Plant-based protein powder is on the rise, and for good reason. People are taking control of what they put in their bodies, and turning to vegan protein powder as a cleaner option. I’m here to break down what kinds protein bases are the best (and worst)… as well as explain why hemp protein powder won’t make you high.

Best plant based protein powder for smoothies

The Importance of Protein

Protein is used to build and repair tissue (like muscle). It also helps the body create hormones, enzymes and other essential chemicals, and, bottom line: makes your hair, skin, and fingernails look great. Basically your whole body needs protein to function properly.

Yet the body also needs carbs + healthy fat to help break down the protein you just ingested. So when you are looking for a great plant-based protein powder, look for one that also has fat as well as fiber to help break down that protein.

Biggest Questions About Plant-Based Powder

natural protein options for vegan protein powder

Is plant-based protein powder bad for you?– No, but… read your labels. You’re reaching for a plant-based option because it sounds healthier, right? Yet make sure that option isn’t loaded with the same chemicals found in many other powders. Minimal, pronounceable ingredients without fillers is the goal.

Can you build muscle with plant-based protein powder?– The short answer is, kale yeah!! I am an ultra runner that can’t afford to lose muscle while I train. Protein powder should have the ability to not only provide protein, but also healthy fats + fiber to help your body turn that protein into energy.

What is the cleanest plant-based protein powder?– Protein powder in general is typically loaded with all kinds of additives. Everything from food dyes to flavor additives just to make it palatable. But guess what?! You don’t even need that! Seriously, when I started creating my hemp based protein powder, I tried it with all the extras and I hated it. So I kept it both simple and clean, and it is oh so deliciously clean.

Healthy protein for families

Who Should Use Protein in Smoothies?

Let me be clear: bodybuilders don’t own the rights to protein powders (vegan or otherwise). Any active athlete looking for an easier way to increase their protein intake should consider using a protein powder. Those who regularly work out need double the amount of protein over those with a more sedate lifestyle. It’s also helpful for people looking to…

  • Increase muscle mass
  • Lose weight
  • Lower cholesterol or blood pressure
  • Strengthen the immune system
  • Make quick healthy meals

If you said yes to any of the above, then a protein powder supplement might be right for you. Protein boosted smoothies can help you:

  • Gain Muscle. This is probably the most widely known benefit of protein powders. Added protein helps muscles rebuild faster after a workout. Because of the direct ways protein affects the muscles, the best time to consume protein powders are after a workout.
  • Lose weight. Protein is also a great way to stop any unwanted snacking. You stay full longer after that green smoothie when you boost it with plant-based protein powder. It also boosts the metabolism, burning fat and keeping cholesterol and blood pressure levels low.
  • Protect the Immune System. Protein doesn’t just strengthen muscles, it also strengthens every cell in the body. This makes them less likely to be infected- keeping you strong and healthy.
  • Commit to a healthy diet. Using a protein powder with healthy fats can turn a daily smoothie into a meal replacement. This is truly the healthiest “fast food” there is as well as an easy habit to embrace daily.

Shakes and smoothies are the best way to consume protein powders. I love adding hemp protein powder to my daily smoothie, workout or not. It helps me stay full longer and be more productive with my day, as well as help me recover faster from a workout.

fuel your body naturally for workouts

What Makes Protein Powder Vegan?

Protein powders most commonly start from whey protein, casein, or soy. Whey protein as well as casein comes from dairy. If you have any kind of dairy intolerance, then be sure to check the label on your protein powder! These are not naturally occurring ingredients, so I lean toward plant-based protein powder.

Vegan Protein Options

Soy based protein powders are the number one vegan protein powder option. Soy is a complete protein, yet is a bit controversial in terms of helping or harming the body. I take an even more natural route in using hemp protein powder.

Hemp protein is also a complete protein, yet it ranks even higher than soy in terms of quality. It not only contains all 9 essential amino acids, it also contains healthy fat and fiber, as well as other essential minerals. Hemp protein powder starts out with a slightly nutty flavor, so no need to cover up the taste like you do with whey, casein, or soy based powders.

A side note: while hemp is part of the same plant family as marijuana, it contains little to no THC and therefore does not have any mind-altering effects.

Healthy sources of nutrition

Heavy Metals in Protein Powders

Protein powders can also contain heavy metals like arsenic, lead, and cadmium that easily build up in the body. These known carcinogens are harmful to the immune system. These elements are found in our soil (which in turn grow in plants that cows eat or plants grow into). You cannot completely avoid it, yet you can be aware and use brands that test their levels and are conscious of this.

Oftentimes, heavy metals go unnoticed because protein powders are considered a supplement and do not need to be approved by the FDA. Your protein powder brand should pay for “heavy metal testing” as well as easily disclose the results to you when asked. As you can see, it’s not easy to find a vegan protein powder for smoothies that you can feel really good about!

Plant-Based Protein Powders

I decided if I was going to invest in my body, then I needed fuel it with real ingredients. I refused to buy into the lie that said certain ingredients were necessary to make a product marketable, or tasty. And I knew organic was the right path to take. Also, amino acids were at the top of my list to include, since our bodies don’t produce them naturally.

Plant-based protein powders can give you the same results that other powders do. They just leave out all the antibiotics, toxins, and lactose.

Plant-based protein powders also have an impressive side effect. By grinding up the plants, the nutrients are pre-digested and ready for your body to absorb immediately. The vitamins, amino acids, and minerals become easily accessible to the body.

homemade protein powder from Simple Green Smoothies is a hemp protein powder

Best Protein for Smoothies

After years of trying to find a powder that I enjoyed adding to my smoothies, I gave up. It didn’t exist. There was either too much junk in it, or not enough of the right stuff. I went on a quest to create my own powder that I could use every day and love how it tasted, what was in it and the results I got. And I couldn’t be happier with the outcome.

homemade protein powder is the best sourced plant-based protein powder that isn’t gritty, tastes good in a fruit smoothie and is good for you. I think you’ll be pretty impressed with the results. homemade protein powder is a certified organic blend that contains all 9 essential amino acids.

I used 100% organic ingredients, packed in 10 grams protein boost per serving, with no sweeteners of ANY kind. No stevia, no monk fruit, no artificial sweeteners, no sugars at all. (That’s what the fruit in your smoothie is for!)

Create Your Own Protein for Smoothies

You can take any of my smoothie recipes and add one serving of protein powder to it. Or you can follow the below formula to make your own incredibly delicious, protein boosted smoothie that tastes delicious:

  1. Add 1 cup greens of your choice (spinach, chard, kale, or none!)
  2. Pour 1 cup non-dairy milk (cashew milk, oat milk, almond milk, etc)
  3. Scoop 1 serving DIY Protein Powder (see recipe below)
  4. Blend 1 frozen banana + 1/2 cup frozen berries or cherries (to chill the smoothie, add natural sweetness and creaminess)
  5. Finish with spices and flavor boosts: cacao, cinnamon, vanilla

Now, time for you to spill all your protein secrets with me! Please share in the comments your fav protein to add to smoothies, or what you’re looking for (and not finding) in a vegan protein powder.

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  1. Do you ever mix greek yogurt with your plant-based protein powder? I’m curious if it would be a good way to get more protein and creaminess.

    1. Cool question, Lalila! While we haven’t tried it here at SGS, it sure would be an interesting experiment. Adding berries and/or banana to that combo would be good, as our homemade protein powder and the best greek yogurts aren’t sweetened.

  2. Hands down, my favorite protein powder. So clean, doesn’t clump, and isn’t chalky. Great job!

  3. Hello,
    Great tasting powder !
    Can you tell me the ratio between the three ingredients in the homemade protein powder?

    Thank you, Laurie

    1. Thanks for loving our homemade protein powder! Since it’s a proprietary blend, we’re not able to share the ratios at this time. Yet we can def say it’s 10g of clean protein per serving! 🙂

  4. Hi, I own your Simple Green Meals cookbook. Within the Cacao Crush Smoothie you recommend a service of Daily Blends Cacao Powder . I cannot find where I can purchase or make that powder. I saw your rawkstar tip and it is a good substitute, but I really would like try the Daily Blends cacao powder.
    Can your recommend who I should go to purchase it?

    By the way, I love both your books and hope you do another meal book.

    1. Hey Teresa! We no longer carry the Daily Blends Cacao Powder but we have an awesome new product called homemade protein powder that’s even better! For the Cacao Crush Smoothie, I suggest using a serving of our homemade protein powder, 1 Tbsp of raw cacao powder, and 1 tsp of pure maple syrup. 🙂

      Head over here to learn more about the plant-based protein powder Jen spent the past three years creating:

  5. Is the Green Protein mix substituting for the spinach in a smoothie, or do you put both of them in the smoothie?

    1. Hi Kathy, great question! We usually put both spinach and our homemade protein powder in our smoothies. 🙂

    2. Hello,
      How much non-fat Greek yogurt should I add to the two smoothie recipes and would that mix well with those recipes that call for water?

    3. Hey Christine! We love using non-dairy options in our smoothies as dairy is one of the top undiagnosed food allergies and can be pretty tough on the digestive system. If you enjoy dairy + the way it makes you feel, feel free to add it to your smoothie. I’m just not sure how much you should use. 🙂

  6. Would 2 Tablespoons of ground flaxseed be an adequate amount of healthy fat plus protein for a meal replacement?

    1. Hey Allison,

      That sounds like a great swap for adding some healthy fats to your diet. You could also add chia seeds too if you prefer.


  7. I”m having jaw surgery and will be on a liquid diet for about 9 months. I think the green smoothies are a great option for me, but want to make sure I’m consuming enough calories. Do you have calorie counts for each of your smoothies?

    1. Hi Jennifer,

      How are you doing after your surgery! I’m sending plenty of healing vibes your way + wishing you a speedy recovery. We try not to focus on the numbers, and instead focus on the ingredients we’re fueling our bodies with. When you’re restricted to a liquid diet, I can definitely see how calorie count can be important. Two great options are the app My Fitness Pal and

      Hope those help!

  8. Mona, look at the Keto diet, my wife was diabetic, for years and no longer on meds for it. Don’t look at it as a diet look at it as a way of eating. My wife loves to cook and we are eating more deserts now than we ever did, they are just made to be healthy for us and they taste really good too. We went on the Keto diet and her blood sugars and A1C are back to a normal range after about six months and the doctor took her off all her diabetes meds about four months ago. She still checks her blood daily, on a normal morning blood test now her sugar level is about 95-105, before even on the meds it was 115+. My wife has been able to drop about 25 pounds and I dropped 35, it was easy for me and harder for her. It wasn’t a fast drop it was a slow and steady drop. An interesting note, the doctors husband was a severe diabetic after following this type of diet for a while he to is off his meds. This happed before we talked to the doctor about it so she was all for us trying it. Not all doctors will have an open mind about this type of diet, some will look at it as a alternative treatment that is not taught in med school so they won’t even think about trying something different. They just keep pushing the meds. I am not a doctor this is not to be taken as medical advise

  9. Hi i weigh 220 lbs and miserable. How can smoothies help me lose weight without being hungry. I forgot to mention pre diabetic. Mona…

    1. Hi Mona,

      Thanks for reaching out. I don’t want you to feel miserable, I want you to feel inspired you to reach your health + wellness goals. And cheers to you for taking the first step! That’s half the battle, so let’s talk about the next step…

      New to green smoothies? A great place to start is our Simple 7 Challenge! It’s 7 days of green smoothies, and all it is, is adding one green smoothie to your regular diet. You’ll find that you’re more energized, feel better overall and may even start craving those leafy greens. We also have a Simple 7 Facebook page, which is packed with people going through the same challenge + supporting each other! Lots of green smoothie love! Join us here…

      One of the best ways to use your green smoothie to reach your weight loss goals is to use your green smoothie as a meal replacement. We simply suggest adding protein + healthy fats to ensure you’re fueling your body with a complete meal. Our co-founder Jadah actually reached her weight loss goals that way! Learn more about our favorite meal replacement booster combos here…

      Looking to make a real change in your diet? Then check out Fresh Start. It’s our 21 day cleanse and really reshapes the way you fuel your body, and is a great place for life-long changes…

      Can’t commit to 21 days, we also have a 7 day reset here!

      I hope that helps in explaining the different ways we can help you reach your goals. Still not sure the right choice, reach out anytime! I’m happy to chat cleansing, green smoothies or any concerns you have about making these changes. You can reach me through our contact page here…

      Lastly, pre-diabetic. Before making any changes to your diet, it’s always best to run them past your physician. They know you + your body best and are the right person to determine if our smoothies are the right choice for you!

  10. I had no idea that your body burns protein slower than carbs, it makes sense then that eating a lot of pasta and carbs can lead to blood sugar spikes! I’ll be sure to balance the carbs in my diet with a healthy amount of protein now. My mom used hemp protein in her green smoothies all the time, and she loved it! I wonder how hemp protein compares to soy protein? Thanks for the tips!

    1. Hi Baxter,

      We’re all about hemp protein! Personally, we try to avoid soy. Small amounts of organic, non-GMO soy are fine (like tamari and tempeh) but we recommend staying away from highly-processed unfermented soy products which can interfere with nutrient absorption and leach nutrients from your body. Soy milk, soy burgers, and soy ice cream are all in this category.

      Hope this helps!

  11. I do a protein smoothie w Vega One chocolate protein and greens powder/ unsweetened almond milk and water combo/ spinach/ fresh mint and one frozen banana. Yummy! It’s totally vegan too!

  12. I love love love this website!!! New to smoothies and need to use them as meal replacements for weight loss…thanks for making these delicious recipes easy peasy!!!

    1. Just did the 7 day thrive! Loved it. Would those smoothies be considered balanced for Healthy fat+protien? I would like to continue the thrive for another 7 days but want to make sure that would be a healthy decision.

    2. Hi Wendy,

      Interested in using our Thrive green smoothie’s as a meal replacement for another 7 days along with your regular diet? Go for it! Just know that Thrive is not a long-term meal plan…so we don’t suggest continuing the entire cleanse for an extended period of time.

      Hope this helps!

  13. Hey!

    I just started green smoothies in order to aid weight loss and generally feel better. I’m replacing lunch with a smoothie so I want to add some protein but I’m on a budget and some protein rich ingredients are pretty expensive. Could you recommend some of the cheaper ways to add protein to a smoothie? I’m in the UK, incase that makes a difference. Thanks!

    1. Hi Lauren,

      Thank you so much for reaching out! Great question, as we’re all about making health living easy + affordable! Looking for a protein source that’s easy on the wallet, look no further than oats! These rawkstars will boost your green smoothie with protein, and they’re slow to digest + help keep your blood-sugar stable – meaning you’ll be full + satisfied in-between meals (great for weight loss)!

      We suggest adding 1/4 of a cup to any recipe!

  14. I love your website, it’s just so positive and upbeat! I didn’t think I’d be able to have green smoothies (couldn’t stand greens) but this has really spurred me on to do what’s right for my body,,,,,Thanks!
    Anyway I was wondering are the measurements used above for a smoothie recipe for two? I’m trying to put on weight so if I made a smoothie for 1 how much nut butter or nuts would would I add??

    Thanks again!

    1. Hi Anni,

      Thanks for reaching out! You’re right, the above suggestions are for two servings! Looking to help with weight gain? Adding coconut oil is a great option as well!