McKel Hill, MS, RDN, LDN

McKel Hill, MS, RDN, LDN

Dietitian, Founder

Buying a plant-based protein powder? Here are the best plant-based protein powders to try today.

One of the most frequently asked questions I receive about smoothie recipes or my smoothie bowls is about superfoods or protein powders I use. I’ve had this huge review in mind to personally taste test as many vegan/plant-based protein powders I could get my hands on, and today this post is the result of it. This Guide to Plant-based Protein Supplements is not a review of whole food sources of protein (check back at my Q&A post for some of those sources), but a review of plant-based protein powders. 

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As a Dietitian Nutritionist, whole foods are a top priority in my book when it comes to getting the most from your nutrition, but there is certainly a time and place where protein supplementation can be beneficial to your diet. For example you may benefit from using protein powders if you’re an athlete or very active individuals, transitioning into vegetarian/vegan diets, if you’re on the go and need a quick snack/meal, on a specific fat loss program like many of my clients, or just want to curb a sweet tooth and bump the protein content in your favorite smoothies with some awesome flavors.

Notice how I say the word supplement when talking about protein powders? Protein powders are meant to supplement the diet not become the “staple” or sole source of protein in your diet, I want to make that clear!

How To Buy The Best Plant-based Protein Powder

We reviewed the following plant-based proteins on the following grading scale 1-5 (5 being the highest or highly recommended):

  1. Taste: taking into account overall texture, flavor, and general variety
  2. Quality: i.e. the ingredients and food sources of protein
  3. Grams of protein per serving: also looking at amino acid content, i.e. building blocks of protein. My golden standard is 20g of protein per serving which gets a 5
  4. Use: how flexible it can be used in your diet, how it mixes with liquids
  5. Cost: cost per serving, 5 denotes on the more expensive end

Vega

Vega Sport (chocolate, berry, and vanilla)

  • Taste: 3 — creamy texture, tastes good with a slight stevia/sweetener taste to it, powerful flavor
  • Quality: 3 — protein from pea protein, chia seed, alfalfa, and sprouted brown rice protein (over 5000 mg BCAA’s)
  • Nutrition: 5 — 25g protein/scoop
  • Use: 5 — smoothies, puddings (just by mixing with a little almond milk and enjoying with a spoon- it’s rather thick like pudding), mixed with water as a drink
  • Cost: 4

Vega One (french vanilla, chocolate, vanilla chai, and natural)

  • Taste: 2 — this protein is a bit gritty for my liking and has a pretty strong flavor
  • Quality: 3, 5 if you’re looking for a multi-vitamin mixed with a protein powder — pea protein, chia seed protein, sprouted brown rice protein, chlorella, hemp seed, flax seed and maca. Contains antioxidant blend, green blend, omega-3 blend, digestive and probiotic enzymes, and vitamins/minerals- a “meal” protein supplement.
  • Nutrition: 4 — 17g protein/scoop
  • Use: 3 — Best used mixed with water or almond milk to thin out as a drink
  • Cost: 5

Vega Smoothie (berry, tropical, vanilla, chocolate, and natural)

  • Taste: 3 — I’m more of a traditionalist when it comes to flavors, so my favorites were the vanilla and chocolate. The tropical tango and berry were a little strong for my taste buds.
  • Quality: 3 — pea protein, chia seeds, hemp seed, sprouted brown rice protein]
  • Nutrition: 3— 15g protein/scoop
  • Use: 4— Best used mixed with water or almond milk to thin out as a drink. Can easily add to smoothies (as intended) for a boost in protein content.
  • Cost: 2

Garden Of Life

Raw Fit (Spiced vanilla chai, chocolate mocha)

  • Taste: 2 — a little “chalky” for my liking, but when mixed into my smoothies I couldn’t tell the difference! I really enjoyed the unique flavors especially the chocolate mocha. I should note, the “chalky” flavor comes from all of the great sprouted grains, nuts, and seeds).
  • Quality: 5 — organic sprouted blend: brown rice protein, amaranth, flax seed, quinoa, millet, buckwheat, garbanzo bean, pumpkin seed, lentil, adzuki bean, flax meal, sunflower seed, chia seed, sesame seed] An amazing array of sprouted nuts, seeds, and grains for the protein sources which is great.
  • Nutrition: 5 — 28g of protein/scoop. Contains added herbal, vitamin/mineral, probiotic blends.
  • Use: 4 — smoothies, mixed with water or almond milk to drink
  • Cost: 3

Raw Protein (original, vanilla, chocolate, vanilla chai)

  • Taste:3 — I can speak to the vanilla, chocolate, and vanilla chai- all were relatively the same rating on my scale for flavor and texture. A bit “chalky”, but when mixed with something you couldn’t really tell (I should note, the “chalky” flavor comes from all of the great sprouted grains, nuts, and seeds).
  • Quality: 5 — [organic sprouted blend: brown rice protein, amaranth, flax seed, quinoa, millet, buckwheat, garbanzo bean, pumpkin seed, lentil, adzuki bean, flax meal, sunflower seed, chia seed, sesame seed] An amazing array of sprouted nuts, seeds, and grains for the protein sources which is great.
  • Nutrition: 4 — 17g protein/scoop. Contains added vitamin/mineral, and digestive blends.
  • Use: 4 — smoothies, mixed with water or almond milk to drink
  • Cost: 3

Plant Fusion

Phood (chocolate caramel, vanilla)

  • Taste: 4 — most original flavors I’ve come across thus far with protein powders and they’re all delicious. My favorite out of this bunch was the chocolate caramel.
  • Quality: 4 — Protein from pea, artichoke, sprouted amaranth, and sprouted quinoa.
  • Nutrition: 4 — 18g protein/serving + carbohydrates and fat. Contains added energy, EFA, vitamin/mineral, and digestive blends.
  • Use: 4 — smoothies, with almond milk or water as a drink
  • Cost: 4

Plant Fusion, original (chocolate raspberry, chocolate, cookies n’ creme, unflavored, vanilla)

  • Taste: 4 — most original flavors I’ve come across thus far with protein powders and they’re all delicious. My favorite out of this bunch (coming from a chocoholic was cookies n’ creme). The texture reminded me a bit of Sunwarrior Warrior Blend, which I’m familiar with- it was great overall!
  • Quality: 4 — Protein from pea, artichoke, sprouted amaranth, and sprouted quinoa.
  • Nutrition: 5 — 21g protein/serving (4500 mg BCAA’s)
  • Use: 4 — smoothies, with almond milk or water as a drink, as a protein pudding (mixing the powder with almond milk to a “pudding” consistency)
  • Cost: 4

Sunwarrior

Original (chocolate, vanilla, natural)

  • Taste: 2-3 — it’s a bit chalky due to the only protein source coming from a grain, sprouted rice but when mixed with a smoothie I couldn’t tell the difference.
  • Quality: 5 — Raw whole grain brown rice protein
  • Nutrition: 4 — 15g protein/scoop
  • Use: 3 — mixes best with water/almond milk for a drink
  • Cost: 3

Warrior Blend (chocolate, vanilla)

  • Taste: 5 —  my favorite from this bunch is the vanilla- it seems to go well with everything. The texture is really thick and creamy, which is great for adding to smoothies. Sunwarrior is typically the protein I use in my Stripped Green Smoothie Bowls because of the wonderful thick texture it provides.
  • Quality: 5 — proprietary blend [raw organic pea protein, cranberry protein, organic hemp seed protein]- great quality organic, sprouted, and raw variations.
  • Nutrition: 4 — 17g protein/scoop
  • Use: 4 — smoothies, baked goods like pancakes, puddings, desserts, or mixed with almond milk/water for a drink. This one is unique because of the protein blend, it’s water-loving so it gets really think which is great for smoothies.
  • Cost: 3-4

Manitoba Harvest

Hemp protein 70

  • Taste: 3 — It tastes as hemp protein “should” taste, a bit of grittiness to it, earthy, nutty, slightly sweet (I can only speak for the natural flavor as this is what I tried). Overall I love using hemp protein in baked goods, raw desserts, snacks, etc.
  • Quality: 5 — hemp protein
  • Nutrition: 5 — 20g protein (70% by weight), omega-3 fats
  • Use: 4— smoothie, mixed with almond milk/water, baked, adding to hot cereals, and other desserts. I find this protein along with Sunwarrior are easy to sneak into baked goods and other types of homemade snacks (such as my Chewy Superfood Hemp Protein Bars)
  • Cost: 3

Tone It Up

  • Taste: 5 — I love this brand of protein, the flavors like vanilla and chocolate, are subtle and taste delicious on their own when mixed with water or almond milk and even better when in a smoothie, smooth texture
  • Quality: 5 — with all organic ingredients this is a winner for me, plus the ingredients listed are minimal which means you have less processing issues to worry about
  • Nutrition: 3 — 15g protein/scoop
  • Use: 5 — this is one of my favorites because you can make a solid protein pancake and baked goods without it changing the flavor dramatically
  • Cost: 4

Nutra Organics, thriving protein

  • Taste: 5 — delicious, smooth texture, blends well with water or almond milk
  • Quality: 4 — most of the ingredients are organic, all certified gluten free, dairy free, etc.
  • Nutrition: 2-3 — has a lower amount of protein than most other plant-based protein powders per serving
  • Use: 5 — I found this best used in smoothies or mixed with water or almond milk for a quick on the go shake
  • Cost: 3

NOW Pea Protein

  • Taste: 4 — nothing fancy with the flavor, but it’s a clean taste and a whole food protein to mix with smoothies
  • Quality: 5 — NOW foods does third party testing for quality so I really love that about this brand as a whole, and there’s only one ingredient in here which is pea protein
  • Nutrition: 4
  • Use: 5 — smoothies, baked goods
  • Cost: 2

It depends on what your goal is but in general, this is a good start for where and how to use these protein supplements:

  • Which ones to use for meal replacements: Phood, Vega One, Ka’ Chava, Garden of Life Raw Fit
  • Which ones to use for meal additions/supplements: Vega Sport, Plant Fusion, Vega Smoothie, Vega One, Sunwarrior Warrior Blend, Sunwarrior Original, Garden of Life Raw Protein, Hemp Protein 70

The Verdict

The top NS Approved protein powders:

  1. Tone It Up
  2. Nutra Organics
  3. NOW Pea Protein

I hope you all loved this guide and review as I get SO many questions about my favorite protein powders to use and what the differences of them are. Bookmark this post or share it with a friend for later! Do you like guide reviews such as these? Comment below so I know to do more of them!

xx McKel

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post, Nutrition Stripped wasn’t paid or compensated in any way to review these products, we just want to create an amazing product resource for you so you know how to purchase protein powders!