Best Non-Dairy Protein Powders & The Benefits Of Them


Whey protein is the most popular form of protein powder, but non-dairy proteins are just as effective and are great alternatives to enhance growth and recovery.

With whey protein being a widely accepted and very popular form of protein supplements, it is hard to believe that anything else would be worth taking. The conversation seems to always revolve around whey protein concentrate and whey protein isolate, but there are great alternatives in plant-based and non-dairy proteins that are taking the market by storm.

Whether these be for vegan bodybuilders or other vegan athletes, or for those sensitive to dairy who need that protein boost fulfilled, these alternatives are great products to enhance anyone’s gains for growth and recovery.

The argument against these alternative forms of protein are based in that most plant proteins aren’t complete with an optimal level of essential amino acids to support protein synthesis. Essential amino acids (EAAs) and branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) are essential for providing the foundational building blocks of protein and act as a catalyst and fuel for protein synthesis so your muscles see huge growth.

But this isn’t a problem if you eat a variety of plant proteins and the argument simply doesn’t hold ground when it comes to comparing these whey proteins with alternative non-dairy forms.

Whey Protein Vs. Non-Dairy Protein

Whey protein is an animal protein derived from milk and is widely accessible and available in an abundance of products. It contains valuable BCAAs being leucine, isoleucine, and valine which serve as the essential building blocks of muscle, leading to optimal protein synthesis and faster muscle gains and recovery (1). But sometimes people tend to be sensitive or have poor reactions to the dairy in whey and seek alternative protein sources to continue to capitalize on all their gains.


Plant-based and non-dairy proteins, like pea, hemp, or soy proteins, serve as alternatives which are less likely to cause negative side effects and often contain more natural ingredients. While whey protein contains a complete profile of those essential amino acids, non-dairy alternatives may be lacking in them slightly so supplementing with other products may be a smart idea. For this reason it is important to combine certain plant-based ingredients and more often than not, a non-dairy protein product will contain two or more forms of protein, like a pea and brown rice blend, to ensure you receive the same amino acids profile as whey (2), making these options just as viable.

strong man

Types Of Non-Dairy Proteins

Pea Protein: Derived from yellow split pea, this protein is rich in BCAAs and can support muscle gain and muscle building, while keeping you full (3).

Hemp Protein: Comes from seeds of the cannabis plant and has moderate levels of protein but is packed with fiber for great aid to digestive health.

Brown Rice Protein: Inexpensive and available, this has BCAAs and has potential to be as effective as whey when it comes to growth and recovery.

Soy Protein: A complete protein, this rich source can provide desired growth and recovery goals.

Sunflower Seed Protein: A new form of non-dairy protein, it has BCAAs to supply the benefits of a quality protein but is often combined with others to maximize effects.

Benefits Of Non-Dairy Protein

  • Reduce Digestive Stress

Since dairy can cause digestive stress for some people who are sensitive to it, non-dairy alternatives allow them to experience similar gains to their health and fitness without the fear of an upset stomach or digestive stress. Eliminate the feeling of bloating and low energy by trying one of these great alternatives. Some may also contain antioxidants which can cleanse your body, adding to the extra health benefits associated with these alternatives (4).

  • Diversity In Your Diet

Adding one of these non-dairy proteins to your diet can provide diversity to your nutritional routine. Since non-dairy alternatives provide great vitamins and minerals, as well as fiber and probiotics, you enhance your health and fitness with organic, non-GMO, and effective supplements. Other supplements like pre-workouts and intra-workout BCAAs may be helpful for you as well to pump you with essential amino acids, but in terms of an overall diet and proper nutrient intake, these protein sources can provide a healthy amount for your intended goals.

  • Aid In Weight Loss

Non-dairy protein alternatives have great benefits in losing and maintaining weight. By being lower in calories, you don’t waste any caloric space with added nonsense only hurting your overall gains. Some have also been shown to decrease appetite which can eliminate unwanted snacking and cravings that ultimately hurt those same gains.

  • Environmentally Friendly

Using these products can be more environmentally friendly and ethical by using less water, fuel, and land than animal protein.

Featured Supplement

Having a high-quality supplementation routine is imperative to our growth as athletes and bodybuilders seeking nothing but the best for our gains. Great product exist like pre-workouts, testosterone boosters, and fat burners which can greatly affect all of our goals. For those looking to fill in the BCAA gap in their diet with some vegan proteins, look to a BCAA intra-workout supplement to really have great effects when it comes to rounding out a complete profile.

This vegan protein is an amazing supplement from National Bodybuilding Co., a premiere company in producing great bodybuilding supplements.

National Bodybuilding Co. Full Prep Vegan Protein

National Bodybuilding Co. Vegan Protein

National Bodybuilding Co. Full Prep Vegan Protein is a great protein supplement designed for bodybuilders to progress with their personal goals. A 100% natural and organic plant-based protein, this supplement works to increase the rate of muscle protein synthesis, optimize nutrient utilization, boost metabolic efficiency, and enhance athletic recovery. A blend of organic rice and pea protein, this product is loaded with 20.5g protein and only 117 calories to fit well with any diet while providing an amazing non-dairy alternative to your muscle-building and recovery goals.

Price: $40.00

Try National Bodybuilding Co. Full Prep Vegan Here

National Bodybuilding Co. Full Prep Vegan was a runner-up for Best Protein Powder in the 2020 GI Supplement Awards. Check it out here, as well as our individual review here!

Wrap Up

Non-dairy protein alternatives are great substitutes to the almighty and powerful whey protein. For many, whey protein causes an upset stomach and for others, it may not be conducive to their diet, especially those on a more plant-based diet. With so many alternatives on the market, including pea protein, brown rice protein, soy protein, sunflower protein, and a host of others, the opportunity for you to see that desired growth is possible and enhanced through these great supplements. Pumping you with vital nutrients, eliminating digestive stress, and enhancing muscle growth are all great benefits these non-dairy alternatives provide. It is still possible to see great gains with these alternatives and don’t let a wrong impression keep you from achieving your goals. Check out some great non-dairy protein alternatives and see what they can do for you today.

Let us know what you think in the comments below. Also, be sure to follow Generation Iron on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. 

*Images courtesy of National Bodybuilding Co. and Envato


  1. Cooke, Matthew B.; Rybalka, Emma; Stathis, Christos G.; Cribb, Paul J.; Hayes, Alan (2010). “Whey protein isolate attenuates strength decline after eccentrically-induced muscle damage in healthy individuals”. (source)
  2. Rogerson, David (2017). “Vegan diets: practical advice for athletes and exercisers”. (source)
  3. Babault, Nicolas; Paizis, Christos; Deley, Gaelle; Guerin-Deremaux, Laetitia; et al. (2015). “Pea Proteins oral supplementation promotes muscle thickness gains during resistance training: a double-blind, randomized, Placebo-controlled clinical trial vs. Whey protein”. (source)
  4. Santos-Hernandez, Marta; Alfieri, Fabio; Gallo, Veronica; Miralles, Beatriz; et al. (2020). “Compared digestibility of plant protein isolates by using the INFOGEST digestion protocol”. (source)
Austin Letorney
Austin Letorney is a writer, actor, and fitness enthusiast. As a former rower, he has shifted his focus to sharing his knowledge of the fitness world and strength sports with others.