Is Plant Based Protein Better Than Whey?

In this post you’ll learn everything you need to know about plant based protein powder vs whey protein powder. Which ones of those two supplements give you the most bang for their buck, regardless if you’re currently on a plant based diet or not.

Let’s jump right into it:

1. The Truth About Protein Powder

This may sound absurd, but there’s a very high chance that you do not need to supplement protein at all.

For most people, protein powder is NOT necessary for weight loss or weight gain. Now this is something that you rarely hear or read online, because most fitness trainers are sponsored by protein powder companies.

I am not, so here’s the truth:

If your goal is to lose weight, protein powder is likely even contraproductive for yoru goal achievement. The shake that you drink is liquid, contains about 100-200kcal, and adds little to nothing to your perceived satiety.

However, when you’re looking to gain muscle – protein powder can indeed be beneficial. But it should not be your first ‘weapon of choice’.

Remember to optimize your nutrition, workouts and sleep first. These 3 lifestyle factors will give you 95% of your results. Supplements are the last 5%.

So want to optimize for the last 5%? Here’s the difference between those protein shakes for you:

2. The Actual Differences

If you boil it down to the differences between whey vs plant based protein powder for weight gain and or weight loss, we’ll stumble upon the following points:

2.1 Bioavailability

Whey protein has about 2g more protein per scoop and is more complete than pea protein for example. Now is this something to be concerned about? Or is bioavailability just a marketing tool?

Bioavailability means how fast and efficient a protein is absorbed by our own organism. So the closer a protein structure is to our own, the higher it’s bioavailability is.

But here’s the thing: This means nothing.

If bioavailability would indeed be a marker of good and healthy nutrition, we should all be cannibals. Think about it: The protein structure of fellow humans would have the most similarities with our own.

It turns out that our liver stores amino acids, the small components of protein structures, longer than we originally thought.

Bioavailability therefore is more a marketing tool, and less an actual concern.

  • Scorecard: Plant-based protein: 0 – Whey protein: 0

2.2 Chronic Inflammation

Animal protein intake is associated with higher inflammation levels in humans. Higher chronic inflammation can lead to a host of unwanted outcomes, such as: injuries, chronic pain, fatigue, tiredness – up to atherosclerosis.

In fact most of our western diseases are associated with chronic high inflammation levels.

  • Scorecard: Plant-based protein: 1 – Whey protein: 0

2.3 Insulin Levels

Animal protein is as insulinogenic as pure sugar.

A whey protein shake therefore can lead to a rapid increase in our blood sugar levels, and then due to the increased insulin production, to a rapid downfall.

This creates mood swings, cravings and lack of energy in the short term.

In the long-term, regular insulin spikes can increase the chance of suffering from various cancers (as insulin is a growth hormone).

  • Scorecard: Plant-based protein: 2 – Whey protein: 0

2.4 Impact On Planet

For our personal health, plant-based protein is a clear favorite. But what about other factors such as the planet?

The production of animal protein is a significant contributor to global warming. A lot of resources argue that it’s the number 1 cause of our elevated greenhouse gas emissions. More than the entire transportation sector!

A plant-based protein contributes less to global warming than whey protein.

  • Scorecard: Plant-based protein: 3 – Whey protein: 0

2.5 Impact On Animals

This might be a controversial point, but now that we know that a plant-based protein is superior in multiple aspects, why not touch upon the impact on the beings that we share this planet with.

Most of us, if given the choice, would spare the life of an animal if it would not be absolutely necessary.

So, if a plant-based protein would give you more benefits than an animal based protein in multiple aspects, such as health and contribution to the environment, wouldn’t it make sense to spare the life of an animal?

If the answer is yes, welcome to the club pal. That’s sane thinking.

  • Scorecard: Plant-based protein: 4 – Whey protein: 0

Conclusion: Is Plant Based Protein Better Than Whey?

Plant-based protein is superior to whey protein in a multitude of aspects. For our personal health, the environment and personal ethics.

The only reason why plant-based protein is currently not as well known as whey protein is the Status Quo Bias. We, as humans, naturally tend to dislike change. Even if provided with rational explanation and incentives for doing so.

So the question is not which one of these protein sources are better. The question is, are you stronger than the status quo bias?