Whey Protein Powder Vs. Plant Protein Powders. Which Is Better?

Is whey protein really that much more effective than plant-based protein?

After all, whey protein has been a bodybuilding staple and is considered the best form of protein powder for quite some time.

Whey protein is loved for its quick absorption, making it perfect to replenish your body and send a quality source of protein straight to your muscles right after a grueling workout.

Studies show whey protein to be super effective at building muscle, especially if taken pre or post-workout. All individuals increased levels of strength, hypertrophy, and lean body mass.

That’s great results!

But is it better than all the forms of plant-based protein powders?

  • Pea Protein
  • Brown Rice Protein
  • Soy Protein
  • Hemp Protein
  • Chia Protein
  • Mixed-Blend

Let’s take a look at how whey stacks up against plant-based protein powder!


Aren’t Plant-Derived Proteins Incomplete?

It’s widely known that some plant-based sources of protein don’t have a complete amino acid profile, meaning they might be lacking in one of the nine Essential Amino Acids (EAA).

Essential Amino Acids are essential for building muscle, and it’s recommended that your protein powder or protein source contain an abundance of all nine amino acids.

Take, for example, legumes. They are low in the amino acid methionine but contain a great deal of all the other EAA’s.

Solution: Incorporate complementary proteins.

Legumes might be low in methionine, but not grains. Grains are low in lysine, but legumes are abundant in lysine. They are a perfect match because they cancel their weaknesses out.

That’s why it’s important to mix and match foods that neutralize each other’s lacking amino acids.

On the other hand, there are plant-based protein sources like soy and quinoa which are considered complete due to their colorful amino acid profile. Not every plant-based source is incomplete.


An Overview Of Plant-Based Protein Powders

While it’s known that individual plant proteins might not contain all nine amino acid supplements, companies make sure to add to any of the lacking amino acids.

Also, many vegan protein powders are now just a mixed-blend of multiple different protein sources such as brown rice, peas, chia, and sacha inchi.

With that many different forms of protein, there is absolutely no shortage of any amino acids!

Plant-based proteins are also abundant in fiber, something that lacks greatly in the American diet today that helps promote a healthy digestive system.

Here are some benefits of consuming different plant-based protein powders:

  • Brown rice protein is great for your digestive tract
  • Pea protein is high in fiber
  • Sacha inchi protein is rich in omega-3 fatty acids
  • Hemp protein is high in unsaturated fats and fiber
  • Chia protein is loaded with antioxidants that fight inflammation


What If You’re Vegan/Hypoallergenic

If you’re vegan, hypoallergenic, or are sensitive to dairy, it’s no doubt you’re going to pick a plant-based protein powder.

A great deal of vegan protein powders are free from nuts, gluten, wheat, soy, and dairy. So if you suffer any sort of sensitivity or tolerance to the above foods, you’ll find hundreds of different plant-based protein brands to accommodate you.


The Side Effects Of Whey

While whey protein is great at increasing muscle mass, it does come with some side effects.

If you’ve ever tried whey protein, you probably know what I’m talking about.

  • Bloating
  • Cramps
  • Gassiness
  • Increased Bowel Movements
  • Digestion Issues

Before I switched to a 100% plant-based diet, whey protein was my go-to post-workout supplement.

I used it multiple times a day and was in love with the idea it would quickly increase my muscle mass.

Unfortunately, the unwanted side effects included constant gas… it was unpleasant for other people as well, not just myself.

Some research also shows that whey protein increases your risk of testicular cancer according to new Harvard studies.

This topic needs to be further looked into, as other studies show whey protein supplementation is 100% safe.

As always, do your own research and supplement with protein powders in moderation.


What The Studies Say About Plant Vs. Whey

When it comes down to it, both plant-based powders and whey build muscle equally as well, and the studies are out there to back it up.

A study was conducted on the difference in strength gains between whey protein and pea protein.

After 8 weeks of working out and supplementation, “there were no significant differences in strength observed between the whey and pea groups.”

Both groups experience significant increases in both their deadlift and squat 1RM.

Another study was conducted on the difference in body composition results between whey protein and brown rice protein.

After 8 weeks “rice protein could increase recovery and body composition changes equally as well as whey protein.”

So for those that think plant-based protein is inferior to that of animal or milk-derived protein, think again!

As long as you’re getting quality protein, no matter the source, you’re going to make gains both in size and strength.



At the end of the day, you can’t go wrong with either plant-based or whey protein powder.

Both are fantastic ways to get an extra kick of protein throughout the day and promote some lean muscle growth.

Both have their benefits.

Whey protein is quickly absorbed and gives you results.

Plant protein is easily digestible, environmentally friendly, and also gives you results.

But if you’re concerned about your health or are lactose intolerant, a natural and organic protein-based powder is the way to go.

Cheers and happy protein-ing!