a combination of pea and rice protein concentrate. Testers liked the initial scent of mint and thought it was refreshing. This powder is perfect for anyone who likes sweeter drinks. Momentous powders are NSF International Certified for Sport, which means the product label is 100% accurate and there are no banned substances present in this powder. This is one of the pricier protein powders at $60 a tub but is worth it for athletes looking for a clean and effective post-workout powder. We recommend either mixing with water or adding to a smoothie for a more nutrient-dense drink. The priciest powder of the bunch at $3 per serving.
Garden of Life is made of pea, buckwheat, amaranth sprout, and brown rice. We didn't love the green color of the powder or the way it smelled but once we mixed it with water, it tasted surprisingly good. Garden of Life is the easiest to mix with water, plan-based milk or in a smoothie. The vanilla flavor isn't overpowering so you can add this to any combination of smoothies and not be overwhelmed by the taste of vanilla. And it's only $1.20 per scoop!
Tone It Up protein powder is a blend of sunflower seeds and pea protein. The minute we opened the container, everyone loved the smell of this powder. Tone It Up is known to be a great addition to baked goods. The next time you make your protein muffins, add Tone It Up to the mix. We don't suggest adding this powder with just water but instead a smoothie with fruits and veggies.
The name of this powder says it all. Nuzest is the cleanest protein powder since it is made out of only 3 simple ingredients: Pea protein isolate, natural vanilla flavor, and thaumatin (a low-calorie sweetener). For $45, you are supposed to get 20 servings out of one container, but at a glance that didn't seem accurate. This high protein, low carb powder is perfect to blend with plant-based milk and ice. The consistency is smooth and adds thickness to any protein shake.
Fitness guru Tony Horton has a new line of products under the Power Life brand and his protein powder tastes clean, light and drinkable, even without having to add it to a smoothie. Sip it for 15 grams of plant-based protein from a unique blend of Pumpkin, Sunflower and Flax seeds and Mung Beans. One note: Keep shaking or stirring it since the powder settles to the bottom of your water bottle in minutes, making the last sips taste a little grainy. It’s pricey at $70 for a 14-ounce container but with 90 calories this is a good choice for anyone trying to watch their weight.