With the click of a mouse, you can gain access to any vegan protein powder in the market, and you don’t have to settle for the options in supplement stores or big supermarkets, as they are limited.
This is great news because you gain access to vegan supplements with way better quality and without weird fillers or additives, or even unhealthy sweeteners. Protein is a highly important macronutrient that helps repair muscle tissue so that you can gain strength and size, keeps you satiated, and balances your hormones.
Protein powders are certainly the most popular supplements in the world, and for most people taking gym workouts very seriously, I’m sure a high percentage of them are taking protein supplements.
In this particular article, we will be looking at vegan protein powders that contain very little carbohydrates, which consequently means they are typically low in calories. For those of you wanting to gain lean mass, low-carb protein powders are perhaps the best thing you can do to maximize those gains.
6 Best Vegan Low Carb Protein Powders
Vegan Protein by Performance Lab
Performance Lab claims to have the cleanest and most effective protein powder, containing organic brown rice protein made with natural enzymes and low heat.
According to preliminary evidence, Oryzatein (the patented organic brown rice protein) can nourish the muscles as effectively as whey powder.
This plant-based protein is also made using mostly organic ingredients, which means you won’t find any weird fillers, preservatives, or artificial sweeteners.
Performance Lab’s protein is flavored and sweeteners with organic cocoa, vanilla bean, cinnamon, yacon root, monk fruit, and stevia.
This formula is also enhanced with probiotic Bacillus coagulans. Based on the research available, this probiotic strain can improve protein absorption and thereby optimize the benefits provided by this protein.
Needless to say, Performance Lab is tested for potency and purity, which means you won’t find any banned substances or dangerous heavy metal concentrations.
With that being said, this protein powder is not the most affordable on the market, however, you can get a significant discount by ordering it in bulk, or even an additional tube for free.
Vegan Organic Protein by Transparent Labs
This organic protein by Transparent Labs has a based of 2:1 rice to protein ratio that creates a smooth, non-gritty texture that is both delicious and easy on the digestive system.
Much like the previous supplement, Transparent Labs’ vegan protein powder is free of artificial sweeteners and preservatives but is also certified organic by the USDA.
This vegan protein powder packs 24 grams of protein per serving, as well as 4 grams of fiber, optimizing your results for both muscle gain and overall health.
In addition to high protein and fiber, you’re also able to find 5 mg of iron in each serving, which is equivalent to 30% of the RDA.
What might be interesting for some vegans is that this supplement only has 5 ingredients, namely organic rice protein, organic pea protein isolate, Himalayan rock salt, organic stevia, and a natural flavor.
Much like the supplement from Performance Lab, this one by Transparent Labs isn’t either, but you can save up to $24 by buying it in bulk.
Vegan Organic Protein by Ora Organic
This protein powder by Ora Organic is packed with 22g of plant-based protein and has two servings of organic greens in every shake, providing users with crucial macro and micronutrients for both cognitive and muscle function.
It includes 20 different organic superfoods such as sprouted quinoa and sacha inchi, which guarantee a complete amino acid profile, all of this without filler ingredients, artificial flavors, colors, sweeteners, or preservatives.
This supplement also includes a full spectrum of digestive enzymes to support digestion and increase the bioavailability of nutrients for absorption.
Ora Organic is also one of the cleanest brands out there; they share a certificate analysis derived from the third-party tested they have put their supplements through.
They test for several things, including ingredient potency, heavy metal content, microbial contaminants, pathogens, and they also screen their products for supplement fact verification, pesticides, and major allergens.
Their vegan protein powder is not the cheapest on the market, but it has gathered thousands and thousands of reviews from real customers. Similarly to the previous supplements, you can save more money by buying it in bulk, or you can subscribe and save 20%.
Pea Protein Powder by Naked Nutrition
Perhaps the most uncomplicated supplement on this list – this pea protein supplement by Naked Nutrition is made with only one ingredient – pea protein from yellow split peas.
Naked Nutrition’s yellow split peas are grown in North America in farms that adhere to the highest quality and best sustainable practices.
They are also processed via water-extraction without the use of chemicals, which results in a superior amino acid profile that optimally supports muscle growth and post-workout recovery.
Since it contains one ingredient only, you obviously won’t find any fillers, preservatives, or sweeteners, which also means that the supplement is pretty tasteless, something that some vegans may not appreciate.
With that being said, this supplement comes with a whopping 76 servings per container, a number that is superior to most supplements.
You can also save 5% by opting in on getting this supplement delivered to your every couple of months.
Vegan Protein Powder by The Protein Works
Protein Works has created a supplement with five different protein sources including hemp, brown rice, sunflower, soy, and pea.
This combination provides users with a complete amino acid profile, as well as many micronutrients you won’t find in other supplements.
A lot of the reviews on this supplement emphasize its delicious taste and creamy texture, as well as the wide variety of flavors available.
You can choose among 9 different flavors, including unflavored, chocolate silk, cookies and cream, chocolate mint brownie, chocolate peanut cookie, millionaire shortbread, salted caramel, strawberry and cream, and vanilla crème.
Additionally, you may also choose between four different quantities, including 500g, 1kg, 2kg, and 4kg.
Compared to the other supplements on this list, Protein Works has not devised an especially clean supplement, but that also results in a more affordable option.
Vegan Protein Blend by MyVegan
This vegan supplement by MyProtein is very similar to the one by Protein Works in that you can find a variety of options in terms of flavors and quantity of servings.
It is completely free from artificial colors and flavors, and it contains a blend of pea and fava bean protein isolates which results in 22g of protein per serving.
MyProtein seems to be making changes on their products based on customer feedback, which shows that the company is making an effort to make its products better.
With that being, this vegan protein powder seems to be poorly reviewed based on the fact that some flavors have a chemical and overly sweet taste.
From what I can tell, this supplement seems to be a hit or miss for some people, but that seems to be purely based on what they can taste.
From evaluating the different reviews on MyProtein’s website, the coffee & walnut flavor seems to be the best.
Benefits of taking protein powder
We know for a fact protein is one of the building blocks of bone, muscle, and skin. The body needs it to produce hormones, enzymes, and other chemicals.
Here are some of the possible health benefits of taking protein powder:
Eating protein-rich foods and taking supplements may help people feel fuller for longer, which typically leads people to eat smaller portion sizes and less frequent snacking. This helps with weight management.
Additionally, a lot of vegan protein powders are made with peas, which is an ingredient that is naturally rich in fiber – another nutrient that is important in weight management because it creates satiety. In fact, high consumption of fiber is associated with lower body weight, according to this systematic review.
The consumption of fiber is also associated with positive bowel health, lower cholesterol levels, lower blood sugar levels, as well as increase longevity.
Recommended Read: How to Gain Weight on a Vegan Diet
Protein is essential for muscle growth. Many athletes, including bodybuilders, take protein shakes because they believe these are touted to help increase muscle mass.
A meta-analysis in the British Journal of Sports Medicine points to this fact. The research indicates that protein supplements significantly improve muscle size and strength in healthy adults who perform resistance exercise training such as lifting weights. The effectiveness is equal in both men and women.
However, the effectiveness diminishes with age, and the older your get, the higher your protein intake requirements become.
One important detail to emphasize is that once the protein intake exceeded 1.6 grams per kilogram of body weight (or 0.73 g per pound (lb) of body weight), the participants did not experience any additional benefits.
Recommended Read: The Best Vegan Weight Gainers
Recovery after exercise
Besides contributing to a gain in muscle mass, the ingestion of protein is also important to help repair damaged muscles and tissue, and may even speed up recovery from muscle soreness after exercise.
In fact, many studies on the topic suggest that taking protein supplements can aid recovery by reducing muscle damage and improving muscle performance and muscle protein synthesis.
These benefits are useful for anyone going to the gym to build muscle or even lose weight, particularly those that do so regularly.
Recommended Read: The Best Vegan Testosterone Boosters
How to choose the best vegan protein powder
Finding the best protein powder is not as uncomplicated as it seems. The truth is that protein powders have key differences that might appeal differently to distinct individuals with specific wants or needs.
You might have people that want clean, organic protein powders for the sake of overall health, and you have others that don’t mind having an additive or two as long as that is synonymous with a lower price.
Below we’re going to look at key factors that have influenced our choices of vegan protein powders.
Type of protein powder
There are different types of protein powder, with whey protein probably being the most popular form, and also the one that is mostly used in research to study the effects of protein powder.
However, fortunately for us vegans, whey protein is not the only one available.
Here are some of the different proteins used in protein supplements:
Whey – This is a popular protein powder derived from milk. According to authoritative health websites, this type of protein contains all of the amino acids the human body requires from food.
Casein – This type of protein is rich in glutamine, an amino acid touted for improving muscle recovery after exercise. Casein is derived from dairy and is one that the body digests slowly.
Soy – Soy protein is a vegan protein, and is perhaps the most common one. Some individuals worry about the effects of soy, particularly due to its estrogen content. However, there is no evidence suggesting that any of those feared effects are real. Soy does not increase women’s risk of developing breast cancer; it does not affect a male’s hormone or fertility levels (nor cause manboobs), and it does not interfere with thyroid function.
Pea – This type of protein is a high-quality alternative to soy and dairy-based protein. Pea protein is a good source of the amino acid arginine.
Hemp – Hemp seeds are complete proteins and contain essential fatty acids. It’s a wonderful alternative for anyone that may be allergic to soy.
The supplement industry is not regulated by the United States Foods and Drug Administration (FDA), so you’re bound to find some that may contain unhealthy properties.
According to a 2018 study, many of the best-selling protein powders contain heavy metals, such as lead, cadmium, and arsenic.
The problem with heavy metals is that they tend to bioaccumulate. This means that there is an increase in the concentration of these chemicals in our bodies, which may lead to heavy metal poisoning.
Heavy metal poisoning symptoms may vary, but the following are the most common:
- abdominal pain
- shortness of breath
- tingling in your hands and feet
For this reason, it’s important to find a company that is transparent to the point they can assure you that the product adheres to the safety standards set by the FDA. For example, Naked Nutrition is tested by a third party company and shares its results, indicating that their products are safe for consumption.
Keep in mind that heavy metals are commonly found in nature, including foods that we commonly eat, including ones like cucumbers (3.08mcg of arsenic) and strawberries (4.56mcg of cadmium). However, just because they contain detectable amounts of heavy metals, that does not render them unsafe to consume.
Protein per calories
The calories in food vary from one macronutrient to another.
A gram of protein contains 4 calories, and a gram of carbs also contains 4 calories. A gram of fat, though, contains 9 calories. If a protein shake contains 25 grams of protein, then you’re getting 100 calories (if no carbs or fats are added).
If you want a low carb protein shake, you will want a protein powder that is low in carbs (as well as fat). This will allow you to keep the number of calories low, which is usually what people want when searching for a low-carb protein supplement.
This article by Harvard Medical School indicates that the FDA has approved five artificial sweeteners, including saccharin, acesulfame, aspartame, neotame, and sucralose.
Some of these sweeteners are quite common in supplements, and their goal is to sweeten a product without increasing the number of calories.
However, it’s important to know what led to the FDA’s approval of these artificial sweeteners. The article points out that the FDA ruled out cancer risk, for the most part. But those studies were done using far smaller amounts of diet soda than the 24 ounces a day that is consumed by the many people who drink diet soda.
In other words, we don’t know the impact the large consumption of these chemicals will have over the years.
A common sweetener you will find in vegan supplements is stevia, which is a natural sweetener that is essentially calorie and carb-free. Stevia glycosides are generally regarded as safe, but other forms of stevia like whole-leaf stevia or crude stevia extract need more research before being fully safe for consumption.
An interesting article by the Healthy Chef emphasizes 10 ingredients that should never be in your protein powder, including casein, whey protein concentrate, gluten, dextrin/maltodextrin, artificial sweeteners, skim milk powders, soy protein, vegetable oils and fats, thickeners, and gums, fillers, and added fibers.
The reasons they have provided for each ingredient vary, but it comes down to some side effects associated with their consumption, namely bloating, constipation, gas, among other side effects.
For that reason, we have taken these ingredients into account when choosing our vegan protein powders.
Sometimes, the deciding factor in choosing protein powder is taste. A protein powder can be chalky, smooth, sweet, earthy, or bitter, and more often than not, those with a chalky taste are thrown to the side.
Price per serving
In this article we’re covering protein powders, so the price per serving is actually the price per protein.
The average protein powder usually costs between four and five cents per gram of protein, however, the cost is affected by several factors, including the type of protein, sweeteners/additives, protein per calories (or protein density), brand reputation, and more.
Naturally, the number of servings per container also impacts the price.
The good news is that there are many low-carb vegan protein powders on the market, with a variety of flavors and ingredients available, namely soy, pea, and hemp.
When you’re shopping for vegan supplements, be sure to check the label carefully, just to check if the supplement does not contain animal ingredients. Also, you may want to choose supplements that are free from fillers, preservatives, artificial flavors, or sweeteners.
Ideally, getting yourself a supplement that has undergone third-party testing is important, because it will assure you of the potency and purity of the supplement.