Peas, especially yellow peas, are a welcomed addition to many cuisines and dietary choices, especially for vegan or vegetarian. While it’s not yet a popular choice for those chasing muscle growth and repair (i.e. bodybuilders), it just soon might be.
Because of its optimal digestion and absorption properties, along with its rich amino acid profile and more, pea protein powder is becoming a premium choice for many looking for a healthy alternative to the usual protein powders on the market today.
From a holistic standpoint, pea protein powder is exceptionally eco-friendly, hypoallergenic, and is free from animal cruelty, among other things. Moreover, because it’s not a protein derived from animals, it contains no lactose or gluten.
If you haven’t yet heard of or tried pea protein powder, this article might convince you to do so. As a heavy competitor against sources like hemp, soy, rice, whey, and casein, pea protein is making its name known.
So, whether you’re a vegan, vegetarian, have an intolerance to dairy or gluten, or you’re simply looking for a healthier, more eco-friendly option, pea protein powder may be the choice for you.
The following discussion will touch on all things pea protein powder, from what it is, to its benefits and disadvantages. If you’re eager to learn more about this premium plant-based protein source, keep on reading.
First, what is pea protein powder?!
What is Pea Protein Powder?
Deriving from the yellow peas so commonly found in a vegan and vegetarian diet, pea protein, and pea protein isolate powder is simply a high-quality vegetarian protein source made from the extraction of protein from, you guessed it, peas.
Pea protein powder is a complete source of protein that contains all nine essential amino acids, including the branched-chain amino acids. For those seeking a premium choice as a vegan or vegetarian, pea protein is likely your most optimal option.
In what follows, we’ll be discussing how pea protein powder is made, when and how to use it, the benefits and disadvantages, including a comparison of some of the most popular protein powder alternatives.
How it’s Made
By extracting the protein from peas through a routine extraction process, manufacturers can dry and ground the extraction into a fine flour-like consistency.
Following is the next step of the process, which is mixing this flour-like consistency with water. The removal of fiber and starch also occurs in this step.
After one final drying and grounding process, pea protein powder is made.
How to Use it
As most protein powdered supplements go, pea protein powder is best consumed by mixing with water or nut milk and shaken to the desired consistency. A general recommendation is to use 8 ounces of fluid to 1 scoop of powder.
The result is an easily digestible, highly absorbable, tasty protein shake that can be had at breakfast, lunch, dinner, or before and/or after a workout to boost your protein intake.
Pea protein powder can also be used as an ingredient for cooking or even tossed in to a healthy smoothie for that added protein source.
Benefits of Pea Protein Powder
Whether you’re a vegan/vegetarian or not, the health benefits of supplementing with pea protein powder are vast. When it comes to the nutritional benefits, pea protein is packed with amino’s, vitamins, and minerals. On the health side, it promotes a wide variety of biomarkers and is a great source of iron.
Below is a list of health and fitness benefits of supplementing with rice protein powder. In what follows, we will go into detail about each one:
• Rich in Essential Amino Acids
• High-Quality Protein Source
• 100% Vegan/Vegetarian
• Easily Digestible & Absorbable
• Helps Build & Repair Muscle
• Improves Health Biomarkers
• Increases Satiety & Promotes Weight Loss
Pea protein powder doesn’t lack in benefits, both nutritional and health-wise. This is still true if you’re a vegan or vegetarian! If you’re any bit in the know of protein powder, you’ve undoubtedly heard about whey. To most, whey is the premium choice of protein powder for various reasons.
With that said, there CAN be an argument made that pea protein is the superior choice. To settle the score, let’s dive deep into the pros and cons of each!
Rich in Essential Amino Acids
Pea protein is a rich protein source suitable for vegan/vegetarians, containing every essential amino acid (including threonine, valine, and leucine). Moreover, it’s also a great source of branched-chain amino acids, including arginine.
Because of its rich amino acid profile, pea protein is an incredible option for those seeking to build and repair muscle, promote blood circulation, and improve heart health, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels, among other things.
High-Quality Protein Source
As mentioned above, pea protein powder is packed with the nine essential amino acids. This makes for an extremely high-quality protein source. In addition, peas are, on average, almost 90% protein!
In comparison to its counterparts, pea protein is a premium choice for those seeking to increase the amount of quality protein they consume daily, whether for general health or muscle-building purposes.
For obvious reasons, pea protein is an animal-cruelty-free source of plant protein. Whether you’re a vegan, vegetarian, or live with an intolerance to dairy, lactose, or gluten, or are simply seeking a more eco-friendly source of protein, pea protein is the premium choice.
Easily Digestible & Absorbable
As we’ll discuss shortly, whey protein powder is primarily the most popular protein source on the market for supplementation. This is for a good reason, not only because it’s a complete source of quality protein but provides several other benefits as well.
With that said, it has been known to be poor on one’s digestive tract, ultimately causing bloating, indigestion, and discomfort, among other side effects.
Pea protein powder, on the other hand, is quite the opposite. Known for its ease of digestibility and absorption, it’s a top choice for those seeking an alternative to an animal based protein like whey.
Unfortunately, the supplement industry at large is not regulated by the FDA. As such, many brands, company’s, and products contain allergens and additives that don’t agree with the majority of the population.
Moreover, because whey or casein, for example, derives from a dairy source, it results in a cause for concern for many who are allergic. The same goes for a protein source like soy.
Pea protein, on the other hand, given that it is dairy-free has a very low rate of allergic reactions, making it an excellent option for those that live with said allergies. Even more, pea protein is gluten-free!
Helps Build & Repair Muscle
As discussed earlier, because peas are such a high-quality source of protein, containing all of the essential amino acids necessary for protein synthesis to occur, it acts as a great mechanism for muscle growth and repair.
Also containing a dense nutrient profile, pea protein makes a case for one of the best protein sources for optimizing muscle growth and repair.
Improves Health Biomarkers
The protein from peas has been shown in research to lower health biomarkers like blood sugar and cholesterol. They’ve also been known to promote healthy kidney function.
Because of these factors and more, pea protein powder is a fantastic tool to add to your toolbox to improve general biomarkers and improver overall heart health and blood pressure, among other things.
Increases Satiety & Promotes Weight Loss
Although peas are a very low-calorie food, they contain a large amount of protein. If you didn’t already know, protein helps promote satiety and fullness, extending the time that one becomes hungry.
For obvious reasons, this is a great tool for those trying to lose weight. By supplementing with a sufficient amount of pea protein powder daily, you give yourself a greater chance at weight loss if that happens to be your goal.
Pea Protein Powder vs. Whey Protein Powder
The comparison between one protein source and whey protein is a common one. Why? Because whey protein is the most abundant, popular, and studied protein powder out there.
As such, comparing pea protein to whey protein provides a great benchmark to base your decisions on to decipher the true quality of a less-known protein source like pea protein.
For those concerned with the protein content itself, just 27 grams of pea protein powder contains approx. 23 grams of protein. Whey, on the other hand, holds approx. 24 grams.
For those concerned with caloric intake, pea protein takes the prize. Coming in at just under 100 calories per 1/4 cup, it’s one of the least calorically dense protein sources out there. A key advantage for a number of reasons.
Lastly, both stack up quite similarly with their amino acid profile. Both are rich in amino acids, containing all essential amino acids and an abundance of BCAA’s. As a result, both are complete sources of protein by definition.
In short, deciding whether or not whey protein or pea protein is the choice for you depends on several factors, one being preference and/or dietary restrictions. Only you know the answer to such a question.
Pea Protein Powder vs. Hemp Protein Powder
While both plant-based vegan protein powders are relatively complete protein sources, hemp doesn’t contain as rich of an amino acid profile that pea protein does. Hemp is also lower in total nutritional value. With lower protein, higher fats, and higher carbs per scoop, hemp protein is an inferior option to pea protein.
If fiber and other vitamins and minerals are more of a concern to you, hemp protein may be the protein source for you. Containing higher fibre, iron, magnesium, calcium, and potassium than pea protein, hemp protein will likely win this battle.
Otherwise, it’s almost undeniable to suggest that pea protein powder is the superior protein source. Not only is it higher in protein, a catalyst for why most supplement with such a product in the first place, but it also contains a much richer amino acid profile.
Disadvantages of Pea Protein Powder
Because of its hypoallergenic nature, pea protein powder can be enjoyed by most consumers with little to no side effects. In other words, it’s an easily tolerated protein powder supplement.
One disadvantage, however, is its low fiber content. While this is a benefit in some ways (i.e. digestion), it does lack the ability to be a rich source in fiber, an essential and effective nutrient.
A second disadvantage is that it’s known to be higher in sodium than its counterparts. Again, while sodium can provide several benefits, it may be a concern for the minority who are restricted by the amount of sodium they can tolerate.
Lastly, while pea protein is undoubtedly a rich source of essential amino acids, many think otherwise. This is essentially thanks to whey protein and its undeniable, incomparable rich amino acid content. If you’re concerned (you shouldn’t be), you can always supplement with several plant-based protein powders in conjunction with pea protein powder.
In summary, pea protein powder provides very little when it comes to disadvantages. It’s well tolerated by most, is a great source of high-quality protein, and provides several benefits, both nutritionally and health-wise.
The benefits of pea protein powder certainly don’t lack. Moreover, the disadvantages are few. Whether you’re a vegan or not, there’s no denying the quality of pea’s as a protein source, especially when comparing alternative supplement options.
In large part, your needs, preferences, and goals will determine what supplement you opt for. In saying that, there’s no ‘right’ choice. There are, however, better options than others, one of those options being pea protein powder.
When it comes down to one’s health and lifestyle, only you know what’s best for you. Nevertheless, pea protein is an incredible option. If you’re still uncertain, no problem! It never hurts to pursue the trial & error approach until you find what works best for you.
At the end of the day, pea protein powder is highly competitive with the best protein powders on the market. Giving it a try may result in it becoming your go-to protein powder!