Protein powder is a POPULAR supplement for those looking to increase their protein intake, build muscle, and aid in recovery. However, not everyone wants to use a powder made from animal products or synthetic ingredients.
If you’re looking for natural alternatives to protein powder, plenty of options are available, from adding healthy food sources to using plant-based powders. These foods include beans, nuts, seeds, and tofu.
Plant-based protein powders are a great alternative for those following a vegan or vegetarian diet. These powders are usually made from a blend of plant sources such as peas, brown rice, quinoa, and chia seeds.
No matter your dietary preferences or needs, there’s a natural protein powder substitute for you. Read this guide to learn more about some of our favorite options.
- There are many foods which can be included in your diet as whey protein powder substitutes, including nuts, seeds, legumes, eggs and milk.
- Plant-based powders are a great option for those looking for a vegan or vegetarian protein source.
- Hemp powders are a good choice for those looking for an organic protein source.
- Rice powders are gluten-free and perfect for those with allergies or sensitivities.
What is Protein Powder?
Protein powder is a popular supplement used to INCREASE protein intake, build muscle and aid in recovery. It comes in various forms, including whey (from milk), casein (also from milk), soy, egg white, and hemp.
Most protein powders can be added to protein shakes or smoothies, baked into snacks like muffins or energy balls, or even added to savory dishes like soups and casseroles.
Pro Tip: Using protein powder in cooking and baking can also increase the protein content WITHOUT adding a strong flavor.
Why Use a Protein Powder Substitute?
There are many reasons someone might want to switch from protein powder to a NATURAL alternative. Some people may not tolerate dairy-based products or animal proteins, while others may prefer plant-based options for ETHICAL or ENVIRONMENTAL reasons.
Others may be looking for a protein powder that is FREE FROM additives and fillers or simply want to switch up their routine and try something new.
Natural Protein Powder Substitutes
One easy way to increase your protein consumption is by incorporating HEALTHY food sources into your meals and snacks. Let’s take a look at some of the best options:
Adding an egg to your daily diet can PROVIDE around 6 grams of protein. They’re also a great source of ESSENTIAL vitamins and minerals, including vitamin D, B12, and choline . As well as being nutritious, they also contain amino acids that are important for muscle growth and repair.
According to experts, you can eat up to seven eggs per week without significant risk .
They are easy to incorporate into meals or as a snack on their own. Try a hard-boiled egg, scrambled eggs, poached eggs, omelettes, frittatas, or even egg salad.
Pro Tip: Look for omega-3 enriched or pastured eggs for an extra nutritional boost.
Soybeans are a COMPLETE protein, meaning they CONTAIN all amino acids that are essential to diets. They also offer fibre and healthy fats. One cup of cooked soybeans provides around 29 grams of protein.
In addition to enjoying whole soybeans, plenty of other convenient forms are available, including tofu, tempeh, edamame, and soy milk.
Try adding tofu to stir-fries or salads, using tempeh as a meat substitute in sandwiches or tacos, tossing edamame into soups or salads, or enjoying a protein-packed glass of soy milk.
Beans and Legumes
There are endless options for beans and legumes – lentils, chickpeas, black beans, pinto beans, kidney beans, and so on. They are all packed with protein, fibre, and ESSENTIAL nutrients. One cup of cooked lentils provides 18 grams of protein.
According to experts, beans and legumes are linked to numerous HEALTH BENEFITS, including improved heart health and blood sugar control .
You can incorporate beans and legumes into soups, salads, and stews or even blend them into hummus. For a protein-packed snack, try making a homemade trail mix with your favourite nuts, seeds, and dried beans or lentils.
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are not only a GREAT source of protein – but they also offer healthy fats, fibre, and essential nutrients. One ounce of almonds provides 6 grams of protein, while one ounce of pumpkin seeds offers 5 grams.
Nuts and seeds are a great addition to salads, yogurts, oatmeal, or homemade energy bars. They can also be enjoyed as a stand-alone snack or added to homemade trail mix.
Lean Meats and Fish
Animal-based protein sources, such as lean meats and fish, can also provide the body with amino acids and are an excellent substitute.
One serving of chicken or turkey (3 ounces) offers around 25 grams of protein. Fatty fish like salmon offer protein and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
Incorporate lean meats and fish into meals by adding them to salads, stir-fries, wraps, or sandwiches.
This ancient grain has gained popularity in recent years, and for good reason – it’s a COMPLETE protein that offers amino acids. One cup of cooked quinoa provides 8 grams of protein. It’s also a great fibre, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus source.
Quinoa can be enjoyed as a side dish, added to salads or soups, or even used as a substitute for oats in breakfast bowls.
Greek yogurt is a CONVENIENT way to increase your protein intake. One cup provides around 20 grams of protein. It’s also an excellent source of calcium and probiotics for gut health.
Enjoy Greek yogurt as a snack on its own, or add it to smoothies, overnight oats, or homemade energy bites.
Pro Tip: Try using it as a base for homemade frozen yogurt for a delicious and healthy dessert.
Plant-Based Protein Powders
For those following a plant-based diet, protein powder substitutes are available. Here are some options to try:
Hemp Protein Powder
Hemp seeds are a COMPLETE protein that offers all nine essential amino acids. One serving of hemp protein powder provides around 10 grams of protein, fibre, and healthy fats. These are great ORGANIC, vegan options for smoothies or baked goods.
Pro Tip: Find brands that add less sugar or powders that add no sugar at all including artificial sweeteners
Pea Protein Powder
Pea protein powder is made from yellow split peas and offers a GOOD SOURCE of essential amino acids. It’s also a good source of iron and branched-chain amino acids, which are IMPORTANT for muscle growth and recovery.
One serving provides around 24 grams of protein and can be easily added to smoothies or baked goods. It’s also free from common allergens like dairy, soy, and gluten.
Pro Tip: This can still be made into a great protein shake with added fruits and almond milk.
Sacha Inchi Protein Powder
Sacha inchi is a Peruvian plant that’s becoming increasingly popular as a protein source. One serving of sacha inchi protein powder provides around 10 grams of protein, essential fatty acids, and fibre.
Pro Tip: Sacha Inchi can be found in all health food stores
Brown Rice Protein Powder
Brown rice protein powder is made from fermented brown rice and offers around 22 grams of protein per serving. It’s also a good source of IRON and branched-chain amino acids. Rice proteins are GLUTEN-FREE and easily digestible.
When choosing a protein powder alternative, it’s important to consider your dietary needs and preferences. Some may need to avoid certain ingredients, such as soy or gluten.
Others may prefer plant-based options over animal-based ones. Whatever your preference, there are plenty of natural protein sources to choose from.
There are many different types of protein powder substitutes on the market, and we’ve highlighted some of the favorites. These are a great place to start if you’re looking for a natural alternative to protein powder.
They’re all packed with protein, fibre, and essential nutrients, so you can feel good about including them in your diet.
You can also check out our guide on pea protein powder if you need to find a great quality alternative to whey.