By Caren Baginski
Vegetarians and vegans have plenty of options when it comes to refueling after exercise—the key is in the ratio. Tom Wigginton, owner and trainer at Vitruvian Fitness, Denver, Colo., recommends his trainees consume a 4:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein after a tough workout. For less intense workouts, a 2:1 ratio will suffice.
"Two hundred to 400 calories is appropriate for post workout recovery nutrition depending on when you plan on eating a full meal next and what you've got targeted for the day," he said. "Three hundred calories works out to be about 45 grams of carbohydrate, 14 grams of protein and throw in 6 or so grams of fat and you've got a great post-workout plan."
A scoop of any of the following proteins (or half a scoop if the protein has 20g+) blended with some fruit and a healthy fat (such as nuts) will meet post workout recovery nutrition needs, while staying true to your diet. Here are our favorite vegan and vegetarian protein supplements.
This sustainably-grown, non-GMO protein blends easily into smoothies with no chalky aftertaste that's usually indicative of dairy-based proteins. Hempseed is easy to digest and rich in the 10 essential amino acids, the building blocks of protein, and a great vegetarian source of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. The original flavor, which I tried, contains 13g of protein; the vanilla spice has 10g; and the high protein flavor contains 22g. While I initially reached for this protein because of its nutritional profile, I stayed because of its non-intrusive taste—paramount for any protein supplement.
This protein, formulated by vegan triathlete Brendan Brazier, claims to "reduce inflammation, soreness and fatigue." I put the vanilla flavor to the test after an intense workout and noticed a huge difference in my recovery time and soreness level. The plant-based formula contains 20g protein (whole grain brown rice, green pea, hemp and organic alfalfa juice), digestive enzymes and glutamine. Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in the body and is necessary to replenish because during heavy training the body will digest its own muscle to get glutamine.
I first sampled this drink at Natural Products Expo West this year, and was impressed by its smooth flavor and completely hidden (at least by taste) 16g of organic soy milk protein. The drink packs 260 calories with 8g fiber and a good carbohydrate to protein ratio for exercise recovery. It's gluten free and sweetened with stevia (bonus!) in four flavors: Chocolate, French Vanilla, Spiced Chai and Cappuccino. Plus, the cute packaging helps reassure you that even after a workout you're "looking good."
With 100 percent whole food nutrition, no fillers and 11g of protein per serving, Amazing Grass' Amazing Meal blend isn't your average protein powder. It combines organic greens, antioxidants, probiotics and digestive enzymes for a well-rounded protein supplement available in Original, Chocolate, Pomegranate Mango and Vanilla Chai flavors. Amazing Grass offers single-serving packets of each powder so you can try it out (I liked the chocolate flavor) before committing to a big tub.
Manitoba Harvest, the largest farmer-owner, fully integrated hemp food manufacturer in the world, offers five different hemp protein products: HEMP PRO 70, HEMP PRO 50, Certified Organic HEMP PRO FIBER and organic flavored hemp protein powders in dark chocolate and vanilla. Manitoba's products can be used in breakfast foods and baking beyond their use as a post-workout beverage. Another great benefit to these products: Manitoba uses organic and fair-traded ingredients and the dedicated hemp facility is free from any common allergen contamination.