Plant protein is very popular at the moment, and for good reason. Many athletes, body builders, and just the general health conscious are now turning to a more plant based way of life to help them feel cleaner, healthier and lighter in both body and mind, and these are just a few of the short term benefits reported – the long term is looking even more exciting.
This highest plant based protein foods list will show you at a glance the foods that contain the highest amino acid profiles, so you can work your meals around them and incorporate them easily into your life.
Why eat a plant based diet?
As more research is done and plant based and vegan diets become more popular, we start to see a bigger picture emerging of the HUGE benefits this way of life can have not only on your own health and longevity, but also the planet in general. Whether you’re in training or not, eating a more whole food diet will have many benefits on your health and vitality, both short and long term, so it is well worth the investment.
The anti inflammatory effects of plant foods may be something you’ll notice very quickly, especially in terms of your health and fitness levels. You will find that you don’t feel so achy after exercise, and you may recover more quickly than before due to less inflammation of the muscles. In fact, some of the world’s leading athletes eat a plant based diet and get their best ever times and higher endurance because of it.
Iron Man champion Brendan Brazier is one of these athletes whom has written many books on this very subject, making the powder of plants a fact that just cannot be argued with.
Actually, this guy is mostly a RAW VEGAN, which is obviously another level for most of us, but goes to show exactly just what the body is actually capable of when given the perfect fuel. His book ‘The Thrive Diet’ is definitely worth a read, and is the book that not only helped me to understand my body and its issues, but also set me on my own plant based journey.
Incorporating more plant foods into your diet:-
You can easily start your journey towards a plant based lifestyle by making a few simple swaps and changes every day. It’s usually best to start slowly, for the simple fact it can be hard to make too many changes in one go (although some people do thrive on the all or nothing method).
Either way, taking your time gives you the chance to educate yourself and learn new recipes, tips and tricks as you go. It is VERY IMPORTANT you know how to combine plant foods to get all the nutrients and amino acids you need otherwise you may end up less healthy than before, which is definitely not your aim.
If your’e a beginner who needs more in depth reading on this subject, then you may want to check out this awesome Beginner’s Guide to plant based eating which will help make it easier for you to make the transformation.
Plant Based Protein Foods List
As plant proteins go, let’s start off with the power houses of the plant world. Below is a list of the highest ranking protein rich plant foods and their protein value raw per 100g. These can be easily incorporated into any meal or snack, making it easy for you to start making the change to a healthier lifestyle today.
Protein amounts per 100 grams:
- Soy Beans 36g
- Hemp Seeds 32g
- Pumpkin Seeds 29.8g
- Lentils 24.6g
- Kidney Beans 24.4g
- Peanuts 24.4g
- Green peas 23.8g
- Black Beans 21.6g
- Almonds 21.2g
- Pistachio Nuts 21g
- Chickpeas 20.5g
- Tempeh 20.3g
- Sunflower Seeds 19.3g
- Ground Flax (linseed) 18.3g
- Sesame Seeds 17g
- Tahini 17g
- Chia Seeds 16.5g
- Cashew Nuts 15.3g
- Walnuts 15.2g
- Hazelnuts 15g
- Quinoa 14.1g
- Sundried Tomatoes 14.1g
- Pasta 13.9g
- Pine Nuts 13.7g
- Wholewheat Bread 13.4g
- Tofu 12.7g
- Buckwheat 12.6g
- Popcorn (plain) 12g
- Millet 11g
- Pecans 9.2g
- Macadamia Nuts 7.9g
- Dried coconut 6.9g
PLANT PROTEIN POWDERS
It is very important to understand the importance of getting the right proteins/amino acids into your diet when you decide to go vegan or plant based. If you go straight into it unarmed with the right information, you could potentially run into problems through not getting all the nutrients your body requires.
This is especially true if you are an athlete, or in any kind of training or exercise regime, when your body’s nutrient requirements will be higher. Always be sure to eat good amounts of the foods on the above list with every meal.
When I first started out over 2 years ago, I made the mistake of not educating myself properly on vegan food combining and it did me some harm in terms of muscle mass losage. I know some vegans and plant based eaters are adamant that it’s easy to meet protein requirements without animal products, but this was not the case with me. So, therefore I guess the lesson is we are all different in this respect. I’m a big exercise fan, and this makes a difference in protein requirements, so do keep that in mind.
Protein Powder and Weight Loss
Protein powder supplements are a great way to swap your normal meals and snacks for a healthful, low GI shake instead. Protein is filling, and will keep you satiated and your blood sugars on an even keel, both of which are a crucial part of weight loss.
High protein shakes will also ensure that you keep your muscle mass high whilst on a calorie restricted diet (something that is notoriously hard to do when you cut calories). Plus muscle mass help to keep your body in fat burning mode, and your metabolism high.
How much protein do I need?
As a guide, most people need between 1 and 2 grams of protein per kg of body weight depending on their lifestyle. You may very well need a protein supplement to meet these requirements (especially if you are doing hard exercise) and there are some fantastic plant protein formulations available these days, lucky for us. Sometimes it’s good to go for a blend of different plant proteins, as this will ensure a well rounded amino acid profile.
You should also be aware of protein powder combining (especially when it comes to amino acids, which is why it’s good to go for the blends), as some plant proteins do not have a complete amino acid profile like animal sources do. However, a plant based diet does hold much greater benefits over animal in other respects, such as:-
- Potentially lower risk of inflammatory diseases
- Less congestion in general, i.e. chest and sinus
- It is mostly cheaper
- Plants are a ‘cleaner’ energy, and for the most part have lower impact on the environment
- Plant based protein does not contain cholesterol
Make your own protein bars
If you don’t want to spend a fortune on protein bars (they do work out pretty expensive when you buy them pre made) then why not try your hand at making your own. Not only is it cheaper, but you know EXACTLY just what is going into your bar and can take control over the sugar content.
Many shop bought protein bars are literally packed full of refined sugars, preservatives and many other nasties that make the bar just plain unhealthy, so making your own takes this worry away.
Check out my favorite homemade recipes and have a go for yourself (you will need a protein powder for some of them). They are also family friendly and easily transportable for you to take to the gym, work or school.u
THE BEST PLANT BASED PROTEIN POWDERS
It really is best to try to buy organic protein powders that have no fillers, artificial colours, flavorings or preservatives. This is especially important if they are something you will be using a lot simply because you don’t want to be overburdening your system with anything unnatural on a daily basis.
Pre-blended protein powders
The below list is of some of the different types of plant protein powders available, their amino acid profile, and any pros or cons. You can either buy them separately and mix them yourself, OR my preferred option as it’s easier is to buy them ready mixed.
In my opinion, blends tend to go down better as they have been tried and tested for taste, have added natural flavours to make them more palatable, and usually offer other added nutrients and enzymes.
Combining protein powders
Hemp, pumpkin, chia, pea, and potato protein powders already contain a good amino acid profile and so can be taken alone.
However, because they all have a different nutrient content it is advisable to mix things up and not take the same one all the time. For instance, hemp protein is ‘complete’ and high in omega 3’s (fatty acids vital for those in training), making it a good one to use alone or in your blend. It can be a little gritty though, so you may prefer to blend it, or purchase a few and experiment to see which you prefer.
Some protein powders are pretty bland when they are not part of a specially formulated blend, therefore you may want to add your own healthy sweetener and fLavours such as raw honey, banana, xylitol, stevia, cacao or carob powder, dates or date syrup (dates also happen to be a favorite training food preferred by athletes that will give you a long lasting energy burn).
1. PEA PROTEIN
Pea protein is high in branch chain amino acids and lysine, but lower in methionine. It usually contains soluble fibers from the pea which helps thicken it up, but it doesn’t taste great alone so may need to be mixed with some other flavours and sweeteners. It’s saving grace is it’s cheap, and also has a good spectrum of all the amino acids, but still needs to be used alongside a full spectrum powder such as quinoa, hemp or pumpkin (especially if you don’t eat animal products).
A good pea protein powder will also taste great when used in cooking or baking if you fancy dabbling in your own protein bars or balls. You can even add a scoop into your porridge in the morning for an extra protein boost
2. BROWN RICE PROTEIN
This one is higher in methionine, but has less of the other amino acids such as leucine, histidene and threonine.
It is, however, a superior protein if you can find it organically and ethically sourced as it is notorious for containing high levels of cadmium and arsenic which is due to most of it coming from China. But it is fine in smaller amounts, or as part of a blend.
3. PUMPKIN SEED PROTEIN
Pumpkin protein has a complete amino acid profile, and tastes better than the others. It is also rich in minerals, namely zinc, and is high in l-arginine too (which is great for the male libido).
It is very alkaline-forming and high in tryptophan, vitamin E, and omega 3 fatty acids. Out of the single powders this one is the clear winner in terms of taste, texture and amino acid profile, but is unfortunately, more expensive than the others.
4. HEMP PROTEIN
Hemp protein powder has a great amino acid profile, but is another one that can be more expensive than some of the others depending on the type you purchase, its purity, and whether it is organic.
It is also high in omega 3 fatty acids, which are vital for those in training to help fight inflammation of the muscles and fasten recovery times. Hard training also burns up the bodies omega 3’s, therefore higher amounts are required in general.
Hemp is a great one to mix into other powders, such as pea, to add extra nutrients, or to use on rotation with any of the others.
5. CHIA SEED PROTEIN
Chia contains a good profile of ALL the essential amino acids, with the added benefits of omega 3 fatty acids, calcium, fiber, phosphorus and other minerals. Another superior protein not unlike hemp, and either of the two can be used daily, or added into the less nutritious powders.
6. POTATO PROTEIN
Potato protein is another complete protein that contains high amounts of branch-chain amino acids, and has high bio-availability (which means that the body can easily absorb it’s protein and nutrients). It’s also low in calories, so a good one to choose if you are on a calorie restricted diet. It usually comes in a blend rather than alone.
7. QUINOA PROTEIN
Quinoa contains a lot more protein than all of the other common grains, and is in fact up to 50% higher in comparison. However, this superfood is actually a seed, which probably explains why it packs such a protein punch. Again, quinoa protein powder tends to come as part of a blend rather than alone, due to its expense.
The other reasons to choose quinoa protein over the others, is the fact that it is a superior protein containing the most complete amino acid profile of ANY other plant based protein. Plus it is rich in those omega 3 fatty acids that are great for EVERYBODY, but especially good for those in training.
Omega 3’s may help lower inflammation in the body, which is exactly what you need after a hard workout to stop muscle aches, tiredness, and also to recover faster. If you don’t take quinoa protein powder as a supplement, then you can very easily add it to your diet in a variety of ways, as it is so versatile and can be incorporated into many meals both sweet or savoury.
8. SUNFLOWER PROTEIN
Sunflower protein is another pretty new one to the market, and the plus side is it’s a pretty inexpensive one to buy. Sunflower seeds also contain lots of vitamin E, which is a powerful antioxidant that can help mop up all those free radicals caused by exercising, thus slowing the aging process and aiding recovery at the same time.
For best results, this one is ideal to be blended with other complete proteins such as hemp or quinoa.
How to find a powder to suit you
This part is the most IMPORTANT part of all, as there are just so many to choose from these days, and to save time and expense you should have some basic idea of what will work for you by taking into consideration your dietary needs, training needs, and also whether you are looking to cut fat, lose weight in general, build muscle or bulk out.
ALL of these are a factor in which protein powder you should choose so you can obtain the results you wish for in the fastest time. To work out what’s best for you specifically then please check out my guide of the best reviewed protein powders of 2020, where you will find an easy list of factors you need to take into consideration when deciding.
Thank you for reading this article today. If you have any further questions about protein powder, or even need help picking the right one for you, then I would love to hear from you. Please feel free to leave your comments below in the comments area and I will try to respond within 24 hours. Have an awesome day!