By Nicole McDermott
With so many different protein powders available on the market, it can be hard to choose just one. Many powders are whey-based, which is an animal protein, but then there are soy and pea powders, which are plant-based. If you're curious about the main differences and similarities between whey vs. plant protein, we're here to help!
For faster post-workout recovery, try out Ladder Whey Protein or Ladder Plant Protein!
Whey protein is one of the main proteins found in cow's milk (the other is casein). Plant proteins, on the other hand, come from a variety of different plant sources. “The most common plant protein powders are soy, pea, and hemp," says Mascha Davis MPH, RDN, and author “Eat Your Vitamins." You can find pea protein, as well as pumpkin protein, in Ladder Plant Protein, for example.
She explains that some brands blend proteins from different plant sources to make it complete. “This means that when blended together, all essential amino acids are present in the powder," she says. (Whey is a naturally complete protein.)
Although there are many different plant proteins to choose from with varying ingredients and nutrition labels, there are some primary differences and similarities between the average plant-based protein and whey. Davis breaks them down for us:
When it comes to the great battle of whey vs. plant-based proteins, Davis says limited evidence touts one over the other.
In fact one study, which put whey and pea protein head to head, found both options produce similar outcomes for key metrics including body composition, muscle thickness, force production, performance, and strength after following an 8-week high-intensity functional training protocol.
“Muscle growth is a result of training your muscles," Davis says. “The protein powders are simply a tool to replenish losses easily."
When choosing between whey and plant-based protein, it really comes down to your personal preference, including dietary choices and allergies.
Whichever you choose, make sure to take a look at the label. Many protein powders — both whey and plant-based — may have added ingredients such as artificial sweeteners, thickeners, and artificial flavors and colors. “Try to avoid those high in additives," Davis says.
Both Ladder Whey Protein and Ladder Plant Protein are premium, NSF for Sport-certified powders that are trusted by athletes around the country to maximize their performance. And not only are their ingredients good, they also come in tasty chocolate and vanilla flavors.
And remember that while protein powders can help you consume more protein throughout the day, you can also bump up your protein intake with whole foods. Check out our list of lean protein foods and vegan protein sources that you can add into your meals, no matter your dietary preferences.