Are Plant Protein Powders Safe?
What is Plant Protein? Are Plant Protein Powders Safe?
The best option might be a blend of pea and rice proteins. Here’s why.
Plant-based protein powders are a great alternative to animal-based powders, which are often made from milk compounds. This is good news for people with food sensitivities, such as lactose intolerance, and for those who eschew animal products but don’t want to give up the muscle-building and recovery benefits, these powders offer. Rice- or pea-protein powders are often the only way many of these people can get adequate protein to support an active lifestyle.
Standard protein powder is a go-to recovery option for exercisers of all levels. But it isn’t for everyone. Many people with food sensitivities can’t tolerate certain components — namely, whey protein, casein protein, and lactose.
if you feel like you’re not getting enough protein, you can always boost your smoothie with plant-based protein powder. This is a particularly helpful option if you love intense workouts and want to retain and build muscle shortly after a training session.
Skip soy protein since it tends to be super processed. Instead, reach for organic pea protein or brown rice protein, which are both excellent, healthy plant-based protein powders. Most companies make powders that blend a mix of plant-based protein sources, combining pea and brown rice, for example, with sunflower, flax, chia, or sacha inchi protein. These blends can be super healthy, you just have to pay close attention to the ingredient list to make sure they’re not also blending in preservatives, fillers, and artificial flavours.
Incomplete plant proteins can be matched with other incomplete or complete plant protein to complete their amino acids. This process is called protein complementation.
Are Plant Protein Powders Safe?
Plant protein powder is a supplement made by extracting protein from plant sources.
It’s typically used to increase the protein content of smoothies and shakes and is a great fit for almost any diet since it’s naturally vegan and hypoallergenic.
Plant protein is a high-quality protein and a great source of nutrients. It can aid muscle growth, weight loss and heart health.
Plant protein powder is naturally vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free and does not contain any of the top eight food allergens — peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, fish, shellfish, cow’s milk, wheat and soy.
Therefore, it works with nearly any diet.
Plant protein also blends well with water and has a less gritty or chalky texture.
Plant protein powder is a high-quality protein rich in nutrients like iron, arginine and branched-chain amino acids. It’s digested and absorbed well and works with a variety of diets.
Health Benefits of Plant-Based Protein Powders
Plant protein powder may not only be nutritionally beneficial but also good for your health.
Here are some of its main benefits.
Builds Muscle Mass
Studies show that plant protein powder can help build muscle when paired with resistance training.
In one 12-week study, weight-lifting men who consumed 50 grams of plant protein per day gained the same amount of muscle as those taking whey protein (Study Link).
This suggests that plant protein powder is just as effective at building muscle mass as more common dairy-based protein powders.
Keeps You Full
Research has found that plant protein helps people feel fuller for longer than carbs or fat.
Plant protein powder offers an easy way to add protein to your diet and reap these benefits.
Other research observed that plant protein powder is just as effective at promoting fullness as dairy-based protein powders like casein or whey and without the side effects (Study Link 1, Study Link 2, Study Link 3).
Plant protein powder is a good option for increasing protein intake and boosting feelings of fullness after meals.
Good for Heart Health
Animal studies have found that plant protein powder can reduce some of the risk factors for heart disease, like elevated cholesterol and high blood pressure.
Plant protein hydrolysate — a partially digested protein powder that contains smaller proteins — has been shown to significantly lower blood pressure levels in rats after three weeks (Study Link).
A similar three-week study in humans found that 3 grams of plant protein hydrolysate per day lowered systolic blood pressure (the top number of a reading) by 6 points (Study Link).
Still, animal studies have found that pea protein powder can reduce cholesterol levels. It’s believed to work by increasing the uptake of cholesterol into cells and reducing the body’s production of fats (Study link 1, Study Link 2).