You probably do not need to add a protein powder supplement to your smoothie, even if you are a vegetarian. It is easy to get adequate amounts of protein from your diet.
If you feel the need to supplement your protein intake, however, you will quickly find that you have a lot of options to choose from. Just browsing the supplement section of your local health food store or vitamin shop is enough to make your head spin. Here is a basic breakdown of current options available.
Sprouted Protein Powders
A fairly new arrival in the world of protein powders are sprouted proteins. Usually made from sprouted brown rice or legumes (peas, beans), these powders are usually raw and appeal to vegans and those following the raw food diet.
I currently use and recommend Epic Protein by Sprouted Living. It is an organic, raw, vegan, sprouted protein that has up to 23 grams of protein per serving, depending on which product you get.
Epic Protein is also gluten-free, GMO-free and does not contain pesticides, herbicides and PCBs. It contains all of the essential and non-essential amino acids as well as glutamic acid. I like the plain flavor as it doesn’t really change the flavor of green smoothies. They also have vanilla-lucuma and chocolate-maca varieties.
A single serving does not make my smoothie chalky and the subtle flavor can be easily masked by adding a few additional berries such as strawberries, if desired. You can find Epic Protein in select health food stores or you can purchase it online.
Hemp Protein Powder
Hemp protein is becoming very popular among health-food enthusiasts and the vegan/raw community. Hemp protein is derived from hemp seeds and is a complete protein rich with amino acids and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. This protein is vegan and several brands are processed using a “low temperature” technique that prevents denaturing of the amino acids and therefore are perfect for those on a raw food diet. Currently, hemp protein powder can be more expensive and harder to find outside of health food stores or online.
Rice Protein Powder
Most people consider brown rice as a carbohydrate rather than a quality source of protein, but it is. Rice protein powder is a complete, low carbohydrate protein rich with amino acids. It is easily digestible and perfect for those with food allergies since pure rice protein powder does not contain gluten, dairy, egg, soy or many of the common food allergens.
Rice protein is an excellent source of protein for vegans and certain brands, such as NutriBiotic, is low-temperature processed which appeals to those on a raw foods diet. Rice protein powder is not too expensive and can be found at health foods stores and online.
Rice protein comes in vanilla, chocolate and plain flavors. Plain rice protein powder adds a mild, brown rice flavor to smoothies which I find appealing.
Soy Protein Powder
Soy protein is made from soy flour and is a common, widely available protein supplement on the market. It is a complete protein as well and appeals to vegans and vegetarians. Due to the high-temperature processing techniques commonly used for soy products, it is not a good choice for those on a raw foods diet. Those with soy allergies should not take soy protein. Soy protein is affordable and comes in a variety of flavors such as chocolate, vanilla and strawberry.
There is some controversy about the health risks of consuming too much processed soy products. It is worth your while to research the health benefits and risks yourself and make your own decision. Personally, I would recommend trying rice or hemp protein instead.
Whey protein powder is made from the by-product of turning milk into cheese. Whey is the preferred protein supplement among body builders. It is a complete protein and easily digestible. Whey Protein Concentrate is more readily available and less expensive, containing approximately 30-85% protein. Whey Protein Isolate is a purer form with at least 90% protein and therefore, more expensive. Because it comes from dairy, whey is not suitable for vegans or those who are lactose intolerant.
Egg Protein Powder
Egg protein is made from powdered egg whites. It is a complete protein high in amino acids and each serving is roughly the equivalent of eating 6 or so egg whites. Because it is made from eggs, it is not recommended for vegans or those with an egg allergy. I do not currently know of any egg white protein powders made from cage-free eggs, so ethical implications of consuming commercial egg protein supplements should be considered.
Now that you’ve selected a quality protein powder, browse our green smoothie recipes to find a delicious blend to add it to!
Tracy Russell is the creator of RESET 28: A 28-Day Program For Energy, Weight Loss & A Healthy Glow, and founder of Incredible Smoothies. She has been helping people take control of their health and well being with green smoothies, a whole foods diet, and fitness since 2009.