By Brianna Duncan-Dieujuste
Many college students rely on protein powder as a quick source of fuel after a workout or as an addition to a smoothie after a late night class. Protein is an important part to a healthy diet, and animal sources, such as whey and casein, are among the most popular. Plant-based protein powders are becoming a great way to get your protein fix, without the animal components. Plants may come off as dainty little sprouts, but they actually are powerful proteins.
Here are some plant protein powders to try out:
Hemp protein is made by grinding the seed of the cannabis plant. This supplement is perfect for carnivores and herbivores alike. Hemp protein powder has over 20 amino acids, including the nine essential amino acids that your body is unable to produce on its own, and is loaded with omega fatty acids and fiber. And like in its original form, hemp protein can increase energy and productivity and improve metabolism. The flavor is also the most neutral out of most of all the plant proteins, any other ingredients you add to a recipe tend to overpower the flavor of hemp.
Soy protein is the classic protein all first-time vegetarians and vegans go for when beginning a non-meat-eating journey. This protein is made from soybeans, a type of legume that’s naturally high in protein while remaining relatively low in fat. Soy does get a bad rep though, because it is known to have phytoestrogens, which can increase levels of estrogen while decreasing testosterone levels. On the other hand, research has shown that soy promotes lean muscle growth while stimulating weight loss.
Pea protein is another legume but, unlike soy, isn’t chemically isolated or genetically modified, plus it’s gluten free (if you’re into that sort of thing). Another upside to peas is they are more eco-friendly to grow than animal sources of protein. They require less water and energy resources, compared to what’s needed to raise animals, and produce lower greenhouse gas emissions, thus having less impact on climate change. It does have a slight pea-like taste, but is a great addition to any post-yoga smoothie. It’s easily digestible and contains nine out of the 21 amino acids your body needs to survive.
Brown rice is no longer just a dinner side dish. It’s a protein source perfect for those looking for a protein powder most nutritionally similar to whey protein powder. One scoop can have up to 35 grams of protein. Brown rice protein, like most carbohydrates, is naturally starchy, which is something to consider if you’re looking for a lower carb option. The peptides found in brown rice are productive to weight loss and regulating cholesterol. It’s also a tad grainy and doesn’t dissolve as well as other protein sources.