Whey vs. Vegan: The Great Debate

Over the years, I've learned the value of a good quality protein supplement.  It's something I started doing during my cheerleading days and seeing what a great difference maker it is, have kept it up during the "fitish" seasons of my life.  And now, as I embark on the quest for the ultimate "mom bod" while I still have it in me, my shake consumption has increased too.  The one thing I will admit that I STILL haven't fully formed an opinion on is the whey vs. vegan debate... because honestly, I kind of like them both.  It's like asking me if I drink white or red.  Well, it depends.  Is it cold and rainy or is it warm and sunny?  What are we eating with it?  What color outfit am I wearing?  There are so many outside factors that go into this decision for me, and the process behind my shake decisions is no different.  Guys, there are a lot of AMAZING supplements out there these days, and I am not here to discredit any of them. They're simply different.  But, I digress... THAT comparison is one for another article.  Today I'm breaking down whey protein vs. vegan protein for the busy moms out there just trying to figure the dang thing out and make some healthy choices now and then.  We'll look at the pros and cons of both so that YOU can decide what you feel most comfortable with (or be a hoarder and use both like me).

What I Love About Whey

Whey protein is the age old staple.  It's the most common and the most popular.  Derived from milk, it does contain some dairy, making it more difficult to digest for some people.  That being said, it's also usually more effective at building lean muscle.  If your priority is faster muscle recovery and/or building, whey could give you the better edge.

It usually tastes better too.  In fact, if we made a couple of shakes and did a blind taste test, I can almost guarantee that 90% of people would choose the whey.  I'm no exception.  In almost every circumstance, I have also preferred the taste of whey protein over vegan ones, the exception being Shakeology which has somehow come up with a vegan chocolate shake that rivals a Ghiradelli brownie.  But you're going to pay good money for that "brownie", so feel free to explore your options.

Basically, I felt compelled to write this article because there are a lot of vegan advocates out there spewing the negatives about whey like it's straight arsenic, but it's actually the main ingredient in infant baby formula, if that says anything about how truly "poisonous" it must be.  Just do your best to make sure you're getting a quality supplement and not one filled with junk.  I personally love IdealFit and all of their delicious flavors.

But Vegan is Better Right?

Many vegan proteins are not "complete", meaning they do not contain all essential amino acids and are therefore not as effective as whey.  However, there are plenty of vegan powders that are!  You just have to be a little bit more picky and check to be sure.  IdealRaw is a great (and affordable) option for a complete vegan protein.

They're also a great choice for anyone with a sensitive stomach.  If you struggle with digestive issues or food allergies, vegan would be a great choice for you.

I also want to make clear that I'm not saying you can't build muscle with vegan proteins.  I've seen plenty of people do it.  I just think it takes a little more intention and effort.

My Approach

Clearly, both vegan and whey have their strong points and their drawbacks.  I truly believe in the saying "everything in moderation" and I do the same with my supplements.  I have BOTH.  Yes, it means, I bought two different canisters, but they're also lasting me twice as long ;) The timing of my shakes is what I am most strategic about.  I always drink the whey protein right after my workout due to the edge it gets in muscle building and recovery.  The vegan shake I use as a supplement at another point in the day.  Often, I drink this as breakfast with a banana and peanut butter, or as an afternoon snack if I worked out in the morning.  I just try to space them out enough that I'm not drinking them back to back.  You can find great recipes for your vegan protein here and creatively work it into your routine too!

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