The rise of plant protein powder to help you achieve your fitness goals

Young women deadlifting in gym

If you are an avid gym-goer or just someone who loves to exercise, the chances are that you will have probably used some kind of protein shake to help you recover after your workout and help you to move towards achieving your fitness goals.

Whey protein has long been the go-to when it comes to buying a protein shake, all the top brands sell this type of protein. But recently a new kind protein has started to make an appearance in recovery shakes – that of plant protein. Meat and dairy are no longer considered the only viable sources. As plant-based diets grow in popularity, it is now easier and tastier to discover plant protein than ever before.

Customer Demand

Over the past few years, there has been a rise in plant-based foods and products. The role of plant-based protein has grown as consumers across the world become increasingly aware of their personal health and immunity, as well as how and where their food is sourced. There has also been a rise in people becoming vegetarian, vegan or flexitarian. According to research from Mintel, 50% of UK consumers are looking to cut their meat intake by introducing plants or more vegetarian options into their diets. This all taps back into the movement of ‘clean’ eating as customers are looking for clarity on ingredients and the benefits to their diet.

Taste

Consumers choose plant-based diets for a variety of reasons. Mostly, the rise of plant-based alternatives are attributed to an increased focus on ethical and sustainable consumption. For others, however, taste and texture still rule – especially when it comes to the growing flexitarian market.

All protein shakes have come a long way when it comes to taste. Years ago, when you drank a strawberry protein shake you could be forgiven for admitting it didn’t really taste like strawberry. But now with the fitness industry exploding over the past few years, people are demanding quality and taste than ever before. Manufacturers have had to simply select nutritious, quality ingredients and understand how proper ratios and blends affect product performance, taste, and texture to keep customers coming back for more.

Plant V Whey: How Are They Produced

Whey is the liquid part of the milk that separates during the production of cheese. For many years producers thought this was a wasted product, until bodybuilders and dairy manufacturers realised it was very high in protein and very cheap. Whey is heated, filtered, pasteurised and dried. Sweeteners, flavours and vitamins are added to create a product that we all recognise as protein powder.

Plant protein doesn’t need that much processing. Ingredients such as oats, nuts and beans grow naturally with essential amino acids included. Other ingredients such as some nuts, tofu and butter need processing but not by nearly as much as the whey process.

Plant V Whey: Proteins

The majority of athletes often choose whey powders, simply because it a source of complete protein. It contains all nine amino acids we need to consume in our diet. The majority of animal products usually have complete proteins in them, whereas plant-based ones often need to be mixed with some other ingredients to provide all nine. On saying that, there are plant sources that provide complete proteins. Soy, quinoa, pea, hemp and sunflower protein are some that do, which makes them just as convenient as whey when it comes to getting the protein your body needs.

Athletic performance 

We all know that whey protein powder does build muscle which can aid athletic performance. It is also great at helping recovery and the repair of muscles – especially for those who train 4-5 times a week and want to provide their body with the extra punch to recover. Plant protein sources also help build muscle and aid recovery just as well as whey. But potentially the added benefit of plant protein is it can also improve overall health and deliver a broader range of nutrients to the body. Also, as consumers are more environmentally aware, we know that a plant-based protein, by its nature, is better for the environment.

In the end, it all comes down to personal preference, what your fitness goals are and how the product tastes. But expect to see more plant protein products in the future.