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BIG Nutrition: Exploring Plant Protein Supplements

8
Feb

BIG Nutrition: Exploring Plant Protein Supplements

Walk into any market and go to the protein supplement aisle, and it is filled with protein supplement options, almost all whey and one or two soy options. This blog explores two other plant-based protein supplement options, Vega Protein® and Garden of Life® protein.

Vega Protein® is found in almost every retail market. Here are some highlights:

  • Primarily pea protein, this supplement also includes brown rice, hemp, pumpkin seed, and sacha inchi seed (a seed that is also high in omega-3 fatty acids) protein.
  • Stevia leaf is the source of sweetness, so generally this supplement is very low or carbohydrate free.
  • Vega Sport and Vega Very Clean protein are both higher in branched chain amino acids (including leucine) which appears to be important and a limiting amino acid for muscle synthesis.
  • Vega Accelerator, the product for post-work out recovery does contain more carbs than its other products and has a good carb:protein ratio of 4:1 (16:4 per serving), but this may not be enough carb and protein for some athletes who work out more than 60 minutes.
  • Vega All in One is one product that contains helpful probiotics.
  • Because it contains a warning that it is ‘manufactured in a facility that also processes peanuts, dairy, soy, egg, and tree nuts,’ then it is not suitable for those who have an allergy or intolerance to these potential contaminants. Strict vegans may also not like the risk of animal product contamination.
  • Feedback from BIG members who have tried Vega Protein ranges from very positive to less positive with complaints about a gritty texture and the Stevia aftertaste.

Garden of Life® is another option that some BIG members are using and this product is available via Amazon. They also have whey products, but in this review, I am only highlighting their plant-based products:

  • Primarily pea protein, this supplement also includes brown rice, buckwheat, garbanzo bean, chia seed, and other plant proteins.
  • Garden of Life products are all Certified Organic, so it is free of GMOs (genetically modified organisms).
  • Stevia leaf is the source of sweetness, so generally this supplement is very low or carbohydrate free.
  • The Raw Organic Protein Powder is higher in branched chain amino acids (BCAA), although not quite as high as Vega Sport. Choose Garden of Life’s Sport Organic Protein Powder to get a comparable level of BCAAs.
  • Garden of Life does not presently have a product tailored for post-workout recovery.
  • Most of their plant-based protein supplements contain probiotics.
  • There are no contamination warnings, so the plant-based options are Certified Vegan.
  • Feedback from BIG members is that it is less gritty in texture than the Vega Protein.

If you have questions about protein supplements, bring your questions Saturday, 9:00-11:00 am, to BIG. I’ll be there for the nutrition challenge sharing information about mindful eating and responding to hunger cues. If you use a plant-based protein supplement that you like, share it here!

Happy and healthful eating,

Donna G. Pertel, MEd, RD, LDN

 

 

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