Protein shakes and powders are everywhere, and a popular iteration that is making a name for itself is pea protein powders. Pea protein is sourced by extracting protein from yellow peas. Like other plant-based proteins, it is an excellent option for vegans and vegetarians over animal-sourced protein. It might also be an excellent alternative for those who tend to bloat after having dairy-based protein powders.
“Pea protein is very well tolerated and has a mild, neutral flavor on its own,” says Paul Kriegler, RD and assistant program manager at Life Time. “It’s good for more than just smoothies too — it can be mixed into a variety of different foods,” he says. You can find it in veggie burgers and some cereals, and the powder version is even used in smoothies and baking.
According to the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR), pea protein contains the nine essential amino acids that your body cannot make on its own and usually has to get it from the food that you eat. However, it is low in the amino acid methionine, found in chicken, rice, eggs, some fishes (salmon and halibut), dairy products, and vegetables, including spinach, zucchini, and mushrooms.
Furthermore, the AICR reports that pea protein has a better balance of essential amino acids than items made with protein isolated from hemp seed, rice, and most other grains. Amino acids help the body create proteins that can help you grow, repair body tissue, and are a source of energy. There are also nonessential amino acids that your body can make without getting them from your food.
Since there are so many options to choose from when picking the best pea protein powder for yourself, we leaned into a few trainers and got them to give us the scoop on some of their favorites. Still, check in with your doctor or a healthcare professional for guidance before taking supplements, as the FDA regulates them under a different set of regulations than those for “conventional” foods and medicines.
1. Arbonne FeelFit Pea Protein Shake
“My favorite protein powder is the Arbonne vanilla,” says Holly Roser, certified personal trainer and a certified sports nutritionist in New York City and San Francisco. “I love that it is not only GMO-free and organic, but it meets the elevated EU standards of organic, making it a high-quality product,” she says. Each serving offers protein from peas, cranberries, and rice, 24 vitamins and minerals. It is also made without artificial colors, flavors or sweeteners, high fructose corn syrup, dairy or soy and gluten. “I also love that their products are vegan, and they come in different flavors, coffee-flavored cinnamon spice and mint chip,” says Roser.
2. No Cow Protein Powder
“I love No Cow plant-based protein, and I like to have a post-workout shake to help my muscles recover,” says personal trainer Krystal Goodman. “I love its great consistency compared to others making it easy to mix in protein shakes and baking,” she says. No Cow Protein Powder is available in a 100% recyclable aluminum canister. It has 22 grams of plant protein per scoop (a blend of pea protein and brown rice protein). It is gluten-free, Kosher, non-GMO, soy-free, vegan, sweetened with stevia, monk fruit, and erythritol.
3. Life Time Fitness Vegan Protein
“When choosing a vegan protein powder, it’s ideal to find one that contains complementary plant proteins so that it provides a more robust amino acid profile — especially if you’re heavily relying on protein powder to meet your protein needs,” says Kriegler. “Look for a powder without added sugars that uses natural flavors rather than artificial flavors, synthetic sweeteners, or added sugars. I’m partial to our own Life Time Vegan Protein, he adds. Two scoops contain 20 grams of pea protein isolate and are sweetened with stevia extract and monk fruit.
4. Happy Viking Superfood Complete Plant Nutrition Powders
Tennis champion and entrepreneur Venus Williams transitioned to a plant-based diet after being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease in 2011. Williams has said that she has seen the benefits for her mind, body and performance. She recently announced the launch of a new product under the Happy Viking umbrella: Happy Viking Superfood Complete Plant Nutrition Powders. They are available in triple chocolate, vanilla bean, strawberry, and Williams’ favorite tropical Greena-Colada. In addition to okra, pomegranate, kale, carrot and ancient grains, it contains 20 grams of pea protein and brown rice.
“Combining pea protein with rice protein (just like blending beans or other legumes with rice) will yield a complete spectrum of amino acids similar to animal protein powders like egg, beef or whey,” says Mr. America Jason Kozma, fitness expert and celebrity trainer of Mr. America High-Performance Personal Training. “Whey protein, though by far the most popular in the market, is not well tolerated by all protein drink users due to its dairy origin,” says Kozma.
Other Available Options:
5. Nature’s Best by Isopure Plant-Based Protein
Nature’s Best by Isopure is a gluten-free, non-GMO, dairy-free protein powder with 20 grams of organic pea and brown rice protein per serving. The label also states that it has no artificial colors, flavors, or sweeteners and is dairy and soy-free.
6. Vega Protein and Greens
Shake, blend or bake with Vega Protein and Greens. It has 120 calories per serving; its 20 grams of protein is a mix of pea, brown rice, and sacha inchi, sometimes referred to as mountain peanuts. It also contains organic kale, organic alfalfa, broccoli, and spinach. Additionally, it is gluten, lactose, dairy, and soy.
7. Garden Of Life Sport
This organic, non-GMO vegan protein powder is gluten, dairy and soy-free. Garden of Life Vegan Protein has 30 grams of protein from organic pea protein, sprouted navy bean, lentil bean, and garbanzo bean. Its chocolate flavor combines organic cacao, carob and vanilla, plus apple, tart cherry, turmeric, blueberry and goji berry. It is also available in vanilla.
8. NOW Sports
Each scoop of unflavored NOW Sports pea protein powder has 24 grams of protein and is non-GMO, no artificial sweeteners, vegan, vegetarian, Kosher, soy and dairy-free.
9. Orgain Organic Protein + Greens
Orgain Organic Protein + Greens vanilla bean protein powder contains 21 grams of organic plant-based protein from pea, brown rice, and chia seeds. It also lists organic greens and veggies that include spinach, kale, and broccoli. It is organic, vegan, non-dairy, gluten-free, lactose-free, soy-free, kosher, carrageenan-free, and has no artificial ingredients.
10. Nature Powered KOS
If you love chocolate and peanut butter, then Nature Powered KOS is what should be in your cart next. It captures that flavor with organic cocoa powder, peanut flour, and an organic blend of pea protein, flaxseed, quinoa, pumpkin, and chia seeds. It’s sweetened with organic coconut sugar, stevia and monk fruit extract.