Many individuals worldwide are slowly embracing plant-based and dairy-free lifestyles. Although some of these decisions are driven by medical reasons, others are purely lifestyle choices. So it is not surprising to find people looking for dairy free protein powder options when it comes to muscle development or weight loss. This extensive guide contains several dairy free protein powder options, including the benefits, nutrition, and ways of incorporating them into your diet.
What Is Protein Powder?
As the name suggests, protein powder is a substance, (not a whole food) which is made by extracting protein from food (17). Athletes often use these nutritional supplements, as well as bodybuilders and individuals who want to gain or lose weight or increase muscle mass (10).
These nutritional supplements contain essential macronutrients that help repair tissue and make hormones and enzymes (10). They may also help build muscles (along with strength training exercise) and meet some individuals’ nutritional requirements, particularly those following vegan or vegetarian diet plans. There are different types of protein powder, including plant-based and dairy-based.
What Is The Best Dairy Free Protein Powder?
Dairy-free individuals may have difficulty determining what dairy free protein powder to use. Because of this, you may have seen several questions about non dairy protein powder. Before we delve into these, let us quickly answer some of the most commonly asked questions about dairy free protein powder.
Are There Protein Powders That Are Dairy-Free?
Yes, there are, and plenty (10).
Is Whey Protein Powder Dairy-Free?
Unfortunately, it is not. According to Medical News Today, whey protein is one of the proteins that makes up milk, together with casein (16). Whey protein is separated from the casein in milk or made as a by-product of cheese making (16).
It is, in simple terms, the milk protein without the lactose, hence still an excellent option if you are lactose intolerant. It is a complete protein because it contains all 9 essential amino acids (16). It is not, however, appropriate for vegans or those with a milk protein allergy.
The Most Common Dairy Free Protein Powders
You may be in a fix if you do not know any non dairy protein powder yet are following a dairy free and plant based diet. But worry not, we’ve got you covered. Below are the most common dairy-free protein powders.
Pea Protein Powder
Pea protein powder is one of the most high-quality non-dairy protein powders. A 2019 study revealed that this protein is as adequate as whey protein when consumed during high-intensity functional training for muscle growth (14).
Additionally, some protein powders contain added iron and other vitamins and minerals. Evidence shows that protein may aid weight loss as part of a balanced diet.
Organic pea protein powder is an excellent source of nutrients like calcium, protein, iron, and potassium. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) database, a 20 g serving of organic pea protein powder provides (6):
- Calories- 80
- Protein- 15 g
- Total fat- 1.5 g
- Total carbohydrates- 1 g
- Fiber- 1 g
How To Incorporate Pea Protein Powder Into Your Diet
There are several ways you can consume this powder for more health benefits. The most common way most individuals consume protein powders is by mixing them with another liquid of their choice. But you could consume this powder in oats. Here is an example of such a recipe:
Recipe: Pea Protein Overnight Oats (8)
Overnight oats are perfect for breakfast. This recipe enhances its flavor by adding tasteful yet healthy ingredients such as pea protein, berries, and seeds. For more details on the recipe, please visit the website Pulses (8).
- 1/2 cup rolled oats
- 1/4 cup almond milk
- 1 scoop protein powder, pea; vanilla or natural flavor, organic
- 1/4 cup yogurt, non-dairy, plain (you can do without this and use additional ½ cup almond milk instead)
- 1 tbsp. chia seeds
- 1 tbsp. hemp seeds, (optional)
- 1/4 cup mixed berries, organic
- 1 tbsp. hemp seeds or cacao nibs
- 1/4 cup nuts, chopped
- Toss the rolled oats, almond milk, chia seeds, yogurt, hemp seeds (optional) and pea protein powder in a bowl or mason jar.
- Let it sit overnight in the fridge until the oatmeal soaks up the liquid.
- Remove from the refrigerator and top as desired.
- Calories- 400
- Total fat- 14 g
- Protein- 36 g
- Total carbohydrates- 37 g
- Fiber- 8 g
Soy Protein Powder
Another option for dairy free protein powder is soy protein powder. It is plant-based and acquired from soybeans. This makes it an excellent alternative for animal protein, especially when following a plant-based diet.
Soy protein has been linked to several health benefits, including promoting safe pregnancy, reducing LDL cholesterol levels, and the risk of cardiovascular disease (11). This protein powder can also help with muscle development and aid weight loss (11).
Another reason most people opt for soy protein powder is its nutrient content. It also provides essential vitamins and minerals like zinc, phosphorus, iron, and calcium. Additionally, it also has a few calories. The USDA database reveals that a 1 oz (28 g) serving of soy protein isolate provides the following nutrients (12):
- Calories- 95
- Protein- 25 g
- Total fat- 1 g
- Total carbohydrates- 0 g
- Fiber- 0 g
How To Add Soy Protein Powder To Your Diet
Of course, most individuals consume soy protein powder by adding it to their smoothies and shakes. However, you could add it to your morning oatmeal, add it to your casseroles and cream soups, or sprinkle it on your cereal. Here is an easy soy protein shake recipe to try to kick start your day.
Recipe: Soy Protein Shake (13)
For more details about this recipe, visit the Food website (13).
- 1 scoop spirutein unsweetened powdered soy protein concentrate
- ½ banana
- 1 tbsp. organic chunky peanut butter
- 8 ounces silk soymilk lite
- 3 ice cubes
Mix everything in a blender and blend until you get the desired consistency.
The nutrient content of one serving (about 139 g) is as follows:
- Calories- 146.8
- Total carbohydrates- 16.9 g
- Fiber- 2.8 g
- Protein- 4.5 g
- Total fat- 8.2 g
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Organic Brown Rice Protein Powder
Organic brown rice protein powder is another example of a vegan protein powder. It is one of the best and high-quality dairy protein powder alternatives due to its high protein and amino acid contents (1). In addition, a 2014 study revealed that this plant-based protein is an excellent protein source, with 37% of the total protein as essential amino acids necessary for muscle growth and other functions (1).
Organic brown rice protein powder is packed with nutrients like iron. The USDA reveals that a 34 g serving of organic brown rice protein powder will provide you with the following nutrients (2):
- Calories- 120
- Protein- 24 g
- Total fat- 0 g
- Fiber- 1 g
- Total carbohydrates- 5 g
How To Add Organic Brown Rice Protein Powder To Your Diet
There are numerous ways to incorporate organic brown rice protein powder into your diet. For example, you can add a scoop to your smoothie or shake or use it for baking muffins. Regardless of the method you choose, you will reap all the benefits of consuming this plant-based protein powder source. Here is an easy recipe to consider:
Recipe: Coconut Cherry Brown Rice Protein Shake With Water Kefir (3)
- 1 cup (about 180 g or 30) pitted sweet cherries, frozen or fresh
- 2 dates, pitted and soaked for 20 minutes (Medjool dates were used)
- ½ cup (120 ml) canned coconut milk
- ½ cup (120 ml) plain water kefir (homemade), optional (you can substitute with plain water)
- ½ -3/4 cup (120 to 180 ml) water (you can adjust depending on your desired smoothie consistency)
- ½ tsp. vanilla extract
- 2 scoops of organic brown rice protein powder (Naked Nutrition organic brown rice protein powder was used in this recipe)
- Few mint leaves
- 5-6 ice cubes (if you are using fresh cherries)
Put all the ingredients in a blender and blend, preferably in the order listed, for the best and smooth results.
Increase the speed slowly to high until you get your desired consistency.
The following makes two servings. However, the nutrient content for one serving is as follows:
- Calories- 302
- Total carbohydrates- 35 g
- Total fat- 12 g
- Protein- 14 g
- Fiber- 4 g
Read More: Protein Bowl Recipes: Easy Recipes To Try
Hemp Protein Powder
Hemp protein powder is one of the best plant-based nutritional supplements according to athletes, bodybuilders, and weight watchers who use it to build muscle mass. As the name suggests, it is obtained by grinding pressed hemp seeds into a fine powder.
The use of this powder is prevalent among individuals following vegan diets because it is loaded with essential nutrients such as amino acids, fiber, and minerals like calcium (4).
Hemp protein powder is particularly loved by individuals who are watching their weight because it contains no cholesterol or saturated fats, unlike most animal proteins. Additionally, it has a low-calorie count and high protein and fiber contents that increase satiety and prevent overeating. The USDA database reveals that a ¼ cup (31 g) serving of hemp protein powder contains the following nutrients (4):
- Calories- 120
- Total fat- 2 g
- Protein- 12 g
- Total carbohydrates- 13 g
- Fiber- 11 g
This supplement is also rich in calcium, potassium, and iron.
Ways Of Adding Hemp Protein To Your Diet
Of course, most people add this powder to their smoothies and shakes. But there are many ways to incorporate hemp protein powder into your diet, including making protein balls. Here is an easy recipe from BBC Good Food to help you make such (5):
Recipe: Nut & Raisin Protein Balls (5)
- 25 g hemp protein powder
- 50 g raisins
- 25 g oats
- 2 large egg whites
- 75 g ground almonds
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 100 g crunchy peanut butter (without palm oil or sugar)
- 40 g toasted flaked almonds
- Put the raisins in a jug with the vanilla and egg whites, then blitz with a hand blender until the raisins are finely chopped. Add the hemp powder, oats, nut butter and ground almonds and mix well to make a soft dough.
- Divide into seven and roll in the toasted almonds to make balls. You can store it in the fridge, in a container, for up to seven days.
The following recipe makes 7 servings. However, the nutrient content of one serving is as follows:
- Calories- 235
- Total fat- 17 g
- Total carbohydrates- 9 g
- Fiber- 2 g
- Protein- 10 g
Peanut Butter Protein Powder
The other dairy-free protein powder to try is organic peanut butter powder. This powder is loaded with nutrients and is efficient in muscle mass development. According to the USDA database, a 2 tbsp (13 g) serving of original organic peanut butter powder provides (7):
- Calories- 57
- Total fat- 1.6 g
- Total carbohydrates- 4.5 g
- Fiber- 2 g
- Protein- 6 g
It is also rich in iron, potassium, and calcium. One of the best ways of consuming this dietary supplement is by adding it in shakes. Here is an example of a shake recipe incorporating this powder:
Recipe: Peanut Butter Protein Shake (9)
- 1/2 cup frozen banana coined and then frozen
- 3/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or use chocolate almond milk for a chocolatier shake!)
- 1 tbsp. Special Dark (or Dutch-process) cocoa powder
- 2 tbsp. peanut butter
- 1 scoop (1/4 cup + 1 tbsp. (32g) chocolate protein powder
- 1 tsp. honey
- 8 ice cubes
- The night before you make the shake, remove the peel from the banana, slice it into large coins, and then place it in a plastic bag in the freezer.
- On the day you make the shake, measure a 1/2 cup of the banana and add it to a blender, along with the milk, cocoa powder, peanut butter, protein powder, honey, and ice, in that order.
- Blend until smooth and drizzle with extra peanut butter, if desired and enjoy.
- Calories- 393
- Total fat- 19.8 g
- Total carbohydrates- 34.8 g
- Fiber- 4.3 g
- Protein- 26.4 g
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The Dangers Of Dairy Free Protein Powders
Just because these protein powders are plant-based does not mean they do not have their downsides. There are a few risks tied to consuming these dairy-free and organic protein powders, some of which include:
High Sugar Content
Unfortunately, most of these supplements may contain high added sugars and calories. Yes, some have little added sugar per scoop, but others have a lot. It depends on the brand and whether the product is flavored or sweetened.
The added sugar in these supplements presents an increased risk of spiking blood sugar levels and unwanted weight gain. That said, pay attention to the nutrition content of the dairy free powder protein you choose to add to your diet. But, again, it would be best to talk to your dietitian for more guidance and assistance.
Differences In Nutrition Contents
Remember that these dietary supplements are not regulated by the FDA, who leave it to manufacturers to evaluate the safety and labeling of products (15). Unfortunately, there is no way of validating the manufacturers’ nutrient claims. This means that there is no way of validating the nutrient content of these supplements, meaning there could be errors.
Unknown Long-Term Effects
The Harvard Medical School reveals that there is no evidence to show the long-term effects of these dietary supplements (15). This means it would be best to consume these protein powders in moderation. Currently, there is no known safe limit for any protein powder.
The amount of total protein that is both adequate and safe for you will vary based on several individual factors. Therefore, it would be best to talk to your dietitian to determine how much supplementary protein you should consume based on your daily protein requirements, existing medical conditions, and dietary requirements.
Although some people use these plant-based dietary supplements for weight loss, some do gain weight. There is a possibility of adding weight when you consume too many calories. Remember that the weight loss principle is consuming fewer calories than your body burns.
You must create and sustain a calorie deficit for weight loss. This involves paying attention to your servings because each serving contains a given amount of calories. Therefore, the more servings you consume, the more calories you acquire and risk a calorie surplus that promotes weight gain.
The Bottom Line
Contrary to popular belief, there are several dairy-free protein powder options. Some include soy, pea, hemp, peanut butter, and organic brown rice protein powder. Each has a different nutritional profile but promotes the same benefits, such as muscle mass development.
It would be best to talk to your doctor and dietitian before adding any of these dietary supplements to your diet. They have their disadvantages, so weighing their pros and cons with professional guidance may help you eliminate possible pitfalls.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Amino Acid Composition of an Organic Brown Rice Protein Concentrate and Isolate Compared to Soy and Whey Concentrates and Isolates (2014, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Brown Rice Protein Powder (2019, fdc.nal.usda.gov)
- Coconut Cherry Brown Rice Protein Shake with Water Kefir (2019, veganlovlie.com)
- Hemp Protein Powder (2019, fdc.nal.usda.gov)
- Nut & raisin protein balls (2022, bbcgoodfood.com)
- Organic Pea Protein Powder (2021, fdc.nal.usda.gov)
- Original Organic Peanut Butter Powder, Original (2020, fdc.nal.usda.gov)
- Pea Protein Overnight Oats (2022, pulses.org)
- Peanut Butter Protein Shake (2019, chelseasmessyapron.com)
- Protein Supplements and Their Relation with Nutrition, Microbiota Composition and Health: Is More Protein Always Better for Sportspeople? (2019, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Soy Protein (2003, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Soy protein isolate (2019, fdc.nal.usda.gov)
- Soy Protein Shake (2022, food.com)
- The Effects of Whey vs. Pea Protein on Physical Adaptations Following 8-Weeks of High-Intensity Functional Training (HIFT): A Pilot Study (2019, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- The hidden dangers of protein powders (2020, health.harvard.edu)
- What are the benefits and risks of whey protein? (2017, medicalnewstoday.com)
- What are the benefits of protein powder? (2017, medicalnewstoday.com)