A scoop of quality protein powder can double the protein content of your green smoothies while making it more satisfying as a meal. While the recipes I post don’t usually call for protein powder (it’s a strictly optional ingredient), I prefer my blends with a scoop.
If you feel the need to supplement your protein intake, 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.
Below is a comparison of the top 6 types of protein powder, listed in order of preference.
Rice Protein Powder (Plant-Based and My #1 Recommendation)
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. Organic brands are non-GMO. Certain brands are low temperature processed, which will appeal to those on a raw foods diet.
Plain rice protein powder adds a mild, brown rice flavor to smoothies which I find appealing.
The brand of protein powder I use is NutriBiotic. Their vegan rice protein powder is very high quality and doesn’t ever get chalky. It comes in three flavors (plain, vanilla and chocolate – I love the vanilla!). I have found NutriBiotic protein powder to be one of the best values (cost vs. amount you get) compared to other types of powders such as hemp and sprouted, plant-based proteins.
Rice-based protein powders can usually be found at health food stores, or you can buy them online (I order mine on Amazon.com).
Sprouted Protein Powders (Plant-Based)
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 a strict raw food diet.
I have used Epic Protein by Sprout Living in my green smoothies. 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.
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. Epic Protein comes in Original, Chocolate-Maca, Vanilla-Lucuma and “Green Kingdom” flavors. I prefer the Original flavor as the other three contain stevia leaf, which (to me) makes my smoothies taste too sweet.
Hemp Protein Powder (Plant-Based)
Hemp protein has become 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.
Hemp protein powder can be more expensive and harder to find outside of health food stores or online.
Soy Protein Powder (Plant-Based)
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.