Vegan or Whey
Which Protein Powder is Right for You?
Protein, along with fats and carbohydrates, is an essential macronutrient in the human diet. The body uses protein to support immunity, produce hormones and enzymes, and build bones, cartilage, muscles, skin and blood. If you’re an athlete, protein is used to repair damaged muscle fibers and build new muscle tissue after exercise. If you’re interested in weight loss, protein helps you feel fuller, longer.
However, many of us struggle to consume enough protein in our daily diets. According to Jenn Gargiulo, RDN, CSSD, active people should consume somewhere between .55 and 1.0 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight per day; that’s between 77 and 140 grams for a 140-pound woman and between 99 and 180 grams for a 180-pound man, leaning toward the higher end of the range if you’re particularly active. Gargiulo also suggests protein consumption be spread throughout the day, with a goal of around .25 grams per pound of bodyweight per meal, across a minimum of four meals per day. That is 28 to 35 grams of protein per meal for our 140-pound woman and 36 to 45 grams for our 180-pound man.
It can often be difficult to hit these protein consumption goals with only our food. However, whey and vegan protein powders can be a nutritious, effective, and easy way to add protein to our diets. Choosing which protein you use is not about deciding which protein is best; it’s about deciding which protein is best for you!
Advantages of Whey Protein
Whey protein is considered the gold standard for those who want to increase protein intake to build muscle quickly. Whey is the watery liquid that separates during cheese production; when cheese is made, the fatty parts of the milk coagulate, and whey is collected as a byproduct. It is a complete protein, which means it contains all of the amino acids necessary for muscle growth, repair and recovery. Whey is also particularly high in leucine, which has been shown to be the most important amino acid in the muscle-building process, and it is very quickly absorbed.
Types of Whey
There are three types of whey protein, differentiated by the way in which they have been processed. Whey protein concentrate contains 70-80% protein, some lactose and fat, and has the best flavor. Whey protein isolate contains 90% protein and less lactose and fat, but also lacks some of the nutrients found in whey protein concentrate. Lastly, whey protein hydrolysate, or hydrolyzed whey protein, has been broken down into smaller peptides for faster absorption, which speeds muscle growth and recovery but also causes a greater spike in insulin levels than whey concentrate or isolate. The three types of whey protein are often blended into protein powders because all are absorbed at different rates and levels.
Drawbacks of Whey Protein
Quite simply, some people just can’t stomach it. Whey protein can often cause bloating, cramps and gas, even in people who are not lactose intolerant. Also, because whey, by function of how it’s made, is highly processed, it often contains sweeteners and artificial flavors.
Kore Whey Protein
Kore Whey Protein is a gluten-free, non-GMO blend of whey concentrate and whey isolate that delivers 25 grams of protein per scoop, with just 140 calories and one gram of sugar.
Advantages of Vegan Protein
Vegan protein is made from plants, which gives vegetarians and vegans the ability to add a significant amount of protein to their diet without having to eat exceptionally large quantities of other plant-protein sources. For example, one scoop of vegan protein typically contains 20 grams of protein; to get that much protein from black beans, you’d have to eat 1.5 cups. Because they are made from plants, plant proteins often contain more vitamins and minerals than whey and are much higher in fiber. They also take the body longer to digest, so from a weight-loss perspective they can help you stay satiated for a longer period of time.
Types of Vegan Protein
With the exception of proteins made from soy, pistachio, chickpea and quinoa, most plant proteins do not contain the full profile of amino acids necessary to synthesize muscle, so they are often knocked as inferior protein sources. However, if consumed in complementary blends to accommodate for all the essential amino acids, plant proteins can be just as effective as whey for building muscle. These blends often include pea protein, which has a higher leucine content than most other plant-based proteins; and proteins derived from brown rice, pumpkin, hemp, and chia, which also have a richer nutrient profile than whey protein. All are suitable for those on a vegan or vegetarian diet, or for those who are lactose intolerant or have difficulty digesting whey protein.
Drawbacks of Vegan Protein
Some plant-based proteins are higher in carbohydrates than their whey counterparts, which is not optimal for those on low-carbohydrate diets. They can also be gritty in texture and more difficult to blend into a smooth, creamy shake without additional add-ins.
Kore Vegan Protein
Kore Vegan Protein is a gluten-free, soy-free, non-GMO blend of yellow pea, chickpea and pumpkin seed proteins that delivers 20 grams of protein per scoop, with just 110 calories and zero sugar.