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If you can’t or choose not to eat dairy, plant-based protein powders can be a good alternative to whey protein to help you boost protein intake. There are more vegan-friendly protein options than ever, but if you’re wondering which plant-based protein source is best, you’ve come to the right place.

RELATED: Best Vegan Protein Powder

Hemp protein is one of our favorite plant proteins, since hemp seeds are both a good source of overall protein and contain all of the essential amino acids. You can find 100% hemp protein powders and proteins that contain hemp plus other plant proteins. NOW Sports Plant Protein Complex is one of the latter and contains a blend of pea, hemp, and quinoa protein.

Is NOW Sports a good brand for plant protein powders and does the blend of proteins in Plant Protein Complex offer an advantage? Keep reading our NOW Sports Plant Protein Complex review for the answers, plus our honest thoughts on the taste and solubility of this protein.

Medical disclaimer: This article is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for medical advice. For health advice, contact a licensed healthcare provider. GGR also recommends choosing a product that has been third-party tested for quality.

Our Protein Powder Reviews Weed Out the Best From the Rest

The world of sport supplements grows larger by the day, but finding the best products for your lifestyle and fitness goals doesn’t have to be complicated. We review everything from protein powders to pre-workouts to electrolyte mixes to help simplify supplement shopping.

Every product we review is researched and tried out under real-life conditions by our fitness and nutrition pro product testers. The result is expert recommendations from certified personal trainers, registered dietitians, and professional athletes.

We’ve collectively tested hundreds of protein powders. GGR Performance Editor, Anthony O’Reilly, CPT, CNC, tested NOW Sport Plant Protein Complex and rated it on the following criteria using the GGR supplement testing methodology:

  • Price per serving
  • Formulation
  • Taste
  • Solubility
  • Side effects
  • Third-party testing

NOW Sports Plant Protein Complex

Now Sports Plant Protein Complex

GGR Score: 3.5 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Multi-source vegan protein powder
  • Informed Sports-certified, Non-GMO project verified, gluten-free, vegan, and kosher 
  • 22 grams of protein per serving

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Under $1.50 per serving
  • Packaged in USA
  • Reviewers say blends well

Cons

  • Only available in 2 flavors
  • Sweetened with xylitol

Bottom Line

Now Sports Protein Powder has very mixed reviews on taste, but people like the price point and that it uses a variety of protein sources.

A Quick Look at NOW Sports Plant Protein Complex

NOW started in the USA as a health food brand, but is best known today for their budget-friendly dietary supplements. To compete with sports nutrition brands, they rolled out the NOW Sports product line, which includes several vegan protein powders, whey protein concentrate, whey protein isolate, egg white protein, and bone broth protein powder.

Their other plant-based proteins include several pea protein powders, pumpkin seed protein, soy protein isolate, and sprouted brown rice protein. Plant Protein Complex is the only product that contains a blend of plant proteins and is not Informed Sport certified.

Before You Buy

  • Only available in 2-pound canisters, which provide 24 servings.
  • This is one of the few NOW Sport supplements that is not certified by Informed Sport.
  • NOW Sport also makes several other plant protein powders, which may be worth a look since they are Informed Sport Certified and some contain more protein per serving than Plant Protein Complex.

Is NOW Sports Plant Protein Complex Worth It?

Plant Protein Complex is a good choice if you’re looking for a high protein plant protein powder. You’ll get 22 grams of protein with each serving, which is on par with most whey proteins that deliver 20 to 25 grams of protein per serving.

Although it contains three sources of plant protein, it doesn’t contain any dietary fiber. This is a pretty clean formulation, with no artificial ingredients or sweeteners. However, it does contain xylitol, which some people have trouble digesting. At less than $2 a serving, it’s not as expensive as many high-quality, plant-based protein powders.

Great for:

  • Anyone who doesn’t tolerate whey protein
  • Dairy-free vegetarians
  • Vegans

Not recommended for:

  • Individuals with irritable bowel syndrome 
  • People who don’t tolerate sugar alcohols
  • Anyone who wants a high-fiber plant protein

NOW Sports Plant Protein Complex Specs

Price per serving$1.91
Serving size 1 scoop (40 g)
FlavorsCreamy Vanilla, Chocolate Mocha
Protein sourcePea, hemp, quinoa
Calories per serving140
Protein per serving22 g
Carbs per serving7 g (vanilla), 8 g (chocolate)
Fat per serving2 g
Third-party tested?No

Experience Using NOW Sports Plant Protein Complex

Our tester, Anthony O’Reilly, CPT, CNC, thought the ingredients and nutrition were on point for this protein powder. Unfortunately, that’s where his praise ends. He thought the vanilla protein tasted weak and he experienced some digestive side effects after drinking it. We also found it strange this protein isn’t certified by Informed Sport, since most of the NOW Sports products are.

Price Per Serving

A 2-pound canister of this protein retails for $43.99 and there are 24 servings per container, which makes the price per serving $1.91. You may be able to find it priced lower from retailers like Amazon. 

Inside view of a container of NOW soy protein and a shaker cup

Nearly $2 per serving is on the expensive end compared to protein powders in general. Budget protein powders typically cost around $1 or less per serving, while grass-fed whey proteins can cost upward of $2 per serving. The higher price is average compared to other high-quality plant-based alternatives, however, so we gave it a 5-star rating in this category.

Formulation

We rated this protein powder 5 out of 5 stars for formulation, since it has a straightforward ingredient list with no proprietary blends, minimal additives, nothing artificial, and no added sugars. It’s also vegan, kosher, non-GMO and free from major allergens, including dairy, soy, and gluten.

The protein blend contains yellow pea protein isolate, hemp protein, and quinoa protein. This combination of plant proteins provides a more complete amino acid profile that includes all nine essential amino acids, plus nine nonessential amino acids. The amino acid profile is provided on the packaging.

A person drink a Tone It Up Protein shake.

Each serving also contains 3.9 grams of branched chain amino acids (BCAAs). The BCAAs don’t quite meet the recommended 2:1:1 ratio to support muscle growth, but it’s close. 

RELATED: Best Ratio for BCAAs

It’s sweetened with stevia and xylitol, which is a calorie-free sugar alcohol, instead of artificial sweeteners. The only other ingredients are natural flavors and xanthan gum, which helps create a thicker, creamier protein shake.

Taste and Solubility 

Let’s start with the good news. A lot of plant-based proteins don’t fully dissolve, but this isn’t one of them. Anthony gave the vanilla protein he tried 5 out of 5 stars for solubility, since it mixed easily without any unpleasant clumps or tons of sediment at the bottom of his cup.

older-man-drinking-protein-shake

Now for the not so good news: The taste didn’t live up to our expectations and only earned a 3-out-of-5-star rating. Anthony found the vanilla flavor lacking and rather boring compared to the fun flavors offered by many of the best-tasting protein powders. He thought the liquid overpowered the taste once it was mixed, so the notes of vanilla came across weak and diluted. 

He’s not the only one with this opinion. Other customer reviews have acknowledged that this protein isn’t offensive tasting, but that flavors aren’t knocking their socks off, either. You may not mind the so-so taste if you add this protein to a smoothie or yogurt bowl where other ingredients can provide more flavor.

Side Effects 

Anthony felt some unpleasant changes in his digestive system after drinking this protein shake and scored it a 3 out of 5 for side effects. Plant-based proteins can be tough for some people to digest, so it’s not uncommon to experience some digestive troubles, like bloating and gas, after drinking these shakes. 

Since this protein powder also contains xylitol, it’s even more likely to upset your digestive system. Sugar alcohols can trigger stomach pain, bloating, and diarrhea. Typically, side effects are associated with large amounts of sugar alcohols, but some people are more sensitive than others and find it doesn’t take much to feel unwell.

Third-Party Testing 

Most of the NOW Sports supplements are third-party tested and are Informed Sport certified, but the Plant Protein Complex is not. However, the labeling of the Plant Protein Complex appears transparent. Without a preferred certification, the best we can rate this protein is 3 out of 5 for third-party testing.

NOW Sports Plant Protein Complex vs Sunwarrior Hemp Protein 

Sunwarrior Hemp Protein

Sunwarrior Hemp Protein

GGR Score: 4.6 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Vegan protein powder available in unflavored, chocolate, vanilla, maple french toast, mocha, berry, and pumpkin spice
  • Combines organic hemp seed protein, antioxidants, MCTs, and coconut
  • Raw, USDA-certified organic, non-GMO, low-carb, 100% vegan
  • Each serving contains 15–19 g of protein and 6 g of BCAAs
  • Keto-friendly, paleo-friendly, kosher-friendly
  • Contains electrolytes and BCAAs claimed to promote lean muscle

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Clean ingredients
  • Naturally occurring BCAAs
  • Solid nutritional profile
  • Reportedly mixes and tastes good

Cons

  • Contains stevia
  • May be too sweet for some

Bottom Line

Sunwarrior’s hemp protein is a vegan, bioavailable protein powder that combines organic hemp seed protein with antioxidants, MCTs, and coconut oil. It is a raw, USDA-certified organic, non-GMO, low-carb, and a 100% vegan source of 15–19 grams of protein with 6 grams of BCAAs per serving. While most users raved over the taste, some found it too sweet.

Sunwarrior Hemp Protein is included on our list of the best hemp protein powders. The formula is as clean as it gets with just one ingredient: organic hemp protein. There’s no flavoring or sweetener, so you can expect it to smell and taste like, well, hemp seeds, and it won’t change the taste of whatever you add it to. 

RELATED: Hemp Protein Powder Benefits

It costs less than NOW Sports Plant Protein Complex, but it has 7 grams less protein per serving. Calories and other macros are similar, but the Sunwarrior Hemp contains 6 grams of gut-friendly fiber versus the 0 grams in NOW Sports. 

Most people aren’t using protein powder for micronutrients, but it’s worth noting Sunwarrior provides the daily value of several vitamins and minerals. NOW Sports only lists calcium, iron, and potassium.

NOW Sports Plant Protein ComplexSunwarrior Hemp Protein
Price per serving$1.91$1.12
Serving size 1 scoop (40 g)1 scoop (30 g)
FlavorsVanilla, Chocolate MochaUnflavored
Protein sourcePea, hemp, quinoaHemp
Calories per serving140120
Protein per serving22 g15 g
Carbs per serving7 g (vanilla), 8 g (chocolate)8 g
Fat per serving2 g3.5 g
Third-party tested?NoYes

Customer Experience 

NOW doesn’t have a loyalty club or rewards program, but they frequently offer promo codes for discounts or freebies. If you need to make a return or have an issue, the NOW customer service team can be reached by phone or by filling out a contact form on their website. 

They only accept returns if you purchased directly from their site and even then, the products have to be unopened and returned within a 30-day window for a refund.

Ordering NOW Sports Plant Protein Complex

NOW Sports supplements, including Plant Protein Complex, can be ordered from www.nowfoods.com or several online retailers, like Amazon and iHerb. The NOW site also has a store locator to find products in a physical retail location near you.

Honestly, there isn’t a ton of incentive to order this protein directly from the NOW site. Unlike many other supplement brands, NOW doesn’t have a subscribe option for extra savings. That also means you’ll have to set a reminder to reorder before you hit the bottom of your current protein tub. 

Orders over $50 from the NOW site ship free, so you’d have to order two tubs of protein or another supplement with your protein to qualify. If you order a single protein tub, you’ll be hit with a $6.95 shipping fee.

Customer Reviews

This protein has been rated by 149 customers on Amazon and has an average rating of 3.8 out of 5 stars. Customers either like it or simply find it tolerable enough to keep using it because it’s more cost-effective or has a relatively clean ingredient list.

Some customers are turned off by the plant-based taste, but others say it’s decent for plant protein. One Amazon customer wrote, “The experience isn’t like drinking a milkshake, like some whey powders seem to be, but it also doesn’t taste like autumn leaves and park-grass.”

Final Verdict of Our NOW Sports Plant Protein Complex Review

This protein has more protein per serving than most straight hemp protein powders, thanks to the blend of pea, hemp, and quinoa proteins. Flavors are limited to just two choices and the presence of the sugar alcohol xylitol may not be the best choice for sensitive stomachs. 

  • The blend of proteins provides a well-rounded amino acid profile that includes 3.9 grams of BCAAs per serving.
  • This is the most expensive plant-based protein in the NOW Sports line.
  • This is the only NOW Sports protein that isn’t Informed Sport certified.

Full Rating

NOW Sports Plant Protein Complex

OWYN plant-based protein powder combines protein, probiotics, and a greens superfood blend into one supplement. OWYN, an acronym for “Only What You Need”, third-party tests every batch of product for the presence of the top 8 allergens to ensure an allergen-free product. Most reviews were positive, but many customers found the product overly sweet.

Product Brand: NOW Sports

Product Currency: $

Product Price: 49.10

Product In-Stock: InStock

Editor's Rating:
3.5

NOW Sports Plant Protein Complex Rating

Price per serving – 5
Formulation – 5
Taste – 3
Solubility – 5
Side effects – 3
Third-party testing – 3
Customer service – 2
Customer reviews – 3.8
Buy Now

NOW Sports Plant Protein Complex: FAQs

What are the downsides to plant protein powder?

Individual plant proteins don’t contain all of the essential amino acids, so most plant-based protein powders contain several plant proteins to achieve a balanced amino acid profile. These plant blends can be tougher to digest than animal proteins, so they’re more likely to trigger bloating, gas, and an upset stomach. Plant proteins are also higher in carbohydrates, which may not be ideal for low-carb dieters.

What is the highest-quality plant protein?

High-quality plant proteins1 are complete, or contain all nine of the essential amino acids the body can’t produce on its own. Most plant proteins aren’t complete, but some are. Quinoa, soy, hemp seeds, and chia seeds are complete plant proteins, although the best options usually contain a combination of these. 

Is NOW pea protein safe?

NOW makes several versions of pea protein powder, all of which are third-party tested and certified by Informed Sport for safety and purity. The safest option is the organic pea protein, which contains just organic pea protein without unnecessary fillers or sweeteners. 

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any diseases.

References

  1. Hertzler SR, Lieblein-Boff JC, Weiler M, Allgeier C. Plant Proteins: Assessing Their Nutritional Quality and Effects on Health and Physical Function. Nutrients. 2020;12(12):3704. Published 2020 Nov 30. doi:10.3390/nu12123704

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