Protein Powder PAGEANT: An Honest Review of Dairy-Free Brands & Products

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m a r k e t s  

Up until a few months ago, I never thought much of protein powder. I believed it was some scary, intense product exclusively made for bodybuilders. Plus, I’m allergic to dairy, so the whey products that used to dominate the supplement shelves never grasped my attention.

However, a few months ago, a friend of mine introduced me to plant-based protein powders.   

GAME. CHANGER.

Dairy AND gluten free options? Yes, please!!

Although these plant-based products don’t have the same crazy flavors as whey proteins (such as “Peanut Butter Cup” and “Ice Cream Sandwich”), the ones that I have tried are delectable and satisfying.  And they don’t give me any stomachaches – that’s a win in my world.

So what are these delicious products? And why do I like them?

#1: NuZest USA

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Ingredients - Creamy Cappuccino: Pea Protein Isolate, Coffee, Vanilla Flavor, Thaumatin, Cocoa Extract

Macronutrient facts: 89 calories, 04.g fat, 1g carbohydrate, 21g protein  

Flavors options:  Vanilla, Chocolate, Strawberry, Cappuccino, Just Natural

Overall review: If you are looking for an ultra-clean product that still provides an excellent amount of protein, this is your winner! I am super impressed with how pure this ingredient list is, and I was surprised to see that 1 serving (1 scoop) contains ~90 calories and ~20g of protein. NuZest USA has created a filling yet simple product, and I love that! I also really enjoy cooking oatmeal with this protein; it bakes extremely well.  My favorite flavor is the cappuccino. It’s thick and creamy, but not too rich, and it makes my oats super flavorful.

Where to find it: NuZest USA’s website. If you use the code WholesomeHannah at checkout, you'll get 15% OFF the first time you buy! 

#2: Vega - Vega Sport Performance Protein

 

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Ingredients - Vanilla: Pea protein, Pumpkin seed protein, Organic sunflower seed protein, Alfalfa protein, Tart cherry, Probiotics (Bacillus coagulans [provides 1 billion cfu/serving]), Bromelain, Turmeric extract, Black Pepper extract. Contains less than 2% of: Sea salt, Natural caramel flavor, Natural vanilla flavor, Stevia extract, Xanthan gum.

Macronutrient facts: 150 calories, 3g fat, 4g carbohydrates, 30g protein

Flavor options:  Berry, Vanilla, Chocolate, Mocha

Overall review: I normally use protein powder in one of two ways: to refuel after a tough workout, or to make sure that I have a filling breakfast so that I’m not hungry again until lunchtime (or snack time). I don’t consider Vega Sport to be an “every-day” type of supplement, since it’s got so many restorative, post-workout essentials in it. If it’s a rest day for me, I don’t really want to have this protein in my breakfast, since I know that it’s so much more beneficial to enjoy after I’ve worked out. That’s not to say that it can’t be eaten regularly, but I always feel a little weird drinking a smoothie with a supplement that’s specifically designed for workout recovery. You know?

Anyways, when it IS a workout day for me….all I want to drink is this after I’m done at the gym. This protein powder is very rich and extremely thickening when mixed with almond milk. While there are more ingredients in it than NuZest, it’s still very clean. There are more ingredients mostly because there are different types of proteins, instead of just one. It’s marketed as a post workout recovery drink because of the tart cherry extracts, probiotics, and turmeric that are in here. It feels super satisfying to drink this after a workout! I will say that the flavor of this protein definitely dominates any smoothie, which can be good and bad. I do want to taste the actual fruits that I’ve put in a drink…but I also really love how creamy and flavorful Vega Sport is.  Because of the tart cherry extract, the vanilla flavor of Vega Sport is a bit sweeter than other vanilla proteins that I’ve experimented with. 

Another aspect of Vega Sport that I really like is that a jar of this product comes with a scooper that has whole and half options. This is helpful because sometimes, I don’t want to use an entire scoop (it’s pretty big), so the half line makes it easy for me to measure out how much I should include.

I highly recommend this protein to anyone who uses protein powder predominantly for post-workout fuel. It’s a gem! 

Where to find it: Vega's website, Whole Foods, Amazon, GNC, and other health food stores 

#3: SunWarrior – Warrior Blend

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Ingredients - Chocolate: Proprietary Protein Blend: Organic Pea Protein, Organic Hemp Protein, Organic Whole Ground Coconut, Organic Goji Berry. Organic Alkalized Cocoa Powder, Organic Chocolate Flavor Blend, Organic Guar Gum, Sea Salt, Organic Stevia Extract (Steviol Glycosides)

Macronutrient facts: 100 calories, 1.5g fat, 20g fat, 4g carbohydrates

Flavor options: Chocolate, Vanilla, Natural

Overall review: While this protein powder is not super thickening, the flavors are ON POINT, and the ingredients remain clean.  Vanilla tastes like vanilla Funfetti cake batter…if I am remembering correctly from back in the day!  And the chocolate legitimately smells and tastes like SwissMiss hot chocolate.

I like this protein because it is a great pre-workout or post-workout supplement. If I’m feeling really hungry before an evening workout, I’ll blend some of this with almond milk and a banana – my workouts are a lot better in the 5/6PM timeframe when I’ve gotten some good fuel in my body beforehand! This protein also tastes great in chia pudding, overnight oats, and pancakes!

Where to find it: Amazon, SunWarrior website, Whole Foods, health food stores 

#4: Vega Protein Smoothie 

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Ingredients - Viva Vanilla: Vega Protein Blend (pea protein, SaviSeed [sacha inchi] protein, hemp seed protein, sprouted whole grain brown rice protein), natural French vanilla flavors, Vega Green Blend (organic alfalfa grass powder, spinach powder, broccoli powder, organic kale powder), papaya concentrate powder (contains naturally occurring enzymes), stevia leaf extract, xanthan gum.

Macronutrient Facts: 80 calories, 15 g protein, 0 g fat, 4 g carbohydrates 

Flavor Options: Bodacious Berry, Viva Vanilla, Tropical Tango, Natural 

Overall Review:On a whim, I picked up this protein at Whole Foods because it was on sale. I've been happily surprised with this product ever since, and I definitely will repurchase. This is my favorite Vega product so far! It's great in smoothies, but it also makes for some DELISH protein pancakes. Find the pancake recipe that I follow here

 So I've only tried the vanilla, but I love it so much. It's a perfect flavor (creamy & delicious, but not too overwhelming in smoothies), AND it has two servings of veggies in it! (Hence the spinach, broccoli, alfalfa grass, and kale powders in this bag.)

If you're looking for a product with a bit more protein (20 grams instead of 15 grams), the Vega Protein & Greens mix has essentially the same ingredient list, but that one has four servings of veggies.

Where to find it: Amazon, Vega website 

#5: Nutiva Organic Hemp Protein Powder 

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Ingredients - Chocolate: Organic Hemp Protein, Organic Coconut Sugar, Organic Cocoa Powder, Organic Chocolate Flavor, Organic Inulin (Sunchoke), Organic Tapioca, Organic Stevia (made without hexane, dairy, or lactose)

Macronutrient facts: 120 calories, 2.5g fat, 10g protein, 14g carbohydrates

Flavor options: Chocolate, Vanilla

Overall review: This protein is the first that I tried, and I thought that I really liked it...until I tasted all of these other delicious ones. When blended in a shake or with almond milk, I’m definitely able to taste the hemp seed. This supplement has its own unique flavor -- the vanilla and chocolate are not the classic, ‘what you’d expect’ types.  It’s not very high in protein (only form is the hemp protein). While I did enjoy this one when I first tried out protein powder, it hasn't remained a favorite of mine. I'd recommend the other ones first! 

Where to find it: Amazon, health food stores, Nutiva's website