The good news for vegetarians who are looking to put on muscle is that all protein powders are suitable for their animal free diet. There are two main types of protein powders: soy and whey. There is a third type, vegetable, which I will also discuss. Most professional athletes and bodybuilders use either soy or whey.
Soy protein is made from soybeans. It is popular with some bodybuilders who are lactose intolerant and can’t take whey protein. There are, however, some serious concerns when it comes to taking soy protein. The main problem is that the consumption of soy is believed to increase estrogen. This is because that soy naturally contains phytoestrogens (phyto=plant), which are simply “plant estrogens”.
Some people think that this can potentially lead to an increase in estrogen, which would lead to cancer. However, there have been studies that found this to be unwarranted.
Of course, there was also a famous study which found the opposite. This study from the University of Connecticut was one of the primary reasons that so many bodybuilders turned away from soy.
Because of the conflicting evidence, I would not recommend using soy protein powder. It would be better to choose a healthy, GMO free, and organic Whey or Vegetable protein.
For most people, whey protein is the optimal choice. It has been found to be more bioavaliable after a workout, which is essential for muscle recovery. If you’re lifting weights and breaking down muscle fibers, then the protein in a whey protein shake is going to be absorbed faster than soy. There is also some research to suggest that the amino acids in whey are more plentiful than in soy based proteins.
The only downside to whey is if you are lactose intolerant. If that’s the case, then you should consider the vegetable based protein powders talked about bellow.
If you’re getting a whey protein powder you should choose one that is from cows who are grass fed and is organic. The best organic, grass fed option is probably Naked Whey. It’s been around for a while, has tons of positive feedback from athletes, and is not too expensive. It’s a simple, pure, whey protein that is clean and doesn’t have any dirty fillers or chemicals. No hormones, soy, flavors, etc….
This is great if you’re looking to add whey to a green juice or fruit smoothie. Because it’s not flavored, it can be added to an apple, kale and lemon juice and match perfectly. Likewise, you can add it to a blueberry and pineapple smoothie and it will blend in. This is why I prefer it to flavored mixes. A flavored mix can only be used with water because the chocolate/vanilla/strawberry will clash with fruit and vegetable flavors.
Vegetable protein powders can be made from lots of different things (hemp, peas, brown rice, quinoa, and even kale). These protein powders are excellent for vegans, because there is little debate about as to their safety. Vegetables are healthy, and no one argues that.
The brand that I like is Vega. It’s a GMO, Vegan, and completely gluten free powder. The female MMA champ Miesha Tate gave an interview a while back where she discussed her diet (sweet potatoes, avacados, coconut oil, quiiono, etc…) and she mentioned Vega. I agree that it fits into a super healthy diet like the one she was describing.
The powder is super rich in protein, as well a BCAAs and one of turmeric for that extra anti-oxidant power.
The Berry flavor is a great one to get if you’re mixing these with smoothies or juices. They won’t clash like vanilla or chocolate will, in fact they can actually improve upon the flavor of your green drink.
This is the Vegetarian protein powder. I like Berry flavors the best because it can be mixed with water, fruit smoothies, or vegetable juices (kale, spinach or other leafy greens).
Nutrient Powder With Protein
This is another great addition to your routine. It has protein, but it is also packed with probiotics, antioxidents, fiber and essential fatty acids in the form of vegetarian suitable Omega 3 Fatty acids.