Plant-Based Protein vs Whey Protein: Which is Better?

Plant-Based Protein vs Whey Protein: Which is Better?

Protein powder has become a staple in many people's diets, especially those looking to increase their protein intake. With the rise of plant-based diets and clean eating, plant-based protein powders have become increasingly popular. At the same time, whey protein powder remains the household option for many fitness enthusiasts. So, which type is best?

Food allergies, lactose sensitivities, and the rise of flexitarianism have all led to an increase in the popularity of plant-based protein, leaving many now wondering which choice is best.

Whether you're a gym novice or a professional bodybuilder, protein plays an essential role in your health and wellness goals. An essential macronutrient, protein plays a vital role in your post-workout recovery, as well as your muscle growth and strength. If you're working towards certain weight goals (which, let's face it, most of us are), protein represents an essential part of your diet, so it is important to ensure you consume an adequate amount of protein each day.

What is Plant Protein made up of?

Plant-based protein powder is a popular supplement choice for individuals looking to add more protein to their diet, especially for those who follow a plant-based or vegan lifestyle (or you’re lactose sensitive). But what exactly is it made of? Instead of animal-derived protein sources like whey, plant-based protein powder is made from a blend of plant proteins such as pea protein, brown rice protein, hemp protein, and soy protein. 

Despite common misconceptions, these plant-based ingredients offer a complete amino acid profile that can be comparable to animal-based sources. Additionally, some plant-based protein powders may also include other ingredients like flaxseed, chia seeds, and quinoa to boost nutritional value (McCulloch, M., 2018).

The most common sources of plant-based protein used in plant-based protein powder supplements include:

  • Peanut protein
  • Almond protein 
  • Pumpkin seed protein
  • Watermelon seed protein 
  • Soy protein
  • Brown rice protein
  • Hemp protein 
  • Pea protein

Most plant-based protein powders will contain a blend of 2-3 plant protein sources to deliver a comprehensive plant-based amino acid profile.

What is Whey Protein made up of?

Whey protein powder has always been the most popular protein form among athletes and fitness enthusiasts. But have you ever wondered what exactly this supplement is made of? Simply put, whey protein powder is derived from a liquid by-product of cheese production. Once the milk passes quality tests, enzymes are added to separate the curd from the liquid whey. This liquid is pasteurised and filtered several times to remove impurities and concentrate the protein content. The primary methods of this practice are membrane filtration and ion exchange technology (AGROPUR. n.d.).

While there are various sources of whey protein used in supplements, some of the most common include cow's milk, goat's milk, and sheep's milk. Whey protein isolate, which has the highest protein concentration, with minimal traces of lactose and fat, is a popular choice among supplement users. Whey protein concentrate and hydrolysate are other common forms that offer a slightly different nutritional profile. Whether you're looking to improve your performance or simply meet your daily protein needs, whey protein powder can be a convenient and effective option (Nordqvist, J., 2023).

The most common sources of whey protein used in whey protein powder supplements include:

  • Whey protein isolate 
  • Whey protein concentrate
  • Whey protein hydrolysate

Alternatively, there are protein blends, which usually combine two or more whey protein sources to support a plethora of goals.

Whey Protein vs Plant Protein - What Is The Difference?

For many people, protein is an essential part of their daily diet, whether it's for building muscle or simply maintaining good health. However, different sources of protein can have different effects on the body. One popular debate in the fitness world is between plant protein and whey protein. While both can be a valuable source of nutrients, plant protein is derived from plants like soy, peas, and hemp, while whey protein is derived from milk. 

Plant protein can be a great option for those who follow a vegan or vegetarian diet, while whey protein is often popular with bodybuilders due to its high amino acid content. Understanding the differences between these two types of protein can help you make an informed decision about which one is right for you and your fitness goals.

Let’s take a look at the key differences below!

Whey Protein Powder

Plant-Based Protein Powder

Grams of Protein 

20-30 grams

20-30 grams

Complete Protein


No (except soy or plant blends)

Total Calories






Aids Muscle Growth



Aids Weight Loss



Amino Acid Profile

All 9 Amino Acids

All 9 Amino Acids





*Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Whey & Gold Standard Plant Protein have been used as an example above.

So, Which is Better?

Let’s take a look at some of the best whey protein powder supplements, plant-based protein powder options, and the unique benefits they can offer.

EHP Labs OxyWhey


EHP Labs OxyWhey Lean Wellness Protein stands out as a top whey protein powder choice for weight loss. Crafted from 100% pure, lean, non-GMO whey protein, this innovative formula integrates a blend of whey protein isolate and concentrate. This formula also contains chromium picolinate to support weight goals, while lactobacillus rhamnosus GG aids in digestion and immune function. Additionally, ProHydrolase enzymes enhance nutrient absorption, making it an ideal post-workout option to replenish muscles and a versatile addition to snacks and meals.

Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Whey

Optimum Nutrition's Gold Standard Whey Protein is one of the industry’s most renowned supplements, delivering 24g of pure whey protein per serving. This formula supports muscle repair and growth, containing a blend of whey protein isolate, concentrate, and peptides. Ideal for athletes, it's gluten-free and Informed Choice certified, ensuring no banned substances. With 5.5g of BCAAs per serving, it promotes tissue building and repair. Whether you're a weightlifter or casual athlete, this protein powder excels in supporting muscle growth and maintenance, making it a standout option among whey supplements.

For a plant-based alternative, Optimum Nutrition’s Gold Standard Plant Protein offers a similar profile. It delivers 24g of plant protein, zero sugar, and all nine essential amino acids.

Evolve Lipo Whey

Evolve Lipo Whey is a premium protein powder designed to support weight loss goals effectively. With a powerful blend of 24.3g protein per serving, including key ingredients like L-glutamine, L-carnitine, green tea, and InnoSlim®, this formula aids in muscle building, energy levels, and weight management. InnoSlim® is a clinically tested, stimulant-free component that targets body goals. This convenient, on-the-go protein supplement not only curbs cravings and increases satiety but also serves as a meal replacement option for busy lifestyles, making it an optimal choice for achieving fitness and body goals.

Macro Mike Almond Protein

Okay, over to the best plant-based options. Macro Mike Almond Protein is a plant-based protein powerhouse. This blend of almond protein and faba bean protein offers a silky texture that is rich in vitamins, minerals, and fibre. With a generous 23g of protein per serving, this formula contains gut-friendly probiotics and is free from artificial additives. Sweetened naturally with coconut flower nectar and monk fruit, its nutrient-packed formula offers a smooth consistency and delicious flavours. Macro Mike Almond Protein stands out as a premier plant-based protein option.

Prana ON Power Plant

Prana On Power Plant Protein stands out as a top plant-based protein powder due to its exceptional formula and ingredient profile. This vegan-friendly formula supports muscle growth, repair, and gut health with raw, sprouted proteins. Free from fillers and GMOs, it caters to various dietary needs. Whether you focus on lean muscle or overall nutrition, this smooth, delicious blend is easy to mix and naturally flavoured. Its fast-absorbing nature makes it suitable for athletes and those with digestive sensitivities, offering a clean, effective protein source.

Evolve Vegan Protein

Evolve Vegan Protein is a premier plant-based protein that delivers impeccable quality and benefits. Crafted from 100% natural, plant-based ingredients, this protein offers a guilt-free, delicious alternative to whey protein. With a similar amino acid profile to whey, it delivers a smooth texture, easy mixability, and great taste. Free from artificial additives, it is an ideal choice for vegan-friendly, high-fibre, low-sugar nutrition. Evolve Vegan Protein delivers a blend of brown rice protein that supports muscle growth and recovery, making it a top choice for those seeking a convenient, effective plant-based protein supplement.

The Run Down

While both whey protein and plant-based protein have their respective benefits, they differ in a few key ways. Whey protein is derived from cow's milk and contains high amounts of essential amino acids, making it a popular choice for athletes and bodybuilders. On the other hand, plant-based proteins like pea protein and soy protein are suitable for those following a plant-based diet or people with lactose intolerance. Plant protein generally offers the same amount of protein, calories, and amino acids (depending on the supplement) and is more environmentally friendly. Ultimately, the choice between whey protein and plant-based protein comes down to personal preference and dietary needs.

If you need more help understanding the difference between whey protein powder and plant-protein powder, or you need help finding the best plant protein and whey protein supplements, our team at FIT Nutrition has you sorted. Head in-store or reach out online for more help. 


McCulloch, M. (August 2018). ‘The 9 Best Types of Vegan Protein Powders’. Healthline. 

AGROPUR. (n.d.). ‘How Whey Protein is Made’.,filtration%20and%20ion%20exchange%20technology

Nordqvist, J. (October 2023). ‘What are the benefits and risks of whey protein?’. Medical News Today.