Here’s one question we often receive: can vegetarians eat whey protein? Well, this one will lead us to another question: what type of vegetarian diet are you practicing? Depending on the type of diet, vegetarians can eat whey protein.
Most vegetarians will get their protein supply from non-meat sources like beans, nuts, and hemp. Although these are healthy and clean, those who are trying to carve more muscles may find it less effective.
Plant-based protein takes more time to digest than meat or dairy-based types. This makes vegetarians struggle a bit when it comes to their post-workout snack.
But here’s the deal: you can actually take whey protein even if you’re a vegetarian. Read on to know how.
Vegetarian vs. vegan
First, we find the need to differentiate a vegetarian from a vegan. There’s so much confusion between these two that they are often used interchangeably.
Vegetarians are people who stick to non-meat food items. However, some variants of the vegetarian diet will allow the consumption of dairy products and eggs. On its sense, vegetarianism is just a diet.
But what are the variants of vegetarianism that allow consumption of dairy? Read on below.
Meanwhile, vegans strictly adhere to the “no-meat” policy. Veganism isn’t just a diet, it’s a lifestyle. Vegans usually have strong political beliefs about their diet more than vegetarians do. Also, they’d opt for plant-based protein powders. But do vegan protein powders work? It does.
Usually, vegans will opt out of animal-tested products, clothing with animal skin, practices that harm animals, and so on. They live and breathe by the practice.
In this video, Cheri discusses the difference between veganism and vegetarianism:
Types of vegetarian diets
Most people think that when we say vegetarian, these are people who only eat leaves and stalks. However, you need to know that there are actually four types of vegetarianism: full vegetarian, Lacto-Ovo vegetarians, Lacto vegetarians, and Pescatarian vegetarian.
With the full vegetarian, followers would opt out of any meat products. But unlike vegans, they’re not forced to ditch products and practices that have something to do with animals.
On the other hand, Lacto-Ovo vegetarians are those who consume dairy and eggs. Followers of this sub-diet can take whey protein as part of their regimen. Still, they don’t consume meat.
Still, Lacto-Ovo shouldn’t be confused with another subtype called Lacto vegetarians. Followers of the latter only consume dairy, but not eggs, thus the omission of the word “ovo”.
Lastly, we have a Pescatarian vegetarian. From the Spanish word “Pescado” which means fish, Pescatarian vegetarians can eat fish but not meat or dairy products. This lets them consume more healthy fatty acids, iodine, and minerals.
Can vegetarians eat whey protein? If you want to consume whey protein, you need to be either a Lacto-Ovo or Lacto vegetarian.
How to incorporate whey protein on your vegetarian diet
Incorporating whey protein to your diet takes a little creativity and advice from a nutritionist. It’s up to you on how you’ll consume your choice of whey protein. However, you have to take into consideration the amount of plant-based protein you’re consuming.
The easiest way to increase your protein uptake is to use whey powders as shakes. You can take it in the morning as part of your breakfast or after your exercise.
Taking whey protein right after you exercise helps your muscles recover from the strain and little tears it sustained while working out. During this recovery phase, your muscles will also thicken and more fibers will form, thus the increase in muscle mass and higher calorie burns.
The good thing with whey isolates is it’s so versatile you can also cook with it. If you plan to incorporate this to your meals, it’s better that you purchase an unflavored powder.
Benefits of whey protein to the vegetarian diet
The biggest benefit of whey protein to the vegetarian diet is that it augments the lack of protein that usually happens as a person ditch meat food items. The biggest pitfall of many vegetarians is their failure to plan their meals which may soon lead to chronic protein deficiency.
Such a condition will be more prominent if you engage your body to strenuous routines. For those who are trying to lose weight, increasing their intake of protein is a good way to further reduce calorie intake. All of these can happen without sacrificing your body’s energy and overall health.
The Mayo Clinic said that vegetarians who increase their protein intake will lose more weight in the long run.
Pairing whey protein with your choice for fruits and vegetables will bring in more benefits. You can make a shake loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Downsides of whey protein to the vegetarian diet
Remember, too much of everything isn’t healthy. If you’re incorporating whey powders to your diet, make sure that you know exactly what your body needs. Experts recommend 0.8 grams of protein for every kilogram of our body weight. This is the bare minimum for typical individuals with moderate physical exertion.
But for those who perform a strenuous workout, higher protein intake is needed. However, the exact amount of “higher” protein intake can be vague for some. It leads to overconsumption that may tax your kidney and liver.
Dr. Katherine Zeratsky, a dietitian, warned about continuous overconsumption of protein. If you have a family history of kidney disease or you have weak kidneys, you can easily succumb to kidney failure.
The rule of thumb to prevent this from happening is following the serving instructions of the product and tweaking it to suit your diet. If you’re consuming more protein on your meals, you can divide your serving in half. Can vegetarians eat whey protein? Yes, but you also need to track your protein intake from your regular meals.
Before you add a whey protein product to your diet, make sure that it will be beneficial for your body. Some vegetarians can consume most of their protein needs on their meals by picking the right components.
Also, I highly suggest that you consult a nutritionist or dietician should you plan to make a big change on your diet. Switching to vegetarianism is one thing and consuming more protein is another story.
Ask yourself, do vegan protein powders work? There’s a chance that plant-based protein might be best for you.
Moreover, if you’re a vegetarian taking specific medications, you need to consult your physician before eating whey protein. Some medications for the nervous system tend to have poor absorption levels if exposed to whey. And just like any substance, whey protein will have varying interactions to different drugs.
What to look for your whey protein
Are you a vegetarian looking for your first tub of whey protein, you should consider looking for the following points:
This is a matter of preference, but I can’t stress it enough how this differs from antibiotic-treated cows. Grass-fed cows that grazed on their natural habitat are believed to produce better milk to be used for whey production.
Grass-fed whey is also organic and contains no hormones, GMO, or any artificial substances that will sabotage your diet.
>Lactose and gluten-free
Regardless if you’re trying to lose weight or not, lactose-free whey will save you from the discomfort once you discover your intolerances. As for the gluten, you simply don’t need these extra frills.
>The right flavor
If there’s one thing that makes protein intake worthwhile, it’s the fact that you can choose the flavor that you like. Choose one that suits your taste.
In case you can’t decide, it’s best to look for unflavored whey so you can mix it with food or fruits.
This is a matter of choice. But if you tend to experience lots of allergies, it’s best to stir clear of any whey protein products that contain soy.
>Not amino spiked
Some manufacturers will try to augment the low protein content of whey products by adding minerals and artificial amino acids. These amino-spiked powders will not give you optimal benefits.
Top 3 Whey Protein Powders for Lacto-Ovo Vegetarians
Can vegetarians eat whey protein? Here are our top three picks for vegetarians:
Pure Protein Whey & Concentrate Powder
If you want a blend of whey isolate and concentrate, we recommend the Pure Protein Powder. Every serving of this good-tasting powder contains 25 grams of protein for only 160 calories.
Regardless of what you want to achieve, this protein powder is a wise choice. It’s a perfect choice for weightlifting, bodybuilders, or just for your regular exercise.
Like what Pure Protein claims this will “fuel your fitness”. This is very low in carbs but you have to watch out since this contains soy lecithin. Anyway, if you don’t have allergies to soy, there’s nothing you have to worry about.
Currently, this whey powder is available in Rich Chocolate and Vanilla Cream flavors. Both are easy to mix and can be made to shakes with water, bottle, and spoon. For those who are always in a hurry, this protein powder is a catch.
Do you know what we love the most about this powder? It only costs half of most whey powders in the market. And despite its low cost, it’s not short of protein quality and benefits.
Isopure Zero Carb Whey Isolate
For those who are very conscious about the ingredients of their supplements, I recommend the Isopure Zero Carb Whey Isolate. It contains only two ingredients which are pure whey isolate and soy lecithin. It doesn’t have any frills plus it’s Lacto-Ovo vegetarian and keto-friendly.
If you’re trying to lose weight on your vegetarian diet, this powder contains zero carbs, sugar, and fats. It’s also unflavored which makes it a straightforward and flexible choice for your meals.
Each serving of this powder contains 25 grams of protein. This is great as a post-workout regimen, snack, or just a way to increase your protein intake. You can simply mix this with water or cook with it on your meals.
Also, if you have lactose intolerance, you’ll be glad to know that this powder is lactose and gluten-free. Another plus point here is that this protein contains naturally occurring glutamine that helps speed up your muscle recovery.
For older adults and senior individuals, this whey protein also makes a great addition to your diet. It helps prevent muscle loss if paired with enough exercise.
OUR TOP PICK FOR VEGETARIANS
Product Name: Nutra Bio Grass Fed Whey Isolate
Product Description: Looking for a grass-fed, low-carb, Kosher, and artificial substance-free whey isolate? Our top pick for vegetarians is the Nutra Bio Grass Fed Whey Isolate. It contains only pure protein and it’s free of any artificial substances like dextrose, maltodextrin, and other proteins.Each serving of the Nutra Bio protein contains 25 grams of protein. It’s free of cholesterol, sugars, and fat. In fact, it only contains less than one gram of carb which makes it ideal for those who are trying to lose weight and following other diets like Keto and Atkins.
This is naturally sweetened using organic stevia and monk fruit extract. Most of all this is Kosher-certified by the Orthodox Union. Not all whey powders can achieve this!
If you’re looking for a clean formula to blend into your vegetarian diet, you will never go wrong with the Nutra Bio Whey Isolate.
This powder doesn’t cause bloating which is an added plus for those who are trying to lose weight.
✔️Extracted from grass-fed cow milk
✔️Keto and athlete-friendly
✔️Soy-free, uses sunflower lecithin instead
❌The vanilla flavor is a bit weak
So can vegetarians eat whey protein? Yes, as long as their practice allows the consumption of dairy.
It’s also important to pick the right whey product to integrate into your no-meat diet. Make sure that it’s free of any artificial substances and it will not trigger allergies.
Personally, you can never go wrong with Nutra Bio. It’s made from grass-fed cow milk and stripped of any excess ingredients.
But before you chomp one spoonful after another, it’s best to consult a dietitian first. This way, you will avoid protein overconsumption.